Soundbars are becoming more popular as time goes on, and nowadays a home TV or movie setup isn’t quite complete without one of these things accompanying the audio of what you’re enjoying. The best soundbar for you depends on a few factors, which is why we went ahead and researched the top 10 best models in the market to give you free range of options in all different areas of the category. Although our best pick came out to be the Yamaha YAS-203 for many reasons, let’s get into what you should be looking for in case that didn’t fit your exact needs or want to see what else is available today.
What is a sound bar and its uses?
A sound bar is a special type of speaker\loudspeaker that serves several purposes, including delivering sound from a television to enhance your audio experience for shows, movies and more, streaming music, etc. Sound bars are usually mounted on the wall (under or above the television) in order to better deliver sound across the room, however we’ve seen many merely have it rest on a table-stand below the unit as well. Thanks to developments in technology, many of the best sound bars today also include wireless technology that enables users to connect the sound bar with an array of sources to deliver audio from them, including mobile\smart devices, game consoles, podcasts, etc.
As opposed to our best home theater speaker systems article, soundbars are more sleek (to fit in snug areas or be easily mounted), versatile, simple, don’t require much installation, have less hassle (as opposed to 5-6 pieces in other systems), can function as a wireless Bluetooth speaker, and are typically less expensive (depending on what direction you want to go) as well. Some are beginning to say they’re among the list of musts for any TV setup out there.
Picking the best soundbar for your setup
Although explained in a bit more detail in Klipsch’s 4 things to know before buying a soundbar post, we’ve summarized the main factors in determining which soundbar is best for you before reading our top 10 models.
- Price-point – With most TV gear and accessories, there’s quite a big range when it comes to the differences between budget-friendly or heavy-hitter models out there. We’ve seen some super affordable soundbars out there and included a few in here, however there are also some higher priced models that stand out when it comes to overall audio quality and features. What are you willing to invest?
- Subwoofer attached? Some soundbars have a subwoofer mechanism built-in to the unit while others come with an additional, external sub to up that bass. Either way, a lot of these are equipped with great frequency distribution. However, an external sub typically gives you some more umph when it comes to the lower-end of sound (a lot of these you can keep off if you aren’t in the mood as well).
- Wireless connection? As stated previously, many of the best sound bars nowadays come with Bluetooth connectivity, giving you the ability to not only sync your phone or other smart devices with it to play music, but perhaps connect your computer as well. Is this important to you?
- Additive features – The best soundbars usually have some extra features attached to the unit (aside from perhaps Bluetooth connectivity). Some of the popular features include a remote control, even volume distribution technology when it comes to channel changing, HDMI inputs, separate applications to control the soundbar from your phone, and more.
The best soundbars
As stated previously, we feel that the Yamaha YAS-203 is definitely one of the best sound bars in the market today. It will enable you to enjoy surround-sound audio while watching your favorite TV show or movie, but this is just the beginning when it comes to features of this one. You can stream and play great quality music thanks to its wireless Bluetooth feature — it’ll double up as a Bluetooth speaker (although it isn’t portable, obviously). The size is 34.9 inches and you’re getting a decent power rating of 200W. For a full experience and as seen in the photo, there is a wireless subwoofer in this package that allows you the convenience of placing it anywhere in the room to up that bass if you’re in the mood. Another standout is its unique ‘air surround extreme’ feature, which enables the sound bar to reproduce some high-quality virtual 7.1-channel surround-sound. The ‘Clear Voice’ feature increases the quality of sounds and tone while the ‘UniVolume feature’ enables a constant volume level across different programs, channels, ads, and input sources (not a must but won’t hurt either). The Yamaha YAS-203 internal system comes with a digital amp and 2 cone speakers for a high quality sound experience, including some deep, rich bass. Here’s one of the best soundbars in the market that’s also backed up by many users to give us confidence in the pick — it has all of the musts we feel are necessary in this category.
