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How To Choose a Soundbar : Complete Buying Guide

  • 25 Sep 2021 18:49
  • 179

A soundbar is a type of loudspeaker with a long thin rectangle-shaped enclosure that is very wide and low. The soundbar is constructed in this manner for acoustic reasons and allows for easy mounting beneath display devices. 

A soundbar cabinet has many speakers and an embedded subwoofer in certain high-end soundbars to produce high-quality sound with a surround sound effect. Soundbars are a low-cost alternative to stereo sound systems that considerably improve audio quality in your living room, home cinema, or meeting/conference room.

You'll find soundbars from practically every audio firm, as well as most TV manufacturers when you go shopping. A soundbar created by the same manufacturer that made your TV can be an excellent cosmetic match or provide other compatibility advantages. However, you'll probably want to go with a model from a business specializing in audio equipment for pure sound quality.

Types of Product

The various types of soundbars can be perplexing. These days, there are so many models to choose from that determining where to start can be challenging. The most significant distinction is the number of speakers in the bar. When buying a soundbar, you should think about the following factors:

1. 2.0 Soundbars

Soundbars with the most basic features will only provide stereo left and right sound. As shown in the image below, you place it beneath your television. If it doesn't fit underneath the TV, you can put it above it. If you decide to place it above, attempt to slant it down slightly so that it points at your listening position.

2. 3.0 Soundbars

You can get a 3.0 soundbar if you want your TV to have a more apparent conversation. A dedicated center speaker and stereo left, and right speakers will be included in a 3.0 soundbar. All of the speakers, however, will be packaged together in a single case.

The Sonos Beam is an excellent example of this style. I've put together a comparison between the Sonos Beam and the Arc. The center speaker will carry the majority of the dialogue if you're listening to a 5.1 soundtrack. The separation of the left and proper channels should improve the definition of the voices.

Also, keep in mind that not all surround sound audio formats are supported by all soundbars. As a result, you can be stuck with stereo audio. For example, here's how to use a Sonos soundbar to play DTS soundtracks.

A sound option that turns a stereo soundtrack into a virtual surround mix is available on several soundbars with a center speaker. Even though the soundtrack only has two left and proper channels, most of the conversation will be heard through the center speaker.

3. 2.1 and 3.1 Soundbars

The speakers of a soundbar may nevertheless lack bass due to their modest size. They will, however, almost always be superior to the speakers on your television. So, if you want additional bass, a soundbar with a wireless subwoofer is a good option. 

These days, almost all subwoofers that come with soundbars are WiFi enabled. Some versions, however, feature an output that may be used to connect a subwoofer via wire. Because low frequencies aren't directional in most home theater rooms (below roughly 100 Hz), the subwoofer can be set up practically anywhere in the space.

4. Surround Sound Soundbars

A soundbar with built-in surround speakers is the next best option. Along with the stereo speakers, these are installed in the bar. Surround, and stereo speakers are available in some establishments, while a dedicated center speaker is available in others.

The surround sound produced by these devices will not be as good as dedicated speakers put behind you in the room. However, they will give the audio in a movie a more relaxed vibe.

Also, keep an eye out for soundbars that claim to have surround sound but don't have specialized surround speakers incorporated into the unit. Often, these models will use psychoacoustic technologies to try to reproduce the sensation.

5. Dolby Atmos Soundbars

Soundbars with built-in Dolby Atmos speakers are a recent innovation these days. The objective of an up-firing Dolby Atmos speaker is to bounce 3D sound effects from a movie soundtrack down to your listening location from the ceiling. This creates the illusion of sound coming from above.

6. Soundbar Systems with Rear Speakers (5.1 and 7.1)

The soundbars with specialized rear surround speakers fall under the last general category. A few soundbar systems suit the bill if you want the ease of a soundbar and want the extra realism of full dedicated surrounds.

Surround speakers are frequently WiFi-enabled and are commonly available as an add-on to a more basic 2.1 or 3.1 soundbar. The benefit is that you can upgrade later if you don't want to spend too much money all at once. Other systems include all of the speakers as part of the overall package.

Prominent Brands

1. Edifier 

Edifier is a Chinese audio company that makes wireless speakers, soundbar speakers, music systems, headphones, and other audio accessories. The majority of the time, the prices are in the middle range.

2. LG

LG Electronics is a prominent consumer electronics company based in the United States that produces a wide range of products. Soundbar and sound base systems and 5.1-channel, 7.1-channel, and Dolby Atmos home-theater systems are among its offerings. Prices are usually in the lower to upper midrange range.

