You may enhance your current TV's audio output without purchasing a new one. In truth, most modern TVs still have terrible-sounding, tinny speakers. But it can be challenging to know where to begin when improving the audio system in your home theater. The most straightforward and economical option, brave consumer, is to purchase a soundbar. Modern soundbars come in various colors, designs, and costs. We've created a checklist of things to consider before purchasing your best soundbar.
Why is a soundbar necessary?
Soundbars are an excellent entry point into home theater audio because they are portable, simple to set up, and sound much better than most built-in TV speakers. TV speakers are truly subpar. The breadth of sound quality that a soundbar can produce includes fundamental enhancements to the bass and overall soundscape, as well as the type of room-filling sound you may anticipate from a more conventional home theater audio system (a system with wired speakers and a dedicated receiver). A soundbar is a simple method to improve your viewing experience no matter what you're watching.
What to Consider when Looking for Best Soundbar?
Choosing the Correct Size
The number of trebles, bass, and height channels integrated into a soundbar is used to identify it. Channels can be thought of as the areas where a soundbar emits sound. For instance, a "2.1" system consists of two speakers and a separate subwoofer. Five speakers (a center, left, right, plus two surrounds) and a subwoofer make up a 5.1 system. Most soundbars include a subwoofer and at least three front channels (left, center, and right). That system is 3.1. The center channel, in my opinion, is crucial because that is where TV and movie mixers place. Difficulty hearing conversation in movies and television programs? At a minimum, get a 3-channel bar.
There may occasionally be a different number at the end, such as a 5.1.2 system. So there are two height channels. These upward- or sideways-facing speakers mimic side and ceiling speakers for content mixed in Dolby Atmos or DTS:X by reflecting sound off the walls. The objective of these soundbars is to simulate surround sound without having to set up numerous speakers in your living room. The most expensive soundbar configurations for even greater immersion include extra specialized rear and height surround speakers.
The more channels, the bigger your soundbar will be. The most crucial step is ensuring that whatever you purchase will fit on your media console (preferably, it will fit directly in between the legs of your TV as well).
Are Subwoofers Necessary?
In my opinion, you should buy a soundbar with a dedicated subwoofer. If these are too pricey, various solutions allow you to add a subwoofer later. You'll have to create room for it (these are chunky boxes with big speakers inside to crank out powerful bass, after all). The good news is that because the bass is omnidirectional, you may install a subwoofer wherever in your living room. However, the exact location will depend on how long the wire is from the subwoofer to the soundbar or power outlet.
Most contemporary soundbars adhere to the HDMI ARC ("Audio Return Channel") standard, making it simple to attach them to a TV with just one HDMI cable. I'm done now! (You must also plug it into an electrical outlet.) Confirming that a soundbar has optical audio out is crucial, especially if you intend to connect it to an older TV or another type of player. But we advise staying with a soundbar that supports ARC. You won't need to use two remote controls or search for the soundbar's remote when it gets caught somewhere on the sofa because it allows your TV remote to manage the soundbar's volume (with mute capabilities).
You may use some soundbars as a conventional home theater receiver because they contain HDMI ports, Bluetooth connectivity, and other features. Your specific needs will determine what you want, but for most users, a direct HDMI connection for ARC will be sufficient. Typically, the package also contains these cables.
What About Surround Sound?
You surround yourself with sound with specialized speakers positioned throughout the space, precisely what surround sound entails. It's not required, but it can feel more immersive, especially if you attentively follow a lot of sports, play video games on the TV, or watch many movies. Although soundbars frequently claim to provide digital surround sound, you shouldn't put much faith in immersion unless the soundbar has dedicated rear surround speakers (not the built-in side speakers that bounce audio off the walls).
Consider using supports to position the surround speakers behind your sofa and the cords you'll need to route from these speakers back to the soundbar.
$100 or Less
Small soundbars in this price range are still superior to the TV's built-in speakers. They're a terrific alternative for TVs in bedrooms, kitchens, and other non-primary viewing areas, but they're also great if your budget is limited.
$100 to $400
This pricing range is suitable for the majority of non-surround soundbars. Identifiable brand names like Samsung, Sony, LG, Bose, and Sonos are good places to start. Although some models sound passable without them (Sonos and Bose offer soundbars that don't contain subwoofers but are still reasonably fantastic), I wouldn't buy a soundbar in this price range without a wireless subwoofer. Although most of them aren't the finest for fully immersive sound, you can occasionally find soundbars with satellite speakers for surround sound below $400.
$400 to $1,000
You'll see high-end surround soundbars equipped with genuine satellite speakers in this price range. Unless it's a high-end system that can be upgraded later, like those from Sonos, I won't spend more than $400 on a soundbar without satellite speakers.
More than $1,000
The largest, boldest surround soundbar system with the greatest number of speakers for height and surround audio is available at this price. These are for those without the space for larger systems that need discrete components like an A/V receiver but have the money to build a small home theater system. I'd suggest a simple, conventional home theater system with speakers, amps, and a receiver if you're going much higher.
Intelligent assistants, multi-room audio compatibility, and other bells and whistles are featured on many soundbars. Keep this in mind while looking for a new soundbar if you currently have an intelligent assistant you adore, such as Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri. If a smart soundbar is what you end up getting instead, you might not need a smart speaker in your living room. On the other hand, if you don't need those functions, avoiding soundbars with fancy features will help you save some money.
Last update on 2023-09-21 / Affiliate links / Images, Product Titles, and Product Highlights from Amazon Product Advertising API
1. Can you add speakers to a sound bar?
Variously, yes and no. In fact, some of the more recent soundbars have extra speakers as part of the system, bringing you much closer to the sound of a real home theater. The sound bar must support multi-room if you want to add wireless back speakers in any other method. And if you already have (or want to install) a multi-room audio system across your house, that's a fantastic alternative.
2. What are Dolby Atmos soundbars?
Some more recent sound bars have Dolby Atmos technology, which simulates surround sound by reflecting audio off ceilings. Although extremely decent, it still isn't the real deal.
3. How do I know if a soundbar will work with my TV?
Most contemporary soundbars are compatible with modern TVs. To be assured, you must confirm that their connections are compatible.
4. Are sound bars good for gaming?
Indeed, they can be! By generating an expansive soundscape, a good soundbar may contribute to the creation of an engaging experience and offer another level of immersion. Any of these ought to work.