Soundbar Deals

tv soundbar with subwoofer

Soundbars are the new hit home entertainment item when it comes to getting that stereo surround sound effect without all the cables and complicated setup of a surround sound system with speakers positioned around the room. They can be mounted beneath your TV or easily stored in a cabinet and provide cinema-quality sound within in the comfort of your own home.

See Also: Televisions | Sonos

Sound Bar Buyers Guide

Modern technology has allowed televisions to get thinner and thinner whilst also improving the picture that actually appears on the screen. From high definition through to 4K and curved TVs, you can barely go shopping for a new television set without being told that it is thinner than paper.

The only thing that hasn’t been improved upon during that time is the quality of the sound that these new super duper sets produce. The slimming down of the sets has meant that sound has had to take a back seat. Not that television designers were all that bothered about the quality of the sound they could produce even when the slimness wasn’t an issue, but that’s an argument for another time.

Thankfully, it isn’t tricky to add quality sound to your home set up, and there are numerous options you can explore if you want to get better quality in your ears when you’re watching a film or TV show. Surround Sound remains the best way to improve your home system, but it isn’t for everyone and can be very expensive.

Instead, we’ll be looking at what Sound Bars can offer you and the things you need to think about when you go looking for one in the sales. We’ll let you know what specs you should keep an eye out for as well as the best way to introduce one to your home set up so that you can start enjoying top quality sound as soon as possible.

Sound Bars essentially come in 2 different forms. The first is exactly how it sounds – it is a long bar that contains speakers and often, but not always, has a separate subwoofer. The second type is called a “pedestal” style speaker system. These are designed to sit underneath your television and almost appear to be more of a TV stand than a speaker.

Either way, the idea is that the speakers sit inside the Sound Bar in an enclosure that is designed to fit seamlessly alongside your television. If you have your TV on a stand then that’s great, the Sound Bar will fit on there too. If you prefer the wall-mounted style of TV then don’t worry, nearly all Sound Bars nowadays come with a wall mounting option too. Of course, if you’re going to wall mount it, then you definitely want to head towards the more traditional variation of the Sound Bar rather than the Pedestal style.

Whilst the two main types of Sound Bar are either the long bar style or the Pedestal type, Sound Bars actually come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Which one you opt for basically boils down to your own personal style and how you intend to set up your system. From plain and sleek through to devices that look a bit like they belong in the Bat Cave, there will be a Sound Bar that ticks your personal stylistic box.

Subwoofers

A subwoofer is a separate speaker that is dedicated to producing the low, rumbling sounds you’ll be used to from trips to see action films at the cinema. The sound of an explosion rumbling in your ears, the pounding of a bass drum from the thumping soundtrack or the ‘thwack thwack thwack’ of a bass guitar are all produced by a subwoofer.

Some Sound Bars claim to have built in subwoofers, others will come with a separate one that the Sound Bar links up to wirelessly. Which option you go for depends on two things: Firstly, are you bothered about the aesthetics of having a subwoofer sat on the floor or next to your television? If you think it’ll really be an issue for you to see what is essentially a block containing the subwoofer sat on your floor then you really need to think about getting a Sound Bar with one built in.

The second thing you’ll need to consider is how bothered you are about the quality of the sound you listen to. The simple fact is that even high end Sound Bars can’t offer really top quality bass noises from a built in subwoofer. They’ll be better than the bass sounds produced by your television’s inbuilt speakers alone, but not as good as the pure and healthy bass sounds you’ll get from a separate, dedicated subwoofer. You’ll have to decide for yourself how important this is to you.

Connectivity

There are two schools of thought on the connectivity associated with Sound Bars. Some devices come with a plethora of connectivity options, allowing you to plug a whole host of devices into them in order to use the Sound Bar as your main base of acoustic operations. USB, TOSLink, RCA and HDMI options are often found on the more expansive Sound Bars.

If you’ve got a Blu-ray player, a PlayStation 4 and a Sky box all set up in your house and you want to plug them all into your Sound Bar then you’ll need to find one with plenty of HDMI connections. That is the sure fire way to get lossless sound quality from your new speaker system.

The second school of thought as far as Sound Bar connectivity is concerned involves using your television as your hub of operations. If you decide to opt for this way of working things then what you’ll need to do is run all of your devices into your TV, then have a single connection from your TV to your Sound Bar. This is much more convenient than having each of your devices connected straight to the Sound Bar, as when you turn your TV to a new input then the sound moves to the Sound Bar automatically. If you run everything to your sound system separately then you’ll have to manually switch the Sound Bar’s input to the device you’re using with the supplied remote. A lot more fiddly.

