The 190 Hz - 22 kHz frequency range, when reaching these high frequencies, will be adding rumble and transience to the sound. This inaudible range will make sure the music never sounds artificially closed-off. The Clear Voice Mode secures brilliant dialogue clarity.
The device is slow to start.
The Yamaha YAS-209BL will be able to tussle with the biggest, baddest soundbar systems available these days. You'll be able to manage the device and its settings/modes however you want, from using the Sound Bar Controller app to Alexa to the remote.
Tabletop / Wall-mount
190 Hz - 22 kHz
Dolby® Digital, DTS® Virtual X™
Movie, Music, TV, Sports, Game
Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 1 x HDMI in, 1 x HDMI out, 1 x Optical in, 1 x LAN-port, 1 x USB (for updates only)
Center unit: 36.6" x 2.5" x 4.25"
Subwoofer: 7.5" x 16.5" x 16"
The device is compatible with most mid-range and high-end TVs, including LG, Sony, Panasonic, Samsung TVs, and more. The housing is resistant against scratches and smudges, meaning you won't be forced to polish this thing every second day to maintain the device's sleek appearance.
There's a noticeable delay when used through Bluetooth.
The JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass Soundbar comes equipped with four racetrack drivers, two tweeters, and this massive 6.5-inch transducer in the subwoofer, producing the most powerful and dynamic sound. The system will keep you immersed in the audio better than most 'bars.
Tabletop / Wall-mount
40 Hz - 20 kHz
Dolby® Digital, JBL Surround Sound
Bluetooth, 1 x HDMI in, 1 x HDMI out, 1 x Optical in, 1 x USB
Center unit: 38" x 2.3" x 2.7"
Subwoofer: 8.9" x 14.6" x 8.9
The system's sophisticated algorithms will be automatically analyzing the content and optimizing the sound settings to secure the best, most dynamic audio experience. The Game Mode will boost the in-game sounds.
The remote's range is limited.
Customers with Samsung TVs will have no reason to choose anything but the Samsung HW-R550. People with TVs from different companies would benefit from looking into this system too since its price-performance ratio is pretty ridiculous compared to most soundbar systems.
Tabletop / Wall-mount
42 Hz ~ 20 kHz
Dolby® Digital, DTS® Digital Surround
Standard, Surround Sound, Game, Smart
Bluetooth, 1 x HDMI in, 1 x HDMI out, 1 x Optical in, 1 x 3.5-mm stereo mini-jack in, 1 x USB
Center unit: 35.6" x 2.2" x 3.1"
Subwoofer: 7.9" x 13.9" x 11.4"
The extruded aluminum cabinet is light but also acoustically rigid. Featuring thin walls, the soundbar makes sure the volume is able to come out large. The AccuVoice feature can lift voices from the soundtracks and modify them with hearing aid tech.
There are no presets available.
The ZVOX SB380 is among the most adaptable yet, at the same time, independent soundbars. Its complex algorithms produce excellent sound, while the speakers keep the accuracy response as accurate as possible.
Tabletop / Wall-mount
Dolby® Digital, PhaseCue™ virtual surround
No presets available
1 x Stereo RCA in, 2 x Optical in
Center unit: 35.5" x 5.7" x 3.3"
The DTS TruSurround tech delivers the most realistic surround sound environment. The DTS TruVolume feature keeps the volume consistent, offering a far more pleasant and enjoyable multimedia experience. The number of interfaces gives you a lot of playback options.
The quality of the optical cable isn't particularly impressive.
If you don't really care as much about the video part of the whole audio video experience and you always thought of yourself as more of an audiophile, we couldn't recommend this soundbar highly enough. With all of its high-end technologies, you will be able to enjoy a completely different audio experience.
Tabletop / Wall-mount
50 Hz - 19 kHz
Dolby Digital®, DTS Studio Sound™, DTS TruSurround™, DTS TruVolume™
Bluetooth, 1 x Stereo RCA in, 1 x 3.5mm stereo mini-jack in, 1 x RCA (Coaxial), 1 x Optical in, 1 x USB (for .WAV audio playback)
Center unit: 38” x 3” x 3”
Subwoofer: 8.3” x 9.1” x 8.3”
The Yamaha YAS-209BL looks sleek and streamlined. Sure, measuring 36.6" x 2.5" x 4.25", the center unit is pretty standard from the size perspective but its smooth curves and polished accents make the device much more elegant that these bars usually are.
