Thanks to the technology, televisions can become flatter, thinner, and lighter, but they can not overcome the laws of physics in the audio domain. To fill a room with sound requires considerable speakers that can move a lot of air. This type of speaker simply does not fit in a thin TV cabinet. This is where soundbars come into play.
Cheat sheet for buyers of Soundbar
Our quick recommendations
We'll show you the latest soundbar technology, show you the key features to look for, and name our top choices in the budget, mid-range, and high-end categories. We also provide links to all our reviews of soundbars currently available on the market, so you can find just the right one for your needs. Here are our top tips and brief summaries that explain our arguments. These will change over time as new models come to the evaluation. Our soundbar reviews will go into depth, so we recommend that you follow the links to read them completely. Among our top tips you will find some general notes on soundbars, followed by explanations of the features that you should consider when choosing. At the bottom left of the page, you will be guided to the remaining soundbar ratings. The updated version of February 1, 2019 contains our detailed description of the Harman Kardon Enchant 800 Soundbar. This speaker has an impressive data sheet and a first-class price-performance ratio. However, after extensive listening tests, we found that this is not an excellent home audio value. You can read our full opinion here. Latest Soundbar NewsSennheiser is leaving the comfort zone of building headphones and microphones to enter the soundbar market, and no less at the top end. We got the chance to hear Sennheiser's AMBEO sound bar at CES and were impressed. Sennheiser calls this a 5.1.4 system – although it does not include a discrete subwoofer – and it supports MPEG-H audio as well as Dolby Atmos and DTS: X. The company expects to ship the loudspeaker in May. The price is $ 2,499. Best budget soundbar
YAS-108 from Yamaha YAS-108 is one of our most popular entry level soundbars.
Yamaha's YAS 108 Soundbar delivers great sound in a small and affordable package. Unlike most competitors at this price, the subwoofer output offers a wired subwoofer. If you have a 4K UHD TV you will be glad that this soundbar can forward HDR information to your big screen TV. With support for two simultaneous Bluetooth device connections, you can instantly switch from one smartphone or tablet to another. The only thing missing is Wi-Fi support for Yamaha's excellent MusicCast multi-room audio system. runner up
Samsung's entry-level soundbar does not have as many features as Yamaha's similarly-priced range, but it's equipped with a wireless subwoofer that makes it easy for us to rank second in this category. This is a particularly good option if you own one of Samsung's lower priced smart TVs. Best mid-range sound bar
Yamaha YAS-207 The first soundbar in its class to offer DTS Virtual: X, the Yamaha YAS-207 stands out from the competition.
Our previous offer in this category – the JBL Cinema SB 450 – is no longer available. So we moved Yamaha's YAS-207 up. This soundbar-with-wireless subwoofer combination offers stunning sound at a phenomenal price with DTS Virtual: X. runner up
Sonos BeamOne the more affordable entry in the Sonos ecosystem, the Beam sounds great and is remarkably versatile. It delivers a bigger sound than you might expect for its size, but for very large rooms it does not get loud enough.
The Sonos Beam is our runner-up for best sound bar in the mid-price segment. It's a powerful speaker for its size, and you can extend it to a full 5.1 channel system by adding a wireless sub-speaker and wireless surround speakers. The Beam also has built-in support for Amazon's Digital Alexa Assistant (and will soon be supporting Google Assistant) so it can become a key element in your smart home system. Apple fans will appreciate Beam's support for AirPlay 2. Best high-end soundbar
HEOS HomeCinema HS2Denon's HEOS HomeCinema HS2 Soundbar and Wireless Subwoofer are a solid, rich audio system that is also an intelligent speaker.
