gadg-et-oid [gaj-it-oid]


1. having the characteristics or form of a gadget;
resembling a mechanical contrivance or device.

Majority K2 2.1 Stereo Soundbar Reviewed

I picked up the Majority K2 soundbar from Amazon because they ticked the right boxes, presented the product well and were incredibly keenly priced. But, is it actually good?

I was buying it as a gift, but I was also intrigued by the modern cheap soundbar market. Since I tested the Denon surround sound bar circa 2007 (wow… that’s a while ago) and wondered how much of that – at the time rather expensive – technology had distilled into commodity hardware… turns out probably not much, but your modern low-end soundbar is nonetheless a reasonable way to beef up your TV sound.

Let’s set the tone here first and foremost- though- the K2 isn’t a fancy audiophile grade multi point surround sound magical sound projection soundbar. The price should clue you in. It’s 2.1 – which is basic stereo with a subwoofer. It is- however- surprisingly good for the price- and, indeed, it’s the cheapest soundbar with HDMI ARC and a wireless subwoofer that I could find.

The K2 comes packed in a form-fitting box with betrays the bulk of the subwoofer and elongated soundbar in its peculiar and unwieldy shape. Suffice to say if you’re buying one as a gift… don’t expect extra packaging to hide what it is. It arrived in its – ample – retail packaging and it wasn’t abundantly clear what it was.

Tearing open the box reveals – of course – the sound bar itself, the subwoofer and an extremely generous compliment of cables … albeit no fixings for wall mounting despite the bar clearly supporting it. Where – for example – most ~£100 sound bars will be quick to tell you how many cables they *don’t* include the Majority K2 came with not only HDMI for ARC, but a TOS-Link/Optical audio cable, a 3.5mm audio cable and even an RCA stereo to 3.5mm cable. Truly ridiculous. Couple this with the Bluetooth connectivity, USB and FM radio and you’d be forgiven for thinking the K2 was a thoroughly compromised jack of all trades that doesn’t do any one thing well.

You’d be wrong.

Right out of the box the K2 just worked- I used HDMI ARC at first to get connected to a Samsung TV and- once powered on and switched into ARC mode- sound started whomping through the K2 with no need for additional configuration. The subwoofer no doubt uses some 2.4Ghz wireless to connect to the soundbar, and the wireless really does work- making placement in the living room absolutely effortless. It ended up tucked behind a chair in the corner of the room where the bass reflections could be extra whompy. We weren’t going for an audiophile grade experience here, but rather pure convenience.

The K2 was to be wall-mounted, however, and the HDMI port and supplied HDMI cable are – unfortunately – completely incompatible with this approach. The cable and plug stick out way too far to be tucked against the wall and the cable is too stiff to take a sharp bend. While a right angle connector and a flat HDMI ribbon cable would have been handy… I haven’t had good experiences with HDMI ribbons. This is a little disappointing since Majority go to great lengths to tout the awesomeness of HDMI ARC and I really wanted to provide a simplified setup with a single remote… however with the Samsung TV remote volume controls being on the fritz perhaps it worked out for the better.

Bought a @MajorityAudio K2 as a gift and set it up today. Pretty damn good bang for the buck. HDMI ARC and Optical with cables includes for both, plus RCA and 3.5mm audio. Does Bluetooth audio, FM, optical, ARC or Aux. Wall mounts. Wireless sub. Looks slick. Packs a lunch. Ace!

— Phil Howard (@Gadgetoid) January 21, 2021

Fortunately the Optical cable is- while a little inflexible and uncooperative – thin enough to tuck behind the wall-mounted soundbar and connect to the TV. While it also won’t take a sharp bend, it’s easy to wrap up in a loose loop and secure with a cable tie. Weirdly Amazon are offering 50% off optical cables with the K2 right now… even though the description says one is included. Ha.

We ambitiously drilled and raw plugged the wall with fixings fit for a Rhinoceros and the Majority K2 slotted easily into place with the power cable routed up, behind the wall mounted TV and into a spare socket.

Wall mounting the @MajorityAudio K2 was easy enough though a paper spacing template and some fixings wouldn’t have gone amiss ?

— Phil Howard (@Gadgetoid) January 29, 2021

Once in place the K2 really packs a punch. It goes louder and whompier than the TV and a large part of this might be due to the four (I expected two) speakers mounted in the soundbar. It’s wide enough to best the TV at stereo separation though a) it’s not going to win awards for creating a dramatic theater soundscape and b) I cannot hear stereo sound so my testimony on this front is utterly useless.

