Insignia NS-HSB318 2.0 Soundbar Review

Tested using Methodology v1.0
Reviewed May 25, 2020 at 07:58 am
Insignia NS-HSB318 2.0 Picture
5.2
Mixed Usage
5.4
Dialogue/TV Shows
6.3
Music
4.5
Movies
Channels
2.0

The Insignia NS-HSB318 is a very simple, straightforward 2.0 soundbar. It's essentially a large Bluetooth speaker since it has limited inputs and functionality. It doesn't support surround sound and only works with PCM content when connected to your home theater system. It lacks both bass and treble, but it still does a decent job at making voices and most instruments sound fairly balanced. It can also get quite loud, especially for a smaller soundbar, and it doesn't compress very much at max volume, which is great. It can be a viable option if you're looking for a basic soundbar, so you can listen to music off your phone at a party or in the backyard, but it's otherwise not very versatile.

Our Verdict

5.2 Mixed Usage

The Insignia NS-HSB318 is disappointing for mixed usage. Its sound profile lacks punch in the bass range and brightness in the treble. It also doesn't support surround sound and doesn't have any HDMI ports. It still does a decent job at reproducing voices and instruments, though, and it's quite compact. It also gets quite loud without compressing, which is great for parties. It's not ideal if you want an immersive home theater experience, but it's alright if you're just looking to upgrade your TV or smartphone's integrated speakers.

Pros
  • Compact design.
  • Gets very loud without compressing.
Cons
  • Limited connectivity options.
  • No surround sound support.
  • Lacks a lot of bass.
5.4 Dialogue/TV Shows

The Insignia NS-HSB318 is decent for dialogue and TV shows. It reproduces voices quite accurately with its default sound profile. It also has a 'News' feature, which can help make dialogue even clearer. Unfortunately, it doesn't have automatic volume control or a night mode, but it's still a fair choice if you just want a basic soundbar to watch your favorite sitcoms with.

6.3 Music

The Insignia NS-HSB318 isn't bad for music, but it's not the best. Its default sound profile lacks a lot of bass, so it's not ideal for genres with a lot of thump and rumble like EDM and hip-hop. It reproduces voices and instruments fairly accurately, though. It also has a Bass Boost feature which may help improve the bass performance; however, we didn't test this. That said, it can get quite loud without compressing, which is great.

4.5 Movies

The Insignia NS-HSB318 is bad for movies. It produces virtually no thump or rumble, so action movies lack excitement. It also doesn't support any surround sound formats - you need to make sure your TV is set to PCM format content only if you connect it via optical. This is disappointing since you won't be able to enjoy the surround experience of your favorite films.

  • 5.2 Mixed Usage
  • 5.4 Dialogue/TV Shows
  • 6.3 Music
  • 4.5 Movies
  1. Updated Apr 07, 2021: Updated 'Bass Adjustment' to 'No' for greater clarity.
  2. Updated Apr 06, 2021: Converted to Test Bench 1.0.
  3. Updated Sep 23, 2020: The Dynamics tests have been reconducted due to a value input bug.
  4. Updated May 25, 2020: Review published.
  5. Updated May 20, 2020: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Market Context
Market Context
Market Context

The Insignia NS-HSB318 is an entry-level soundbar from Insignia, Best Buy's in-house brand for budget electronics. It's one of the cheaper soundbars in their lineup. It competes with 2.0 soundbars from bigger brands such as the Sony HT-S100F and the Vizio SB3220n-F6, as well as those from other budget retailers, like the TaoTronics TT-SK023.

Design
Design
Style - Bar

The Insignia 2.0 Channel Soundbar With Digital Amplifier has a simple, straightforward design. It's a small soundbar made of plastic, with fabric covering the front, and silicone buttons at the end of the bar. It looks pretty cheap, but not quite as bad as other budget soundbars we've reviewed.

Design
Style - Subwoofer

This soundbar doesn't have a subwoofer.

Design
Style - Satellites

This soundbar doesn't come with satellite speakers.

