If you're looking to take your TV experience to a whole new level, then you should consider investing in the best sound bar for TV. Unlike home theater systems, soundbars are not only easy to set up but also offer improved sound quality over a built-in TV speaker.
Soundbars have become a lot more popular in the recent past than subwoofers, AV receivers, and larger home theater speakers. However, with the wide range of choices available, it can be a bit challenging to find the best soundbar for your TV.
Fortunately, this guide will help you cut through the challenge. We have reviewed the best soundbars in the market today in terms of price, music, and movies capabilities, as well as other features like high-resolution audio, the number of HDMI inputs, Bluetooth connectivity, multi-room capabilities, Dolby Atmos, or surround sound. So keep reading to find out.
Why Do You Need the Best Soundbar?
As TVs have gotten thinner with sleeker designs and shrinking bezels, manufacturers are experiencing a hard time building great speakers in them. Great-sounding speakers can be bulky, yet a TV can sound crummy with an audio accessory included.
To essentially get the most out of your viewing experience, the best sound bar for TV can make a big improvement to your TV. Generally, the best soundbars will provide more than one sound mode and a clear sound.
Here are some of the reasons why you need the best soundbar for TV;
- Some of them will work with your smart speakers, which means you can talk to them through Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
- The best soundbars come with a design that is pleasing to the eye, as much as their audio is pleasing to the ear.
- Most of them have a sleek and minimal design that you can flush against the wall or create a home cinema set up.
- They are a great option for rooms with small spaces or smaller homes that won't be able to create space for a 7.1 channel speaker.
- Most of the soundbars below are designed to sit in front of the screen, but they can also be wall-mounted either above or to the side of your TV, depending on how your room is and the design you're looking to get.
- The best sound bar for TV will also provide you an ultimate choice on how your home entertainment section will look.
What is the best brand Sound Bar for TV
- Roku Streambar 4K/HD/HDR Streaming Media Player & Premium Audio
- Yamaha Audio YAS-209 BL Sound Bar with Wireless Subwoofer
- SAMSUNG HW-Q950T 9.1.4ch Soundbar with Dolby Atmos/ DTS:X
- Sony HT X8500 2.1ch Dolby Atmos/DTS:X Soundbar
- Sonos Arc - The Premium Smart Soundbar For TV, Movies, Music, Gaming
So, here are the five best soundbars available today.
1. Roku Streambar 4K/HD/HDR Streaming Media Player & Premium Audio
- Watch what you love: Upgrade your streaming with a massive selection...
- Built-in 4K streaming device: Enjoy an easy, fast interface with the...
- Surprisingly big sound: Listen in awe as four internal speakers fill...
- Smarter than your average soundbar: Roku Streambar produces sound well...
- Simple sound settings: It’s easy to perfect your sound no matter...
If you're looking for a budget soundbar to upgrade your TV sound, the Roku Streambar 4K/HD/HDR Streaming Media Player & Premium Audio is one of the best soundbars available in the market today. While it is not considered the best for entry into a proper home cinema, it nails the most commonly required aspects: clarity and projection.
Fortunately, the Roku Streambar 4K/HD/HDR Streaming Media Player & Premium Audio will work with any TV that has an HDMI input that outputs 4K HDR of up to 60fps for compatible sets. The bundled remote is amazing and quite reliable. For the older sets of smart features and out-of-the-box boost TV audio, the Roku Streambare is a great option for the price.
With a single voice remote controlling everything and a built-in full-fledged 4K HDR Roku streamer, this bar provides you with video and audio in a simple bar. The setup of this Roku soundbar is very simple since it only requires you to connect it to a TV using a simple HDMI port connection.
While lack of bass is its biggest weakness, this soundbar makes up for that with an excellent sound and a better ability to fill the room with great sound. In addition, despite it lacking a subwoofer, it can still improve your TV's sound without one.
