Top Sound Bars on the Market
Sound bars have become an essential purchase, whether for use with a home cinema system or simply to stream music wirelessly.
Why We Need Sound Bars
Sound bars reproduce quality audio at home. For many customers sound bars fill in where TV speakers used to do the job. These days slim television sets simply don’t offer a high standard of sound reproduction. This is one area in which technology has taken several steps in the wrong direction.
As television sets have become slimmer over the years there has been less space for speakers. Space is needed if speakers are to provide decent audio quality. This is especially true in the case of bass sounds. Of course so many sound effects demand a dynamic range of sounds, especially when you’re trying to get that home cinema feel.
In the end anyone wanting to experience proper audio at home needs an upgrade from the pitiful speakers that come built in to modern TVs. Aside from that sound bars perform several other functions in modern households where the old Hi-Fi set is long gone. While cooking you want to be able to listen to a podcast without having to plug your phone in – Bluetooth connectivity makes sound bars the perfect choice in this and many other situations.
Best Soundbar On A Budget
LG LAS260B 100 Watt 2 Channel Bluetooth Sound Bar – Black
There is a lot to like with this slimline item. For one thing it is very easy to set up. Bluetooth connectivity is virtually automatic. Note that if you’re connecting the sound bar to your TV then you will need an optical cable. This is not included with the sound bar, but if you have one then your set up should take next to no time.
Sound quality is easily superior to that of your average smart TV. In this respect this item offers great value. Another neat feature is that you can control settings and volume through your smartphone, once you’ve downloaded the LG Bluetooth Remote App.
On the downside this item’s sound quality really doesn’t hold up against more high-end offerings. There is a distinct lack of bass when compared with any system that features a sub woofer. Users have reported distortion at high volume. This is a case of you get what you pay for.
However other issues have been reported, including instances of neighbours devices connecting to the sound bar and even overriding the device’s optical input channel. While this is a budget item, no one wants their movie night interrupted by next door’s gaming soundtrack.
Overall this is very good for the price, but lacks some many features you’ll find in more expensive alternatives.
Best Soundbar For Under £100
Samsung HW-J250 80 W 2.2 Channel Soundbar with Bluetooth and Built-In Subwoofers
There is a lot to like with this affordable item. Apart from anything else it has a fantastic appearance. Additionally the sound quality is definitely superior to the average TV. Add to that the fact that it can be set up in no more than a few seconds and you have a sound bar that will appeal to a range of customers.
There is one major feature that sets this item aside from LG’s 2 channel sound bar that was discussed above. That is bass. This Samsung sound bar has two built-in subwoofers. An obvious advantage of this is that you won’t need to purchase a separate sub woofer. In that respect you’re cutting down not only on price but also on the amount of cables needed.
Of course for sound connoisseurs there will be some drawbacks with this item. Despite the built-in subwoofers this sound bar still doesn’t feature the level of bass that some people require for a home cinema set-up. Sound quality here is still not up to the standard of more expensive options.
Best Soundbar For Under £200
Samsung HW-K450 soundbar speaker – soundbar speakers (Wireless, Active, DTS 2.0, Separate, Energy Star, Optical)
Here we have another offering from the South Korean electronics giant. In this case the item includes two speakers. The sub woofer here is not built in to a flat sound bar but comes as a stand alone unit of its own.
There is a lot to like with this mid-range offering. As with other sound bars this piece of kit is very easy to install. It also offers a quality of audio reproduction that is head and shoulders above the built-in speakers you’ll find on any TV.
Special to this item are the number of connections – including HDMI, USB and auxiliary – and the ability to switch easily between these connections with the remote control that comes included with the speakers. Besides this is the fact that this sound bar will produce quality sound without needing to hike the volume right up – perfect for when you’re watching TV programmes with a lot of dynamic range audio-wise.
