These devices are still only gaining places near our TVs, the market is already ready to offer many different models – from inexpensive to premium. How to Choose the Best Soundbar in 2022
The Best SoundBar Consumer Report 2022
1. JBL Bar 5.1
Soundbar with a ready-made and quite interestingly implemented 5.1 sound configuration. The set includes an impressive wireless subwoofer powered by an outlet, and with a slight movement of your hand, two wireless rear speakers unfasten from the main unit. Their charge is enough for 8 hours of continuous operation, and after discharging you can connect to a regular “mobile” charger with microUSB and continue watching or fasten it back.
The soundbar itself has a center and side channels, in total there are 9 emitters: a separate speaker for the upper and lower frequencies for each channel. It turned out compact and functional. Everything else for comfortable use is available: Bluetooth, remote control, optical and line input, HDMI input and output, HDMI-ARC control.
- Sound 5.1
2. Yamaha YAS-108 Sound Bar with Built-in Subwoofers & Bluetooth
Another favorite of the public and a glorious successor to the YAS-106 and YAS-107 line. It also has everything you need for life and even more: Bluetooth, optical input, analog input (3.5 mm), HDMI input, HDMI output for controlling the device from the TV via HDMI-ARC, remote control, there is an output to an external subwoofer. Despite the absence of a sub, the system is positioned as 2.1. The thing is that it has two woofers with two bass reflexes on the sides, which allows you to have a fairly wide frequency range and high sound detail.
- Complete set of all necessary functions
- Not found
3. JBL Bar 2.0 – All-in-One Soundbar
The successor to the hugely popular JBL Bar Studio soundbar. It was a very inexpensive device that had everything the average user could need to improve the sound of their TV. The updated version has become even more powerful (80 watts instead of 30), the speaker layout has been redesigned. On board there is everything you need: Bluetooth connection, HDMI output with the ability to control the device from the TV via HDMI-ARC, support for Dolby Digital, remote control, optical input and standard stereo.
- The cost
- Support for all required interfaces and formats
- No obvious flaws
4. Samsung 2.1 Soundbar HW-R550 with Wireless Subwoofer
Certainly an almost perfect choice in its price range. The main differences, in addition to the complete “stuffing” in terms of functionality, are the presence of a wireless subwoofer, the ability to connect (also without wires) rear speakers. The total power is 320 watts – there will be no shortage of sound filling the space.
- Availability of a wireless subwoofer
- Sound quality
- Low price
- No obvious
5. LG SK9Y 5.1.2 ch High Res Audio Sound Bar with Dolby Atmos
More “mature” model in comparison with Samsung HW-R550. Even more powerful. It has five emitters, a wireless subwoofer included, and the ability to connect wireless rear speakers. There is also support for Dolby Atmos. The presence of a central channel makes it possible to expand the system to 5.1 format. Of the chips: the presence of Wi-Fi, connection to the network via a wire, control via an application on a smartphone and a built-in Chromecast player. What does it do? More multimedia capabilities. The soundbar can be integrated into the Google Home ecosystem, which will allow you to control it through a smart speaker, and you can connect to streaming services. Such a toy will not get bored for a long time.
- Complete absence of wires
- Huge multimedia capabilities
- Position sensitive (must rest on a surface to reflect sound coming from below)
6. YAMAHA YSP-5600BL 7.1.2-Channel Dolby Atmos MusicCast Sound Bar
This device adds the phrase “sound projector” to our lexicon. Indeed, the language cannot be called a soundbar. Okay, let’s omit the listing of all the standard chips of ordinary ordinary soundbars such as bluetooth and HDMI, and pay attention to the most interesting thing – the speaker layout. This soundbar can be called a projector because it supports proprietary 3D sound technology. Simply put, due to sound reflections from walls and ceilings, a full-fledged surround sound picture is created.
The projector has as many as 46 (forty-six!) Emitters of different frequencies and directions. Thanks to this, it is positioned as a 7.1 system, while there is full support for the Dolby Atmos format. Listing all the features of this soundbar can probably take a whole book, so it’s easier to say that it has everything that a user can think of.
- Very cool!
- Very expensive!
