Best soundbar 2021: Boost your TV audio with these speakers

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(Pocket-lint) - Looking for a soundbar to boost your TV audio? Want a single-box solution without the fuss of a receiver and a cardinal antithetic wires?

Then you've travel to the close place. Our soundbar round-up is wherever we've gathered unneurotic the latest and top soundbars we've reviewed.

There's a satellite of prime erstwhile it comes to soundbars, but, with each the antithetic diagnostic sets and codecs, it tin rapidly go rather confusing. That's wherefore we've lined up what we deliberation are the elite options astir erstwhile it comes to boosting your TV's sound.

In addition, we've enactment unneurotic a useful usher astatine the bottommost to assistance you abstracted the features you really necessitate from the selling spiel.

Armed with this info, picking your adjacent soundbar should beryllium a breeze - so, let's get into the picks.


What is the champion soundbar? Currently, our apical proposal is the Samsung HW-Q950A. However, we besides counsel checking retired the Sony HT-A7000, Sonos Beam (Gen 2), Philips Fidelio B97 and the JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam.


Our Top Pick: Best Soundbar

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Samsung HW-Q950A

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For

  • Immersive sound
  • Coherent bass integration
  • Dolby Vision and HDR10+ pass-through

Against

  • SmartThings app could spot improvements
  • The show is connected the top

The Samsung HW-Q950A is 1 of the astir immersive and affluent sounding soundbar systems we person ever tested. Thanks to 16 transmission audio the soundstage is seamless successful each directions.

With Dolby Atmos and DTS:X content, determination is pinpoint positional accuracy and the rumble of the subwoofer is capable to enactment a grin connected anyone's face.

We reckon this is arsenic bully arsenic it gets without delving into the analyzable satellite of HiFi separates - but with that said, you'll inactive request to find a spot for the rear speakers and subwoofer to get the afloat effect.

Soundbars we besides recommend

While the Samsung HW-Q950A is astatine the highest of this list, it's not needfully the close soundbar for everyone, and surely not everyone's budget. That's wherefore we've besides selected the pursuing devices for you to consider. 

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Sony HT-A7000

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For

  • Wide and precocious soundstage
  • Two HDMI inputs
  • 7.1.2 dependable output

Against

  • Inbuilt bass tin beryllium thumpy
  • The shiny apical aboveground tin beryllium distracting

The HT-A7000 is simply a monolithic 1.3-meter agelong soundbar, and it delivers monolithic sound, too. We were particularly impressed with the soundstage, which is overmuch wider and higher than different all-in-one options; making it a cleanable pairing with spatial formats similar Dolby Atmos.

It's got much connectivity options than most, too, including 2 HDMI inputs that are susceptible of 8K60 HDR pass-through. This is arsenic good arsenic an HDMI eARC output that makes setup a breeze.

From our testing, we deliberation astir radical volition privation to opt for the optional subwoofer add-on to get that truly heavy bass. Though, adjacent arsenic a standalone unit, the HT-A7000 offers immersive and dynamic sound.

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Sonos Beam (Gen 2)

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For

  • Small signifier origin and large sound
  • Virtual Dolby Atmos support
  • HDMI eARC makes setup easy

Against

  • Less awesome astatine debased volumes
  • Surround setup is expensive

The Sonos Beam is simply a compact soundbar susceptible of delivering dependable that feels similar it should beryllium coming from a talker doubly the size. Being a Sonos merchandise it comes with each the niceties we person travel to expect, including enactment for some Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

If you already person immoderate Sonos speakers past the Beam is simply a large enactment arsenic it tin integrate seamlessly into your multiroom setup, doubling up arsenic a large sounding talker for music.

The updated mentation of the Sonos Beam makes improvements aesthetically, arsenic good arsenic adding much-needed enactment for Dolby Atmos. If you determine to spell with afloat situation dependable astatine a aboriginal date, you tin wirelessly brace 2 Sonos One speakers arsenic rears and adhd a subwoofer. It'll get beauteous pricey, though.

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Philips Fidelio B97

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For

  • Clever detachable situation speakers
  • Great bass
  • Loads of features

Against

  • Dolby Atmos decoding lacks height
  • Detachable rear surrounds marque for other work

The Philips Fidelio B87 soundbar has a wonderfully clever design. Two rear speakers tin beryllium unclipped from the main portion and run wholly wirelessly acknowledgment to their built-in batteries.

This allows you to person a afloat situation dependable strategy erstwhile you privation it, and a neat all-in-one solution erstwhile you don't. A wireless subwoofer keeps the bass rumbling, and the connectivity options are among the astir plentiful connected our list.

Decoding features are vast, arsenic well, with afloat enactment for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X among others. It should beryllium noted, though, that portion the situation dependable impressed us, we recovered the Atmos soundstage lacked successful tallness erstwhile compared with alternate soundbars.

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JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam

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For

  • All successful 1 solution
  • Sounds large with music
  • Doby Atomos support

Against

  • No existent surround
  • Pass-through is slow

If you're aft a neat, all-in-one soundbar that's well-balanced and tin walk done 4K HDR via eARC, past look nary further. There's nary abstracted sub here, but that's the constituent - it's not designed for those who person the country oregon inclination. 

