Electronics

Upgrade Your TV’s Audio with this Top Best Tv Sound Bars

Watching movies or shows on your flat screen TV is great. The picture quality of modern TVs make it feel like you’re right in the action. However, as slim and stylish as today’s TVs are, most have only basic built-in speakers that lack robust sound. But you can easily upgrade your TV’s audio with a sound bar.

What is a Tv Sound Bar?

A sound bar is a slim speaker unit designed to improve a TV’s built-in audio with fuller, richer sound quality. Sound bars come in simple designs meant to blend seamlessly with modern thin display TVs. They are an easy audio upgrade, requiring just a single connection to your TV.

Best Tv Sound Bars

Many sound bars utilize multiple drivers and audio decoding technology to simulate surround sound that makes movies and music feel immersive. Their slender profile mounts flush underneath a wall-mounted TV or on a credenza under a stand-mounted TV. Setup is quick and simple compared to a complex home theater system.

Compared to TV built-in speakers or low budget computer speakers, sound bars deliver far better sound quality. However, for true cinematic surround sound, dedicated speakers and subwoofers in a home theater system has the edge for a premium immersive experience. Still, sound bars offer big audio improvements in a compact minimalist package at reasonable prices.

How to Choose the Right Tv Sound Bars

With a wide selection available, here are key factors to consider when shopping for a quality sound bar to give your TV superior sound:

Sound Quality

First and foremost, audio fidelity should be top notch for your needs. Look at specifications like:

  • Frequency range – Wider frequency ranges with lower down to around 40Hz and up to 20kHz range offers full rich sound.
  • Audio decoding – Advanced Dolby and DTS formats provide surround sound processing.
  • Speakers – More speakers provide better coverage. Having a dedicated center channel improves dialogue clarity. Up-firing speakers bounce sound off ceilings for overhead audio with Atmos.
  • Subwoofer – Many sound bars have wireless subwoofers for stronger bass response as low frequencies require more air movement.

However, more advanced specs don’t always translate directly to better real world performance. Read in-depth professional reviews on sound quality rather than relying solely on the listed features.

Connectivity

Naturally a sound bar needs to readily connect to modern TVs. Look for:

  • HDMI – Connectivity for video pass through as well as advanced Dolby/DTS surround decoding. HDMI ARC ports simplify hooking up a sound bar to a TV.
  • Optical/analog – Alternate wired connections for hook up flexibility if HDMI is limited.
  • Bluetooth – Convenient wireless streaming from mobile devices and computers. Useful with smart TVs lacking HDMI ARC connection.
  • WiFi – For wireless surround speaker connections and music streaming functions.
  • Subwoofer – Wireless sub pairing avoids running long cables across a room.

Having backup wired options ensures connecting to any TV. Wireless connectivity like WiFi and Bluetooth provide versatility for streaming music and adding surround speakers throughout a room.

Design

Sound quality takes priority. But also consider:

  • Build quality – Metal and glass materials feel more durable and match sleek TV designs rather than cheaper all-plastic builds.
  • Size – Measure space under your TV to ensure a good fit. Sound bars span 25 inches to over 50 inches wide. Wall mounting brackets add placement flexibility.
  • Looks – Aesthetic design to complement modern decor as sound bars are visible components.

Fortunately, many great sounding options come in compact attractive designs perfect for placement by thin LED/OLED TVs.

Features

Added functionality can enhance a sound bar’s capabilities:

  • Voice assistant – Built in microphones for Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri voice commands enable searches, music playback requests, smart home device control and more with supported services.
  • Surround sound – Up-firing Atmos speakers or wireless surround speaker addons create more immersive surround effects.
  • 4K/8K passthrough – Support the latest 4K formats at up to 120fps for gamers plus 8K resolution for future proofing as TV standards evolve.
  • Music streaming apps – Access popular streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music etc directly through the sound bar over WiFi eliminating the need to cast music from phones.

While supplementary, features like voice control hands-free convenience, better surround sound, and direct music streaming expand what sound bars can do.

Budget

Sound bars range widely in price from under $100 to over $1000:

Price Range Type Under $150 Basic 2.0 channel models with minimal connectivity lacking higher end sound processing. But can offer audio upgrades over TV speakers on tight budgets. $150-$400 2.1 channel sound bars with dedicated wireless subwoofers provide serious audio boosts for most living room setups. Great performance-to-value ratio making this the most popular segment. $400-$800 Higher end 3.1 or 5.1 setups with Dolby Atmos/DTS:X decoding, better driver arrays and wireless surround speakers immerse you in movies and games. Provide luxury upgrades for home theaters. $800+ Prestige brand flagship sound bars aim for audiophile quality rivaling separate component systems with cutting edge object-based surround, premium build materials and exotic driver designs. Overkill unless you have an extravagant home theater budget.

