It is frankly quite surprising that there are several people who grossly underestimate the need for quality audio when watching something on their television. Be it a movie or a television show, clear and crisp audio is just the ingredient you require to improve your viewing experience.
Sure, you may be using some decent TV speakers already but what you really need is one of the best soundbars to take your audio experience to a completely different level!
You have indeed come to the right place if you are seeking a top-quality soundbar that delivers on all fronts (and then some!). In case you are worried that such a device might cost you too much, the good news for you is that soundbars come in different price ranges. Whether you require the best budget soundbar, the best mid-range soundbar or even the best high-end soundbar, you are sure to find something that aligns perfectly with your budget and preferences.
What exactly is a Soundbar?
A soundbar is simply an oblong-shaped and slim device that comprises many individual speakers positioned alongside each other. You can mount it on the wall under the TV in the living room or place it flat on top of your television stand right in front of your television. A soundbar connects to your television through a single cable. Hence, there is no need for you to worry about many trailing wires that may get mixed up and create a headache!
Home cinema might provide you genuine surround sound, but what a soundbar offers you is enhanced audio coupled with surround sound (virtual) – without any requirement for multiple speakers and wires.
There is no doubt that a soundbar is by far the simplest means of bettering the sound coming out of your television. Soundbars consume minimal space, and you can set them up very easily without relying too much on the user manual. Compared to television speakers, they are considerably superior sound-wise.
A separate and stand-alone subwoofer (as you can see in the picture above) is generally included with, or you might use it as a complement to a soundbar.
Best Budget Soundbar: JBL Bar Studio
Are you on a budget but still want a quality Soundbar that ticks all the right boxes? If the answer is yes, you can consider the JBL Bar Studio which is one of the best budget soundbars available.
This soundbar provides a punchy and solid sound, which is very impactful. The device’s connectivity features a single HDMI output (ARC-enabled), Bluetooth, and a digital optical input.
The build quality is of JBL Bar Studio is extremely impressive too. When you look at the model, you will immediately realize that JBL has created this device while keeping up with the high visual modernity standards. Although the JBL sound scale is slightly limited, it can still deliver a quality sound with clear dialogue and a lot of detail. That is just what you need when you are watching a movie on Netflix!
When you buy the JBL Bar studio, you will also be getting the JBL Surround Sound. This is an in-house advanced technology particularly built to imitate the 5.1 system’s sound. The JBL Surround Sound is a great feature of this soundbar.
Although the JBL Bar Studio is not a prominent market leader in the soundbar industry, it is a great and very economical buy that provides tremendous value for your buck. If you are looking for a complete upgrade to your television’s substandard speakers, the JBL Bar Studio is ideal for you.
- This soundbar is easy to afford. You do not have to shell out too much cash to buy it.
- Provides punchy and solid sound
- A broad array of features
- I felt this soundbar is not ideal for playing music.
Best Mid-range Soundbar: Dali Katch One
If you are looking for a mid-range soundbar that does not compromise on quality, then the Dali Katch One is probably your best bet.
It features 5 distinct audio inputs and 3 different ways in which you can mount it. In addition, this soundbar also has 10 drivers that work together to produce an incredible sound experience that is very immersive. Keep in mind that the Dali Katch One soundbar is considerably tall, so you will have to mount it quite high on a wall.
This soundbar is also a very aesthetically appealing device. You can get it in 3 different and unique finishes: Ivory White and Iron Black and Mountain White. Moreover, there is also an HDMI socket (ARC-enabled) for receiving audio from your television. In addition, the soundbar also features standard Bluetooth and a couple of optical inputs.
The Danish organization that built this great soundbar has put in 4 basses/mid drivers, 2 tweeters, and 4 passive radiators inside the Dali Katch One. These components combine to produce a fantastic dynamic performance with a clear and broad soundstage that functions splendidly for films. What’s more, it also boasts the capability to sound well with different kinds of music.
There is no doubt that this soundbar will be a tremendous addition to any kind of television set up. The only criteria are that you need to have adequate space to wall mount it.
- Excellent spread of sound
- The Dali Katch One soundbar offers tight and wholesome bass.
