How To Choose Your Perfect Soundbar? – The Ultimate Guide


Do you think your flat TV isn’t meeting up to your audio expectations? The slimmer the TV gets, the difficult it is to meet up with high standard sound performance. For this reason, nowadays the TVs are paired with long rectangular-shaped devices called soundbars. 

What is a Soundbar?

A soundbar is a long rectangular bar with two to three speakers fitted into it. These are specifically designed to alleviate the sound quality of your TV speakers. 

It can fill the space with high-quality audio with enhanced bass with no fuss and no complicated process. 

Soundbar Buying Guide Cheat Sheet

In a hurry? Here are the most important things to know (or do) before buying the perfect soundbar. 

  • Choose a soundbar with three or more channels – at a minimum: The soundbar should have at least three inbuilt speakers. 
  • Go with an active soundbar: An active soundbar is preferred over a passive soundbar (soundbar with no inbuilt amplifier), usually when used for a TV setup. 
  • Consider where you want to place your soundbar: Buy a soundbar that can live at your place easily without making huge adjustments. 
  • Pay attention to connectivity: Know your source device (TV, game console, or blue ray player) connectivity ports, and check ports on your TV as HDMI, Optical, Aux, RCA…
  • Look for the manufacturer’s warranty: The soundbar should have at least 2 to 3 years of the manufacturer’s warranty. 

You may like this soundbar: Sonos Beam

How To Choose Your Perfect Soundbar
How To Choose Your Perfect Soundbar

How To Choose The Right Soundbar For Your TV?

Choosing the right soundbar for your TV requires no rocket science, just some quick research, and some considerations to make. 

Here is everything out for in a platter.

Where Will The Soundbar Live?

Firstly, before heading to choosing a soundbar, decide upon the location of your soundbar. This will largely depend on how your TV is placed.

1. If Your TV Is Wall Mounted

If your TV is wall mounted with no stand underneath, it is good to buy a soundbar that can be mounted on the wall as well, like Dali Kubik One or Yamaha YAS-106

2. If Your TV Is Wall Mounted With A TV Stand Underneath

If you have a TV stand underneath your wall-mounted TV, there will be no problem placing a soundbar. You can simply place your soundbar on the space underneath your TV, and it will work perfectly. Polk Audio Signa S2 Ultra is one.

There will be plenty of soundbar options you can find that can be simply placed over some furniture below your TV.

3. If Your TV Is Sitting On A TV Stand

If your TV is sitting on a TV stand, you can simply keep your Soundbar in the space in front of the TV. That means you can place the soundbar on the TV stand as well. 

You also can sit your TV on you soundbar.

Where Will The Soundbar Live
Where Will The Soundbar Live

What Size Soundbar Should You Get?

Again, the size of the TV is an important consideration when choosing the size of the soundbar, especially if you are particular about the aesthetics. 

The size of the soundbar should be of the same length as your TV as far as aesthetics are considered. However, it doesn’t have anything to do with the sound quality. 

Moreover, if you have your TV placed on a TV stand, the soundbar’s height shouldn’t interfere with the TV’s infrared receiver (i.e., the sensor that helps in turning the TV on/off from the remote). Therefore, the soundbar’s height should stay below the TV. 

When it comes to audio quality, logically, the bigger the size, the better the audio performance. That is to say, no matter the size, it should at least have three inbuilt speakers within it. 

Do Soundbars Support Dolby Atmos And DTS:X?

Yes, most soundbars nowadays support Dolby Atmos and its counterpart DTS:X. 

Dolby Atmos and DTS:X are sound formats that are used to create a surround-sound atmosphere. These are responsible for providing home theatre feels. 

Further reading: The Ultimate Dolby Atmos Guide

Surround sound is an audio technology that works on generating immersive sound quality. In addition, it helps in providing the real feel of the scene. For instance, an action scene or rain scene allows you to feel like the sound is coming from just near you or above you.

Nowadays, you can even find both of these sound formats together in a soundbar like in Sony HT G700, Yamaha YSP-5600, LG SL 10G, and many more. 

You usually found Dolby Atmos and DTS:X in a 5.1.2 or 7.1.2 surround sound setup. This means the soundbars are able to produce object-oriented sound (the sound focused on individual objects) with how the speakers are set up inside it. 

