Does the TV you have purchased not have great quality audio? Don’t worry: soundbars are devices that serve to have excellent audio quality without having a thousand accessories or having to use cables and wires.
What are the best TV soundbars? Here is a complete guide to choosing the most suitable for your needs, with particular attention to the best economic soundbars and those with the integrated subwoofer.
Things to Consider Before Buying Soundbars
When buying a new TV, the sound doesn’t always sound satisfactory. This is why soundbars have spread on the market, small speakers that connect to the TV and allow you to create wireless surround systems.
Say goodbye to the tangled cables in the living room and enjoy a fantastic sound experience.
How a Soundbar Works?
Very often, those who have to choose an audio system to combine with their TV try to understand the substantial difference between the soundbar and a complete home-theatre system, for this reason, one wonders how a soundbar works and what the term ” virtual surround ” means.
Skilled engineering work has enabled the best technology companies to insert around seven speakers into the soundbars.
The term ” virtual surround ” was born from the psycho-acoustic effect that deceives our ears and our brain, making us believe that the sound arrives behind us. The acoustic effect reproduced by the soundbars is similar to an optical illusion.
Technically, the sound “bounces” between the walls of a room, reaching the back or side of our ear. Most likely, audiophiles can distinguish the difference between a real and a virtual surround system.
But let us remember that the soundbars are a product accessible to anyone, both in terms of price range and assembly. In choosing the best soundbar, the economic factor is what will probably influence the purchase of the device.
There are all the prices but, regardless of the cost, the factors to be evaluated are manifold. It is important to take into consideration the audio quality, the design, the connectivity, the audio technology that is supported, and, of course, the power.
Judging the sound quality of a soundbar is very complicated. Also, because, especially as regards the medium / high market segments, we are now talking about devices capable of guaranteeing a sound rendering that, until some time ago, was truly unimaginable in such compact devices.
However, that of audio quality is one of the factors in which a very subjective evaluation comes into play, that is based on the specific tastes of each user and, above all, on his needs.
The objective audio performance is influenced not only by the quality of the speakers and integrated amplifiers but also by the positioning of the soundbar, by the size of the environment in which it will be mounted and by the type of use that will be made of it.
In any case, it is very important to be able to understand which audio technologies are supported by the soundbar you are about to purchase. To obtain a satisfactory sound performance.
It is very important that, before purchasing, make sure that the model chosen supports the aptX, Dolby Atmos and DTS audio technologies.
Design is the first factor to consider when approaching any soundbar model. Cheap soundbars generally consist of a single unit, while others include the possibility of using other external speakers and subwoofers.
There are, in fact, active soundbars, with an integrated subwoofer, or passive soundbars that therefore need power and other external speakers.
Connectivity is probably one of the most important factors to consider. A factor that varies greatly depending on the type of device to which it will be connected.
Some soundbars connect via the digital optical cable, others connect to the TV via an HDMI cable that uses ARC technology, others have different analog inputs and even NFC.
It is also very important to consider the presence of Bluetooth, to easily connect the smartphone, NFC or WiFi, if you want to use services such as Spotify, Apple Music and the like, without the need to necessarily use the smartphone.
It is an important factor, but very simple to evaluate. The power of a soundbar depends on the number of speakers it integrates and the power in watts of each of them.
From these values, you can understand the maximum volume that each model can reach. Still, it is very important to consider an important thing: a powerful soundbar is not always necessary, especially in environments that are not too large.
Assuming that soundbars are not only hardware but above all management by software, it is easy to understand that one of the most important factors (capable of guaranteeing good audio performance) depends precisely on the hardware management system.
Also, some of the best soundbars also integrate Google Assistant or Alexa, are compatible with all music streaming services, and also have the ability to support Apple’s AirPlay 2 and Google Cast.
What Are the Channels and Which to Choose?
The channel corresponds to the number of speakers, which in the case of a soundbar, are virtually represented. Read more: Multichannel audio on Wikipedia.
This simple list can help you:
- 2-channel soundbar: 2 speakers: left and right;
- 3-channel soundbar: 3 speakers: center, left and right;
- 5-channel soundbar: 5 speakers: center, left, right and two rear (this is the standard of the home theatre);
- 7-channel soundbar: 5 speakers as above, but two more in the rear;
- Dolby Soundbar: Dolby is a proprietary standard of multichannel audio, so to speak, it is the standard used in cinemas.
What Connections or Ports Do I Need?
Current soundbars are available in a wide range of connectivity options; the market is indeed full of Wireless soundbars, rather than Bluetooth and so on. Before buying I recommend, you keep an eye on:
HDMI: Simply connect the soundbar to the TV’s audio return channel (ARC) input, and you’re done. It tends to be the most chosen link.
Are you looking for a device that can play audio directly from your phone or tablet? Here are the features you should check:
- Bluetooth: To date, many soundbars are equipped with Bluetooth technology, so that they can play audio from computers, smartphones, and tablets;
- WiFi: Wireless soundbars connect to a home’s internet and can transmit anything in any place (Spotify, TIDAL, etc.).
- The optical port provides the best connection between soundbar and TV: simple, reliable, and always available. It has one flaw: it does not transmit the 5.1 signal
As a rule, the USB inputs are integrated into each device to facilitate firmware updates. To date, all users update the software of their device via WiFi, so unless you need to play music from a USB stick, you can also not consider this point.