Review: JBL (Harman Kardon), Cinema SB350 – Manual of Warnings

A while back my wife and I picked up a soundbar, JBL (Harman Kardon), Cinema SB350, for her dad because he wanted better audio for his TV. As he articulated, “I want to hear the voices clearer.”

Simple, right?

No, wrong, and big X stamped on your forehead. It is not that nothing is ever simple, but because the company who you bought whatever it is from happen to think you are the thing that is simple , as in a moron, who will inevitably fall into their marketing maws regardless of what they do or do not.

We went to Best Buy1 and purchased the aforementioned SB350. We did successfully hook up the device, with some missteps in the process, and no help from the instructions in the box. These instructions, a truly pointless gesture were, I imagine, born out of some murky swamp of middle management.

Why keep up appearances and print up instructions if you are only creating rubbish? Ask your Yes Men, they’ll have an answer for you. I, however, do not. While it is not the most expensive home theatre solution, it is neither the cheapest; it is also considerably more costly than the particleboard furniture units that its multitude of owners have no doubt perched it on. Yet, the fruits and joys brought about from the labors of deciphering the hieroglyphs in the literature included with particleboard furniture and the SB350 are equivalent. The attitude regarding consumer expectations about instructions, hard copy or electronic2, seem to be that they are either irrelevant or non-existent.

There were two documents in the box. The first was the quick start guide, a foldout pamphlet with flea-circus sized diagrams and 7pt type, sans a Sherlock Holmes magnifying glass to actually read it. The second piece of literature that the SB350 came with was an 80 page booklet, recalling those of Jack T. Chick, and emblazoned with an exclamation point in a traffic sign. Once again laid out in flea-man-type, this booklet outlines a series of warnings that must absolve someone from culpability in those instances where an individual decides to take a bubble bath with their woofer speaker, or try and dispose of the soundbar in their sink’s garbage disposal.

JBL Manual of Warnings
JBL Manual of Warnings

Home theatre installation is a lot less complex than it used to be. Marketed as plug and play, the SB350 soundbar has one wire that connects to the TV, either a HDMI, or an optical cable, and a woofer that it has to be wirelessly paired with. However, we still encountered difficulties. One problem manifested when the volume control on the TV remote and soundbar were paired. After doing this, when volume was increased (or decreased) both sound from the TV and soundbar were raised or lowered, causing a doubling effect in the audio. There was no clear way to override the TV’s sound or disable it. Eventually this somehow magically rectified itself. How? Ask the whimsical fairy who also decided to eventually grant my wish after five frustrating hours that my Brother Printer was worthy to be on my wireless network. A small section in the instructions on troubleshooting, even perhaps a section about speaker placement, would have been welcome. Apparently this is something that is just not done, because consumers are either technical wizards and just know how to do this, or they are idiots who are going to fuck it up anyway.

How does the JBL (Harman Kardon), Cinema SB350 sound? If you ask me, who gives a shit. If the company won’t try, neither will I.

Note: This was an older post that (for some reason) I never got around to putting up.

  1. Best Buy is becoming something of a dinosaur in these times; I wonder what will happen first, if it will finally fold, or humanity will experience the sixth great extinction brought on by consumerism. ↩︎
  2. JBL also has the quick start guide available for download on their site. ↩︎

An Hour Before Dawn – Northeast, Minneapolis

This mid-side stereo recording was made approximately an hour before dawn1 in Northeast, Minneapolis on July 9th, 2016. Other than instances such as bugs hitting the microphone blimp, there are few edits in the recording. I did roll off at 60 Hz; on my system this has a slight effect on the train sounds, the first of which appears around minute 20, but I felt the cut was beneficial in getting rid of some other boominess of the air. The train still sounds accurate in relation to where I was2.

  1. The recording begins around 4:30 AM; dawn was at 5:36 AM. 

  2. The train tracks are a couple blocks from where I was recording. 

Element 115 and Bob Lazar

Just the other week, a big announcement in the field of science was made. Element 115 was named Moscovium (Mc). Yes, it was discovered sometime in 2013, but I guess I wasn’t paying attention.

Why is Element 115, errr, Moscovium important? Bob Lazar is why. I don’t remember all the details from the video we got,1 but I seem to remember Mr. Lazar claiming that Element 115 was ultra stable, unlike most of the heavy man-made elements.2

Anyway, not much else to say on this. Though if anybody has a good copy of the video, I wouldn’t mind watching it again.

  1. I think we rented it from Hollywood Video. Remember that? Maybe it was Blockbuster though… 

  2. Uranium is the heaviest naturally occurring element on Earth. 

Sunday Dogs

“Sunday Dogs” is a short instrumental. I should have probably added barking dogs to it, but I decided not to make it an intense affair and more of a moment before the barking begins affair.

Pools 9 & 10 – Carlos Avery, Minnesota

This is a recording I made near pools 9 and 10 at Carlos Avery, a Minnesota WMA, on March 13, 2016. It was a pretty grey day overall, and there isn’t too much going on in the soundscape other than some wind and the occasional bird. I recorded at a couple other spots, but it was too windy. There a couple pictures below.

Carlos Avery - Water
Carlos Avery – Water
Carlos Avery - Improvised Mic Stand
Carlos Avery – Improvised Mic Stand (I’m not quite pointing at the microphone with my thermos, but look at the nice tree.)
Carlos Avery - Near Pools 9 and 10
Carlos Avery – Near Pools 9 and 10

MIFC # 3

While you are reading MIFC # 3, you can listen to the rather unexciting soundscape I made this afternoon of our backyard in Minneapolis. I was going to go out to one of the WMA’s, but because we have plans later this evening, I decided there was not enough time. In the recording you can hear some birds1, a truck pulling up, the neighbors talking, squirrels frolicking in the leaves, and then a couple of flies whizz past the microphones at the end of the track.

MIFC # 3
MIFC # 3

  1. The birds might be Black-capped Chickadees, but I’m not certain. I tried using the Cornell Lab’s Merlin Bird ID app, but ultimately was not sure because the birdsongs sound a different. If you have a guess of what the birds are, please feel free to comment.