Design
Dimensions - Bar
Width 30.7" (78.0 cm)
Height 2.6" (6.5 cm)
Depth 3.0" (7.7 cm)

This soundbar is quite small. It should fit between the legs of most 55-inch TVs without blocking the screen, unless your TV sits directly on the table without a stand.

Design
Dimensions - Subwoofer
Width N/A
Height N/A
Depth N/A

This soundbar doesn't have a subwoofer.

Design
Dimensions - Satellites
Width N/A
Height N/A
Depth N/A

This soundbar doesn't come with satellite speakers.

Design
Back - Bar
Bar Mounting
Universal (holes on back)

This soundbar should sit pretty flush to the wall when wall-mounted since the back is flat and the wall-mounting holes don't stick out too far. The opening for the input ports is in the center, near the bottom.

Design
Back - Subwoofer
Enclosure
No Subwoofer

This soundbar doesn't have a subwoofer.

Design
Back - Satellites
Mounting
No

This soundbar doesn't come with satellite speakers.

6.5
Design
Build Quality

The Insignia NS-HSB318's build quality is okay. It isn't a high-end product, but it's not the cheapest-feeling soundbar we've reviewed, either. The bar is made of plastic, and has silicone buttons on the end. The fabric covering the front is prone to rips and tears, but it otherwise feels reasonably durable.

Design
In The Box
HDMI Cable Length
N/A
Digital Optical Cable Length
N/A

  • Manuals
  • Wall-mount template
  • Remote (CR2025 battery included)
  • Stereo RCA to 3.5mm audio cable
  • Power adapter

Sound
6.3
Sound
Stereo Frequency Response
Tested Preset
Standard
Slope
-0.08
Std. Err.
4.36 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
73.4 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
19.9 kHz

The Insignia 2.0 Channel Soundbar has a passable stereo frequency response. It produces virtually no rumble or thump in the bass range, and it lacks brightness in the higher frequencies, but the response in-between is quite well-balanced. This means that although it sounds a bit dull, it still does an adequate job reproducing voices, as well as most instruments.

6.3
Sound
Stereo Frequency Response With Preliminary Calibration
Suggested Preset
Standard
Suggested Bass Setting
N/A
Suggested Treble Setting
N/A
Slope
-0.08
Std. Err.
4.36 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
73.4 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
19.9 kHz
6.5
Sound
Stereo Soundstage
Crosstalk Error
2.36 dB

The Insignia NS-HSB318's stereo soundstage is okay. It sounds a bit bigger than the bar itself, but it's not very wide. It has very good focus, though.

8.4
Sound
Stereo Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
94.7 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
0.80 dB

Update 09/23/2020: We've discovered a value input bug that would cause the Dynamics box results to be slightly off. All soundbars reviewed since January 30th, 2020 have been updated.

The Insignia 2.0 Channel Soundbar has great stereo dynamics. This soundbar can get surprisingly loud for its size, and doesn't compress very much either. This makes it a good choice for use in a large room or at parties.

7.2
Sound
Stereo Total Harmonic Distortion
Weighted THD @ 80dB
0.52
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
3.74

This soundbar's total harmonic distortion performance is alright. At normal listening volumes, it has a clean and pure sound. However, at max volume, it distorts a bit more. It shouldn't be very noticeable, though.

0
Sound
Center
Localization
Not Supported
Slope
N/A
Std. Err.
N/A
SPL @ Max Volume
N/A
Weighted THD @ 80dB
N/A
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
N/A

The Insignia 2.0 Channel Soundbar doesn't have a center channel. It only supports PCM content, and can't decode or downmix surround content.

0
Sound
Surround 5.1
Localization
Not Supported
Slope
N/A
Std. Err.
N/A
SPL @ Max Volume
N/A
Weighted THD @ 80dB
N/A
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
N/A
7.1 Rears
No

The Insignia 2.0 Channel Soundbar doesn't have surround speakers. It only supports PCM content, and can't decode or downmix surround content.

0
Sound
Height (Atmos)
Localization
Not Supported
Slope
N/A
Std. Err.
N/A
SPL @ Max Volume
N/A
Weighted THD @ 80dB
N/A
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
N/A

The Insignia 2.0 Channel Soundbar doesn't have height channels, nor does it support Atmos.