The subwoofer measures 7.5" x 16.5" x 16", which is nothing to scoff at. It is wireless, enabling easy placement and theater-like bass. You'll be able to minimize clutter since you won't have to place surround speakers and hide cables throughout the room. The subwoofer's bass output is no joke, explosive but not bloated at the same time.
Setting the deep bass aside, what separates this product is all the modes and systems that are able to elevate the device's performance and adapt to different content.
There's the Clear Voice Mode that brings the conversations to the forefront, making sure you're able to comprehend the dialogues. There's also the DTS Virtual:X tech that makes the audio feel spacious and lifelike, producing sound effects that envelop and immerse you into the on-screen action.
Best Soundbar for Audiophiles
Of course, these modes are able to do anything only because this soundbar system's core specs allow them to do so.
Before anything else, there is the device's frequency range that goes from 190 Hz to 22 kHz. On one hand, the range is not as wide as they get sometimes. On the other hand, its upper limits reach 22 kHz, which is not necessarily something that you'll be able to hear but will definitely be able to feel and experience.
These high frequencies add transience and rumble to the audio, making the sound more impactful and allowing you to feel these frequencies coursing through your body. Also, not having this inaudible range present might make the music sound somewhat artificially closed-off.
Aside from the tech, what sells this product is how comfortable/convenient it is. The built-in Alexa unit will let you use voice controls to manage the music, listen to the news, set alarms and timers, ask questions, manipulate smart home devices, and more.
Apart from that, there's also the Sound Bar Controller application that will let you switch between the sound modes, music, and more using any smartphone.
Despite all these high-tech solutions, the device is pretty slow to start, usually taking ~30 seconds to do so.
Separating the Details
JBL hasn't been around as long as Sony and Yamaha, that goes without saying. What also goes without saying is that the people behind this company have been able to establish a massive presence in the business and build quite a name for themselves. Looking at the JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass Soundbar, you can see how and why that's the case.
First and foremost, the device will be drawing and outputting 300 watts, bringing that loud signature JBL sound that makes sure you're able to separate the details and pick up everything that the people behind the sound decided to add there. Housing four massive full-range drivers and two 1-inch tweeters, the system churns out nothing but the deepest, richest, most detailed tones.
Shifting gears, let's address the device's aesthetics. Generally speaking, JBL's aesthetics are always on-point and this product follows the same suit. The unit looks smooth and slick yet imposing and daring. There are not too many apartments that won't be able to adapt this device into the space's decorative scheme.
Also, though smooth, the housing is scratch-resistant and smudge-proof, so you won't have to clean and polish this device every few days to maintain its stylish appearance.
Eliminating the Noise
The dimensions are relatively standard. The center unit measures 38" x 2.3" x 2.7", while the 'woofer adds up to 8.9" x 14.6" x 8.9". The sub is wireless, so you'll be able to place this thing anywhere you want. That being said, the Bluetooth module is somewhat slow, so we would recommend using the HDMI, Optical, or USB inputs to avoid delay.
On the upside, some believe it is all about the bass, which is where this sub shines, pumping out the deepest, most thrilling bass.
We do not believe it's all about the bass. That's fine though. This soundbar has enough in stores for everyone. The JBL Surround Sound system will be able to bring the most immersive sound experience to large TVs without separate speakers, wires, without anything.
At the same time, the Dolby® Digital tech will make sure to hide, mask, and eliminate the noise, making the audio as crisp as possible. Some customers say that the sound lacks depth sometimes when listening to talk shows and news but that's not something that JBL can do much about.
Long story short, the JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass Soundbar will be able to elevate the audio experience and make most movies and music sound better than ever before. Plus, the device comes equipped with Movie and Music equalizer settings that will further elevate these experiences.
Though surprisingly affordable, the Samsung HW-R550 will have no issues tussling with the most expensive high-end soundbars. There's enough to unpack here, so let's get going.
First things first, there is the system's 42 Hz - 20 kHz frequency range. Of course, we've seen these numbers before but that doesn't mean you should underestimate them.
Backed by the company's massive sub, this range will let you feel and experience the most subtle rumbles of distant thunder and the most earth-shattering sound as the sub pounds the air around you, immersing and enveloping you in the action.
More often than not, those high frequencies hide harmonics and this device will have no issues unmasking these harmonics.
Before that though, adopting the smartest algorithms in the business, this system will be able to automatically analyze the content and optimize the sound setting to ensure the best audio experience.
