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Soundbar: The Best Buy | Test & Review (07/21)
Soundbar
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Soundbar: The Best Buy | Test & Review (07/21)

Soundbar Review

We know our way around technology! We are a young and diverse editorial team, from cinema enthusiasts to PC experts. With our practical and thoroughly researched guides and test reports, we want to give you all the essential information in an easily understandable and straightforward way to be well informed before you buy. If you have any issues, please send us an email.

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Why go to the cinema when the sound experience can be great at home too? A Soundbar transforms the conventional movie night into a real TV experience. Find out which speaker suits you best with our Soundbar Test 2021.

We compared different soundbars to make your purchase decision easier. We also describe in our test which factors are essential in a soundbar and how you can recognize a good soundbar.

But how does such a device work? And for whom is it worth buying a soundbar? You can find the answers to these questions in this article.

 

the essentials in brief

  • A soundbar is a suitable choice for you if you are looking for a sound system that improves your TV’s sound and saves space.
  • A soundbar is easy to install and also impresses with its stylish design. You should consider the performance and connectivity of each model.
  • For less than 100 euros, you can enjoy an outstanding sound experience. For higher quality models, you have to expect up to 1,000 euros.

Soundbar test: favorites of the editors

  • The top soundbar with dialogue mode
  • The best soundbar with subwoofer
  • Best performance among soundbars for little money
  • Top soundbar for your home theatre

Top soundbar with dialogue mode

 

The Bose Solo 5 is a one-piece sound system with which you can significantly upgrade the sound quality. A solo cable is required to connect the soundbar to your television – an advantage over home theatre systems with an external subwoofer and multiple speakers. However, there is no HDMI port.

Thanks to the Bluetooth interface, you can stream and enjoy your music wirelessly. Use the universal remote control to control the TV, bass, Bluetooth connections and other functions. A unique feature is the dialogue mode. Every word is reproduced clearly and distinctly. With the separately available Bose WB-120 bracket, the soundbar can be attached to the wall.

The best soundbar with subwoofer

The Samsung HW-M450 is a 2.1-channel soundbar with a wireless subwoofer. It has an output of 320 watts and has four integrated loudspeakers. The subwoofer has an output of 160 watts. The system can be connected to the TV via HDMI and also has a Bluetooth interface, for example, to stream music from a smartphone.

Of course, the Samsung HW-M450 also comes with a remote control that you can use to turn on the TV and control volume and sound effects. The soundbar controlled via the Samsung Audio Remote app. You also get a wall bracket, which is not included with most models.

Best performance among soundbars for little money

 

The soundbar 2.0 channel from BOMAKER impresses with its unbeatable price and performance ratio. This soundbar not only has all the essential functions but also convinces with its low price. Thanks to the built-in bass and DSP chip, the BOMAKER soundbar can create adequate high-fidelity 3D surround sound in your home.

This soundbar has four inputs such as USB, AUX, optical connection and Bluetooth. The 2.0 channel soundbar from Bomaker is a true all-rounder at an affordable price!

The top soundbar for your home theatre

 

The SHARP HT-SB106 2.0 Soundbar is a powerful Bluetooth mini soundbar system suitable for TV home theatre or gaming entertainment experiences. It is ideal for small televisions and monitors with a screen diagonal of 32 “and more. The Bluetooth-In function enables you to play audio content from your smartphone, smart TV or tablet.

The scope of delivery includes the HT-SB106 soundbar, a power supply unit, remote control and a user manual. It can connect to any TV with HDMI, digital optical audio or 3.5 mm aux output.

Buying Guide: Questions to Consider Before Buying a Soundbar

What is a soundbar?

Soundbars are elongated speaker systems that contain either an integrated or a separate subwoofer. Their primary purpose is to amplify the TV’s weak sound. Due to the increasingly flat televisions, the sound can no longer develop fully and usually appears dull and matt. Soundbars can help here.

The subwoofer provides the necessary bass. Film and music fans, in particular, can enjoy an outstanding listening experience.

In addition, the advantage – in contrast to home theatre systems – is the space savings and uncomplicated installation. This sound system is perfect for small rooms (up to 30 m²).

Soundbars contain two integrated speakers plus an external subwoofer, or the amplifier is also included in the soundbar.

