The best soundbars produce excellent sound quality. They’re easy to set up, look great, and are user-friendly. But there’s other features of sound bars that are necessary to consider when purchasing sound bars. Including: price, wattage, channels and other special features.
Sound bar speakers began with Altec-Lansing, an American company founded in 1941. Altec-Lansing invented the sound bar speaker in 1998. But their first attempt wasn’t ever followed up with a modern system. Perhaps because at that time, consumers preferred the home theater box system. At the time, sound bars didn’t produce quality sound like separate speakers. However, it’s a different story today. Technology has improved and sound bar speakers are very popular. Modern sound bars are savvy, compact, and easy to set up. They’re also less expensive, and look great delivering excellent sound quality!
Here is a list of the top rated and reviewed soundbar speakers to help you choose the best products for your home theater or TV setup.
Best Soundbar Speakers | Top 6
|Our Rank||Soundbar||Size (in)||Bluetooth||WiFi||Subwoofer||Price|
|2.||Yamaha YAS 203||40"||Yes||No||Yes||$$$|
|3.||JBL Cinema SB100||32"||No||No||No||$$$|
|5.||Arcam Solo Bar||40"||Yes||No||Yes||$$$$$|
What To Look For
Before you dive into research for the ideal sound bar speaker, it’s important to brush up on a few things. There are different types of sound bars with unique features. Learning more about the key components of a sound bar before you buy is a great idea. To start, there are a few questions to ask yourself.
- What sound bar is best for your home?
- What features are most important?
- Are you better off with another stereo system like bookshelf speakers or floor standing speakers?
These are all questions you should ask yourself before you commit to purchasing a sound bar.
Pedestal v. Traditional
There are two common types of sound bar designs: pedestal and traditional. Traditional sound bars are what you’d expect: a long, thin bar with speakers. Some come as a package with a subwoofer. Others have a full surround system package. Some just come with the sound bar itself. These types of sound bars can mount on a wall, sit on your TV stand, or in other suitable areas. They’re typically low maintenance and easy setup. The most frequent complaint about this type of sound bar is that it can block your TVs remote signal.
Pedestal type sound bars sit underneath your TV. They typically end up looking like they are a part of your TV stand. Most pedestal sound bars lack a separate subwoofer and don’t keep up with the low-end frequencies very well. But, since they are always placed below your TV, it’ll never block the remote signal. Make sure you measure your TV stand so that it fits on top of the pedestal sound bar if you decide on this style.
Active v. Passive
Another important topic we think is important to understand is the Active v. Passive sound bar. They’re typically broken down as one of these two. Each come with their positives and negatives.
Active sound bars are an all inclusive package. It comes with speakers, amplifiers and all of the necessities in one sleek bar. This gives the unit a bit more of a streamlined look and it’s easy to install and setup. Plug and play, easy mounting, these are all benefits of an active sound bar.
Passive sound bars don’t come with built-in power and require you to purchase a separate amplifier or receiver and run wires to the bar. They are a little more difficult to set up, but many people like this type of sound bar because it gives them control of the type of amplifier and amount of power they’d like to have. It gives a bit more customizability to the buyer. But, in many cases passive sound bars produce better sound because they do not have to cram other devices in the bar.
When you’re shopping for a soundbar, make sure you check for Bluetooth connectivity. Bluetooth simplifies installation and setup exponentially and gives you the option to play tunes directly from your smart device, computer, or other music device without having to turn on the TV.
Other Features to Consider:
- Frequency Response
- Package inclusions (Subwoofer, Speakers, etc)
How We Tested
Our list of top rated sound bar speakers were selected from the hundreds of available choices in the market today. This review focused on sound bar speakers available in the United States. Each sound bar speaker and accompanying software was tested on different mediums including games and movies.
The following criteria were considered:
- Design and Style
- User Friendliness
- Price and Value for Money
- After Service
Here’s a great video that walks through the basics of finding and choosing a sound bar:
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Our Top Pick Soundbars
1. Best Overall: VIZIO SB4051-C0
Vizio SB4051-C0 Quick Review
Vizio claims to be America’s number 1 soundbar speaker company today. They started out only 15 years ago, in 2002 as a manufacturer of flat screen HDTVs. One of their top rated soundbar speakers is the 40 inch wide SB4051 C05.1. It’s a compact wireless sub system that delivers incredible surround sound. It sells for as low as $298 but can go as high as $448. This full system has a 40 inch soundbar, 10 inch subwoofer, and 2 rear satellite speakers.
The Vizio SB 4051 has several mounting options. It features Bluetooth, one HDMI ARC, one digital optical, one normal HDMI, and RCA analog connection, and a 3.5 mm analog. The 4051 can get loud too with maximum volume of 102dB. And one of the unique features of this sound bar is that its remote features an LCD screen.
Overall, this audio sounbar is phenomenal. The only problem you may have with the quality of the sound is the low end frequencies. Occasionally, the bass can overpower the treble unless you put it on “night mode.” Other features of the SB 4051 include:
- DTS Tru Volume enhancement
- 1 sound
- Aluminum caps,
- Low profile – low enough to fit under the Vizio TV without blocking the IR port.
2. Best Surround Sound: Yamaha YAS 203
Yamaha YAS 203 Quick Review
The Yamaha YAS 203 is another excellent choice on our list of best soundbars. Yamaha is another well-known brand in the home audio and home theater industry. They have a great reputation for not only soundbars, but for many other home theater products.
