Moives should go through the stomach, otherwise the atmosphere and the cinema feeling in your own four walls will be neglected. Even the latest blockbuster in 4K resolution is only half as gripping when the sound squeaks tinny from small speakers. Unfortunately, many televisions sound exactly the same, even the better models. That can be changed: with a soundbar.
Soundbars consist of a row of loudspeakers arranged like a beam and a subwoofer for thumping in your stomach. Compared to larger home cinema systems, soundbars have the advantage that they can be connected easily, take up significantly less space and still deliver rich sound for the evening at the cinema.
But which models are currently on the market and which is ideally suitable for the respective needs? To answer these questions, this guide compares 5 current soundbars with each other. Technical terms are explained, connection systems and the basics of loudspeaker technology are explained. After all, only those who know their way can choose the right product and avoid a bad purchase.
What is the best Soundbar?
1. Bose TV Speaker- Small Soundbar with Bluetooth
- Hear your TV better — Designed with simplicity in mind,…
- Wide, natural sound — 2 angled full-range drivers deliver…
- Enhanced dialogue — This TV speaker is designed to…
- Bluetooth TV speaker — Pair your device to this Bluetooth…
- Simple setup — A single connection from this compact…
Despite its compact dimensions, the Bose TV Speaker ensures clear speech reproduction and good sound. The device weighs 1.97 kilograms and is 5.6 inches high, 59.36 inches wide and 10.2 inches deep. Thanks to its low height, the Bose TV Speaker can also be placed below a flat screen TV or mounted on the wall. Two angled full-range drivers ensure a room-filling sound experience. According to Bose, the TV speaker was specially developed for reproducing voices and dialogues.
Bose’s interactive mode function is activated via the remote control. It ensures optimal sound reproduction for programs in which people only speak, for example news and talk shows.
The manufacturer promises easy setup of the Bose TV speakers. The device can either be connected to the television using a separately available HDMI cable or the optical audio cable supplied. The speaker has Bluetooth 4.2 so audio files can be streamed. The scope of delivery includes the remote control, a power cord, an optical cable and instructions for a quick start. The wall bracket and the HDMI cable for lossless transmission of the sound and image are not included in the scope of delivery.
2. Sonos Beam - Smart TV Soundbar
- Listen to music, tv, movies, podcasts, radio, audiobooks and…
- Thoughtfully designed for your home; place on your tv stand…
- Ask Alexa to play music from Amazon music, Spotify, Pandora,…
- Add the latest Alexa enabled video streaming device such as…
- With software updates, your listening experience is always…
The Beam Smart Soundbar from the US company Sonos stands out from other models at first glance with its sleek design and low weight of 2.8 kilograms. The dimensions of the TV speaker are 6.85 centimeters in height, 65.1 centimeters in width and 10 centimeters in depth. The model is available in black and white.
The Sonos Beam Smart Soundbar can be connected to a sound system via WiFi with any other Sonos speaker. An extension to a real 5.1 cinema experience is planned with two additional speakers.
The highlight: The Sonos Beam Smart Soundbar can be controlled by voice. To do this, five far-field microphones capture the voice of the user from anywhere in the room – without being irritated by the TV sound. When connected with an HDMI-ARC cable, the TV set is switched on and off via voice.
In terms of cabling, the delivery includes a power cable with a length of 2 meters, an HDMI cable and an optical audio adapter. The system is based on Amazon Alexa Cloud and is constantly learning. Users can ask Alexa to predict the weather, read the news or play their favorite music. In addition, other smart home devices can be controlled.
3. Sony S200F 2.1ch Soundbar
- Straight from the theater to your home: Easy set-up, 2.1 Ch…
- Low-profile design does not obstruct the view of your…
- Voice enhancement feature strengthens listening experience…
- Easy set up with TV
- Deep bass with built-in subwoofer
The SF200 2.1-channel soundbar from Sony fits inconspicuously under the television. The audio signals are transmitted wirelessly via Bluetooth and the subwoofer is integrated into the soundbar, with which the block next to the TV set should be able to simulate all-round sound thanks to its own technology for room-filling sound.