2. Yamaha Audio YAS-209 BL Sound Bar with Wireless Subwoofer
The Yamaha Audio YAS-209 BL Sound Bar with Wireless Subwoofer boasts an excellent sound quality in the compact soundbar. It features an implementation of DTS Virtual:X that provides a rich effect of the surround speaker.
In addition, it can be used with Amazon Alexa for easy streaming of music. The mics are of good quality and work well even in loud environments. It comes with a wireless subwoofer that offers more headroom than some competing soundbars.
However, the Yamaha Audio YAS-209 BL Sound Bar doesn't use Yamaha's MusicCast system, so it may not sync up with other Yamaha speakers. Despite this, it features everything you would expect in the best soundbar, including the ability to replay both music and movies to a high standard, power output levels, and ease of use.
Unlike some of the competitors like Sonos Beam or Sennheiser Ambeo soundbar, this Yamaha won't get the Google assistant even in the future. However, it measures 37 inches wide and 2.5 inches, which is compact enough to find under most TVs without covering the IR port.
3. SAMSUNG HW-Q950T 9.1.4ch Soundbar with Dolby Atmos/ DTS:X
- 3D TRUE SURROUND SOUND (DOLBY ATMOS AND DTS: X): Explore the depths of...
- TRUE 9.1.4CH SOUND: Through the 20 speaker system, the soundbar's 9...
- UP-FIRING REAR SPEAKERS INCLUDED: With wireless up-firing, rear...
- Q-SYMPHONY: Breakthrough technology that synchronizes Samsung QLED TV...
- ALEXA BUILT-IN VOICE ASSISTANT: Your soundbar comes with Alexa...
The Samsung HW-Q950T 9.1.4ch Soundbar is a top 3D audio soundbar. It features Samsung's customary power with improved dynamism and precision and provides 14 separate channels of sound. Its slimmer design allows it to fit into a wide range of TVs comfortably.
The 9.1.4 system is pretty impressive for a soundbar and is tailor-made for object-based sound delights of the DTS:X and Dolby Atmos audio formats. Furthermore, the audio streaming is supported over both Bluetooth and WI-FI.
It includes Hi-Res Audio file formats that allow you to connect it with some phones just by tapping them against the body of the soundbar. It comes with one HDMI output, two HDMI inputs, and optical digital audio input.
Although it might be a bit expensive than the common soundbars in the market, its extra set of height drivers will take the Dolby Atmos experience to the next level.
4. Sony HT X8500 2.1ch Dolby Atmos/DTS:X Soundbar
- 7.1.2ch Dolby Atmos/DTS X with Vertical Sound Engine
- Dual built-in subwoofers for deep bass
- All sound upscaled close to 7.1.2ch audio
- Seven different sound modes to enhance your entertainment experience
- Voice enhancement for greater clarity
While Dolby Atmos-compatible soundbars come at a very high price, the Sony HT X8500 2.1ch Dolby Atmos/DTS:X Soundbar is one of the best soundbars with Dolby Atmos that comes at an affordable price. It features a great performance because of Sony’s proprietary Vertical Sound Engine.
This sound engine works together with the DTS:X and Dolby Atmos to create a convincing illusion of a wraparound sound which allows movies to play with a clear and improved sense of expanded width and height. Additionally, the design and build quality of this soundbar are exceptional.
Generally, the audio performance is impressive with clarity and spatial presentation. However, if you're looking for a home theatre sound system that won't break your bank, then you should consider getting Sony’s proprietary Vertical Sound Engine.
This soundbar provides an immersive sound with Sony's audio processing that provides a great sound. It has a built-in subwoofer and features the ability to bounce the height and side channels of the Dolby Atmos signal around the room.
5. Sonos Arc - The Premium Smart Soundbar For TV, Movies, Music, Gaming
- All-new Sonos Arc - Bring all your entertainment to life with the...
- 3D sound with Dolby Atmos - Experience shows, movies, and games with...
- Tuned to perfection - Enhanced Trueplay tuning technology optimizes...
- Immerse yourself in the music - Stream music, radio, podcasts, and...
- Class 10 for Full HD video recording and playback (Full HD (1920x1080)...
