The best soundbars for 2023
Step up your TV's audio game, regardless of your budget.
Are you tired of the lackluster sound that comes from your TV's built-in speakers? If so, you're not alone. Many television sets suffer from subpar audio quality that fails to capture subtle details and immerse you in the content. Fortunately, you don't have to invest in an elaborate multi-speaker surround-sound system to elevate your audio experience. In most cases, a single soundbar paired with a subwoofer can significantly enhance your TV's sound output. This guide will steer you through the process of finding the best soundbar for your needs, regardless of your budget.
What to Consider When Selecting a Soundbar
Features: Quality Corresponds to Cost
When evaluating soundbars, keep in mind that the price often reflects the features you'll receive. While more affordable options (around $150 or less) can improve your television's audio output, they might not offer much beyond that. However, stepping into the $300 to $400 range opens up a world of possibilities. Here, you can find smart soundbars equipped with built-in voice control, wireless connectivity, Google Chromecast, AirPlay 2, and even Android TV integration. For those seeking top-tier audio quality and advanced features like Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and high-resolution audio standards, investing in premium soundbar systems is the way to go. Make sure to scrutinize the specs closely to ensure they align with your desired audio experience.
Ports: A Gateway to Connectivity
The connectivity options of a soundbar are crucial. While budget-friendly soundbars might offer only one HDMI port or an optical connection, mid-range and higher-end models tend to provide more comprehensive options. For optimal audio quality and compatibility with formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, it's advisable to opt for a soundbar with at least two HDMI (eARC) inputs. This will allow you to directly connect various devices such as set-top boxes and gaming consoles, ensuring a seamless and immersive audio experience, particularly when paired with HDR, 8K, and 4K/120 passthrough capabilities.
Channels: Unveiling Audio Dynamics
The number of channels a soundbar supports plays a pivotal role in its audio performance. The first digit in a channel configuration represents the main channels, while additional digits indicate subwoofers and up-firing speakers. A higher number of channels translates to a more encompassing audio experience. For instance, a 2.1 configuration includes left and right channels with a subwoofer, while a 7.1.2 setup incorporates rear satellite speakers and an upward-firing component for Dolby Atmos immersion. Thus, understanding the channel configuration helps you grasp the audio depth a soundbar can offer.
Wireless Connectivity: Convenience and Compatibility
Most modern soundbars provide Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity options. WiFi connectivity grants access to features like voice control, Chromecast, Spotify Connect, and AirPlay 2. While the significance of these features varies by individual preference, they can elevate your audio experience. For instance, AirPlay 2 and Chromecast facilitate seamless streaming from preferred apps, eliminating the limitations of Bluetooth connections. Prioritize these options based on your specific requirements.
Size: Harmonizing Aesthetics and Space
Selecting an appropriately sized soundbar is crucial to ensure it fits seamlessly within your living space. A soundbar that's too large might disrupt the visual harmony of your room, while a compact one could potentially compromise audio quality. Consider the available space and dimensions of your TV setup before finalizing your choice. By doing so, you'll prevent the disappointment of investing in a soundbar that doesn't suit your space.
Tailoring Your Sound Experience
Ultimately, your soundbar choice should align with your TV model and your desired audio goals. Whether you're seeking ease of use, enhanced sound from a single speaker, or a full-fledged immersive home theater setup, the right soundbar can make all the difference.
VIZIO M-Series Elevate 5.1.2 Immersive Sound Bar with 13 High-Performance Speakers, Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, Wireless Subwoofer, Adaptive Height Speakers and Alexa Compatibility, M512E-K6, 2023 Model
$550.00 @ Amazon
Our Top Soundbar Recommendations
1. Sony HT-A7000: The Premium Dolby Atmos Experience
Sony's HT-A7000 stands out as a top-tier soundbar offering an immersive 7.1.2 Dolby Atmos audio experience. With features like 360 Sound Mapping, Sound Field Optimization, and S-Force Pro front surround, it delivers exceptional sound quality. Furthermore, options for Chromecast, Spotify Connect, and Apple AirPlay 2 provide versatile audio streaming choices. While it comes at a price point of $1,198, its performance justifies the investment. Additionally, Sony offers various subwoofer and speaker options for customization.
2. Sonos Arc: Enhanced Directional Sound
Sonos' Arc is a notable choice for those seeking directional sound through Dolby Atmos support. Its modern design, sound quality, and integration with other Sonos products make it an attractive option. Though priced at $899 without a sub, its performance compensates for the cost. Sonos offers add-ons such as a wireless subwoofer, Sub Mini, and satellite One speakers to amplify the experience.
3. Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3: Immersive Sound with Elegance
The Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 boasts a 3.1.2-channel configuration with 13 speakers and 400 watts of power. While it offers impressive bass, it also supports aptX Adaptive, Apple AirPlay 2, and Spotify Connect. Priced at $799, it provides a balanced combination of performance and value.
4. Samsung HW-Q700B: A Balanced Midrange Option
Samsung's HW-Q700B, priced at $700, comes with a bundled subwoofer and supports wireless Dolby Atmos connectivity. Its 3.1.2-channel setup with up-firing speakers ensures immersive sound. Q-Symphony support and HDMI eARC connectivity enhance its versatility.
5. Sonos Ray: Affordable Quality
Sonos Ray, at $279, offers a compact design suitable for smaller living spaces. While not a budget pick, it provides solid sound quality for both TV and music. Its simplicity and ease of setup make it a viable option for those seeking an audio upgrade.
In conclusion, finding the right soundbar involves considering factors like features, connectivity, channels, wireless options, and size. By evaluating these aspects in alignment with your preferences and TV setup, you can select a soundbar that enhances your audio experience. Our recommended soundbars cater to various needs and budgets, ensuring a premium audio journey for your entertainment setup.
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