Sound bars aren’t just about augmenting your TV’s tiny little speakers: No, these days sound bars are essentially a way of providing surround sound in small spaces or areas where you can’t position a lot of speakers. Don’t believe us? Take a look at the best soundbars of 2016 and see just what they can do for your awesome new LED TV.
Sonos Playbar TV – $700
If you are looking for a single-unit sound bar with high-fidelity sound that can dominate a room, this Sonos model is sure to impress. But fortunately, the speaker setup is just the beginning. This model offers a total of nine different speakers inside a single high-end speaker bar, and although they are all close together they can still provide 5.1 surround sound to a surprising degree of accuracy, ideal for those who want lots of sound but don’t have the space (or authorization) to set up multiple speakers.
It’s also ultra-easy to install. There are two cords, power and optical. The built-in Wi-Fi can communicate with your network and download everything it needs to operate, include updates. The Sonos app allows you to wireless play music from a variety of apps straight from your tablet or phone. If you decide to get more Sonos speakers in the future, you can link them together in a fuller surround sound system, so there’s also a lot of flexibility here. The speaker can even connect with your current remote so that you can turn it on at the same time as your TV or receiver, and control sound just as easily.
The only issue for some may be the price. Yes, this is one of the best single-unit sound solutions out there, but paying more than you did for your last game console may not sound like that great of a deal. For those of you who shake your head at a $700 price, take a look at our next pick!
Vizio SB4051-C0 – $338
At only around $340, this sound bar is in the price range of those looking for better budget deals…and it doesn’t come alone. There’s also a subwoofer and two rear speakers, a great setup for those of you who want a little bit of surround sound to go with your sound bar. There are also wireless and Bluetooth features built into this system, so connecting your smartphone music playlist or downloading updates is a snap. The wall mount allows you more freedom when it comes to positioning, while the simple HDMI interface allows you to hook the speakers to your current system within minutes. It also supports both Dolby and DTS surround sound formats, so don’t worry about the inputs!
The only notable addition we’ve got is that you are skipping out on a lot of the high-end features with the decreased price. You’ll have an extra remote to juggle, for instance, instead of handy remote-learning capabilities. But those are minor quibbles for a sound bar that offers great fidelity at a more affordable price.
Definitive Technology W Studio – $1,000
All right: Here’s the best of the best for those of you who are really interested in the high end. It includes a sound bar and powerful subwoofer for basic but extremely effective sound. The W Studio is also ideal for more complex entertainment setups, with three HDMI inputs and one digital optical input to work with – as well as a Wi-Fi connection for updates and streaming.
The bar includes three tweets and three woofers for 5.1 surround sound, and the 8-inch subwoofer (that’s the driver, not the total size) makes for a complete and impressive sound ecosystem. You don’t even need to attach the subwoofer and bar, allowing for more flexible placement.
This minimalistic, aluminum sound bar has awesome base, high fidelity, and tons of style…but that price should help you make up your mind. Do you want to pay a lot for extra class, or back down from a $1,000 sound bar?