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Best soundbar 2017: the 10 best soundbars and soundbases

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A soundbar is a great way to upgrade your TV and get cinema-style audio in your living room, but which is the right one for you? Our best soundbar round-up will give you the answer.

TVs generally sound bad as the current trend for slimmer and more beautiful designs has left manufacturers with less room for proper speakers. Fortunately, there's an easy solution. Soundbars exist to lend your TV some much-needed sonic support. They're a neat way to improve your sound without the hassle (and cables) of a traditional surround sound system.

There are quite a few varieties, though. There are basic standalone soundbars without subwoofers, more advanced soundbars with subwoofers and the potential to add satellite speakers, or a soundbase that your TV sits on.

We've covered every type here, and explained the differences so you'll know which will suit you best. Read on for an explanation of the differences between soundbars and soundbases, or scroll past to skip to our suggestions.

This Week's Best soundbar Deals

Samsung HW-K430 at Currys.co.uk | Was £280 | Now £139

Canton DM 9 at Amazon.co.uk | Was £499 | Now £360

Monitor Audio ASB-2 at Amazon.co.uk | Was £699 | Now £399

Focal Dimension at Amazon.com | Was $1,399 | Now $799

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.

A soundbar is essentially a slim speaker system that can be mounted on the wall below your TV, or in front of it on a cabinet. Soundbars emerged as an alternative to poor quality built-in TV speakers. Most are stereo offerings, but some of the beefier ones pack enough tech inside to deliver a convincing virtual surround sound experience.

Most soundbars you'll find are 2.1-channel sound setups. That means you’ll get two speakers and a separate subwoofer. There are a few exceptions that bundle subwoofer and even more speakers 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 flatter 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.

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. A recent trend is to have a single optical input, that lets you plug everything into your TV, and then a single cable going to the soundbar or soundbase. The new Sonos Playbase follows this trend.

There are plenty of excellent models 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.

Panasonic SC-ALL70T 5
Key features:
  • 3.1-channel system with 350W power output
  • DLNA, Spotify, Napster, AUPEO! and AllPlay radio
  • Qualcomm AllPlay multiroom music streaming
  • Review Price: £399

The Panasonic SC-ALL70T folds multiroom music, a whopping 350W of knockout audio and a vast array of features into a sleek, albeit 950mm wide, design. The stylish soundbar brings depth, punch and lively sound to your living room movies – providing you've got the space for it.

If it's true 3D sound you're after, you won't be disappointed. Stick on an action film and activate 3D mode to hear swooshing missiles and explosions populate both ends of the soundbar. Who's laughing at your super-sized soundbar now?

Paricularly impressive is the SC-ALL70T's ability to "re-stream" devices connected to it to other speakers on the network, including Bluetooth and Blu-ray. This means you could buy two of Panasonic’s SC-ALL2 wireless speakers and you use them as rears in a discrete 5.1 system.

Acoustic Energy AEGO Sound3ar
Key features:
  • Compact stereo soundbar and active 65W subwoofer
  • Bluetooth with aptX
  • Optical and 3.5mm analogue inputs
  • Review Price: £200

If you're yearning for a soundbar but don't want a huge box that takes up a lot of space in your living room, the Acoustic Energy Aego Sound3ar may be for you. It's a small unit that's so compact it can even double up as a sound system for your desktop PC.

The soundbar's compact dimensions mean it won't have the grunt to fill a massive living room, and, granted, its soundstage is a little narrow, but its smart design and good overall performance makes it a great addition to smaller listening environments and anyone with a smaller budget.

 

Canton DM 9
Key features:
  • 200W power output
  • In-built subwoofer
  • Bluetooth with aptX
  • Dolby Digital decoding, DTS TruSurround
  • Review Price: £479
Designed to be wall-mounted, the Canton DM 9 is a solid yet sophisticated soundbar clad entirely in metal. Its clean and buttonless, with everything instead controlled using the remote. The LED display only appears when you press a button, before quickly fading away.

Sound quality is magnificent. It’s clean and natural, with busy action scenes sounding composed even at high volume. The speakers work seamlessly with the built-in subwoofers, resulting in tight, cohesive sound. Music performance is terrific too.


Philips Fidelio B5
Key features:
  • Genuine surround sound
  • Detachable wireless bluetooth speakers
  • Generous features
  • Review Price: £700
The Philips Fidelio B5 is a unique, clutter-free TV speaker which delivers real surround sound. With its detachable surround speakers you can tidy away the clutter when movie night is over and with a robust build quality, stylish design, plentiful connections, easy setup and polished, powerful sound quality this is one of the best soundbars you can buy.

Philips managed to pack in a range of upgrades from the HTL9100, the best one being the ability to use the surrounds as standalone Bluetooth speakers. At £600, the Fidelio B5 is a fairly pricey soundbar, but its standout features justify the high price point.