Last year's model of this speaker was our first choice in this category, at least until YAMASAS YAS-706 unbalanced it. But Denon shot back with a brand new version – the HEOS HomeCinema HS2 – and quickly won us back. This smart soundbar offers Amazon Alexa integration, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Crystal clear sound, powerful multiroom audio features (including support for Apple's AirPlay 2) and the powerful subwoofer maker make for a successful combination. runner up
Vizio amplifies this soundbar not only with a powerful subwoofer, but also with a pair of (wired) surround satellite speakers. Upfiring speakers in the soundbar bounce off Dolby Atmos treble effects from the ceiling and provide a truly impressive audio experience with soundtracks that support this object-based codec. And all this Vizio offers for only $ 500. It is a remarkable value. What exactly is a soundbar? A soundbar is usually a one- or two-piece speaker system whose main purpose is to give high-quality sound to modern televisions (two-part systems include a subwoofer). They are intended for people who can not (because of the wiring requirements and / or costs associated with traditional home theater audio) or who can not (because they are against the visual intervention of an A / V receiver and six or more objections Loudspeakers) set up free-standing speakers. The audio performance of almost every soundbar surpasses the quality of any modern TV in a small footprint and requires little more than a power cord and one or two cables. Soundbars are designed to fit in front of your TV if your TV is resting on a piece of furniture or under your TV when it hangs on the wall. There is also a subcategory – the sound base – that can carry the weight of your TV. You can even find soundbars from TV manufacturers that are adapted to the aesthetics of the TV they are paired with. Zvox
Zvox SB500 Soundbar
Almost all modern TV and movie soundtracks are recorded in surround sound. Therefore, most soundbars are equipped to at least decode Dolby Digital and to play discrete left, right and center channels, as well as low frequency effects (LFE). Many models have a separate, self-boosting subwoofer for LFE, which wirelessly connects to the soundbar. Buying a soundbar does not necessarily mean you're missing out on a complete home theater experience. In fact, some models offer optional surround speakers, and others even support object-oriented codecs such as Dolby Atmos and DTS: X that give a sense of elevation. Samsung
Samsung's wireless SWA-8500S speaker set for the HW-M450 soundbar adds left and right surround speakers without having to route cables backwards into the room.
How does a sound base differ from a soundbar? When looking for soundbars, some models are described as "sound-based". The two are similar – and they may even have identical technological sets of functions – but are not the same thing. Unlike a soundbar, a sound base is specifically designed to sit on a cabinet and carry the weight of a TV. Their form factor means that they can not be mounted on the wall. Which soundbar size should I buy? Most people buy a sound bar that is either the same width or narrower than their TV, but this has more to do with aesthetics than audio performance. If your TV is on a piece of furniture and you buy a soundbar that sits in front of it, you will need to consider the height of the speaker so that it does not interfere with the screen or block the infrared radiation from the TV receiver. Sound soundbars contain an IR repeater for this reason. If you choose a sound base, make sure the speaker fits in the space provided and that it can support the weight of your TV. Everything else is the same, the smaller the sound or the soundbar The sound base offers less space for larger speakers and functions (codec support, wireless connectivity, multiple inputs and outputs, etc.). That does not mean that a larger speaker sounds better than a bigger one, of course. Yamaha
The Yamaha YAS-106 can be wall-mounted with a thin profile to suit modern TVs.
Support soundbars Dolby Atmos and DTS: X. When you buy a soundbar, you do not have to miss out on an exciting home theater experience, but must be prepared to pay for it. Most soundbars are two-channel stereo or left, center and right channel speakers. Many of these soundbars claim to provide a true surround sound experience. For soundbars to capture the magic of surround sound, they must rely on the shape of their room, the sophisticated digital signal processing, and psychoacoustics. Consequently, your mileage may vary. Some rooms are more conducive to a good surround sound experience than others. Some soundbars dispense with this artificial workmanship and give you the ability to add surround speakers (often wirelessly) to create true 5.1 surround sound. Some very expensive soundbars (usually starting at more than $ 1,000) support Dolby Atmos and / or DTS: X object-oriented audio. These soundbars have multiple speakers in the soundbar, some of which are designed for left, center, and right channel operation, while others handle surround and treble cues. Most soundbars in this class support 5.1.2 or 7.1.2 channel setups, rendering only the front elevation channels. Again, you need the right room – with the right ceiling – to use an object-oriented audio soundbar. Do I need an A / V receiver? There are two types of soundbars: active and passive. An active soundbar is more or less self-contained. It has its own amplifier, digital signal processing and volume control, all in the same cabinet as the speakers. Some active soundbars can even record multiple HDMI sources. If you choose a model with HDMI support, make sure it also supports the Audio Return Channel (ARC) to reduce the number of cables you need between the soundbar and your TV. A passive soundbar requires the amplifier in an A / A V receiver, just like a conventional speaker. You connect the audio output of your TV (along with your Blu-ray player, media streamers and other components) to the inputs of the A / V receiver and the passive soundbar to the speaker connections of the A / V receiver. The A / V receiver amplifies the signal and sends it to the speaker. OnkyoThe Onkyo STB-A500 Soundbar includes an AV receiver as part of the package.
