A soundbar that fits either beneath the screen or on the wall is a great choice to complement your TV. The latest models can simulate a 3D sound environment thanks to Dolby Atmos and DTS:X technologies, and can include native compatibility with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa to quickly stream music in your living room through your preferred streaming service.
With increasingly larger televisions, the term “home theater” has never been more suitable for your living room. Despite improvements over recent years, sound still remains the weaker aspect of televisions. Traditionally, the solution would have been to invest in an amplifier and half a dozen speakers to distribute around the room. But buying a soundbar allows quality sound without breaking the bank.
Our Comparison of 2023 Soundbars
- Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus: The Best Soundbar
- Bose Smart Soundbar 900: Our Balanced Recommendation
- LG SC9S: The Immersive Soundbar
- Sonos Beam (Gen 2): The Soundbar with Best Value for Money
- Polk Signa S4: The Best for TV Series
- Devialet Dione: The High-end Soundbar
- Sonos Ray: The Smallest Soundbar
- Sharp HT-SB100: The Budget-friendly Soundbar
There are numerous models available on the market, and it can sometimes be tricky to navigate. We offer our recommendations based on your budget to help you choose the best soundbar for your living room. Don’t hesitate to also consult our selection of the best TVs on the market. You may also need a TV box to find all your favorite content.
Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus: The Best Soundbar
- Dolby Atmos immersion
- Ambeo technology
- Comprehensive connectivity
For those wishing to buy the best soundbar possible, regardless of the budget, discover the Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus. We had the opportunity to test it, and it’s simply the best in its category, first and foremost, thanks to its elegant design and quality finish.
In terms of connectivity, the Sennheiser soundbar is comprehensive. It includes an HDMI eARC port, two HDMI 2.0a inputs, an optical port, and a USB-A port. In wireless connections, it has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. It’s notably compatible with AirPlay2, Chromecast, Spotify Connect, and Tidal Connect.
As for sound quality, the Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus offers a very balanced signature. It even has a special mode named Ambeo that enhances the midrange, which brings more presence to voices—very practical for watching series or movies. Above all, the Dolby Atmos experience is convincing in terms of sound immersion.
The soundbar can also be paired with a subwoofer, although based on our test, the Sennheiser can suffice on its own. Especially considering its price. Indeed, it is listed at $1499, to which you would need to add the $600 asked for the subwoofer without it adding real added value.
Bose Smart Soundbar 900 – The High-Performance Soundbar
- Quality finishes
- Compatibility range
- Clear voice projection
Bose is a well-known name in audio products. With the Smart Soundbar 900, the American brand delivers a high-quality soundbar, perfect for integration with your TV or for musical use. That is, if you’re willing to pay the price…
At first glance, this Bose soundbar immediately catches your attention. Its exceptional finishes and modern design are striking. Connectivity is provided through a single HDMI port compatible with ARC or eARC, an RJ45 network plug, and several mini-jack ports. Wireless connections are supported through Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
It’s important to note that the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 is compatible with both AirPlay and Chromecast. This soundbar also works in conjunction with the dedicated Bose Music app. You will be able to manage sound on a case-by-case basis, for instance, if you want to emphasize voices in the content being listened to. This product is extremely versatile, performing well for both music and video content.
The sound signature is remarkable, equally highlighting highs and lows. Particularly, the quality of voice reproduction, which is a useful feature especially for films and series, deserves applause. Simply put, it has few flaws, even for a sound purist. Importantly, two speakers are oriented upwards to create a vertical Dolby Atmos sound.
However, this is a significant investment, as the soundbar retails at a public price of $999. It has already started seeing promotions on certain e-commerce sites. Currently, it is the highest performance soundbar available.
LG SC9S – The Immersive Soundbar
- Ideal for LG TV setups
- Immersive sound stage
- Performs well with music
- Somewhat harsh at high volume
While LG TVs are known for their high quality, the Korean manufacturer also produces soundbars to complement their TVs. The LG SC9S presents itself as a compact soundbar with a height of 6 centimeters, allowing it to easily fit under, for example, an LG OLEDC2. Its quality assembly gives it a premium look that will complement your decor.
Importantly, the LG soundbar comes with a subwoofer. In terms of connectivity, you get two HDMI ports, with the output compatible with ARC and eARC. There’s also an optical input, a USB-A port, as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It’s compatible with Dolby, DTS, and Meridian. Installation is easy via the LG Soundbar app, guiding you through each step.
