The best soundbar will complement your home entertainment system, save space, and deliver exceptional audio for a more cinematic sound experience.
However, soundbars are not necessarily better than, for example, the best PC speakers, or vice versa, as they serve slightly different purposes. That said, soundbars are generally pretty easy to set up, and perform particularly well in smaller rooms. So, if you're looking to give a soundbar a try, what exactly should you be looking out for?
To start with, you need to decide on a channel configuration. Soundbars typically start with two channels, but this can go all the way up to 11. The number of channels represents the number of speakers in the soundbar. Therefore, the higher the channel number, the greater the audio range your soundbar can provide.
On top of this, look for a soundbar with Dolby Atmos. This technology is designed to deliver realistic, immersive audio, particularly if it's compatible with DTS:X codec. Throw in a built-in subwoofer, and you've got a complete audio range from just a small, compact bit of kit.
Connectivity-wise, soundbars are usually pretty flexible. You can often connect via HDMI, optical cable, Bluetooth, and WiFi. We'd suggest eARC or HDMI ARC, as these prevent the loss of quality over a wired network.
Other features to look out for include multi-room audio, compatibility with smart home systems, and anything else that'll make your home entertainment setup that bit better.
With what to look for covered, let's dive into our top picks, which we've chosen based on their price, reviews, and the features we've mentioned above. Let's get into it...
Best soundbar - Sony HT-A7000
The Sony HT-A7000 looks to be nothing short of an excellent pick for home entertainment systems.
To begin with, it features 7.1.2 channels, which include seven main channels along with two height channels and a subwoofer. With all these speakers, the soundbar can deliver clear dialogue and bass, thus adding to your immersion.
With Dolby Atmos sound and DTS:X codec, you can expect a multi-dimensional realistic sound as well.
To add to this, the inclusion of 360 Spatial Sound Mapping creates phantom speakers, meaning the sound has a wider reach in the room. Plus, the Sound Field Optimization sets the sound for the environment, ensuring you get the best audio possible wherever you position it.
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The HT-A7000 also lets you customise the setup. You can add SA-SW3 and SA-SW5 subwoofers, or SA-RS3S or SA-RS5 rear speakers if you want to further improve your setup.
Moreover, the soundbar offers a wide range of connectivity options, including WiFi, Bluetooth, as well as HDMI, and eARC (enhanced Audio Return Channel). It's also Alexa and Google Assistant-enabled, which means you can link it to your smart home system.
Overall, we'd say this Sony device is an excellent all-round soundbar option to consider, particularly with Dolby Atmos and its 7.1.2 channel setup.
Best budget soundbar - Creative Stage 360
Soundbars can be quite expensive at times. However, this Creative Stage 360 might just be the device for you if you're looking to upgrade your home setup for less.
It sports a 2.1-channel configuration, giving you two main channels and a subwoofer for a wider audio range with sensational bass. More specifically, the subwoofer is long-throw, and has a high excursion driver to deliver thumping lows with ease.
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The soundbar also makes use of Dolby Atmos technology, giving you realistic 3D sound. This is especially useful if you're looking to set up this device with your TV to improve upon its replication of film and television audio.
You can connect to the soundbar via HDMI 2.0 or HDMI ARC, or you can go wireless with Bluetooth. For added convenience, the device comes with a remote control that lets you adjust volume, bass, and far-field listening.
Finally, the soundbar is just 22.24 inches long, so won't take up much room if you're limited for space next to your TV or PC. All in all, a great compact device to consider.
Best wireless soundbar - Samsung Q930B
The Samsung’s Q930B wireless soundbar sports a 9.1.4 channel configuration, giving you nine main channels, a subwoofer, and four height channels for a captivating, full range of audio output. Plus, Dolby Atmos and DTS:X ensure that your audio sounds life-like, be it music, a video game, or sound from a film.
The subwoofer features a microphone that helps optimise the sound as per your room’s acoustics. Plus, the soundbar enhances dialogue with Active Voice Amplifiers - there's nothing worse than not being able to hear what the characters in your favourite TV show are saying.
Moreover, with Adaptive Sound, the soundbar adjusts the audio according to the content being viewed on your TV. And, for video games, you have a dedicated Game Mode Pro to give you an auditory edge over your competition.
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In addition to all of this, the soundbar comes with two up-firing rear speakers. And since it’s all wireless, you don’t have to worry about the cable clutter in your living room either.
