If you’re looking to amp up the sound in your living room from those tinny speakers built into your TV, but don’t want to run wires all over the place, a soundbar system is one of the best solutions. I recently had the chance to go hands- and ears-on with Definitive Technology’s W Studio Micro – a soundbar-based system that packs a punch into a clean and minimal package.
The W Studio Micro is comprised of two main components – a downright slim soundbar that measures just 1.75″ high, and a wireless subwoofer that measures about 12.5″(w) x 12.5″(d) x 14″(h). The soundbar is about 43″ wide, so it fits neatly beneath the screen of just about every widescreen display on the market. If your TV is hung on the wall, there are two keyholes for easy wall mounting, and all the connectors attach at a right angle to keep things tidy.
Inside the soundbar are a total of seven drivers, including four 1″ mid/bass drivers and 3″ aluminum dome tweeters. The powered subwoofer packs a big, downward-firing 8″ driver.
Setup is simple – just plug connect the soundbar to the digital optical output on your TV, and power on the speaker and the subwoofer. The two come pre-paired from the factory, which makes setup a breeze. You can also connect a second device via optical or a 3.5mm analog jack.
You can also stream audio via USB or from various music services using a smartphone app and your Wi-Fi network. Supported services include Amazon Music, Pandora, Songza, Deezer, Rhapsody, Spotify, SiriusXM, KKBOX, and TIDAL, and you can also stream tracks stored locally on your smartphone.
The system works in a 3.1 configuration, meaning you get left, center, right and low-frequency channels, and it supports popular encoding formats from Dolby and DTS right out of the box. In order to keep things simple, there are only two selectable modes, “Music” and “Movie,” each tuned for optimal listening of said source material. Music mode offers a more traditional stereo soundscape, while Movie mode offers an expansive soundstage with increased emphasis on both dialogue and low frequency effects. You can also increase or decrease center channel and bass levels yourself.
Overall audio quality is extremely good in Movie mode, with the ability to push out a tremendous amount of volume for a system of its size. Dialogue is crisp, clean and easy to understand, while cinematic scores and sound effects come to life in a way that belies the small size of the soundbar. The subwoofer does a good job filling in the low end where the soundbar leaves off, though I’d describe its sound as rich and full, rather than earthshaking. I really liked the overall sense of spaciousness in Movie mode, which adds both width and depth to its soundfield. That said, you won’t be able to pinpoint specific surround locations like you can with individual speakers.
Music mode works well too, providing a more intimate listening stage, and less low end. I ran through a variety of my regular music test tracks, and found the sound to be enjoyable and again truly room-filling. Given its pedigree as a home theater system, it’s especially good with orchestral music. That said, I did find a bit the mid-high range in music to be a bit harsh at higher volumes. I was able to smooth this out for the most part by increasing bass, but it would be nice to have a full equalization feature for more precise frequency sculpting.
The Definitive Technology W Studio Micro is a great choice for anyone in the market for a modern and minimal way to increase the sound quality and volume of their movies and TV shows. It shines in Movie mode with a spacious and enveloping soundstage, offering plentiful volume, and exciting, cinematic sound, and doubles as a wireless music streamer. The W Studio Micro is available directly from Definitive Technology for $899(USD).