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Best Soundbar 2016: 17 best soundbars for your TV

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SoundbarRoundup

A soundbar is a great way to upgrade your TV, but which is the right one for you? Our best soundbar round-up will give you the answer.

Whether you have a top-end 4K TV, a HDTV or something more basic, you’ll be all-too-familiar with the fact that tellies generally don’t deliver the best of audio. Fortunately, it’s an easy problem to fix.

Soundbars – and the closely related soundbases – offer a simple, sleek way to improve your TV's audio without all the fuss and wires of a surround sound system.

There are quite a few varieties, though. Whether it's cheap, no-fuss soundbars, soundbars with and without subwoofers, soundbars with clever, virtual surround sound technology, thin and discreet soundbars or big, powerful ones, there's an option for every taste.

There are examples of every type in our list, which will make the decision daunting at first. But, once you see what's on offer, you'll be ready to decide what size, type and price is right for you.

Our round-up is in price order, starting with the cheapest. Use the 'Next' arrow, or the dropdown list, to navigate and read on for more buying advice.

Soundbars vs Soundbases – Which one is right for you?

If you want to improve your TV's audio but don't want a 5.1 surround system cluttering up your living room, you basically have two choices: a soundbar or a soundbase.

Philips Fidelio B5The Philips Fidelio Soundbar

A soundbar is essentially a slim speaker system that can be mounted on the wall below your TV, although they can also be placed in front of a TV on the cabinet. Soundbars emerged as an alternative to poor quality built-in TV speakers and the technology packed inside can deliver a virtual surround sound experience..

Most soundbars are 2.1 channel sound setups. That means you’ll get two speakers and a separate subwoofer. There are, of course, a few exceptions that bundle subwoofer and even more speakers all into one device. The advantage of a wide soundbar is a better stereo experience, but the slim design is also what makes a separate subwoofer pretty much compulsory.

A soundbase is a much thicker unit that's designed to sit below the TV on a cabinet or stand. They will typically include more bass drivers than a soundbar, meaning most won't require a separate subwoofer.

Goodmans BaseThe Goodmans Base soundbase

Soundbases are often rated by the weight of the TV they can support, and because of the extra space, will often have better audio processing than soundbars.

Both soundbars and soundbases sometimes offer Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity to stream content from smartphones, tablets and computers. Physical connections can include USB ports to plug in external hard drives, HDMI inputs and outputs to support Full HD and 3D TV playback.

There are plenty of excellent models out there to choose from and we want to help you find the soundbar, or soundbase that's best for you. So if space is at a premium, and you're ready to break free from snaking cables, read on.

Prem Desai

July 30, 2015, 10:10 pm

No mention of Yamaha which was one of the first (mass produced) soundbars and still a force to be reckoned with?

And Sonos?

James Webster

July 30, 2015, 11:47 pm

The Yamaha ones are great but they seem to have gone off the boil with product development... just the YSP-2200 was updated to the YSP-2500, leaving the 3300, 4300 on the previous generation. I wonder if Yamaha will be releasing any updated models any time soon with HDCP 2.2 support?

LeeTronix

July 31, 2015, 9:50 pm

I rate the Focal range and Yamaha and Sonos both of the latter not mentioned?

zag2

October 19, 2015, 12:30 pm

Like others have said, no Sonos? My friend has it in his place, and its the best one i've seen.

Jonathan Deavs

October 29, 2015, 2:02 pm

I'm just trying to decide between the Samsung HW-J355 or Sony HT-CT80! Which is the better budget soundbar?