If a soundbar supports Dolby Atmos 5.1.2 surround sound, it is equipped with multiple channel speakers placed in the right, left, center, and upward-firing positions. It will support a surround sound experience if accompanied by two surround speakers and height speakers (mounted overhead). 

Also, make sure your room is spacious with a high ceiling to avail the benefit of object-based sound formats. 

How many channels do I need for surround sound?

How many channels do I need for surround sound
How many channels do I need for surround sound (source)

What Kind Of Connections Do You Need?

1. HDMI ARC and eARC inputs

You need a cable to connect your soundbar to your TV. There are two types of cables – optical and HDMI cables. Optical cables don’t support all audio formats. HDMI cables support more audio formats and provide more immersive sound quality. 

Soundbars work on two types of HDMI inputs – HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel) and HDMI eARC. To connect a soundbar to your TV, your TV should support HDMI ARC or HDMI eARC. If your TV support neither of them, go for optical cables (explained in point 2. below). HDMI eARC is just an upgraded and advanced version of HDMI ARC. 

Connecting multiple devices

HDMI ARC allows sending audio from setup boxes, game consoles, and other outputs to the TV and allows sending audio in the reverse direction without using multiple HDMI ports. In addition, it allows connecting various devices to the soundbar easily from a single port.

If you are low on HDMI ports at the back of your TV, HDMI ARC is helpful as it works both ways. It will also send audio from the TV to your soundbar. 

HDMI CEC connections

Another benefit of using an HDMI cable is to use a CEC connection to control our soundbar from the TV remote. 

CEC stands for Consumer Electronics Control. It allows you to control two devices with each other. This CEC standard can be finding your TV’s settings menu. 

However, each company uses it under different names like Anynet+, SimpLink, HDMI CEC etc. 

2. Optical Audio Input

Most traditional and even flat TVs use an optical cable to transfer audio from them to another device like soundbars. 

For this, your TV will have an optical output on your TV and an optical input on your soundbar. Keep the volume of your TV to zero when using optical cables as audio input. 

3. 3.5mm Mini-Jack Input

Your soundbar should also have a 3.5mm mini-jack input. This auxiliary input is used for playing songs/audio from external devices like your smartphone, iPod etc. 

This allows you to use the soundbar solely as a speaker. Make use of any USB cable that fits in a 3.5mm jack (headphone jack) input to enjoy loud music. 

4. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi

Some of the soundbars are also Bluetooth-enabled and support Wi-Fi. If your soundbar is Bluetooth enabled, it becomes easier to play audio using your mobile devices. 

Instead of using the USB cable as above, you can just pair your device (where the songs are stored) to a soundbar via Bluetooth. 

If it supports Wi-Fi, your soundbar can be used wirelessly and be able to stream audio from any streaming service. 

See more: How to connect Samsung soundbar to wifi?

5. USB Inputs

USB inputs can be used to plugin USB drives like thumb drives/pen drives with your songs on them. It is yet another easier way to make use of a soundbar as a speaker. 

Do You Struggle To Understand Dialogue?

When do you need a soundbar for your TV? When you struggle to understand dialogues while watching TV. The soundbar acts as a speech enhancer that focuses more on human voices and less on background sound. 

With a soundbar, you no longer have to disturb your partner, asking, ‘What did the person just say?’ again and again. A Soundbar has a clear voice sound mode to allow you to hear dialogues crisp and clear. 

For this You can buy a Sonos Beam – Smart TV Sound Bar with Amazon Alexa Built-in.

Do You Need A Subwoofer?

You can choose to accompany your soundbar with a subwoofer if you need to elevate its potential further. 

You can either buy a soundbar with an inbuilt sub or buy a separate wireless subwoofer. In the latter case, make sure you do proper research if your subwoofer will connect to your Soundbase or not. Most subwoofers connect to the soundbars of the same native company. 

Adding a subwoofer would be a great idea when setting up a home theatre system. 

You also like: How To Connect Subwoofer To Soundbar

What About Music?

Want to enjoy playing music using your soundbars? There are three ways of doing so depending on your soundbars connectivity features:

Stream music easily from your mobile device

If your soundbar is Bluetooth enabled, you can stream music stored on your mobile device easily.

Online streaming services

If your soundbar is Wi-Fi enabled, you can enjoy playing music from online streaming services like Spotify using the internet and the respective soundbar app. 

USB input to listen to music anytime

If it has a USB input, you can plug in your pen drive to the soundbar. It allows you to play the songs stored in your USB input device. 

