Despite the technological advances of the last few years, it’s sometimes hard to believe that finding an accessible high-quality sound system, and I do mean accessible, can turn into a hassle.
The hundreds of products on the web don’t make it easier when it’s decision time. And let’s be honest, most of the time we don’t understand half of the specifications of the things we buy. Who has the time to keep up anyways?
The solution to step up our sound systems seems to be going for the shiny, pricy new things out there; but it’s never safe to say if that really means actual quality of sound. We could also find ourselves googling the cheapest options just to end up with a speaker with the acoustics of a cereal bowl.
The struggle is real.
This piece was inspired by those of us who wonder: Can I get a really good soundbar for my home without selling my liver?
Understanding what you buy: Finding a high quality soundbar and choosing the right one for you
Trust your gut…and by that I mean your fellow users.
Reviews are there for a reason, which is why the most expensive option is not always the option. Don’t forget to count golden stars when checking out these shortlisted sound systems that will blow your mind (and probably your windows).
It’s no surprise the American giant has found its way to the top of the list. The high quality sound system comes hand-in-hand with a sleek architectural design that makes it a classy yet innovative asset for your home. Functionality and design are never compromised when it comes to BOSE.
This system is meticulously thought through. It’s as versatile as can be without having to bargain for the quality of the sound you’re getting. Modular bass inspired by music, clear dialogues so you don’t miss the punchline and spacious resonance brings your games to life.
The input and wireless connectivity options allow you to keep your sound private or take your soundbar party to the next level. You’ll always be in control of your sound whether you choose to do it from its tiny remote, your phone or through the ever-helpful voice commands.
Not extremely long, this bar will fit the screen of your choice, and the structure will grant you easy access to all of its ports without having to do acrobatics to plug things in. A sleek design matches the matte aesthetic so it looks like so much more than just a speaker.
The 5 full-range drivers turn this machine into the perfect multi-sound interpreter. Polished sounds are played smoothly in whichever mode you choose.
Not only can you pair the device to your liking, whether you still have a thing for cables or you’ve gone completely wireless. You will always have control via voice-command and have access to built-in Alexa and Google Assistant in a single device.
WHY IT’S BETTER?
BOSE is known to never slack in the quality of sound, which makes it seem that their products can sometimes be out of our budgets. However, this soundbar has been thought to fit everyone in their everyday lives.
Voice commands are what everyone needs, why choose one when you can have them all? You’ll get access to the smart assistant of your choice while also being able to control your soundbar by voice command.
WHO IS IT IDEAL FOR?
This is a sound system meant for homes, for those like you and me who enjoy the simple things in life to the fullest. Good sound quality in movies, games and music shouldn’t be exclusive to thousands of dollars of investment. Practical yet distinctive, a device for everyday people who take pleasure in the little treats that make everyday a worthy experience.
- 5 full-range drivers
- Noice rejecting system that enhance voice command features
- Compatible with add-ons for more control over the sound experience
- Built-in Alexa and Google Assistant
- Compatibility with different brand devices needs work
This Samsung virtual sound system has captivated the reviews of the users by turning their homes into a world of sound that encompasses the listener in a series of sounds that seem to come from every direction in the room.
The optimization of sound, a new way of listening to soundtracks will make it feel like your life is the movie. Alongside it, the bar holds directional audio and crosstalk cancellation so your gaming experience is perfectly synced allowing you to truly be in the game.
Without turning your living room into Medusa’s lair, the virtual sound experience of this soundbar simplifies the connection process, and at the same time can be paired with rear speakers to take things even further.
The long yet slim black soundbar occupies little space and it includes a bass booster that can be placed anywhere near the soundbar for a more intense experience.
This Samsung soundbar promises to make you feel you’re wrapped inside a void of immersive sound. It delivers just that with its DTS Virtual:X technology which basically makes the sound waves move and spread around the room creating a realistic virtual environment.
