A soundbar is an excellent way to upgrade your TV and get cinema-style audio in your own living room, but which is the right one for you? Our best soundbar round-up will give you the answer.
TVs don't tend to sound great. That's one of their disadvantages: as they get slimmer and more beautiful, there's less room for proper speakers.The result is usually something that looks very nice but sounds a bit weak. Whether you have top-end 4K TV, a HDTV or something more basic, the problem is the same. Fortunately, there's an easy solution.
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, or soundbases that your TV sits on, 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 start reading our mini reviews, or take a quick glance at the names in the list below. Read on for more handy buying advice.
Panasonic SC-ALL70T | Our score: 8/10
Acoustic Energy Aego Sound3ar | Our score: 8/10
Philips HTL5140 | Our score: 9/10
LG LAB550W | Our score: 9/10
Canton DM 9 | Our score: 9/10
Philips Fidelio XS1 | Our score: 9/10
Orbitsound A70 airSOUND Bar | Our score: 9/10
Geneva Model Cinema | Our score: 9/10
Monitor Audio ASB-2 | Our score: 10/10
Philips Fidelio B5 | Our score: 9/10
Samsung HW-J8500 | Our score: 9/10
Yamaha MusicCast YSP-2700 | Our score: 9/10
DALI Kubik One | Our score: 9/10
Focal Dimension | Our score: 9/10
Arcam Solo Bar Plus & Solo Sub | Our score: 10/10
Naim Audio Mu-So | Our score: 9/10
Yamaha YSP-2500 | Our score: 9/10
Samsung HW-K950 | Our score: 9/10
Samsung HW-K430 at Currys.co.uk | Was £280 | Now £129
Monitor Audio ASB-2 at Amazon.co.uk | Was £699 | Now £371
LG LAB550W at Amazon.com | Was $499 | Now $349
Focal Dimension at Amazon.com | Was $1,399 | Now $799
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.
The 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.
The 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.