Subwoofer: Test & Recommendations (11/19)

With soundbars, in particular, you should be aware that you cannot upgrade them. Most models have a certain number of connections, and the systems with an integrated subwoofer usually do not offer the option of connecting an external bass amplifier later.

How does a soundbar work?

The sound is generated by the different control of the loudspeakers, whereby the sound is electronically processed channel by channel. The sound waves bounce off the walls during use, which gives the reflections the impression that it is a room-filling surround sound.

Who is suitable for a soundbar?

Televisions have been becoming flatter and more compact for years, which affects the tone or sound because it needs volume. It is why more & more users are buying either soundbar for home theatre systems. Their disadvantage: they take up space and are difficult to install. The soundbar is a good alternative. It is particularly suitable for smaller apartments or rooms that are no larger than 30 m².

In contrast to a home theatre system, there is no need for complex installation and mounting of loudspeaker boxes on the walls. In addition, only a few – usually two or three – cables are required, while a 5.1 or 7.1 system requires significantly more cables since each loudspeaker has to be connected individually.

 

A 3D soundbar can generate a unique surround sound utilizing deliberately used time differences and level differences. 3D soundbars are cheaper than home theatre systems and are easier to assemble. (Source: blog.teufel.de)

When does a soundbar make sense?

A soundbar is helpful if you like to watch films and series and are dissatisfied with the sound coming from the speakers on your television. Especially with films of specific genres such as action, thriller, etc., the sound from the TV often appears dull and dull – the enjoyment of the film is neglected. Nowadays, many also listen to music on their television, for example, via streaming services such as Amazon Prime. And here, too, the sound quality of the TV may leave something to be desired.

Since smartphones and tablets connect via Bluetooth, which most soundbars have, music can play here.

So buying a soundbar is worthwhile if you find yourself with the above criteria and are anything but satisfied with the sound quality of your TV.

How much does a soundbar cost?

The price of a soundbar varies greatly. Of course, as with many technical devices, it depends on the equipment, and there are virtually no upper limits.

A simple soundbar for small rooms is available for as little as 100 euros. With these models, you usually have to do without an HDMI connection and Bluetooth. If these two things are essential to you, you have to spend at least 200 euros.

In the price series around 300 euros, the sound is noticeably better, and some devices control via smart home applications such as Amazon Alexa. From 500 euros, you can get good soundbars with an integrated subwoofer.

Where can I buy a soundbar?

Soundbars are available in all electronics stores but also in many online shops. Now and then, they are also known as part of promotions at discounters. According to our research, most of the paper shredders are sold through these online shops:

  • ebay.de
  • amazon.de
  • saturn.de
  • mediamarkt.de
  • otto.de
  • samsung.de
  • sony.de

Which well-known manufacturers of soundbars are there?

As already mentioned, there are soundbars in all price ranges. The costs also vary depending on the manufacturer. Samsung soundbars, for example, are very popular and are available for as little as 100 euros. But there are also much more expensive Samsung soundbars available.

One of the most well-known manufacturers by far, not only for soundbars but also for all kinds of electrical devices, is the Korean company Samsung. (image source: unsplash.com / Mark Chan)

As a rule, the devices are offered by manufacturers familiar with the field of sound technology and who also have other products in their range. These undoubtedly include Bose, Yamaha or Teufel, which are located in the higher price segment.

Other soundbar manufacturers are Denon, Sony, LG and Sonos, but also brands such as Raumfeld, B&W and Nubert.

To know more on Gadgets

What alternatives to soundbars are there?

  • If you – for whatever reason – don’t want a soundbar, you have two alternatives: the sound from the TV
  • a surround sound system

Both options have their advantages and disadvantages. If you don’t value an excellent sound on your TV, have a TV with good sound or simply don’t want to spend money to improve the sound, you can do without a soundbar.

However, if you search for the ultimate sound, you have to spend a four-digit sum on a soundbar because it can only keep up with a 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound system with appropriately high-quality equipment. It is the other alternative to a soundbar.

Did you know that one of Altec Lansing’s first multi-channel soundbar systems came out in 1998?

The system consisted of a soundbar and a subwoofer – a loudspeaker for low-frequency sound waves.