One of the particulars that make this soundbar so special is the optimized gaming experience that its directional audio features when in game-mode while at the same time being compatible with every major gaming console in the market.
WHY IT’S BETTER?
It is no secret, although music is one of the reasons speakers exist in the first place, the vast majority of soundbars are not only used as speakers but to enhance the television and gaming experience.
The rapid no-delay connection of the HW-A550 and it’s compatibility with a wide variety of devices has earned it a whole lot of praise for creating an environment from enhanced sound.
WHO IS IT IDEAL FOR?
This soundbar is particularly special to all of the Samsung lovers out there. Although it’s been praised for it’s adaptability when connecting to other devices, it stands out by having a strong wireless connection that stays stable throughout the entire listening experience.
- Dolby Digital 5.1 and virtual 3D surround sound
- Bass booster option
- Specific game-mode sound feature
- Estable wireless connection
- Remote control delays
The soundbar re-signifies the listening experience as it enhances the natural tones of sound, making you feel like you’re immersing yourself in a real-world experience while it amplifies the waves without distorting their organic tones and keeping clarity of audio at all times.
Featuring RAY·DANZ Technology, this TCL bar reproduces a natural sound stage that makes it feel like you’re hearing for the first time. It replicates a real-world environment inside your home. This specific sound-enhancing characteristic paired with a deeper and gentle bass subwoofer recreates a multi-dimensional type of sound.
The control system of this sound bar is as wide as the variety of sources you can play your music and your movies from. You can stream directly from apps and may also connect all your digital devices wirelessly.
This metallic soundbar system replicates the architectural design of modern buildings, its slim body allows it to fit in any space while never losing that designer-like edge. The TCL black bass box is discrete and adds to the sound experience as much as it does to the aesthetics of the system.
Also, this soundbar is compatible with ROKU TV systems as well. So, in case, you’re one among the crowd then it could fit well to your needs.
Often described as an organic and conservative sound experience. This soundbar replicates a natural environment due to the way the directional technology spreads the sound around the room. It offers great audio quality, and you’re in luck if you’re tech savvy. There are so many settings to tweak and twitch to your liking that you’ll have your hands full.
WHY IT’S BETTER?
Most have said that the stage-like sound system provides a surrounding virtual resonance experience even in the less favorable acoustic circumstances that some rooms may have. This soundbar has been recommended for larger spaces in houses just as much as for more cozy areas in apartments and smaller rooms.
Expect the unexpected, the reviews say. Most buyers awed at the amount of customizable sound features they got and the quality of the sound considering the price range this bar stands at.
WHO IS IT IDEAL FOR?
The TCL Alto soundbar includes 3 built-in equalizer settings. For some looking for a more professional-like sound experience this might seem like it could do with more options. However, the enhancement of music and movie experience that it offers is genuinely the right amount of specs for users who’re not interested in getting a phD in sound engineering to upgrade their living room sound system.
- RAY·DANZ Technology
- Loud sound stage doesn’t affect dialogue clarity
- Built-in Chromecast
- Possible experience of syncing issues
This brand prides themselves in sharing true tones. Clarity, big sound and high quality tech are what make up the powerful crystal clear sound that all us users have been bowing before. Good prices and quality often compromise the look of your speakers, not this time. A sober design keeps even the big subwoofer simple to make it a fit for every style of decor.
Surrounding sound effects for home entertainment are redefined by this soundbar that mimics cinema quality while keeping a minimalistic setup. The subwoofer will offer you one of the most powerful basses out there. The power of this bar reduces external noises and helps you keep the immersive magic of sound intact.
They said easy setup, they really meant it. This one cable soundbar is literally the dummies-proof version of every system out there while allowing you to control your device using the remote it comes with.
Klipsch took it a step further when it came to the design of their cinema sets. They made sure the exterior of their bars matched the technology within them. Real wood meets high-quality durable plastic turning this system into a work of art no matter where you place it.
