Having updated our 10 best soundbars, we’re pleased to announce there are some amazing soundbars on the market with some incredible new technology. You’ll definitely find something at every price point from several hundred and even a thousand dollars down to under $100. At every price point, we’ve managed to find the best soundbar money can buy. Make sure you check out our buyer’s guide at the end of this article for info.
If you’re shopping for a soundbar on a tight budget, then you’ll definitely want to go for the TaoTronics TT-SK15 Sound Bar. At under $80, the TT-SK15 offers excellent value for money. If you’re looking for big sound, the TT-SK15 might not be a good choice. While the Bose Solo 5 is slightly more than double the price, the sound quality and features far exceed that of the TT-SK15.
Best Soundbar for Movies
If you’re looking for a soundbar specifically for watching movies and playing games, I would go for the VIZIO SB46514-F6. The system offers 5.1.4 3D surround sound with sub-bass that kicks! This system will truly blow you away. The VIZIO is, however just shy of $1,000 which might be out of many people’s budget.
If you’re looking for something cheaper, then the Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.1 comes in at just under $450 and performs exceptionally well for a system at this price. You get a nice big bass sound and virtual 7.1 surround sound. At this price, however, you don’t get Dolby Atmos or DTS:X 3D sound processing.
Best Soundbar for the Bedroom
If you’re looking for a soundbar for the bedroom, then you might want to consider the ultra-compact Bose Solo 5. This soundbar doesn’t offer surround sound capability but does provide exceptional clarity and detail. Perfect for watching a bit of TV while you doze off at night.
Best Soundbar for Multi-Room Speaker Setups
If you’re looking to build a multi-room speaker setup then you’ll want to go with the Sonos Playbar. As detailed in the review above, you can add Sonos speakers to the Playbar to create a 5.1 or 7.1 home theater system. Furthermore, you can create a full home network of Sonos speakers isolating and assigning different speakers to different rooms or even groups. Sonos speakers are also compatible with Alexa so you can create a full smart home system.
What to Expect from Soundbars?
There have been several advances in soundbar technology over the past year or so where many products are starting to compete in terms of quality with their point source counterparts.
More and more soundbars are incorporating DTS, DTS:X, and Dolby Atmos technology which offers a 3D audio experience. It’s impressive how well some brands are nailing this 3D experience and it’s likely we’ll see this as a standard feature within the next year.
Bass performance has also improved over the last 12 months. In some products, like the VIZIO 46-Inch, Sonos PLAYBAR or Bose SoundTouch 300 bass performance is certainly on another level when compared with other brands. No matter how much bass response improves, you’ll always get the best sound with a soundbar/subwoofer combo.
Should I Buy a Soundbar?
There are many reasons why you would want a soundbar. Soundbars became popular as a slimline speaker to boost the sound of a flatscreen TV. While flatscreens provide excellent picture quality, the sound is often thin and not very loud. Soundbars made it possible to increase the audio quality while still maintaining a minimal footprint, often mounted below the TV.
Nowadays, soundbars have become significantly more advanced. Consumers expect bigger sound, more bass, and the latest home theater features. And this is where you need to decide whether or not to choose a soundbar.
If you’re looking to improve the sound of your TV, then a soundbar is the best speaker for the job. There are also great home theater soundbar options, featuring virtual surround sound, which obviously cost more money but are quick and easy to install and do the job.
However, if you are looking for the best home theater experience, then a proper surround sound system is definitely the better option. Sure, there are more speakers, cables, and money required to get the system installed, but the audio quality will be significantly better and you’ll experience a true surround sound experience.
Another thing to consider is the size of your living space. For small to medium size rooms, a soundbar will work just fine. It’s when you get into bigger living spaces where you might want to consider a bigger speaker. In bigger rooms, soundbars, especially anything under 100W, tend to get lost in the room and you’ll have to run the speaker at close to max volume to fill the space.
In bigger rooms, you need bigger speakers and might find floor-standing speakers to offer better room-filling sound.
1. VIZIO SB46514-F6 Home Theater Sound System
If you’re looking for a soundbar with Dolby Atmos, the Vizio Soundbar is certainly a top contender. VIZIO SB46514-F6 is a 5.1.4 home theater sound system that has become extremely popular over. Each part is constructed with high-quality metal parts which give the system a premium look and feel.
The VIZIO SB46514-F6 also features Google’s Chromecast built-in and works with Google Assistant. For Google Assistant, however, you will need an external Google device.