Do You Need A Soundbar As A Multi-Room Audio System?

It depends on your discretion to add a soundbar as part of a multiroom audio system. A multiroom audio system includes making use of a network of devices like soundbars, speakers, subwoofers, smart speakers etc. together. Connecting them allows you to feel your whole space/house with music. 

You like to throw pool parties and parties at your home. You can benefit from adding a soundbar. 

Do You Need A Passive Soundbar?

A passive soundbar is a soundbar without an inbuilt amplifier. It uses power from an external source like a home theatre receiver. You require a speaker wire to connect the passive soundbar to the amplifier. 

There are no other connections on a passive soundbar apart from speaker terminals. As it makes use of a separate amplifier, passive soundbars are more powerful in terms of throwing sound. They are also better at creating a surround sound experience. You can add additional subs and surround speakers depending on the receiver’s power. 

Do You Want A Soundbar With Voice Control?

If you love to spend quality time talking to Alexa, Siri, and other voice control assistants, a soundbar with voice control is a great idea. 

Look for soundbars that can support your favorite voice control assistant when buying one. 

Do You Need Soundbars To Work With Smart Home Devices?

Taking it to the next level, there are soundbars available in the market that can work with smart home devices. 

Do you need one? It depends on your personal choice. However, don’t keep these features above the need of buying a soundbar with amazing sound quality. 

What Are The Best Soundbars For TV?

1. Sonos Beam

Sonos Beam to date stays at the top for being one of the best soundbars for TV. 

Sonos Beam

It is a smart soundbar with Alexa and Google Assistant voice control. It features Speech enhancement, Wi-Fi, and Apply Airplay 2. It syncs well with the TV remote. 

Other connectivity features include HDMI ARC port, optical digital port, and Ethernet. It supports Dolby Digital 5.1 sound format. 

It has inbuilt four full-range woofers, one tweezer, three passive radiators, and five class D digital amplifiers for audio. 

2. JBL Bar

JBL Bar is best in budget-friendly soundbars. It supports 5.1 surround sound. The connectivity includes HDMI ARC output, optical digital input, and Bluetooth. 

3. Sony HT G700

Sony HT G700 is power-packed with all great features. It is best in mid-range soundbars. 

It supports both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X sound formats. For connectivity, it supports HDMI eARC, HDMI input, Bluetooth and is accompanied by an external subwoofer. 

4. Yamaha YSP 5600

Yamaha YSP 5600 is a powerful soundbar with 46 inbuilt speakers. It supports 7.1.2 surround sound with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X sound formats. For connectivity, it supports HDMI ARC, 4 HDMI input ports, Bluetooth, Airplay, and Ethernet. 

It can be used in a multi-room audio system and can connect to a wireless subwoofer as well with the help of Yamaha’s MusicCast app. 

5. Dali Katch One 

Dali Katch One is best as a wall-mounted soundbar. It supports Dolby Digital 5.1 sound format. The connectivity support includes HDMI ARC, two optical inputs, a 3.5mm audio input jack, and Bluetooth as well. 

Inside the soundbar, it has inbuilt four mid-bass drivers, two tweezers, and four passive radiators. 

What Are The Best Soundbar Brands?

Some of the most popular soundbar brands include 

  • Sonos, 
  • Yamaha, 
  • Samsung, 
  • Klipsch
  • Sony, 
  • JBL, 
  • Dali

Some of the newly popular soundbar brands include:

  • Danon, 
  • Roku 
  • Sennheiser
  • Vizio
  • TaoTronics
  • Polk audio

How Do I Connect A Soundbar To A TV?

There are multiple ways to connect a soundbar to a TV, depending on your TV requirements. The few ways used to connect a soundbar to a TV include 

Through HDMI cable 

For this, your TV should have an HDMI port, HDMI ARC port, or HDMI eARC port at the back. 

HDMI ARC port is the most beneficial. You can just connect the HDMI cable in the HDMI ARC port of your TV and the other end in the HDMI port of the soundbar. Now, you just have to change the TV’s audio settings and switch it to HDMI ARC/HDMI. 

In some TVs, you simply have to go to the TV’s speaker settings and turn it off to enable the audio to come from the soundbars instead. 

Finally, enable the HDMI CEC to allow the soundbar to be controlled with the help of a TV remote. 