Virtual immersive sound with a 8-inch subwoofer that intensifies the atmosphere of the theatre experience at home. The Klipsch Cinema sound system brings you the largest wireless subwoofers available for home theater surround systems.
The powerful volume and intensity of the audio will not altercate the clearness of the dialogues.
What did they say? No one likes the magic to be paused by audio systems, and no one wants to be the spoiler when they miss out on the words. You can upgrade your acoustics to a whole different level knowing you won’t miss a single whisper from your favorite Netflix show.
WHY IT’S BETTER?
This bad boy has a peak power of 400W surpassing all expectations when it comes to soundbars that are valued in the thousands. The dialogue enhancement mode prevents the distortion of loud sounds without compromising the volume you can get it blasting to.
The sound is a real-life analogy to the size of the big subwoofer that delivers cinema-like bass sounds yet keeps them clean. True immersion in another world is delivered through left and right stereos.
WHO IS IT IDEAL FOR?
Not all of us want to go through a few different (and mostly overpriced) soundbars before finding true love. Bless the guinea-pig users, those who have spent thousands on multiple devices before finding the one. This might just be the perfect fit for people who want to improve their shared moments when watching TV and their sensory experience when listening to their favorite tunes.
- Crisp and clear dialogue
- Good balance of frequencies
- Easy pairing and setup
- Faithful to well recorded sounds
- Subwoofer might face distortions
Who said we can’t have it all? This is a quality, price and design triple check. Full-range outputs with dual built-in subwoofers and a state-of-the-art engineered design. Are you dreaming? Nah, it’s just Yamaha.
But granted, a brand name is sometimes not enough, we want to make sure we’re not buying just a pretty looking sound set.
You’re buying quality here, that’s for sure. DTS Virtual:X is a process which uses professional techniques to process sound waves and create a real-life feeling to the sound the soundbar produces.
No cables. For real this time.
I don’t know about you, but I get physically exhausted when I think about the times I’ve read how cool and wireless a sound system is, only to find out that I need a couple hundred cables to set it up at home. Not this time.
Luxury has never been a word I’ve use to describe a soundbar that’s less than 1K, but this proves to be the exception. Sleek and elongated design with rounded edges and a textured finish make this a statement piece as much as does the sound it produces.
The dual subwoofers inside the bar are methodically placed so you can still get clear voice mode that actually works at the same time as enjoying the bass. You can bring fictional worlds to life without having your dad ask you to rewind so he can catch that one last line.
Low-key enhancing. It’s that simple, so why make it complicated? A single-piece device that offers you cinema quality for your movie nights, concert-like music experiences and built-in Alexa to tend to your every need.
WHY IT’S BETTER?
When those of us who loathe cables and stuffy artifacts are looking for something straightforward, this is quite literally what we mean.
Stream directly from wherever your wireless connections take you while you enjoy not tripping over cables or moving an external subwoofer around your house, especially if you’re like me and your living room can’t use another box-sized item in it.
Discretion doesn’t mean we don’t want power. This is why I personally admire the ability of Yamaha to create stylish designs without losing the focus of what’s the most important thing we look for in sound systems: an inspiring experience.
WHO IS IT IDEAL FOR?
One size fits all has never been so accurate for a product description. Think of the times you find that perfect soundbar, but oh wait…If the room has a lot of echo it won’t really work, will it work if I live in a camper? Funny enough, yes! This single, easy-connect bar is truly all-terrain.
- Built-in Alexa beside wireless connections
- Built-in deep bass subwoofer
- DTS Virtual: X sound
- Works well in rooms with acoustic challenges
- App user experience needs many bug fixes
Have you ever had this awesome new gadget that you can’t control because the remote just sucks? All-around quality is not restricted to the audio coming out of your soundbar and speakers this time. Every component of the entire set works flawlessly so you don’t deal with syncing issues and awkward ups and downs just before that beat drops.
