Soundbars comparison

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Rating 3.9 3.9
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How to choose a soundbar

The soundbar is a fairly compact, horizontally oriented, electro-acoustic device with or without a subwoofer, designed to improve and enhance the sound capabilities of modern TVs. Previously, in order to enjoy the volume and clarity of the sound of the TV, users had to buy several speakers and a subwoofer, allocate a lot of space for them and regularly stumble on tangled cords, wiping the quickly accumulating dust on their surface. Now all problems are solved by acquiring a soundbar but there is another reason for what to look for in a soundbar.

In order to know how to choose a soundbar for yourself, you need to pay attention to:

  • dimensions and installation method;
  • sound format and power;
  • connection method;
  • support for formats, other functions, and features.

Installation

According to the installation method, all soundbars can be divided into two types: wall and those that can be put on the floor/shelf. There are models with two installation options on what look for when buying a soundbar.

Wall-mounted soundbars have special mounts or brackets to place them on the wall.

Shelf soundbars can be put on a special shelf or other furniture of a suitable size. Soundbars that can be used as a TV stand are also worth mentioning here. They have a flat shape and extra strong construction. Such a soundbar can be put on a table or other surface, and a TV can be installed on top of it. Often this type of soundbar is made of small height. And this does not allow us to create a device with extensive sound capabilities.

The provided installation method affects not only the design or appearance of the device but also often its acoustic capabilities. Therefore, it is not recommended to install the soundbar in an abnormal way.

Soundbar width to TV diagonal ratio

Let's talk about the dimensions of the main panel with the speakers, and the conversation basically comes down to aesthetics. When mounting on a wall, the ideal option is when the length of the soundbar matches the width of the TV case. If you put the soundbar on a shelf in front of the display, then you can choose a model a little narrower, and it will neatly hide between the legs, as we have here. And in order to make it easier for customers to select a sandbar, many manufacturers produce several variants of the same soundbar for different TV diagonals.

The best option is to compare the diagonal of the TV and the width of the soundbar, which can be done using the information from our soundbar buying guide:

  • 35 cm (13,7 inches) - any TV diagonal
  • 96 to 114 cm (37,7 to 44,8 inches) - 42 to 50 inches
  • 127 cm (50 inches) - 55 to 65 inches
  • 152 cm (59,8 inches) - from 70 inches and more

Depth and power

Another question in the topic "How to buy a soundbar?" is power.

The depth and power of the sound are largely dependent on the bass. The subwoofer is responsible for the bass. In soundbars, it can be built-in or connected separately. The built-in subwoofer will save space, but it will not give out especially high-quality basses. If you want to enjoy a more powerful and high-quality sound, it is better to choose models with an active subwoofer.

Under total power is usually meant the sum of the power of the main speakers and the subwoofer.

However, the actual volume of the device depends more on the power of the main speakers. This means that models with the same rated power can differ markedly in sound volume. For example, take two models with the same power of 200W. Only in the first case is it 100 W the soundbar itself and 100 W subwoofer, and in the second - 150 W soundbar and 50 W subwoofer. The second option will be louder.

The larger the area of ​​the room in which the soundbar will be used, and the farther the distance to the viewer, the more powerful you need to choose a device. It is believed that for our average apartments, a soundbar with a power of about 100 watts will be quite enough, excluding the subwoofer.

In addition to power, you need to pay attention to such an indicator as to the sound format. It is indicated by two digits through the point where the first digit is the number of main channels, and the second is low-frequency, i.e. bass.

Not always the number of sound channels means that at least one speaker is allocated for each of them. Some models simply have virtual surround support. Thus, for the listener, it seems that he hears more channels than is provided in the soundbar. By the reliability of the sound, this option loses to the real multi-channel but wins at price.

Configuration

Soundbars, on the other hand, are most often built according to the 2.0 or 2.1 scheme - that is, two channels in the central module, plus an optional subwoofer. Clearly, no rear channels, all the speakers - right here, in front of you. Model 3.1 is less common - when there is a separate speaker for the center, dialogs are usually driven into it in soundtracks.

Models with indices above (5.1, 7.1, 9.1) most often have a main body with dedicated speakers for the rear channels, and they use complex processing algorithms to ensure that the signal reflected from the walls of the room creates the illusion of surround sound. This, of course, is better than the complete lack of rear, but usually much more expensive, and at the same time, to be honest, not very effective.

Well and the pinnacle of progress - soundbars with Dolby Atmos. Here, in addition to the five classic ones, there are two more upward-facing speakers, the sound from which is reflected from the ceiling for greater volume and immersion in what is happening on the screen.

Connection method

This parameter should not be ignored. Roughly speaking, today you can find two categories of soundbars - with or without HDMI ports. In the second case, everything is limited to an optical or coaxial digital input and analog tulips. If you, in addition to the TV, have other sources of the signal — the same media player or game console — the best option is when you connect all the devices to the TV, by which you switch the inputs, and the sound is already output from it to the soundbar. Yes, this can be done with the optical output.

However, firstly, you may encounter limitations - TVs often do not provide multichannel sound to the optical output, and secondly, new HD audio signals with a high bitrate do not pass through the outdated optical output.

If you choose a subwoofer with HDMI, then you will not encounter these problems. To pick up the sound in original quality from the TV, plug it into the connector labeled “HDMI ARC”. If you need HD audio formats - look for a soundbar with eARC or connect the source directly.

However, still, HDMI is the most popular interface for transmitting sound and image to date. The HDMI input allows you to connect various external signal sources. If there are several such inputs, this makes it possible to connect several devices at the same time and simply select the desired one in the settings, without pulling the cable again.

This means that it can transfer the signal to another HDMI-compatible device, for example, to switch the video signal from the DVD player to the TV. There can also be several such exits.

If it is possible to separately connect a subwoofer, then the soundbar will be equipped with a special output for this. Usually, it is designed for an “active” subwoofer, i.e. with its own amplifier.

Other features

Most soundbars now have network features. And well-known Wi-Fi is designed not only for wireless broadcasting of sound but also allows you to access content on the Internet, as well as control the soundbar from your smartphone.

AirPlay and AirPlay 2 are wireless audio technology developed by Apple. The signal is transmitted via Wi-Fi. Convenient if you plan to listen to your favorite songs from your iPhone. There is also a similar technology from Google - Chromecast.

Bluetooth essentially turns the soundbar into wireless speakers. It allows you to stream music from a smartphone and similar devices and connect other devices that support Bluetooth technology to the soundbar.

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