Decision: What types of soundbars are there, and which one is right for you?

You can distinguish between two types of soundbars:

  • Classic soundbar
  • Soundplate

Due to the design and construction, the respective functionality and size of the soundbars are different. Therefore, there are individual advantages and disadvantages for each of these types.

Depending on the intended use, preference and available space, one or the other soundbar is better suited.

Regardless of whether you opt for a classic soundbar or a sound plate: Due to the narrow design, the speakers’ sound in modern Smart TVs is usually not sufficient for the full enjoyment of your favorite films, series or games.

The following section briefly explains the differences between the individual types of construction to decide which soundbar is suitable for you. In addition, the advantages and disadvantages of the particular types are listed.

How does a classic soundbar work, and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

A soundbar is an elongated speaker unit designed for multimedia playback on a television. Usually, it is placed right in front of the television. The subwoofer, which is not integrated with this construction and rated separately, is generally placed on the floor.

advantages

  • Inexpensive
  • Best sound experience

disadvantage

  • Huge subwoofer
  • No surround sound

External Subwoofer

The external subwoofer is connected to the soundbar either with a cable or a wireless connection. However, it usually needs an external power connection. In contrast to an already integrated subwoofer, the external model can be accommodated in the room exactly as you wish.

However, the soundbar cannot deliver authentic surround sound because the speaker direction is always the same. Some expensive units can imitate surround sound by laboriously throwing the sound onto the back wall through additional speakers.

How does a Soundplate work, and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

A Soundplate – also called a soundbase or sounddeck – is an elongated loudspeaker unit that is usually slightly larger than a classic soundbar.

In extensive models with a high installation depth, the television is also often placed on the Soundplate. The subwoofer is built into the construction so that no external subwoofer has to be connected.

advantages

  • Space-saving design

disadvantage

  • Relative expensive
  • No surround sound

The great advantage of a good deck is the space-saving design of the unit. In contrast to a classic soundbar, you don’t have to worry about the correct positioning of the subwoofer. It is already built into the construction. In addition, only one socket is required.

The significant disadvantage of this construction is the sound generation. Because the subwoofer is built-in, you usually have to cut back on the size of the proper body. Films, series and games sound flat and not as bulky as a result.

Purchase criteria: You can use these factors to compare and rate soundbars

In the following, we would like to show you which factors you can use to compare and rate soundbars. It will make it easier for you to decide whether a particular product is right for you or not.

In summary, these are:

  • use
  • costs
  • power
  • Connectivity
  • equipment

In the following paragraphs, you can read about the individual purchase criteria and how you can classify them.

use

First, you should ask yourself what you will use the soundbar for in the first place. Do you want to experience films and series better, or do you want additional music enjoyment?

Then soundbars with Bluetooth or NFC are best, although most devices are already equipped with Bluetooth.

Bluetooth allows you to connect your smartphone, tablet or PC to your soundbar. Here the distance should be a maximum of ten meters – the closer, the more interference-free the sound.

Very few models have so far had NFC (Near Field Communication). This technology offers faster and more convenient coupling of a Bluetooth connection.

costs

There are wide ranges in terms of price. A soundbar is already available for 200 euros, but you can also get models for 1,000 euros.

The following rule applies: it is better to invest properly once than to pay twice afterwards and think about the future beforehand.

Improvements or changes are not possible with soundbars. If you want to connect your BluRay player or if you’re going to buy a game console later or if you already have one, you have to make sure that the connections match before buying. Adapters and the like cost a lot of money.

The best thing to do is to buy a higher-quality model that can reduce sound. Less high-quality soundbars tend to have transmission dropouts, scratching and noise.

Did you know that the development of today’s soundbars has its origin in the so-called “LCR soundbars”?

LCR stands for “Left”, “Center” and “Right”. In the original version, three different loudspeaker sections were already built-in in a long rectangle, which enabled a spatial sound effect. However, LCR soundbars also require an amplifier.

Power

Soundbars should never be pushed to the limit of their capabilities.

For a room no larger than 15 m², 50 to 100 watts are sufficient. Soundbars of 200 to 300 watts are suitable for up to 25 m².

Connectivity

Cabling via HDMI is the easiest, but an HDMI cable is usually not included in the scope of delivery and has to be purchased separately, and some soundbars do not support HDMI at all.