7. Focal Dimension 5-Channel Sound Bar
The Focal company specializes in the production of high-quality professional audio equipment and is loved by many sound engineers and hi-fi amateurs, the more interesting its offer on the soundbar market. Expensive and cool, like all their products. The device has five full-range speakers and is positioned as a 5.0 system, with an output to an external subwoofer. The frequency range is good even without it (50 Hz – 25 kHz) and the power reserve is also excellent (450 W), but the most interesting thing about it is not even that.
There are four switches on the rear panel: the first allows you to select the distance to the listener, the second is needed to select the position of the soundbar (on the wall, on the table, freely suspended), the third allows the soundbar to adapt to different filling of the room with furniture, the fourth is needed to connect a subwoofer (branded, from or no third-party manufacturer).
- Sound quality
- Excellent possibilities for adapting the device to the room
- Stylish signature subwoofer
- No Bluetooth
How to choose a soundbar
So, after you are already confused enough about all these optical inputs, dolby digital and multichannel audio formats, let’s look at what parameters you should pay attention to when choosing the best option for you.
As you have already seen, a soundbar can cost as much as a couple of hundred dollars or a couple of thousand dollars. This range of prices is due to the manufacturability and versatility of devices. First of all, I advise you to pay attention to the correspondence between the price class of the soundbar and your TV, because the main task of the device is still pumping the sound when watching movies and in video games. What’s the point of buying a budget soundbar for a huge and expensive TV?
It is important to pay attention to what functions your TV already has or should have, how you plan to connect it with the soundbar, whether you want to use it as a home wireless speaker, use streaming services, etc.
The most common soundbar features are:
A stereo input is already an archaism, but it happens to be necessary for connecting a TV “in the old fashioned way”, you won’t have to count on anything more than sound in 2.0 or 2.1 format.
HDMI input and optical input – needed to transmit digital audio signal, will allow you to transmit high-resolution multi-channel audio.
HDMI-ARC – needed so that the TV can control the device itself. In this case, there is no need to have a separate remote for the soundbar. The TV will turn it on and off itself, as well as control the volume.
Bluetooth – allows you to transmit a digital signal “over the air”, as well as pair the soundbar with other devices, play music from your phone, for example. Or for wireless connection of an external subwoofer and rear speakers.
Wi-Fi and Ethernet – needed to connect to streaming services and integrate into smart home systems.
It can be different. So consider beforehand if you need additional external speakers? Is there a place to put the subwoofer? Do I need a separate remote or does the TV have HDMI-ARC? Do you need a wall mount bracket?
Dimensions and weight
The dimensions of the soundbars can be quite different, even without taking into account external accessories. It is better to take care of the location in advance.
The main thing to remember is that the audible sound spectrum is in the range from 20 Hz to 20 kHz, therefore, the amplitude-frequency characteristics should be as close as possible to these numbers. Marketing is different, so if you see that the acoustics are small in size, and the declared power and frequency range are large, then do not believe it. The more radiators of different sizes, the more bands they support, the more honest and detailed it will sound. The power should be with a margin so that the volume is more than half, you no longer want to twist. This will prevent distortion and increased speaker wear.
The layout is usually indicated as “X.Y”, where X is the number of main channels and Y is the presence / absence of a subwoofer.
Let’s list the main ones:
- 2.0 – two-channel stereo sound without a subwoofer;
- 2.1 – two-channel sound with a subwoofer;
- 3.1 – three-channel sound, assumes the presence of one front and two side emitters + sub. Three channels may well fit into a soundbar cabinet;
- 4.1 – four-channel sound, assumes two side radiators, two rear + subwoofers;
- 5.1 – the most common format for high-quality surround sound, consists of a front speaker, two side speakers (all three are inside the soundbar), two rear (external) speakers + a sub.
For some time now, a third digit has been added to the designation of multichannel sound, and now some manufacturers indicate the sound format as “X.Y.Z”. The fact is that the Dolby Atmos format assumes three-dimensional sound, that is, the sound also comes from above. Some soundbars have upward-firing emitters to bounce sound off the ceiling. Therefore, the figure 5.1.2 will mean that we have five channels around, one low-frequency channel and two channels on top.