The Sonos Arc is the Sonos' latest surround sound solution that is found in a single soundbar. This system boasts a curved sound, an impressive HDMI interface, and amazing surround sound. Great for a modern minimalist home, the Sonos Arc soundbar is intended to short circuit the surround sound game.
This Sonos Arc soundbar relies on the Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby's latest TrueHD sound codecs to give great quality audio. Additionally, using the Dolby Atmos object tracks will enhance the 3D soundscape to bounce some sounds off the wall around you to make it feel like the sounds are coming at you from all angles.
The soundbar's setup couldn't be easier where it involves only a couple of steps using the smartphone app. Its all-in-one system construction and minimalist cable connections add to the easy installation. The streamlined aesthetic makes it one of the best soundbars you can buy for your home.
It comes with a touch-sensitive pause or play and volume controls on the bar. In addition, the bar has LEDs that help display the status when talking to the built-in Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. This soundbar also uses 11 drives to create a nice sound field.
Soundbar Vs Soundbase
The soundbar is a long and thin speaker and is either one or two-piece device that will work fine on its own. However, if you're looking to achieve a strong bass performance, you will need an additional power of a subwoofer.
Luckily, many soundbars include a wireless subwoofer which you can hide in one corner of the room. The subwoofer will automatically sync with the best soundbar that is in front of your TV.
Unlike best soundbars that come with a standard bar shape, there are some one-piece sound systems that come with the soundbase format. They include flat and large speaker systems that have incorporated everything into a single monolithic base that you can easily place under your TV.
The bigger volume and surface area of these soundbars will often mean that they produce better bass and midrange than the common soundbars. Furthermore, some of them can even give solid sub-bass.
Fortunately, both sound systems will allow you to improve your TV's audio with minimum fuss and wires. They both come with a minimum profile and will most of the time require only one cable that connects to your TV and another cable that is connected to a power outlet.
What Do You Consider Before Buying the Best Soundbars
1. Size of the Soundbar
A soundbar varies in size, and you find one that matches your size. To avoid overcrowding your space, it is important to get a soundbar that matches the size of your TV.
Furthermore, a soundbar that is too long alongside a small TV is not very appealing and vice versa. This means that if you have a 42 inch TV, then a soundbar that ranges anywhere between 38 to 45 inches will work great.
When buying the best sound bar for TV, you need to check if it has Bluetooth support. This feature allows you to send music from different devices like tablets, computers, and smartphones to your soundbar, where you can then play it on your TV.
However, if you get a soundbar that doesn't have Bluetooth support, then you might have to use an adapter to connect the devices to the soundbar.
3. Dolby Atmos and Channels
When you consider buying a soundbar, you might see a number like 5.1, 3.1, 2.0, etc. The numbers relate to the number of channels that the soundbar has and if the soundbar includes a subwoofer. The first number coincides with the number of drivers, and the other one indicates whether the subwoofer comes with a soundbar. So the 0 indicates no sound woofer, while 1 means it comes with a subwoofer.
In 5.1, 3.1, and 2.0 models, the five indicate the surround sound speakers; three indicate the left and center, while two specify two drives, where one is on the left and the other one on the right.
Most often, a soundbar comes with a wireless subwoofer, but there are many companies that manufacture wire satellite speakers as well. There are also times you will come across three numbers, for example, 5.1.4, which indicates a Dolby Atmos surround sound.
The last number indicates the number of drives that will shoot up and spring back to create an encompassing sound. So, how many channels do I need? The more, the better, and the more immersive the movies and music experience is.
While it is not a must to have a subwoofer, it is a great addition for most audiophiles. The main reason is that it adds an exciting bass. Some soundbars will come with a separate subwoofer, while other soundbars will have in-built subwoofers that are equally effective. So, if you're looking for some bass, then the subwoofer is a key consideration.
5. Display and Controls
It is required to keep an eye on the soundbars that come with front panel displays to ensure you get a clear vision of your input and volume.