Decent starter units are attainable for under $200. However most consumers are best served spending between $300 to $500 for a well rounded mid-tier system with wireless sub pairing, Dolby Atmos and the latest connectivity suited for long term enjoyment. Only enthusiasts seeking exceptional sound quality need splurge over $800 on elite-tier models.

Now that you know what to look for in a sound bar, check out this year’s top rated models to complete your TV entertainment setup.

Best Tv Sound Bars of 2024

Best Overall: Sonos Arc

Price: $899
Sound System: 5.0.2
Why We Picked It: Top notch well-balanced sound with Dolby Atmos in a refined minimalist design from an established audio brand.

Sonos Arc

The Sonos Arc represents the pinnacle of the company’s engineering efforts in room-filling audio in an understated sound bar packing custom elliptical drivers, Dolby Atmos elevation speakers, and Trueplay room calibration for superb surround effects without adding separate speakers.

Smart Sonos features like multi-room streaming flexibility, loudness compensating Night Sound mode, speech enhancement mode and mics for Google Assistant/Alexa voice commands further bolster Sonos’ long reigning champ. Discerning buyers wanting the easiest way to add luxury sound to a living room will appreciate the Arc’s restrained high tech aesthetics.

Runner Up: LG SP11RA

Price: $799
Sound System: 7.1.4
Why We Picked It: High caliber cinematic sound with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support augmented by wireless surround speakers included in the package.

LGSP11RA

LG checks all the boxes with their premium Dolby Atmos/DTS:X decoding sound bar bundled with rear wireless speakers for a complete surround system without stringing wires.robust sound. The package further stands out with up-firing and side-firing drivers in both the sound bar and surround speakers attacking from all angles alongside a huge wireless subwoofer.

The LG sound bar also works as a 4K/8K HDMI hub to simplify home theater connections.

Best Budget: Polk MagniFi 2

Price: $249
Sound System: 3.1 Why We Picked It: Impressively full and detailed audio performance rivalling models double the price. The addition of a booming wireless subwoofer belies its budget cost.

Polk MagniFi 2

The Polk MagniFi 2 delivers scaled down surround sound processing but compensates with high value components like a 6.5” wireless sub and midrange drivers in a compact sound bar. Detailed well-balanced audio outpaces expectations for the low price tier aided by tuning preset modes.

Great for buyers wanting an inexpensive audio boost that doesn’t feel cheap. While it lacks Dolby Atmos, the Polk Magnifi 2’s big bass and expansive soundstage recreate surround effects that enhance TV and music listening.

Best Tv Sound Bar with Subwoofer: Samsung HW-Q990B

Price: $1,399
Sound System: 11.1.4
Why We Picked It: Samsung’s 2022 flagship sound bar paired with TWO wireless subwoofers and surround speakers for earth shattering bass and enveloping Dolby Atmos effects.

Samsung HW-Q990B

The Samsung HW-Q990B cranks out bone rattling LFE bass courtesy of its dual subwoofers. Sound emerges from every direction thanks to dedicated up-firing, side-firing and surround channel speakers combined with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X decoding.

Adaptive Sound and SpaceFit auto tuning further optimize audio tailored to your room’s acoustics. Stream music over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth while Q-Symphony combines the system with compatible Samsung TV speakers. Movie buffs benefit from the crystal clear dialogue and thundering sound effects.

Best Compact: Sonos Beam (Gen 2)

Price: $449 Sound System: 5.0 Why We Picked It: Amazingly full bodied surround-like audio from a petite sound bar perfect for bedroom setups or as a speaker upgrade for small TVs.

Sonos Beam Gen 2

The second generation Sonos Beam retains its compact size but adds Dolby Atmos, richer bass, and a center tweeter for enhanced dialogue and effects. drivers and audio processing packing an audio punch way above its size.

Using Sonos surround compatibility and TruePlay tuning, the Beam Gen 2 fills rooms with sound creating a mini-home theater. Voice assistance from Alexa and Google Assistant plus Apple AirPlay 2 and music app streaming afford plenty of smart features.

Best for Dialogue: Polk Magnifi Max SR

Price: $499
Sound System: 5.1 Why We Picked It: Astounding voice clarity ideal for catching every line of dialogue delivered by a mid-sized sound bar and subwoofer combo.