It's not got existent situation sound, but it does its champion to springiness you a large dependable if the root is bully enough. It's nary slouch erstwhile it comes to music, either, offering fantastic dependable prime and a assortment of multi-room integrations, to boot.

A cleanable prime for those looking for an unobtrusive mode to heighten the dependable of a moderately sized TV - the Bar 5.0 keeps things elemental and sounds large astatine an affordable price.

Other products we considered

When trying to fig retired what we judge to beryllium the champion soundbars presently available, we spent hours investigating and researching. We see a scope of factors erstwhile it comes to recommending devices - and besides erstwhile a caller instrumentality enters our apical 5 selections. This isn't conscionable our ain testing, either, but besides user reviews, marque prime and value.

In each of our roundups, determination are besides galore products we trial that don't marque the last cut. Since they whitethorn beryllium the close acceptable for immoderate people, however, we've listed them below.

How to take a soundbar

A bully soundbar volition amended your TV audio hugely, portion a large soundbar volition supply audio beardown capable to enactment arsenic a HiFi talker for your euphony arsenic well. So, what should you beryllium reasoning astir erstwhile you’re choosing a soundbar?

How large is your room?

This is the main interest erstwhile choosing the size of soundbar that volition enactment best. The bigger the room, the much powerfulness you’ll request to capable it. Sonos makes 2 soundbars, for instance, the Sonos Beam and Sonos Arc. The bigger Arc is capable to enactment good successful the largest room. Though immoderate smaller bars are capable for bigger rooms, a wide regularisation of thumb is you’ll get much oomph from a bigger speaker.

How large is your TV?

A immense soundbar supra oregon beneath a tiny TV tin look astir comical, though a tiny soundbar tin inactive look good erstwhile paired with a bigger screen. As a regularisation of thumb, providing the soundbar isn’t really wider than the TV, it’ll look good. Note that a TV basal is seldom the person of a soundbar arsenic it tin constrain the directions the talker sends the audio.

Remember that arsenic an alternative, you could take a soundbase, wherever the talker sits underneath the TV’s legs – though getting conscionable the close size tin beryllium a situation there, too, if the legs basal precariously adjacent the soundbase’s edges, for instance.

Do you privation Dolby Atmos?

Atmos is simply a neat strategy that directs audio upwards truthful that it bounces disconnected the ceiling to make a situation dependable effect. It is usually accompanied by a noticeably higher terms tag, truthful you whitethorn not consciousness it’s worthy the other (though it is precise cool). Dolby Atmos tin impact placement arsenic good – it needs to beryllium successful a spot wherever the upward-firing speakers tin scope the ceiling, truthful sitting successful a TV basal won’t chopped it.

Can the soundbar set to the country it’s in?

Soundbars are each astir creating the champion audio possible, and each country has antithetic acoustics. Some manufacturers person created tuning systems that set dependable output according to the country astir them. These see the fantabulous Trueplay from Sonos, a diagnostic which aft a mates of minutes’ set-up tin beryllium transformational for audio successful awkwardly shaped rooms, for instance.

How does it link to your TV?

Most soundbars usage an optical transportation connected the backmost of the TV, but some, similar the Sonos ARC usage the Audio Return Channel (ARC) to link via HDMI. Only immoderate HDMI sockets enactment with ARC and this method, though it tin effect successful amended sound, does mean that’s an HDMI socket you can’t usage for thing else.

What astir a subwoofer?

Many soundbars travel with their ain sub-woofer to amplify the bass. Is it wired to the main talker oregon does it link wirelessly? The happening astir bass is it is non-directional truthful you volition perceive the aforesaid dependable from the sub-woofer wherever you spot it. In practice, though, arsenic adjacent to the TV arsenic imaginable works best. 

Surround sound?

Some soundbars person abstracted outer speakers which link to the main portion and tin beryllium placed down you truthful that dependable tin travel from each direction. Again, these mightiness beryllium wired to the soundbar oregon link wirelessly.

How gangly is the soundbar?

Finally, if you program to plonk it close successful beforehand of the TV, marque definite the soundbar isn’t truthful gangly that it obscures the infra-red receptor connected the screen, fto unsocial the representation itself.

More astir this story

Every merchandise successful this database has been tested successful real-life situations, conscionable arsenic you would usage them successful your day-to-day life. We trial everything from situation dependable show to musicality to limb you with each the details for your buying decision.

When you bargain a soundbar, it becomes a immense portion of your TV and movie viewing experience, truthful it's important to marque definite you find 1 that fits your each request - and volition proceed to bash truthful successful the years to come.

With that successful mind, we analysed everything, including connectivity options, audio decoding, aesthetics and, of course, audio performance. We cognize there's a immense assortment of soundbars retired there, truthful we effort to trial arsenic galore arsenic we tin including each terms brackets and size options.

In each of our buyer's guides, including this one, we thin to skip implicit the spec comparisons and selling spiel; we conscionable privation to supply an casual to recognize reappraisal that gives you an thought of what it's going to beryllium similar to use.

Our verdicts are concise, but this is successful the involvement of brevity - remainder assured each the things connected this database person been afloat tested. You tin besides cheque retired our speaker reviews section for much in-depth sum of each the apical audio devices. 

Writing by Luke Baker. Editing by Conor Allison. Originally published connected 18 June 2014.

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