Soundbar Features to Watch Out Sorting through different soundbars can be a dizzying experience. Here's an alphabetical list of some of the key features that let you control the app's controls: If you want to control everything from your smartphone or tablet, you'll want to know if the manufacturer has an app for your mobile operating system from choice.ARC offers: The acronym stands for Audio Return Channel. ARC was first introduced with HDMI 1.4 and allows your TV to send its audio output via the HDMI cable to your soundbar or A / V receiver. This is especially important if you use the integrated tuner of your Smart TV or one of its media streaming apps (Netflix, YouTube, Vudu, etc.). Dialogue Improvement: If you turn on closed subtitles because you can not do this If you find out what people are saying on your TV, you might want to invest in a soundbar that offers dialogue enhancements. This feature uses an algorithm that frequently identifies speech-linked frequencies and passes through a digital signal processor to better distinguish them from sound effects, music, and other background sounds. Yamaha
The Yamaha YSP-5600 is a 7.1.2 soundbar that supports Dolby Atmos and DTS: X object-oriented audio formats. The sound bar has 44 beam drivers and two woofers that create surround and treble effects.
Dolby Atmos and DTS: X: With some of today's top-class soundbars, you can take advantage of the latest object-oriented audio technologies, such as Dolby Atmos and DTS: X. Sound bars with object-oriented audio are typically limited to 5.1.2 or 7.1.2 configuration, which plays only the front two effect channels. (A 5.1.2 channel system has front left, center, front right, left surround, right surround, subwoofer, left height and right height.) A 7.1.2 channel has the same configuration plus left rear and right surround back .) EQ: Some soundbars have a built-in EQ (Equalizer) to set the soundbar to a specific position, such as the sound bar. B. on the wall or in a closet. The EQ adjusts certain sound characteristics that the speaker will experience in a typical scenario, but does not confuse the EQ with the space correction. Room correction much more demanding. HDMI 2.0a If you do not yet own a 4K UHD television with High Dynamic Range (HDR) support, this is probably the next device you buy. You can learn more about HDR in this story, but in essence, the contrast is increased to show more detail and create vibrant colors. You need a soundbar that supports HDMI 2.0a to ensure that HDR information is transmitted from the source (such as an Ultra HD Blu-ray player) to the TV. Theo Nicolakis / IDG
The JBL SB450 has multiple HDMI inputs.
Lossless Audio: Do you have a growing collection of high-resolution music files in FLAC or ALAC format? If you want to listen to them through your soundbar, make sure they can decrypt these files. Multi-Room Audio: Some soundbars may be components in a multiroom audio system, but this usually requires selecting a platform and staying with you throughout the house (speakers supporting DTS Play-Fi are an exception to this rule). More typical proprietary systems include Denos Heos, Yamaha MusicCast and – one of the most popular systems – Sonos. With Sonos, you can even pair the Playbar or Playbase with your wireless subwoofer and the wireless satellite speakers (Play: 1, Play: 3 or Play: 5 second generation) as surround channels for true 5.1-channel surround sound generate configuration. In addition, you can no longer add surround back or treble channels with a Sonos system. Music streaming: Many of today's soundbars can stream music over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, but only a handful supports Bluetooth with CD-quality streaming aptX. Apple's AirPlay is an important feature for Apple fans with iPhones and iPods. Audio enthusiasts will want to know if the soundbar can decode lossless codecs like FLAC and ALAC. Denon
The HomeCinema sound integrates seamlessly with Denon's streaming ecosystem.
Room Correction: Your room plays an important role in the sound of your soundbar. Some manufacturers, such as Paradigm, incorporate sophisticated and highly effective room correction technology into their soundbars. The tonal benefits of a good soundbar with a well-implemented room correction may be stunning, but this feature is usually expensive. Soundbars usually do not find room corrections priced under $ 1,000. Subwoofer support: If you love good, deep bass, you should buy a soundbar that can be connected to a subwoofer. Some soundbars come preinstalled with a submodule (in many cases a wireless model), while others have a subwoofer output, so you can use a cable to connect to the model you want. The prepackaged route may look attractive, but this usually means that you can not upgrade any of the components without scraping them. Our latest soundbar reviews