Bluetooth support was very welcome, and it was easy to swap it into “BLUE” mode and pair a phone. It seems to support only one connection at a time, though, and it’s a little fiddly to disconnect one device if you want to fire up another. The truly nuclear option here is to grab an Alexa with a 3.5mm audio out jack and net yourself a beefy voice controlled Spotify playing monster. But Bluetooth at least works fine for a single device.

Chatter on Amazon seems to suggest that the subwoofer is connected via Bluetooth and only works when in “BLUE” mode but definitely works over OPT and ARC. It’s not hard to tell… the thing thrums like a washing machine full of bricks if you throw anything bassy at it and a simple touch suffices to test if it’s doing its job. It’s possible that the Bluetooth 5 emblazoned upon the subwoofer – which it uses to connect to the soundbar with which it comes paired out of the box (indeed afaict there’s no way to un-pair or change this) – confuses people into thinking “BLUE” / Bluetooth is the only mode in which it will work. In fact Bluetooth device support in the K2 is probably a happy accident – if you’re using a BT chip to pair to a subwoofer you might as well let devices pair to you, right? This might also explain why – in a world where most every Bluetooth audio device accepts multiple connections – the K2 only seems to support one.

FM functionality … works… but who the hell still listens to FM radio? It’s currently still untuned and every time someone cycles through Modes it will issue a burst of static when passing FM. A slow volume ramp up, soft start or delay would have been nice here. Or, y’know, just take out FM support? It’s 2021 for crying out loud!

While the HDMI and Optical ports are on the back and sandwiched against the wall when mounted – and this inaccessible – the USB port and 3.5mm are on the right-hand edge. Joining them are some basic controls for power, volume and mode which are handy if you’re connecting a device directly but otherwise a little janky and unnecessary… I mean there aren’t any buttons on the TV.

Controls on the side, basic 4 character display on the front. No obnoxious LEDs. USB port is handy for charging your phone but… c’mon who has MP3s anymore!? I guess a small very curated playlist might work. @MajorityAudio K2.

— Phil Howard (@Gadgetoid) January 29, 2021

The front display is a basic 4-digit, 7-segment style and really serves its purpose well. “Bluetooth” is abbreviated to “BLUE” and “ARC”, “OPT”, “FM”, “USB”, “AUX” aren’t quite so contrived to fit. There’s no obnoxious blue power LED and the white display, mounted behind the uninterrupted speaker grille, is nice and subtle.

I didn’t manage to test the USB function since I live in The Future and all my music comes from Spotify. I strongly suspect it will be simply awful to cycle through songs and nobody in their right mind would use this any more than FM. Still a handy place to charge your phone though… or at least if you don’t want to use the K2 for 30 seconds or so while it fruitlessly tries to probe your phone for MP3s and gives up.

All in all, no minor criticism I can levy at the K2 can really undermine the fact that this is a fully featured 2.1 stereo soundbar with a wireless subwoofer and a generous set of cables for – excuse my French – quatre-vingts putain de livres. That’s £80 in the Queen’s English, and rest assured you’ll have a bohemian rhapsody in your living room once you’ve got this little monster set up. Ugh did I really just write that? Sorry.

The K2 looks very premium at a glance, only losing some luster under close inspection. It’s clean and uncomplicated enough to suit any living room and it’s also available in a very striking white that- at the price- is awfully tempting to pick up and find a use for.

Bluetooth, HDMI ARC, Optical and a wireless subwoofer at this price are already a cracking ridiculous deal- if you care about FM and aux inputs then you’re sorted. If you want to add a bit more whomp and punch and oof to your telly or gaming binges then… honestly give this a go. I’m already considering one for when we get around to decking out our living room and maybe it’ll work in lieu of studio monitors for my Yamaha MODX? Hey. Stop throwing balanced XLR cables at me… I’m not precious about my sound, I just want it to be loud!

Have I got through this post without calling Majority Marshall? Yup? Excellent!

The proof is in the pudding- the recipient of this Majority K2 is more than happy with it.

Now a brief aside- I happened upon Majority Audio pretty much by accident, in a last ditch, last minute effort to find a soundbar with the right price and featured. I had been keeping my eye on Argos beforehand, but nothing was really that compelling. It turns out that Majority are headquartered in Cambridge, just around the corner from where I’m staying and a large array of their products are named after local areas (including several I know well). It’s a small. small world. The K2 left me with a good impression, and I’ll certainly be reaching out to Majority to try and get my hands on some more of their toys.

Friday, January 29th, 2021, Home Entertainment.