Soundbar purchase advice

Soundbars are a sensible purchase for all those who do not enjoy the sound from their TV. We explain the advantages and disadvantages. Find out which model from which brand fits best into your home cinema and your TV.

Almost no matter which TV you have in your living room, you are rarely satisfied with the sound. In the increasingly flat OLED or QLED TVs there is hardly any room for decent loudspeakers, let alone a real bass. So that the sound can keep up with a great 4K HDR picture quality, the purchase of an external sound bar is almost always recommended.

How much does a good sound bar cost?

There are soundbars, like televisions, in almost every price range. But you should keep your fingers off no-name products that cost significantly less than 100€, as the sound is not much better with them than with the TV itself.

Within $100-$200 you already get a large selection of branded products that sound noticeably better than the loudspeakers built into the TV.

If you want better surround sound, more networking possibilities or simply even better sound, then there are hardly any upper limits. From about $600 you can put real sound miracles in your living room.

If that’s still not enough for you, you’ll have to pick up a hi-fi home cinema system and say goodbye to the compact design of a sound bar.

The right soundbar for your TV

Soundbars for affordable TVs

For a cheap or small UHD TV an affordable sound bar for $100-$200 is usually sufficient. Since a 43-inch TV is not yet a home cinema, a small model like the Bose Solo 5 is sufficient. With cheap TVs, the best sound bar is one that plays clear dialogues and doesn’t sound as tinny as the TV itself.

Surround Sound for High-End TVs

For the audiophile home cinema experience you need surround sound to be right in the middle of the action. The best surround sound in the mid-range price range comes from a combination of sound bar and subwoofer, for example with the Teufel Cinebar 11.

Soundbars with Dolby Atmos

You get the best surround sound with Dolby Atmos. In addition to the well-known 5.1 or 7.1 channels, elevation channels are also added, resulting in a 5.1.2 system, for example. The fact that this multitude of different channels and thus directions comes from only one sound bar is made possible by reflection from the ceiling and walls. However, the Atmos effect becomes even better when rear speakers are included.

Soundbars with Smart Home tech

The sound bar is no longer limited to playing the TV sound. In the modern Smart Home, it can become the control center. Via app or voice control, a variety of streaming services can then be accessed quickly and easily in every room in the house. Smart soundbars can be easily and wirelessly expanded with additional speakers (for surround sound or other rooms) and subwoofers.

FAQ about soundbars

Dolby Atmos with Soundbars?

Dolby Atmos is one of the new object-based surround sound formats. It does not store audio tracks for several clearly defined channels (e.g. 5.1 channels), but audio tracks for objects in the room, which are then played back by different loudspeakers depending on the set-up. Even though in theory Dolby Atmos can be used for many more channels, the Dolby TrueHD codec, which is the most widely used nowadays, allows everything up to 9.1.6.

For a sound bar, however, this is at most conditionally possible. Even if high-end soundbars use the walls and ceiling to reflect the sound, 5.1.2 or rarely 7.1.2 is the limit. This results in a noticeably better surround sound that can’t be compared to a real Dolby Atmos surround system.

Listen to music with soundbars?

Of course, sound bars are also suitable for listening to music. All you need is a stereo set-up, preferably with a low-frequency extension by a subwoofer. Since all sound bars presented here have at least 2 channels, the hardware is already given. On most models, treble, midrange and bass can be optimized by equalizers.

Often these are pre-mixed (music, film, dialogue, etc.), but sometimes they can also be adjusted individually. If the set has an external subwoofer, the level can always be adjusted separately.

Playback takes place either via analog inputs (3.5mm jack, cinch) or via WLAN/Bluetooth from external devices. Some smart soundbars, like the Teufel Cinebar Pro, also have extra software installed to facilitate the operation of streaming services (in this case Spotify).

Which sound bar suits my TV?

Basically first of all each one, although it makes little sense to connect an 80€ sound bar to a 2000€ OLED. When it comes to the simplest setup, sound bars from the same manufacturer as the TV are the best choice. However, HiFi brands such as Teufel, Bose or Sonos can also supply here.

The sound bar should be selected according to personal preferences, budget and general conditions just like the television. For a very large, open living room, the soundbar needs a certain performance, which is not yet necessary in a 15m² room.

You should also make sure that upward-radiating loudspeakers in Dolby Atmos sound bars also need a straight ceiling or that certain virtual surround effects only work perfectly on a certain part of the room.

This post is also available in: deDeutsch


* Approximate price incl. VAT, plus shipping costs // Last updated on 23. October 2019 at 6:09. Please note that prices shown here may have changed in the meantime. All data without guarantee.
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