Another thing to consider is how the various things are connected to your new audio device. If you want to plug directly into the Sound Bar then you may end up spending a bit more as the device will need to be bigger to accommodate the various connections. Some Sound Bars have a separate box into which you plug all of your cables and connections in much the same way that an A/V receiver works. In this instance you’ll need to bear in mind that there will be an additional box to add to your home entertainment system.

Finally, if you want your Sound Bar to be able to do more than just improve on your TV’s inbuilt sound then keep your eye out for a device with a Bluetooth connection. This will allow you to link your mobile phone, tablet or computer to your Sound Bar in order to listen to your favourite music or radio station through the device. They don’t have to be solely about improving the soundtrack of your favourite film.

Surround Sound

Sound Bars will, without question, improve the quality of sound you get out of your home entertainment system if you’ve been used to the speakers that are built in to your TV. You’ll notice things you never heard before on your regular shows, like rain hitting the windowpane, or people talking in the background. You can get exciting, immersive, big energy sounds from Sound Bars nowadays.

The thing to be aware of, though, is that some manufacturers claim that their Sound Bars offer surround sound. This may be true in the case of real high end manufacturers, but most of the time what they’re actually referring to is simulated surround sound.

Simulated surround sound involves the speakers using techniques to trick your ears into hearing things that aren’t actually there. It is used to add a sense of spaciousness and depth to the sound stream you’re hearing, but the quality of the end product varies wildly between different manufacturers and even between products from the same manufacturer.

The fact is that if you want to get true surround sound you’re best off without a Sound Bar and instead spend some time investigating a proper surround sound system. A budget Sound Bar may well offer a better solution to your audio problems than a budget surround sound system, but what they won’t do is give you the sense that someone is walking around behind you, or let you hear voices from every corner of the room. Great sounding Sound Bars are available and they’ll improve your audio set-up no end, but they won’t offer the same immersive experience as true surround sound.

Sonos

One of the best compromises you could find if you want a Sound Bar and a surround sound system is the high end products produced by Sonos. They aren’t cheap, but you can get a brilliant sound system in your home with a genuine 5.1 channel audio set up from the company.

The idea behind Sonos is that it is a wireless system that offers you audio throughout your home. The company would ideally like you to have speakers in all of the rooms in your house so that you can listen to music wherever you are, hearing the same song in the lounge as in the kitchen.

But the Sonos speaker that those who are looking for a Sound Bar will be interested in is called the PLAYBAR. The PLAYBAR fits into the long, slim Sound Bar bracket we mentioned earlier, and it also has the single connection to your television, meaning all of your devices run to the PLAYBAR via your TV.

You can add the Sonos SUB – their version of a subwoofer – to it to create a 3.1 home theatre system, or supplement both of those with a pair of PLAY:3s or PLAY:1s – their smaller speakers – in order to make it a 5.1 surround sound system.

Owing to the fact that the Sonos system runs through your home’s Wi-Fi network, the speakers are wireless and can be added without the fuss and bother of running cables all over your room. It is a neater solution that most surround sound systems tend to offer.

The PLAYBAR has 9 speakers inside its long form, meaning your living room will be filled with resonant, clear sound – allowing you to enjoy your movies and TV shows with the acoustic clarity the producers wanted you to experience.

Conclusion

You don’t have to be an audiophile to enjoy the difference to your home sound system a Sound Bar will make. It will add a richness and resonance to your home theatre set up that you didn’t know you were missing.

Have you ever been watching a film and wondered why the action scenes were so loud and over-whelming whilst the dialogue was barely audible? You’ve spent the duration of the movie hiring or lowering the volume depending on what was going on onscreen and being ludicrously frustrated that the film-makers didn’t just get their act together when they were creating the sound mix.

Well, the truth is that it’s actually nothing to do with the film-makers and is entirely down to your sound system. Most people that suffer from the above problem have a flat screen TV with no added Sound Bar. Add a Sound Bar to your set up and all of a sudden the sound brightens, the action sequences don’t seem quite so exaggerated when compared to the dialogue and you can hear things you never knew were there before.

If you enjoy a good sound emanating from your television then buying a Sound Bar should be a no brainer. The only questions you’ll need to ask yourself is how you want that Sound Bar to fit in to your current home theatre system. Are you overly bothered about the deeper bass sounds? If so, then look for a Sound Bar with an accompanying subwoofer. Do you have a wall mounted TV and want the same thing for your speaker system? Then make sure you opt for the longer, slimmer type of Sound Bar.

If you would like to get a system that you can use as a 5.1 surround sound set up but can also move around the home and use to play all of your music and audio then the Sonos system will definitely be worth exploring. Whatever it is that you’re after, there will be a Sound Bar system out there for you. Just make sure you think about how it will fit in to the set up you currently have.