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The Best Soundbars to buy in 2018

Not only do soundbars lend a sleek touch to your living room, they also revolutionise your TV watching experience. With sound bars, you won't have to turn up the volume to feel the presence of the game the next time you watch a Super-bowl match. You'll be able to hear all those little sound nuances from your favourite movie or music concert. The kids will totally enjoy the sound effects of sound bars on their favourite cartoon or animated movie.

some of the best soundbars

Choosing the right sound bars can be quite challenging since they come in a variety of designs, sizes and prices. Before we go into the different options on the market, let's look at the type of value that sound bars can add to your home entertainment system.

Sonos Multi-Room Digital Music System

This is an all encompassing hybrid system that's sure to deliver that coveted surround sound experience. It comes with a sound bar, speakers, subwoofer and Boost. The sound bar is an ideal companion for HD enabled Tvs, while the speakers offer fantastic sound with no obstruction. The subwoofer is wireless, which means you can place it in any spot and it'll still deliver an immersive sound experience. Its Play 5 Speakers even boasts 6 synchronized drivers to help bring on that deep, encompassing sound experience. The Boost makes is easy for you to connect and stream wirelessly, thanks to its unequalled wireless performance. If your wi-fi connection tends to be weak or unstable where your TV is, this is the system to go with.

Not only do soundbars lend a sleek touch to your living room, they also revolutionise your TV watching experience. With sound bars, you won't have to turn up the volume to feel the presence of the game the next time you watch a Super-bowl match. You'll be able to hear all those little sound nuances from your favourite movie or music concert. The kids will totally enjoy the sound effects of sound bars on their favourite cartoon or animated movie.

Choosing the right sound bars can be quite challenging since they come in a variety of designs, sizes and prices. Before we go into the different options on the market, let's look at the type of value that sound bars can add to your home entertainment system.

Pros

  • This system comes with a controller app which you can use to play music on your sound bar via an online streaming service
  • The combination of the sound bar and subwoofer enhances the acoustics of your home theatre experience and offers an impressive bass
  • The system is fairly simple to setup and control
  • Obstruction free and clear sound, even when you turn the volume up really loud
  • Wireless connection of subwoofer to speakers
  • This system comes complete with six amplifiers to deliver the best surround sound experience

Cons

  • The design could use some sprucing up
  • The control signs are not clearly marked, making it difficult to spot them on the sound bar

This uniquely designed sound bar system offers a surround sound experience that fills the room, giving you an authentic movie and entertainment experience. It even comes with chic looking detachable wireless speakers and subwoofer that's perfect for modern design aesthetic and will blend in well with your home decor. Easily place the subwoofer wherever you want; it’s wireless to give you convenience and freedom in your placement. The system is fairly easy to install and run, and even comes with a handy remote control for mobile operation.

You can place the speakers all around the living room to enjoy a rich and all-encompassing sound from all directions. The speakers are also Bluetooth and WiFi enabled, which gives you more sources to play music from. Featuring Dolby Digital and Pro Logic II surround sound, this soundbar set up will deliver if you’re seeking a deep bass and more impressive surround sound.

Pros

  • Because the speakers are wireless, you can enjoy their comprehensive sound from anywhere in the house, or even take them outside
  • You can pair it up with your Tablet or Smart phone via Bluetooth and it's WiFi enabled as well
  • It's a convenient system with everything you need for an enveloping sound experience, especially in smaller spaces
  • It comes with a convenient wall-mount bracket
  • Comes with soft dome tweeters for premium unobstructed sound

Cons

  • Customer support could use some improvement
  • This system is selective when it comes to the type of TV models it connects to and doesn't take at all with some older models
  • Because the sound bar is so small, it doesn't have a lot of input spaces for larger drivers

This is a two bit system that packs a punch. Within the sound bar are 22 array speakers and two subwoofers, featuring HDMI capabilities that easily transmit 4K, 3D and CEC sound with clarity. The extra subwoofer provides powerful bass with extraordinary clarity, no matter how high the volume. Its 7.1-channel surround feature and 4 HDMI inputs that allow for easier setup are bonuses that make this soundbar set even more attractive.

