Best Sound Bar 2017

Getting a soundbar for your home-theater setup gives you the best of both worlds: You don’t have to settle for built-in TV speakers — which we’ve found to be consistently lackluster — but you also get to enjoy quality audio without the cost (or clutter) of a traditional speaker setup.

Introduction to the Sound Bar

Having great quality sound from your TV is something that everyone wants. Even though today’s TVs are stylish and more advanced than they ever have been there is still a lot to be desired when it comes to having excellent sound, even on some of the higher end models. If you’re not in the market to get a complete home theater system, you can choose a much more economical solution and get a sound bar.

Sound bars can enhance the quality of your TVs built in speakers and make your TV sound much better. They do very well paired with flat panel TVs. They are wider than they are tall and don’t take up a lot of room at all. Many of the models that are available today have built in amplification and some even have wireless subwoofers for that coveted deep bass rumble that so many love.

Compared with our budget-soundbar picks, the best soundbars utilize additional drivers for each channel, have more-powerful amplifiers, and feature advanced designs. Additional drivers for each channel allow for more clarity and less distortion—things are easy to hear. Having larger amplifiers likewise keeps the soundbar from clipping and also reduces distortion. The advanced designs of higher-end soundbars allow for deeper bass, better virtual surround imaging, and a cleaner look. You’ll encounter diminishing returns beyond our value-soundbar pick (as with anything). Nonetheless, if you want high-quality audio minus the complexity and space requirements of separate components, you should consider a soundbar.

We will review the top rated sound bars on the market and give you knowledge about the features that make them the best. There are many things that can make one sound bar outperform another and these are the reviews that will help you learn what those things are. Keep reading below and learn about three top rated sound bars that may be exactly what you are looking for.

Top Ranked Sound Bars

RankPictureSound BarSound Bar FrequencyChannelsDimensions (inches)Weight (lbs)
1Bose CineMate 15 Home Theater Speaker60 Hz – 19 kHz2.122.0 x 21.0 x 13.029
2Sony HT-XT1 2.1 Channel Sound Bar60 Hz – 19 kHz2.131.0 x 15.25 x 7.022.25
3VIZIO SB3821-C6 2.1 Channel Sound Bar60 Hz – 19 kHz2.12.9 x 37.9 x 3.65.2
4VIZIO SB2920-C6 2.0 Channel Sound Bar70 Hz to 19 KHz229.0 x 5.0 x 5.06.87
5SONOS PLAYBAR TV Sound Bar60 Hz – 19 kHz334.5 x 10.5 x 8.521.75
6VIZIO SB3820-C6 2.0 Channel Sound Bar60 Hz – 19 KHz238 x 3 x 35.75
7LG Electronics SH4 2.1 Channel Sound Bar80 Hz – 12 KHz2.135.0 x 3.4 x 2.114.4
8VIZIO SB3851-C0 5.1 Channel Sound Bar50 Hz – 20 KHz5.138 x 3.62 x 2.756.4
9VIZIO S5451w-C2 5.1 Channel Sound Bar35 Hz – 90 Hz5.153.7 x 4.14 x 3.159.3
10Sony HTCT260H Sound Bar70 Hz to 19 KHz2.137 x 3.5 x 3.822.1

Top Pick – Bose CineMate 15 Home Theater Speaker System

Improving the sound of your TV does not have to include going out and buying an entire home theater system, although that is certainly one way to accomplish the goal. Another, much more economical way is to get this Bose CineMate 15 Home Theater Speaker System.

You will get the sharp, clear audio that you have been wanting when you use this great product. You may not have even realized how much you were missing from your TV’s regular built-in speakers until you hook this CineMate system up.

The compact size and hideaway Acoustic mass module won’t take up much room at all but the differences will be dramatic. You will definitely feel like you’ve step foot into a theater when you hear how clear the sound of your movies and TV shows become once you have this attached to your TV.

The sound bar gets placed right in front of your TV and all you will need is one simple cable to connect it. Set the Acoustic mass module out of sight somewhere and you’re done. One thing you will notice about your new and improved sound is not only can you hear the difference you will be able to FEEL the difference with pulsating bass and action movies that sound like you are right in the middle of the action. It will definitely change the way you hear your TV. The CineMate sound bar is easy to use and easy to program as well.

Sony HT-XT1 2.1 Channel Sound Bar with Built-In Subwoofer

You can take your movie watching to the next level with the Sony HT-XT1 2.1 Channel Sound Bar with Built-in Subwoofer. Enjoy a virtual from surround experience with the 170 watt S-Master amplifier that powers your music and movies through the dual subwoofers. It’s easy to get started hearing how your TV SHOULD sound by just connecting the TV and HD devices with the HDMi and you can also stream wirelessly with Bluetooth and NFC. It can support TVs up to 66 lb.

