What is a Sound Bar?
Soundbars are the best solution for people who wish to improve the sound from their TV sets with no big extra expenses. Unlike home theatre sound systems, soundbars are very compact. A typical soundbar is a highly integrated solution manufactured as a small panel with built-in speakers, amplifier and digital to analogue converter. That is why soundbars only need a digital signal input (optical or electric coaxial) to produce sound. A sound bar can be placed very close to your TV set, so it requires no additional space or pieces of furniture to stand on. For the most part, soundbars are designed to be used with widescreen TV models. We have selected the most popular soundbars on the market to help you make your choice of the most suitable solution for you.
What Features to Compare
Type and Design
If you want to place a soundbar right in front of your TV, you need a tabletop bar. Some sound bars are wall-mountable and, therefore, can be placed in a close proximity to a TV on the wall. Keep in mind that soundbars are made transparent for remote control signals. There is also another type of sound bars - TV stands. They are larger and wider than wall-mounted ones so TVs are usually placed on top of such bars. However, you should still check the dimensions of the stand to make sure it is suitable for a widescreen TV (52'', for example) to stand on. The structure of a TV stand soundbar has to be steady and durable enough for a TV weight.
The next issue to consider is the sound performance as soundbars are intended to produce a high-quality sound. Though the design of acoustic systems on different soundbar models is not the same, thus their sound signature may differ greatly. That is why if you prefer a bass-heavy sound you should choose the soundbars with bundled subwoofers or those equipped with a subwoofer output. Such important features as the soundbar output power, sensitivity (in case of analogue input availability), and frequency range determine the sound performance and loudness level of your soundbar system to a great extent. However, knowing these parameters is not sufficient for deciding on the optimal soundbar. Hence, we strongly recommend checking the sound enhancing features supported by the soundbar you consider. For example, top-tier soundbars support Dolby Surround feature for a multi-channel sound reproduction. Also, many sound bars are capable of producing various surround sound effects allowing you to experience a full immersion in a movie scene or a music track. Nowadays many manufacturers develop their own sound enhancing technologies to further enrich your sound and multimedia experience. If you are a fan of adjusting the tonal balance (the proportion of high, middle and low frequencies), make sure to choose the soundbar with a user-configurable equaliser. Using a hardware equaliser on a soundbar tends to be a better solution in terms of sound quality than adjusting the frequency-response curve on your TV output.
Connectivity and Controls
After clarifying the sound performance parameters, you need to focus on the connectivity and controls of the soundbar considered. Apart from standard audio ports, some devices offer other types of connection interfaces. For example, a soundbar with an HDMI in ensures the playback of a high-quality sound in Blu-Ray movies. The availability of the USB port allows for playing media files stored on your smartphones and flash drives. The Bluetooth support makes it possible to stream the music to a compatible soundbar wirelessly right from your mobile device. Some soundbars are made equipped with a Wi-Fi connection, which allows connecting to Internet music services. Finally, check out the soundbar controls - they should provide you enough flexibility and comfort in configuring the soundbar parameters. The best soundbars in terms of control comfort have a remote control enabling a user to change the needed parameters from a distance. Moreover, many modern soundbars can be controlled from a smartphone via mobile apps thus replacing an RC with your phone or a tablet PC.
Feel the Power of the Sound
The HW-J6000 Samsung soundbar is a cutting-edge home acoustic product. The bar has 6 built-in drivers, 2 of which are of a twitter type made specifically for a quality reproduction of high-frequency sound while the other 4 are midrange drivers covering the rest of the audible frequency range. It is interesting that each speaker is driven by a dedicated built-in amplifier, which makes not only the reproduction of different frequency bands separate but their amplification too and allows achieving more clarity of the sound reproduction. The HW-J6000 soundbar comes with a standalone subwoofer, which is fed a digital signal via the Bluetooth connection. From the point of view of the arrangement of the soundbar system elements, the Bluetooth availability permits you to position the subwoofer in any suitable place nearby. We found the 300 W total output power of this Bluetooth soundbar model to be impressive and definitely sufficient not only for watching your movies but also for listening to your favourite songs together with friends. The curved design of this soundbar for TV together with DTS Digital Surround® support open the possibility of creating a surround sound that can strike you with its clarity and richness. As the soundbar connects to your TV via an optical cable we suggest considering its purchase.
