Contemporary LED, and 4K televisions are both beautiful to watch and beautiful in design. There’s only one downside of their slim outline, and that is their equally slim audio, which results from the fact that there simply isn’t the space within the TV’s housing to install the high-quality speakers and amplifiers needed to deliver the high-class, cinema worthy sound you deserve. And what with films being far from being a visual-only media, the sound is just as important as the picture.
Luckily you can outsource your audio responsibilities to an elegant soundbar – a bank of speakers installed below the television to deliver immersive, high-quality audio from one compact one-box solution.
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Here’s a roundup of some of the best soundbars available today. We’ve picked out our favourite examples here with something for every budget – whether you want to improve the audio of your favourite programmes and music or reproduce the kind of spatial sound you’d have to go to the cinema to experience.
What's the best soundbar?
Best ValueThis list's budget option, featuring huge value for money - the Majority Skiddaw II brings virtual surround sound to your living room and has a subwoofer built into the bar itself to cut down on its footprint, making it ideal for compact spaces and budgets. Other devices like smartphones and tablets can also stream audio through Bluetooth or via the 3.5mm line-in cable too.
This sleek offering pushes your audio through a 2-channel speaker and by utilising S-Force, Sony has managed to produce a frontal surround sound experience. There's a Bass Reflex speaker too, which is a real boon for this device as its bass is both punchy and clear u2013 there's no fuzzing out at higher volumes. You can also stream wirelessly with a Bluetooth connection.
Not only does this Polk unit enhance the sound coming from your TV thanks to Dolby/DTS surround sound and a wireless subwoofer, it's also controlled and integrated with your smart home devices thanks to built-in Amazon Alexa voice control. Want to increase the volume or change the sound source? Just ask, with no need for additional inputs on the remote control.
Bose is a name you can trust. The Solo 5 works to bring a clarity to your TV's audio with dialogue refinement, EQ to boost your entertainment's sound effect and bass to show you the power of sound. It's a simple and effective device with a low footprint which can also stream music via Bluetooth.
The Sonos Beam is crammed with four woofers for mid-range and bass richness, and one tweeter for a crisp, but non-abrasive, higher range. It is well exhausted, giving the sound a warm, analogue quality. This unassuming techno-slab has even been tuned by Oscar-winning sound engineers to deliver you the best possible sound. If you can't trust them, who can you trust?
Yamaha appear to have focused on one thing with this soundbar and subwoofer u2013 maximum power. The bass is huge, and a Clear Voice mode makes sure that dialogue isn't lost in the mix. The subwoofer is wireless too, which helps keep the set-up uncluttered. Bluetooth streaming and Alexa compatibility will give your music that extra boost too.
The Sonos Playbar is simple to set up and can be used on its own, with a subwoofer, or with extra Sonos speakers that offer 5.1 surround sound. The Playbar produces rich and accurate audio which is guaranteed to satisfy. It comes with Trueplay, an app which measures the space in your room and tunes the speaker (or speakers) to offer customised, perfect audio. As it's Sonos, it'll also play music from your streaming services and link to an Amazon Echo.
Far from a budget solution and boasting high-end features like Dolby Atmos, this Sony soundbar and its wireless external subwoofer promise immersive, powerful audio. Three front speakers that deliver impressive clarity and depth, plus connectivity via NFC and Bluetooth means you can wireless stream music from your devices to multiple rooms by using the Sony Music Centre app.
This has been included at the end here because some of the above selection can be hooked up to the Echo Dot. With the Echo Dot, you'll be able to unlock your home and entertainment system with the power of your voice. It gets even better with an Amazon Prime membership as you'll be able to access Amazon Music, Amazon Video and get next day delivery on your Amazon order. If you're still not convinced, try it out for 30-days with a free trial.
What is Bluetooth?
Bluetooth is a method of carrying information over short-distance, short-wave radio signals. Initially a relatively slow process, Bluetooth has developed into the ubiquitous method for transferring music information between devices - challenged in its quality and usability only by Wi-Fi.
What are bass, midrange, and treble?
Bass, midrange, and treble are sometimes referred to as lows, mids, and highs. These terms refer to the different sound frequencies found in audio.
Bass, or low, is the boomier sections of sound, the frequencies that people can most often 'feel' - bass drums are an example of low frequencies. Without bass, audio sounds very empty and 'tinny'. Too much bass and music can sound rumbly, overpowering, and wooly.
Midrange, or mid, is all the stuff that happens in the middle - guitars, vocals and speech. Balancing this with bass really brings audio to life. If you struggle to hear vocals in music or conversation in podcasts, boosting the midrange can bring these out for you without having to play with volume.
Treble, or highs (hi), is the high frequencies. These are important for picking out details in audio, but if they are too high, they can annoy and be painful to listeners.
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William Lobley is a Senior Content Writer and reviewer for WhatsTheBest, specialising in technology, gaming and outdoors. He also writes for Empire Online.
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