Soundbar Buying Guide
Find the right Soundbar for you!

Unfortunately, both current inexpensive TVs and expensive premium devices leave a lot to be desired in terms of sound. To help the device out a bit, it is a good idea to invest in a soundbar. These are already available at a reasonable price and depending on the equipment, they can create a real home cinema feeling. In addition, most soundbars nowadays come with all sorts of other features, so they can not only be used for watching TV, but also as a Bluetooth or streaming device. On this page, we explain what you should consider when buying a soundbar.

You already know exactly what you expect from your soundbar? Then click through our Soundbarfindr and find the right soundbar for you!

The Basics: Budget and Size

Before you start looking for the right soundbar, you should first clarify the basics. This includes determining how much budget you have for the soundbar and how much space it can take up in your room. If you only want to provide sound in a small room, an all-in-one soundbar – a one-piece setup, so to speak – may be all you need. For larger rooms, you may want to use a multi-part setup with an external subwoofer and satellites, depending on the available space.

How much does a good Soundbar cost?

Like TVs, soundbars are available in almost every price range. However, you should stay away from unbranded soundbars that cost less than 100$, as their sound is not much better than that of the TV itself. You can get a lot more out of a soundbar costing up to 300$, because you can find a wide range of branded products in this price range. These devices already sound noticeably better than the built-in speakers in the TV. Most soundbars that produce a balanced sound and have solid features are priced in the mid-hundreds. However, if you want good three-dimensional sound, smart features and more connectivity options, you can invest even more – as always, there are no boundaries.

Our selection of Soundbars by budget

How big should my soundbar be?

Most soundbars have a size of about one meter. This makes them ideal for TVs from 43 inches upwards, and they even look good on large sets up to 65 inches. If you’re looking for a sound device for a smaller TV, a mini soundbar might be just what you’re looking for. However, you should also keep an eye on the total power in addition to the dimensions – after all, size does not necessarily say anything about how loud a soundbar will be in the end.

Does my Soundbar need an external Subwoofer?

A setup consisting of Soundbar, Subwoofer and Rear Speakers

Soundbars are often equipped with external subwoofers, which are responsible for reproducing the low frequencies. A soundbar with an external subwoofer thus has significantly more bass than a setup without a subwoofer channel. Therefore, if you want to enjoy action-packed movies or bass-heavy music, it’s worth getting a soundbar with an external subwoofer. Nevertheless, soundbars without woofers can also produce a balanced and clear sound – but the focus often lies more on speech clarity. If you don’t want to do without the low frequencies, but don’t have enough space for an external subwoofer, you can invest in an all-in-one soundbar. These already come with a built-in subwoofer.

Does my Soundbar need external Satellite Speakers?

Some soundbars come with additional, separate speakers – so-called satellite speakers. Ideally, these are connected wirelessly to the soundbar and can thus be placed anywhere in the room. They usually take over the high tones, which are easy to locate for the human ear, and provide a more immersive, room-filling sound with their flexible placement. Especially with three-dimensional sound formats, external satellite speakers provide a much better sound experience than side-firing or up-firing speakers integrated into the soundbar.

5.1 Surround Soundbars in comparison

JBL Bar 9.1
JBL Bar 9.1
Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar
Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar
Channels 5.1.4 5.1.4
Dolby Atmos
DTS DTS HD-Master + DTS:X DTS HD-Master + DTS:X
HDMI 2.1 1x In + 1x Out
eARC
WLAN
Room size above 40 m2 up to 25 m2
Subwoofer External Internal
Satellites
Dimensions Height x Width x Depth 62 x 884 x 120 mm 133 x 1252 x 172 mm
$1,199.95*
Go to offer
$3,618.46*
Go to offer

The most important thing: The Sound of the Soundbar

As soon as you know how big and expensive the setup can be, you should think about what you expect from the soundbar. After all, depending on the amount and alignment of the integrated speakers, a very different soundscape can be created. In the following, we explain what the different audio formats do and which speakers are relevant for them.

What do the different speakers do?

 

The type and placement of the speakers determines
from which direction the sound comes

A soundbar has at least two speakers to reproduce stereo sound. Other speakers integrated in the soundbar can be a center speaker, up-firing and side-firing speakers. The center speaker ensures that voices and dialogs are reproduced clearly and are thus easier to understand. While stereo speakers are responsible for the sound from the front, side-firing and up-firing speakers project the sound onto the walls or ceiling to create a spatial or even three-dimensional sound experience. With additional, external satellite speakers, this immersive sound experience can obviously be created even better.

What is Surround Sound?

Surround sound is a spatial sound that envelops you as a listener, creating an immersive movie experience. Thereby, it sounds as if the audio content is coming from different directions and no longer just directly from the TV. Surround soundbars create this effect either with external satellite speakers or with side-firing speakers built into the soundbar, which reflect the sound onto the walls.

Does my Soundbar need Dolby Atmos and DTS:X?

With the innovative sound formats Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, you basically get an expanded surround sound. In addition to the familiar 5.1 or 7.1 channels, height channels are added, which creates a 5.1.2-channel system, for example. For soundbars that come without additional satellite speakers, up-firing speakers are used for this. These point diagonally upwards and project the sound onto the ceiling so that it hits the listener from above. As a result, a three-dimensional sound is created that brings the cinema experience into your home.

