Best Soundbars 2017/2018: Soundbar Reviews & Buying Advice


Soundbars give your TV audio quality that matches the picture. These long units are designed to sit below, in front or above your TV, whether it’s mounted on the wall or on a stand. They contain two or more speakers, and may have a separate subwoofer that produces the lower frequency sounds. Others use clever ways to produce bass all in the one cabinet.

If you’re upgrading your TV as well, check out our guide to this year’s best TVs.

Your buying guide to the best soundbars in 2017

Many people are unhappy with the sound quality delivered by their flatscreen TV, but fears of a difficult setup routine and a mess of unsightly wires mean they are unwilling to install a surround-sound system. Perhaps they simply don’t have a big enough room.

Not all soundbars replicate surround, by they do offer a convenient, relatively compact solution for getting better quality audio in your living room.

What features should I look for?

Consider how the soundbar will connect to your TV. The most common method is to use an optical cable, also known as Toslink. Most modern TVs support this, but be sure to check before choosing your soundbar.

Some soundbars have HDMI inputs, which can be convenient, but do the same job as Toslink.

You should also check that this output will route all incoming audio from connected devices such as Blu-ray players and games consoles, as well as the internal TV tuner. This way, to hear audio from all your devices you need to have only one cable going to your soundbar.

Most soundbars have other inputs, including a 3.5mm minijack and/or stereo phono jacks. These take analogue feeds and allow you to play audio from just about any device, including phones and tablets.

However, if you’d prefer the convenience of wirelessly playing music from a mobile device, look for built-in Bluetooth. By this method though, be aware that unless your mobile device and soundbar both support aptX, the default codec within the A2DP standard, sound quality won’t be as good.

Should I get a separate subwoofer?

A standalone soundbar will be unable to offer full-range sound, so many come with a separate subwoofer. This produces the deep bass required by movie special effects such as explosions. You can get aay without a subwoofer if you’ll mostly be watching dialogue heavy programmes.

Subwoofers are either active or passively powered. Passive models don’t have a built-in amp, so do not require mains power. These rely on an extra amp in the soundbar.

Active subwoofers have their own amp, so require an external power source. They can wirelessly receive audio though, so you can place them away from the soundbar without trailing wires. Watch out for soundbars such as the Samsung HWE551, which puts all the inputs on the sub. This is an advantage if your TV and soundbar are to be wall-mounted and the cables would otherwise have to run to the soundbar.

Which specifications are important?

Don’t pay much attention to manufacturers’ amplifier power figures. Even when they’re accurately described, watts don’t directly translate to volume, since the speaker sensitivity also affects things. Some brands rightly avoid printing power figures.

The number of speakers isn’t that important either. If you’re after a convincing surround-sound effect, be sure to read reviews rather than rely on makers’ claims. Also, don’t confuse terms such as ‘3D sound’ or ‘spatial sound’ with surround sound. Some soundbars use Dolby Virtual Speaker technology, while others have their own names for pseudo-surround.

Can I wall mount a soundbar?

Most soundbars are limited in where they can be mounted If you plan to wall-mount, check this is an option. Some soundbars can be positioned at different angles; others will even convert into separate stereo speakers, should you want to chop and change..

Bose Solo 5

Bose Solo 5

Orbitsound ONE P70

Orbitsound ONE P70

Q Acoustics M3 Soundbar

Q Acoustics M3 Soundbar

Yamaha YAS105

Yamaha YAS105

Sonos PLAYBAR

Sonos PLAYBAR

Sony HT-CT80

Sony HT-CT80




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