Samsung HW-J8500
Key features:
  • 9.1-channel sound
  • External subwoofer
  • Bluetooth, TV SoundConnect, Wi-Fi multiroom support
  • Hi-Res Audio playback
  • Review Price: £750
If you’ve splashed the cash on a curved TV, you’ll probably want a curved soundbar to go with it. The Samsung HW-J8500 is an elegant number, clad in aluminium and available in black or silver.  The off-centre LED display shines clearly through the front mesh and disappears after a few seconds, keeping the front panel nice and clean.

Its nine-speaker arrangement delivers full-bodied, detailed sound and the subwoofer provides rich bass. The J8500 is ideal for movies, music and TV shows, though it can’t quite replicate surround sound. It’s easy to use too. For something slightly smaller and cheaper, take a look at the £625 Samsung HW-J7500.



Yamaha YSP-2700
Key features:
  • Soundbeam technology with 16 28mm drivers
  • MusicCast multi-room audio
  • Three HDMI 2.0 (HDCP 2.2) inputs
  • Review Price: £799

Traditionally, soundbars were no match for a proper surround sound system with 5.1 or 7.1 speakers. The Yamaha YSP-2700 effortlessly disproves that notion.

It has clever Soundbeam technology, which takes into account your surroundings and uses 16 28mm drivers to bounce sound around, very convincingly creating the impression that the soundfield envelops you. If you think you need a bunch of speakers to make bullets and lasers are pinging past your ears, think again. This soundbar (and wireless subwoofer) are all it takes for a proper cinematic sound experience. For high-quality audio without the hassle of a discrete system, this soundbar is the next best thing.


DALI Kubik One
Key features:
  • Bluetooth 3.0 with aptX
  • On-wall or table-top installation
  • Stereo sound with no separate sub
  • Review Price: £799
The Dali Kubik One is simply stunning. The minimal design, outstanding build quality and eye-catching colour schemes unite to make this a device anyone would want in their living room. It can also be hung on a wall or placed on top of a flat surface – and look great either way. Another beautiful, but slightly cheaper soundbar is the Samsung HW-F751.

A strong selection of connections is tucked away at the rear, along with grooves and clamps to help keep cables from tangling, but annoyingly there’s no HDMI port, highlighting Dali's music-first approach. Bluetooth connectivity is also on offer. The hefty £800 price tag is justified by the performance. Music, TV and movies sound clear, balanced and highly-detailed, as well as powerful. You can adjust sound through the Neutral, Bass Enhance and Bass Boost switches at the back, too.



Arcam Solo Bar Plus
Key features:
  • Market-leading range of features and connections
  • aptx Bluetooth
  • Outstanding build quality
  • Review Price: £995
Arcam has improved on its original Solo Bar by tweaking bass performance and lowering the price considerably. The combination Arcam Solo Bar Plus and Solo Sub will still set you back £995 but the incredible feature list, outstanding construction, and remarkably clear sound, means Arcam’s device is worth every penny.

It’s also extremely easy to install and operate, especially for a high-end soundbar. The informative display panel and intuitive smartphone app make the whole user experience painless, further adding to what is overall a spectacular sound system.


Samsung HW-K950 5
Key features:
  • 5.1.4-channel Atmos soundbar with 15 speaker drivers
  • Wireless subwoofer and Atmos surround speakers
  • Two HDMI inputs with 4K/60p HDR passthrough
  • Review Price: £1,299
Dolby Atmos is the next step in home surround sound. It doesn't just give you sound from in front and behind, it also brings height into the equation. That makes the sound a lot more spacious and believable. The problem is that Atmos usually demands in-ceiling speakers.

The Samsung HW-K950 solves that problem. It has up-firing speaker drivers, which shoot sound at your ceiling so it will bounce downwards at your sitting position. Hey presto, helicopters raining chaos from above, without the hassle and wiring mess of installed speakers. Atmos magic aside, Samsung has seriously upped its audio game, and the result is the best-sounding sound system the company has ever produced. If you want a properly immersive home cinema experience without the mess, this is one to look up.

Sonos Playbase
Key features:
  • Supports TVs up to 35 kg (77lbs)
  • 58 x 720 x 380 mm
  • Six drivers, three tweeters, one woofer
  • Connections: optical in, ethernet
  • Key apps: Spotify, Tidal, Google Play Music, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Deezer
  • Review Price: £699
If you’re tight on space and you’ve got a generous wad of cash to throw at one very pretty sound source, the Sonos Playbase is a fine choice. Designed to be both a booster seat for your TV and a formidable streaming system in its own right, the Playbase brings stunning audio and a huge list of compatible services to your TV stand.

The Playbase’s soundstage is so wide and tall that it’s hard to believe there aren’t other speakers in the room. Engaging, entertaining sound is complimented by a smooth and direct midrange, giving a convincing weight to voices. Everything is controlled through the brilliant Sonos app, and there’s even Alexa compatibility to look forward to at the end of this year.

Plus, pair it with Sonos Play:1 speakers and a Sonos sub, and you’ve got a formidable surround sound system.

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