The Sound From the TCL TS8132 Soundbar is Pretty Darn Perfect

The Sound From the TCL TS8132 Soundbar is Pretty Darn Perfect
Image: YCL

There’s a phenomenon known as haptic sensation, which is basically a way objects trick your mind into believing they’re of higher quality or importance if they’re heavy. You might be wondering why I’ve brought this up when you’ve clearly clicked on a review of the TCL TS8132 Soundbar, but there’s a point I’m going to make if you stick with me.

Soundbars are difficult to review in 2021. At Gizmodo Australia, we haven’t come across a TV this year we didn’t think sounded bad ass – hell, the TCL x925 Mini-LED 8K Google TV I reviewed last month had a built in soundbar that floored me with how good it was. But there’s STILL those that need better sound to match the picture quality, like the Samsung Neo QLED QN90A 50-inch TV we otherwise liked.

So clearly there’s still a need for soundbars if you want to elevate your TV watching to the next level.

Back to this haptic sensation thing.

Our brains are wired to associate a heavier object with offering more importance or better quality. The first example that comes to mind is a large door that’s hard to open into a fancy restaurant (and that restaurant’s menu being bound in leather and super heavy, too). I was able to carry the TCL TS8132 Soundbar (in its box) with ease, so I wasn’t filled with confidence when I opened the packaging.

Anything with an amp usually weighs a tonne. Which usually means the cabinet you put the thing on needs to be heavily reinforced. My initial thoughts? “The sub feels a bit light, but I’m going to be happy to be proven wrong”.

The TCL TS8132 Soundbar proved me wrong and threw that whole haptic sensation thing right out the window.

The specs

  • Model: TS8132
  • Description: 3.1.2 Ch Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer
  • Sound: Dolby Atmos surround sound
  • Peak power: 350W
  • Dimensions: 1000 x 65 x 122 mm (soundbar) & 200 x 350 x 200 mm (subwoofer)
  • Weight: 3.3kg (soundbar) & 3.5kg (subwoofer)
  • Price: RRP $699
  • What else? Wireless music streaming via Bluetooth and works with Google Assistant, Apple Air Play and Amazon Alexa.
How do you make a box photograph nicely when it’s shaped so awkwardly? Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Setting up the TCL TS8132 Soundbar

If you aren’t outsmarted by the box, as I was, unpacking and set up takes about 15 minutes. I’ve dedicated a whole paragraph to talking about setup but using a HDMI ARC to ARC cable, the TV understood what I wanted and the TCL TS8132 Soundbar was set up moments after it was turned on. The sub and the soundbar both connected and immediately sounded schmick.

TCL TS8132 Soundbar
Clean and tidy buttons, a big plus. Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Excuse my setup, I’m waiting for a TV cabinet to arrive. But as you can see, the usual set up with this TV is a trusty Yamaha AMP and B&W speakers. The soundbar on the floor sounded terrible, so don’t do that.

One of the messiest photos to ever appear on this website. Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Switching through TV modes is simple, the remote allows you to do this with ease.

The sound

It’s got solid bass for such a small, light thing. Usually, subs this size make the whole thing sound hollow, but watching a movie sounded amazing. The explosions in Iron Man went off and basically anything Marvel would hit the spot.

TCL TS8132 Soundbar
Little sub, big impact. Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

The Dolby Atmos brings this soundbar to life. If you aren’t familiar, Dolby Atmos basically creates the illusion of a 360-degree soundscape full of audio depth and clarity. The sales pitch is that it immerses you in a movie, and immerse does it do. That extended lightning rumble is epic.

The default is the best setting to leave it on for watching TV shows and movies, but for music, especially heavier music, it starts to get muffled.

You can get away with a less refined sub for a movie, but for music it needs to be more tight and punchy. This soundbar hit both very, very well. It dealt with music fine, but I’m fully aware the type of music I listen to isn’t what a soundbar is made for. And, as important as music quality is, this is a soundbar for your TV, not a replacement for your home music system.

Sound quality is definitely punching above its weight, well above – it’s the sound you usually get with a big, floppy 12-inch sub. My only complaint is that I feel like the standard setting on the sub and soundbar might be too bass heavy for a lot of people, but you can just turn the bass down via the remote.

TCL TS8132 Soundbar verdict

Honestly, it’s good. For the price, it’s OK. It elevates the movie I’m watching to sound epic and watching sport, I’m not going to say I feel like I’m there because I’m in activewear on the lounge, but watching the 2021 NRL grand final re-run for the 40th time with the TCL TS8132 Soundbar is perfect. TCL isn’t usually associated with high-end ‘sound’ brand, but the quality, particularly the bass, is really up there.

Don’t let that whole haptic sensation thing fool you.