Budget Soundbar Review: Soundcore Infini
The Soundcore Infini Soundbar is $99 and performs double duty as a budget soundbar for a TV, and a Bluetooth speaker for a smartphone and tablet.
On the cord cutting front, you can also tap into music apps like Sirius XM on a streaming device like Roku.
After spending about a month testing out the Infini, it is definitely a workhorse for its size, but best for a bedroom TV. The advantage of using it on your bedroom TV is that you get much fuller sound than what your television can offer without blowing out a neighboring bedroom at night.
It delivered clear, consistent sound from a large living room that’s 25 x 13, but to really appreciate what the Infini delivers from its side speaker ports, a smaller room like a bedroom or home office is much better.
The Infini houses four internal speakers instead of a separate amp. It has two internal subwoofers and two tweeters.
There are funnel-shaped speaker ports seated within each end of the sound bar. The Infini delivered surprisingly rich notes when I played “Pretty Saro” by Bob Dylan after connecting my smartphone using Bluetooth. Music played during TV shows and from streaming apps delivered quality sound as well as any standalone Bluetooth speaker at this price point.
How I tested Soundcore Infini Soundbar
I am writing this review after spending about four weeks of testing the Infini in a couple of different rooms. The Soundcore Infini was used connected to my living room TV and later a bedroom TV in my home.
In both cases, I connected the soundbar to the TV with an optical cord. You have the option to connect with a digital coaxial cable or a 3.5mm to RCA audio cable as well.
I watched movies, a few concerts and streamed shorter shows on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Pluto TV. During all of my testing, I had the soundbar in front of the TVs just below the screen. The Infini comes with mounting brackets so you can place it on the wall above the television. I didn’t try mounting it on the wall. Brackets and screws come in the box. And a pair of screw holes are on back of the sound bar.
The Samsung Soundbar K450, a pricier soundbar and amp, that I have connected to my living room TV helped me judge what the Infini could do as a budget soundbar. I don’t consider myself an audiophile, but I am a stereo enthusiast. I’ve had a harmon/kardon HK 3490 stereo receiver for years. I generally prefer Bose and Klipsch for speakers and headphones. I liked my records when vinyl was out of style, and I still like them now that they’re back in. Anker provided me with the Soundcore Infini to review.
Infini performance: Living room TV vs Bedroom TV
The Infini comes with a remote control and has three buttons for equalizing the speakers. One button is for music, another for movies and a third for dialogue.
When I had the Infini connected to the TV in my bedroom, I started watching “Stop Making Sense”, the great 1984 concert movie by Talking Heads. Hitting the music button on the remote adjusted the bass just right, and David Byrne’s voice still sounded clear and bright through the sound bar.
I switched back to movies when I went to watch the news, and you could notice that voices were a hint more prominent with less bass.
When the Infini was hooked up in the living room, I still preferred the music equalizer settings more often than the movie option.
This was really noticeable with movies or shows that consistently had a soundtrack or music going in the background of a scene. I watched the first episode of “The Worricker Trilogy”, which has a lot jazz weaved throughout the story. Keeping the equalizer settings on music made for a more immersive experience.
When I watched the second episode “Turks & Caicos”, there was a scene where a police car races onto the beach. I heard the siren before I saw the car. And for a moment, I wondered if the siren was coming from the scene of my living room TV, or there were police zooming by my neighborhood. That might have been one of better layman benchmarks that I noticed.
Something really interesting happened when I tried the dialogue mode button. Whenever I had the Infini connected to my TCL Roku TV, the dialogue equalizer worked fine. Voices were clear and traveled well across the living room.
But I would also get the Roku menu up on my screen as a sidebar. I could switch inputs and even turn off the TV using the Infini remote.
This didn’t happen with any of my older TVs, but it was a neat extra, especially considering there’s no HDMI pass through. I didn’t know if that was supposed to happen. I didn’t find anything about this in my user manual, but it was a neat extra. Here’s a picture of what it looks like.
Streaming music on Soundcore Infini
I streamed music over Bluetooth using Spotify on my Galaxy S5 smartphone. On the Roku TV, I used the Sirius XM app to play music in the living room. You can crank up the music pretty loud. When you’re streaming from a smartphone, you can also find the speakers’ breaking point.
The best way to use the Infini is to have your smartphone media volume set around the halfway point, and turn up the volume of the soundbar through the remote control. If you crank up your media volume setting on the phone to 100 percent, your sound will get muddy. Turn it up on the soundbar and things are fine.
There were a number of times that I played the Infini too loud to be pleasant. So it was plenty powerful for general use. The Infini does not support Dolby Digital 5.1.
Areas of improvement
When I had the Infini connected to my TCL Roku TV, it would beep whenever I would press the mute button on or off. The last thing I want to hear when I’m trying to mute something is another sound. This isn’t a deal breaker for me, and it might be a compatibility issue with TCL.
It would be great if a future generation of the Infini had HDMI connectivity so the soundbar’s remote could control the TV volume as well. There are more expensive soundbars (like the Samsung that I own) that struggle with this because of compatibility issues, but it’s a neat feature when it works.
Is the Soundcore Infini worth it?
So the bottom line with the Soundcore Infini is that you’re not going to get an experience that’s comparable to a $400 soundbar setup that has a separate amp.
The Infini is a budget soundbar, and a pretty excellent value for its price point. It will significantly improve the lousy, tinny audio coming from TV speakers. I could also see this being very useful in a dorm room or home office.
The best experience that I had with the Infini was in a smaller room when connected to a bedroom TV. You’re closer to all the speakers, so it’s easier to soak up the sounds coming out of the ported sides of the soundbar.
I think it would be a mistake to compare the Infini to something that’s triple or quadruple the price. Comparing a budget soundbar like the Infini to a $400 Sonos soundbar is like putting my Honda next to a Porsche. A Porsche is nice and all, but I like my Honda very much and it’s practical. The same idea can be applied if you’re serious about your expectations with a budget soundbar.
Any improvement on performance is going to likely drive up the price (e.g. the Vizio SB3621 has an amp, and it’s much lauded for its sound quality, but it’s $50 more.)
While doing research for this review, I found a number of soundbars that are priced under $100. But they’re from brands that I’ve never heard of and would be reluctant to trust.
The Soundcore Infini packs a surprising amount of value at $99.
5 facts about Soundcore Infini Soundbar
- 100 watt soundbar
- 1 channel audio
- Two subwoofers, two tweeters
- 3 Equalizer settings for dialogue, music and movies
- Bluetooth 4.2