Featured Buy: Sonos Beam
Welcome to our comprehensive guide on the best TV soundbars available in 2023! If you’ve invested in a big-screen TV but find that its built-in speakers don’t match up to its stunning visuals, a high-quality soundbar is the perfect solution to enhance your audio experience. In this blog, we’ll explore the top soundbars on the market, catering to various budgets and preferences, so you can find the perfect upgrade for your home entertainment setup.
Table of Contents
Why Choose a TV Soundbar for Your Audio Setup?
A soundbar is a great choice for your living room setup due to several reasons. Here are some compelling reasons to choose a soundbar:
- Enhanced Audio Quality: Most TVs come with built-in speakers that often lack depth and clarity in sound reproduction. Soundbars provide a significant improvement in audio quality, offering a more immersive and enjoyable experience while watching movies, TV shows, or gaming. They are designed to produce clear dialogue, detailed sound effects, and enhanced bass response.
- Space-Saving Design: Soundbars are compact and sleek, making them ideal for small living rooms or spaces where you prefer a minimalist setup. Unlike traditional speaker systems that require multiple components and wiring, soundbars are self-contained units that can be easily placed in front of or mounted below your TV.
- Easy Installation and Setup: Setting up a soundbar is straightforward and hassle-free. Most soundbars can be connected to your TV using a single cable (usually HDMI or optical) or wirelessly via Bluetooth. Some soundbars even support wireless subwoofers for added bass impact. You can quickly achieve better audio quality without the complexity of installing multiple speakers and routing wires around your room.
- Versatility and Connectivity: Soundbars offer various connectivity options to accommodate different devices and audio sources. Many modern soundbars feature HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel) or eARC, allowing seamless audio transmission from your TV. Additionally, they may support wireless streaming protocols like Google Cast or Apple AirPlay, enabling you to play music directly from your phone or other compatible devices.
- Compatibility with Dolby Atmos and Other Audio Standards: Some soundbars support advanced audio technologies like Dolby Atmos, which creates a three-dimensional sound experience with overhead effects. This feature enhances immersion and realism, especially when watching movies or playing games that utilize Dolby Atmos-encoded content.
- Wide Price Range: Soundbars are available at various price points, allowing you to choose one that fits your budget. There are budget-friendly options starting at around $100, offering a significant audio upgrade over built-in TV speakers. Higher-end soundbars provide premium features and exceptional audio performance, catering to audiophiles or those seeking the best audio experience available.
When selecting a soundbar, consider factors such as your desired audio quality, budget, connectivity options, and whether you prefer a standalone soundbar or one with additional components like a subwoofer or surround sound speakers.
Key Factors to Consider When Buying a Soundbar for Your TV
When buying a soundbar, there are several key factors to consider to ensure you make the right choice. Here are the important aspects to keep in mind:
- Placement: Determine where the soundbar will be placed in your room. Whether you plan to hang it on a wall or position it on a table, consider the available space and ensure it complements your TV aesthetically.
- Size: Choose a soundbar size that matches your TV or fits your room appropriately. While larger soundbars may offer more drivers and a bigger sound, it’s important to ensure the width of the soundbar matches or complements your TV’s size.
- Active vs. Passive: Opt for an active soundbar that comes with built-in amplifiers. Active soundbars are recommended because they provide better performance and convenience, especially if you’re looking to save space or prefer an all-in-one solution.
- Soundbar channels: Look for a soundbar with three or more channels to simulate surround sound and create a more immersive audio experience. Avoid 2-channel soundbars as they are limited in delivering high-quality audio.
- Connectivity: Pay attention to the connectivity options offered by the soundbar. Most soundbars come with Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth capabilities, allowing you to easily stream music from various devices. Check for HDMI-switching, which enables easy switching of audio sources without the need to reroute HDMI cables.
- Control options: Consider how you will control the soundbar. Look for soundbars that offer user-friendly control interfaces, remote controls, or compatibility with smartphone apps for seamless operation.
