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Best Soundbar 2022: Upgrade your TV audio

You’ve bought a TV and have come to realisation that it doesn’t sound very good, the small speakers it has in its slim frame can’t do your favourite film or TV series justice. We have the answer to your woes with this list of soundbars that we’ve tested.

Soundbars come in different sizes, different features and different configurations, and wading your way through all the different combinations can be a headache. So we’ve aimed at making the buying process simpler, the soundbars listed here are the best we’ve tested at their respective price points.

We listen to plenty of movies and music through their speakers, spending time to hear how they handle dialogue, watching movies for how well they deal with their scale and complexity as well as daytime content to see how well they fare with your everyday broadcast content. From those tests we’ve assembled this list of the very best.

We’re constantly looking to update and add new models to this list if, like Thor, they be worthy. This list covers soundbars from as low as £200 to as much as $2000 / £2000 to cover off different price tiers. While this list features three Atmos soundbars already, if you haven’t found the bar you’re looking for, why don’t you check out our list of the Best Dolby Atmos soundbars.

How we test

Learn more about how we test soundbars

Soundbars were created to boost TV sound quality – which means we end up watching a lot of TV. We play everything – news reports for voices, movies for scale and effects steering – to ensure that the soundbars that come through the doors at Trusted Reviews are given a proper challenge. We’ll play different genres of music, too, since a good soundbar should be capable of doubling-up as a great music system.

More complex soundbars feature network functionality for hooking up to other speakers and playing music around the home, so we test for connectivity issues and ease of use. We cover the spectrum of models available, everything from cheap soundbars costing less than £100 to those over £1000, to ensure our reviews benefit from our extensive market knowledge. Every product is compared to similarly priced rivals, too.

Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar

Best overall soundbar
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Pros

  • Superb 3D audio performance
  • As good with music as it is movies

Cons

  • Eye-wateringly expensive
  • Big and not exactly pretty

We rate the Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar as the best overall soundbar that you can buy today, but it is a lot of soundbar for a lot of money – $2199 / £2199.

The Ambeo is a large soundbar, not one that will easily sit beneath a telly unless the TV is wall-mounted, stretching over a metre long and weighing in at 18.5kg. The similarly priced Devialet Dione tips the scales at 12kg, and we considered that to be fairly heavy. The Ambeo is heavier than some OLED TVs on their own.

Which means it needs a fair amount of space to be accommodated, but for its size and heft the build quality is excellent with a good selection of inputs that includes three HDMI ports, digital optical out and aux-in. Wirelessly there is support for Google Chromecast and Bluetooth 4.2.

The Ambeo Soundbar is an all-in-one effort, and one of a few that we’ve tested that lives up to its claims of offering 5.1.4 channel immersive sound. It sounds absolutely sensational, firing effects around a room and generating plenty of power and muscle to make films and TV shows sound their exciting best. We found there to be a substantial level of bass for a single-bar system, with a good level of extension to the low end and in addition, plenty of depth and nuance to the soundstage it creates. But you’ll want to make sure the Ambeo processing is switched on, as we found the bar’s performance lost a sense of depth and height with it off.

There’s Dolby Atmos, DTS:X as well as the less well known MPEG-H audio formats supported. To calibrate the Ambeo’s performance, it features a high-quality calibration microphone to match the profile of the soundbar’s sound to a room, although it can only perform this from a single listening point. That means you want to be sitting in the right place at all times for the best experience possible.

There’s no soundbar on this list that sounds as good as the Sennheiser Ambeo, but its size and price will put many off. Rumours are circling that Sennheiser will announce a cheaper, smaller Ambeo soundbar later in 2022, which may be the compromise will prefer.

Reviewer: Steve May
Full Review: Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar

Wharfedale Vista 200S

Best affordable soundbar
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Pros

  • Great with movies and music
  • Well-integrated bass
  • Low-profile and well-made cabinet
  • Exceptional value
  • Easy to setup

Cons

  • Nothing at this price

If the expense of the Sennheiser Ambeo causes your eyes to water, then the presence of an affordable soundbar with the boost of a dedicated subwoofer might be more attractive. In that case the Wharfedale Vista 200S is a highly recommended option.

We found the bar’s design to be attractive in appearance and the construction durable. The black finish and glossy top surface doesn’t scream a cheap soundbar despite the Vista 200S’s affordable price. With a width of 900mm it’s tailored to partner televisions up to 65-inches in size, and that it boasts a slim for factor also means you won’t be living in fear of the soundbar blocking the picture.

In terms of features, we observed there wasn’t much to grapple with aside from its active wireless subwoofer that has a side-firing 165mm driver with 60W of power. If you want wireless connectivity or immersive audio, you’d be better off seeking the smaller but more expensive Sonos Beam Gen 2. We did note the three preset EQ settings for media playback are provided in Movies, Music and News to optimise the soundbar’s sound for those types of content.

We found the sound quality for the price was especially good, with the 200S putting in a great performance across the frequency range with a top-end that didn’t suffer from a lack of detail, plus some punchy bass thanks to the active subwoofer. We also observed that the Vista 200S could get rather loud without sounding harsh or compressed due to its 120W of built-in amplification. It also dealt with dialogue well, even without a dedicated centre speaker, and if you’re interested in playing music through this bar, then it delivers on a smooth and clear performance.

