Seeing that the Pioneer HTZ-HW929BD has a Blu-ray player, we also assessed it when handling high definition content. For this purpose we used Michael Jakcson’s swansong performance This Is It and Superman Returns. Both titles allow us to thoroughly test out the various aspects of the sound bar such as soundstage, bass, mids, treble in addition to checking out how the device performs in real life usage scenarios.
There is no doubting that Michael Jackson compositions are intricate and complex, hence posing a strict challenge to speakers tasked with reproducing them. We started off our listening with the aptly titled Wannabe Startin’ Something. The bass capabilities of the Pioneer sound bar set the funky groove going. Mids performance was also commendable, which might be because of the absence of distortion seeing that the device was previously unable to handle Buckethead’s Sail On Soothsayer.
We moved on to Jam. Like with the previous track, good bass performance meant that the drum heavy song was done justice. The soundstage of the HTZ-HW929BD also helps that the atmosphere of the song is rendered with good width, depth and height. However certain sound effects, the whiplash ones in particular, lacked color and did not sound life-like which pulled the score down slightly.
They Don’t Care About Us is also heavy on percussions, and much like Hotel California, the good transient response of the product helps it deliver all the sounds with good fidelity. The timbre of many of the wind instruments used, such as the pan flutes, was preserved which came as a surprise considering the performance with Melt My Heart To Stone. But we noticed on this track in particular that the bass overpowered the rest of the frequencies in the mix. In particular, the highs came across as muted and subdued. The reduction in the sound wing's power output and the increase in the subwoofer's power capabilities may be the cause for the imbalanced sound.
Ending with the classic Beat It, we found that this sound bar handled this track’s distortion better than previous instances from MP3 testing. As evidenced with most of the other tracks, the good percussions and bass help out on this track as well. However we were not entirely happy with the mix and the lack of a full-fledged EQ panel for tweaking the audio was sorely felt. Once again the highs were not as clear or present as we would have preferred.
While This Is It helped test the music capabilities of the sound bar, we used Superman Returns to see how the device handles movie scenarios. Obviously when viewing the movie, attention is diverted from gauging the timbre of the speakers to checking its soundstage and sound effect qualities.
For the opening sequences of Superman Returns, the speakers did a decent job. Good bass performance ensured that the planet explosion had adequate impact. The upward facing Sound Wing design also helps cast a wide soundstage, which gives good directionality to the audio of the shards flying across the screen. However, muted highs meant that the dialogue came across as being muddled. Similarly, the soundtrack also lacked a certain amount of clarity.
The same problems were experienced when we switched over to the action scene at the 33-minute mark. The explosion of the airplane and the sound effects had good impact. But dialogue was muddy and unclear. The Pioneer HTZ-HW929BD has two particular modes for movie watchers, namely Virtual 3D Max and Movie EQ. From our experience we would advise you to stay away from the latter as it makes the audio even more undefined, adding in problems of audio distortion for scenes that are heavy in sound effects. Virtual 3D Max does not necessarily solve the problems with dialogue clarity, but it does expand the already roomy audio even further. If you enjoy a wide soundstage, this mode might be the one for you.
|This Is It - Michael Jackson||Score|
|Wannabe Startin' Something||8.0|
|They Don't Care About Us||7.5|
|Airplane Scene [33:00 mins]||7.5|