Evolve SB-2501 soundbar system review

Evolve soundbarYou might not be familiar with the audio brand Evolve but they happen to be owned by Janky Inc, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of satellite products. I have been living with the SB-2501 soundbar which comes with a wireless sub and headphones.

As most of us now have super-thin televisions these days it has become a trade off to have these skinny panels with improved visuals but poor sound owing to the lack of depth in which to install decent speakers.

The TV makers do try their best and my Panasonic Viera TX-47AS740 does ok for television programmes but films tend to lack the involvement and the rumble.

This is where the Evolve Audio SB-2501 Soundbar is designed to add that punch.

Evolve SB-2501 design

I have to admit, not knowing what to expect from Evolve, I was suitably impressed by what you get in the box, not to mention the build quality of the SB-2501 soundbar itself.

The soundbar is encased in black brushed aluminium and measures a mere 49mm slim.

Around the back of the soundbar you’ll find the power switch and connector, 3 AUX jacks, one of which is optical. Evolve even include all the leads you need to get you going which is always a nice touch.

sb-2501 feetThe soundbar sits on a pair of rubber feet which can be removed if you’re wall mounting everything.

The front display of the soundbar features input source lights and Bluetooth connection status lights. The cloth grilles at either side of the display can be removed should you want to expose the white cones.

The included subwoofer is fairly compact, with its wooden enclosure measuring approx 250mm wide by 336mm deep, which allows it to be hidden anywhere, as does the fact that it is wireless. I have my television on a stand with the soundbar sat in front of it but the sub unit is hidden down by the side of the sofa.

I like the additional USB charging port offered by the woofer which is there to charge the wireless headphones. Yup, there’s more in the box!

EVO-1 headphonesThe EVO-1 headphones are there for when you want to enjoy the total immersion of a great film but don’t want to disturb everyone else in the house.  The controls on the actual headphones are on/off and then volume up and down – that’s all you need really isn’t it?

Finally, there’s the compact remote. It has volume and bass control, input selector, on/of, mute, effect, 3D DSS (Definitive Surround Sound), Bluetooth and a button to turn the soundbar’s lights on or off.

All of the kit is finished in a stealthy black as all these should be heard and not seen.

Evolve SB-2501 set up

I have to admit that, as the Evolve SB-2501 landed at Gadgety HQ at the same time as my television, I put off setting it up for a while after seeing all the bits involved but I really shouldn’t have. Setting up the SB-2501 couldn’t really be any easier.

sb-2501in the boxWhat made the set up even easier is that all the cables you need come with the kit, and the remote even comes fitted with a battery. These may be small things, but they are important when you just want to get sorted.

I simply ran the optical out from my telly to the soundbar and plugged in the power, decided where the sub was going to live and plugged that in to the power and that was pretty much that. The sub and headphones automagically paired with the bar and we were good to go. So, ignoring the power cables, getting audio from the soundbar and the woofer only needs one lead. How cool is that!

Evolve SB-2501 performance

Evolve Audio have integrated UniPhase into the soundbar. This is a frequency separation technology that delivers a consistent audio wave form from all drivers, without discrepancy or interference. This translates into a high quality music listening experience.

sb-2501 speaker panelA neat touch (pun intended), which I discovered by accident, is that the display panel on the soundbar is actually touch sensitive. This is pretty handy should your remote become… remote.

The Evolve SB-2501 soundbar employs six 40mm high-efficiency drivers, backed up by a 6-inch downward-firing bass driver and 60W amplifier in the sub and this all certainly boosts the audio from the television in a very clear and precise way.

sb-2501 subwooferThe Wireless Subwoofer incorporates wireless HD Lossless Technology which is significantly more efficient than Bluetooth. This has the added benefit of providing more audio detail. Using this wireless lossless technology also delivers real time sound from your TV ensuring no lip-sync issues.

