TVs & Audio | September 20, 2023
Although the sound that modern televisions can achieve is usually sufficient for many households, more and more users are seeking something more, a sound that is fuller and more powerful than what is possible with built-in speakers. The solution often lies in a soundbar, which also opens the door to more possible uses, like the Teufel Cinebar Ultima, priced at 699.99 euros.
Most soundbars are very wide devices but with relatively low thickness; the goal is for them to ‘disappear’ once installed, as if they don’t exist, even though this can sometimes affect the sound (since the speakers used cannot be as large as they could be).
That’s why I can say I’ve never tested a product like the Teufel Cinebar Ultima: a soundbar that leaves those considerations behind to focus on one thing: more powerful sound. Moreover, at the time of writing these words, it’s possible to take advantage of summer discounts, obtaining a 250 euro discount that brings the price down to 449.99 euros. But is it worth it?
That the Cinebar Ultima is unlike any other conventional soundbar is evident just by looking at the box. It’s a true behemoth, something that becomes clear when we take the bar out of the box and install it. This bar is gigantic by industry standards, far from the slim bars that other manufacturers prefer; it’s as if Teufel has no complexes and has simply created the best possible bar without considering ‘trivial’ details like minimalist design.
Size isn’t the only reason this bar stands out so much. The design is also very ‘bold,’ to the point that I appreciate a ‘retro’ element in the Cinebar Ultima. The absolute protagonists are the four speakers and two ‘woofers,’ and the rest of the device is unimportant black plastic. In fact, while Teufel includes a fabric cover to hide the speakers, like other soundbars, I prefer the exposed look; the speakers stand out thanks to their copper-colored finish, but not enough to distract while we’re watching a movie. Whether to cover the speakers or not is up to us, but it’s evident, even in promotional images, that Teufel’s intention is for us to leave them exposed.
The only elements that dare to stand out are the physical controls and the front display; the latter shows information such as the input port used or the volume, but thanks to its red color, it doesn’t stand out, yet it’s visible with or without the cover installed. I can’t praise the controls: the buttons aren’t physical but touch-sensitive areas that can be difficult to trigger and don’t offer a good tactile sensation. Given the ‘old-school’ style of this bar, it was a disappointing surprise to find these buttons.
But you might forget about all of this when you see how absurdly large this bar is; in fact, it’s so big that installation might be an issue, and I’m not just referring to the weight (which is also a consideration). To put it plainly, this bar might not fit anywhere, depending on the size and layout of your TV or your setup; in my case, the bar slightly covers the bottom of my TV when I place it in the same spot as other similar devices, right in front. The thickness is also notable, to the point where it might collide with the TV’s feet. Therefore, if I were to make a personal purchase, I’d probably have to find a way to install the bar securely and ensure it’s centered for the best experience. It’s a crucial detail, and that’s why it’s recommended to first consider the dimensions of the device (110 cm in width, 13.3 cm in height, and 16.4 cm in depth) before buying.
Gone are the days when soundbars only served to enhance TV sound; although this Teufel Cinebar Ultima is certainly capable of that, it can do much more, putting it on par with its competitors in some aspects, although it falls short in others.
Starting with the physical connections, we have the necessary HDMI inputs and outputs to connect the device to a TV and another device, such as a video game console; although the HDMI connection is only version 2.0a and therefore won’t be able to make use of the resolution of modern consoles like the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X. We also have an optical digital audio input and a stereo RCA audio input, so we have plenty of options to connect whatever we want. I really like that it has a built-in sound card, so the USB port can be used to connect another device like a computer and use the bar as an audio output. Many manufacturers don’t allow this.
Of course, the Cinebar Ultima also functions as a Bluetooth speaker, allowing us to connect our phone or tablet, for example. A great detail is that it’s capable of using the aptX codec, which provides higher wireless sound quality; given Bluetooth’s current limitations, it’s one of the best options for better appreciating our favorite songs. What we don’t have is AirPlay or any similar protocol.
Speaking of wireless connections, perhaps the most interesting one is what Teufel has implemented to synchronize other speakers of the brand; in fact, the Cinebar Ultima is sold separately, or in a bundle with two additional speakers for 979.99 euros (729.99 euros on offer), which, although they require their own power outlet, don’t require running a cable from the bar.
Despite being so versatile, using this soundbar is very straightforward. There’s nothing strange or any weird functions that force us to use an app, as is the case with products from other brands. This is one of those products that you simply plug in and use, no more fuss. The included wireless remote has just the right buttons and allows for easy switching between different modes. It’s one of the least troublesome soundbars I’ve encountered, and it’s installed and ready to use in just a few minutes.
As for the sound, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the strong point of the Cinebar Ultima lies in pure power. With 380 W of power, it’s capable of filling any living room or space without much trouble. In this sense, the size of the device makes sense and is justified, as it allows for sufficiently large speakers.
But that’s what I expected as soon as I saw the size and specifications of this soundbar; if you consider both aspects, it’s not surprising that the sound can reach such high volume. What has truly surprised me is the sound quality itself, with its two strong points being the bass and the ‘surround’ sensation.
Regarding the former, it’s clear that the ‘woofers’ are the stars. This is one of those soundbars that vibrates the environment if you turn up the volume very high, and you’ll feel explosions, impacts, or instruments in your body. The midrange is also well-represented, especially the vocals; I haven’t had any trouble understanding what the characters were saying or enjoying the vocal parts in my favorite songs.
What I perhaps wasn’t expecting as much is the sense of envelopment. Mind you, this bar on its own isn’t a replacement for true ‘surround’ setups with more independent speakers, but in my tests, I noticed how the sound enveloped me, accurately pinpointing where the instruments or sound effects were coming from. The bar is compatible with DTS and Dolby Audio sound. The trebles are its weak point, although it’s something I only noticed in some songs where that characteristic ‘flat’ effect of equipment that can’t reach certain frequencies was present.
The Teufel Cinebar Ultima is one of the most unique soundbars I’ve had the chance to test, and that’s saying a lot. By prioritizing power and sound quality, Teufel has managed to stand out against other alternatives that prioritize design or portability. It fulfills its purpose when connected to both the TV and our mobile devices, and it’s very easy to use.
The flip side of this, of course, is that the soundbar falls short in certain aspects; and naturally, its size might make installation impossible depending on our situation. This makes it difficult to recommend at its original price of 699.99 euros; however, if you can get it at its offer price, it’s a perfect purchase for many households, with no excessive flaws and an original style.