TV picture quality is getting better and better, but unfortunately, the sound quality on new TVs isn’t. As TVs get slimmer and more sleek, it comes at the expense of the audio components. There simply isn’t enough room for speakers, or components to properly power them to create a good audio experience. But audio quality is every bit as important to your TV watching experience. So, if you’re sick of reaching for your remote and turning your TV to its max volume, you should consider adding a sound bar to your setup.
Sound bars are a great way to instantly raise the audio quality of your home entertainment system without adding a ton of extra equipment, tricky installations, and emptying your wallet. Sound bars simulate a surround sound system by dispersing sound at different times and towards different parts of the room. This creates the illusion of a full surround sound system without having to buy multiple speakers, or an AV receiver. It’s a simple, and effective solution for your lackluster TV speakers.
Here are our picks for the best sound bars for your home:
1. Yamaha YAS-207
This sound bar sounds great playing both movies and music. The six speaker sound bar includes an addition 6.25-inch subwoofer that creates deep, precise bass. The sound bar comes with DTS Virtual:X sound technology that disperses a wide soundscape and encapsulates the viewer with sound. It’s a truly convincing surround sound experience. The clear voice sound mode also projects dialogue to the center of the soundscape to cut straight through to the viewer. It comes with a remote, but you can also download the Yamaha Theater Controller app to handle remote control duties. For clear audio and an easy setup, this sound bar is a solid choice.
2. Vizio SB361n-E8M
If you are looking for a way to upgrade the audio quality in your home entertainment setup on a budget, this is a great way to do it. Just because this sound bar is inexpensive doesn’t mean it produces poor audio quality. The Vizio SB361n projects clear and concise dialogue, and adds that much needed rumbling bass from the 5.4-inch wireless subwoofer to enhance your viewing experience. It features Bluetooth, so you can steam music straight to the sound bar, but it can’t connect to your home WiFi network, like the Sonos Beam. It also lacks HDMI inputs, so you won’t be able to connect certain devices such as your game console straight to the sound bar. It doesn’t simulate surround sound as well as others because the sound bar itself only has two speakers, but it’s still a massive upgrade compared to those wimpy TV speakers.
3. Sonos Beam
The Sonos beam impresses everyone who listens to it. It’s a lightweight, and relatively small sound bar that produces big and clear audio. The speech enhancement feature ensures that dialogue cuts right through all the noise to deliver crystal clear audio. This sound bar doesn’t come with a subwoofer like others, so the bass isn’t as powerful, but the four speaker setup, and the three passive bass radiator setup, comes together to create great surround sound simulation that brings movies to life. All of the audio that comes out of the Sonos Beam is crystal clear. One of the biggest knocks is the sound bar doesn’t feature bluetooth connectivity – instead it connects to your home WiFi, so you can still stream music to the sound bar. And while that may be a negative to some, those already living in a Sonos speaker ecosystem can connect other speakers to this sound bar, delivering a true surround sound experience. It’s no wonder 63% of Amazon reviewers gave the Beam a perfect 5 out of 5 stars.
4. Polk Audio Command Bar
The Polk Audio Command Bar provides great audio quality, Bluetooth connectivity, WiFi connectivity, and built-in voice command that integrates with Amazon Alexa. You can even integrate this sound bar with the rest of your Alexa ecosystem to control smart home devices with your voice, which is a neat trick most other sound bars on our list can’t do. What’s more, it boasts a voice adjust feature that changes the frequencies of your speaker to make dialogue sound clearer. And while the Yamaha YAS-207, for example, might produce better surround sound simulation than the Polk Command Bar, no other sound bar has as many useful features.
5. Sony ZF9
The Sony ZF9 simulates what Sony calls “vertical” surround sound. The directional firing of sound not only comes at you from the right and left, but also from above. This simulates encompassing surround sound, creating a soundscape that comes from all directions. The cinema mode really activates the vertical surround sound, while the news mode puts dialogue front and center. It also comes with a handful of features including 4K and Dolby vision compatibility, so you can connect your game console with no problem. It has built-in Chromecast to easily stream music, as well as Bluetooth and WiFi compatibility. It’s a comprehensive sound bar, but it also have a price tag to match.
6. LG SJ8
You got an ultra slim TV – why not match the style with an ultra slim sound bar. The LG SJ8 is a sleek sound bar that elegantly sits right under your TV. Some sound bars are actually tall enough to block the remote sensor on your TV but you won’t have to worry about that with the LG SJ8. The Dolby Atmos technology this sound bar sports does a good job at simulating surround sound, and creates a similar “vertical” effect as the Sony ZF9, but the subwoofer doesn’t provide the desired low-end that others like the Yamaha YAS-207 produces. It features a ton of connectivity including WiFi, Bluetooth, and an HDMI connection with 4K passthrough, so you can connect your high resolution devices without losing any quality. It’s an all around good sound bar, but a bit on the pricier side.
7. Fluance AB40 SoundBase
Soundbases are a different style of sound bar. Instead of a sleek, long, thin bar that stretches across the tabletop, a soundbase is a flat and deep base that can either slide directly under your TV, or the TV can actually rest atop the device. The Fluance AB40 isn’t the flashiest, or most feature driven sound bar, but it produces a wide soundscape that emulates surround sound much better than your TV. It only features three different sound modes, and it doesn’t have a front display, which is inconvenient because you can’t see where the volume is set. It features a wood cabinet that not only gives it a natural look, but a natural and warm sound. We like this soundbase, especially because its significantly less expensive than the Sonos Playbase – Sonos’ version of a soundbase style sound bar.