The sound is everywhere. Sometimes it can be tricky for surround systems to achieve a truly global sound experience across the entire room when they don’t have multiple devices spreading the sound. The discrete and powerful speakers build up an entire world of sounds seamlessly.
Connections simplified. You’ll get a cable and you’ll know where it fits. It’s common to find ourselves with multiple speaker systems that require a college degree to set them up at home. Despite the number of little add-ons this soundbar comes with, the process to have it up and running in no time can’t get any easier.
The first look you take at the whole set might have you thinking it’ll take more space than intended but look twice. Each speaker has been carefully crafted to be as slim as possible and be mounted in the right places for a theater experience without the ugly-looking bits.
You’ve probably heard that multidimensional sound is a thing. No, it doesn’t mean it travels to parallel universes. However, the way this system works is by scattering the sound waves, not only shooting them at you directly. The soundbar makes sure enhanced audio Clarity fills up every possible space thanks to the front and rear speakers.
WHY IT’S BETTER?
Six speakers? Six.
Sounds extra, well you can bet it is. Rear speakers and the subwoofer are best friends with this soundbar that recreates a cinematic atmosphere inside your house. The speakers’ volume is adjustable so you can take the customizability even further.
The subwoofers can be a handful if there’s not much space or if you’re picky about the pieces that make up the style of your interior design. VIZIO’s subwoofer is not only wireless but doesn’t have to break your room’s zen when delivering good quality sound.
WHO IS IT IDEAL FOR?
A settings-freak who likes minimal aesthetics? This is for you. This slim sound system set will fit literally anywhere (don’t get weird ideas). The powerful boosting bass does not cloud the clarity of the dialogues, delivering a truly lifelike experience for those who want power without missing out on the little things.
- Optical display remote
- DTS Virtual: X sound
- Total of 6 speakers that create the immersive sound experience
- Slim external subwoofer
- Performs better with TV than with music streaming
A single soundbar which allows you to get more add-ons in case you want to make the already powerful sound it creates even more explosive. Yes, your sound experience will be optimized, but thanks to the Alexa built-in feature your voice command will be taken to a new level.
Changing all the settings so you don’t wake up the neighbors at night? These little adjustments are what so many of us wish to avoid when simply enjoying good quality sound. Default features like night mode make sure you get the same quality without having to read a manual in the middle of the night.
Alexa is really in there. Wireless doesn’t cause a lot of wistful looks lately, it is 2021 after all. However, not having to worry about keeping yet another device up to date is one big relief. Always online, always connected, you’re always in control.
I don’t like my gadgets being stubborn and this is why I love this soundbar. If I feel like hanging my sound bar from the roof, I want to be able to do it. Not advisable really, but the point is you can virtually place this slim bar anywhere without it looking stuffy and unsettling any kind of fashion you follow in your home.
Just adjusting the volume is a thing of the past. You can play with every sound mode to find the one you like without accidentally screwing up the clarity of the voices on your TV. Vocals will not be upset that you want an intense bass. The system stays faithful to movies as much as it reproduces music as if you were standing in the middle of the stage.
The updates are in the clouds. Quite literally, your device will always stay updated because of the way the Alexa system has been integrated into its software development.
WHY IT’S BETTER?
Squeeze the juice out of every single device you own. Compatibility issues no more, this sound bar is a peacekeeper. It is granting you an all-access card so you can enhance the quality of your sound experience no matter where you decide to stream from.
Compact is the new black. Design can be a luxury, but good sound doesn’t have to be one. In this case, neither pose as a problem. A slim structure with the most-used modern universal assistant already in it. This bar is by far the one excelling in Alexa integration as they’ve worked closely with Amazon to develop it.
WHO IS IT IDEAL FOR?
Do you like all your devices from different brands? I’ve got you. This Polk soundbar works with every single TV you can get your hands on, including their remote. You need this in your life if you are tired of dealing with a thousand different external controls and all your different brands not being nice to each other.