Thanks to the integrated subwoofer, no additional bass box is required next to the TV set. According to the manufacturer, the subwoofer with its rich bass ensures an excellent sound experience even without a bass speaker.
In addition to Bluetooth, the Sony SF200 2.1-channel soundbar can also be connected to the television via HDMI. A variant is available here that is not wired. The corresponding cable is included. Music can be played from the portable hard drive or memory stick via USB to the soundbar, or it can be streamed from tablets and smartphones using Bluetooth.
The device can be placed under a television or mounted on the wall. A template for the holes is included. However, the VESA standard is not supported by the Sony SF200 2.1-channel soundbar.
4. Yamaha Audio YAS-209BL Sound Bar
- Easy setup with HDMI or Optical cable and automatic…
- Wireless subwoofer for deep bass and flexible placement….
- Clear voice for enhanced dialogue clarity
- Alexa built-in for voice control of your sound bar, playing…
- With Alexa, playing music is as simple as asking for a song,…
The elongated YAS-209 soundbar from Yamaha has a total output power of 200 watts. The system consists of the soundbar and a wireless subwoofer. The loudspeaker unit weighs 2.7 kilograms and measures 93 centimeters in width, 6.2 centimeters in height and 10.9 centimeters in depth. The wireless subwoofer weighs 7.9 kilograms with dimensions of 19.1 centimeters in depth, 42 centimeters in height and 40.6 centimeters in depth.
With the Yamaha Soundbar App, the smartphone becomes a remote control for the YAS-209 soundbar. Music streaming from Spotify, Apple Music or Amazon Music is also possible.
Thanks to DTS Virtual: X, the manufacturer promises crystal-clear sound and very good 3D surround sound. Bluetooth-enabled devices such as smartphones can be connected to the system so that music, video or gaming content can be played back easily.
The YAS-209 soundbar from Yamaha is equipped with Alexa voice control for increased ease of use. This enables convenient control on demand. If you want to be undisturbed, you can use the mute function to deactivate Alexa at the touch of a button. The scope of delivery includes the sound bar, the subwoofer, the power cable and the quick start guide.
5. LG Electronics SJ2 Soundbar
The LG SJ2 2.1 soundbar has a total output power of 160 watts. According to the manufacturer, the compact housing should fit well into any room size. The soundbar offers Bluetooth as a networking option, so that your favorite music can be played from your smartphone or another compatible source.
Thanks to the Bluetooth standby function, the system is ready to go in seconds. A remote control is included in the scope of delivery, with which the device can be controlled. Alternatively, only the TV remote control can be used, so that only one remote control is required for two devices.
A special feature of the LG SJ2 2.1 soundbar is the wireless subwoofer. This means that there is no need to lay cables and the choice of location is left to the user. The manufacturer promises the subwoofer a rich sound range at the low frequencies, so that a real cinema atmosphere is created.
The soundbar from LG supports the playback formats MP3 and WMA and offers not only the subwoofer but also a night mode and SIMPLINK.
Frequently Asked Questions: Soundbar
What is a Soundbar?
Modern flat screen televisions are no sound miracles, on the contrary: The alternatives to sound decks are getting thinner and thinner and their sound is tinny. There is therefore great market potential for powerful soundbars, also known as sound projectors, which enhance the sound of such TV sets. They are often constructed in such a way that they fit under the television and thus do not disturb the overall picture. This is particularly useful in the living room.
Alternatively, most of the models from our soundbar comparison can be attached to the wall using simple brackets, which are often supplied. Soundbars sometimes imitate extensive surround sound, provided they only consist of a loudspeaker box.
But even movie fans with high demands for the sound cannot do without the alternative to the sound deck or the sound base. Thanks to Bluetooth, there is not even a tangle of cables behind the television – many sound devices connect wirelessly.
What is the difference of 2.1 and 5.1 Sound Systems?