Taking a closer look at the system itself, the VIZIO SB46514-F6 comprises of a soundbar, subwoofer and two satellite surround speakers.
The Vizio soundbar is 46 inches and houses a total of 8 speaker drivers. There are two each for left, right, and center and then two for overhead or Dolby Atmos surround sound. The system comes with a 10-inch subwoofer which is larger than the average soundbar/woofer combo.
The soundbar and sub connect wirelessly which means you have the freedom for optimal placement and fewer wires to run. The subwoofer has two outputs that connect to the rear surrounds via a cable connection.
The two satellite speakers feature a single 2.1-inch full-range driver for regular surround sound and a 1.9-inch upward firing driver for Dolby Atmos surround sound. In total, the system comprises of 13 speaker drivers.
The soundbar is the primary input device for the VIZIO SB46514-F6 system. Inputs include 1 x HDMI, ⅛-inch AUX, coaxial, optical, USB (audio playback only), Bluetooth and WiFi. There is also an HDMI ARC Thru. If you prefer to connect your system to the internet using a cable, an Ethernet port is provided on the rear of the VIZIO soundbar.
The VIZIO SB46514-F6 comes with a remote control but can also be controlled using a smart device like a phone or tablet. The remote is better than your average soundbar remote control with premium buttons and an LCD display.
Using the remote you can access the usual functions like play/pause/skip/mute, volume control, input selection, and access audio and function settings. You can also download the VIZIO SmartCast app to access the same functionality.
On top of the soundbar, there is a five-button control panel for power, input selection, Bluetooth pairing, and volume control.
What Does the VIZIO SB46514-F6 Sound Like?
For overall sound, the VIZIO SB46514-F6 gets a big thumbs up. The 10-inch woofer delivers a tonne of bass. More than most all-in-one soundbar combos by a long way. The low-end is deep and smooth with a good punchy definition. The mid-range is upfront and clear offering excellent clarity, especially for vocals and special FX. The highs are crisp and give the system an exciting treble response.
The Dolby Atmos surround sound works really well for this system. For small to medium-sized rooms, the 4 up-firing drivers deliver enough sound for an immersive 3D audio experience. One thing to note is you can’t adjust the firing height so, if you have particularly high ceilings, the VIZIO SB46514-F6 system might not perform as well.
VIZIO SB46514-F6 Conclusion
At $1,000 the VIZIO SB46514-F6 5.1.4 Home Theater Sound System might seem expensive, however, it’s actually very well priced for a Dolby Atmos system with all these components. The fact that you have a powerful 10-inch subwoofer adds to the value of this system.
The high-quality components, metal finishes, and attention to detail make the SB46514-F6 well worth its price tag. If you’re looking for an affordable premium soundbar home theater system, then the VIZIO SB46514-F6 should definitely be at the top of your list of considerations.
2. Sonos PLAYBAR TV Soundbar
The Sonos Play series is one of the more exciting ranges of speakers to be released in the last few years. Their flagship product is the sleek and sexy PLAYBAR TV Soundbar which is a masterpiece in design and audio quality. If you’re looking for the best WiFi soundbar, then the PLAYBAR is a must-have item.
The PLAYBAR features just a single digital optical input which you connect to your TV. No receiver is required to operate the PLAYBAR, in fact, Sonos instruct you to remove any receiver between the TV and PLAYBAR for the soundbar to operate as it was designed to.
The PLAYBAR is also WiFi-enabled and compatible with Alexa. You also have the option of connecting the PLAYBAR directly to your via a LAN port and even network other Play speakers via network cable connection if you prefer cable over WiFi.
The PLAYBAR can be mounted on the wall or placed on a shelf/cabinet. There is a built-in gyro system which tells the PLAYBAR whether it’s on a table or mounted on the wall. This enables the soundbar to make adjustments to optimize the sound.
The Play Series comes with an app that allows you to further program and calibrate your speakers based on the room and where you place your PLAYBAR. If you have other Sonos Play speakers, you can sync and control these through the Play App.
The PLAYBAR also comes with two awesome sound options, Speech Enhancement, and Night Sound. As the name suggests, Speech Enhancement adjusts the PLAYBAR to make speech and dialog more intelligible. The Night Sound feature is particularly useful if you have an apartment or can’t make too much noise at certain times of the day.
In Night Sound mode the PLAYBAR will dip loud parts of whatever you’re viewing so the sound stays at a constant low level. So, for example, if you’re watching a war movie the dialogue parts are generally quiet while the fighting or battle scenes are loud with loads of explosions, the PLAYBAR will dip the audio during those loud moments so the sound is never louder than the dialogue scenes.
