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Lifewire / Bill Loguidice
Incredible surround sound simulation with elevation
Powerful audio output
Supports the latest sound standards
Has 4K HDR and Dolby Vision pass-through
Backlit remote control
3 HDMI inputs and 1 HDMI out (ARC)
Preset sound profiles mean limited tweaking necessary for the best sound
Mounting hardware included
Requires a firmware update to unlock all of its features
No USB stick included for firmware upgrade
Aesthetics are a bit extreme
Subwoofer is really large
No app or other automated ways to do your own sound optimizations
No template for mounting the rear speakers
The Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro is a powerful 7.1 channel home theater audio system. A large center speaker and two 2-way rear speakers are paired with an enormous subwoofer to create both a striking aesthetic and truly immersive surround sound. This capable system is long on features and relatively low on price, making it an excellent choice to pair with a large television and all types of set top boxes and game consoles.
Thanks in part to the slim profiles of today’s big screen televisions, it’s incredibly difficult to get decent sound out of their built-in speakers. While most TV speakers try to simulate surround sound, there’s only so much they can do, particularly without the type of bass-heavy punch only a discrete subwoofer can provide. Adding a separate surround sound system can prove transformative, helping to elevate sound quality to the same high dynamic range as the best 4K TV picture quality.
Although even the least expensive, single soundbar solutions will usually give better audio quality than a TV’s built-in speakers, if you want a true theater-like experience, you still need a solution with discrete front and rear speakers and a standalone subwoofer. While these setups cost more, the difference in sound quality can be extraordinary.
We tested the Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro to see if it meets the needs of home theater enthusiasts who want a versatile, transformative audio experience at a competitive price point.
The Shockwafe Pro features bold styling that should still complement most room decor, particularly if you already have a large TV or projection screen of 55” or greater. Ideally, you’ll want at least 9 feet of distance between your seating position and the center soundbar, although as with all recommendations in regards to distance and placement, you’ll likely still get good results in tighter quarters.
The center soundbar, which is meant to go below the TV and have roughly 3 feet of clearance on its left and right sides, is a lengthy 45.5 inches wide. Its black coloring, sharp angles, and two side-firing speakers bring to mind the design of the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk stealth bomber.
The subwoofer, which goes on the opposite end of the room as the soundbar and ideally should be placed at least 5 feet to the right of the listening area, features a black, all-wood design. It’s massive, weighing in at a hefty 19 lbs and over 20 inches tall, 9.5 inches wide, and 12 inches deep, with a tepid design that’s essentially a big rectangle on top of a small, angled elevated base. Of course, the benefits from both the materials and stability afforded by this oversized design are clear from the superior sound performance, but it’s still important to note how much space you’ll need to accommodate it.
The two satellite speaker pairs are meant to go behind or to the right and left of the listening area, and should be placed at ear level, pointed where you’re going to be sitting. These satellites mirror the angled aesthetic of the sound bar, but feature a silver casing to accent the black speaker grill. However you end up placing them these speakers will stand out, thanks both to the chunky design and the fact that they’re relatively tall.
Like the sound system components, the included remote control takes no prisoners with its design. It’s bristling with 52 keys, is almost nine inches long, and provides a button for nearly every function and feature imaginable. Fortunately, the button layout is intuitive and the remote itself is sleek and well-balanced, with the only real weight coming from the two AAA batteries. A soft red backlight, which is activated any time a key is pressed, helps you find the right button in a dark room.
There’s no way around it, the Shockwafe Pro is a big system, so it’s no surprise it comes in a massive, four foot long box. While one person can likely handle the unpacking, we found it much easier with two.
Besides the soundbar, wireless subwoofer, two rear satellite speakers, and a remote control with the required pair of AAA batteries, you also get quite a few accessories. There’s the soundbar power adapter and AC cable, 5 foot long subwoofer power cable, two 32.8 foot long satellite speaker cables, a 5 foot long HDMI cable, a 5 foot long digital optical cable, a 4 foot long 3.5mm audio cable, 12 wall screws and screw brackets, two soundbar mounting screws, four satellite speaker mounting screws, six soundbar and satellite wall mount brackets, and a mounting guide packed with the user guide, warranty, and Blu-ray Dolby Atmos demo disc.
Even if you have no plans to use the extra cables or wall-mount any of the Shockwafe Pro’s components, it’s still nice that just about all that’s needed is included. It’s another great example of the thoughtful design that’s a hallmark of the entire system.
There’s no way around it, the Shockwafe Pro is a big system, so it’s no surprise it comes in a massive, four foot long box.
Hooking up the system is easy enough, although you’ll definitely want to plan out the connections, particularly if you have multiple set top boxes. Our test environment, which is a basement rec room and centered around a 70” TV and a bunch of game consoles, a good mix of devices that support various display and audio standards.