Through optical audio input

If your TV doesn’t have the HDMI port, it may include the optical audio out port at the back. At the same time, your soundbar should have an optical audio input port too. In such a case, you can use an optical cable to connect your soundbar to your TV. 

Through coaxial 

If one of the devices (either soundbar or TV) doesn’t support optical audio, you can make use of the ‘coaxial to optical convertor’ device to connect them together. You need a coaxial cable and an optical cable for this. 

Plugin the coaxial cable output into the TV. 

Next, insert the other end of the coaxial cable in the convertor device. 

Plug the optical audio cable input in the soundbar

Insert the other end of the optical audio cable in the convertor device. 

This setup will look like: TV -> coaxial audio cable -> coaxial to optical converter -> optical audio cable -> soundbar. 

Through Stereo analog RCA

If your TV has a stereo audio analog output port (in two colors white and red) at the back, you can make use of a stereo analog RCA cable to connect the soundbar to the TV. 

Your soundbar should also have the two ports, white and red, at the back for inserting the other end of the stereo analog RCA cable. 

Bluetooth

This is possible if your TV and soundbar both are Bluetooth enabled. 

Troubleshooting Common Soundbar Issues

1. How to connect multiple devices to the soundbar with one input?

If your soundbar has only an input port, it would have to be HDMI ARC. On the other hand, your TV should have two HDMI ports and one HDMI ARC port. If so, you can connect your multiple devices like blue ray and game console to Tv via the two HDMI ports. 

Now, connect the TV to the soundbar via the remaining HDMI ARC ports using the desired HDMI cable. 

2. How to connect multiple devices to the soundbar with only one TV input?

For this, your soundbar should have at least two ports HDMI and HDMI ARC. In addition, your TV should have an HDMI ARC port. 

If so, firstly, use an HDMI cable and HDMI ARC ports to connect the TV to the soundbar. Now, use another HDMI cable to connect the blue-ray player/game console to the soundbar using HDMI ports. 

3. My soundbar isn’t powering up?

In such cases, try to check the wired connections first. Next, use the power button on the soundbar to power it on rather than using the TV remote. 

4. My soundbar is producing no sound?

For this, try controlling the volume from the soundbar itself. Now, check the volume settings of the TV or the device connected to the soundbar. Finally, you can enable controlling your source device with a soundbar using the HDMI CEC setting. 

Frequently Asked Questions: Soundbar

1. Are soundbars worth it?

Yes, soundbars are worth it if you are not happy with your TV speaker’s sound quality. You can get a notch higher audio quality with soundbars connected to your Tv or other devices like game consoles, blue-ray etc. 

2. How much should I spend on a soundbar?

The soundbars are priced anything between $100 to $1000. Look for a soundbar with proper connections in tune with your TV’s ports at the back. You can even buy a good soundbar at a mid-range price from brands like Vizio, Polk Audio etc. 

3. What is the best cheap soundbar?

The best cheapest soundbar is Sonos Arc and Vizio SB3820-C6.

4. What is the most expensive soundbar?

Some most expensive soundbars:

5. Do you need an amplifier or receiver with a soundbar?

 No, active soundbars don’t require an amplifier or receiver as it’s inbuilt. However, you will need an amplifier or receiver in the case of passive soundbars. 

6. Soundbar vs Soundbase?

Soundbars are more popular than soundbases. Due to their flat shape, soundbas is less capable of producing powerful stereo sound than soundbars. Soundbases can be preferred if you are finding it difficult to accommodate a soundbar with your TV setup. 

7. Active vs Passive soundbars?

You will find more active soundbars in the market. Passive soundbars don’t have an inbuilt amplifier and require an external receiver. They are more expensive as well. 

For home setup and simply upgrading your TV’s audio, active soundbars are preferred. 

8. Should my soundbar be the same brand as my TV?

Unlike a soundbar and subwoofer, you don’t necessarily need a soundbar of the same brand as the TV. Soundbars are made to work with all TV types using different connection cables. 

Conclusion

This is refined information on buying a perfect soundbar all curated at a single place. One quick advice, get a look at your TV’s ports at back through the TV manual or TV itself before finding a soundbar. 

Andy Avery

Upgrading your TV sound system with a soundbar is one of the simple ways and cost-effective of improving audible, sound effects and music. No investment in amplifier, receiver, and home theater systems that can take up space and leave messy wires.

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