(Pocket-lint) - The Canton Smart 10 is an all-in-one soundbar that benefits from plenty of Germanic engineering: boasting a solid construction, eight high-quality drivers and 300W of amplification.

The upward-firing speakers create height channels with Dolby Atmos soundtracks, resulting in a more immersive 3D sonic experience, and as the name suggests there's also a host of smart features. Is it the all-in-one soundbar to choose?

Unwanted reflections

  • Soundbar: 990 x 70 x 100mm; 5.24kg
  • Available in black or silver

The Canton Smart 10 sports the kind of solid construction and meticulous engineering you expect from the German manufacturer. There's a beautifully made cabinet, with a metal grille, a tempered glass top, a simple LED display, and a choice of lacquered black or silver finishes.

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The Smart 10 has the build quality and width to match premium TVs and larger panel sizes, plus it's low enough not to block the screen. However, while the glass top looks nice it also reflects what's on screen, which can prove particularly distracting when watching in a darkened room.

Features

  • 2.1.2-channel configuration
  • Optional sub and rear speakers
  • Hi-Res Audio (24-bit/192kHz)
  • Google Home app
  • Spotify Connect
  • Dolby Atmos

The Canton Smart 10 has plenty of features, but unsurprisingly the main focus is on audio quality: there are two forward-firing speakers with 50mm aluminium midbass drivers and 19mm fabric tweeters; alongside two upward-firing speakers, each using 79mm aluminium drivers; andtwo 79mm woofers with a crossover at 150Hz and a claimed frequency response of 37Hz to 23kHz (which is super low-end for an all-in-one cabinet).

The Smart 10 can decode Dolby Atmos object-based audio to deliver a fully immersive sonic experience. It can also handle Dolby and DTS 5.1-channel audio, but sadly there's no support for DTS:X. However, this probably won't be an issue given Dolby dominates streaming audio.

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The Smart 10 offers a number of Play Modes: Stereo, Movie, Music, and Night. The Stereo mode is for music playback, the Movie mode adds virtual surround for films, the Music mode does the same for concerts, and the Night mode balances the audio for better sound at lower volumes.

In keeping with its smart aspirations, the Canton supports the Google Home app, along with Chromecast and Spotify Connect. It also supports high-resolution audio up to 24-bit/192kHz, making this a great soundbar for music lovers.

Canton provides the option of adding the wireless Smart Sub 8 for those who want more bass with matching styling, but you can connect any subwoofer using the sub RCA output. You can also add Canton's Smart Soundbox 3 to create a fully wireless 5.1 system.

Connections & Controls

  • 3 x HDMI 2.0 inputs; HDMI 2.0 output with ARC
  • Optical input; Coaxial input; stereo RCA analogue input; Ethernet
  • Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.0; Chromecast

The Canton Smart 10 connections are at the rear, and the company is to be congratulated for including plenty of HDMI inputs. Too often there aren't enough, but here you'll find three such inputs that can handle 4K HDR and Dolby Vision, along with an HDMI-ARC output.

The Smart 10 can't currently pass the HDR10+ format, although Canton is apparently in the process of adding the support. That means our only complaint in this area is the lack of eARC - which would be used for passing higher quality sound formats between TV and soundbar - but with three HDMI 2.0 inputs that's not as big an issue as it is on less-endowed soundbars. 

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There are also optical and coaxial digital inputs, along with stereo analogue RCA inputs, an Ethernet port, and a subwoofer output for a wired connection. In terms of wireless connections there's Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and Chromecast.

There are some basic touch-sensitive controls on the Smart 10 itself, which are located at the top centre and built into the tempered glass. These controls cover power on/off, preset 1-3, inputs, volume up/down, and play/pause.

Canton also provides a full remote, which although small is well-made and includes all the buttons you'll need. These are laid out in a sensible fashion, making this zapper intuitive to use and allowing for easy setup and control of the Smart 10.

Setup and operation

The Canton Smart 10 is simple to install, in part because there's no subwoofer to worry about. All you need to do is make sure the upward-firing drivers aren't blocked and choose between stand or wall mounting. If you go for the latter there are holes at the rear for hanging on screws.