This sound bar is created to complement your TV and living room or den by not being obtrusive. It measures a mere 3” tall and works great on 32” to 55” TVs. The top of it is finished in tempered glass to give a stable, durable surface for your TV that you won’t have to worry about. It’s time to take your movie and TV watching to all new heights and see how things are supposed to sound with the Sony HT-XT1 2.1 Channel Sound Bar with Built-in Subwoofer.

VIZIO SB3821-C6 38-Inch 2.1 Channel Sound Bar with Wireless Subwoofer

The VIZIO SB3821-C6 2.1 Channel Sound Bar will upgrade your small to large TV with its serious audio with Integrated Deep Bass. No need for an external subwoofer here, you get great sound and quality without it.

This sound bar provides 98dB of crystal clear sound and is easily set up by just connecting it to your TV with one cable that is included in the box. You can also wirelessly stream music from your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth.

One of the popular capabilities that this sound bar offers is that it levels the volume of overly loud commercials so you are not blasted off of your sofa when they come on. Packed with the latest audio technology you will enjoy the benefits of Dolby Digital decoding, DTS TruSurround that gives you the feeling of surround sound without having to have rear speakers and the very helpful DTS TruVolume.

It is the perfect way to give your small or medium sized TV the sound quality you crave without spending a fortune on a whole new surround sound system. Just because the TV is small doesn’t mean it has to have poor sound quality. Vizio has you covered and will make movie and television show watching a pleasure all for a price you can afford.

Top Rated Sound Bar Summary

The sound bars we have reviewed here are the top rated sound bars on the market and it is no surprise why they are. Each one of these is affordable and provides the user with excellent, high quality sound on their TVs, even smaller ones. You can safely purchase any one of these sound bars and be confident that you will have sound quality from your TV that will be light years ahead of what you had before.

The best soundbars today offer a minimalist style, dynamic power, and many of them will even let you stream audio via Bluetooth — no need to carve out room for a receiver or tower speakers. There are a variety of wireless connection options, especially for Wi-Fi bars. Below we have prepared a buyer’s guide for you to give you even more knowledge about sound bars in general in case one of these top rated models are not what you’re looking for. With the right knowledge, you will know what makes a good quality product and what to avoid.

Sound Bar Buyers Guide

What is a Sound Bar?

The term sound bar may not be very well known but what it is in a nutshell is a speaker enclosure that sits in front of your TV that enhances the sound quality of your TV. Some models are designed to sit underneath the TV. Even if your television is a wall mount, there are mounting kits available for some models that allow the user to hang the cabinet below the TV. Most TV manufacturers offer a sound bar of some kind to their consumers.

Even though it is called a sound “bar” they can come in many different shapes and sizes. They have many features including read surround, HDMI inputs, Bluetooth support and much more. We will explain the things that you should consider when you start researching the different models that are available on the market so you don’t become overwhelmed. When you have the proper knowledge, you can compare and research them with confidence and choose the one that will work for your needs and TV perfectly.

Which Sound Bar is Right for You?

In general, sound bars are going to give you the best results when used in a small to medium sized room. Some of the more basic sound bars don’t use acoustic manipulation to replicate a surround sound like quality. These are better used in a small room or if you don’t care about having surround sound. The more advanced models use acoustic manipulation by focusing the sound off of walls and furniture to get that surround sound atmosphere. A very open, large room will not lend itself well to this and the sound would not be reflected properly.

If you are going to use a sound bar in a large room, you will get the best quality and accuracy by getting the highest powered sound bars. Don’t expect a sound bar to provide the same exact quality or deep, body shaking rumbling that a great home theater system will give you. If you do want that quality you will need to make sure that you have a subwoofer. Some sound bars have them and others; you would need to get it separately. Having a powered subwoofer along with your sound bar will increase the sonic range and give you that thumping you crave.

Considerations Before You Purchase a Sound Bar

There are some things you will want to consider before you start shopping for the right sound bar for your needs and TV. Knowing these things ahead of time can make your research and shopping experience go much smoother and the result will be that you end up with the sound bar that you are going to be very satisfied with.

Match the Size of the Sound Bar to the TV You Have

If you are looking for a sound bar for a large TV you will want to consider a wide sound bar. This will provide a wider stereo image that will work better with a larger TV and it will look natural as well. If you have a smaller TV get a narrower sound bar that is no wider than the screen of your TV. You will also need to decide how many channels you want as well. If you’re only looking to enhance the sound, a 2.1 channel sound bar will work just fine. The 2.1 model will have 2 speakers and a separate subwoofer. If you want simulated surround sound, get a sound bar that has both a subwoofer and rear speakers as well. Try for wireless for fewer wires to worry about. That will give you a great multichannel sound.