- Six-driver DTS Virtual surround sound
- Built-in Alexa
- Universally compatible
- Easy setup
- This soundbar likes to talk a lot: voice prompt can’t be turned off.
FILTER YOUR SOUND BY SELECTING A BAR THAT MATCHES YOUR LIFESTYLE
Soundbars, speakers and amplifiers. I think it’s worth your while to get an overview of the slight difference between the three.
To keep it simple a speaker is a device that outputs sound waves defined by the frequency and amplitude of the sound it produces. Now, the BTS of the production of sound waves is a vast area of thousands of technicalities that most people who’re looking for a soundbar don’t really have the time to learn about.
While speakers reproduce the waves of the sounds you hear, the amplifiers strengthen the power of the output and efficiency of the sound.
A soundbar (what you’re looking for right now) is a form of loudspeaker which has a particularly elongated shape for the acoustic purposes it is meant to achieve. These are used specifically for enhancing TV experiences but are commonly used for streaming music as well.
REMEMBER THAT LINE FROM THE NOTEBOOK
What do you want?!
If you’re not producing the next Childish Gambino album, then you might not want to spend a few thousands on gear that you’re virtually only going to use for Netflix and a few parties with friends.
I know…it feels fancy to have a superhero-like surround system under your big TV screen, and I’m sure all the other little speakers spread around the house make you feel like a pro. But would you buy a Ferrari if you had no driver’s license?
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN PICKING UP A SOUNDBAR
We could write a theory manual about how wave frequencies work, how moon and stereo systems are different, and the electrical resistance through which the amps flow depending on the voltage applied.
Or we could tell you the basics of sound systems so you don’t waste your time in taking a course in physics and electrical conduction.
- The room
Many will start talking Watts and peak power, but it’s useless bringing it up without knowing the context of your desired experience. The specs you’re looking into will be as important as the order in which you check them.
Where the magic happens.
The fundamental factor when looking for a sound bar will be to think about the space it’s meant to be in. This way you can determine the power and other specs your next loudspeaker should have to fulfill its purpose.
It’s nor rocket science.
The bigger the room, the more power you’ll need. Unless your living room is an auditorium, it’s very likely you won’t have to worry about dead spaces and distortion.
- Power handling
When talking speakers, power is about the measured values your speaker is able to handle and the amount of time it can keep it going.
You don’t need a lecture about Watts, but you should be checking the amplifiers your speaker connects to as well as your audio receivers (AV) depending on what you’ll use your device for.
Usually, the peak of your speaker is around four times its average voltage. You just want to make sure that the amount of power cruising through your speakers continuously is the average one, and the Watts of the amplifier do not excede the peak power.
To sum it up, don’t go crazy on the Watts. A single-piece soundbar meant for a home system won’t need more than 50. If you have external subwoofers, 80-100 Watts will be more than enough.
- Sensitivity (speakers have emotions too)
And we’re getting technical again.
The sensitivity or efficiency of a speaker is fundamentally the SPL (sound pressure level) and this is measured in dB.
To simplify, this measures the sound you hear from 1 meter away from the speaker. It’s the way to test the power of your sound. As we mortals like to call it, it’s basically the volume.
Popular levels of surround sound systems range around 75 dB, you could say that’s how loud your speaker will output a sound. The higher the rating of dB, the louder the sounds, and the bigger the rooms you can fill with it.
In a nutshell, this is what the speaker carries as a load according to the source of power.
Not so clear? Let’s try again.
Average speakers are rated at 8 ohm, although you can also find some with half that amount. These lower ratings, such as 4 ohm, need more power and better amplifiers to fill a room. In the long run, a low impedance speaker used for an extended period of time could damage the speaker or amplifier. When connecting, make sure to match your speaker to a corresponding amp.
- Underrating design is as common as overrating it
My living room is not a tennis court. In other words, the space dedicated to the equipment that’s meant to fit in it can be extremely limited.