3. Polk Audio

Polk Audio is a well-known speaker manufacturer that offers a variety of soundbars with and without subwoofers. Its products are usually in the midrange to upper price ranges. Sound United now owns the property.

4. Samsung

Samsung is a well-known electronics company with a wide range of products, including home theater systems. It sells soundbars, sound bases, and home theater systems with 5.1 and 7.1 channels. Prices vary a lot, but they're usually moderate to slightly costly.

5. Sony

Sony, a leading consumer electronics company, sells a variety of home-theater equipment, including soundbars and sound base systems, as well as 5.1-channel home-theater systems. Sony's goods are available in a variety of price points.

6. Yamaha

Yamaha offers a wide range of home cinema items, including soundbars and 5.1-channel home theater systems. Its objects are often priced in the moderate to upper price ranges.

Buying Guides

Soundbars with identical sound quality ratings are likely to sound different from one another due to how they handle specific frequencies and interact with the acoustics in your room. In the store, try out soundbars and inquire about refunds and exchanges if the one you buy doesn't work out after you get it home.

1. Determine the number of channels you require.

A soundbar with 2.1 channels (two front channels and a separate subwoofer) will be enough to increase the sound quality of your TV. Buy a multichannel soundbar with a subwoofer and back speakers - preferably wireless - if you want genuine surround sound. Dolby Atmos, a modern immersive sound technology that adds height to speaker systems, is one of the newest variants. This is commonly accomplished with soundbar speaker systems by having up-firing drivers in the main enclosure.

2. Take into account the location.

If you're going to mount the soundbar on the TV stand, make sure there's adequate space in front of the TV and that the soundbar isn't too tall to impede the remote control's line of sight to the screen.

3. Consider your budget

If you only intend to use the soundbar to watch TV, a low-cost, no-frills gadget with at least average sound quality in our ratings will suffice. It will be a massive upgrade from the built-in sound on almost any television. We recommend a model with very high or exceptional sound quality if you wish to use the soundbar for both music and TV.

FAQs

1. How will I be able to use the soundbar?

Is it true that a new device necessitates the usage of yet another remote control? Both yes and no. Yes, your new soundbar will come with its own small, but you can usually train your existing TV remote to work with it as well. (A cocktail table piled high with remote controls?) That is something we all despise. We can teach you how to make things easier by using a single remote to control everything.)

2. Is it possible to add speakers to a soundbar?

Some people say yes, while others say no. Some of the latest soundbars have additional speakers as part of the system, bringing you much closer to the sound of a real home theater. Only if your soundbar is multi-room competent can you install wireless back speakers. And if you have (or want to install) a multi-room audio system across your home, this is a terrific alternative.

3. Is it possible to use a soundbar as a center speaker?

Some can, some can't, but it's not something we suggest. Though a passive soundbar might theoretically be utilized as a center channel speaker, it isn't built for that function. It's the equivalent of expecting a baseball pitcher to catch and play second base in addition to his primary position.

4. What does "Cinema Sound" refer to?

Reality: It just adds a slight digital delay, similar to a fractional echo (think reverb). This isn't the same as true home theater sound, but it does provide the impression of being in a larger space. Most soundbars contain a feature dubbed "cinema sound" or "virtual surround sound" that, according to the manufacturer, simulates the sound of a home theater. Some are very spectacular, but you must pay a premium for them.

Conclusion

Our information above is what we believe are the best soundbars on the market right now for most consumers. We consider the price (a cheaper soundbar wins over a more expensive one if the difference isn't worth it), visitor reviews, and availability (no soundbars that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere). 

Be cautious not to get engrossed in the minutiae. There is no such thing as a perfect soundbar. Personal preferences, listening habits, and taste will all play a role in your decision.


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Hannah Wood By, Hannah Wood
Hannah Wood is a holder of M.M in Performance from Ithaca College and Bachelor’s degree in Music from American University. During the course of her career, he has had the opportunity to be associated with multiple orchestras in various permanent and freelancing roles. Working as a Sub, Regular or at the Violin Section, he has honed her performance, technical and conducting skills and gained competency in combining her musical skills with peers. He is a winner of the American University Concerto Championship and has been recognized as a Concertmaster from the American University Symphony Orchestra. He loves music and taught herself musical instruments such as trumpet, drums, violin. He has a lot of experience in choosing good and affordable musical instruments.
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