Top 5 TV Soundbars of 2023: A Comprehensive Review
The Sonos Arc is a premium soundbar that offers an impressive audio experience, particularly for Dolby Atmos content. This review will provide an overview of the Sonos Arc based on information from reputable sources.
The Sonos Arc delivers dynamic and powerful sound in a discrete all-in-one package. It offers superb performance with both music and movies. The soundbar provides a clear and immersive audio experience, even without needing a separate subwoofer or extra speakers. It supports Dolby Atmos, allowing it to create a three-dimensional soundstage that enhances the overall viewing experience. However, it’s important to note that the Sonos Arc does not support DTS/DTS:X and lacks HDMI passthrough functionality. Additionally, the Trueplay Tuning feature is limited to iOS devices.
The soundbar is simple to set up, delightful to live with, and highly capable. It offers convincing Dolby Atmos performance, delivering dynamic, detailed, and controlled sound. The Sonos Arc incorporates the usual smart features found in Sonos products, adding convenience to the overall user experience. However, the soundbar’s music projection could be improved, and some rivals may offer weightier sound. It’s also worth mentioning that the Sonos Arc lacks HDMI passthrough ports.
The Sonos Arc is a premium soundbar that caters to Sonos fans who can afford it. I would like to highlight the Sonos Arc’s attractive curved design, clear vocals, focused sound, strong bass, and built-in support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. The soundbar seamlessly integrates with existing Sonos systems, enhancing the versatility and functionality for Sonos enthusiasts. However, the Sonos Arc is considered an expensive and quite large option, which may only be suitable for some setups.
In conclusion, the Sonos Arc is widely regarded as a top-tier soundbar that excels in delivering an immersive audio experience, especially for Dolby Atmos content. It offers powerful and dynamic sound in a discrete package. While it lacks certain features like DTS/DTS:X support and HDMI passthrough, the Sonos Arc compensates with its superb performance with music and movies. The curved design adds an aesthetic appeal, and its integration with voice assistants enhances convenience. However, potential buyers should consider the higher price tag and the soundbar’s larger size to ensure it suits their specific needs and preferences.
The Samsung HW-Q990B soundbar delivers impressive power, precision, and soundstage craft from just four speakers. This soundbar provides the sound quality of a talented separate system without the hassle of cables and clutter, making it a top choice for those seeking a high-performance audio experience.
One of the standout features of the HW-Q990B is its Dolby Atmos sound, which creates a truly immersive surround sound experience. The soundbar’s 16 channels work together to deliver a fully rounded and captivating audio performance that rivals even the best Dolby Atmos soundbars on the market. The subwoofer of the HW-Q990B features a new Acoustic Lens and an 8-inch driver, providing smoother and refined bass, while the rear speakers incorporate an angled top and small pedestal stands for better-positioned effects.
Setting up the HW-Q990B is a breeze, and it even offers an auto-calibration system to ensure optimal sound performance. This feature makes getting the best sound from the soundbar easier, and it can be paired with the speakers of many Samsung TVs for an even larger soundstage. The soundbar also includes good connectivity options, with multiple HDMI inputs and easy setup.
In terms of its specifications, the Samsung HW-Q990B features 11.1.4 audio channels, delivering powerful and immersive sound. It supports various audio formats, including Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital, DTS-HD, and DTS: X. The total power output of the soundbar is 656W, ensuring a dynamic and impactful audio experience. It also offers wireless connectivity options such as AirPlay 2 and Bluetooth, allowing for convenient streaming from compatible devices.
While the Samsung HW-Q990B has many strengths, it’s worth mentioning a few drawbacks. The soundbar does not have onboard streaming apps, so you will need an external source capable of streaming Dolby Atmos audio to enjoy its capabilities thoroughly. Additionally, some users have reported occasional connectivity issues with the rear speakers and subwoofer. However, the extent of this issue and its prevalence among users remains unclear.