The system comes with 10 different sound perception options based on your preferences, including three for movies, four for entertainment and another three for music. The UniVolume feature prevents the volume from spiking up when the commercials or other high pitched aspects come on. You can also easily place this system below or in front of your TV without obstructing the view or the signal.

Pros

  • This system delivers realistic sound with 7.1 channel surround sound
  • The sound bar comes with in-built 22 array speakers and two subwoofers, with an extra subwoofer that you can place anywhere
  • Delivers 4K and 3D sound with absolute cinematic precision
  • The front panels comes with a variety of input options like digital USB for mobile devices and thumb drives and a 40 channel FM tuner
  • The subwoofer delivers exceptionally clear sound thanks to a Linear Port that filters out unnecessary noise

Cons

  • This sound system is better designed to deliver surround sound quality in smaller spaces
  • The wireless subwoofer tends to cut unexpectedly, which makes for awkward listening
  • 4K streaming can be an issue on some devices

You'll feel like a part of the action with this multi-channel 43 inch long sound bar that comes with impressive Digital Signal Processing, along with Dolby Digital and DTS. The Hybrid Pressure Acceleration System contains 4 bass acoustic for an impressively deep bass that rivals subwoofers and amps. Featuring the Legendary Atlantic Technology home theatre performance, this refined digital system will give you the authentic home theatre experience.

If you have a bigger space and want a realistic surround sound experience, you can easily connect this to external speakers using the 3.5 millimetre audio jack, which comes with the package. The sound bar is also Bluetooth and NFC enabled, with the flexibility to easily connect from a 30 feet distance. If you need a soundbar system to enhance TV dialogue, this one has an added feature that advances dialogue over background noise so it’s clearer and more intelligible. Its User Switchable Display is also unique in the sense that you can easily flip it to display correctly regardless of which way the unit is placed.

Pros

  • It comes with H-PAS which delivers powerful sound and a deep bass
  • It comes with Bluetooth to stream music from any Bluetooth enabled mobile devices
  • The Switchable Display feature means that you can easily read it even when it's upside down
  • You can easily control the sound bar with its own remote control, but a universal remote control works just as well
  • The simple design makes for an uncluttered look in your space, with no need for extra speakers
  • The in-built subwoofer provides all the bass you'll need, no amp required

Cons

  • It could use more input variety on the front panel

The Bose SoundTouch bar proves that dynamite comes in small packages. Although the slim design makes it look small, it contains sensational bass and advanced sound technology to deliver a distortion free and enveloping sound. Its 4K technology and HDMI connectivity helps boost your TV shows, music and movies while its chic, trendy design of glass and metal make it a stunning showpiece. The slick and sophisticated design makes it a beautiful addition to any well decorated space.

The sound bar also comes with NFC and WiFi as well as a SoundTouch app which speeds up the streaming process, allowing you to easily access music from your favourite streaming platforms such as Spotify, Pandora and Tidal. The ADAPTiQ feature actually adjusts the sound to suit the acoustics of your space, regardless of its specifications. Its QuietPort feature helps to keep distortion to a bare minimum so you get to enjoy true, rich bass. The Bose PhaseGuide feature makes your sound experience so authentic and fuss free that you won’t even notice you’re using external speakers.

Pros

  • The space saving sleek design comes with a metal grille and a soft to the touch glass top. Perfectly complements minimalist and modern décor.
  • You can stream music wirelessly with the NFC, WiFi ad SoftTouch features
  • Enjoy sound that adjusts to your space with ADAPTiQ
  • Its super easy to setup and control and comes with its own universal remote
  • Contains full HDMI capabilities for 4K and 3D sound channelling

Cons

  • This model’s not compatible with older TVs and mostly works with the latest technology
  • The Bluetooth functions needs some serious tuning up, as it sometimes disrupts the sound by cutting unexpectedly

The Sonos Play bar is one of the best in the market, with awesome technology features like speech enhancement, Truespeaker tuning for flexble placement, and Night Sound, which automatically levels the volume when intense sounds come on. With its 9 amplified drivers, you’ll get to enjoy a rich media experience while the Sonos Speech Enhancement means you get unparalleled clarity with dialogue.

