Sky has done a deal with high-end speaker company Devialet to produce a soundbar co-branded by the two firms. The speaker will retail for a fairly staggering £799, but there's good news. Current Sky customers will get the speaker for £299 and Sky Q Multiscreen punters will pay just £249.
The speaker itself has the usual audio modes. There is a dialogue enhancement option, which is a common complaint with TV viewers who claim they can't hear speech over background music and effects. There's a late night mode, which cuts the bass so others in the house can sleep. The most interesting option, and one that's less common, is the "kid" mode, which puts a limit on the maximum volume.
The speaker itself has six woofers and three full-range speakers and uses walls to bounce sound around the room. There will presumably be a setup process for this, but it will more than likely be automated.
Also fitted is Bluetooth 4.1, for connecting other devices, like phones. There's a pair of HDMI cables in the box as well as an optical cable. Also worthy of note is support for Dolby Digital+, which offers more bandwidth than regular Dolby Digital. Sky says that Q customers will also get custom listening modes that work with their box - another interesting idea. This could allow Sky to make movies sound far better than with a competing soundbar.
There's nothing unusual about soundbars these days, but Sky jumping into the market is certainly interesting. For one thing, that price reduction is considerable. It's unlikely that the Soundbox will inspire much customer loyalty, as it works with any TV as long as it has HDMI or digital audio out. Products like Sky's Now TV branded Roku box helped keep customers using its internet service.
Overall it's hard to be grumpy about this. While there are a lot of soundbars and the like on the market they are either cheap and perhaps not brilliant sounding, or massively expensive. It seems unlikely anyone would buy this product at full price, but for Sky customers, this is a real bargain - at least on paper.
Sky also announced it's adding Atmos to Sky Q, but the Soundbox won't take advantage of Dolby's amazing object-based audio system. The Soundbox will arrive this Autumn.