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June 26, 2013

Pioneer introduces first sound bar in 15 years: six speakers and a subwoofer for $399

The last time Pioneer introduced a speaker bar was 1998, but 15 years later the company's giving it another go. The just-announced speaker bar system, the SP-SB23W, will retail for $399 this fall -- reps said the device was designed to pump out high-quality audio without sacrificing a small, attractive design.

It's clearly not the most compact rig on the market, but it does offer decent output. It features six independently amplified speakers and an eight-channel active digital crossover network. There's also a wireless subwoofer with a 6.5-inch driver and Dolby Digital decoding on board.

On the noisy show floor here at CE Week, it was a little difficult to judge sound quality definitively, but the dialogue recording we heard did sound extremely crisp. For those who already count a Pioneer speaker or two among their home theater setup, the speaker bar should fit in perfectly; it sports a wood -- rather than plastic -- construction, and the company says its cabinet enclosure offer better control of the speakers "because of its resistance to unwanted resonance."