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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.

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?

iSLAND BREEZE.

May 14, 2016, 6:35 am

my sisters have songs in their house and they are fantastic! i also love that they have their own ap that you can play your music through and even if you get a call or notification on your phone it doesn't interfere with the music being played.

ClayRogers

May 14, 2016, 8:59 pm

Almost all sound bars are wall mountable and don't look strange at all, they look excellent wall mounted. As well, there are several soundbars designed for your soundbar to sit under the TV, as a base of sorts. Next time you buy a TV stand, get one that has an integrated TV mount. That's what I use. I can easily adjust the height of my TV and position any soundbar or center channel speaker under it. For your case, look at a brand called ZVox.

getagrip

May 28, 2016, 7:37 pm

best soundbar 2016 doesnt make sense as the 2500 is to be replaced this year

iv just sat thru a demo of the 1600 and 2500 and they are mindblowing anyone saying they carnt replace a real 5.1 7.1 is talking horse poop

he recommened i wait as the 2500 is to be replaced this june or july with a next gen mode,l with fingers crossed dolby atlos and dtsx built in

getagrip

May 28, 2016, 7:39 pm

this year iv orderd one there 2500 is now old

Nick Sturrock

September 16, 2016, 10:12 am

These are very basic (and mostly pointless) reviews. I was just looking into the LG music flow system and it turns out that it is beset by appalling connectivity issues (speakers disappearing off the network, dropouts, etc) that make it almost unusable. Beyond that people who have bought them and not received adequate customer support are actually filing a class action law suit to get their money back! And yet here the LG soundbar receives a 4.5 stars review, no problems - perhaps they haven't had any issues, but I'd say look elsewhere for more real-world, thorough testing before you decide what to get based on any of these somewhat sketchy reviews.

georgehowie

October 13, 2016, 2:29 pm

I own the LG HS9 soundbar and base woofer for 1 year, It connects to the LG TV by HDMI cable and has always given superb service. When not using it for TV I also use it for my Intel NUC computer using MusicFlow via Ethernet cable (wi-fi available) through BT Home Hub continously for hours with no dropouts. My iPhone uses Bluetooth 4 just to make an immediate speaker-only connection and never skips a beat when on the same floor of my house.

georgehowie

October 13, 2016, 2:32 pm

Yes, significantly. The soundbar will be much clearer than the internal speaker.

Enri d'Aith

October 13, 2016, 8:56 pm

Thank for that information - it sounds (no pun intended) as though a soundbar is the way to go for us.

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