There are cheaper soundbars, such as the Sharp HT-SBW202, that serve as an alternative but we haven’t come across another soundbar that offers as much performance-per-pound at this price the Wharfedale.

Reviewer: Steve Withers
Full reviews: Wharfedale Vista 200S

Sony HT-A7000

Best soundbar for movies and music
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Pros

  • Well-featured
  • Excellent sonic performance
  • Strong bass for a single bar
  • Terrific music performance

Cons

  • Needs plenty of space
  • Adding subwoofer and rear channels is expensive
  • Standalone bar is pricey

If you’re in the market for a soundbar that’s great with both movies and music, then we’d suggest you give the Sony HT-A7000 a closer look.

During testing, we found its audio delivery to be crisp and concise, with clear voices and especially powerful bass for a single-bar unit. Its 7.1.2 channel Dolby Atmos and DTS:X performance impressed too, with a great sense of height that makes for a more immersive performance than what you get from a ‘standard’ soundbar. Its claims of virtual surround sound weren’t too convincing, but this is likely down to needing a room with walls nearby to bounce sounds off to the listening position (which we didn’t have in our set-up).

The HT-A7000 is also an excellent performer for music showcasing great tonality, depicting the mid-range naturally, along with sharp highs and punchy bass. We would say it performs better with music in its Cinema mode than Music, eliciting a smoother performance with vocals.

There is an upgrade path with the ability to add rear speakers and a subwoofer, but this doesn’t come at a particularly affordable price, taking the total cost past $2000 / £2000. You at least get plenty of bang for buck for features, with various options of playing audio through the system be it wired or wireless. There is Chromecast, AirPlay 2, Bluetooth 5 and Spotify Connect, and support for Hi-Res Audio with DSD and the wireless LDAC format.

There’s Sony’s 360 Reality Audio format that can play tracks in 3D audio from music streaming services such as Tidal and Deezer. Smart assistance is on the table with both Alexa and Google assistant, but a separate compatible device is needed to enable hands-free control.

Its design is rather out there, with a reflective glass top surface and different combination of materials that may make it marmite for some (we rather liked it). It is also a large soundbar, wider than the Sennheiser Ambeo though thankfully not as tall, so it can fit beneath most TVs. You’d really want to pair with a TV 55-inches or bigger to get the most impact.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full review: Sony HT-A7000

Sonos Arc

Best Atmos soundbar under £1000
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Pros

  • Expansive, well-defined and invigorating sound
  • Good impression of audio height and width
  • Fine spec
  • Ample control options

Cons

  • Slightly bumpy frequency response
  • Some treble stridency
  • No MQA support

Both the Sennheiser and Sony soundbars on this list cost north of $1000 / £1000 for a Dolby Atmos soundbar. If that’s not a price you’re willing to jump over, then we’d suggest the Sonos Arc. While it’s certainly not cheap, its range of connectivity, streaming support and true upfiring speakers make it one of the outstanding options below £1000.

The Arc represented the first time Sonos waded into the Dolby Atmos waters and we found the bar’s soundstage was full of plenty of height and width in testing, putting in a crisp performance with good control of the top end, alongside a detailed presentation of the mid-range and low-end.

Our reviewer found the transition between mid-range and low-end was not the most fluid, hampering the overall cohesion of the Arc’s presentation. It plays music well, although again the blend of bass and mid-range did cause it to lack conviction at times. The lack of bass is an issue that hampers several Atmos single-bars such as the Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3, but at least with the Arc a subwoofer can be added.

The Arc features HDMI eARC, which means you’ll need a TV with an eARC port to wring the best possible Atmos performance. Wirelessly there’s AirPlay 2 (Sonos still omits Bluetooth from its spec), and in the S2 app there’s the ability to place the Arc within a multi-room system with other Sonos speakers. The S2 app also provides access to streaming services in the likes of Spotify, Tidal, Deezer, Qobuz as well as the Sonos Radio service. Those with an iOS device can take advantage of the Trueplay feature that optimises audio playback to any room.

Design wise, the Arc is is keeping with Sonos’ recent design language, its minimalistic look available in black or white. Like the other soundbars on this list it’s over a metre long but it is quite discreet in profile. The Arc is a very good Dolby Atmos soundbar but not without limitations, its lack of all-round DTS support means this isn’t the best choice for home cinema enthusiasts with older DVDs and Blu-rays with DTS soundtracks.

Reviewer: Simon Lucas
Full review:  Sonos Arc

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FAQs

What’s the best soundbar under £200?

Our recommendation would be the Wharfedale Vista 200S. It can be found for a few pounds under £200 and is great with both movies and music. We found it to be superb value.

What’s the best soundbar without a subwoofer?

If you’re short on space or prefer not to have a subwoofer as part of the package, then the Sonos Beam Gen 2 is an excellent choice with its wide soundstage and detailed performance with voices.

What’s best soundbar for a Sony OLED TV?

If you’re after a soundbar to go with a Sony OLED then the HT-A7000 is an excellent choice. With compatible Bravia XR TVs it can function as a centre channel speaker within a surround sound system; and the user interface is integrated better with faster access to quick settings.

Trusted Reviews test data

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Comparison specs

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Manufacturer
Size (Dimensions)
Weight
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Release Date
First Reviewed Date
Model Number
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Driver (s)
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Subwoofer?
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Multiroom

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