Televisions nowadays provide superb video output with sharp contrasts and vivid colors, but they still haven’t been able to satisfy many people with their built-in speakers, which often have low volume and low bass. To get a proper home theater experience or simply to enjoy good surround sound, people invest in surround sound systems, or if they don’t have space, then in soundbars. We’re going to take a look at options for the best soundbar 2017 has for people who are looking for a more enriching audio setup.
#1 Sonos PLAYBAR TV
Sonos is one of the leading manufacturers of audio technology and our first bar; the Sonos PLAYBAR TV comes from them. This bar has a variety of features that make it an excellent choice for people who want a seamless home theater experience without having to go through the trouble of setting up and maintaining a surround sound system and only costs $699.00 . Its 9 amplified drivers, 6 sub-woofers, and 3 high range tweeters enable it to provide crisp and loud sounds, the PLAYBAR is designed to complement HD television and is also incredibly easy to setup, requiring only two cords to be plugged in.
If you want to listen to something or watch a movie during the night, then simply switch to the speaker’s night sound mode, which makes all louder sounds softer. The Sonos PLAYBAR TV is a great device and the most excellent with wireless Wi-Fi, making it ideal for any home theater setup.
Top 15 Soundbar Reviews
- #1 Sonos PLAYBAR TV
- #2 Samsung HW-K450
- #3 Bose Solo 5
- #4 VIZIO SB3821-C6
- #5 Sony HT-CT660
- #6 Insignia NS-SB316
- #7 Polk Audio AM1500-B
- #8 LG NB3532A
- #9 JBL Cinema SB100
- #10 Philips CSS2133B/F7
- #11 Yamaha YAS-201
- #12 Harman Kardon SB26
- #13 Dell AC511
- #14 Denon DHT-S514
- #15 MartinLogan Motion Vision Gloss Black 5-Channel Soundbar
#2 Samsung HW-K450
Samsung is a brand that produces a broad range of tech products and manages to make almost all of them quite satisfactory, the Samsung HW-K450 is one of the many successful products manufactured by Samsung and is pretty affordable too, costing only $174.99 . This model has plenty of features that make it worth getting in place of a home theater surround system. This 35-inch bar lets you immerse yourself in Dolby Digital sound and provides a pretty great surround sound experience once you connect it to a wireless sub-woofer, it makes use of Bluetooth connectivity to let you enjoy HD audio in a clutter free environment.
If what the Samsung HW-K450 has to offer isn’t enough for you, then you can purchase Samsung’s SWA-8000S Wireless Surround Kit and turn it into a proper surround sound system. Overall, the HW-K450 is an excellent device for people who already have other Samsung products since this device functions best with other Samsung devices.
#3 Bose Solo 5 – The Best Soundbar Under $300
Bose is a brand with which every audiophile is well acquainted, they provide quality and practicality with every product, and the Bose Solo 5 is no exception. At $249.00 , it’s a great option if you aren’t satisfied with your TV’s built-in speakers and want better sounding audio that is more crisp and clear. The Bose Solo 5 packs all the speakers that you need for a satisfactory sound solution, its small body can be set up almost anywhere and easily blends in with a variety of interior designs.
The Bose Solo 5 is also incredibly easy to setup, all you need to do is place it somewhere and then connect it to your TV via an audio cable, the device detects which type of cable you’re using and starts working right away. It also comes with a universal remote that can operate your TV, the bar itself and any other device that you’ve connected with the Bose Solo 5 via its Bluetooth connection.
#4 VIZIO SB3821-C6 – The Best Soundbar Under $200
While the Bose Solo 5 is an excellent choice for a simple sound solution, it isn’t exactly cheap, if you have a budget of 200 dollars and are in search of a simple yet powerful sound solution to improve your TV’s existing sound quality, then the VIZIO SB3821-C6 is a great choice. This device packs more than enough power to provide HD sound and has plenty of features that make it practical and easy to use, it also looks pretty good and is sleek enough to blend in with a variety of interior designs.
The streamlined and stylish body of the VIZIO SB3821-C6 manages to pack a lot of power and provides superb sound and bass, in fact, it’s the best option for the money value, providing you with a fantastic sound solution at an amazing price.