Nine is Really A Lot
The distinguishing feature of this Sonos soundbar is the availability of as many as nine speakers under the hood, which are grouped in three phased speaker arrays containing two middle speakers and one tweeter each. This feature is really outstanding as it enables a “directional” sound reproduction that means if there’s a loud sound on the left side of the scene you’ll hear it right there because the group of speakers on the left plays the sound and the rightmost speaker group reproduces the inverse of that sound. Though this engineering solution is not announced as some surround feature, it offers a new dimension of sound experience on this soundbar when playing movies or even music through it. This wireless soundbar by Sonos is equipped with a Wi-Fi module so you can pair practically any wireless mobile device with the Playbar soundbar and stream digital audio to the Playbar directly from your mobile device. Contrary to the Bluetooth-enabled soundbars this Sonos wireless soundbar establishes a more reliable and fast wireless connection. Not using the Sonos application with this soundbar is an omission as this application enables the management of a playlist of audio tracks played and the selection of a source device. The flexibility of the Sonos Playbar does not end here – those willing to get an acoustic system with a higher output power under their control can easily expand the stock system to a full-fledged surround system by adding two smart wireless speakers.
Bose Solo 5 TV Sound System
Sounds as Brilliant as It Looks
The Solo 5 TV soundbar model by the Bose manufacturer is rendered in a compact case with a length of about 549 mm, which makes it easy to locate the soundbar in almost any recess or on any stand near your TV. The Solo 5 TV installation options include mounting it on the wall above or below your TV or simple placement on a suitable horizontal surface. As a comprehensive mounting solution, we suggest a TV stand, which provides you with enough space to mount not only a TV with the soundbar but some additional audio devices or another equipment. Despite its compactness, the Solo TV 5 is equipped with two powerful speakers, which deliver rather convincing sound. Add the support of Dolby Stereo and TrueSpace audio technologies and will get the concept of the clear and surround sound this Bose soundbar is capable of delivering. The soundbar supply package includes the remote control that unlocks the features of remote configuration and control not only of the Solo TV 5 itself but also of many modern TVs. We consider this versatility a big plus as you can use a single remote control to operate your whole home system and enjoy watching movies and listening to music.
An Ultraslim Design
The Yamaha YAS105BLB soundbar stands out from the rest owing to its compact design. The YAS105BLB soundbar compactness is achieved by placing the internals into a very slim casing with only 53 mm height, which brings you a lot of comfort in choosing the soundbar installation as even placing it in front of your TV does not obstruct remote control signals. The soundbar exterior is rendered in such a way as to make the device fit organically in your interior disregarding the place you put this soundbar in. The specifications of this Yamaha soundbar are impressive as well as its 120 W output power for such a small footprint, thus such a power is packed into a small case to make your movie watching and music listening leisure even more fun. You can use the Yamaha Home Theater Controller mobile application to configure this wireless soundbar from your iOS-based or Android-based mobile device. The wireless connectivity of the Yamaha YAS105BLBА enables you to enjoy your favourite music when streamed via the Bluetooth from your smartphone or a tablet PC. Regarding the cable connection you can quickly connect the YAS105BLBА soundbar to your TV using an optical signal cable, for example, this moderately priced and decent quality model.
Maximum Comfort of Use
This soundbar and subwoofer set by the Sony corporation that without a doubt holds one of the leading positions on the digital and audio devices market was made with a maximum comfort in mind. The wireless connectivity of the Sony HT-CT180 subwoofer is worth noticing as it ensures the subwoofer reliable operation when positioned in any suitable place of the room where you installed the soundbar. The brand aesthetics of the HT-CT180 soundbar exterior makes it look striking when both mounted on a wall, simply put on a shelf or placed in front of a TV and this fit bracket helps you do just that. Being persistent in pursuing the maximum comfort, the Sony equipped this soundbar system with the NFC wireless technology support. Using the NFC feature you can ready all your mobile devices for working with this HT-CT180 wireless soundbar by simply carrying them near the corresponding area of the soundbar. After such initialization, you will be able to stream your audio data from these devices to the soundbar. In practice, it is very convenient as this approach allows saving time otherwise spent on manual configuration of the devices. In addition, this Sony soundbar offers two input options: the standard optical digital input for receiving a signal from a TV or a Blu-Ray player and the analogue audio input, which enables connecting a DAP or tablet PC to the soundbar system.
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