Placement

Where you will be putting your TV will determine what kind of room you have for the sound bar. Many models are designed to sit in front of the TV which works fine if you have the type of TV stand that will allow that. Other models are more of a pedestal type and the TV can sit right on top of them which work out well, space wise. You want to be sure that if you are setting the sound bar in front of your TV that it is not so tall as to block the remote control beam. If you’re going with the type that fits under your TV make sure that the sound bar meets the weight requirements necessary to safely hold your TV without breaking or cracking.

Sound Quality and Surround

To work well as a home theater, a soundbar needs to offer high-end audio quality, including a subwoofer (built-in or separate) and enough drivers to provide robust, room filling sound. To that end, a wireless sub with surrounds is ideal. Surround standard is generally more important when discussing full surround sound systems, but it’s still worth noting. Not all sound bars are compatible with all surround sound standards, such as DTS and Dolby Digital. For instance, Sonos’ Playbar only works with Dolby Digital.

Don’t Get More than You Need

What you will be using the sound bar for will determine what kind you will need. If all you want to do is enhance the sound of the TV, spending money on a high end sound bar that has a lot of features is not really economical or practical. Match the sound bar you get to the functions you want it to serve or maybe a little above and you will be happy with the results.

Connections

You want to make sure that you have the inputs you need to connect the different audio sources you want to connect. The inputs on the sound bar or HTIB need to match the outputs on the source components. If you want to connect to things like a tablet, phone or computer, look for sound bars that support Bluetooth. This way you can listen to music or play videos wirelessly. It will need to have Wi-Fi if you are looking to get online directly through the sound bar.

Warranties Matter

The majority of manufacturers offer a 1 year limited warranty on their sound bars but some can also offer more or less. You want to get a good warranty, so be sure to know what the warranty term is before you buy and let this be one of the factors you consider in the right one.

Sound Bar Features

Sound bars can be very simple or very sophisticated. The different models come with an array of features that you may or may not use. Decide ahead of time what you want your sound bar to accomplish and what you will be doing with your TV (just television watching or will you be listening to music, watching videos and getting online). Below are some of the features that you can expect to see in some sound bar models.

Speakers

Sound bars have speakers inside them and they can range from 2 speaker models to 5 speaker models or more. These will be located in the main enclosure. There are some designs that angle the drivers out toward the sides of your room to create a broader sound field. In addition, many models come with a separate subwoofer that sits anywhere in the room and can even be put completely out of sight.

The sound bars that sit underneath your TV have built in subwoofers and in general do not have the higher quality bass that you can get with a separate subwoofer. Some models even have rear speakers for even higher quality sound that is just like surround sound. There are many different speaker configurations among the different models. When you know what you want from your TV, choosing a sound bar will be much simpler.

Online Access

The ability to get online with your TV is getting to be a popular one. Some models of sound bars offer the ability to access streaming movies or TV shows from popular and well known venues like Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix. In addition, you can listen to internet radio through your TV from Pandora, Spotify and other internet radio stations. Add in Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and you will love having access to these fun and popular sites right there through your TV thanks to the sound bar access. Not all models have this so if it is important to you, be sure that it offers that capability.

Video Switching

This increases the number of inputs you have available. It’s a good feature for connecting multiple video and audio sources into one unit. All you need to do is Analog to HDMI conversion and that will take all your analog component cables like the DVD player or CD player and converts them into a single HDMI output that will connect straight to the TV.

iPod/iPhone Docks

Some sound bars have iPod docks that are built right in to the sound bar itself. Others are compatible with optional iPod docks. This is a very convenient feature if you have an iPod.

Remote Control

Most sound bars have a remote of some kind that is programmable and it can control many devices including your DVD players or cable receivers. Others don’t come with a remote and they are controlled by the TV’s regular remote control.  Having a remote control is important. You’ll likely be sitting far from the TV and soundbar location, so you don’t want to have to stand up and press buttons on the soundbar each time you want to adjust the audio. If your soundbar doesn’t ship with a remote, there are universal remotes should be able to control the sound bar. That said, some units don’t even offer a remote control capability.

Conclusion

Although it may seem as if all soundbars are basically the same, it’s clear from our list above that there are quite a few different configurations available. Sound bars are a less expensive way to get great quality sound out of your TV. Not everyone can or wants to get a full fledged home theater system and the sound bar gives them another option that will provide higher quality sound without a high price. As you can see from this guide, one of the most important factors in getting the right sound bar is knowing what you want from it before you decide.

Once you know what you want and need, you have the knowledge of what sound bars are and what they can offer which means you can choose the right one for your personal needs. You will truly love the new sound that your existing TV provides once you get the right sound bar. It’s much better than having to suffer through the sound of your set every time you watch a movie or television show.