Nakamichi Gets it Right

Nakamichi’s new Shockwafe Pro 7.1 Chanel (GEN 2, firmware update 1.4) offers a truly great and enveloping sound experience to watching TV, BlueRay, Streaming, or Games hooked up to it. Unlike other sound bars, and even some traditional home theater sound system setups, what struck me is that sound is not suddenly shifted to the back or sides but rather it creates a flow around filling in between. Yes, when the sound should be behind you hear it as such, but it is not as if the rear speakers were suddenly switched on. The sound is much more natural, as if you were in the room with the sound doing a smooth blended transition on the sides and around to the rear, not just bits and pieces being at overtly distinct locations.

Given the some limits on Bluetooth’s ability with audio as compared to copper wire, I did not notice a shortfall in sonic range or clarity even while driving the system at full volume while listening to music which covers very low to very high frequency content (Renaissance “Live at Carnage Hall”, released 1976). The base was not muddled and the operatic high vocals were crisp, clear and did not clip. It was very much like when I saw them live many years ago in Chicago when vocalist Annie Haslam hit high notes at a sound level that literally stopped my breathing for a moment – this differed only by being not quite so loud - thank goodness. When switching out of Bluetooth to another input in the Shockwafe Pro, the audio source is paused. There is an option to connect with a 3.5mm cable which is included.

Dialog from the center speakers is not lost, but remains distinct, even with the front side speakers being in such close proximity to the center speakers, which is a concern with the sound bar concept. In this case it was clear and present as it should be. There is a depth and fullness to the sound from the Soundbar alone which just by itself makes this a great addition. Bass response from the Subwoofer is present and felt, but does not dominate. The rear speakers provide a full rich range and do not have a “tinny” sound despite their compact size.

The new firmware update has CEC working as it should. I have the Shockwafe in a setup with a DVR and a Panasonic 3D Plasma, and when the DVR remote turns on those two components, the Shockwafe also turns on as well as off with them, there was not even the need to add it as a device then input a code into the remote, thus making the Shockwafe as if built in to the TV, just seamless. Obviously not all functions are available on that remote, but then again the remote does not have full capabilities for any device other than the cable company’s DVR. For full control in a single remote, the Nakamichi is easily recognized by newer Logitech Harmony remotes. Using the remote (or just starting the player manually) to start a BlueRay automatically switches the Soundbar to the HDMI 2 port. The Shockwafe Pro’s own remote is a small, clean design with a backlit screen to see which commands and settings are being sent. In a break from everyone else, the color is a yellow-orange with black offering easy reading in dim light. It has the ability to learn from another remote such as the DVR’s and become a universal remote, a nice option.

Among the included cables are the mentioned 3.5mm audio, an Optical and an HDMI to link the TV HDMI with ARC port to the Soundbar for communication and control between the TV and the Soundbar. What will be needed is the one from the DVR (HDMI) and another for a second source like a BlueRay Player (HDMI). Using the Optical port allows a third input, the Coaxial port a fourth.

The physically small rear components allow placement so that they don’t stand out and dominate the room but blend into the décor in much the same way the sound from them just blends in. The larger Soundbar spans more of the length of larger screens so it does not look like an afterthought appendage, but rather a complimenting design intent. Wall mounts for the Soundbar are included.

Lastly, but far from the least important aspect of this product is the Company behind it, and specifically the President, Rayman Cheng working to build on Nakamichi’s history. Their customer service is superb and they have been actively working to improve the product with firmware updates that have even offered new or expanded capabilities. Most times we buy a product and that is it, rarely can we consider that our purchase might even become better afterwards. Sadly too many companies are not run this way. I had a review posted before but removed it and replaced it with this one because the Customer Service they provided helped me get past some glitches I had so that I could truly enjoy their outstanding product.

Nakamichi gets it right.