In terms of pricing, the Samsung HW-Q990B is positioned at the high end of the soundbar market. It was initially launched at $1,899 / £1,599 / AU$2,199, but the price has dropped since its release. Despite the premium price tag, the HW-Q990B offers exceptional performance, making it a worthwhile investment for those seeking a top-of-the-line soundbar.
In conclusion, the Samsung HW-Q990B is an outstanding soundbar that delivers impressive Dolby Atmos sound and a fully immersive audio experience. With its compact design, good connectivity options, and focus on sound quality, it stands out as one of the best soundbars of the year. While it may have some minor limitations, its power and precision make it a top choice for anyone seeking a high-performance sound system.
Yamaha Audio YAS-209BL
The Yamaha Audio YAS-209BL Sound Bar is a feature-packed sound system that offers excellent sound quality and the convenience of built-in Amazon Alexa integration. This sound bar and wireless subwoofer combination delivers an immersive audio experience and comes at an affordable price point, making it an attractive option for those looking to upgrade their TV’s sound capabilities.
One of the standout features of the YAS-209BL is its sound quality. The two-channel soundbar paired with a separate wireless subwoofer creates a rich and powerful soundstage, allowing users to enjoy their favorite movies, TV shows, and music with enhanced clarity and depth. The inclusion of DTS Virtual:X psychoacoustic processing further enhances the audio experience by providing a simulated surround sound effect.
The YAS-209BL also impresses with its smart features. With built-in Amazon Alexa, users can control the soundbar using voice commands, making it easy to adjust volume, switch inputs, and even access various music streaming services. The integration of Alexa works well, and the microphones on the soundbar perform admirably, even in loud environments. However, it’s worth noting that there is no on-screen display, and the small LEDs on the top panel can be difficult to see from a distance.
In terms of design, the YAS-209BL showcases an elegant and minimalistic aesthetic. The soundbar features stylish curved edges and a wrap-around black fabric grille, while the top panel has a matte black finish. It’s designed to be discreet and can fit under most TVs without blocking the IR port. Wall mounting is also an option, with screw holes and a template provided for easy installation. The compact size of the soundbar, measuring approximately 37 inches wide and 2.5 inches tall, adds to its versatility.
Setting up the YAS-209BL is straightforward, and it offers multiple connectivity options. It includes HDMI input and output ports with support for 4K, a wide color gamut, HDCP2.2, and a high dynamic range (HDR10 and HLG). It also features Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity for wireless streaming from compatible devices. The inclusion of high-resolution audio support adds another layer of audio fidelity to the soundbar’s capabilities.
While the YAS-209BL lacks Yamaha’s MusicCast multiroom system, it still provides a basic control app for easy operation. The focus of this soundbar is on delivering great sound quality and smart functionality at an affordable price, and it succeeds in doing so. However, if multiroom capabilities are a priority, there are alternative options available in a similar price range, such as the Sonos Beam. Nevertheless, the YAS-209BL stands out for its superior sound quality and value for money.
In conclusion, the Yamaha Audio YAS-209BL Sound Bar offers an impressive audio experience, combining excellent sound quality with the convenience of built-in Amazon Alexa integration. Its powerful and immersive soundstage, along with its sleek design and versatile connectivity options, make it a compelling choice for enhancing the audio performance of your TV or enjoying music. Despite the absence of certain features like an on-screen display and MusicCast, the YAS-209BL delivers on its promise of delivering high-quality sound and smart functionality, making it a solid option in its price range.
Sonos Beam Gen 2
The Sonos Beam Gen 2 is a compact soundbar that delivers impressive audio performance and a range of smart features, making it an excellent choice for enhancing your home entertainment setup. Building on the success of its predecessor, this upgraded version offers notable improvements, including Dolby Atmos support, HDMI eARC compatibility, and a refreshed design.
One of the standout features of the Sonos Beam Gen 2 is its audio quality. Despite its small size, it produces a wide soundstage and offers hi-res audio compatibility, allowing you to enjoy your favorite movies, TV shows, and music with exceptional clarity and depth. The inclusion of Dolby Atmos support adds an immersive element to your audio experience, creating a sense of three-dimensional sound that enhances the overall ambiance.
