If you haven’t already realized, almost everything is online today. Whether it’s a book, a cooking tutorial, a workout class, a movie, music, video memories, live rockets launching, presidential debates, etc., it’s all being given to us online! What a shame it would be if you could not hear everything in decent to great quality. Sound bars are especially necessary because you don’t need a fancy or new tv to get good sound. Yes, adding a sound bar to a tv that is 5 to 10 years old can improve the audio significantly. But what exactly is a sound bar, you’re wondering? In simple terms, a soundbar is a wide speaker that projects high quality audio. Soundbars range in price anywhere from under $100 to over $1000. And yes, the $100 one will make a difference! If you feel you are ready to invest in a sound bar, I have listed the things you should look out for below as well as explained the pros and cons of a couple popular brands (and their options) in order to get you closer to making your decision.
What to look for when you are buying a soundbar
Soundbar placement – what room will it go in?
Depending on whether you plan to mount the soundbar onto a wall or place it on your media console, considering the placement of the soundbar is important because you’ll want to make sure there is enough room. You’ll also want to make sure you are not blocking the connection between the remote and tv with the soundbar.
Number of channels you’ll want
Depending on the type of sound you want, you’re going to want to keep in mind the number of channels when looking into a sound bar. If you’re just looking to amplify the sound, you should be good with 2.1 channels. 2.1 just means 2 front channels and a separate subwoofer. A subwoofer is a speaker that delivers low frequencies. If you’re looking for a sound system that’s going to feel like sound is coming from every corner of the room, then you’re going to want to buy a sound bar with a subwoofer and rear speakers. This will give you that multichannel sound you’re looking for.
Go and try them out in the store before buying
Not only is it your better bet to go and see/hear the soundbar in person, but you’re probably going to have questions that require professional advice. You should ask about warranties between soundbars, most should have you covered for 12 months but I would make sure of it. You should also ask about their return/exchange policy in case you get home, install the soundbar, and realize you would prefer a different one.
TV size to soundbar size
A soundbar does not need to be the exact size of your tv but it should be similar.
For a 32 inch tv, a soundbar between 20-30 inches should be fine.
For a 40 inch tv, a soundbar between 30-40 inches should be fine.
For a 55 inch tv, a soundbar between 40-50 inches should be fine.
For a 70 inch tv (and larger), a soundbar of 60 inches should be fine.
Bose soundbar 700
Pros: Newer model, includes a voice assistant, can be controlled by your phone, remote, or just your voice. The soundbar comes with Spotify and audible. Bluetooth/wifi capabilities.
Cons: Pricy, requires a high end compatible subwoofer, and you must buy the speakers separately.
Bose Soundbar 700 with Alexa Voice Control Built-in, Black – $799
Bose solo 5
Pros: great sound for a great price. Capable of Bluetooth.
Cons: Does not come with mounting kit. You also have to adjust the bass, volume, and dialog from music to tv mode which can be a bother.
Bose Solo 5 TV Soundbar Sound System with Universal Remote Control, Black – $199
Bose soundtouch 300
Pros: compatible with Alexa, Bluetooth capable, 4k HDMI, newer technology
Cons: Pricy, bass isn’t as good as intended to be, highest volume is not loud enough, subwoofer issues, difficult set up, connectivity issues
Bose Smart Soundbar 300 Bluetooth connectivity with Alexa Voice Control Built-in, Black – $399
Bose soundbar 500
Pros: voice assistance, Bluetooth/wifi capable
Cons: pricy, only comes with basic remote
Bose Soundbar 500 with Alexa voice control built-in, Black – $549.99
Pros: Great price, wireless subwoofer, decent deep bass, gets loud
Cons: does not support atmos content, the bar downmixes which affects the audio experience, no aux port
SAMSUNG HW-T550 2.1ch Soundbar with Dolby Audio / DTS Virtual:X (2020) – $227.99
Pros: comes with a bar, two satellite speakers, and wireless subwoofer
Cons: very wide (will not fit between 55” tv legs), no room correction or auto-volume feature