#5 Sony HT-CT660
Sony has a number of great TVs that provide amazingly vivid HD video output, but unfortunately, just like every other HD TV out there, Sony’s TV’s have mediocre built-in speakers that take away all the fun of watching an HD movie or gaming since the sound quality fails to match the video quality. For anyone who wishes to liven up their entertainment setup, the Sony HT-CT660 is a superb bar that comes with a wireless subwoofer and provides you with a genuinely high definition sound solution that does justice to your TV’s video output; it can take your HD experience to a whole new level.
If you have a 3D setup with devices that support 3D, then the Sony HT-CT660’s S-Force Front Surround 3D feature can further add to the immersive experience by adjusting the sound according to the depth of the image on the screen. The Sony HT-CT660 is a superb device that provides exceptional sound quality and is one of the best options in the market for pairing up with a 3D TV.
#6 Insignia NS-SB316
The Insignia NS-SB316 is by far the simplest model on our list, it has no extra features and does not have any added functions and won’t provide you with HD surround sound, but it still beats that audio quality of almost any TV’s built-in speakers. This bar won’t appeal to audiophiles or people looking to perfect their entertainment system by equipping it with high-end speakers with immersive surround sound, but it’s an excellent choice for people who simply want better sound for their TVs.
The Insignia NS-SB316 is a decent bar and has enough power to provide people with loud sound, but if you’re looking for something with more power or something that’s supposed to be part of a home theater system, then this isn’t the right bar for you.
#7 Polk Audio AM1500-B
The Polk Audio AM1500-B is designed to fit in with any modern flat screen TV seamlessly; its super shallow body design ensures that the device doesn’t take up a lot of space and conforms to the slim profile of your TV. Having a thin and shallow body doesn’t mean that the Polk Audio AM1500-B has a shallow sound, the bar has some pretty great speakers which make it a significant upgrade over any TV’s built-in speakers, and it also comes with a compact subwoofer that enables the bar to deliver some astonishing bass. At $220.98 , it’s a pretty great option for a satisfactory home theater experience.
The Polk Audio AM1500-B also has onboard Dolby Digital processing, making it great not only for HD movies but also for gaming. It is designed to provide people with an easy to install and easy to use home theater system.
#8 LG NB3532A
3D TV’s require 3D content to be properly enjoyed, while a lot of the 3D television’s provide superb image quality and a great 3D experience visually, they fall short when it comes to sound. The first 3D friendly model that we discussed was from Sony, the second one on our list is from LG. The LG NB3532A is a powerful bar that provides great sound, loud and clear highs and has a wireless subwoofer that adds a further sonic kick to its audio. The LG NB3532A is also capable of improving your 3D experience with its 3D surround processing feature.
Bluetooth connectivity is used by the LG NB3532A to connect with its sub-woofer and other devices, the connection is pretty decent and provides a smooth listening experience. It’s a pretty great device to add to your 3D home theater setup.
#9 JBL Cinema SB100
JBL is well-known for making quality audio tech, they’ve produced a number of portable speakers and have made a name for themselves by doing so, the JBL Cinema SB100 is a compact wall-mountable bar which provides fantastic sound quality and is bound to make your TV watching experience a lot better. JBL knows how to pack power and quality into a small frame, and this is exactly what they have done with the JBL Cinema SB100, it’s a great option if you’re looking to upgrade your TV’s existing built-in speakers.
The JBL Cinema SB100 is another device that isn’t designed for people who are looking for a proper home theater setup with immersive surround sound, but it’s a great option for individuals who are looking for a satisfactory sound experience.
#10 Philips CSS2133B/F7
TVs aren’t exactly cheap, a good one with an HD screen and other features can easily cost several hundred and even several thousands of dollars. Naturally, when you buy something so expensive you would want it to provide you with a wholesome and entertaining experience, but unfortunately, while many TVs do provide superb picture quality, they all have pathetic built-in speakers. If you feel like you want to upgrade your TV’s audio setup without having to spend too much money on it then the Philips CSS2133B/F7 is a great option and can beat any TV’s built-in speakers any day.