Setting up the Sonos Beam Gen 2 is a breeze, thanks to the Sonos S2 app. With this app, you can connect the soundbar to your Wi-Fi network and integrate it with other Sonos speakers to create a multi-room audio setup. The TruePlay technology, available through the app, calibrates the soundbar’s audio to suit your room’s acoustics, ensuring optimal sound performance.
In terms of design, the Sonos Beam Gen 2 maintains the compact form factor of its predecessor, making it a perfect fit for small spaces. It comes in black-and-white color options and features a sleek and modern aesthetic that blends seamlessly with any decor. The soundbar’s build quality is solid, and it weighs 6.2 pounds, adding to its portability and ease of installation.
In terms of connectivity, the Sonos Beam Gen 2 offers HDMI eARC and Ethernet ports, providing versatile options for connecting to your TV or other devices. It also supports 802.11b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi and AirPlay 2, allowing for seamless wireless streaming from your compatible devices.
While the Sonos Beam Gen 2 offers an exceptional audio experience, it’s worth noting a couple of considerations. Compared to its predecessor, the Sonos Beam Gen 2 version is slightly more expensive, although it still provides excellent value for the features it offers. Additionally, the absence of up-firing tweeters may impact the full immersive effect of the Dolby Atmos experience, but the soundbar compensates with its innovative use of psychoacoustic HRTF technology.
Bose Solo 5 TV Soundbar
The Bose Solo 5 TV Soundbar is a compact and sleek audio device that aims to enhance the sound quality of your television viewing experience. With its simple yet stylish design, this soundbar seamlessly blends with any home entertainment setup. Its all-black color scheme, metal grille, and embedded subwoofer contribute to its overall aesthetic appeal.
In terms of size, the Bose Solo 5 is a fairly compact soundbar, making it suitable for placement under your TV or mounting on the wall. Its dimensions ensure it can easily fit between the legs of a 55″ TV stand without obstructing your view of the screen. The build quality is solid, featuring a combination of plastic construction and a metal grille for added protection. While it may not have an ultra-premium feel, it is still well-constructed and durable.
In terms of sound performance, the Bose Solo 5 offers a decent stereo frequency response, especially considering its compact size. However, it is worth noting that it lacks significant bass impact and depth, which may disappoint those seeking powerful low-frequency reproduction. Despite this limitation, the soundbar delivers a balanced sound profile, accurately reproducing vocals and instruments. It may not have extensive customization options to modify the sound profile, but it offers a neutral sound that is pleasing for everyday TV viewing.
The included remote control is a notable convenience of the Bose Solo 5. It not only allows you to control the soundbar but can also be programmed as a universal remote for your TV and other infrared devices. This feature simplifies your setup and eliminates the need for multiple remotes. Additionally, the soundbar offers multiple connectivity options, including optical, coaxial, and auxiliary inputs, as well as built-in Bluetooth for wireless music streaming. It also features an auto-wake function that activates the soundbar when it detects an audio signal and powers off automatically after a period of inactivity.
While the Bose Solo 5 TV Soundbar provides an upgrade over your TV’s built-in speakers, it may fall short in comparison to other soundbars in its price range, particularly when it comes to bass performance. Competitors offering separate wireless subwoofers or alternative soundbar designs may deliver more immersive sound experiences. However, if you prioritize a compact and aesthetically pleasing soundbar that offers improved clarity and dialogue enhancement, the Bose Solo 5 can be a suitable choice for your home entertainment setup.
Overall, the Bose Solo 5 TV Soundbar offers a sleek design, convenient features, and decent sound quality, making it a viable option for those seeking an upgrade from their TV’s built-in speakers. While it may not excel in bass performance compared to some competitors, its compact size and versatility make it an appealing choice for smaller rooms or setups where space is limited.