This sound bar also contains WiFi for wireless music streaming, and the clarity and quality of the sound will simply blow you away. It gets better with time as Sonos continuously updates the software to integrate new features and services over time. Pus, you can pair this with the famous Sonos subwoofer for an even more dramatic bass; or the wireless Sonos Play: 1, 2 and 3 to experience genuine surround sound in your living room.

Pros

  • Blends seamlessly with any space, thanks to simplified and elegant design
  • It's a wireless system which you can place in any arrangement while still experiencing great sound, thanks to Truespeaker tuning
  • Contains WiFi for uninterrupted streaming on any mobile device, and you can add Sonos speakers to stream music from any room in the house
  • Setup is easy and hassle free, with a Sonos app available if you require extra assistance
  • You can conveniently access your favourite online streaming services, online radio stations, audio books and existing downloads through the innovative Sonos app

Cons

  • Single output gives you less audio source options
  • It has no DTS support
  • The price is a bit steep

This Samsung Premium sound bar has an impressive and realistic bass, thanks to technology that eliminates sound distortion by expertly tuning output to cancel sound dross before it even occurs. With WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, you can stream music from your mobile device and from any online streaming platform, while HD Audio allows you to experience the sound as it is. The Samsung Wide Range Tweeter ensures that regardless of the room you’re in, the sound bar delivers the perfect enriching blend of sound that’s the most suitable.

The design is elegant, simple but no simplified, and perfect for clutter free décor. The sound is dynamic with rich bass undertones that deliver a completely cinematic experience throughout the room, thanks to the Wide Range Tweeter. Plus you can easily enjoy your 4K and Blu-ray content with this sound bar, courtesy of HDMI compatibility.

Pros

  • Impressive distortion predicting technology prevents sound distortion before it even happens
  • You'll feel like you're at the cinema with the soul shattering base and vibrant sound
  • Wide Range Tweeter delivers sound to every nook and cranny in your space
  • The remote control allows you to conveniently manage the sound bar from your TV
  • You'll be able to experience depth of sound as well as all the little nuances, with refined HD Audio
  • The Sound+ features customises the sound according to the content, e.g. movies sound more cinematic, while the music has studio quality richness

Cons

  • The design is a minimalistic, simple black which some people prefer but others say that it can be improved.

Klipsch R-20B Bluetooth Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer

This is a 2-way sound bar that comes with a wireless 10” subwoofer that delivers extra powerful bass. Its 90 x 90 Ttractrix horn allows it to channel high pitched sounds without a hitch, while delivering a balanced and realistic sound with 3”mid-range drivers.

Streaming music is a breeze with aptX audio coding engineering. Another unique feature of this sound bar is that its compatible with both new technology and older TV models, so that you can experience easy connection to your TV, regardless of its specifications. Beautiful design in sleek black with copper detailing makes this a posh addition to your home theatre system.

Pros

  • Great value for money
  • The side firing subwoofer delivers an unbroken surround sound bass
  • The sound bar is engineered for music streaming excellence with aptX audio coding technology
  • Comes with Bluetooth compatibility for versatile use
  • Easily connects to your TV through a digital optical cable, or you could use the 2-channel analog input for older models

Cons

  • The Bluetooth feature tends to be problematic at times, often cutting music making for a haphazard listening experience

How Does A Sound Bar Enrich Your Experience?

Although dynamic in variety, sound bars have some commonalities when it comes to features. If you are considering purchasing any other type of speaker for your home i encourage you to check out all our reviews here

Surround-sound Simulation:

If you're into the surround-sound effect but don't like the cluttered appearance of multiple speakers in your living space or entertainment area, then opting for a multi-channel sound bar could be an ideal solution.

These particular sound bars come with up to seven audio channels, with the upshot of an unparalleled three dimensional surround sound effect. Some more advanced models even bounce sound off the walls to create the feeling of having multiple speakers, and you can even have them tailor made for your space, to create an even more immersive sound experience.

