October 1, 2017 | Nigella Martins | 1 Comment Do you hear the beats? No? Listen.. ! No chance?? Then it’s high time you grabbed one of the coolest compact speaker systems! The HDTV’s that you buy will be thin, and if you want to double up audio experience and get the real feel of the home theater, then soundbars are the best choice. TVs don’t usually sound that great. So, we could consider one of the major cons of the TV as the low quality of sound. As and when the TV becomes slimmer, there will be lesser space for the inbuilt speakers. So, altogether, you might find the TV ‘attractive’. However, when it comes to audio clarity and quality, you might find it weak. Why settle for the ‘boring’ built-in TV speakers when you have amazing high-end soundbars which help you to get the best of both worlds? On the other hand, if you are thinking of buying separate home theater components, then it could turn out to be a tad more expensive. Therefore, it is best to buy a good quality soundbar. If you are looking for some data about sound bar speakers, then this is your best resource. Our sound bar reviews will give you honest advice on what to buy, and you can trust us completely. We also give unbiased ratings to help you pick the best ones suiting your needs. What are soundbars? So, what really is a Soundbar? They are simple and sleek devices which help to enhance the TV’s audio without all the bustle and wires of a surround sound system. If you go and check in the ‘electronics’ market, you will be bale to find a number of different varieties of Soundbars, which will help you satisfy your needs. From cheap, no-fuss soundbars to soundbars with and without subwoofers can be found in the market. You could simply call these soundbars as add-on sound systems that will not take up much space than your TV itself. However, when it comes to power, range and clarity, they are going to blow your mind! How do soundbars work? Basically, the soundbars comprise of seven speakers in one – with each speaker arranged inside the ‘bar’ and placed in such a way as to produce surround sound. A psycho-acoustic effect means sound simply bounces off the walls. One can say that this technology messes with their senses. It can trick you into believing that the sound is behind you when it really is not! The soundbar does not spare quality for convenience: the sound quality is similar to that of a conventional sound system. These soundbars send around various ‘beams’ of sound, so there’s a unique beam for every channel. Essentially, with the soundbars, you don’t actually require any reflecting walls, rear speakers, an AV receiver or subwoofer. What is the best soundbar? You will be able to find soundbars in several shapes and sizes. They range in price from under £100/$100 to around £1,000/$1,500. Some of the inexpensive models have all the basic connections, which comprises of a digital optical socket. On the other hand, the costlier ones combine better HDMI inputs, wireless audio streaming, solid power, more polished speaker drivers, and decoding of Blu-ray sound formats. The design is also necessary, with models equipped to sit in front of your TV on a stand while others may require a separate shelf, or be mounted on the wall. However, whatever your budget, there are some cracking good acoustic upgrades to be had that can provide your TV with the sound it deserves. So without more of ado, let me welcome everyone of you to the review of the top ten soundbars of 2017. If you are thinking about ‘budget’, then you don’t need to worry about that too because we have got something to suit every budget. 1.Samsung HW-K950- The Best Atmos Compatible Soundbar The first one on our list is Samsung HW-K950. If you are a person who loves to get into ‘Dolby Atmos’ yet do not wish to cut holes in your ceiling, then Samsung’s HW-K950 is the best-suited soundbar. (You can thank us later for this little tip) This is one soundbar which is equipped with ‘Dolby-Atmos‘ and highlights upward-firing speakers. The main attraction of this soundbar is that it includes a pair of physical surround speakers along with an up-firing Atmos drivers. As with the surround sound capacity of this speaker, you will find that the movie soundtracks not only surround you horizontally with the HW-K950, but it will also get you a sense of height, of being fully ‘engrossed’ in a 3D sound bubble. On the contrary, you will be able to find that these soundbars are built robustly, and hence you might not get ‘impressed’ with the looks as such. It is a 1,210mm-wide rectangular bar which is masked in black aluminium grilles that hide the front and top drivers. In the front edge, you will be bale to find two brush-effect end caps connected by an angled trim. This may be the only ‘decoration’ that you