However, you can connect the soundbar via HDMI ARC, which ensures that DTS:X and Dolby Atmos sound files remain lossless. And, for your music, you can simply tap your phone on the bar and mirror your tunes remotely.
Finally, if you have a Samsung TV, then you can seamlessly connect the soundbar to it without any additional setup. Plus, the Q-Symphony allows you to play sounds on the TV and the soundbar in sync for a more immersive experience.
Best Dolby Atmos soundbar - Sonos Arc
With an 11-channel configuration and a built-in subwoofer, the Sonos Arc is up there as one of the best soundbars on the market.
To start with, the soundbar has 11 channels in total, a built-in subwoofer, and two dedicated height channels, which are further complemented by Dolby Atmos. The result is an immersive 3D sound that engulfs you in the audio from whatever it is you're watching.
Also, the soundbar is fine-tuned by Oscar-winning sound engineers, helping to ensure all dialogue is clear and easy to understand through its speaker system. The speech can be tweaked with the Speech Enhancement feature in the Sonos App.
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As far as connectivity is concerned, you get multiple options, including HDMI, Bluetooth, and WiFi. This makes it fairly straightforward to set up. All you have to do is plug in the two cables and you're good to go.
Plus, for an even more immersive experience, you can connect subwoofers and rear speakers. As all this can be linked wirelessly, you don't have to worry about cables running across your room, thus making it a great option to consider for your home system.
Best PC soundbar - Razer Leviathan V2
Razer is known for manufacturing high-quality equipment for PC and gaming. So, when it comes to the best PC soundbar, it's perhaps unsurprising we've picked this Razer Leviathan V2.
The soundbar's channel configuration is 5.1, giving you five main channels and a subwoofer. The device also has multiple drivers, which deliver full-range, high-fidelity sound for a better audio experience.
Plus, it's designed to provide a 7.1 surround sound with THX's certification ensuring the uncompromised quality of your spatial audio.
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Connectivity-wise, you get Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity with low latency, which ensures a seamless connection with minimal delay. This is also handy as it helps keep your setup free from wires.
Furthermore, the soundbar is compact, meaning it can fit at your gaming desk with ease, whether that's under your monitor or beside your PC.
Finally, as with most Razer items, this soundbar is illuminated with Razer's Chroma RGB lights, providing you with 18 lighting zones and dynamic in-game lighting effects to take your setup to the next level.
Best small soundbar - Sonos Beam Gen 2
Back to Sonos, this Beam Gen 2 might just be your answer if a small, compact soundbar is what you're searching for.
To start with, the soundbar boasts a 'panoramic soundstage', which, combined with the promise of clear speech, makes the device suitable for movies, TV shows, and even video games and music. Plus, with Dolby Atmos, you can expect 3D sound effects and cinematic audio from this device.
The Sonos App is a handy tool as you can quickly customise the soundbar's output on the fly. For instance, the 'Night Sound' mode reduces louder audio, but turns up the quieter ones for when you're watching TV in the evening and don't want to disturb your neighbours. By contrast, for your music and podcasts, you can switch the settings to stereo sound and enjoy crystal-clear speech.
Finally, just like other Sonos soundbars, this Beam device is quick and easy to set up. All you have to do is plug the two-cable setup in place and hit the play button. So, make sure you check it out if a small, easy-to-setup soundbar is what you're after.
Frequently Asked Questions
While you're searching for the best soundbar, you may encounter these questions...
What is Dolby Atmos technology?
Dolby Atmos is, at its core, surround sound technology, but taken up a notch to give you a cinematic audio experience from the comfort of your own home.
It works by using 118 simultaneous sound objects, which can be as simple as a ball bouncing or a door slamming, then these objects being placed by designers to exact points in a soundfield rather than simply assigned to a specific channel.
This is what helps give Dobly Atmos sound that 3D effect, despite simply using a compact soundbar for your audio.
What is DTS:X?
DTS:X is an audio codec that aims to mimic the sounds objects would make in real life rather simply on a TV screen. For example, DTS:X aims to make you hear a helicopter hovering in the sky as if it was above you, thus giving you a sense of multi-dimensional sound.
This differs from Dolby Atmos as DTS:X works with standard surround speaker setups, rather than Atmos which requires 5.1 or 7.1.