- The soundbar provides very impressive dynamics
- Absence of any front-facing display to operate the soundbar
- This soundbar requires wall mounting, which can be quite bothersome.
Best High-End Soundbar: Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar
The Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar is a great device for anyone looking in the market for the best high end soundbar that surpasses all expectations. Although this soundbar requires a lot of space, it is the ideal device for anyone who has deep pockets and can afford a premium top quality gadget.
This particular soundbar happens to be Sennheiser’s debut customer speaker, and it is quite something! What you get is a top-drawer soundbar comprising quality features that include DTS:X and Dolby Atmos support and HDR 4K pass-through. All of these will prove to be very useful for you if Amazon and/or Netflix are your top TV show and film source. In addition, with this soundbar, you also get 4 HDMI inputs and auto-calibration along with support and Bluetooth for Chromecast.
The Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar is quite a huge device and measures 14 centimetres tall and 127 centimetres wide. As a result, the soundbar generates a sound large enough to not require its own subwoofer, with direct and clear dialogue. You also get a lot of subtlety and detail. How it can stretch the sound 360 degrees around you builds a spectacular atmosphere and truly pulls you into the middle of the action!
To enjoy the full Dolby Atmos effect, you will have to position or wall-mount the soundbar on your rack’s top-shelf. You have to do this so that you do not obstruct the upward-firing speakers. The positioning might take some time but trust me- it is truly worth the effort you put in!
In addition, if you are someone who fancies genuine and quality 3D sound with no speakers, the Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar is most likely your best option.
- The Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar generates balanced and rich sound and performs very well overall.
- Impressive dynamics that leave nothing to be desired
- The surround effect of this soundbar is truly remarkable.
- Quite bulky in size and not very portable
- Quite expensive to buy as it is a premium soundbar”
What size soundbar should I buy?
Most people interested in buying a soundbar often wonder about the device’s ideal size that would meet their needs.
The truth is that a soundbar does not have to be the same precise size as your television. However, they ought to be similar or a couple of inches apart, at least. You may buy a slightly larger or smaller soundbar than your television, but if it is very small, you might not receive the best possible experience.
It serves you best to purchase a soundbar that aligns with your TV’s width, so the audio sounds as if it is emanating from your TV’s sides rather than its centre. A bigger soundbar will be more appropriate for a bigger television since it will build the incredible illusion of surround sound. Furthermore, large-sized soundbars often boast more power, as well.
If you own a 55 in television with a 47.8 in width, we would recommend that you buy a 40-50 in a soundbar. Any size that falls in this range would be most suitable. It is also acceptable if the soundbar is some inches bigger or smaller. However, if you seek the best possible results, it ought to cover your TV’s base at least.
Similarly, if you have a 40 inch TV, any soundbar between 30 to 40 inches in size (this is the range of the speaker size) will be ideal for you.
Do I need an A/V Receiver?
To answer this question, you need to first under what exactly is an A/V Receiver (as shown above). Such a receiver is an equipment pie e that directs video and audio from several sources. The receiver’s primary responsibility is to direct the video and audio signals to suitable places. Moreover, the receiver might also bear responsibility for adjusting and tuning video and audio settings.
To put it shortly, if you have a soundbar, you do not require an A/V receiver. That is because both a soundbar and A/V receiver essentially perform the same thing. Both of these devices router video and audio. The key discrepancy between the two is that A/V receivers are designed to be at the crux of your viewing or listening experience, whereas manufacturers design soundbars to boost your existing watching experience.
Overall a soundbar device and an A/V receiver perform the same functions and do almost the same thing. When you have both of these together, you will not be receiving any concrete advantages.
How does a Soundbase differ from a Soundbar?
Soundbars are narrow and long speakers that people often hang on the wall under their TV set. The total number of distinct speakers present in the cabinet of a soundbar may differ. However, the majority have 3 at least. Usually, you will see soundbars coming with separate wireless subwoofers for greater bass.
On the other hand, sound bases (as illustrated in the picture above) are significantly thicker, and you rest them on a cabinet or table under your television. Sound bases often come in various sizes and are typically rated according to how heavy a television they can easily support. Apart from the chief speaker drivers situated out front, sound bases will often have extra-base drivers under them. These drivers provide extra bass. What that means is that sound bases often do not need a subwoofer separately.