might find in this soundbar. However, it isn’t the looks that we had been searching for, but rather the features! This soundbar is nearly 81mm in height and is 131mm deep. Whoa! That is bulky you say? Maybe! However, you can close your eyes on that because we could find lot more great and attractive features in this one when compared to the rest of the speakers found in the market. The soundbar can also be mounted on the wall – Samsung helpfully supplies brackets, screws and a mounting template in the box. You can also wall-mount the surround speakers. Samsung HW-K950 is a fabulous product which plays DTS in stereo and is an amazing performer that should be proximate the top of any audiophile’s soundbar audition list. On that note, let us take a quick look at the pros and cons of this amazing soundbar. PROS It has an explosive large-scale movie sound Refined tone with exceptional composure Immersive Atmos soundstage Far-Reaching feature list Slick operation Refined tone with exceptional composure Immersive Atmos soundstage Far-Reaching feature list Slick operation CONS Slightly bulky and is also on the expensive side 2.Monitor Audio ASB-2- Best Soundbar With AirPlay support Monitor Audio ASB-2 has taken the second spot on our list, proving to be the ultimate audio hub for any home. This is a high-quality soundbar which can be operated beneath a TV monitor from wall positions or even rack. The ASB-2 is a stunning performer, and it is the level of refinement on offer, which makes it real perfect and impressive. You can connect plenty of sound sources to the ASB-2 through three HDMI inputs and utilise the HDMI output for 3D/1080p video pass through and OSD. The HDMI 1.4’s Audio Return Channel (ARC) enables for the two-way transfer of information between a compatible device and the ASB-2, thus forming an additional input from the HDMI output. Apart from that, the Digital S/PDIF optical and coaxial inputs link further flexibility, along with the stereo analogue RCAs for plugging-in legacy radios and also the CD players. You will also be able to find that the network setup and upgrades are through USB or Wi-Fi. From the ASB-2’s compact handset, you can easily select the input, volume, track, menu, mute, standby and play, or even access this functionality from home control screens through hex codes for each remote feature, which can be programmed into a whole-house system by your custom installer. This fully active, high-performance soundbar system has a total power delivery of 160 watts along with a wireless AirPlay, DLNA and UPnP music streaming. This sound system is very much consistent in its quality irrespective of the environment it is in. This soundbar is one high-end affair that may hit your wallet harder than most of the soundbars you may find in the market. However, you can also say that it is expensive for a reason. The design of this soundbar is definitely going to blow your mind. Therefore, if money is not a problem and all you need is a speaker system that reduces the clutter, then Monitor Audio ASB-2 could be right up your street. Having said that, let us take a quick look at the advantages and disadvantages of this soundbar. PROS It has a sublime sound quality You might find the design to be ‘luxurious.’ It supports AirPlay CONS It has a tricky PC Wi-Fi setup It does not have a Bluetooth 3. Philips Fidelio B5- Best Bluetooth Soundbar You can now immerse your listening tastes in excellent surround sound whenever you want, with the help of these extraordinary Philips Fidelio B5 Soundbar, which is why we have ranked it third on our list. If you want to get that ‘surround sound’ experience, all you need to do is to detach the wireless surround speakers from the left and right of the main speaker units and then keep them at the rear of the room! When all your gaming or show is done, you can simply reattach it. How good is that?? This soundbar will be nearly a meter in length and perhaps four to five inches thick along with the Bluetooth speakers docked. It’s more ‘majestic’ than several other slimmer soundbar options available in the market. You may also find that there is no network interference with this soundbar since it uses the proprietary wireless audio technology along with the surround speakers that run on a particular frequency. Therefore, you also get a fully wireless surround system.Apart from that, there is also an incredible balance of sound which is mainly because of the advanced spatial calibration function. In the back, you will also find two HDMI-in, one HDMI-out, optical audio, USB and also 3.5mm ports. However, if you wish to ‘go wireless’, then you also have Bluetooth aptX, AAC and NFC. The decoupling of the satellite speaker exhibits two small switches, one present on each speaker. This