Depending on how serious you take your gaming space, a proper accompanying soundbar is either a waste of money or a complete necessity. And that distinction is often for a good reason – the cheap brands of soundbars tend to be unadultered garbage, whereas those looking to drop $1000 or more will get divine audio experiences. If you don’t have the money to drop on perfect sound quality, gamers aren’t left to a ton of options other than getting a nice pair of headphones.
On top of thatsoundbars are also a historically tricky product, given that models are so prone to failure. Sometimes it is the sound quality degrading over time, at other points it may be the inability to hit low-tones. Rarely ever do any issues manifest in the first week, but instead they rear their ugly head some months down the line after consistent use. And then I got ahold of the AVerMedia latest foray into the sound-space: the AVerMedia SonicBlast Gaming Soundbar and Wireless Subwoofer.
Now compared to other soundbars on the market, AVerMedia is downright competitive. They drown out the sound quality of low-cost market replacements like the TaoTronics, Amazon, or low-end Vizio line, yet offer a competitive price – even when grabbing the subwoofer – when comparing to the $1300+ Sony Sonos sound system. In essence, AVerMedia manages to shoot a noticeable gap in the market, taking aim at entry-level entertainment enthusiasts (like gamers).
While taking a mid-tier approach to market quality, AVerMedia has one other notable benefit to readers of the site – gaming reputation and brand recognition among the growing gaming community. While they are known best for their capture-card hardware as Elgato’s primary rival, they are a known commodity as far as gaming hardware is concerned. Even better, they make a note to cater to the gaming community with this soundbar outside of just a marketing campaign with packed-in features.
But like I said before – no soundbars are perfect, and there are very few times we will notice the problems in the first week or two of use. So I put the SonicBlast system through all the trials over a span of a month, whether it was different media type or whether it could survive a fall (or twelve) unscathed.
Right out of the gate, both the AVerMedia SonicBlast Gaming Soundbar and Subwoofer wow with their own package design. Sporting the red-and-black aesthetic popular for both AVerMedia and gaming products at large, the soundbar and SubWoofer are sleek with relatively compact plastic designs. The SubWoofer stands a little over a foot tall, making it a compact addition to my entertainment system. Meanwhile, the SonicBlast Gaming Soundbar is a little over 30″ horizontally and 3″ tall. In other words, it is going to be short enough in each direction to fit into most people’s gaming set up – whether it is in a formal entertainment center or a dorm room.
With that said, it is actually surprising both the sound depth and quality that can come out of the higher-end GS333. Unlike other lower-cost soundbars on the market, the SonicBlast Gaming Soundbar has the added benefit of including built-in subwoofers (as compared to the cheaper GS331 model). Even without the companion SonicBlast Subwoofer, you will be getting rich, deep tones with every explosion happening in the distance.
The setup is as bare bones as what comes in the box. All that’s required is hooking in a connection cord to your entertainment system (be it your PlayStation 4 Pro or 4K monitor). It doesn’t come with anything other then an Aux cable and Bluetooth support, so I would consider grabbing an Optical cable for the corresponding output. The SonicBlast SubWoofer does take a little more time as compared to the bare-bones approach of the SonicBlast Gaming Soundbar – essentially you plug in the power cord and sync the Bluetooth between both devices. However, I can’t imagine I spent more than five minutes working things out.
As I mentioned before, some of the aspects are catered specifically to gaming – namely, the pre-balanced EQ settings. The most notable of the bunch is “Game Mode” which will highlight ambient sound effects like the sound of footsteps or typical gameplay sounds like gunfire, explosions, and everything in-between. To test out this EQ setting, I played a hefty amount of Fortnite where directional sounds (footsteps, gunfire, and building) are crucial to survival. Surprisingly, nothing was lost when compared to my gameplay with high-end headphones. I was able to tell exactly where enemies were approaching, despite the lack of surround sound. Thankfully, this translates to every genre and system I played with — be it the audio-reliant Thumper or just Monster Hunter: World. Everything sounded better coming through the SonicBlast Gaming Soundbar and SubWoofer.
The two other modes are “Movie Mode” and “Music Mode.” Movie Mode is probably better-defined as “TV mode,” as it highlights any kind of dialogue or background music. In other words, whether you are watching Baby Driver, Netflix’s Black Mirror, or just the Superbowl this will be your default mode. Meanwhile, the Music Mode is configured to work best with vocals and instrumentals. So when you start streaming Spotify, you can have the everything come through the speak via the Bluetooth option.
More important than the features is the build quality, and like all things produced by AVerMedia – I’m impressed. After checking my early recordings of sound from the AVerMedia SonicBlast Gaming Soundbar and current recordings (more than a month of continual use) there is no major loss of sound quality. The sound is as rich as the day I unpacked the device.
Meanwhile, the soundbar has taken well-over a dozen spills from my three-foot entertainment center without damage. Regardless if it was my own haptic testing or the annoying nudges of the office cats, the device isn’t some fragile piece of merchandise that will break at the first instance. Anyone with a pet or child can go in knowing that this will be a safe bet for the living room.
That’s not to say that everything about the AVerMedia SonicBlast Gaming Soundbar is perfect. The biggest annoyance is a clear lack of low-volume support. Although you have the option to mute the soundbar, the next-highest option is already fairly loud. The SonicBlast is exactly as its name implies, and can’t really be used for low-background music or ambient sounds. And as for the SonicBlast SubWoofer, it is a bit disappointing compatibility is limited to those who own the SonicBlast Gaming Soundbar.
And while the Game Mode is a terrific option for all gamers, I am a little surprised that they didn’t play into that more. Perhaps by offering sub-genre EQ presets (Action, Sport, Racing, etc.), or a companion app that would make the small, plastic, easily losable remote control a thing of the past. Either of those options may have given the SonicBlast the definitive edge in the competitive market.
At the end of the day, unless you already own a high-end soundbar the AVerMedia SonicBlast Gaming Soundbar should be your next battlestation upgrade. Coming it at just over $155, it smokes the price range for other competitive models and is the best bang-for-buck value for avid gamers. The SonicBlast SubWoofer is another easy – but less fundamental – recommendation. It’s clearly the most deluxe item of the two, but still offers terrific value at $110.