Of course there are some drawbacks. This is is still not the best offering on the market, not by a long stretch of the imagination. If you’re looking for a true surround sound experience – this item will provide the effect of surround sound while not constituting actual surround sound – then you should really invest in a proper 5.1 system. Similarly, if you’re after top notch bass sounds then you might find this sub woofer to be a bit below par. However, for its price this piece of kit really offers exceptional value.
Best Soundbar For Under £300
LG SK5 Soundbar with DTS Virtual X Sound – Black
This is a superb item that comes with a lot of recommendations. One of its best features it the range of controls that one can exert over sound settings. LG calls this adaptive sound control and it certainly does allow you to adapt the sound to a variety of situations.
Directional sound is built in to this system, meaning that the sound that it produces emits both vertically and horizontally. Aside from that the sound is of a very high resolution in any case. This generally means that a user can pick out a range of sounds whether that’s an explosion in an action movie or a whispered line in a drama.
The sound quality in this item owes a lot to the quality of the components that are built in to it. These include an advanced processor that enables this sound bar to reproduce audio at a standard near to that of 5.1 surround sound.
Another bonus here is that these many audio controls are easy to change using your own original TV remote, though the product comes with its own remote if you prefer to use both.
Best Soundbar For Music
LG SJ2 Soundbar with 2.1 Channel 160 W Speaker Set – Black
This product from LG will connect easily to a record player, which will be a big draw for vinyl fans. The quality of the sound here is really quite high, especially when you consider the price. The price here is very reasonable. You’re getting something very close to Hi-Fi quality, while still not breaking into even a mid-range price bracket.
Again this is an easy to install piece of kit. For a wireless item the woofer works fantastically well. For most customers the best feature here will be the ease with which one can switch from streaming through a TV, connecting an iPod or linking to a smartphone. For music lovers this will mean that the functionality of this sound bar is very high.
Of course when you compare the quality of the sound in this item to actual Hi-Fis from the past or any 5.1 speaker sets then you’ll find this lacking, but once again I have to stress the price of this speaker set is low enough that, relatively speaking, the sound quality here is fantastic.
Best Soundbar For Gaming
Trust Gaming 22329 GXT 668 2.1 Soundbar Speaker System with Subwoofer for PC, PS4 and Xbox One, LED Illuminated, Black
While this soundbar might not match the standards of the most fanatical gamers, for anyone in the realm of casual gaming the set up provided here is going to blow them away. The sub woofer that comes as part of this item is phenomenal. You can push the bass sounds very high indeed. If you’re looking to shake the neighbour’s windows while gaming then look no further than the powerful woofer that comes with this sound bar.
The volume on this sound bar can be put up really quite high before any distortion can be heard. Overall the performance here is excellent for the price.
Of course if you are looking to create a home cinema effect then these will not be the speakers for you. They are very serviceable and good value for money when it comes to gaming, but the stunning levels of performance they offer in that area are not going to be matched in the arena of films when compared to other sound bars on the market.
For many customers the appearance of this sound bar will be important. Some of the alternatives listed above have been described using terms like sleek and harmonious. In the case of this sound bar we’re looking at something that will appeal to a lot of gamers but might not fit in with some décor styles. Again the appeal here is for gaming and perhaps not for a home cinema set up.
Best Soundbar With Subwoofer
Panasonic SC-HTB690EBK 350 W Soundbar with Wireless Down Firing Subwoofer
Some users have reported that the durability of this item is not great and that they have experienced some technical difficulties with it after using it for a few months. Once again this is not one of the most expensive items on the market and perhaps it is a case of getting what you pay for.
Certainly this sound bar is easy to install. It takes no time at all to set up. One small warning, though: this sound bar will not be compatible with all TV sets. If you have a particularly old television then you could find that there won’t be a connection. However, if you are using an HDMI connection – which you will have to purchase separately mind – then you’ll find that the quality will be very good.
I have heard some accusations of this item offering more style than substance, but I think that is unfair. For the price you’re paying here this sound bar offers some good fidelity, as well as an excellent bass sound.