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Review: TCL TS8132EU

Atmos surround sound on a budget

TCL has one of the cheapest soundbars that can offer "real" Atmos sound with built-in height channels. And considering the price, it sounds really nice!

Karakter
TCL TS8132EU
forfatter
Published 2021-06-26 - 9:30 am
Our opinion
The TCL TS8132 sets a large soundstage with a fine surround feel. Points for good remote control and easy-to-read display.
The subwoofer lacks in power and can distort at high volume.
Specifications
  • Width corresponds to screen size: 50″
  • HDMI: eARC
  • Digital inputs: Optical, USB-A
  • Network: Wi-Fi
  • Wireless: Bluetooth, Spotify Connect
  • Analog inputs: 3.5 mm AUX
  • Subwoofer: Yes, wireless
  • Dimensions: 100 x 6.5 x 12.2 cm
  • Finish: Black fabric
  • Web: tcl.com

TCL TS8132 is a relatively large soundbar of exactly 1 meter in width. On the other hand, it looks discreetly dressed in black fabric, and the included subwoofer is quite tight and compact with a down-facing woofer.

On the connectivity side, the TS8132 boasts HDMI eARC, and it also supports wireless music playback via Bluetooth, Chromecast and AirPlay. TCL’s soundbar also features a large display under the fabric cover, which provides quick information on audio format, volume and other settings, and turns off when not in use. Smart!

TCL TS8132 uses a 3.1.2 channel configuration with separate height channels on top. (Photo: TCL)

TCL TS8132 in practice

TCL has already made a name for themselves with the cheap model TS8111, which also supports Dolby Atmos surround sound. On the big brother TS8132, however, they have taken it a step further: With a separate center channel in the middle plus height channels at the top (which reflects sound through the ceiling), it should in theory be able to reproduce a more three-dimensional sound image.

We notice already on the first listen that the TCL soundbar offers a larger and more convincing surround experience than Panasonic. Here we get a proper feeling of sitting inside a sound bubble with sound effects crisscrossing.

TS8132 gets the adrenaline pumping as we play the introduction to the Formula 1 documentary Drive to Survive. The loud F1 engines roar at us while the background music fills the room. The downward-facing sub also makes the room shake. “That sounds GREAT!,” Geir exclaims.

(Photo: TCL)

The TCL soundbar also has a separate center channel, which contributes to voices coming out better than those e.g. does on Panasonic. However, we had to adjust the treble level up a bit before we got the desired clarity; at level 0 it sounds a bit woolly and stuffy.

Picky as we are, we can of course find something to poke at: It is noticeable that the subwoofer is a little overzealous and not particularly tight. We had to reduce the bass level a bit so that it would not become too dominant.

Furthermore, we note (especially on music) that the transition between soundbar and subwoofer could well have been smoother. The bass hangs a little behind the rest of the sound and does not always hit the bass strikes exactly. It seems that the wireless connection is slightly delayed.

The TCL soundbar generally works well for music, as long as you are not tempted to play too loud. It sounds a bit strained at high volume, and there comes a point where the subwoofer will go no louder and begins to distort. Therefore, if you have a large room to fill with sound, you should probably look for a larger and more powerful solution.

(Photo: TCL)

Conclusion

The TCL TS8132 is definitely one of the most affordable soundbars in the test. For a very reasonable price, you get a wireless subwoofer, Dolby Atmos 3D sound and built-in “up-firing” height channels, which even sound reasonably convincing – as long as you do not play extremely loud.

There are even cooler soundbars, but they also cost more money!

Also in this test

Panasonic SC-HTB490

Fully adequate at the price

The test's cheapest soundbar will provide a clear sound improvement, but also shows that it pays to put a little extra money on the table.

The Panasonic soundbar is easy to place and comes with a compact wireless subwoofer.
We miss a better display, and the sound could definitely have been clearer and more dynamic.

Yamaha ATS-2090

Enough oomph

Yamaha's soundbar entertains on film with clear dialogues and reasonably powerful sound. But is it just as good for music?

Great sound with good punch. Decent sound balance.
Coloured bass. 3D surround effect gives a hall-like reverberation. No display.

Klipsch Cinema 600

Bone-hard bass

With Klipsch at the helm, the room comes to life whith bullets flying and explosions booming. This must be the most intense thing we have heard at this price!

Top-notch sound - and a powder keg of a subwoofer! Impressive quality impression.
Lacking Dolby Atmos, and the big subwoofer might be hard to swallow for the interior-conscious.

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Impressive soundstage

The Samsung HW-Q610A is an excellent soundbar with great, three-dimensional sound, and the Atmos effects are palpable.

Samsung's soundbar paints a clear and distinct sound stage with precise dialogues and well-placed surround effects.
Samsung HW-Q610A lacks Wi-Fi connectivity. There are solutions with even stronger, more hard-hitting bass.
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