Pete

November 12, 2015, 12:00 am

I know you mention budget but I feel the htct370 Sony sound bar is great value at around £100 more than the htct80 ,the 370 packs way more of a punch than the 80 and to be honest I feel it is one of the best value sound bars and I'd even go so far to say best value sound producing pieces of equipment out there it really is hope this helps

Jonathan Deavs

November 12, 2015, 2:27 pm

Thanks for this, really helpful. I'm leaning towards another option now, priced somewhere in between your suggestion and my original choices! Do you know much about the Yamaha YAS-93? It seems great, but only has an in-built subwoofer. Was still Which magazine's soundbar of choice (in the price range).

nickp

November 23, 2015, 4:48 pm

does this sony model support 5.1 ?

JudmasterNYC

January 2, 2016, 8:43 am

The Sonos PlayBar is by the BEST!

Rolleth

January 10, 2016, 5:04 pm

Jonathan, I bought a budget soundbar, one of which you stated above. They are not remotely close in comparison to what I needed and wanted. I suggest, if you can afford it, to not be frugal on your soundbar purchase and spend it to get the quality desired. It is literally night and day.

MattMe

January 18, 2016, 5:50 pm

I was considering getting a sound bar, but then realised you need to have quite a specific setup for most to fit in.

If you have your TV on a stand most of these will obscure the bottom of the screen, if not just the IR receiver.
If you have your TV mounted on the wall most of these won't wall-mount, or if they did would look ridiculous.

Like most people I have my TV on it's stand on a small piece of furniture with one shelf below for a blu-ray deck (and a NUC in my case).
Basically none of these soundbars solutions are appropriate for my setup, or most people I know.

I'm going to go with some bookshelf speakers and a small amp and have an optical feed from my TV set into that. It's much more versatile and for the money I'll get a much better sounding system, with far superior stereo separation.
I know the soundbars are designed to minimise clutter but I can't help but feel in most scenarios they're still a bit ridiculous and look odd sat in front of your TV.

Just my thoughts on the matter :)

MattMe

February 29, 2016, 5:30 pm

If anyone's interested I ended up getting a SMSL Q5 Pro amp. They're surprisingly small, have stereo and sub outputs, optical, aux and phono inputs, IR remote control and can be had for around £50.
At that price they're a bargain, and actually sound quite acceptable for most uses. The EQ can be a little extreme and should be tweaked carefully, but otherwise I'm extremely happy with it. The later revisions include improved remotes and firmware addressing some earlier niggles.

I hooked mine up to a couple Monitor Audio bookshelves I had spare and currently don't think a sub is necessary at all. Very happy.

Gustavo Santos

March 15, 2016, 4:53 pm

I don't know what you refer to as phono but I almost was happy when I read your comment. A quick google search showed that there's no phono stage on this amplifier. :(

MattMe

March 15, 2016, 6:23 pm

By phono I was referring to RCA.

Sorry, my post is misleading. The mk1 version has RCA input whereas the Mk2 & mk3 replace that with the 3.5mm TRS input. All revisions also have optical in, coax and USB DAC support.

What did you need that's not there?

Gustavo Santos

March 16, 2016, 7:43 am

Well, traditionally Phono stands for the input (either if is RCA or not) that needs pre-amplification with the RIAA equalization curve. Generally speaking this is the turntable input, which is what I need.

A small amplifier that has both phono stage and optical input would make my day, save some money, power and space. :)

Melody

March 22, 2016, 3:36 am

I bought LuguLake soundbar on amazon. It's very easy to set up / operate and is giving us great pleasure. I am no hifi expert, but the sound quality is definitely much better than we expected at the price and more than fulfills our needs with both TV and streamed audio. The unit looks stylish and blends in perfectly in front of our new 43" Samsung TV. I can definitely recommend it.

For Whom the Troll Bells

April 15, 2016, 9:45 pm

My wife and I both suffer from mildly impaired hearing, and we often find that the audio from our Panasonic Viera TV sounds muffled although of adequate volume. This is particularly noticeable with catch-up TV services such as "All 4". We have blutooth and infra-red audio earphones which work well but are a bit inconvenient and prevent conversation during programmes. For times when using these earphones is inconvenient, is a soundbar likely to improve our listenening ease?

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