If you are reading this article, then your TV sound either sucks, or you are looking to improve it for a better immersive experience. Sound is everything when it comes to enjoying music and movies, so I don’t blame you for wanting better sound than the one you have. But choosing a soundbar can be a challenge when you consider the wide variety of options and prices. However, this guide will help you know the features to look for and the top five soundbars for various budgets.
Soundbar Buying Guide
When it comes to choosing a good soundbar, there are many features you should consider. However, this guide will cover three basic features that differentiates a good soundbar from a useless one.
1. Connection Versatility
Cheap soundbars normally have one optical digital audio input as well as an analog input. This forces you to run sources via your TV before feeding the audio to the soundbar. For a better connection, pick a soundbar with audio return channel. It lets you use one HDMI cable to connect the TV and soundbar. It also adds exceptional level of control. A great soundbar can pass 4K HDR video and supports DOLBY Atmos and DTS: X.
2. Audio Performance
Most soundbars can offer higher quality of sound than TV speakers, especially the ones on this guide. Soundbars that cost below $300 have the left and right channel that offer stereo sound. But for better dialogue clarity, go for a three-channel design with left, right, and center channels. When buying a budget model, it is advisable to purchase a separate subwoofer that can take care of the lower frequencies in music and movies.
However, if you are looking for a more balanced and fuller sound with more power and dynamic capacity to fill a bigger room, you will need to incur a higher cost.
3. Support for Wireless Streaming
The most straightforward means of streaming audio is via Bluetooth since it is compatible with both iOS and Android devices. Streaming is also possible via WiFi, which is better than Bluetooth since it covers a wider range and fails to compress the audio signal.
5 Best Soundbars for all Budgets
1. JVC TH-W513B
If you want an affordable soundbar, then this one is meant for you. For under $100, you can have decent sound with a soundbar that is unobtrusive. In case you have already positioned your TV on a stand, you can slide the JVC TH-W513B without any challenges. It comes with a simple remote handset and optical digital inputs. Also, it has Bluetooth connectivity that lets you stream music.
While its general sound has medium bass, you can use Movie setting to spread the sound and achieve clear sound effects. However, due to its size, it is only suitable for small flat screen TVs.
· It is loud
· Bluetooth connectivity
· Great for dialogue.
· Has no bass weight
· High volumes harden up the sound
2. Sonos Playbar
This is a non-HDMI soundbar that utilizes optical for hooking up to a TV. When used on its own, it offers a massive sonic boost when you listen to your TV. However, using it needs no tablet or smartphone app. The advantage is that it is easy to integrate seamlessly with the Sonos wireless system. It can also serve as the three speakers in the front in a 5.1 setup where two Play:1s will be the rear speakers. Since it has an optical setup, consumers with TVs that miss this connector cannot use the Sonos Playbar.
· Great sound
· Good integration with Sonos systems
· Intelligent audio modes
· Only a single output
· Uses specific TVs
3. Samsung HW-Q90R Soundbar
This is another premium soundbar, so expect nothing but the best features. The HW-Q90R is Samsung’s flagship soundbar. Its top feature includes Dolby Atmos and DTS: X. It is the only model that has been able to support object-based audio with four upward-firing drivers and actual rear speakers. You will not see any other speaker offering the complete Dolby experience that this Samsung soundbar offers.
Its tuning comes from Harman Kardon to offer the best music experience. It has fully-specified HDMI connections and more features that make it a worthwhile buy.
· Excellent sound quality
· Straightforward to set up
· Dolby Atmos and DTS: X
· Limited HDMI inputs
4. Q Acoustics M4 Soundbar
While the Q Acoustics M4 Soundbar lacks HDMI support, you will not be disappointed when you play movies and music with it. Its great sound allows you to be comfortable with its limited channels. It is very affordable and its sound beats any other soundbar in its price range. If you love music and movies like most people do, then this soundbar will not disappoint. You will get value for your money.
· Great for music and movies
· Straightforward to use
· Lacks HDMI input
· Stereo only
5. Vizio SB46514-F6
If you are looking for a soundbar that offers full features under $1000, the Vizio SB46514-F6 is suitable for you. The speaker features Dolby Atmos and has four upward-facing speakers with two rear speakers. The upward-facing speakers work to bounce sound effects off the ceiling to provide more dynamic and envelope the listening experience. It has a 10-inch wireless subwoofer to reproduce deep bass notes in music and movies. The small subwoofers that come with most subwoofers cannot compete with Vizio SB46514-F6’s subwoofer.
What’s more, it supports 4K HDR video pass-through as well as wireless music streaming through Chromecast and Bluetooth. It also supports voice control through Google Assistant devices.
· Dolby Atmos
· Powerful subwoofer
· Bluetooth connectivity
· Slightly expensive
If you are looking for a decent soundbar, you have a small TV, and you are on a budget, then the JVC TH-W513B is the best pick. But in case you want the best soundbar for the money, you won’t have to spend too much like in the case of Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar and Samsung HW-Q90R Soundbar; the best option would be Vizio SB46514-F6.