Game Mode Too
The soundbar is compatible with most TVs but has been optimized to seamlessly work with Samsung TVs first and foremost.
You'll be able to exercise that plug-and-play connectivity that's as streamlined and effortless as these systems get. The soundbar will let you connect wirelessly using the Bluetooth module. You'll also be able to use the standard interfaces like HDMI, USB, Optical, and 3.5-mm ins and outs to connect various devices to the system. You'll have no issues managing both the TV and the 'bar using the company's OneRemote and fine-tuning the sound straight from the TV menu.
You can use the supplied IR remote too but its range is pretty limited, so we would recommend sticking with OneRemote (provided you have one).
One might argue that what defines this system is all the modes that the product comes fitted with. We've already mentioned the Smart Sound mode utilizing the system's sophisticated algorithms. There's also the Game mode that boosts in-game sound effects to provide you with a competitive advantage over your opponents online.
From the aesthetics standpoint, this system looks about the same compared to most mid-range and high-end soundbar systems. The polished black housing is understated yet smooth enough to make the 'bar pretty elegant and the sub effective-looking.
Elegant Aluminum Cabinet
The ZVOX SB380 means business. However, the device comes without a subwoofer, so people that don't have a separate sub or speakers will likely benefit more from the previous entries on this list.
Having said that, provided you already have a sub, decent speakers, or anything along these lines, this is the product to look into.
Hiding high-performance speakers, a digital amplifier, and a subwoofer inside the soundbar, this is easily the most versatile and complete device within its price range.
Before tackling its performance, the product's profile deserves a little attention too. Housing this extruded aluminum cabinet, the device is elegant and light yet, at the same time, acoustically rigid. Since the cabinet's walls are so thin, the volume comes out pretty large, pumping out surprisingly big sound from this slim package.
Meanwhile, there's this disappearing four-digit display that's located behind the speaker grille. Able to show the current settings regarding volume, bass, treble, and PhaseCue (the company's approach to virtual surround sound that we'll address soon), the display provides you with all the necessary information concerning sound.
Also, this thing displays when you've engaged the Mute, AccuVoice (ACCU), or Output Leveling (OL) features.
When you stop using the controls on the front panel or the remote for but a few seconds, the display completely disappears, creating this concealed profile that oozes elegance and modern aesthetics.
Lifting Voices and Managing the Volume
Now, the aforementioned PhaseCue virtual surround tech will work wonders delivering rich, three-dimensional sound that matches and even outperforms most surround sound systems.
The Output Leveling (OL) feature that we've also mentioned above is pretty awesome too. You push the OL button and the device's elegant processor takes charge, making the softest sounds loud enough and the loudest sounds soft, meaning that you'll be enduring fewer jarring moments when switching between channels or when the commercials come on.
Meanwhile, the AccuVoice tech will be lifting voices from the soundtracks and then modifying them via hearing aid tech. You'll also be able to figure out the dialogues' quietest bits and pieces.
On the product's downsides, there are no presets available here but people seldom use these anyway.
Blast the Music
If you don't really care as much about the video part of the whole audio video experience and you always thought of yourself as more of an audiophile than anybody else, the VIZIO SB3821-C6 is the model to go for. First, there's the model's power output. Equipped with 300W of raw power, this piece of audio equipment is capable of delivering up to 100 dB of room-filling sound. And despite the fact that the latter numbers make this model one of the loudest options on the market, the audio stream that it produces comes with less than 1% total harmonic distortion, meaning that you'll be able to enjoy a much clearer sound than you would normally get out of such a powerful unit.
As it usually is the case with high-end soundbars, the manufacturers have equipped their product with all kinds of audio technologies. There's Dolby Digital, the standard for cinema, Blu-ray, and streaming content, with a surround sound system that adds a dramatic spatial dimension to each and every soundtrack, enhancing the audio definition in order to provide you with an engaging listening experience. There's also the DTS TruSurround technology, which is a virtual surround sound technology that provides the soundbars with the ability to deliver the most realistic surround sound environment. Finally, the people behind this model didn't forget about DTS TruVolume, a remarkable solution when it comes to providing an equally comfortable and consistent volume level. As you would imagine, the latter technology is the main culprit behind a far more pleasant and enjoyable multimedia experience.