You also get a remote with which you can control the device without having to get up, and if you want to enjoy music from some device out loud, just connect it to the bar via Bluetooth. The Philips CSS2133B/F7 is a pretty great bar given its price and is definitely going to provide anyone with a more than adequate audio setup.
#11 Yamaha YAS-201
The Yamaha YAS-201 is a bar for people who don’t kid around with their home theater setup; this bar is engineered to be slim and sleek and to pack more than enough power to provide users with the perfect fully immersive surround sound experience that makes whatever is going on the screen come to life around them. Its expansive, high-quality surround sound system is further enhanced with a wireless sub-woofer, which offers excellent bass with flexible positioning. The Yamaha YAS-201 is a really great option as a bar for a home theater setup.
The Yamaha YAS-201 has a low profile body which makes positioning it easier, even if it does obstruct TV signals, the device has a signal repeater which doesn’t cut off your TV from your remote’s signals. The Yamaha YAS-201 is a high-end device that is designed for people who want superb audio quality that fully immerses them in whatever they watch.
#12 Harman Kardon SB26
Another bar with wireless subwoofer support, the Harman Kardon SB26 is a powerful and stylish device that can add a whole new level of fun to any entertainment setup for only $599.95 . This bar is more expensive than most and should be considered as a high-end option for users who want to not only upgrade their TV’s audio solution but who also want to transform their entertainment setup into a small sized home theater. The Harman Kardon SB26 packs enough power to provide crisp clear sounds, and its wireless subwoofer adds a layer of deep and satisfying bass.
The Harman Kardon SB26 can also be connected with via Bluetooth, allowing you to stream music from other devices. It’s a pretty good device, not as powerful as the one Yamaha has to offer, but it still packs quite a punch and is capable of providing plenty of satisfaction.
#13 Dell AC511 USB
Dell is a well-known manufacturer of computer peripherals and hardware, and their soundbar, the Dell AC511 USB is also designed for use with computers. This bar is extremely small and makes use of a USB port to connect to your computer; you can use it with a desktop or hook it up to your laptop to instantly improve your audio output. You shouldn’t take the Dell AC511 USB lightly just by looking at it, while it is small it provides pretty great sound, easily outdoing the built-in speakers of almost every laptop out there.
The Dell AC511 USB is an excellent device that will bring a feeling of completion to the desktops of many, the device provides superb sound quality and is small enough to keep your desk clutter free at all times. It provides audio performance and simplicity.
#14 Denon DHT-S514
The Denon DHT-S514, is another model that gives you all the features that you need to enjoy a quality surround sound system without having to deal with excessive clutter. Its sleek body packs multiple kinds of speakers to provide a range of sounds while its wireless subwoofer can add deep bass and can be placed anywhere. This bar is larger than most with a length of approximately 40 inches and is ideal for entertainment setups with larger screens; you probably won’t notice its extra size since the bar is well-designed and looks great in almost any kind of setup.
This model makes use of Dolby Digital and DTS encoding to provide exceptional surround sound, allowing it to bring any movie or game to life. The bar has multiple listening modes, each optimizing the bar’s performance to match the type of audio, you can switch between modes and control the device with its remote controller.
#15 MartinLogan Motion Vision Gloss Black 5-Channel Soundbar
The MartinLogan Motion Vision Gloss Black 5-Channel bar is the most expensive bar on our entire list, it is a premium device that not many will consider getting. However, it does manage to justify its price tag for some by providing them with superb audio and a really great product design. The Motion Vision makes use of a variety of advanced technologies which enables it to provide an astonishing all in one surround sound experience that can transform any entertainment center into a proper home theater. Not to forget that the device’s sleek and sculptural shape gives it a unique exquisite look which can complement any TV setup out there.
The Motion Vision is easy to install and easy to use, just place it in front of your TV or mount it on the wall, it has a large variety of input options, all of which are made to be compatible with HD formats. The Motion Vision is something that not everyone will want to buy, but it does provide a superb audio experience.
