Soundbars are the best option for those looking to upgrade their home theater audio setup. They are ideal for watching TV with their impressive sound quality and relatively small footprint. So if there is someone you know that you want to deliver immersive, high-quality sound, these are the soundbars to buy.
What to look for in a sound bar
There are a few general things to consider when considering a sound bar:
- Sound quality: A low-quality soundbar is of little value, so we made sure that whatever we chose for this list sounded good. While it’s impossible to know how great a soundbar sounds without hearing it for yourself, there’s one thing to keep in mind: channels. Basically, the more channels a soundbar has, the clearer certain types of audio will be, with two being the minimum (one on the left, one on the right). Three-channel soundbars have the benefit of a center channel which helps make dialogue or spoken audio clearer.
- Cut: Soundbars can get quite big, especially at the high end. It is definitely worth considering the size of the entertainment stand or the surface the soundbar will be installed on.
- Subwoofer: A soundbar on its own is already a significant improvement in someone’s audio setup, but do you know what could make it even better? A subwoofer. Many sound bars come with their own wireless subwoofers that help improve bass. This is a great bonus that you should definitely consider when comparing soundbars.
- Connectivity: Most of the soundbars you find today will give you the option of wired and wireless connectivity. Some may offer additional things like Chromecast support, which is useful, but the main thing you want to look for are the standard wired and wireless options.
- Mounting: We’ve already discussed how soundbars can take up a lot of space, but what if, instead of the surface, they are only on the wall? Many people mount their sound bars on the wall to save space on their entertainment stands. However, you do need specific mounting hardware for this, and luckily all but the Roku Smart Soundbar on this list come with the mounting hardware out of the box. We’ll cover your options for that one when we get there.
Best overall ranking: TCL Alto 9
As a general option, the Alto 9 should cover the audio needs of most people. It features Dolby Atmos for excellent surround sound compatibility, can be connected via Bluetooth or wired, has a 3.1 channel system, and comes with a wall mount kit to make your life easier. It also comes with a wireless subwoofer for pumping out bass and measures a length of 41.3 inches. Unless you or the person you are looking for has specific needs, this is the sound bar for you.
Best budget: Roku smart soundbar
The Roku smart soundbar not only offers good audio quality for the price, but it also has a built-in Roku streaming box. This means that after you just plug this bar into your TV and connect it to the internet, you have a two channel sound bar and center broadcast box installation. This is a unique feature of this soundbar, and while some more sensitive to audio quality may be disappointed with the lack of a subwoofer, the low price should make it bearable.
You can connect to the soundbar via a wired connection or via Bluetooth and even use voice assistants with (Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant). A separate wireless subwoofer is also available separately if you need this feature, but it’s not cheap. (It’s about as expensive as the soundbar itself.) There isn’t an official wall mount for this soundbar, but Roku recommends it. configuration from EXCEL LIFE. The sound bar also measures a length of 32.2 inches.
Best with Dolby Atmos: SAMSUNG HW-Q70T
For a sound bar specializing in Dolby Atmos (which is a high end surround sound system, it also works with DTS: X) and general surround sound, the Samsung HW-Q70R is a great sound option. This 3.1 channel speaker is managed through Samsung’s SmartThings app (Android/ios), Bluetooth and wired connectivity, easy wireless support for the wireless surround sound kit (which jack up the price about $ 170), and a great wireless subwoofer right out of the box. It also has smart audio features like automatic adjustment to every scene in a movie or show.
The HW-Q70R delivers an immersive sound experience like no other, and if the person you’re looking for will appreciate it to the fullest, then this is a great soundbar to get it. Wall brackets are also included for easy installation.
Best compact option: Polk MagniFi Mini
To provide better sound, most soundbars are extremely long – too long, some would say. So if the person you’re looking for is looking to use a soundbar on their desk with their computer or just doesn’t want to take up that much space, the Polk MagniFi Mini is the best option.
This impressive speaker is 13.4 inches long and incorporates a 3.1 channel arrangement to deliver sound that doesn’t compromise on immersion. The included wireless subwoofer is also designed to be as compact as possible at 14.4 x 7.4 inches. You can connect to this soundbar with bluetooth or standard cables and support Chromecast, which makes it easy to play music from your devices.
Best smart option: Sonos Beam
The Sonos Beam offers a smarter experience than other soundbars because Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are integrated into the soundbar out of the box. This means that you can use voice commands to manage your music or the music. Sonos S2 app, which allows you to consolidate all your music services in one place. As you might expect at this point, the Beam connects via Bluetooth or wired, and offers excellent sound quality to support its price. Although it does not come with a subwoofer, it is easy to connect the Beam via Wi-Fi to other Sonos speakers for a surround sound experience.
With a 5.4-channel matrix, it delivers impressive sound on its own, and at just 25.3 inches long, it won’t even take up as much space on the entertainment rack. The Sonos Beam is available in black or white.