Amateur filmmakers often go to painful lengths to get the lighting and lenses just right for their magnum opus but treat sound as an afterthought. Yet great sound can really bring a moving image to life. There are many amazing looking flatscreens on the market that have sub-par audio – which to my mind is almost like serving gourmet food on dirty dishes.

Enter the soundbar – a simple way to bring higher quality audio to your living room. We got a chance to play with the Maxell MXSB-252 Soundbar Digital TV Speaker. Well it’s called a soundbar, but one of the first thing one thinks out of the box is that it is more of a soundslab, upon which you rest your TV. The distinctive all on-in-one design is easy to set up (10 minutes max) and really cuts down on cabling, leaving you with a very streamlined system.

The slab hosts a 30w subwoofer, four 10w speakers and SRS WOW HD technology. Like all soundbars, it simply isn’t as good as a dedicated surround sound set up but the sound is good and noticeably better than the TV speakers it was enhancing. SRS WOW HD technology expands the size of the audio image and creates a deep, rich bass response, widens the horizontal sound field and raises the vertical sound image. In practice this can sometimes be a little too bassy – especially for regular TV, but is great for music and does help to fill the room.

The system includes three HDMI and one Optical connection, and a single HDMI output to pass through a video source to the TV (with ARC support which is handy). The speaker can also accept a 3.5 line in so you can plug in any MP3 player. Wireless connectivity would be nice, but for such an affordable speaker that feels almost greedy.

The Maxell MXSB-252 Soundbar Digital TV Speaker is available from Play.com at £129.99 SRP including VAT, and includes a 2 year warranty