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 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.
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.
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!
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