 

But that’s not a problem, because there are other connection options that many televisions offer as standard: On the one hand, the digital and, on the other hand, the analogue audio input. You need an optical or coaxial cable; you need a cinch cable for the former and the analogue input.

It is best to note which connections your TV has so that you know what to look for when buying the soundbar. Here, too, these cables may have to be purchased separately.

In addition to the analogue and digital connections, the connection made wirelessly. Bluetooth or NFC is used for this.

Equipment

When it comes to accessories, your personal needs are also critical. Whether you buy a soundbar with an integrated subwoofer also depends on whether you have the space to set up an external subwoofer. But this would offer a much better sound.

As already mentioned, you need a suitable cable to connect the soundbar, which is usually not included and therefore has to be purchased separately. A wall bracket can also make sense under certain circumstances and is available from specialist retailers and online shops.

Trivia: Facts worth knowing about the topic of soundbars

Is a soundbar better than a home theatre system?

This question is not that easy to answer. It all depends on your personal preferences. We have already mentioned that it also depends on how much you are willing to invest in addition to the size of the room.

 

A soundbar is the better choice for all those who are not very knowledgeable about technology and prefer easy and uncomplicated installation, and don’t want to dig too deep into their wallets.

Of course, anyone who chooses a soundbar should be aware that a soundbar cannot produce the same level of performance as a 5.1 system. Many of the buyers on Amazon.de criticize the tone and sound quality or the weak bass.

Of course, the two systems can compare with one another. After all, home theatre systems with many speakers can better fill a room with sound. But many soundbars offer an excellent and inexpensive alternative to improve the sometimes weak sound of the TV.

A soundbar can integrate more appropriately into a room. However, it cannot surpass the sound experience of separate speakers. The spatial effects do not come close to a 5.1 system.

How much power does a soundbar use?

Soundbars can consume between 50 and 300 watts, depending on their performance and model.

As already mentioned, you only need a soundbar between 50 and 100 watts for a room up to 15 m². Devices with 200 to 300 watts are useful from 25 m².

Of course, soundbars consume power even in standby mode, although not too much. Most of the time, the consumption is between 0.3 and 6 watts, depending on the model.

Here it would be advisable to purchase a power strip with a switch not to consume electricity unnecessarily.

Room size watt

up to 15 m² 50 and 100 watts

from 25 m² 200 to 300 watts

Which soundbars are best for a projector?

You don’t need a particular or elaborate soundbar for your projector.

Of course, you should also pay attention to the existing connections here. However, you certainly want to have the right sound for a projector. So it doesn’t hurt to look for soundbars with subwoofers to get the bass you need.

How do I mount a soundbar?

There are two options here :

Either you place the soundbar in front of your TV or hang it using a wall bracket above. Or, if your TV is on the wall – below it.

The disadvantage of mounting it on the wall is that it can lead to a weaker reproduction of lower tones. Some systems have corresponding equalizer settings.

How you decide depends on whether you still have space in front of your television. And how the overall visual appearance of your television landscape is structured. Ultimately, it’s a matter of taste.

Corresponding brackets are usually not included in the scope of delivery and must be purchased separately. You can get them in specialist shops and online shops.

Where is the best place to put the soundbar?

It is ideal for mounting the soundbar on the wall above the television. Or if it is also on the wall – underneath it. Wall brackets are available from 15 euros and up.

If the television is on a board and there is still space. The soundbar can place in front of it. With the soundbar’s slim design, it is ideal for today’s flat screens. But you should note that the bars are a good meter long.

Of course, if your soundbar contains an external subwoofer, you also have to keep in mind that it takes up space. Correct positioning is just as crucial as your seating position for an optimal sound experience. It is best in the middle in front of the television.

Elongated rooms are not very beneficial – the more square a room, the better. Otherwise, the sound waves cannot reflect as planned. Ideally, they cover the same path to the left and right of the wall and are thus reflected simultaneously.

It is also an advantage if there is still some space behind the seating so that a large part of the room sound is not lost.

Optimal reflection

For optimal reflection, the soundbar should place as centrally as possible in front of the television. It is also necessary so that reflections of different strengths do not overemphasize the frequency ranges.