The greatest feature Sonos have incorporated with the PLAYBAR is the fact the soundbar doesn’t have a remote, however, you can program your TV remote to operate the PLAYBAR.
Multiple remotes are annoying and the fact you can program your TV remote to operate the PLAYBAR is just incredible. At least I think it is. Set up is easy by calibrating using the Play App you can sync your TV remote to the PLAYBAR in minutes.
If you’re looking for a complete surround sound experience then you have the option of adding more Sonos Play speakers to your system.
The Sonos Play:1 is a compact versatile satellite speaker which can be used for rear surround positions or just on its own. The Play:1 connects to the PLAYBAR wirelessly so you don’t have to worry about running cables between the two speakers. All you need is power for the Play:1 and you’re good to go. Like the PLAYBAR you can control the Play:1 via the Play App.
The Play:1 is also WiFi-enabled and works with Alexa. As the speaker is lightweight and compact, you can take this through to other rooms in the house and use it as a portable speaker around the home. Obviously, you will still need to power the Play:1 via a socket so it’s not 100% portable. The Play:1 can be placed on a shelf or mounted on a wall for surround sound installations.
A home theater system always needs some sub-bass. The Sonos Sub is a slim, stylish powered subwoofer producing an exceptional amount of bass. The Sonos Sub can easily fill most living spaces and connects to the PLAYBAR, Play:1, Play:3 or Play:5 speakers no matter your Sonos set up.
The Sonos Play:5 is a little different in that it’s more of a replacement option to the PLAYBAR rather than an addition. The Play:5 can be set up as a single speaker or a left/right pair. Unfortunately, you can’t set up the Play:5 as a left/right pair with the PLAYBAR as a center speaker. Sonos is constantly updating the firmware of these speakers so it’s possible this may be possible in the future.
You can, however, have the PLAYBAR set up as the front left, right, center with two Play:5 speakers as your rear surrounds. Include the Sonos Sub and you will have one serious 5.1 surround sound system.
What Does the Sonos PLAYBAR Sound Like?
The PLAYBAR features a total of 9 speaker drivers, 6 full range drivers, and 3 tweeters which cover a left, center, right configuration. Sonos doesn’t specify the power output of the PLAYBAR, however, I can confirm this soundbar is loud! The PLAYBAR won’t have any issues filling most living spaces on its own, never mind with any of the other Sonos Play speakers.
Not only is the PLAYBAR powerful, but it also sounds incredible. Usually, I find even the best soundbars can sound a little thin, this isn’t the case with the PLAYBAR. The PLAYBAR has a rich warm sound with exceptional clarity across the mids and highs delivering incredible detail.
For vocals and sound effects in movies, the sound quality and detail are so incredible you can’t help but feel truly immersed in what you’re watching.
Sonos PLAYBAR TV Soundbar Conclusion
If you’re looking for one of the best WiFi speakers on the market at the moment, the Sonos PLAYBAR is an excellent contender. The PLAYBAR is simple to use and yet comes with some of the most advanced internal processing and features of any WiFi speaker on the market.
The ability to easily add more Sonos speakers to your system whenever you want means you don’t have to purchase a full surround sound system all at once. At just under $700 the PLAYBAR is expensive but well worth every cent.
3. Bose SoundTouch 300 Soundbar
The Bose SoundTouch 300 soundbar is a WiFi speaker designed primarily for home theater applications. The soundbar is slim and sleek with quality parts and finishes. Like most WiFi speakers, the SoundTouch 300 is compatible with Alexa so you can pair this soundbar with any Alexa device.
Bose supplies you with their ADAPTiQ® headset which you wear on your head during setup to calibrate the SoundTouch 300 to your listening position and room acoustics. The setup takes 10 minutes and the room needs to be silent while the ADAPTiQ headset does it thing. The result is a perfectly tuned SoundTouch 300 tailored to your room and listening position.
If you need some more bass, you can add the Bose Acoustimass 300 Wireless Bass Module for a subwoofer. The Acoustimass 300 connects to your SoundTouch 300 wirelessly so no speaker cables necessary.
Additionally, if you want to complete a 5.1 surround sound system, you can include the Bose Surround Speakers which also connect to the SoundTouch 300 wirelessly giving you a full wireless surround sound system. All of these speakers are available in black or white.