The remote control is another important consideration. Isn't it nice to control your soundbar right from the couch without having to walk to their location every time? Fortunately, most soundbars feature remote control.
However, you need to check the description to ensure that it is included in the soundbar you choose. Furthermore, it is also great if the soundbar can be programmed to work with the TV remote. This saves you the trouble you might experience having numerous remote controls all over the house.
The space you have around your TV will also dictate the type of sound system that will work best for you. Soundbars are more versatile since they can either be made to hang on the wall or sit under the TV when it comes to installation.
If your TV is on the table or A TV stand, you can just place the soundbar on the same table, directly below the TV. However, you need to ensure that the space below your TV matches the height of your soundbar.
If the TV is mounted on the wall, then you should mount the soundbar directly below it. Some soundbars may include mounting for a straightforward. Ideally, soundbars are designed to be placed under the TV, on top of a table, or mounted to the wall.
The newest soundbars feature a variety of connection options. Here are some of the key connections you should watch out for;
a). HDMI Arc
You just need to connect the soundbar to your TV's Audio Return Channel (ARC) input using an HDMI cable, and that's it. HDMI arc is great for multi-channel soundbars
b). Wireless Connectivity
If you're looking for the ability to stream audio directly from the soundbar or using a tablet or phone, here is what you should look out for;
- Bluetooth- Many soundbars have Bluetooth built in to stream the music from your phone, tablet, and computer.
- WI-FI- These are wireless soundbars that come with WI-FI which allows them to connect to the home's internet network and stream anything from anywhere.
The optical port provides you with a better and solid connection between the soundbar and TV. It is also one of the simplest, easiest, and most reliable connections ever, but it doesn't have a bandwidth that can carry over a 5.1 signal.
d). USB Inputs
Often, USB inputs are always included for firmware updates. However, most soundbar updates today are always done through software updates. You may not need this unless you're looking to plug in a thumb drive.
8. Additional Features
One of the additional features you should look out for in a soundbar is online access. There are some brands that provide streaming services from popular TV shows or services like Amazon or Netflix. Some also allow social networking sites. It is a perfect addition for people who lack this feature on their TV.
In as much as you're looking to buy the best soundbar for an improved audio experience, the price is not something you can overlook. This is simply because if you can't afford it, then you shouldn't buy it.
For example, it may be difficult to enjoy music or movie if you're unable to pay for electricity. If your preferred model is expensive, you would look for another option or save for a few more months before actually buying it.
Luckily there are soundbars for every budget. However, you may need to filter out thousands of products to find one that is within your budget and also one that satisfies your needs.
Active Vs. Passive Soundbars
Active soundbars come with built-in amplifiers that power everything, as well as the channel processors that separate right, left, and center speakers in the soundbar. This means that there is no extra receiver is needed, and fewer wires come with the all-inclusive device.
On the other hand, passive soundbars don't include a built-in power amp, and therefore it requires an amplifier or a receiver to work. However, they tend to have better speakers, which means a better sound is experienced.
As a result, a passive sound bar will cost more, and you will also need to connect more components together. Furthermore, you might also need an additional subwoofer connection if you're looking to get additional bass.
If you're looking to improve your TV audio experience simply, we would recommend going for an active soundbar. On the other hand, a passive soundbar is a great option for custom installations, for example, when you want a full-blown Dolby Atmos system or you want the soundbar to disappear as part of your TV.
Will You Need a Subwoofer?
Most soundbars can put out a lot of sound ranging from mid to high frequency, but they won't be able to reach a low-frequency sound. In addition, you need a lot of physical volumes to achieve a powerful bass because of how the sound travels.
Unfortunately, the shallow and wide shape of soundbars won't give a very powerful bass, and this is why many soundbars will come with separate subwoofers. A subwoofer is designed to specifically put out a low-frequency sound in the sub-base and bass ranges.
Subwoofers are bulky and equipped with a large driver, usually around six inches, allowing them to move a lot of air to achieve a low-end rumble. While you can get a good listening experience with a soundbar only, you can't really make the walls shake or actually feel your favorite music or movie without a good subwoofer.