As for sound quality, the LG soundbar stands out for its balance between depth and generosity. You can increase the volume without losing quality. While Dolby Atmos is disappointing, the surround sound stage, well supported by the subwoofer, provides quality immersion. It also performs well for music streaming with compatibility with AirPlay, Google Cast, Spotify Connect, and Tidal Connect protocols.
The soundbar, priced at $999, offers excellent immersion and coherent musical capability. If you are looking for a product compatible with your LG TV, then this is the model for you. Indeed, the speakers of your LG TV are also used to provide a complete experience. Our LG SC9S review is available for reading if you want to learn more.
Sonos Beam (Gen 2) – The Sonos Soundbar with Excellent Value for Money
- Very compact
- Powerful for its size
- Supports Dolby Atmos
- Only one HDMI port
The Sonos Beam has long been one of our favorite models, and this second generation was highly anticipated. It maintains the same exceptionally compact design, but Sonos wisely switched from fabric to plastic for the front panel. It’s a bit less luxurious but far less likely to get dirty.
With this model, Sonos goes connected, offering a rather unique solution in the market: it integrates microphones, allowing for native integration of Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. This is incredibly handy for voice-controlled volume adjustment and device management, eliminating the need for a dedicated voice assistant in the living room.
Despite its compact size and lack of subwoofer, the soundbar itself manages to deliver an excellent sound reproduction. It houses four woofers for the midranges and bass and a tweeter for the highs and dialogues.
The result? A very balanced reproduction with deep bass without distortion. Importantly, it supports Dolby Atmos, adding verticality to the sound. Although it’s not on par with a dedicated setup, this feature is far from gimmicky. A minor disappointment, however, is the continued absence of DTS.
Regarding connectivity, there is a single HDMI eARC output that will be the only way to connect it to your TV, with or without an optical adapter. A second HDMI connector would have been beneficial. Once set up with the Sonos app, the soundbar is compatible with Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect and can be used with most smartphones and PCs via Wi-Fi to natively stream music or podcasts.
Like the Arc, it’s fully compatible with the Sonos ecosystem, allowing it to fit into a 5.1.2 Home Cinema setup. To do this, you just pair it with two Sonos One SL speakers and a Sonos SUB subwoofer. Note that the original Sonos Beam is still for sale for about $100 less. It still holds its own but is not as future-proof as its successor.
Polk Signa S4 – The Best Soundbar for TV Series
- Effective voice reproduction
- Includes a subwoofer
- Good value for money
- Not well-suited for music
With the Polk Signa S4 soundbar, Polk Audio offers an affordable yet stylish product. It features a sleek, elegant design covered in black acoustic fabric. Several buttons on the front surface allow for day-to-day operation of the product. Alternatively, a remote control is available for convenience.
In terms of connectivity, the Polk Signa S4 relies on a single HDMI ARC/eARC port. This enables connection to your TV or projector. Additionally, it offers two complementary audio inputs: an optical port and a 3.5mm analog input. It also features Bluetooth connectivity.
The Polk Signa S4 supports Dolby Audio signals. It offers 3.1.2 sound, meaning three horizontal front channels, a subwoofer, and two horizontal channels. However, it lacks treble in its sound signature, and the subwoofer performance is mediocre. It’s best placed in a corner of a room for optimal performance.
This soundbar falls short when it comes to big-budget movies but shines in voice reproduction, making it perfect for your favorite TV series. Despite its shortcomings, it’s a good value for the price.
Devialet Dione – The High-End Soundbar
- Surround sound effect
- Excellent sound quality
- Supports AirPlay and Chromecast
- High price
In the soundbar sector, high-end models integrate the best available technologies. If you’re seeking a cutting-edge model, we recommend the Devialet Dione soundbar. Undoubtedly, this product has a high price tag but promises performance to match its value.
The soundbar’s design is rather unique, with a central sphere housing a transducer dedicated to dialogue. On the upper surface, a touch area is available for volume control. As for installation, the bar can be placed either at the foot of your TV or mounted on a wall.
In terms of connectivity, the Devialet Dione only has one HDMI port compatible with ARC and eARC. It also offers a digital audio input and an RJ-45 Ethernet socket. Spotify Connect protocol is supported, as is AirPlay 2. The Devialet app is well-designed and very useful for everyday adjustments.