I have had chance to play a variety of movies through the SB-2501 system and after spending time tweaking the output and bass levels came to a setting where there was enough weight from the sub but dialogue, effects and music still came clear. I was finding that, in some places, the mids tended to get swamped but a quick fix was just to set the TV volume enough to cut through.

The sound modes do add to the overall experience. The News setting does bring the dialogue more up front and Movies adds yet more bass. The DSS setting does widen the sound slightly which brings with it a wider and more spatial soundstage.

Bearing in mind how small the sub and soundbar are I think that their performance is pretty impressive.

Hooking up my mobile phone to the system via Bluetooth added another dimension of usefulness to the SB-2501 as it seems to handle music with a touch more refinement than it does movie soundtracks. Where it didn’t give my Hi-Fi system any cause for concern it was certainly able enough to flick from Refused’s ‘Elektra’ to Billie Holiday’s ‘Autumn in New York’ quite ably.

evo-1Turning on the EVO-1 headphones mutes the soundbar automatically which is another handy feature as it will prevent kicking out the tunes to the rest of the household even though you think you’re being considerate. I remember doing that the first time I had a separate headphone amp plugged in to the line out but had kept the volume up on the main amp.

The EVO-1 headphones use atom drivers which are said to be extremely powerful neodymium magnets made with rare-earth material which makes them twice as powerful as regular ferroferric oxide magnets. The headphones are lightweight and make a decent job of giving you a more personal experience with the film or music being played through the system. I felt that dialogue could be clearer on movies but, as these headphones come bundled with everything else you get, perhaps I’m just being too picky.

Being wireless, the headphones have a handy charging connection on the subwoofer. Once you switch the headphones off the audio is squirted back through the soundbar once more.

Evolve SB-2501 soundbar system review conclusion

The Evolve SB-2501 soundbar system, as it really is a system, scores on multiple fronts. Not only do you get the soundbar but a wireless subwoofer and headphones thrown in. The system is really easy to set up and you can be enjoying improved audio from your telly box within 10 minutes. Then there’s the small matter of the price – which is indeed only a small matter – as all of this can be yours for less than £200 from Amazon.co.uk.

evolve sb-2501 soundbar reviewFor a company’s first stab at a soundbar Evolve has done many things right. They bundle all the cables you need in the box and have been very generous in adding a sub and  headphones in there too. Audio quality is very decent for the price and the fact that you can pair your smart device to the bar and stream your music through it and the sub too is another bonus.

Add in to that the fact that it is a cinch to set up then I think Evolve have a winner in this price bracket.

If you are venturing in to the soundbar world for the first time, or have a strict budget, I cannot recommend the Evolve SB-2501 enough.

Technical specifications
SB-2501 soundbar
  • 40mm 8ohm High Efficiency Acoustic Driver x4
  • 40mm 4ohm High Efficiency Acoustic Driver x2
  • 60 Watts Power Output
  • Built-In 16-bit Audio DSP
  • 2.4ghz Digital Wireless Audio Transceiver
  • 24-bit Audio Codec
  • APT-X Bluetooth Streaming
  • Brushed Aluminum Cabinet
  • Evolve Wireless Headphone Compatible
  • Dimensions: L-820mm x H-583mm xD-490mm
  • Power input: DC 12V
EVO-1 headphones
  • 40mm 8ohm High Efficiency ATOM Drive x 2
  • 24-bit Audio Codec
  • Three Dimensional Head Fitting Adjustment
  • Integrates with Evolve Audio Soundbars
  • 8-10 hours playback time from one full charge
  • USB Charging Port
Wireless audio
  • Audio Sampling frequency: 48khz ( CD 44.1khz)
  • Audio bit depth: 16-bit (CD 16-bit)
  • Automatic Adaptive Frequency Shift
  • Forward Error Correction
  • S/N Ratio : 96dB
  • Audio Latency 12.5ms (Bluetooth > 150ms)
  • Transmission Distance: 12m line of sight