will allow you to switch between Bluetooth and surround sound modes. The moment you have set them up, all you need to do is to run the Arc Spatial Calibration tool so as to balance the channels. This soundbar has a sophisticated design along with a high-quality aluminium finishing. Aluminium is not just strong and lightweight but also helps in producing a truly iconic design. Now, what are the pros and cons of this product? Let us have a look. PROS It has a powerful and poised sound quality Ample features and connections It has an elegant design CONS It does not have the Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding It has an upward-facing display panel 4. VIZIO SB2920-C6 29-Inch- Best Budget Soundbars Up next, we have the VIZIO SB2920-C6 29″ 2.0 Soundbar which delivers virtual surround sound. This soundbar offers fantastic audio, along with its sophisticated new design. You can simply use the Bluetooth so as to stream music from your smartphone, tablet or even computer. The VIZIO SB2920-C6 29″ 2.0 Soundbar features DTS TruVolume, which reduces any sort of distractions of the fluctuating volume and DTS for an immersive surround sound experience. With everything you require for a fast and easy setup, upgrading to an astounding home theatre experience has never been easier. All you need to do is plug in the soundbar, and then connect it to the TV. And there you go! The VIZIO SB2920-C6 29″ 2.0 Soundbar highlights dual 2.5″ drivers for full-range sound quality and the built-in Bluetooth enables you to easily stream wireless audio from compatible devices like the smartphones or even the MP3 players. There’s a subwoofer output on the back of the soundbar that enables you to connect an optional subwoofer for added low bass impact. The VIZIO SB2920-C6 soundbar is well equipped for external device connections with USB, stereo RCA, coaxial inputs and digital optical. RCA-to-3.5mm, digital optical, and digital coaxial cables combined with the speaker for easy connectivity. Apart from that, you will also find a remote control included. It can also be wall mounted and therefore comes with mounting hardware. The Vizio devices are not identified for their booming bass. Therefore you must assume the same kind of bass performance for this product. You cannot call it as a con if you’re not a ‘bass head’ and perhaps don’t listen to dance/EDM music that much. However, for viewing TV and playing games, the audio quality is more than enough to satiate even the pickiest of audiophiles. On that note, let us go through the advantages and disadvantages of this product. PROS Compact and portable soundbar Fantastic design Budget friendly CONS You might not get satisfied with the bass performance You need to turn on separately 5. Sony HT-XT3- Best Audio Booster We have decided to give Sony HT-XT3 fifth place mainly because of a pair of downward-firing subwoofers packed into the base. The HT-XT3 is a sound base that not only enhances audio from your TV but can also be utilised as a part of Sony’s multiroom music system. So, what does this mean? It simply means that you can play tunes on the HT-XT3 while sending them to other Sony speakers. The best part of this soundbar is that it does all this while just watching your TV and you don’t have to get bothered about any clutter whatsoever! The list of features it comes with is great and also has a lower-than-expected price tag. This soundbar sits on protruding feet so as to give the downward-firing subwoofers some clearance. This, therefore, increases the height of the soundbar. The Sony HT-XT3 can hold up to 50kg or 65in TVs. However, due to the height, you won’t be able to use it with televisions which are larger, which typically have two separate feet at each end for the support rather than a central pedestal. You can somewhat say that Sony HT-XT3 is more of an all-in-one alternative for those who don’t want to have to bother about the arrangement of a separate subwoofer, the Fidelio XS1 has a separate wireless subwoofer to view which has helped reduce its height. This sound bar is compatible with Google Cast, enabling you to stream music straight from compatible Android apps, whilst Sony’s Song Pal smartphone app allows you stream tracks from PCs and NAS drives on your home network, and also music stored locally on your mobile. Apart from that, you can also reach Google Play Music and Spotify. Having said that, let us have a quick look at the pros and cons of Sony HT-XT3. PROS The build quality is quite impressive and has a refined design Extensive features It has a room-filling sound with lots of detail CONS The soundstage lacks width Subwoofer booms at high volumes 6. Arcam Solo Bar Plus & Solo Sub- Best Stylish Soundbar Up next, we have the Arcam Solo Bar Plus & Solo Sub Soundbars