1.8
Sound
Sound Enhancement Features
Room Correction
No
Dialogue Enhancement
Yes
Auto-Volume/Night Mode
No
Subwoofer Level Adjustment
No
Bass Adjustment
No
Treble Adjustment
No
EQ
Presets
Surround Level Adjustment
No
Rear Level Adjustment
No
Height Level Adjustment
No
Virtual Surround
No

Update 04/07/2021: We updated our results for 'Bass Adjustment' from 'Yes' to 'No'. While this soundbar comes with a Bass Boost feature that you can turn on and off, we don't consider this to be a bass adjustment feature because it doesn't let you adjust the amount of bass.

The Insignia NS-HSB318 has limited sound enhancement features. There are two EQ presets, one of which is also a dialogue enhancer. There's also a Bass Boost mode, but it's only an on/off button - you can't adjust the amount of bass itself. If you're looking for a 2.0 setup with a virtual surround feature, check out the BOMAKER Odine II.

Connectivity
Connectivity
Physical Inputs - Bar
Optical Audio In
1
HDMI ARC
No
HDMI Out
No
Full HDMI In
No
Analog Audio In 3.5mm (Aux)
No
RCA In
Yes
USB for Files
1
Ethernet
No

The Insignia 2.0 Channel Soundbar With Digital Amplifier has limited connectivity options. There's an optical-in for PCM format support and RCA for analog audio. You can also play files off a USB key or hard drive, but that's about it. Each input is numbered and the number corresponds to their input order on the display.

0
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - ARC
eARC
No
Dolby Atmos
No
Dolby Digital
No
Dolby Digital Plus
No
DTS
No
DTS:X (eARC only)
No
Dolby TrueHD (eARC only)
No
DTS-HD MA (eARC only)
No
5.1 PCM (eARC only)
No

This soundbar doesn't have an HDMI ARC connection.

0
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - Full HDMI In
Dolby Atmos
No
DTS:X
No
Dolby Digital
No
Dolby Digital Plus
No
DTS
No
Dolby TrueHD
No
DTS-HD MA
No
5.1 PCM
No

This soundbar doesn't have an HDMI input.

0
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - Optical
Dolby Digital
No
DTS
No

While this soundbar has an optical input, it only supports PCM formats. You need to change your TV settings to PCM for it to work.

9.0
Connectivity
Latency
ARC
N/A
Optical
31 ms
Full HDMI In
N/A
6.0
Connectivity
Wireless Playback
Bluetooth
Yes
Wi-Fi
No
Chromecast built-in
No
Apple AirPlay
No

The Insignia NS-HSB318's wireless playback options are okay. It supports Bluetooth, so you can stream music from a paired device like a tablet or smartphone. However, you can't connect seamlessly via Chromecast or AirPlay, nor can you play music from your PC over Wi-Fi.

Connectivity
Other Input Specifications
4k @ 60 Hz Passthrough
No
4k @ 60 Hz @ 10 bit Passthrough
No
4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4 Passthrough
No
HDR10 Passthrough
No

This soundbar doesn't have any HDMI ports, so video passthrough isn't possible.

Connectivity
Connectivity - Subwoofer
Sub Wireless
No

This soundbar doesn't have a subwoofer.

Connectivity
Connectivity - Satellites
Sat Wireless
No

This soundbar doesn't come with satellite speakers.

Additional Features
Additional Features
Interface
Display
No

This soundbar has a very basic visual interface. There are four numbers, each corresponding to an input, written on the back of the soundbar. When an input is active, a blue light appears under the appropriate number. However, it's rather annoying if you forget which number belongs to which input. The display also indicates whether the bass boost function or an EQ preset is active with a green light.

Additional Features
Bar Controls

This soundbar has a few controls located at the very end on the right side of the bar. There are buttons to power the soundbar on/off, control the volume, activate the bass boost feature, toggle through the EQ presets, and change the input.