Simple to Understand Dialogue:

A key feature to look out for in a sound bar is dialogue enhancement. This is what enables more vocal clarity, enhances the volume and refinement in each voice. And this feature is what ultimately turns your TV into a cinematic experience.

Volume Balancing:

You know that thing that happens when you're watching late night TV and then suddenly the volume shoots up to 100 the moment a commercial comes on? Well, the good news is that with volume levelling technology, sound bars are able to balance the sound whenever there's a shift in volume, so that the sound remains at an even keel no matter what type of programming comes on.

Sound Bars with Dolby Atmos:

Dolby Atmos bounces sound off your ceiling creating an audio 3D sensation of all encompassing sound. With this feature, you literally feel like you're a part of the action.

It's a Handy Music Player:

Some sound bars come with a USB input that enables you to play music through a thumb drive which you can even leave inside the sound bar so you can easily access your favourite tracks whenever you want.

You're also likely to find Bluetooth-enabled music bars that allow you to wirelessly connect to and play content from, a smart phone, tablet or laptop. Another common feature among sound bars is Wi-Fi capability, which connects your sound bar to the internet, where you can easily stream music from an online streaming service like Spotify.

Or, you can stream music wirelessly throughout your home by getting a sound bar that can connect with a network of other audio playing appliances like speaker and receivers.

photo of lots of soundbars leaning on each other

If you want to read about more factors when buying a sound bar, read this.

Important Features To Consider

Controls

When shopping for a sound bar, it's important to ensure that you get one with a front panel that's easy to view, with clearly labelled controls so that you understand each one's function. As an alternative, some sound bars enable you to manage the functions through the TV.

Media Players

Because sound bars easily connect to your TV, it makes sense that some models come with Blu-ray and DVD functions, enabling you to directly play your favourite movies without needing to connect another device.

Online Streaming

As mentioned, some sound bars come with WiFi connectivity built in, so that you can directly stream music, movies and TV shows online, through streaming services like Hulu, Amazon, Netflix and Vudu. Internet connectivity means that you can even connect to social sites like Facebook and internet radio stations through your sound bars, which completely transforms your whole experience of these mediums.

More Speakers

Some sound bars have rear speakers that really amplify that surround sound feeling. You can even connect these speakers to an amplifier or a subwoofer for a more enveloping sound. A great tip would be to connect to a subwoofer with its own amplifier, to get achieve a more refined sound in terms of the bass.

Other Features

Some models come with a Digital Signal Processor which deciphers and matches a particular chosen listening environment. Then there are bass and treble adjustments as well as custom equalizers, which come as features in some sound bars. Another cool feature is a bass-boot controller that lets you to augment the intensity of the deeper sound nuances in your audio.

Different Connections

Various audio and video sources require connection inputs that match with their output, so it's important that you get a sound bar with the relevant inputs to fit your different media players such as mobile devices, TVs and online streaming.

Digital-audio Inputs: Typically, you'll find that sound bars contain one or more audio input, as well as inputs for analog stereo RCA and mini-jacks that come in handy when you want to connect TVs, Ipods, cable boxes and the like. However, it has become more common for sound bars to connect digital-audio inputs through an HDMI cable, as well as through optical digital-audio inputs.

HDMI: HDMI can enable sound transmission to occur from your TV back to your sound bar through a feature known as audio return channel (ARC). It's also common to find sound bars with more than one HDMI input which usually comes with an output for your TV. And it helps to ensure that your sound bar has the capability to transmit Blu-ray Ultra HD or 3D and 4K quality audio to your TV.

WiFi: With WiFi enabled sound bars, you can stream music directly from your favourite streaming service such as Spotify or Tidal while enjoying the great sound quality that comes from a sound bar. And if you're using a wired internet source, some models do come with an Ethernet jack for you to connect your router.

Streaming: If you don't own one of those media enabled Smart TVs that come with streaming services, then a streaming enabled sound bar can allow you to gain access to streaming services like Amazon, Netflix and Hulu; social media networks like Facebook and YouTube; and even online radio stations like Slacker, Pandora and Napster.