Up next, we have another one of the best sound bars for the money, especially if you were looking for a solution that was a bit cheaper than our previous pick. This is a 38”, 2.1 channel sound bar system that will visually (and technically) look and feel amazing for 42” and larger TVs. It comes with a wireless subwoofer that will provide a nice, full audio experience with some additive deep bass. The built-in Bluetooth connectivity enables the user to stream music from their mobile device if you want to listen to music on the side and it includes strong speakers that deliver some super clear sound of up to 100 dB. The VIZIO SB3821-C6 also includes Dolby and DTS surround-sound technology that provide great multi-channel volume for noticeable sound quality. On top of all of that, their ‘DTS Tru Volume’ feature that (like the previous pick) provides consistent volume level regardless of channel for an even more pleasant multimedia experience. Grab this sound bar if you were in need of the essential features most come with while saving a few bucks on top of it.
The Playbar is quite famous when it comes to the topic of the best sound bars in the market today. If you are looking for a rich and high-quality sound, this is an amazing choice if you can sacrifice the higher price-point as well as lack of external subwoofer. Like the others, the wireless Bluetooth system allows you to listen to music from your playing devices (iPhone, iPad or Android and other smart devices) and enjoy some pretty powerful, crystal-clear surround sound. Additionally, thanks to the ease of connecting to Wi-Fi internet, you can listen to online radio stations and podcasts. It’s also super easy to install — with the Sonos Playbar there are just two wires to connect (the power and optical wire) and then you can enjoy sound from all sources connected to an HD television: DVD\Blu-Ray player, cable\satellite boxes, and gaming consoles. Like us, you can also sync your computer to the soundbar if you’re streaming from your PC or Mac via HDMI on your TV. The unit itself has 9 speakers built-in to the sound bar, so don’t let that small and sleek size fool you. The Sonos Playbar has an obvious elegant design that will look attractive in every interior, but when it comes to overall sound quality, this one is at the top if you can afford it.
If the previous three soundbars weren’t what you were looking for, here’s another budget-friendly model to take a look at. The Samsung HW-K360 comes with a wireless surround kit that will give you some great quality of music, movies and TV shows from a variety of different sources, be it the television or your iPhone, iPod and Android device. The ‘Surround Sound Expansion’ feature provides a solid surround sound feel, which you can control from your mobile device thanks to their nifty ‘Samsung Audio Remote’ app. You can turn the HW-K360 on and off and play music or a TV show from your mobile device, even from another room. This isn’t a must or anything, but may be what steers you towards this model as opposed to the other budget-friendly sound bars in here. Let’s not forget to mention the wall mount option and sleek design that will make this sound bar look great in pretty much any interior design out there. If you can sacrifice some quality and power and feel the app will serve you well, the Samsung HW-K360 is one of the best sound bars thanks to its innovative features and versatile design.
Sony HT XT1
This compact and stylish soundbar comes with a built-in 170W subwoofer that will deliver some pretty powerful and impressive bass considering the size. It is designed to be located beneath your television and accommodate additional setups. In terms of feature highlights, the ‘S-Force PRO Front Surround’ technology enables a nice feel and quality of sound, and it is also important to mention that the HT-XT1 comes with Bluetooth and NFC for music streaming if you are more into online music listening. The 2.1 channel means a definite upgrade of sound quality as compared to the stock speakers on your TV, while 3 HDMI inputs enable both listening to music and watching television from the same source. There is just one cable, which means that you can easily place the sound bar wherever it looks the best for some extra convenience. Your complete, high-quality sound system may only need the Sony HT-XT1 – one of the best sound bar options on the market if you were in need of a smaller-than-most model. It isn’t too expensive, either.
If you were looking for one of the heavy-hitters in the soundbar market and had the budget to spare, then the Paradigm Soundscape is considered by many the best of the best. Thanks to its powerful 7 drivers with 50W of power each, the overall quality and power of this thing is unmatched. It also thankfully comes with wireless Bluetooth connectivity that works with an array of devices to double-up as a wireless speaker for parties and leisurely listening or if you wanted to connect your PC\Mac to the unit itself. The Soundscape is great for larger televisions – 50” and up but we wouldn’t let that limit you if you still wanted it. It comes with both digital optical and stereo inputs, which will enable you to connect a DVD and CD player, game console, Blu-Ray player, etc. In terms of build, it comes with swiftly designed composite cone-shaped woofers that deliver some very powerful bass, especially when compared to the others that even have an external sub. What really justifies the price is the internal aptX coding as well as unique ‘Digital Signal Processing’ platform that ensures that the frequency distribution is even and spaced out for a more full audio playback. The Paradigm Soundscape is a beast, even without an external subwoofer.