For the perfect symmetrical stereo image and no frequency ranges are overemphasized by reflections of different strengths, a star alignment in front of a wall is ideal.

If possible, you should not place the soundbar next to the television because you would perceive dialogues and the associated images from other directions.

The positioning of the subwoofer is also crucial. The subwoofer shouldn’t be on the floor or behind the couch.

It is best to place the subwoofer a little higher and as close as possible to the soundbar. It is because subwoofers can be located anywhere. After all, they also reproduce frequencies well above 100 Hertz.

The distance to the wall should be at least 10 cm. The height and the central location are crucial so that all tones can be reproduced unadulterated.

Subwoofers should also not be placed on shelves or TV cabinets, as this will lock in the sounds and prevent them from spreading across the room.

How do I connect the soundbar to the TV?

There are various options here: either via the optical or digital audio connection, via the analogue cinch plug or HDMI.

As already mentioned, you should find out which inputs and outputs your TV has before buying a soundbar.

Once you have decided on a connection, take the appropriate cable and plug one end into your television’s audio output and the other end into the audio input of your soundbar.

With cinch plugs, these may appear in black-red pairs. In this case, plug the black plug into the white port.

Since the HDMI connection delivers the best acoustic quality, this should be your first choice. The HDMI connection is labelled “ARC” (Audio Return Channel).

Thanks to the high data rate, super-sharp HD films and brilliant home cinema sound can be transmitted with up to 8 channels at up to 10.2 gigabytes per second.

 

Toslink connection

The quality of the Toslink connection comes directly behind it. A distinction is made between a coaxial cinch socket and an optical Toslink connection. But this option does not offer such a precise and room-filling sound as the HDMI connection.

The possibility of optical bwz. Digital analogue connection should only be a stopgap solution. It only transmits the audio signal in analogue form and is therefore not suitable for digital surround sound.

connection-HDMI

description– Since the HDMI connection delivers the best acoustic quality, and this should be your first choice. The HDMI connection label “ARC” (Audio Return Channel).

connection-Digital

description- A distinction is made between a coaxial cinch socket and an optical Toslink connection. The quality of the Toslink connection comes directly after the HDMI connection. But the Toslink does not offer such a precise and room-filling sound as the HDMI connection.

connection-Stereo RCA socket

description-If there is no digital connection, analogue, such as the stereo cinch connection, is used. These connections are usually marked in red and white, sometimes also in red-black pairs. In this case, plug the black plug into the white port.

 

Why is an HDMI cable recommended for a soundbar?

HDMI means High Definition Multimedia Interface and is a digital interface for high-quality transmission of sound and images. They have only been around since 2002.

The digital transmission prevents that quality is lost as it is, e.g. B. is the case with the digital-to-analogue transmission with SCART.

Thanks to the high data rate, super-sharp HD films and brilliant home cinema sound can be transmitted with up to eight channels at up to 10.2 gigabytes per second.

That is why it is highly recommended to connect your soundbar to the television using an HDMI cable. It is the only way the soundbar can get the best out of itself together with the television.

How do speakers work?

Loudspeakers are converters that use a membrane to convert electrical energy into acoustic signals. An electromagnetic field drives it. The function is based on the magnetic effect of a current-carrying coil.

In most cases, loudspeakers consist of three components: the membrane, the drive unit and their connecting elements.

Simple loudspeakers usually have poor sound quality because the membrane is attached to its edges on all sides and thus cannot generate broad vibrations.

Dynamic loudspeakers, on the other hand, have a membrane that exhibits perfect vibration behaviour. The basic idea behind the active loudspeaker goes back to Werner von Siemens.

Are there televisions with an integrated sound system?

Attempts made to give televisions a better sound through integrated subwoofers and higher output power.

Although these devices sound better than conventional televisions, they cannot replace a powerful subwoofer, a home theatre system with speakers distributed around the room, or a powerful soundbar.

Two models from Bose offer an exception. These have seven loudspeakers for high tones and six subwoofers for low techniques, ensuring a rich sound and even deceptively natural surround sound. However, these models cost just under 6,500 euros.

The disadvantage is that the entire device has to be replaced if the screen or even just one speaker is defective – unlike a system with individual components.

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