Hi-Fi Encyclopedia
The most important Soundbar terms explained

Since there are a lot of technical terms in the Hi-Fi world, it’s easy to lose track of them. Especially since some TV terms also play an important role for sound bars. Therefore, we have collected all the important terms in this topic and listed them here in alphabetical order.


Audio Return Chanel: An HDMI ARC interface has a higher data transfer rate than an ordinary HDMI interface. This opens up the possibility that audio tracks can be both sent and received over the same HDMI cable. This eliminates the need for an additional cable for the audio tracks between the TV and the music system in many setups; because the TV is also a source of audio signals since the advent of streaming services, this signal must also be routed to the soundbar somehow.


Consumer Electronics Control: HDMI CEC is the cross-device control of consumer electronics with a single remote control. Through this protocol, it should theoretically be possible to control all the electronics in the living room with just one remote control, which means that 4 different remote controls no longer have to lie on the living room table.

Center Speaker

The center speaker of a soundbar covers the center channel and is therefore – as its name suggests – located in the center of the soundbar. It is responsible for the voice reproduction and ensures that dialogs are reproduced clearly and distinctly.


The term DAB+ stands for Digital Audio Broadcasting. It refers to the digital transmission of radio content in contrast to the former analog transmission. With soundbars that support DAB+, you can thus receive radio content. DAB is widely used in European countries.

Dialogue Enhancement Feature

This feature improves the clarity of dialogue and makes it stand out more clearly from background noise, making it easier to understand.


There are many different types of distortion, but in the Hi-Fi field, non-linear distortion is one of the most noticeable and widely common. This is the distortion of the original audio signal by added frequencies that behave disharmoniously to the actual audio signal. Most of the time, this type of distortion is clearly audible at high volumes due to disharmonic frequencies.

Distortion factor

The distortion factor indicates the extent to which an audio signal is affected by non-linear distortions. This primarily refers to the occurrence of harmonics of the actual frequencies contained in the signal, which are not actually intended and are fed in due to the component. A low distortion factor is therefore desirable in the reproduction of audio signals. If the factor is less than 1%, the amplification or the sound system is considered good.

Dolby Vision

Dolby Vision is a dynamic HDR format in which the brightness can be adjusted from scene to scene. This improves the HDR picture quality even more. However, not every soundbar is able to pass this format through to the TV, so you should really pay attention if you have a TV that can support the format.

Dolby Atmos

Dolby Atmos is, similar to DTS:X, a 3D sound format and expands the surround sound of conventional surround sound systems with height speakers to also reproduce sounds from above. In addition, the sound format is object-based, so that additional directional information can be assigned to sounds. This simulates 3D sounds much more realistically. Of course, Dolby Atmos is downward compatible with other Dolby formats.


DTS:X is the most important competitor format to Dolby Atmos, within the 3D sound formats. The way it works is quite similar. The surround sound is extended by height speakers, so that the sound can also hit the listener from above. The format is also object-based and can assign additional information to noises in order to reproduce them even more realistically. DTS:X is also downward compatible with other DTS formats.

DTS Virtual:X

DTS Virtual:X is more or less the virtually generated version of DTS:X. This means that even soundbars without actual height channels can simulate a three-dimensional sound. Thereby, psychoacoustic algorithms are used to create surround, treble and overhead effects.


Enhanced Audio Return Chanel: An HDMI eARC interface has a much larger bandwidth than an ordinary HDMI interface. With HDMI ARC, the data transfer rate was 1 Mbit/s; with HDMI eARC, this has been increased to 37 Mbit/s, which is a massive plus for audio signals. Thus, audio signals with up to 32 channels can be transmitted uncompressed, covering all current audio formats. Even object-based formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X do not have to be compressed and can unfold their full potential.


With an equalizer, the sound profile can be changed to a certain extent by attenuating or amplifying certain frequencies. This allows the sound to be adjusted to the acoustics of the room and the user’s preferences. The more frequency bands that can be adjusted, the more accurately the sound can be calibrated. With a 5-band equalizer, 5 frequency bands can be adjusted – but there are also equalizers with up to 31 bands.

Equalizer Presets

Some soundbars have so-called presets instead of a real graphic equalizer, which can be used to adjust the sound profile. The manufacturer offers predefined settings that cover different genres and purposes. For example, there are presets for various music and movie genres.


The loudness button activates the “aurally correct volume” of the speaker. In practice, this means, for example, that the low frequencies are boosted if the volume is low, as they would otherwise be barely perceptible to the human ear.

Room calibration/Room correction

The soundbar can be adjusted to the acoustics of the room in which it is to be used with the calibration. There are soundbars that can perform this calibration independently with two integrated microphones and others that can manually be calibrated by the user. But not all soundbars have this option; most manufacturers save this feature for the more expensive models.

Satellite speakers

Like geostationary satellites are stationed around the earth, these speakers are positioned around the couch. This creates an atmospheric surround sound that can completely envelop the listener. A soundbar with side-firing speakers without satellites cannot create such a surround sound.

Side-Firing Speaker

Some speakers of a soundbar are not directed straight towards the listener, but emit the sound to the side. This is to create a wider soundstage and provide a certain surround sound, which is supposed to give the listener a more immersive TV experience.

Surround Sound

Surround sound is a spatial sound that envelops the listener from all directions. This effect is created either by satellite speakers or virtually via side-firing speakers of the soundbar.


In addition to bass and midrange, an equalizer also has a tone control for treble. This allows you to regulate the high frequencies and tones, such as the sound of high lead instruments.

Up-Firing Speaker

The speakers of the soundbar are angled towards the ceiling so that the sound is reflected to the listener from above. This is to simulate sounds from above, such as helicopters or birds chirping, which are present in Dolby Amtos or DTS:X content.

Virtual Dolby Atmos

Virtual Dolby Atmos virtually simulates the height channels for immersive Dolby Atmos sound. This creates a room-filling, three-dimensional sound – even if the soundbar does not have external satellites or up-firing Speaker features.