Based on our setup, we plugged an HDMI cable from the TV’s HDMI ARC to the soundbar’s HDMI OUT 1. We then plugged the Microsoft Xbox One X, Sony PlayStation 4 Pro, and Nvidia Shield TV into the soundbar’s HDMI OUT 2, 3, and 4, respectively. This ensures that those high-performance streaming boxes and game consoles deliver maximum audio quality. We then plugged our HDMI switch box with the two legacy systems into HDMI 2 on our TV, since they don’t support anything beyond basic surround sound.
With everything connected, we were ready to update the Shockwafe Pro’s firmware. Unfortunately, despite everything else included, there was no USB stick in the box. While we were fortunate to have a USB stick on-hand, this is something to keep in mind since the firmware update, available here with instructions, is the only way to unlock all of the latest features, including Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision support. After following the instructions, which included disconnecting the HDMI cables, resetting the soundbar, and then reconnecting the HDMI cables, we were ready to listen.
With so many audio formats supported and the obvious need to pass the best video quality to our TV, optimizing everything for the Shockwafe Pro could potentially be an issue. Fortunately, Nakamichi created a handy reference list, found here, that helps with setting the best possible audio-visual settings for a variety of devices. All of the devices in our test room, and in fact all of the devices throughout our house, were accounted for in the reference list.
For our primary test, we inserted the included Blu-ray Dolby Atmos demo disc into our Xbox One X after adjusting all the requisite settings. While we expected great audio and already had multiple surround sound systems in our house that we liked, we were blown away by how incredibly immersive these seven demos sounded on the Shockwafe Pro. The sound truly came from all around us and was incredibly loud with deep, rumbling bass. The surround sound effect is a great illusion and a perfect demo for the potential of the Dolby Atmos technology.
We were similarly impressed by the sound from our other set top boxes. Whether watching Netflix, listening to music on Spotify, or playing a game, sound proved full and immersive, with no drops or other noticeable imperfections, even at high volume levels.
We were blown away by how incredibly immersive these seven demos sounded on the Shockwafe Pro.
In a further nice touch and another great example of how thoroughly Nakamichi supports a great experience with their products, the company provides some reference scenes, here, from popular shows and movies that you can find on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or the iTunes Store. We were similarly thrilled with how these sounded and will be filing these scenes away to show off to future house guests.
We also moved the system to our family room, where we wall-mounted the rear speakers. This went relatively smoothly with the included hardware, but for some reason there was no mounting template like there was for the center soundbar, so there was a lot more measuring and double-checking than there probably should’ve been.
As opposed to the basement den, where we used the Large Room profile, we found the Small Room profile to work better for the acoustics of our family room (despite sharing similar dimensions). While there are no automated optimizations either from the soundbar or via an app with the Shockwafe Pro, its presets do a solid job as is. Although you can manually adjust the volume levels for each component, we didn’t find it necessary beyond occasionally lowering the subwoofer volume.
With clear dialog, rousing music, and sound output you can pinpoint from multiple directions, there’s a lot to like about what Nakamichi has done here with the Shockwafe Pro.
At just $650, the Shockwafe Pro provides an incredible feature-set at a price much lower than what you’d pay from other manufacturers. While the Nakamichi name may not be as recognizable as companies like Samsung, Klipsch, or Bose, and the company may make somewhat bold aesthetic choices, the obvious care put into the Shockwafe Pro package and powerful and immersive sound output puts this company’s audio products in a class all their own. If you can accommodate a system this size, it’s well worth the investment.
The Shockwafe Pro provides an incredible feature-set at a price much lower than what you’d pay from other manufacturers.
Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.1ch 400W: If you have a smaller room, or just don’t need quite as much room-shaking power as the 600W output of the setup in this review, Nakamichi offers a 400W alternative for $200 less.
Samsung HW-N950 Soundbar: If you’re looking for a sleeker alternative to the Shockwafe Pro, the Samsung HW-N950 offers nearly the same audio punch as Nakamichi’s setup at 512W. There are even some nice app features and Alexa integration with Samsung’s Harman/Kardon-powered soundbar, although you do give up some HDMI inputs versus the Shockwafe Pro. While it retails for a wallet-busting $1700, you can often find the HW-N950 for almost half that price.
Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2.4ch 1000W: If 600W are not enough, Nakamichi makes this powerful 1000W variation that comes with a second subwoofer for even better sound. Just make sure your nearest neighbors are really far away when you crank up this overpowering $1300 beast of a surround sound system.
The Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro is a powerful, feature-rich surround sound system that’s priced right.
The Shockwafe Pro is a big system, both in its physical presence and its sound output. Although lacking certain extras, Nakamichi has streamlined usage of their advanced surround sound system in a way that doesn’t sacrifice features or quality. If you don’t mind the distinctive look and oversized rear speakers and subwoofer, you won’t find a better setup close to this price point.