The SoundTouch 300 offers several input options including ⅛-Inch AUX, 1 x HDMI, Bluetooth, and WiFi. There is also an HDMI through giving you the option to connect your SoundTouch 300 however you choose.
There are no buttons on the SoundTouch 300. Instead, everything is controlled either via the remote or SoundTouch app. The remote is very comprehensive and even has the thumbs up and thumbs down for streaming services. You can also set up your speakers, program presets and much more using the remote control.
What Does the Bose SoundTouch 300 Sound Like?
Bose doesn’t specify the power output of the SoundTouch 300 but I can confirm this soundbar has a serious amount of power and sound. While the SoundTouch 300 doesn’t quite get into the sub-bass frequency range, the soundbar does a better job than most in low-end response.
The mid-range and highs offer exceptional detail and clarity with vocals and sound effects in movies sounding freakishly lifelike. A truly immersive audio experience. While the SoundTouch 300 doesn’t advertise any virtual surround sound capabilities, the speaker delivers an impressive soundstage and detailed separation of sound.
Bose SoundTouch 300 Soundbar Conclusion
Like the Sonos Play Series, the Bose SoundTouch range allows you to build your system one speaker at a time. On its own, the SoundTouch 300 is an exceptional speaker and, for smaller rooms, this might be all you need.
The ability to add either the Acoustimass 300 or 700 subwoofers to complete a full range audio experience with the SoundTouch 300. Like most premium WiFi speakers, at $700, the SoundTouch 300 isn’t cheap but well worth the investment for an exceptional audio experience.
4. Samsung HW-MS650 Sound+ Premium Soundbar
When it comes to consumer electronics, Samsung never disappoints with some of the best products across just about every category. The Samsung HW-MS650 Sound+ Premium Soundbar is an outstanding WiFi speaker with simple features and immersive sound. The HW-MS650 is compatible with Alexa so, if you have an Alexa device you can perform all the usual voice commands.
The HW-MS650 allows for several input options including ⅛-inch AUX, HDMI, optical, Bluetooth, and WiFi. Additionally, the HW-MS650 has both HDMI ARC through and power through for linking to your TV. Having the power through is great when mounting the HW-MS650 on the wall below your TV as you reduce the number of power cables running down the wall.
All inputs are tucked away in a recessed compartment at the rear of the HW-MS650 making it easy to mount on a wall or place on a shelf or cabinet.
On the right-hand edge of the HW-MS650 are four raised controls which include power on/off, input selection, volume up and volume down. The HW-MS650 comes with a remote control which performs all the same functions but also allows you to adjust the soundbar EQ, play/pause music, skip tracks, and change the sound modes.
There are three sound modes available on the HW-MS650. The first is Surround which engages a virtual surround sound. This is great for watching movies or playing games. SOUND MODE allows you to switch between a selection of audio presets depending on what you’re watching.
Lastly, you have SMART MODE which “automatically optimizes sound effects to suit the scene currently playing” according to the user manual.
If you have a Samsung Smart TV, you can simply use the TV remote to control your HW-MS650 WiFi speaker.
What Does the Samsung HW-MS650 Soundbar Sound Like?
The HW-MS650 features nine speakers drivers each driven by their own internal digital amplifier. These nine speakers are broken up into a left, right and center configuration with two low-frequency drivers and a tweeter for each position. The separation and sound quality from the HW-MS650 is incredible.
The detail and nuance delivered by the HW-MS650 make watching movies or playing games that much more immersive and exciting. The bass the HW-MS650 produces is impressive with a clean and clear mids and highs to deliver exceptional intelligibility for dialogue-heavy programming.
If you’d like to add more bass, you can include the earth-shaking Samsung SWA-W700 Sound+ Subwoofer which connects wirelessly to your HW-MS650 soundbar.
Samsung HW-MS650 Sound+ Premium Soundbar Conclusion
If you already own a Samsung Smart TV, then the HW-MS650 is a no-brainer. This soundbar will easily integrate into your current Samsung set up to enhance your audio experience. Adding the Samsung SWA-W700 Sound+ Subwoofer is a must for some sub-bass or you can enjoy a wireless 5.1 surround sound setup with the HW-MS650, SWA-W700 and SWA-9000S satellite speakers.
5. LG SK9Y Sound Bar with Dolby Atmos
LG came out with the SKY series a couple of years back and the soundbar home theater system continues to sell well. LG released an updated version across the entire range with some audio and feature adjustments. These weren’t major changes since the product already worked really well but rather tweaks to optimize quality and performance.