Some of the key features of the YAS 203 include:
- Easy set up
- East access to connections
- Bluetooth connection that allows streaming, aptX technology
- Indicator audio lights
- Good bass sound, clear sound, wide sound field
It comes with a remote, but you can also control it using the free Home Theater Controller app via your smart device. Like most soundbars, the design is slim. Its perfect for TVs that are from 32 to 42 inches.On the downside, it does not have on screen display. And switch modes, you have to use the app and your mobile device. It has no HDMI input or output so you cannot control video output.
In summary, the YAS 203 is a respectable choice if you want the 5.1 home theater surround sound without spending a lot. Watching a movie with the YAS 203 is a surreal experience. It really captures the lows, clear dialogue, and rich sounds.
3. Best Bass Response: JBL Cinema SB100
- 32″ Soundbar Speaker
- Bass boost
- Wall mountable
- Plug and play
JBL Cinema SB100 Quick Review
One of the key attractions of the 32 inch JBL Cinema SB100 is its price. At under $200, this is probably the best value soundbar speaker on the market. At this price range, it works great with large, small and medium-sized TVs alike.
When it comes to installation, it doesn’t get much easier than the SB100. It’s easy to install and very user friendly once it’s set up. However, the JBL SB100 doesn’t come with a subwoofer. But it does feature virtual surround sound. And you can add a subwoofer via it’s RCA output.
In terms of performance, the sound will speak for itself. It features a Bass Boost for those who enjoy the lower frequencies. And it’s Display Surround technology will give you a surround sound feel without the full 5.1 system.
On the downside, it doesn’t have Bluetooth. But all in all, it’s an incredibly elegant, yet simplistic soundbar design and a great choice for a soundbar.
4. Best WiFi: Sonos Playbar
Sonos Playbar Quick Review:
Another highly regarded and reviewed soundbar speakers today is the wireless Sonos Playbar. It does not have satellite speakers or a sub, but it doesn’t need them. It is a 5.1 system and priced at around $699. But it’s well worth it in terms of value for money.
It has the following key features:
- Play-Fi app for wireless streaming and compatible with almost all streaming services
- 2 ethernet ports for wired connections
- 9 amplified speakers: 3 tweeters and 6 midrange
- Night mode and speech enhancement
To fully enjoy your money’s worth with the Sonos Playbar, you want the Sonos app. The Sonos app allows you to play your music from most streaming services. It also allows you to play music that’s stored on your mobile devices. The app can even boost bass and treble, and it automatically balances sound.
The sound produced by the Sonos Playbar is incredible. It catches low frequencies just as well as it does dialogues. It creates a movie experience that’s competitive with even the best floor standing or bookshelf speakers.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t have Bluetooth and may not be compatible with older TV sets. It doesn’t have an HDMI input, which means it cannot be used as a video hub.
5. Best Splurge: Arcam Solo Soundbar
Arcam Solo Soundbar Quick Review
This is one of Arcam’s top-rated sound bar speakers. It’s a modified version of the first Arcam soundbar, Solo, which came out in 2014. The latest Arcam Solo has a new subwoofer that’s more powerful and wireless connection. It’s also been tweaked to improve high frequency and bass performance.
Some of the top features of the Solo Bar are:
- DTS HD Master Audio decoding and Dolby True HD
- 100W power output, 300W wireless subwoofer
- Bluetooth with aptX
- 4 HDMI inputs, 4 angled in mid/bass drivers, 2 tweeters, ARC enabled output, 3.5mm minijack, USB port
- Aluminum grey matte finish with silver trim and front grills, options for wall mounting
- Central display panel wit IR repeater with back control panel
- Vibration resistance, Auto loudness control, movie and concert modes
On the downside, the Arcam app for Android/iOS has no visual tools that allow you to change sound modes or EQ. And you can’t stream music directly to the speaker.
But if you’re looking for the complete package with all the possible options, the Arcam Solo is a great choice. Movies, gaming, music, listening to concerts – this is easily one of the top speakers on the market. It isn’t cheap but it gives you true value for your dollar. The audio quality is rich, clear, and dynamic.
6. Best Bluetooth: Samsung HW-F750
Samsung HW-F750 Quick Review
The last but not the least of the best sound bar speakers today is the black 48.5 inch Samsung Curved HW-F750 with subwoofer. This model is one of the highest reviewed soundbar speakers because:
- 320W audio, 8 Ohm
- Bluetooth 3.0 enabled with Wi-Fi, 8.1 channel audio
- Wireless streaming
- Dolby Digital 5.1
- One HDMI 1.4, USB, TV Sound Connect, and Anynet (HDMI-CEC)
- Wall mount kit with screw
If you get the Multiroom app, you can stream your music to multiple rooms. And if they’re are connected with wireless speaker, you can turn the whole house into a music room. Using your Android smartphone as the controller.
This HW-F750 is universal and works with different TV brands. You don’t have to have a Samsung TV if you want to use this soundbar. It also is a plug and play because the set-up is easy. It retails for under $600, does not require an additional stand, and gives quality sound.
Some of the downsides to the Samsung Curved HW-F750 is a possible incompatibility with some TV softwaresIt also doesn’t have a headphone jack. Otherwise, it’s a great product with higher than average value for money.