Reviews

Majority Bowfell Plus 2.1 Sound Bar & Subwoofer Review

Majority are back with some new products and I’m here to check ’em out. We’re starting with the Majority Bowfell Plus, an upgraded version of their baby Bowfell sound bar. This is a 2.1 setup, adding a separate subwoofer and another 50w of power for a grand total of about £65, an attractive price for anyone looking to upgrade the lousy sound quality that modern TVs tend to have. With a price-tag like that, though, there’s also plenty of room for the Bowfell Plus to be more like a Bowfell Minus. God, that joke was terrible. I’m sorry. Let’s just get on with this review.

There isn’t too much to talk about in regards to the Bowfell’s looks. It’s a simple black bar measuring in at 38.8 x 5.43 x 7.21cm, an unobtrusive device that can sit beneath or above your TV without drawing much attention, and the same goes for the subwoofer which comes in at 9 x 22.4 x 30.8 cm. The choice of a glossy black plastic is a little annoying since it attracts fingerprints like McDonald’s attracts stoners. However, you probably aren’t going to be handling the Bowfell a lot once it’s set up so it’s a non-issue. Unless you have one of those kids that loves to get Cheetos all over their fingers and then run around touching everything. In that case, I’d highly recommend selling the child.

The back of the sound bar doesn’t have any mounting points, so chances are you’re going to be sticking it under your TV or on a shelf of some description. And the cables do poke out the back a fair bit so it can’t sit flush against a wall. I’d like to have seen some routing options on the bottom or something, but given the budget nature of the Bowfell it’s hardly surprising that there isn’t any.

The connection options on the back of the Bowfell are a little surprising because there’s no sign of an HDMI ARC slot which has become the de-facto connection method these days. Instead, you have an optical cable port, but that’s probably not going to be an issue because most TVs still come with them. ARC does offer more options in terms of stuff like surround sound, but because the Bowfell is a 2.1 system the only real drawback to using optical is that you can’t control the sound bar through your normal TV remote like you can with ARC. That’s a bit of a bummer, but the good news is the included remote is a considerable step-up over the previous ones I covered when reviewing Majority’s products. It’s got more weight and the casing isn’t as flexible, providing a premium feel. It’s actually a little strange that a much cheaper product got a vastly better remote control.

In terms of other connections, the Bowfell keeps things pretty simple: there’s an AUX input if you want to hook up something like a phone or connect the TV using the included RC cables, although because the AUX slot is on the side of the bar you end up with a cable sticking out sideways. I assume Majority did this to make plugging in things like phones easier, but it comes at the expense of making the unit look untidy if you connect via the RC cables. There’s also the expected Bluetooth so that you can live in constant fear of your phone auto-connecting to the sound bar while you’re busy watching porn on it in the other room. The Bowfell only supports a single Bluetooth connection at a time, mind you, so if you have multiple devices you’ll have to go through the pairing process each time you swap.

And there’s also a USB slot that’s intended for thumb drives, although I don’t think I’ve ever seen or heard of anyone actually doing that. Still, if you like to bring a drive full of tunes round to a friend’s house, more power to you. The remote control supports basic track navigation, and as a nice bonus the Bowfell will remember where you left off provided you don’t turn off power at the wall. There’s no visual aids on the bar itself which means it’s not great for long playlists, but you could conceivably plug a stick full of music into the back and use the Bowfell like a jukebox.

Hooking up the separate subwoofer unit is as simple as plugging it straight into the back of the sound bar. Sadly, it’s not wireless so you are limited by the cable. That cable, though, is around 6m in length so you should be able to get the woofer situated nicely in a corner for maximum bass awesomeness. But on the positive side, that means the subwoofer doesn’t take up a power socket, a potentially great perk if you live in a small flat or just don’t have a lot of sockets to spare.

The Bowfell claims to deliver 100w of power straight to your earholes, and while that certainly isn’t as much as something like their Everest (read my review of that) it’s certainly enough for a smallish space which the Bowfell is quite clearly aimed at given its small stature. The short length of the bar means it’s probably going to look a little odd sat in front of a mammoth screen, and it will struggle to fill a large room with noise. It’s great for a smaller space, however, like a bedroom or small apartment living room. It might also work well as a PC speaker system. And the 100w of power usage means the Bowfell won’t pump up those electricity bills too much. That’s not something I’d normally mention in a review but right now things like this can be important to people.

Going in I wasn’t expecting anything amazing from this small sound bar but I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the audio. Is it amazing? Can it compete with sound bars and speakers that cost the soul of your first-borne Nah. For the price, however, the sound is crisp and clear, a good level of detail can be picked out and dialog comes through nicely. It’s a little tinny on the highs, a wee bit lacking in the raw oomph, both to be expected from a sound system like this, but still provides a massive upgrade over the crappy speakers most TVs have. A bit of tuning of the bass and treble (there are three presets, too) help a fair bit. More importantly, it’s a good step up from the majority of other cheap sound bars I’ve heard, giving me no hesitation to recommend it above everything else in its price bracket, although with so many options available there may well be others out there offering something just as good.

Because the Bowfell sound bar is quite short, the left and right audio channels aren’t as spaced out as you would get out traditional speakers which also creates a smaller feel to the sound, but it was still reasonably easy to pick out a noise’s direction, vital for multiplayer shooters or listening to a helicopter travel from left to right in a movie.

The sub-woofer was a bit less impressive because while it can thump out a fair whack of bass it also isn’t very well defined, so everything was more of a muffled thump. Still, it gave explosions, gunshots and the like a bit of oomph, even if the drummer in me wasn’t so impressed by the lifeless kick-drum sounds in some of my favourite tracks. And at least the bass isn’t stupidly overpowering, something a lot of audios companies do as a cheap ploy to sell their product. This one is reasonably balanced.

So far Majority have impressed me and the Bowfell Plus is another solid product from them. It’s not amazing, but as a lower-end sound bar greatness isn’t a fair goal to aim for. For the price, you get good audio quality in a compact form factor that’s perfect for small rooms. It was even comparable to a sound bar I had previously that cost twice the price, so it’s hard to complain too much. And you get a three-year warranty. I’d have no problem recommending the Bowfell Plus to anyone looking for a budget-friendly solution to their TV’s weak speakers

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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