The LG SK9Y 5.1.2 is just one down from the flagship SK10Y with the latter boasting slightly more power and DTS:X rather than the SK9Y DTS. There is also a $200 price difference to consider.
The LG SK9Y Soundbar is a sleek, low-profile device that houses a total of 7 x 43W speaker drivers. Three for left, right, and center, two for virtual rear surrounds and two for overhead surrounds. In total, the soundbar delivers an impressive 300W of power. More than enough to fill most living spaces with ease!
For the low-end, the system comes with a 200W subwoofer which connects to the soundbar wirelessly.
On top of the soundbar is a small control panel while on the rear you have an input panel. Inputs include ⅛-inch AUX, 1 x HDMI, optical, Bluetooth, and WiFi. There is also an Ethernet port for wired connections. Buttons on the control panel include WiFi, play/pause, volume up/down, input selection, and power on/off.
In addition to the onboard controls, the SK9Y comes with a remote giving you access to the system’s full settings and functionality.
On the front of the soundbar, behind the speaker grille, is an LED display that indicates input and audio setting changes as they are made. This is convenient so you know exactly what you’re adjusting when using the remote or onboard controls. There is also an LED indicator that alerts to various operations, errors, and functions the soundbar might be experiencing.
What Does the LG SK9Y Sound Like?
For a two-piece home theater system, the SK9Y sounds surprisingly good. The vertical surround sound works really well creating an excellent rear and overhead sound image. The soundbar delivers fantastic vocal clarity with a decent amount of room-filling sound. The subwoofer does a great job on the low-end and is a lot more powerful than first impressions would lead you to believe.
At full power, it’ll easily overpower the soundbar in action or loud movie sequences so you might need to make some adjustments to find the sweet spot with the bass. For movies, games, and even music, the SK9Y delivers a high-quality, immersive audio experience. Given this is coming from just two speakers, it’s really impressive.
LG SK9Y Conclusion
I feel like LG is often overlooked for brands like Sony, Bose, and Samsung. LG is usually competitively priced and I haven’t found a product from them I wasn’t really sure of. When it comes to consistency, LG certainly perform. I feel the SK9Y is definitely one of those great LG products well worth the $900 price tag (in some cases you can pick it up cheaper).
If you’re looking for a compact, wireless home theater system, the SK9Y is certainly the way to go. This product will perform exceptionally well in small living spaces like apartments or in the bedroom.
6. Sony HT-Z9F Soundbar with Wi-Fi
Sony is well known for its range of quality consumer audio products. Sony’s soundbars and subwoofers are some of the best on the market producing high-quality audio made from premium parts and the most up to date technology. The Sony HT-Z9F is a 3.1 WiFi speaker system with soundbar and subwoofer.
The features a 300W soundbar with a 100W powered subwoofer. The two connect via WiFi eliminating the need for any speaker cable. With the combination of soundbar and subwoofer, you enjoy a full-range audio experience.
For full 5.1 you can include two Z9R Wireless Speakers for full surround sound. The soundbar features Dolby Atmos which delivers a 360° audio experience with sound appearing to come from the left, right, rear and even above. Watching movies or playing games with Dolby Atmos takes your viewing experience to another level for an incredibly immersive experience.
The HT-Z9F allows for several inputs and even gives you the option to connect from the TV or to the TV via the HDMI through. Inputs include 2 x HDMI (plus 1 HDMI ARC through), optical, ⅛-Inch AUX, USB, Bluetooth, and WiFi. The HT-Z9F soundbar even has an IR repeater in case your soundbar blocks your TV’s IR for the remote. All the settings can be adjusted using the HT-Z9F comprehensive remote control.
The HT-Z9F comes with several audio enhancement and experience settings depending on what you’re watching. The VERTICAL S button engages Dolby Atmos which enables vertical as well as horizontal audio. The SOUND MODE button allows you to switch between the various pre-programmed Sony audio presets including cinema, game studio, music, news, sports, and standard.
You can also set SOUND MODE to auto in which case the system will detect the content and adjust the audio accordingly. The VOICE button enhances speech for dialogue-heavy viewing while NIGHT will ensure the audio remains at a constant volume with no loud parts to disturb the rest of your house/apartment or neighbors.
What Does the Sony HT-Z9F Soundbar Sound Like?
The bass from the subwoofer is deep and punchy with sub-frequencies which can be felt as well as heard. The mid-range and highs are upfront and clear with incredible detail giving life to vocals and movie effects.
