A Custom Sound Bar Will Make Everything You Stream a Whole Lot Better

(Bloomberg Businessweek) -- Whether the screen of your TV is 4K or 8K, odds are its audio quality is no better than OK. And while a sound bar can help matters, most are middling in aesthetics and, frankly, aural performance. Leon Speakers, a maker of high-end residential and commercial sound bars in Ann Arbor, Mich., solves both problems with its highly customizable HzUltima ($6,600 as shown). Most sound bars are “active”—that is, filled with electronics and amplifiers where resonating air should be, which diminishes their output. Leon’s is passive: It requires an external amplifier—one you’ll need to hide elsewhere—that can be far superior to the compact unit typically crammed inside.

THE COMPETITION

• The $2,200 Klipsch Heritage Theater Bar has six 4-inch woofers and three 3/4-inch tweeters stuffed into a box 49.5 inches wide. The company’s standard-setting audio pedigree stretches back to before TVs had color.

• At a mere 2 inches deep, the $1,149 Martin Logan Motion SLM X3 can sit flush with most thin TVs. That said, the 48-inch-wide bar’s dual 4-inch high-velocity passive bass radiators can still produce that desirable low-end sound.

• The relatively compact $950 KEF HTF8003—it’s just 37.8 inches wide—provides a depth of sound that belies its size. That’s owed in part to its “Uni-Q” driver array, which places a tweeter in the center of a midrange cone to create a more even sound dispersal in a room.

THE CASE

The first question you’ll be asked when ordering an HzUltima is what size TV it will be going under. Each speaker is built to the width and contours of your screen and can be as wide as 10 feet. Leon offers seven standard wood finishes and eight fabrics for the grille, though it will customize with any color or material you choose. (Pictured is a walnut cabinet with a granite-gray grille.) The three-way speaker sports a half-dozen Morel 5-inch woofers and a trio of 28-millimeter soft-dome tweeters that produce a warm and detailed sound. Add a subwoofer if you’re looking to have movie explosions truly rock the room. $6,600 (as shown)

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