Advertiser Disclosure

Pioneer SP-SB23W Speaker Review: A Stellar Sound System for Under $400

Product Comparisons, Shopping

Some top-of-the-line sound bar systems can run upwards of $1,000. But you shouldn’t have to reach deep into your pockets to bring high-quality sound to your living room.

The Pioneer SP-SB23W can breathe new life into your movies, TV shows and music, and it comes in at less than $400.

pioneer-sp-sb23w-speakerDesign

The Pioneer SP-SB23W is a sound bar system designed by renowned speaker engineer Andrew Jones. It consists of a long, rectangular speaker bar and a boxy wireless subwoofer, both in black.

The bar connects to your TV through either its optical or analog inputs. It houses six speakers, each with its own amplifier. You can mount the bar — which measures 35.98 inches wide, 4.05 inches high and 4.74 inches deep — on the wall or rest it on a flat surface.

The subwoofer offers additional bass, and it’s wireless, so you can set up the system in a configuration that offers a more immersive listening experience. It measures 9.01 inches wide, 10.01 inches high and 9.01 inches deep.

The SP-SB23W’s cabinet is made of composite wood, a material that helps the speaker produce precise audio, even at a high volume.

The retail price for the SP-SB23W is $399.99. We recommend checking out other retailers like Amazon, where the system is often available for less.

Features

The SP-SB23W’s appeal lies mainly in its audio-centric construction, but it has other compelling features:

  • Bluetooth capability. The sound bar is equipped with Bluetooth technology that lets you wirelessly stream music straight from a smartphone, laptop or tablet.
  • Sound modes. The SP-SB23W features three sound modes: one for music, one for movies and one for dialogue.
  • Remote control. You can do such things as change the volume, skip a song and adjust the subwoofer’s bass level. If you don’t want to add another remote to your collection, you can “teach” the speaker to work with an existing one.

» MORE: The best Bose speakers

The reviews

We analyzed reviews of some of the most popular sound bar speakers on the market, including the SP-SB23W. We looked at expert opinions from review sites such as Good Housekeeping and CNET and analyzed user reviews to see what shoppers had to say about the various attributes of each speaker.

According to the consumer reviews, this speaker merges high-quality sound with value. Users raved about the SP-SB23W’s ability to deliver full, balanced audio. Many were pleased with the price, noting that this model’s performance rivals that of much more expensive speakers. Others liked the Bluetooth feature and the different sound modes.

But where there are ups, there are downs. Reviewers reported having trouble with the system’s wireless connections. Some experienced issues pairing their Bluetooth devices or couldn’t sync the subwoofer to the sound bar. Others found the included remote control to be too small and easy to misplace, and some noted their current remotes weren’t compatible with the “teaching” function.

The verdict

The Pioneer SP-SB23W is an intermediate sound bar system that offers superb sound for a wide range of entertainment at a reasonable price. It’s a step up from a stand-alone sound bar, thanks to the added subwoofer, but it lacks the surround sound of more complete systems.

If you’re looking for a more immersive, high-tech system and are willing to cough up at least another grand, consider the Sonos Playbar paired with a subwoofer and Sonos Play speakers.

More from NerdWallet
Sonos Play: 1 vs. 3 vs. 5
The best Bluetooth speakers
The Jawbone Big Jambox: A compact speaker with big sound

Lauren Schwahn is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: lschwahn@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @lauren_schwahn.