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How to Select the Best Soundbar for Your Home Theater System
Televisions have become increasingly larger, thinner, and chock full of useful features in recent years. They have also integrated sophisticated 4K streaming capabilities and newer OLED screens that can produce an even clearer, crisper, and more vibrant picture than was ever possible before.
But this does come at a price. Thinner TVs mean thinner speakers, which can produce thin or tinny sound quality. That is why many people consider soundbars to be such an attractive option. Not only do they provide a great audio experience, but they are also easy to set up and much cheaper than a multi-speaker surround sound system.
If you're considering a soundbar, here are some tips to help get you started.
Soundbars come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and price tags. While larger soundbars often offer more drivers—and therefore the potential for fuller sound—bigger is not always better.
Before making a purchase, you'll want to do a little research first, read some user reviews, and listen to a few for yourself. To help point you in the right direction, here is a list of The 10 Best Soundbars You Can Buy as rated by Digital Trends.
Aesthetically speaking, we recommend a soundbar that is shorter than the overall length of your television. You can use the following chart as a helpful guide.
|Soundbar Length||TV Screen Size|
|38 to 45-inches||42 to 50-inches|
|50-inches||55 to 60-inches|
|60-inches||70-inches and larger|
Setting the Stage
Most soundbar designs are generally a long speaker frequently combined with a subwoofer, which provides an additional low-end response, and can be mounted on the wall, placed inside an acoustically transparent TV stand, or on top of the cabinet in front of the television.
Note: Depending on the size of your speaker and the height of your TV stand, this could position the speaker directly in your line of sight or could block your TV's remote sensor. Many manufacturers recommend that the soundbar be placed roughly six to eight inches under the television screen for optimal audio performance.
Living the Stream
Another benefit of soundbars is their ability to wirelessly stream music from your smartphone or tablet through apps like Pandora or Spotify. Thanks to wireless connectivity, you won't need to get a separate speaker for your living room. If you have a soundbar, the sound, volume, and clarity will be far superior to most portable wireless speakers anyway.
Therefore, if the ability to stream music is important to you, make sure that you select a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth-enabled soundbar.
Most soundbars offer simulated surround sound through complex audio processing and driver placement. This effect can create the sense of being 'surrounded' by sound; however, the ones that do it best—like Dolby Atmos speakers and soundbars—will usually carry a higher price tag for the improved performance.
It all depends on your preferences and budget. If this is important to you, verify that the soundbar you're interested in offers simulated surround sound and not just stereo output. If you're just looking to upgrade your television's built-in speakers, and don't want to spend a lot, then a decent stereo-enabled soundbar will undoubtedly do.
Lastly, consider a unit that includes a subwoofer for that extra low-end response that is especially noticeable when you're watching the latest action blockbuster. Although high-end soundbars do a decent job replicating bass, it is nothing compared to a dedicated subwoofer.
Wireless subwoofers are ideal, as they allow for a wide assortment of placement options, whether it's hidden behind a sofa, under a coffee table, or positioned inside of your media cabinet.
Shop, Look, and Listen
When shopping for a soundbar, be sure to measure your TV and home entertainment system so you can quickly narrow down your search and make the right choice.
Research models online and read what other users have to say about the units you are interested in. You may find someone sharing a story or setup scenario similar to yours, which will help inform your final decision. For instance, a speaker's sound signature can be affected by everything from whether you have carpet or hardwood floors to the size and shape of the room.
When it comes to home entertainment audio, beauty is not only in the eye of the beholder but also the ear! With a bit of diligence, your new sound setup will enhance the latest movies, music, and video games at any volume and be worthy of a complete home theater experience!
Do you have any soundbar recommendations that you'd like to share with our readers? Feel free to provide them in the comment section.