In this soundbar comparison, there is often a distinction between a 5.1 soundbar and a 2.1 soundbar. This description – often called a 2.1 or 5.1 system – only says how many speakers are integrated. If it is a 2.1 model, two speakers and a subwoofer – integrated or external – are included. To enable simple stereo sound, users need at least two speakers. Make sure you always buy at least a 2.1 system!
A 5.1 soundbar, which is often referred to as a home theater system, has five speakers and an integrated or external subwoofer. These speakers can be positioned in the room in such a way that a real room-filling sound is available.
Some modern soundbars already have seven speakers and a subwoofer, which is why they are called 7.1 soundbars.
What are the different types of Soundbars?
The classic TV soundbar
Buyers usually get the classic TV soundbar with an external subwoofer, only a few models have the subwoofer integrated. A soundbar with an integrated subwoofer is significantly heavier than the version with an external sub. There are also differences in terms of sound quality. A classic TV soundbar is still connected to the television with cables, i.e. via an optical connection or HDMI. However, many TV soundbars now have a Bluetooth function. This category mainly includes 2.1 soundbars, which most providers can also convert to a 5.1 soundbar.
- Various connections such as HDMI or WiFi
- Modern design
- Can be set up under the TV to save space
- Models from many high quality manufacturers such as Samsung, Sony, LG, Philips, etc.
- Sound system without a subwoofer – external or integrated – does not deliver low tones
- Many models offer a limited surround / sound
2. The Bluetooth soundbar
The vast majority of all sound bars for good TV sound currently have a Bluetooth function. Only the supply of electricity to the two devices – soundbar and TV – still works with one cable. You can easily establish the connection using the Bluetooth function of your TV set. This has many advantages, but also one disadvantage: If the connection between the Bluetooth soundbar and the TV set is disturbed, the transmission of the sound can be delayed.
- No more annoying tangled cables
- Only cables required for power supply
- Connection established quickly and easily
- Delayed transmission of the noises if the connection is disturbed
3. Soundbar with integrated subwoofer
The so-called subwoofer produces the deep bass and rich sound. There are basically two types of soundbar: one with an external subwoofer, the other with an integrated woofer. The sound of an integrated subwoofer is not necessarily better or worse than an external one. If the subwoofer is installed, however, it does not need a space next to the television. So if you have little space in the living room, you would be better off with such a soundbar
- Space savings through integration of the sub
- Often very good sound with low notes
- No option to set up the subwoofer separately from the soundbar
4. The 5.1 Soundbar- Home Theater System
A 5.1 soundbar has five speakers: front left and right, side left and right for the surround sound, one in the middle – and one subwoofer. Although the sound quality is significantly higher compared to 2.1 models, such models are also more expensive. The most expensive are 7.1 models with seven speakers and a subwoofer. Some models can be connected to additional speakers, which can then be set up in the room for real surround sound.
- Five speakers for surround sound
- Superior sound quality
- Unique “cinema feeling”
- Usually one category more expensive than 2.1 models
Can a soundbar compete with a home theater system?
For many users, the correct setup of a complex home theater system remains a secret and frustration is inevitable if the desired result is not achieved. This is why compact systems such as sound bars have become established in recent years, which are easier to set up, cheaper and lighter.
However, users of soundbars have to accept that such a system cannot compete with all-in-one sound systems in terms of system flexibility and performance potential. Users have far more control over the home theater system if they opt for an amplifier, an A/V receiver and large speakers.
Receivers are often just as expensive as a soundbar, which is an alternative to a sound deck – with the speakers also having to be purchased. The up to seven loudspeakers and the woofer must then be connected to the amplifier via cables and coordinated with one another.
A soundbar, on the other hand, is easier to operate. The sound difference to a receiver is very small for most people. If you have the highest demands on sound, you have to spend a lot of money on your sound system.
Where can I buy a soundbar cheaply?
The local specialist only offers a limited selection of models. However, there is usually competent advice from a specialist salesperson. Negative are the limited supply, the search for a parking space and the time invested to visit several shops and make a comparison. It is easier to buy from relevant internet shops such as Amazon.