The featured front display only provides limited feedback, but there's also a comprehensive on-screen menu system that allows for detailed setup and configuration. The main menu includes options for Speaker Setup, System Setup, Network Setup, Wireless Setup, and System Info.

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It makes a change to see a soundbar that allows for a proper acoustic setup. The Speaker Setup is particularly useful because it allows you to set the channel levels using an SPL meter, the distance to the speakers, the room height, and the height of the soundbar off the ground.

The Smart 10 is easy to operate, and will detect incoming audio signals from whichever input you have selected. For audio signals (apart from Dolby Atmos) you can also apply the various play modes, and you can use the remote control to tweak the bass, midrange and treble if necessary.

Teutonic tuning

The Canton Smart 10 is a seriously impressive sonic performer, with a wide and open soundstage. The 'bar's two-channel configuration lends itself to music, with the left and right speakers produce a clean and detailed delivery thanks to high-quality drivers and powerful amplification.

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Listening to the latest Waterboys' album reveals a well-defined mid-range, higher frequencies that are clear and free of any harshness, and some excellent bass that remains tight and controlled. The stereo imaging is also excellent, with well-placed instruments and clear vocals.

Canton knows how to make a speaker, and this accomplished performance with two-channels also extends to TV shows, where music and effects are rendered with precision. Despite the lack of a centre speaker, voiceovers, commentaries and news readers all retain clarity and focus.

A more complex mix like His Dark Materials gives the soundbar a chance to display its sonic pedigree, with a lively performance that places effects across the front of the room, while spreading music either side of the TV, but keeping the dialogue anchored on the screen.

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The Smart 10 uses upward-firing drivers to bounce sounds off the ceiling, thus creating the illusion of overhead speakers. How effective this approach is will largely depend on your ceiling, but if it's low, flat and reflective you should be fine.

It certainly worked in our testing, producing an expansive and detailed sound field that takes full advantage of Dolby Atmos to create a more immersive experience. The beginning of Mad Max: Fury Road places disembodied voices above to the sides and in front of you, drawing you into the film.

A show like The Haunting of Hill House really benefits from the added dimensionality offered by Atmos, resulting in a greater precision to the effects, making them easier to localise than with a normal mix. There's also some excellent dynamic range that gives the scares greater impact.

When it comes to today's blockbusters, the built-in woofers do an impressive job of handling a more LFE-heavy soundtrack (that's Low Frequency Effect, if you're unfamiliar). The bass is deep and powerful in Aquaman, giving gunfire and explosions a percussive kick, while ensuring each punch feels like a sledgehammer.

Canton

However, a film like Godzilla: King of the Monsters has a titanic amount of low-end slam in its soundtrack, which the Canton does struggle to handle. That said, this mix would give most systems a run for their money. Besides, you can always add a subwoofer if you feel you need more bass extension.

Verdict

The Canton Smart 10 is a classy soundbar, with the sleek lines and superior construction we've come to expect from the German manufacturer. While there are a number of smart features, the emphasis is on sound quality thanks to high-end drivers and amps with plenty of grunt.

The inclusion of upward-firing speakers allows for a more immersive Dolby Atmos experience, while the lack of a dedicated centre speaker doesn't adversely affect the clarity of dialogue. The inclusion of a bass reflex system ensures plenty of depth, despite the absence of a separate sub (although you can add one if you wish).

The ability to properly setup the Smart 10 pays dividends in terms of the overall sonic quality, if you're the kind of A/V enthusiast looking for a more bespoke and accurate experience. As a result, this is a cracking 'bar that sounds superb with music, TV shows and movies. It also sports a number of useful smart features, while the inclusion of the three HDMI inputs is most welcome. 

The Smart 10 is hard to fault in terms of its features and acoustic qualities, with the lack of eARC and DTS:X support being the only real disappointments. However, neither is a huge loss, and overall this accomplished performer comes highly recommended.

Also consider 

Samsung

Samsung HW-Q90R

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This soundbar uses a wireless subwoofer and rear speakers to deliver a full 7.1.4-channel system. There are upward-firing drivers that bounce sounds off the ceiling to create the overhead channels, and the result is a highly immersive experience. Add in support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, and this is currently the object-based soundbar to beat.

Writing by Steve Withers.