We’ve been lucky enough to have a Sky Soundbox to stay for a couple of weeks. We’re impressed and no mistake.
The distinctive Soundbox is an interesting collaboration between Sky and French company Devialet. Devialet has a good pedigree in sound – not least because of its epic Phantom speaker - but the French company is hardly a household name unlike Sky.
It’s worth noting that this box has no short of three different price points. Existing Sky customers will pay £299, but you can lop an extra £50 off that if you have multiroom.
Sky Soundbox specs
Sky says it doesn’t plan to offer it on a pay monthly basis at present, but we reckon that could be a good idea to get people signed up for the Soundbox.
The bad news is that the Sky-free price point is £799 which is poor value. It’s very steep for that we think but, as you’ll hear, it represents a decent investment for £299/£249 and puts it in a very favourable position compared to, say, the Sonos Playbase. In fact, it’s a bit of a no brainer for Sky
The weighty and superbly-built 4kg Soundbox features HDMI passthrough (the excellent quick start guide tells you exactly how to connect it up to your Sky Q box and has colour coded cables just like other Sky devices) and optical input.
The box also features Dolby Digital support in addition to Bluetooth 4.1 for streaming from smart devices AirPlay is supported by the Sky Q box itself, but the Soundbox sadly doesn’t have, say, Spotify Connect support which would have been great.
Sky Soundbox performance and usability
Note that the Soundbox doesn't support Dolby Atmos which Sky Q itself does. This isn't a massive issue as the Sky Soundbox isn't aimed at customers who want an Atmos setup, but if you were to consider buying the Soundbox at the unsubsidised price of £799 then it should be said that is getting towards the price you'd pay for an Atmos soundbar.
The remote is like a mini-me of the Sky Q remote, though you can naturally use your Sky Q remote to control the Soundbox. Devialet has developed some specific sound modes for the Soundbox which you can enable from the Sky Q menu – just click the ? at the bottom of the Sky Q remote.
The sport mode, for example, is designed to highlight the background noise ‘of being there’ for different sports and we were impressed by the car noise at the start of a Grand Prix without compromising the audibility of the commentary.
We also watched a lot of football in this mode. The Q Sound mode is designed to pick out dialogue which is often faint compared to other effects and noise.
As we heard it at the original demo, we also watched Skyfall’s MI6 sequence at home, complete with the type of dialogue that often gets lost in the mix – using the Q Sound mode the dialogue was immediately clearer over playing the same sound from the TV. A gunshot that had seemed unfathomably loud when we were played it from TV was dialled down the mix through the Soundbox (although not so much that it seemed quiet). It was all a lot more balanced.
The box cleverly uses the walls in your home to bounce the sound from, giving the impression of a multi-speaker surround sound system. There are also three 2-inch full-range drivers directed towards the front and sides of the box in addition to six 3-inch woofers. And the sound is powerful; clear and room-filling. It’s also excellent for listening to bass-heavy music and movies.
Note that the box itself is 9.5cm high. That doesn't sound like a lot, but it might cause an issue if your TV doesn't have a stand that raises it up above that. When we went to see the Soundbox in a demo a few months back, Sky raised up the LG TV it was using to demonstrate the Soundbox using a plinth.
And the stand on our own Sony TV was too compact as well. When we were watching the Ashes (sorry Sky, it’s on BT Sport) the score graphics at the bottom of the screen were obscured.
An interesting footnote; Sky showed us the packaging for the Soundbox which is entirely recyclable – there’s no single-use plastic used.
For Sky Q customers then, the Soundbox is almost a no-brainer. It seamlessly integrates with the box and is a joy to have in the home – an excellent companion for sport and movies in particular.
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