There the comparison of different products and their prices takes place in no time at all. Usually the prices are below those in specialist shops. Another advantage is that web stores are open around the clock. You can always go shopping if you have enough time. The buyer must forego professional advice. There are numerous customer reviews that quickly show the advantages and disadvantages of the respective soundbar.
How much money do I have to budget for buying a soundbar?
Buyers should plan a low three-digit amount for the purchase of a soundbar with an attractive performance. At this price, the soundbar usually offers a good sound, but the user has to forego special features.
If you add 100 or 200 dollars to the price, you can look forward to a complete set of equipment with high connectivity and good to very good sound quality. These devices then contain performance features such as Hi-Fi audio or Dolby Atmos.
Premium models can be priced in the four-digit dollar range. The user can look forward to complete equipment and very good sound.
Whether this investment is necessary remains to be questioned, because the differences between a mid-range and upper-class system should hardly matter except for audiophiles.
Purchase Criteria: Soundbar
There are a few important criteria to consider when purchasing a soundbar.
1. The supplied accessories
The accessories that are included with the purchase of a soundbar vary widely. For example, some manufacturers supply wall brackets for attaching the sound projector, while others have to buy them separately. In addition, not every provider supplies all of the cables required for the installation.
Special brushes are often necessary to clean the soundbar. These, too, are rarely included and often have to be purchased separately.
2. The connections
It is important to note which connections the preferred soundbar has. HDMI cables or an optical input are required. Bluetooth functions are useful, for example, to stream music from a smartphone to the soundbar. With higher quality models, a connection via WiFi is possible. Usually, however, it is sufficient to rely on a Bluetooth function and look for alternatives such as a simple jack plug or jack connection, a USB connection or an HDMI cable.
3. The watt performance
An important criterion when buying a soundbar is the power in watts. A comparison of these numbers is possible, but the meaningfulness of this comparison is poor. It is better to consult the RMS values, where:
- For a room of a maximum of 15 square meters, an RMS power of 50 to 100 watts is sufficient
- In larger rooms, the system should have an output of 200 to 300 watts
Basically: A soundbar should not be used completely up to its maximum performance. Therefore, buying with more power is recommended to be on the safe side.
4. Size and maximum load
Less technical aspects are the size and the maximum load of the TV soundbar. Depending on where the soundbar is to be placed, it should not be too large. For example, if it is to be placed under the TV, the dimensions of the TV and soundbar should roughly match. This is where the maximum load comes into play: Many devices carry loads of up to 30 or 40 kilograms, sometimes more, sometimes less. Very few televisions have this weight, which is why positioning under the TV is usually quite possible.
If the Musiccast is to take place in different rooms of the apartment or house, the multiroom function is ideal. This means that the speakers can easily be networked with each other via WiFi. A multiroom system also offers the advantage that the system can be expanded with additional devices. The compatibility of the soundbar and the speakers is important, because the manufacturers usually only allow the expansion with their products.
Which soundbar is best for me?
There are different price ranges for soundbars, so we would like to offer a few specific recommendations for defined target groups at this point.
If you don’t want to do without high sound quality despite little space, you should opt for a soundbar with an integrated subwoofer. Some soundbars are small miracles of space. The soundbar can be placed under or partly in front of the television. It can also be mounted on the wall, so that even less space is taken up by the soundbar. Despite their small size, the soundbars offer a good sound.
Soundbars for home cinema fans
If more space is available, a soundbar with an external subwoofer is a good choice. This also improves the sound. In high-quality models, the subwoofers connect wirelessly so that they can be placed anywhere in the room. The high-quality soundbars are often visually appealing, they are equipped with high-quality speakers and the connection options are impressive. They usually support high resolution audio formats so the sound quality is even better.
Soundbars for audiophile users
As described above, a sophisticated home theater system is likely to be an option for audiophile users. However, those who shy away from the effort and expense are well served with a high quality soundbar at a good price. These are now so sophisticated that even trained ears will find it difficult to tell a difference. Premium models have their price.
Our Picks: The Best Soundbar Systems
Last product update on 2021-04-10 | Source: Amazon Affiliate