which is best for those people who would like to develop on the mediocre sound quality of modern TVs. Arcam Solo Bar Plus is wonderfully built inside and out. It carries high-end circuitry and components from the company’s AV receivers into a hard aluminium enclosure engineered to block and dispel resonance. As with its appearance, you will be able to find that apart from being stylish, it has a curved matte back-end and also a silver trim which separates the front speaker grilles and the central display panel. You will also be able to find a row of buttons and also large dot-matrix display that shows the inputs, volume levels, and audio formats, in the front. This soundbar offers four HDMI 1.4 inputs along with an ARC-enabled output. They pass through the 3D and 4K signals and also support 4K up to 60Hz at 4:2:0 color space. However, they lack HDCP 2.2, which might prove to be problematic while going forward. You’ll also see coaxial and optical digital inputs, a 3.5mm minijack input and a subwoofer output should you wish to connect the Solo Sub through cable. A socket is given for the supplied setup microphone, and there is also a USB port for software updates. The connections are housed in an open recess that enables the cables to hang down when it is wall-mounted. This is a soundbar which is very easy to install and work as any budget soundbar. The first thing you need to do after powering it up is to drive the Auto Setup system using the provided microphone, which is yet another feature that you won’t see on several soundbars. It operates a series of test tones to find the correct speaker levels and crossover frequency with the sub, as well as using filters to rectify resonant frequencies in the room. That being said, let us check the advantages and disadvantages. PROS It has an outstanding build quality and design Transparent sound with enhanced attack and detail Market-leading variety of features and connections CONS The subwoofer does not have a depth and punch over wireless connection Tall enclosure blocks TV IR sensor Remote build quality 7. Philips Fidelio XS1 Soundstage- Best Soundbar With Bass Philips Fidelio XS1 Soundstage is the seventh one on our list. The SoundStage carries a rich premium finish, which is topped with a classic glass panel that enables it to combine in with even the most modern of homes. All you need to do is to place your TV on top of the SoundStage or slide it below the TV’s feet to enjoy a new level of sound. Philips Fidelio XS1 Soundstage is designed to be matched with TVs from 40″ to 65″, the SoundStage can handle a maximum weight of 44kg. As with its appearance, you will find that the glass top surface is quite rich and firm, while the grey aluminium mesh running around the edge adds to the taste of sophistication. It’s a wonderfully made product and has slim dimensions. Apart from that, you will also find the XS1 logo and NFC touch point under the glass panel. There is a cluster of controls sits on the side, including power, source selection, and volume. Their placement towards the back makes them tricky to access. You will be able to find a USB port for MP3 and WMA playback and also a 3.5mm mini-jack input (behind the buttons). There’s NFC, apt-X Bluetooth and onboard decoding for Dolby Digital and DTS. The 3.1-channel sound base utilises six racetrack drivers, one on each side and the rest of the four along the front. Two of the front drivers are dedicated centre speakers that aim to bring extra clarity to dialogue, while the side-firing speakers add width to the soundstage. Each driver is provided with 20W of amplification, while the subwoofer’s dual 6.5in woofers give out 200W. Now, what are the advantages and disadvantages of this product? Check below to have a quick view. PROS It has an elegant design and robust build quality Big soundstage with loads of bass and detail Impressive feature list CONS A bit brash at high volumes The shape of the sub is quite awkward Expensive 8. Philips HTL5140- Best Wi-Fi Bluetooth Soundbar Philips HTL5140 is a soundbar from Philips, which provides sufficient amount of audio power while also delivering clear tones, thus making it the eighth one on our list. This soundbar will not consume your time in setting it up. Apart from the great sound, you will also get wireless streaming via the Bluetooth and a USB drive. This soundbar consists of an array of speakers for a dynamic sound that actually brings the action home. Moreover, it includes some really good features that help to enhance the user experience. Along with this soundbar, you will also get a nice speaker set up. You will find four woofers in the main enclosure and two tweeters for an excellent, balanced sound. It does not stop there. You will be able to find yet another subwoofer