Although it might seem a minor thing to consider, the process of coming up with elegant yet functional soundbar structures is not to be taken lightly. True masterpieces are those which don’t compromise the quality of the sound for a prettier and more practical artifact.
Not only the positioning in different parts of the house is a factor that’s taken into account when thinking about the acoustics, the internal structure of your device will have a say in it too. The mounting process will depend on where the speakers and subwoofers of your surround system are located.
SMART SETUP: THINK ABOUT WAVES WHEN YOU’RE INSTALLING YOUR NEW SOUNDBAR
Where you position your newly bought soundbar will determine how long it takes for the sound to travel towards you, and the way the sound waves will spread and fill (or be lost in) the room.
Take into consideration the following features of your soundbar system before deciding where to place each piece of equipment:
- Single piece soundbar
Don’t hide it under the couch.
Innovating is fun, but keep it classy and place it under your TV.
- Directional sound
Clear dialogues are usually a feature of 5.1 systems. This is what we’re after when watching TV.
Soundbars have a specific channel in the middle, they’re meant to be facing the viewers so that the sound of the voices is directed towards the listeners.
The speakers inside the sound bar are not always perfectly horizontal. If these are tilted, usually upwards, the sound will follow that inclination. Another reason why your bar should be under your TV (or mounted on top of it in some cases).
You know them, those boxes who’re in charge of making you feel the sound.
Although some bars include them inside their seamless single-line design, most of them come with an external one for that extra boost.
In theory, you could place it wherever you feel like it. In fact, I’d advise you to do just that.
Because of the materials, sizes and elements that make up a room; your woofers will work in different ways and the bass will be affected. Try different positions until you find the one that works for you (wink).
- Rear speakers
A few soundbars really like to go all out. Some may include rear speakers and although I believe the location it’s pretty much self-explanatory, I’ll dedicate one simple sentence to these boys:
Place them in the back of the room.
1. What should I look for when buying a soundbar?
The space inside your home should be one of the main factors you take into account when looking for a new soundbar. The notion of connectivity is also highly underrated; make sure the devices you’ll be pairing or connecting your speaker to are compatible.
Once that’s out of the way, you’ll only need a generalized overview of a couple of technical specs to figure out how much power you’ll be needing.
2. How much should I spend on a soundbar?
If you’re on a budget, the first thing you should look into is the room you want to place your loudspeaker in. Once you have that sorted out, the list of options and price range will go down considerably since it’s highly likely that you don’t need as much power as you may initially think.
3. Do soundbars make a difference?
Sound is a series of resonant waves that travel the air around you. Not only the volume, but the direction and clarity will be determined by the quality and specs of your speaker system. Soundbars can turn listening to music and watching movies into a completely new experience.
4. What is the difference between a 2.1 and 5.1 soundbar?
A 2.1 loudspeaker features a sound channel on each side of the device. If you’re going for a soundbar, you probably want a surround home theater experience. For this you’ll need a 5.1 bar which means you get a couple of channels on each side of the bar and a single one in the center of it, usually meant for clarity of dialogues when watching TV.
Watts and power handling can be confusing to grasp at first, so we hope that this panoramic view on the practicalities of how to find the right soundbar for you can help you make an informed and practical decision.
Although there are many common factors when it comes to cinema-like experiences at home, we’ve tried to summarize accessible loudspeakers in the market that do not compromise the quality of your sound nor the design of the product.
If you’re still unsure about what kind of system you’re rooting for, I’d suggest you take another look at the shortlisted items.
Moreover, if 300 dollar is still not your budget then there are some quiet a worthy picks in soundbars under $200 price range too.
If a single-piece system is what you want, then you might want to consider the YAMAHA YAS-109 Soundbar. If you’re feeling a little extra and want to go all-in, remember the Samsung HW-A550 Soundbar includes rear speakers for immersive sound taken to the next level.