SAMSUNG HW-Q950T 9.1.4ch Soundbar with Dolby Atmos/ DTS:X and Alexa Built-in (2020), Black – $1697.99
Pros: extended bass (good for action movies or heavy bass music), dialogue enhancement feature, gets loud, supports atmos
Cons: compression at maximum volume, very wide (will not fit between 55” tv legs), no satellite speakers making the sound less dedicated
SAMSUNG HW-Q900T 7.1.2ch Soundbar with Dolby Atmos/ DTS:X and Alexa Built-in (2020), Black – $997.99
Pros: great sound, great for apartments, offers smart features, good price, Alexa, airplay and google assistant, Bluetooth capable
Cons: pricy, needs a subwoofer for full effect and the subwoofer is extremely expensive, does not support atmos
Sonos Beam – Smart TV Sound Bar with Amazon Alexa Built-in – Black – $399.99
Pros: good/powerful sound, great for home theaters, supports atmos, feels like you have surround setup, deep bass, longer (45”)
Cons: pricy, longer (45″)
Sonos – Arc Soundbar with Dolby Atmos, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa – Black – $799.99
Pros: great sound (you can tweak sound based on your liking), various connectivity options, supports atmos and DTS
Cons: look cheap, speakers need to be wired to subwoofer
VIZIO SB3651-F6 36″ 5.1 Home Theater Sound Bar System, Black – $249.99
Pros: good for dialogue-heavy content, Bluetooth capability, gets loud (sound is customizable through EQ presets)
Cons: no subwoofer, low-bass is lacking (sound doesn’t sound as dedicated), no HDMI port, does not support atmos
VIZIO SB3220n-F6 32″ 2.0 Channel Sound Bar (2018 Model) – $69.99
Pros: affordable, decent with dialogue-heavy content, decent with music
Cons: not very loud, does not support atmos, compresses at lower volumes, no HDMI port, not wall mountable
VIZIO SB2020n-G6M 2-Channel Sound Bar, w/Bluetooth – $89.99
Pros: good stereo frequency, EQ presets to adjust the sound to your liking, supports atmos and eARC, HDMI ports, Bluetooth/wifi capabilities
Cons: unable to tune the bass/treble, no surround speakers so the sound performance is not as dedicated, compression at maximum volume
Sony ST5000 7.1.2ch 800W Dolby Atmos Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer (HT-ST5000), Surround Sound Home Theater experience Black – $1198
Pros: clear/accurate dialogue, supports DTS and atmos, balanced sound profile, EQ presets to adjust sound to your liking, gets loud, Bluetooth/wifi capabilities
Cons: unable to tune bass/treble, no room correction, uses sony to simulate atmos which changes the experience (less immersive), lacks a little amount of low-bass
Sony HT-Z9F -3.1ch Dolby Atmos/DTS:X Soundbar with Wi-Fi/Bluetooth and Sony SA-Z9R – Rear Channel Speakers – $996
Pros: affordable, metal grill (interesting appearance), decent dialogue content
Cons: No dedicated subwoofer so bass is off, unable to customize sound profile, does not support DTS or atmos
Sony HT-S100F 2.0 Channel Soundbar with Integrated Tweeter with Knox Gear Nylon-Braided 4K HDMI Cable and Universal TV Sound Bar Bracket Mount Bundle (3 Items) – $129.99
Pros: good subwoofer, two satellite speakers, supports DTS and atmos, HDMI port, room correction feature, gets loud
Cons: no EQ presets to customize sound, compression at maximum volume, bar is quite wide (make sure it fits into your set up before purchasing)
LG SN11RG 7.1.4 ch 770W High Res Audio Sound Bar with Dolby Atmos, Surround Speakers, Black – $1496.99
LG GX Soundbar
Pros: wireless subwoofer, EQ presents to customize sound to your liking, auto-volume mode, support atmos, gets loud
Cons: compression at maximum volume, soundbar has to downmix to support atmos which makes for a different experience, lacks good low bass (if you’re into heavy bass, this is probably not your best bet), pricy
LG GX 3.1 ch 420w OLED Gallery TV Matching High Res Audio Sound Bar with Dolby Atmos, Black – $996.99
JBL Bar 9.1
Pros: wireless subwoofer, two wireless satellite speakers, great center channel, multiple physical inputs, supports eArc, 4k passthrough and atmos, Bluetooth/wifi capabilities
Cons: lacks dialogue enhancement feature, limited EQ preset selection (only 3)
JBL Bar 9.1 – Channel Soundbar System with Surround Speakers (Renewed) – $699.95
Pros: comes with Alexa, supports DTS, wireless subwoofer, good command bar
Cons: will not sync with other Yamaha speakers
Yamaha Audio YAS-209BL Sound Bar with Wireless Subwoofer, Bluetooth, and Alexa Voice Control Built-In – $299.95