Like many, I was quite intrigued by Xiaomi’s LED TV range when it first launched in India. While I wasn’t impressed with the company’s Patchwall UI, I found the overall TV performance and quality good enough for the asking price.
I recently got hold of the newer 55-inch Mi LED 4X Pro model, which comes with the option of using the Android TV interface. While it doesn’t look as premium as the older, super slim, Mi TV 4 Pro 55-inch, it still cuts as one of the best 4K televisions on the market today. Probably the only big issue, which still persists, is the lack of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video apps on the TV. I have managed to stream content via my Chromecast device for now, but I am hoping that Xiaomi will eventually get these apps in a future update. Then there is also the matter of audio quality. Now I don’t believe that the speakers are bad, but you don’t get that thump from the in-built in bottom firing speakers.
This brings me to the Mi Soundbar. The company launched the Rs 4,999 soundbar claiming it to be the perfect companion for the Mi LED TV range. After hearing high praises about the product, I gave in and purchased one last week. Surprisingly, the audio quality is really good, with a decent balance of the lows and mids. It's no Dolby-enabled soundbar, but again, at its price, I didn’t feel that I wasted my money.
Here comes the big issue. The Mi Soundbar offers four connectivity options, Bluetooth, Auxiliary, S/PDIF, and Optical. And since the packaging included an S/PDIF cable, I mounted the soundbar and hooked it up to my MI LED TV. I was informed that this is the best method as this would allow me to control the volume of the soundbar directly from the TV remote. Well, it didn’t. After some quick research, I found out that this feature only works on the older Mi TV range. Bummer.
So I moved to Bluetooth, which is again great because I could let go of a cable dangling around my TV. The process was quick and simple and I was quite satisfied until I noticed the biggest issue with Bluetooth audio. There was a minor audio lag while playing videos and when I used the casting feature to play YouTube videos from my phone to the TV, the results were even worse. Casting videos to my Chromecast didn’t have that much of an audio sync issue, but the problem was prevalent.
Once again, I decided to move back to the S/PDIF interface option. This is when I discovered yet another issue. Audio from the TV speakers does not go off when you connect a speaker using S/PDIF. I could get audio from the soundbar, but now I had two audio sources. So when I reduced the volume using the TV remote, the audio coming from the in-built speakers would go down, but to reduce the volume on the soundbar, I had to get up and do it manually since there is no remote for the soundbar.
Adding to the frustration was the fact that the two other audio source options on the Mi Soundbar, auxiliary and optical, were useless as neither of them is available on the Mi LED TV 4X Pro 55.
After informing this issue with Xiaomi India, I was told that the new Mi LED TV, the one that I have, has been programmed to deliver dual audio output when connected using the S/PDIF interface. The older MI LED TV range doesn’t have this ‘feature’ and you get audio only from the external speaker, in this case, the Mi Soundbar. I was also told that there is a plan to bring single audio output when using S/PDIF interface in the future.
Why was this implemented, I have no idea. As of now, I am switching between the two sources, which isn’t a pleasant experience. So, make sure you think twice before you invest in these products.