too. For the most part, these speakers all mesh well to provide high-quality sound, but if you have the subwoofer turned up, it can be a bit overwhelming at higher volumes. The array of speakers with this set presents a magnificent virtual surround. It is a 2.1-channel system, so it is not going to be the same as a true surround sound system, but it does do a good job of simulating the effect. Apart from all that, the system comes with a range of preset sound modes and independent controls for the bass and the treble. When checking the ease of the use, you will find that this soundbar is very easy to use. The best user experience will come from combining the system through an HDMI, but even via the optical cable, the HTL5140 is still pretty user-friendly. It has a well-designed remote that makes it very simple to operate the features and functions, and it has a display screen and indicator lights that help the user to monitor the activity of the device. Now check out its pros and cons. PROS It has big bass output and explicit detail Magnificent cohesion between soundbar and subwoofer Wonderful build and discreet design CONS Occasionally overpowering bass It is quite inconvenient to access the socket. 9. Sonos Playbar- Best Clarity Soundbars Sonos Playbar is the next one and can be counted as one of the perfect multiroom digital music for any home. We recommend this one to you mainly because it is very simple to use and undeniably superior to some of the other soundbars we found in the market. The Sonos Playbar can even wirelessly pair up with the Sonos Sub and a pair of Play:3 speakers for an amazing 5.1-channel home theatre system. This is a home theatre, which is reinvented from the ground up, discarding legacy compatibility for the rusticity of wireless. This soundbar will play everything (except hi-res tracks) you’ve got saved on your computer or NAS device. This soundbar profits from a recently added feature which lets you send audio straight from an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. Apart from that, it connects you to internet radio. No devices outside of those made by the Sonos itself give anywhere near the same breadth or depth of content. Now, take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of this product. PROS It is neat, stylish and minimalist Wide, deep, detailed and dynamic soundstage CONS It does not push sound into the room as much as it could Optical is only connection option Cannot manage DTS soundtracks 10. Samsung HW-J7500- Best curved soundbar Last, but not the least, we have Samsung HW-J7500. Samsung HW-J7500 is a curved soundbar, with a wireless subwoofer and has a sleek finish (though it does not have that sophisticated look). One of its main features is that it is unyielding, and has a variety of connectivity options, which also includes wireless multiroom. As with the performance of the soundbar, one can say that it is quite decent. If you have a curved TV, it’s one of the only comparable sound bar options accessible to you, and that could make it a reliable choice. This soundbar is quite big when compared with the rest of the soundbars. It is nearly 1230mm wide. It’s designed to follow TVs of nearly 55 inches, but there are smaller models in the range suitable for 48in sets. You can attach the HW-J7500 to a wall-mounted curved TV utilizing the given brackets. You will also find a cluster of buttons on the top, governing volume, input selection and also the power. A dot matrix display illuminates through the front speaker mesh, which clearly shows the volume levels and selected inputs, and then disappears when it is kept idle. The soundbar also attempts to polish up lower-quality audio files with the help of High-Frequency Restoration (HFR) which reinstates the audio data lost in the compression process. Lets us have a look at the advantages and disadvantages. PROS Amazing feature list Bold and Elegant design with a solid build Lots of bass and dynamic tone CONS Single HDMI input Subwoofer could be tighter and agiler Sub/soundbar integration could be better Conclusion All the ten soundbars which we have provides ripping surround sound and also has an amazing music replay. So, if you are looking for ‘the ultimate’ soundbar, then probably you won’t find anything at all. However, these top ten soundbars are the closest you may get for the money you spend. Of course, you can always develop your own Atmos system with a receiver and also with a set of speakers. As always, the main benefit of a sound bar over separate speakers is its discreet design. Most of the soundbars provide immersive 3D sound while maintaining the clutter to a minimum, and presents best-ever sound quality in the process. It is now up to you to decide onto the one best suited for your needs.