Additional Features
Remote
Universal Remote
No

The Insignia NS-HSB318 comes with a very straightforward remote. It's short and wide, but pretty easy-to-use. You can switch between EQ presets, activate the bass boost mode, and mute the soundbar. You can also use it to play/pause and skip tracks while listening over Bluetooth or USB.

Additional Features
Voice Assistants Support
Amazon Alexa
No
Google Assistant
No
Apple Siri
No
Additional Features
App
App Name No App
iOS No
Android No
Acts As A Remote
No
Controls Soundbar's Settings
No
Casts Device Files
No

This soundbar doesn't have a companion app.

Additional Features
Other Features
Power Saving
No
HDMI CEC (TV Remote Control)
No

Unfortunately, this soundbar doesn't have any power-saving features, and you can't use your TV's remote to control it.

Compared To Other Soundbars

The Insignia NS-HSB318 2.0 Channel Soundbar is a disappointing soundbar overall, but it's a bit better than some of the other 2.0 models on the market. Although it lacks thump in the bass and brightness in the treble, it still sounds more balanced than the TaoTronics TT-SK023. It also gets much louder than the Bose Solo 5 and compresses less than the Vizio SB3220n-F6. Its connectivity options are very limited, though, especially compared to the JBL Link Bar. If you're interested in your other options, check out our recommendations for the best budget soundbars, the best small soundbars, and the best soundbars for dialogue.

Bose Smart Soundbar 700

The Bose Smart Soundbar 700 is a better soundbar than the Insignia NS-HSB318 2.0. The 3.0-channel Bose has a more balanced sound profile with stereo content, and it can downmix a few different surround formats. It has a dedicated center channel that helps reproduce dialogue clearly, and its stereo soundstage is quite impressive as well. The Insignia doesn't have as many sound enhancement features and doesn't support any surround sound formats. That said, it has a more compact design, so it may fit between the legs of a 55 inch TV more easily.

Sony HT-S100F

The Sony HT-S100F is a better 2.0 soundbar than the Insignia NS-HSB318 2.0. Although its default sound profile isn't much better-balanced, it supports Dolby Digital content over optical and HDMI ARC. Although it downmixes surround content, it has a virtual surround feature, which the Insignia lacks. The Insignia is more compact, which some may prefer.

Samsung HW-Q90R

The Samsung HW-Q90R is a much better soundbar setup than the Insignia NS-HSB318 2.0. The Insignia is a single 2.0 channel soundbar, while the Samsung gives you a whopping 7.1.4 channels of audio. This results in a much more immersive listening experience, especially with Dolby Atmos content, which the Samsung soundbar supports. Even with regular stereo content, the Samsung sounds much better-balanced, with stronger bass and more brightness. The Insignia soundbar is much more compact, though, so it's a better choice if you're limited on space.

TaoTronics TT-SK023

The Insignia NS-HSB318 2.0 and the TaoTronics TT-SK023 are very similar soundbars, but the Insignia is better since it has a more balanced default sound profile. It also has a few more sound enhancement features. The TaoTronics feels less cheaply-made, though, and has an AUX port. The Insignia, on the other hand, can play files off a USB key or hard drive.

Vizio SB3220n-F6

The Vizio SB3220n-F6 is a much better 2.0 soundbar than the Insignia NS-HSB318 2.0. It produces more bass, sounds better balanced, has a wider soundstage, and can play Dolby Digital files over optical. The Insignia feels more cheaply made and performs worse overall.

Bose Solo 5

The Bose Solo 5 is a better 2.0 soundbar than the Insignia NS-HSB318 2.0. The Bose feels much better-built, has a more balanced, neutral sound profile, and supports Dolby Digital content over optical. However, the Insignia can get much louder and compresses less at max volume too. It also has a few more sound enhancement features, like EQ presets and a bass boost mode, too.

BOMAKER Odine II

The Insignia NS-HSB318 2.0 is a better overall performing soundbar than the BOMAKER Odine II. While both soundbars are very similar in terms of build quality and downsampling audio formats into PCM, the Insignia is able to produce a bit more bass, and it has a Bass Boost feature, which is a nice touch. In comparison, the BOMAKER has more inputs as well as a virtual surround feature.

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