Compbrella Guide to The Best Sound Bars of 2019
While televisions today offer viewers crisp, lifelike images that can look even better than the real thing, they often falter when it comes to sound. TVs have become slimmer, sleeker, and more stylish but those aesthetic improvements have come at the expense of the high-quality built-in sound. A few years ago, you would have to hook up your TV to a big stereo system to boost the sound. That’s still an option if you have space and budget for a home theatre system but most of us need something that’s more affordable and compact. Fortunately, today you can invest in the best sound bar that is sleek and minimalist while still boosting your home viewing experience with Dolby 5.1 surround sound that is almost every bit as dynamic as a home theatre.
Recommender Sound bars:
What are the main types of Sound bars?
Technically, sound bars come in two basic forms: sound bars and sound bases. They both perform the same job, amplify the sounds from your television so a character whispering on your favorite drama can be heard with the same crystal clear clarity as an explosion in the newest Marvel blockbuster. There are, however, some subtle differences that made us favor the sound bar as the superior option.
- Sound bars are literally that: a long, rectangular bar, usually placed underneath the television or hanging on the wall. It has at least three sound channels in it. There are sound bars with up to five channels and that also come with a sub-woofer, giving you an immersive surround sound experience. The sound bar’s rectangular design means speakers are spread out more than on the sound base, the distance giving the sound that extra separation you’ll appreciate.
- Sound bases do the same job as the sound bar but their design effects how you experience the sound they make. Sound bases are deeper (front to back) than sound bars and they tend to be shorter as well. This extra space increases amplification and bass, giving you deeper, louder sound. The downside of their design is that their shorter body don’t create stereo sounds as well as the best sound bars do because the channel separation is closer together. The other main drawback of the sound bar is that it’s designed to be as physical base for your television. Less and less televisions are being released with a pedestal so if you buy a television now, you might not be able to put it on top of the base. What’s more, you can’t hang the sound base on the wall like the sound bar, severely limiting your options for where to place the base. These little differences give sound bars the edge.
Do sound bars really make a difference? Are sound bars worth it?
The best sound bars for TV make a difference by replacing a critical function of televisions: good sound. TV screen quality has exploded dramatically over the years and the best sets today offer pristine images that will make you think you’re right there in the middle of the action. They’ve also slimmed down to almost painting-thickness.
Your best TVs today are 1-2 inches thick. That’s amazing but think of the sets we had growing up: big, boxes that were basically furniture. They may not have been as pretty as today’s sets but they made a booming sound that would fill the living room. Sets today just don’t have the body to make such sounds resonate. That’s why you’re constantly playing with the volume, turning it up to hear dialogue and running to lower it during loud dramatic moments.
Sound bars even out those valleys, allowing you to hear a whisper and an explosion at the clarity you’re supposed to hear. They provide Dolby surround sound that puts you right in the middle of the action. Many are also Bluetooth enabled so you can connect your music devices and Alexa for a wonderful aural experience.
What features to look for when shopping for sound bars? How do I choose a sound bar?
There are several features you have to examine before you buy a sound bar:
- Channels: You’ll need a sound bar with at least three channels for a basic setup that amplifies your TV sound. This will do for many people and really does increase the enjoyment of watching TV at home. There are many high-quality sound bars with this basic setup but if you’re looking to create a home theater dynamic you’ll want to look into a sound bar with more channels and sub-woofer or rear speakers. These will come with Dolby 5.1 technology or even the newest Dolby Atmos system for an immersive cinema experience.
- Connections: You’ll need a sound bar with at least two HDMI inputs, for your television and cable box. If you also want to connect a Blu-ray player or other music player you’ll need inputs for those as well, so really think about what you’ll use the sound bar for.
- Wireless: Many soundbars now support Bluetooth or WiFi connections to online platforms and services. If you enjoy listening to music from your smartphone or tablet look for a sound bar that can directly connect to your Alexa or music streaming platform.
Compbrella Pick for Top 3 Sound Bars
Best overall: Sonos Playbar
An excellent sound bar that will take your home entertainment to the next level and give you direct access to Sonos music platform.
Best value: Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.1
Great purchase for excellent and versatile surround sound on an easier budget.
Best design: Bose SoundTouch 300
Perfect for your high end living room, connected straight to Alexa that will direct all your entertainment needs.
Why you should trust us
Compbrella was founded by a group of entrepreneurs with over twenty years experience working in retail, electronics, and e-commerce. Over the years, we have spent endless hours writing and revising consumer guides, interviewing customers about the products they enjoyed using, and talking to an untold number of technicians about why some products fail and others don’t. We draw from our own experiences about what products a household needs and what we use in our everyday lives. If we’re reviewing a product, it means we one of us has it in their home and thinks it, or a different version, would be a great addition to your homes. We stand by our recommendations because we make them to each other first.