Voice Enhancement and Night Modes
Night mode is one of the most important and useful features a soundbar can have. If you would rather not wake up your household members while enjoying a late-night film, having a soundbar equipped with a night mode is vital. By condensing the audio’s dynamic range, a night mode enables you to crank up the volume high enough to hear all the movie’s action unfold without having to worry about unexpected ear-piercing gunshots or room-shaking wild explosions!
A voice-enhancement mode in a soundbar meanwhile solves a very niggling problem that you often experience when watching certain films: extremely quiet dialogue that is barely audible and nearly impossible for you to hear. Each soundbar with voice and/or night modes should favourably have buttons for both modes on their respective remote controls.
Chromecast and/or Airplay Support
Suppose you would like to stream high-resolution or CD-quality audio from your laptop or smartphone to your new soundbar through the Wi-Fi connection. In that case, you will want to ensure that your soundbar fully supports and is compatible with your preferred media-casting protocol.
These days, several high-end and mid-range soundbars available in the market either support the AirPlay 2 standard of Apple (that has the capability of CD-quality 16-bit/44KHz audio) or Google’s Chromecast (that can effectively deal with 24-bit/96 kHz high-resolution audio). In seldom instances, soundbar might even support both (but such soundbars are very few!).
Apart from streaming quality audio to the soundbar device from your computer or smartphone, Chromecast and AirPlay 2 enable audio setups that are multi-room in nature. In case you are wondering what that means, let’s take an example to understand this better. You can play any music or audio file on your soundbar, and other Chromecast or Airplay enabled devices simultaneously in different rooms or play different audio in every room of your house.
The majority of the modern and advanced soundbars have several other great features as well that include: Bluetooth connectivity, wireless subwoofers, HDMI inputs for a games console (4K-friendly) or ARC, 4K Blu-ray player, and HDMI outputs (eARC-enabled). In addition, the latest soundbar devices also support top quality Dolby Atmos audio that is a genuine treat to listen to!
What should you know about the best Soundbars?
One of the most important things you ought to know is that most of the best kind of soundbars happen to be active soundbars. What “active” in this context means is that the soundbar comes equipped with amplifiers (built-in) that power everything and channel processors that separate centre, right and left speakers in the device. Therefore, there is no need for you to plug in any additional receiver (or purchase one, for that matter). As I mentioned above, since the best soundbars are usually all-inclusive devices, there are not many trailing wires you have to deal with.
An active soundbar is undoubtedly the best soundbar for you, particularly if you are interested in saving space or seeking a comprehensive and convenient solution.
Moreover, the best soundbars are Bluetooth and/or Wi-Fi enabled. This useful feature allows you to stream music from any phone, computer, or tablet very effortlessly! A quality soundbar that is worth its salt also has HDMI-switching. That makes it easier for you to switch sources of audio without carrying out any re-routing of HDMI cables.
In addition, the best kind of soundbars you can purchase in the market have three or more number of channels. When you have at least 3 channels, you can effectively replicate surround sound to enjoy an experience that is more immersive in nature.
Are Soundbars as good as surround sound?
This is a common question most potential soundbar buyers want to know- are soundbars as appealing (if not better) as surround sound?
Size of the room, personal preference, and the technology you have all play a critical role in answering this particular question. A soundbar is an affordable and straightforward choice, while a surround sound system offers limitless quality, power, and flexibility but often with a bigger price tag.
It all comes down to knowing your needs and deciding between a surround system and a soundbar to determine which is more suited for you. What is your room’s size? How critical is it to you to include customized components? Do you have a dedicated theatre in your home? Do you wish to keep things simple, or are you more fascinated with the idea of creating a mind-blowing sound system? If you have a small room and prefer to keep things simple, then yes, a soundbar will likely prove to be just as good as a surround system.
Furthermore, if you are on a budget and do not wish to overcomplicate matters unnecessarily, it is also in your best interest to opt for a soundbar. This device will provide you with a straightforward, simple, and top-quality sound experience that is very similar to the surround system.