It’s Pioneer’s turn to make an appearance in this guide, and the popular SP-SB23W comes with a whopping 6 built-in amplifiers, which means you will get a powerful sound from across all sources for any occasion. It comes with a wireless subwoofer that is powered by a 50W amplifier for some pretty impressive bass sound if that’s your thing. The output level on the sound bar is tuned to 42 Hz and it can easily be adjusted with the remote if you’re into custom tweaking. The wireless connection means you can listen to music online from one of hundreds of online sources, radios and more. It’s made by Andrew Jones, who if you weren’t aware designed a $50k pair of speakers once (so he must know what he’s doing, right?). High-quality materials such as the wood cabinet and its special curved design give the Pioneer SP-SB23W a really attractive appearance on top of the sweet features, power and audio quality. Just another middle price-point soundbar to check out if you had the money.
Polk Omni SB1
Polk was the victor in our best computer speakers article for a reason, and here’s their most popular soundbar right now. If you are looking for a unique and innovative sound bar, then the Polk Omni SB1 is a solid choice, especially if you like extra features. It comes with a nifty voice adjust technology and includes a 3.1 sound bar system to combine to deliver a rich, full sound that will cover the most of the room you’re in. The Omni SB1 comes with a voice channel level that is controllable to help even out the sound. In terms of overall build, this sound bar comes with an 8” subwoofer for powerful bass and is wirelessly connected to the sound bar, which means there will be no net of pesky cables. Polk’s extra ‘Music and Movie Immersion Modes’ give you the option to adjust the sound field for even more custom listening experience. The Polk Omni SB1 also includes a smart bar that enables you to connect your TV’s remote controls with it – no need for numerous remotes for control of your TV and sound system. Here’s a great choice if you were into bells and whistles.
Definitive Technology W Studio Micro
This is another one of the heavy-hitters in the market that lands within the higher-price point if you have the cash. What stands out the most with this one is it comes with DTS Play-Fi Bluetooth technology, which enables you to directly stream music or other audio from room to room. With its unique 3.1 spatial array, the sound bar provides some super clear sound quality as compared to competitors, making others them seem flat. The aluminum top panel looks sleek and elegant in every room and is quite stable to ensure you’ve got an investment on your hands that will last a long time. With its independent amplifiers that power 7 drivers, you’re getting a lot more of an advanced internal build than others as well. The wireless subwoofer gives us great bass and the fact that it is wireless of course means you won’t have to mess with numerous cables when setting it up. The Definitive Technology W Studio Micro sound bar is definitely one of the best sound bars on the market these days due to its advanced internal technology and additive features that really magnifies the sound quality as compared to others.
To finish the top 10 best guide today, we have another model by Yamaha, and this time bringing us an absolute monster into our listening experience. The Yamaha YSP-4300 delivers the best sound bar quality and power compared to any other (with that price, we’d hope so) thanks to its 7.1 channel sound with surround quality and its elegant, slim design. It comes with 22 array speakers that are powered by respective 22 amplifiers that come along with two strong subwoofers that makes the internal build of this quite unmatched by any other out there. It’s representative in both aesthetics and technical elements, coming with ‘Dolby TrueHD‘ sound quality, HDMI inputs, and DTS-HD Master Audio for HD audio processing. The aluminum body prevents vibrations that could negatively affect the sound quality and the Linear Port disperses sound and minimizes any unwanted noise on top of it all. The Yamaha YSP-4300 is a monster, with technology that delivers clean and strong bass, crisp highs, and a digital sound many others don’t come close to. Just don’t turn it up too loud or your neighbors may throw a fit.