The Best Soundbar Mount
A lot of bars are designed to be aesthetically pleasing so that they make your lounge or wherever you’ve placed your entertainment system to look good. There are many ways to setup bars, you can put them on separate shelves or in front of your TV, but the best option is to either mount it on a wall or an adjustable mount. For a bar to operate at its best, it needs to be placed in a way that lets it project sound in an optimal manner. The Sewell Direct SW-33025 Veranda Glass Elevated Shelving System is a mount that provides you with the functionality and the practicality to properly setup your bar and get the most out of it.
Many of the models on our list are intended to be wall mountable, and this stand is bound to go along nicely with each and everyone, providing you with a guarantee of satisfaction.
Soundbar VS Surround Sound – What to Buy
A lot of people wonder that what sets sound bars and surround systems apart, many people assume that bars are advanced versions of surround systems, but the truth is that both have their pros and cons in various situations. The first thing to note is that the amount of space in which the audio system needs to be set up, surround systems consist of multiple speakers and need wiring to be run throughout the room, so they require more space than bars. Sound bars are more suitable for smaller rooms since they take less space and have minimal wiring, also, they perform better in smaller spaces and provide quality audio.
The next thing to consider is the type of surround sound each setup produces; surround systems make use of multiple speakers that can be setup in multiple stations to provide an even distribution of sound from all angles, providing superb surround sound. Soundbars on the other hand simulate surround sound by projecting sound in a particular manner, some even make use of subwoofers that can be placed in other parts of the room to improve the surround sound feel, the downside to bars is that they have certain “sweet spots” where the surround sound seems the best.
The last thing to consider is expense, surround sound systems are way more expensive than soundbars since they have more components. They are also harder to setup, but the plus point is that you get more flexibility with placement and the overall setup’s configuration. If you don’t have space or the budget for a proper surround sound system, but you want the customizability factor of it then you can opt for a passive bar, these bars provide you with an individual connection for each speaker, making them more customizable.
Overall, what setup to go for depends on where you want to set it up and what are your preferences, if you want a simple solution for better audio then go for a soundbar, but if you’re an audiophile looking for the best sound quality possible then stick to surround sound.
How to Connect a Soundbar to TV
The biggest plus of having a bar is that they are incredibly easy to setup, all you need to do is plug in the right cables, and you’re ready to go, but sometimes cable plugging can be troublesome since many bars have multiple ports on their back for audio input. When you want to connect your bar to your TV, the first thing that you need to do is identify the audio input ports. Basic bars have optical and other standard ports that are acceptable for normal input, but if you own an HDTV, then you should look for an HDMI port on the back of your bar. Every modern bar has at least one HDMI port on its back, these ports can transfer larger amounts of data and are faster, making them suitable for HD content.
Another thing to consider when connecting it to your TV is placement since bars simulate surround sound, they need to be able to project sound properly so that they perform at their best. You should make your bar face where you plan on sitting while you watch your TV, to make sure that all of its audio is projected towards you.
Some models make use of Bluetooth to connect to your TV. For such bars, it’s best to follow the manual of your bar and your TV so that you can find the appropriate Bluetooth settings of both devices, and if you feel like there’s still something wrong, then you can always go to YouTube and find a tutorial video for the setup.
Now that you’ve read all the reviews for the best soundbars currently available in the market, there are a few more things to consider before you go ahead and buy your bar. The first being that while most of the bars on our list provide superb audio quality, none of them can be compared to a proper surround sound setup, simply because that comparison won’t be fair. Sound bars have multiple speakers in a compact body and use these to simulate surround sound, having smaller speakers and sub-woofers means that they cannot be expected to provide incredibly powerful sounds, however, small speakers aren’t all bad; a smaller speaker is often able to produce finer sounds better than a large speaker.
Also, if you plan on setting it up in a large room, then the audio quality will drop significantly since a bar is designed to perform in smaller areas. Another thing to keep in mind is that if you have a TV from Sony, Samsung, LG or any other brand that also produces bars, then consider going for their bar since these companies often design their products to be compatible with one another. A prime example of this is Samsung’s bar; it makes use of features found in Samsung TVs to provide better performance.
Lastly, before purchasing a soundbar, make sure to carry out a bit of your own research, go for one that suits your needs and fits in with the rest of your devices the most.