In a market flooded with options, it’s often hard for integrators to parse which soundbar is the perfect solution when selecting items for a residential project. Between wireless AV options, passive vs. active considerations, and industrial design, there are simply so many factors to consider.
This is where the Fusion S3 Soundbar from Next Level Acoustics comes in. Designed to fit snugly underneath a flat-panel TV while mounted above a fireplace, the company’s goal is to create a goldilocks soundbar that pairs perfectly with a subwoofer to create an immersive home theater experience for clients on a moderate budget.
While this is a lofty goal, Next Level Acoustics accomplishes this task well with the Fusion S3 and solidifies its spot as a unique option integrators should consider when tackling their next home theater project.
Features and Set Up
As with most passive speakers, the features list for the Fusion S3 soundbar is somewhat limited. Next Level Acoustics says the product includes its proprietary crossover configuration to improve sound quality, as well as a textured front surface to minimize high-frequency reflections. While it is a little difficult to verify the effectiveness of these inclusions, I only ever noticed one instance of echoing and no instances of oversaturated bass while listening in my untreated living room.
Next Level Acoustics offers the Fusion S3 in three stock sizes; 55 (48.8-inches wide), Fusion S3 – 65 (56.9-inches wide), and Fusion S3 – 75 (65.9-inches wide). For the purposes of this review, I was given the Fusion S3 – 65, which pairs perfectly with my 65-inch 4K Sony TV.
The main selling point and feature of the Fusion S3 soundbar is its height. Measuring only 2.95-inches of overall height, the soundbar is positively tiny. This slim, shortened design makes it perfect for installing in rooms where space is a limiting factor, or when installing a TV mounted above a fireplace, as it won’t interfere with the view of the fireplace and comes in a sleek high-gloss black finish to integrate into a myriad of home decor preferences. Next Level Acoustics also offers custom grille and body finishes upon request, so integrators can more easily match the decor of a given install.
The Fusion S3 comes shipped in a long, well-padded box that includes only the speaker itself with no instructions necessary since the set-up is a straightforward process for anyone with passive speaker experience. As with many passive soundbars, all I needed to do was run a few speaker cables with banana plugs from my Yamaha RX-VA6 receiver into the designated ports in the back of the soundbar. There are three separate ports that need cables run to them (left, center, and right channels), but beyond that, all I had to do was run an HDMI cable from the receiver into the ARC port on my TV and I was ready to rock.
For my untreated living room, I placed the soundbar behind the TV with about 6-feet of space between the home entertainment console and the first seat on the couch. The average seating distance is closer to 12 feet on average though, which was never an issue while testing the speaker beyond an occasional echo toward the back of the room. While ideally …….