There’s a good chance that you’ve been spending more time than ever in front of your TV the last few months. Thanks to coronavirus, home entertainment is practically the only entertainment these days, with concerts, theater and live shows on hold. But there’s one thing you can do to make your system a lot better: adding a soundbar.
Why you need a soundbar
The technology behind flat screen TVs has come a very long way over the last few years. But there’s one place it hasn’t really improved and that’s sound. Building in a great sound system takes up a lot of space and can get bulky. As TVs have gotten slimmer and sleeker, there’s simply no room for top-notch speakers. That’s why it’s important to add an audio accessory. The best soundbars will make dialogue crystal clear, music soar, explosions boom — you get the picture. You’ll notice new audio details you’ve never heard before. Even if you can only afford a budget option, it’ll still make a world of difference to your viewing experience. Plus, unlike traditional speakers, soundbars don’t take up a lot of space.
What size soundbar to get
The most important factor is the size of your TV. Before you start shopping, get the specs of your television. You don’t want a soundbar that’s so huge it overshadows your TV and potentially even obscures the picture in any way. On the other hand, a tiny soundbar over a huge TV will also look ridiculous. Opt for a soundbar that complements the width of your TV.
Features to look for in the best soundbars
Sound can be a personal preference, but there are a few key things to look for. The best soundbars come loaded with wireless subwoofers, Bluetooth connectivity, 4K compatible HDMI inputs, ARC and support for Dolby Atmos audio. To narrow down your needs, consider what you’ll be viewing and listening to. If you plan on using it to listen to music, make sure it’s compatible with all of your devices so that you can stream from your smartphone, for example.
To help you narrow it down, we’ve rounded up the best soundbars with a range of price options. They’re all pretty easy to set up and are a treat for your ears.
1. Sonos Beam
Though this compact soundbar is small in stature at just 25.6 inches, it’s big on high definition sound. It has built-in Alexa so you can talk to the virtual assistant through the device. There are several options to control it, including with your voice, the remote or the Sonos app, to name a few. You can connect it to other Sonos speakers for surround sound or just use it solo. It’s a cinch to set up, with only two cords and automatic remote detection, so you’ll be good to go just minutes after opening the box. $399.99, Amazon.com
2. JBL Bar 2.0 All-in-One Soundbar
Every detail will sound crystal clear with this soundbar that doesn’t require any extra wires or speakers. It boasts 80W of power and an HDMI connection for easy use. It will turn your living room into a home movie theater, or use it to stream music via Bluetooth from your phone or tablet. $199.95, Amazon.com
3. Yamaha Audio YAS-209BL Sound Bar
Thanks to the wireless external subwoofer that comes with this soundbar, it delivers incredible virtual 3D surround sound. There are plenty of features here to spice up home entertainment, from Bluetooth to an app that lets you switch up surround sound modes to an HDMI socket with 4K HDR. It also has Alexa voice control built in, so you can command it to play your favorite music — or just check the weather. $349.95, Amazon.com
4. Roku Smart Soundbar with built-in 4K Streaming Media Player
If you’re looking for a twofer, this is the soundbar for you. In addition to being a premium soundbar, it also has a built-in Roku player for 4K streaming. You can watch movies, TV, live news, sports and more in HD, 4K or HDR. The soundbar has an impressive frequency range and immaculate bass. It has a voice remote with TV controls and setup is easy peasy. $149.99, Amazon.com
5. Sonos Arc
All the rave reviews prove that this soundbar is worth the splurge. A few of its bragging rights: It has 3D sound with Dolby Atmos, Trueplay tuning technology that reads the acoustics of the room to optimize sound, 11 drivers to nail the bass and every detail, a striking aesthetic and voice control. Amazon Alexa is built in to make life easier. In other words, the Sonos Arc checks all the boxes, making it one of the best soundbars. $799.99, Amazon.com
6. Sony HT-S350 Soundbar
When it comes to getting the most bang for your buck, this soundbar takes the prize. The Sony 2.1 channel soundbar system comes with a wireless subwoofer to give you a movie theater-esque experience. It has seven sound modes — auto sound, cinema, music, game, news, sports and standard audio mode — to optimize whatever you’re listening to. There’s also voice enhancement to isolate and amplify voices over background noise so the dialogue is always crisp, as well as Bluetooth streaming. $248, Amazon.com
7. Q Acoustics M4 Soundbar
A built-in subwoofer means this soundbar is the only speaker you need. It’ll evenly disperse sound throughout the room, so there won’t be a bad seat in the house. It can connect to practically any entertainment source and is Bluetooth compatible, so you can use it for almost anything. $349.99, Amazon.com
8. Samsung HW-T450 2.1ch Soundbar with Dolby Audio
Though this Samsung is one of the most affordable on this list, it still has a rich sound. It has all the fixings of a much pricier model, including Dolby Audio and a deep bass delivered by the wireless subwoofer. There’s smart sound technology so that the soundbar can automatically detect what you’re viewing and adjust the sound settings accordingly. Bluetooth connectivity means you can stream plenty of music without a single cable. Gamers will love this soundbar for its game mode, which will bring their favorite games to life even more. $167.99, Amazon.com
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