Moving on from the audio features, we reckon it wouldn't hurt to briefly mention some of the other elements of this product. For instance, one of the things we liked most about it is the ridiculous number of interfaces. Thanks to the fact that the model supports a wireless Bluetooth and comes equipped with a Stereo RCA input, 3.5mm stereo mini-jack, coaxial RCA, Optical, and a USB input for WAV audio playback, you will not be limited in your playback options.
And, of course, no soundbar would be complete without a subwoofer. In this case, a wireless sub with the ability to deliver rich and powerful bass. With the help of this powerful unit, you will be able to transform your average Netflix session into a truly explosive experience. Plus, the wireless part means that you will be able to enjoy great sound without cluttering your home with wires, which is always great whether you're looking to put this unit in a large room or in a small one.
Now, to reiterate our earlier point, if you don't really care as much about the video part of the whole audio video experience and you always thought of yourself as more of an audiophile, we couldn't recommend this soundbar highly enough. With all of its high-end technologies, you will be able to enjoy a completely different audio experience.
What customers say about this product
Size & Weight
What Is a Sound Bar?
Soundbars are the best solution for people who wish to improve the sound of their TV set without spending too much money. Unlike home theater sound systems, sound bars are much more compact. A typical soundbar is a small panel with built-in speakers. The sound bar is placed really close to the TV set, so it requires no additional space or pieces of furniture. Actually, soundbars are designed to be used with widescreen TVs. Also, as far as music listening is concerned, these systems are awesome. There are some differences between these bars, so make sure to read the reviews first. Here, we have gathered and selected the most impressive sound bars on the market today to make your choice easier.
If you wish to change the way your laptop or computer sounds, you're welcome to read our up-to-date review on computer speakers. You may also be interested in taking a look at our review on headphones which can be paired with your laptop or just used as an accessory with your tablet or smartphone.
What Features to Compare
Type and Design
If you want to place a soundbar right in front of a TV, you should get a tabletop bar. Some sound bars are wall-mountable and, therefore, can be attached to the wall. Keep in mind that a soundbar doesn't block a signal from the remote. There is another type of sound bars - TV stands. They are larger and wider and TVs are usually placed on top of such bars. However, you should still check the dimensions of the stand so that it can withstand a widescreen TV (52'', for example). A TV stand must be steady and durable enough.
The next issue to consider is the sound settings since a soundbar is intended to produce a high-quality sound. If you like the bass, choose the soundbars with built-in subwoofers or those supporting the connection of subwoofers. Don't forget to find out such important features as the power output, sensitivity, and frequency - they determine the maximum volume and sound clarity. However, the following features aren't sufficient for deciding if the soundbar is good or not. We strongly recommend checking all the sound enhancing system each soundbar has. For example, any top sound bar has a Dolby surround technology support for producing the multi-channel sound. Also, most sound bars are capable of creating a 3D sound effect, giving you an impression of full immersion in the world of sound. Lots of manufacturers develop their own sound enhancing technologies that maximize the performance of their sound bars. If you want to set your own sound parameters, make sure to choose the soundbar with adjustable equalizer settings. This way, you will be able to enjoy the sound you like the most.
Connections and Control
When making the final decision, don't forget to find out what interfaces a soundbar has. Apart from standard audio ports, some devices allow for other types of connection. For example, an HDMI port ensures the high-quality sound in Blu-Ray movies. The availability of the USB port allows for playing media files stored on your smartphones and flash drives. Bluetooth makes it possible to stream the music wirelessly right from your mobile device. Some soundbars even have Wi-Fi, which is used for connecting to online music services. Finally, check out the controls - you should be able to set the device and enable different modes without any troubles. The best soundbars have a remote for controlling the unit without leaving a couch. Moreover, certain sound bars can be controlled via mobile apps, so you need no remotes, just your smartphone or tablet.
1. Adrienne Maxwell Five Tips to Pick the Right Soundbar, Home Theater. July 8, 2013.
2. Andy Clough Soundbar Buying Guide: How to choose the right soundbar, What Hi-Fi. June 18, 2014.
3. Adrian Diaconescu How to shop for a soundbar, Digital Trends. February 23, 2013.
4. Jon L. Jacobi How to pick the right soundbar, TechHive. December 18, 2014.
5. Joe Roberts Best Soundbar 2016: 17 best soundbars for your TV, TrustedReviews. January 18, 2016.
6. Chris Heinonen, Dennis Burger The Best Soundbar, The Wirecutter. June 14, 2016.
7. Jamie Carter Best soundbar: boost your TV's audio and get music streaming, too, The Gadget Website. March 18, 2016.