Choosing the Best Soundbar
Use our Soundbar buyers guide to figure out exactly what you need.
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Choosing a TV Soundbar involves a number of factors, use the checklist below to figure out what you need.
How many devices do I have to connect?
If you have lots of things to plug in make sure your soundbar enough inputs to take them all! For instance you may have an XBOX, a DVD player etc. You may need to connect them to the TV or to the Soundbar.
How will I connect everything?
You can typically either connect everything to the TV and then the TV optical out (Or HDMI ARC) cable to the soundbar or with high end Soundbars connect everything to the Soundbar and then the Soundbar to the TV, again with either a optical or HDMI cable.
Do I want to play BluRay titles?
To make the most of BluRay movies you should ensure that your Soundbar has at least one HDMI interface so you can connect your BluRay player to it
Make sure the room you’ll be installing the Soundbar into is suitable.
Avoid room with with acoustically absorbent walls (such as woodchip)
Rooms greater than 7m (23ft) in any can also require careful setup and maybe too much for some soundbars.
How many devices do you have with HDMI outputs?
If you think they will need connecting to your Soundbar make sure it has enough HDMI connections! Generally only the top of the range Soundbars have more than one HDMI input. Ideally you will want HDMI 1.4 or above to support ARC and 3D.
How wide is my TV stand?
Check that whatever Soundbar you fancy will actually fit on your TV stand, without having to be tucked behind the stands leg or obscuring the TV screen.
How loud do you want?
Typically soundbars range between 30 Watts RMS to 240 Watts RMS. 100 or above is probably about right for most people, but if your just trying to boost a spare room or kitchen TV then 30 Watts would probably be enough. If your room is large or you have to cope with more ambient noise then go for something on the louder end of the scale.
How discrete to you want?
If your really keen on low profile then consider a ‘PowerPlinth’ but bear in mind that the sound output is pretty low. They also don’t seem to be very common yet and when I last checked Amazon didn’t seem to have stock on either side of the pond.
Do you need Bluetooth?
Some soundbars come with Bluetooth connectivity which is fantastic if you want to stream from a phone or other Bluetooth device.
Do you want a wireless iPod connection?
Some vendors, notably Yamaha offer a wireless connectiion mechanism for iPods on some models
Do you need 3.5mm input connection for accessories?
Most MP3 players and phones have a 3.5mm stereo output jack, having a soundbar with a 3.5mm stereo input means you can connect them easily for direct playback. Also, some Soundbars have a 3.5mm stereo input as the PRIMARY input meaning you connect them to the speaker socket on your TV and control the volume with the TV remote.
Whats your budget?
Soundbars range from around £50 ($82) all the way up to £1400 ($2,300)
If some of the terms here are new to you then check out what they mean here!