The sound stage is expanded thanks to Space Technology. This allows the input signal to be analyzed and provides a 5.1.2 sound for a surround effect. The sound quality for TV series, movies, and even music is top-notch, offering a first-class experience. The only significant drawback of this soundbar is its high price tag of $2,299.
Sonos Ray – The Smallest Soundbar by Sonos
- Precise sound reproduction
- Easy to install
- Supports Sonos Multiroom and AirPlay 2
- No HDMI port
The Sonos Ray is a budget-friendly soundbar, but it comes with some compromises. It complements Sonos’ product range with a compact, budget-friendly design. However, it maintains the same sound signature as other soundbars in the Sonos lineup.
The design of this soundbar is compact and minimalist. A touch surface on the top allows for interaction. The manufacturer even offers a wall mount if needed. The connectivity options are minimal, with no HDMI port. The connection is made through a Toslink optical audio input, which supports traditional audio formats like Dolby Digital or DTS. Wireless connection is exclusively provided by Wi-Fi.
This Sonos soundbar is easy to install, primarily due to its manageable size, and the dedicated application facilitates the setup process. It can be paired with other Sonos products and is compatible with multiple online music streaming services like Spotify, as well as AirPlay for streaming music from an iPhone.
The Sonos Ray delivers good dialogue quality, and both bass and treble are up to the mark in terms of the sound spectrum. However, it unfortunately opts for frontal sound instead of surround sound, which would enhance immersion. The lack of a dedicated remote control is also disappointing.
Sharp HT-SB100 – The Very Small Price
- Good voice reproduction
- Rather generous connectivity
- Compact and well-finished
- Very modest power
With the HT-SB100, Sharp offers a neat product. This is a modest soundbar, perfect for providing sound to a small space. It, along with its more potent big sister, the HT-SB110, aims to replace the often mediocre speakers of a television. This isn’t about immersive surround experience, but enjoying a more pleasant and profound sound at a small price.
This simple model connects to the TV via HDMI and also has a Bluetooth receiver, enabling you to play music. It accepts only PCM stereo signals, which are lossless. The ease of use is noteworthy as the Sharp soundbar is HDMI CEC compatible. It can therefore be automatically powered by the TV, and its volume adjusted by the TV’s remote control. It does not have tweeters and produces a total of 75 Watts. Hence, don’t expect breathtaking clarity and power. It will have a bit of trouble delivering high frequencies. It simply does better than a TV, and at the price at which it is sold (around $80), that is more than enough.
This soundbar is an excellent value for money and suitable for small spaces (about 20 m2) and tight budgets. If the HT-SB100 isn’t available, or if you want a step up, consider its more powerful and not much more expensive big sister, the Sharp HT-SB110, which has a maximum output of 90 Watts.
Which Soundbar Should I Choose?
Selecting the right soundbar for your needs can greatly enhance your audio experience. Understanding the critical factors like the available space on your TV stand, the size of your room, and your specific audio needs is essential. For instance, even an exceptional LG OLEDG2, despite its high-end features, stands only at 8 centimeters high. A too-large soundbar might obstruct part of your screen, therefore, ensuring ample space for your TV setup is critical.
Why do I Need a Soundbar for my TV?
TV speakers are often of poor quality, which is why investing in a soundbar can prove beneficial. Not only do soundbars significantly improve the audio output of movies and music, but they can also simulate surround sound and even be compatible with smart assistants for voice-controlled music. Plus, they are significantly easier to install than a traditional home theater system.
What is the Use of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X?
Over the past few years, Dolby Atmos and DTS:X certified soundbars have become quite popular. These two similar technologies allow for 3D sound virtualization, providing immersive experience on compatible content. Unlike traditional 5.1 horizontal sound rendering, 3D virtualization adds a vertical dimension to the sound for a more realistic effect. You can find Dolby Atmos content on platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and 4K Blu-ray discs.
What is HDMI ARC?
Historically, a jack or optical port was used to connect a soundbar to a TV. However, these connectors only transmit an analog track from a source. HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel) technology maintains the digital audio track from the source to the soundbar. Therefore, the soundbar decodes and retransmits digital tracks, which are essential for Dolby and DTS sound. An added bonus: the soundbar volume can be seamlessly adjusted with the same remote as the TV. In short, make good use of it.