Sound Advice: New Oontz speaker can help with TV

  • Article by: DON LINDICH , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 16, 2013 - 1:35 PM

Q: When will the 6-inch soundbar by Cambridge SoundWorks be launched? I can’t use a regular soundbar with my five-year-old flatscreen TV. They are too long, look awkward on my stand and block the TV’s remote sensor.

A: The new small soundbar, which I dubbed “the soundbrick,” is still under development.

Fortunately for you and others, Cambridge SoundWorks is launching another product that will likely serve you as well, and for less money. In fact, the company might have inadvertently made its future soundbrick obsolete.

Cambridge SoundWorks’ Oontz speaker (www.theoontz.com) is a great-sounding small Bluetooth speaker with speakerphone capability and 10 hours of battery life. Since it was introduced, the Oontz has been a smash hit, earning critical acclaim and positive feedback.

At $69, the value equation is undeniable, and it has been among the 10 bestselling Bluetooth speakers on Amazon for quite some time. Its $39 stablemate, the Oontz Angle, is Amazon’s bestseller.

The new Oontz XL is exactly what its name infers: an extra-large Oontz. It is slightly taller and deeper, and about twice as long as the regular Oontz. It comes with an AC adapter for power and charging, and the speaker has a USB port that can be used to charge your phone or other USB devices. It is noticeably heavier and has rich-feeling touch controls on top. Speakerphone capability is included.

The regular Oontz is impressive, but the Oontz XL ups the ante in much more dramatic fashion. The sound is fuller, richer and more detailed. Even more impressive is the volume and bass. It can play loudly enough to fill a good-sized room with satisfying, dynamic sound.

When I was testing the Oontz XL I came to realize that it could be just the answer to the poor sound problems that plague many TV watchers. You can use a miniplug-to-miniplug cable to connect the Oontz XL to your TV’s headphone output. Turn the speaker’s volume close to maximum. This will allow you to control the volume with the TV’s remote control, yielding a small, permanent and powerful solution that will work well in all but the largest rooms.

If your TV doesn’t have a headphone output, you can use the analog audio outputs if it has them, or use a converter with the TV’s digital audio output. Many TVs are starting to include Bluetooth, too, which would make connecting the Oontz XL a snap.

The Oontz XL’s regular price is $150, which is an excellent value. As a 30-day introductory offer — the speaker came out Thursday — the Oontz XL is available for $100. That’s a killer deal and only $30 more than the regular Oontz speaker’s launch price.

Send questions to donlindich@gmail.com. Get more recommendations and read past columns at www.soundadviceblog.com.

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