Bluetooth-enabled: With Bluetooth-enabled models you're able to send and receive music from mobile devices like smart phones, laptops and tables, playing it wirelessly through your sound bar's speaker. Near Field Communication (NFC), which is a common feature among some models, makes for quicker Bluetooth connectivity, as well as two-way Bluetooth through which you can send music from your sound bar to speakers and headphones that support Bluetooth connectivity.

4 soundsbars made in 2017

Placement Options

Under The TV:

This is a common placement option as its both convenient and aesthetically appealing. They're also more accessible, although maybe too accessible in a home with little hands and fingers.

Regardless, this position works best with platform style sound bars that have great compatibility and synchronicity with the base of your TV. Due to their size, these models squeeze really well into a small TV stand, and you should opt for these if you want to experience a wide range of sounds without the use of a subwoofer.

On Top of the Table:

This is another common placement option for sound bars because it’s convenient. But it's advisable to ensure that it doesn't protrude from the stand due to size issues and you can avoid this by first measuring the sound bar to ensure that it's compatible with your TV stand and base.

You'll so have to ensure that it doesn't block the signal from the TV to the remote, although you could always purchase a sound bar with IR repeater to avoid interruptions when the TV's remote control sensor is blocked.

Wall-mounted:

This gives it a whole floating aesthetic feel, and is an ideal decoration tactic for contemporary spaces, especially if your TV's already mounted on the wall. Of course this comes with considerations such as ensuring that the connection cable and power cord is out of site to keep the setup looking clean and elegant.

FAQ: Can I get Surround Sound from A Sound Bar?

Quite simply put, not quite. It just depends on what you mean by “surround sound”. Some want an immersive sound experience that can literally blow the roof. While others just want an uninterrupted experience of rich and powerful sound without sounding loud enough to break the china. All these options and much more are available on the market to suit different needs. Other models even come with an AV receiver that you can use to connect with actual surround speakers as part of a blended sound system.

However, if you want your sound bar to perform at that surround sound level where you can actually perceive the slightest audio nuance, then your best bet would be to invest in a blended sound system like the one described above, or rather get an actual surround-sound system and be done with it.

Additionally, if you're not averse to digging deep into your pockets, then you could always get those sound bar models that are designed to reproduce the surround-sound effect , sometimes with even better results than most surround sound systems. In a nutshell, you can easily find a sound bar with all the sound requirements that suit your preference, but you'll have to shell out for it. Furthermore, we feel it's fair to mention that you probably won't find a sound bar that can completely imitate the goose-bump inspiring experience of a good quality surround-sound system.

Active vs Passive Sound Bars

Active Sound Bars

These sound bars come with all the amp power already built in, all you have to do is set it up to your stand and play.

Passive Sound Bars

On the other hand, passive sound bars require extra amplification and have inputs available for single speaker surround sound connectivity as well as a three speaker configuration setup. And you can also connect them to a home theatre receiver to get the same effect.

What Size Sound Bar Do I need?

The answer to this question is determined by a number of factors, and there are as many sound bar options as there are people who're looking for them. The larger sound bars contain more receiver, which gives you more sound options and bigger sound as well, whereas some aren't different from the smaller models at all. Vizio and Zvox are currently the market leaders when it comes to offering the most variety when it comes to sound bar length and size.

It's important to note here that your TV and sound bar don't have to be the same length, so it would be in your favour if you check the specs for the sound bar and compare it with that of your TV before you purchase it, to ensure that they correspond. Here are some examples of sound bar lengths and their corresponding TV sizes to give you an idea:

Length TV Screen Size
12 Any
38 to 45 42 to 50-inch
50 55 to 60-inch
60 70 inch

Conclusion

Sound bars are definitely a valuable and must-have addition to any home theatre or sound system. They allow you to experience a refined listening experience with all the cadences, as well as enveloping surround sound features that turn your space into an immersive entertainment hub. And they come in a variety of designs to fit into any type of decorated space, while still being able to deliver room-filing sound that can quite literally give you the goosebumps. With all this useful info, you will be well on the right track to purchase your next (or first) sound bar with confidence.

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