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.”
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.
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.
- 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. ↩︎
- JBL also has the quick start guide available for download on their site. ↩︎