In terms of the placement of a subwoofer, you don't have to worry about it too much as you would with the placement of a soundbar. This is because bass sounds are less directional than high-frequency sounds. As a result, you can easily place a subwoofer behind or next to your couch as well as the corner of the room.
In addition, you won't have to worry about running into cables that connect the soundbar and the subwoofer since most subwoofers that come with soundbars are wireless. This means you will only need to plug the subwoofer into a power outlet for them to work with the soundbar.
Unfortunately, some best soundbars may not include a subwoofer. For those that have subwoofer outputs, you can buy one separately and add it to the system, but you'll need to consider the cables. You also need to ensure that the subwoofer has a built-in amp, or you will need to connect a preamp between the soundbar and the unpowered subwoofer. This setup will not only take a lot of space but will also require a lot of power.
Do You Need a Surround Sound?
While most soundbases and soundbars claim to offer a form of surround sound, this can be quite misleading. This is because the driver placement and audio processing can form a sense of being surrounded by sound even when the speakers are in front of you.
However, the large sound field can't produce an accurate surround system with dedicated satellites for every channel. If you want to feel the surround sound effect from the right direction, then you need a full surround sound speaker system or a soundbar with separate satellites a rear audio channel.
Despite this, a true surround system is not always the best choice. While the surround sound is accurate using the multi-speaker sets, there are some disadvantages that make it less appealing than using a single soundbase or soundbar.
First, the conventional surround systems mean more clutter in your room. This is because every satellite needs wires running to either a centralized device such as an A/V receiver or to the wall. With a lot of cables, one can potentially trip over.
While you can hide them in-wall conduits or rugs, it is only going to be less convenient and more expensive than using a soundbase or a soundbar. Soundbars with rear satellites will only require connecting the rear speakers to a wireless system.
You need shelves, stands, or appropriate flat surfaces that you can place all the speakers in your system apart from the subwoofer that can just sit on the floor. If you're on a budget to remodel or build your living room around a surround sound system, then it is an amazing choice for the home theater. However, for most users, a surround sound system is not necessary.
Is a Soundbar Better Than a Full Home Theater System and Receiver?
Although the home theater audio has been traditionally big, its complex design is made for audiophiles or people who are comfortable with setting up their own sound systems from individual components.
In the last decade, soundbars have become quite popular since they are an easy alternative that is simpler to set up, requires less physical space, and is less expensive. However, no all-in-one or single soundbar system can match what you get if you set up your own home theater.
With your big speakers, amp, and own A/V receiver, you can achieve more control and power over your home theater sound. You only need to put in much more money and legwork. A good receiver can cost as much as the best soundbar, and this is before you start buying speakers.
With a home theater system, you will also need to run the wires yourself, connect an amp when necessary, and work on it much more. On the other hand, the best sound bar for TV will only require you to take it out of the box and plug it directly into your TV.
A home theater system is definitely worth it and can be incredibly rewarding. Still, you will need a great feel of technology and a relatively deep pocket or deeper pockets, and the willingness to hire someone to install and make it all happen.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs on Soundbars
1. Are Soundbars really worth it?
Definitely, the best soundbars will make a great difference to your TV watching experience even if you don't see yourself as an audiophile. Since the built-in TV speakers won't do your games, TV shows, and films justice, soundbars will come in handy to improve the audio quality.
2. Where should I put a soundbar?
When it comes to the soundbar placements, you get two options. The first is wall mounting, and the other one is placing it below your TV on your TV stand or TV cabinet. However, if the soundbar is very tall, wall mounting may be the best option where it would otherwise obscure the IR receiver, making the remote control useless.
3. Can you add speakers to a soundbar?
Yes and no. Some new soundbars have additional speakers as part of the system to help you get closer to a home theater sound. The other way you can add wireless rear speakers is if the soundbar has a multi-room capability. It is a great option if you have a multi-room audio system throughout your home.