 

Polk Magnifi Max SR

Polk engineering emphasizes pristine center channel sound reproduction augmented by height/surround speakers. So the Magnifi Max SR sound bar truly excels with understandable vocal pickup even on mumbled lines or accented speech boosted by the sub.

Built-in Chromecast allows video and music streaming while Google Assistant voice operation adds hands free smart integration. For home theaters where you don’t want to miss any plot points, this Polk model helps the whole family follow along.

Best under $200: TCL Alto 9+

Price: $179
Sound System: 3.1 Why We Picked It: TCL piles on features like Dolby Atmos, wireless subwoofer pairing, Roku TV ready functionality and satisfying audio performance at an ultra budget friendly cost.

TCL-Alto-9+

As one of the most affordable Atmos enabled sound bars, buyers get great value from the Alto 9+. The inclusion of an 8” subwoofer alone would cost almost as much separately resulting in a well-rounded listening experience. Dialogue sounds clear and reasonably detailed while music benefits from pleasing bass response.

TCL smartly aims their Alto series at their own Roku TV owners offering intuitive setup, voice commands and audio sync features. For under $200, the TCL Alto 9+ supplies the most complete package for those on tight budgets.

What About Tv Sound Bar Alternatives?

Sound bars provide the easiest audio upgrade path requiring little effort. But here are other ways to improve TV sound if space, expandability or budget is a concern:

  • AV receivers + bookshelf speakers – Piece together your own home theater system combining an AV receiver for surround sound decoding with bookshelf or tower speakers. Requires more gear but sounds incredible and highly flexible.
  • TV speaker setups – Configurations using left, center and right speakers designed for placement in TV stands or mounted on walls. Great built-in TV audio.
  • Sound bases – Wide flat speakers place TVs directly on top of supplying audio oomph in one unit without a bar. Basic but effective alternative.

Of course you can opt for a simple pair of Bluetooth speakers placed flanking the TV or a compact solution like the Sonos Ray. But sound bars strike the ideal balance of significant audio quality leaps over TV speakers without the complexity of AV separate home theater components.

Immerse Yourself in Superior TV Sound

Don’t settle for lackluster built-in TV audio detracting from your viewing enjoyment. Adding one of the best sound bars profiled above can inexpensively transform sound into a captivating sonic spectacle. Setup is quick and easy to instantly improve home theaters or living room TV setups.

From small smart sound bars perfect for apartment bedrooms to expansive Dolby Atmos models rivaling dedicated surround systems, exciting listening awaits just an Amazon order click away no matter your budget. Why put off hearing the action movies, intense shows and vibrant music performances the way they were truly meant to sound?

Recent Tv Sound Bar Innovations

Sound bar technology continues advancing yearly with cool new innovations that improve audio performance and expand features. Here are some of the latest developments you can find in cutting edge 2024 models:

Earc connectivity

TVs and sound bars supporting the enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC) HDMI standard can handle uncompressed lossless surround sound formats. This allows sound bars to decode advanced object-based Dolby Atmos and DTS:X signals transmitted directly from eARC equipped TV apps and devices for premium quality.

AI processing

Artificial intelligence machine learning has migrated from TV picture improvements into audio processing to optimize sound. LG and Samsung integrate AI chipsets that customize settings tailored to room conditions and content types lifting detail and precision.

Multiband wireless surrounds

Instead of single channel analog or limited bandwidth wireless connections, separate surround speakers now use dedicated 5GHz or WiSA transmissions. This allows delivery of full lossless audio to rear channel satellite speakers unlocking higher bitrate Dolby Atmos and DTS:X effects.

Panoramic speaker arrays

Unique elongated driver configurations at extreme angles like Sennheiser’s Ambeo sound bars aim to replicate spatial room filling sound similar to extra tall Dolby Atmos cinema speakers. This creates ultra-wide 3D sound stages from a single bar.

Smart fitness trainers

Top wellness brands partner fitness app connectivity with sound bar microphones adding in virtual trainers. Now subscribers can follow along with Peloton cycling, iFit coaching and obé workouts guided by instructors speaking through their home sound systems.

Premium materials

Flagship models utilize luxury finishes like KEF’s LS60 Wireless made from anodized aluminum, steel and fabric kevlar. High end Porsche Design and Bang & Olufsen models even embed glass touch displays and wrapped leather touches elevating sound bars into living room showpieces.

As components shrink while DSP power grows exponentially, manufacturers cram more processing might enabling cinematic soundscapes into deceivingly minimalist slabs. While still maturing compared to tower speaker setups, modern premium sound bars capture breathtaking spacial audio rivaling dedicated surround systems.

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