Dolby Atmos Soundbars in comparison

Samsung HW-Q950A
Samsung HW-Q950A
JBL Bar 9.1
JBL Bar 9.1
Sony HT-G700
Sony HT-G700
Channels 11.1.4 5.1.4 3.1 (7.1.2 virtual)
Dolby Atmos
DTS DTS HD-Master + DTS:X DTS HD-Master + DTS:X DTS HD-Master + DTS:X
HDMI 2.1 2x In + 1x Out 1x In + 1x Out
eARC
WLAN
Room size above 40 m2 above 40 m2 up to 40 m2
Subwoofer External External External
Satellites
Dimensions Height x Width x Depth 69,5 x 1232 x 138 mm 62 x 884 x 120 mm 64 x 980 x 108 mm
$1,497.99*
Go to offer
$1,199.95*
Go to offer
$398.00*
Go to offer

How many watts should my Soundbar have?

The wattage is an indicator of how much power a soundbar has. Up to a room size of 15 square meters, a small soundbar with about 100 watts should be enough. If you want to provide sound in larger rooms up to 25 square meters, you should choose a soundbar with at least 150 watts. A soundbar with a minimum of 300 watts can fill rooms up to 40 square meters with sound. If your room is even bigger or you want to use the soundbar at parties, you should make sure that the setup has a power of at least 500 watts.


Installing the Soundbar

You know what your expectations are for the soundbar? Then we are on the final stretch. In the last step, we take a closer look at how the soundbar should be placed in your room and which connections you need for it.

How to set up a Soundbar?

Ideally, you should place the soundbar right in front of your TV and hence directly facing you. Many soundbars are also suitable for wall mounting. Here, the best place for the soundbar is directly under the TV as well.

How to install a Soundbar on the wall?

Many soundbars already come with a wall mount, so you can easily install them on your wall. If your soundbar has so-called keyhole-type openings on its back, you only need dowels and screws to hang it up.

What is the best way to connect the Soundbar?

 

The JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam has a variety of
connection options. © JBL

The best way to connect a soundbar to the TV is via an HDMI port. Almost every TV has one nowadays. Alternatively, a wireless connection via Bluetooth or an analog connection via optical cable is often possible.

What does HDMI 2.1 do?

HDMI 2.1 is the further development of HDMI 2.0 and is usually accompanied by eARC. A higher bandwidth and speed is thus possible when transferring data via HDMI 2.1. Soundbars with the interface can also transmit 4K and partly 8K content without problems, but that is only relevant if you connect the soundbar between a modern console and your TV.

Soundbars with HDMI 2.1 in comparison

Sony HT-A7000
Sony HT-A7000
Samsung HW-Q900A
Samsung HW-Q900A
JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam
JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam
LG DSP8YA
LG DSP8YA
Channels 7.1.2 7.1.2 5 3.1.2
Dolby Atmos
DTS DTS HD-Master + DTS:X DTS HD-Master + DTS:X DTS HD-Master + DTS:X
HDMI 2.1 2x In + 1x Out 2x In + 1x Out 1x In + 1x Out 1x In + 1x Out
eARC
WLAN
Room size above 40 m2 up to 40 m2 up to 25 m2 up to 40 m2
Subwoofer Internal External External
Satellites
Dimensions Height x Width x Depth 80 x 1300 x 142 mm 69,5 x 1232 x 138 mm 58 x 709 x 101 mm 57 x 1060 x 119 mm
$1,298.00*
Go to offer
$997.99*
Go to offer
$399.95*
Go to offer
$374.00*
Go to offer

Do you need HDMI eARC?

Does a soundbar need an HDMI eARC port? The simple answer is: Not really. If Dolby Atmos is encoded in the Dolby Digital Plus codec – which streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime use – then “normal” HDMI ARC is sufficient to send the Atmos sound back to the soundbar. 
HDMI eARC would be needed, for example, to send Dolby Digital in the Dolby TrueHD codec back to a soundbar. However, the Dolby TrueHD codec is actually only used with Blu-ray discs. Depending on how you play these discs, you often have the option to already split picture and sound at the player, making an audio return channel between TV and soundbar obsolete.
However, it should be mentioned here that Dolby Digital Plus is more compressed than Dolby TrueHD and it could be that streaming services will switch to the other format at some point in the future.

Is it possible to connect a Soundbar wirelessly?

Depending on the features of a soundbar, it can also be connected wirelessly to the TV. Many models have an integrated Bluetooth interface for this purpose. If it is a Wi-Fi compatible soundbar, it may also be possible to connect it to the TV – or to other speakers in the sense of a multi-room setup – via Wi-Fi.


Using the Soundbar

At this point, we would like to clarify a few more important questions regarding the use of the soundbar. After all, the selection of different playback options and features is as wide as the range of devices available on the market.

Is every soundbar compatible with every TV?

Basically, every soundbar is compatible with every TV. However, if you use a TV and sound device of the same brand, special features may be available to you. This is especially the case with the well-known manufacturers. For example, Samsung soundbars have a feature that synchronizes the soundbar’s speakers with those of the suitable TV.

Can I integrate the soundbar into my smart home?

Many soundbars these days are equipped with smart features like a Wi-Fi connection, various streaming options or even integrated voice assistants. Thus, they combine soundbar and smart speaker and easily fit into your smart home. Some well-known manufacturers of smart soundbars are Sonos, Canton and Samsung.

Can I listen to music with a soundbar?

A soundbar can, of course, be used to play music. The important thing here is that the sound is reproduced clearly. That means the soundbar should have a balanced sound profile and the lowest possible distortion factor. The maximum volume and wireless streaming options are also not unimportant when choosing a soundbar for music.


Which Soundbar is the best?

Are you still looking for the best soundbar for you? Then take advantage of our interactive buying guide! The Soundbarfindr helps you find a soundbar that best meets your individual requirements.