Sony HT-Z9F Soundbar with Wi-Fi Conclusion
If you’re looking for a WiFi soundbar with subwoofer combo, then the Sony HT-Z9F is definitely one to check out. This awesome package comes with the latest audio formats including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.
At just under $700 you get the soundbar and subwoofer for a 3.1 system or, for just under $1000 you can have a full WiFi 5.1 surround sound system with the two Z9R Wireless Speakers for rear surrounds. When you consider most premium WiFi soundbars cost the same as the HT-Z9F without a subwoofer, this package offers extremely good value.
7. Yamaha YSP-5600 MusicCast Sound Bar
The Yamaha YSP-5600 is the most expensive WiFi speaker we reviewed for this article but easily the most advanced too. The YSP-5600 incorporates multiple speaker arrays to deliver a 3D audio experience, including overhead, from a single source soundbar. It also works with Alexa via the Echo range from Amazon.
The YSP-5600 features multiple inputs but, most importantly, the soundbar has four HDMI ports and an HDMI ARC through. This means you can use the YSP-5600 as your media center with all your devices going to the soundbar and a single HDMI up to the TV.
Alternatively, you can have everything go to your TV and a single HDMI or optical cable connecting to your YSP-5600. Either way, it’s nice that you have that choice.
The YSP-5600 comes packed full of audio features most notable is Yamaha MusicCast which allows you to connect multiple MusicCast devices via a WiFi network and control everything via the MusicCast app. You can stream music to all the MusicCast devices on the network effectively creating a single music system for your home controlled via your mobile phone.
All settings and controls for the YSP-5600 are controlled via the remote control. Unlike most soundbars which feature a small remote, the YSP-5600 is full sized with buttons to access every element of the WiFi speaker. The settings appear on your TV so you can see exactly what settings you’re adjusting.
If you have a separate subwoofer, you can control the volume separately from the master volume on the YSP-5600 remote. You can also switch between the multiple audio presets, too many to go into in this article. The only option the YSP-5600 remote is missing is the ability to thumbs up and thumbs down tracks on your preferred streaming service.
What Does the Yamaha YSP-5600 Soundbar Sound Like?
The YSP-5600 consists of over 40 speaker drivers in various arrays delivering a combined 128W of power. The result of all those speakers working together is the best 3D experience from any soundbar on the market today.
The experience is so immersive it’ll leave you in awe. But for $1600, you’d certainly expect to be amazed at the very least! The YSP-5600 also has one of the best bass sounds of any soundbar and the detail and nuance in the mids and highs is nothing short of incredible. The YSP-5600 is hands down the winner when it comes to soundbar sound and technology.
The system even comes with the Yamaha IntelliBeam microphone for initial calibration of the YSP-5600. Full instructions for setting this up can be found in the YSP-5600 user manual.
Even though the YSP-5600 has a great low-end response, there is always going to be a need for a subwoofer. The Yamaha NS-SW300 is a 10” 300W powered subwoofer which connects using an RCA cable via the YSP-5600 sub output. Unfortunately, there is no wireless subwoofer available at the moment.
Yamaha YSP-5600 MusicCast Sound Bar Conclusion
If you have $1,600 to spend on a high-end WiFi speaker, then you definitely won’t be disappointed with the Yamaha YSP-5600. The sound experience is like no other WiFi speaker or soundbar with Yamaha pushing the boundary in terms of what’s possible with 3D sound.
For a full surround experience, you can include a Yamaha subwoofer and some satellite speakers to complete your system. For bigger rooms, this is recommended but for small rooms and apartments, the YSP-5600 on its own is sufficient. Although, even in the smaller rooms, I’d still throw in a subwoofer for the bottom end.
8. Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.1 Sound Bar
Nakamichi has been designing and manufacturing consumer audio products from their HQ in Tokyo, Japan since 1948. The company produces some high-end equipment including car stereo systems for Lexus.
The Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.1, a semi-wireless surround sound system, is currently one of the company’s best selling products. Let’s take a closer look at the Shockwafe Pro 7.1 and how this product makes it into this year’s top 10.
At the center of the Shockwafe Pro 7.1 system is the 45-inch Nakamichi Soundbar. The soundbar features a total of 8 speaker drivers delivering a whopping 80W of power! There are six 2½-inch full-range drivers distributed two each left and right with two in the center. Located far left and right are two 1-inch tweeters for FX and ambiance.
Included in the Shockwafe Pro 7.1 package are two rear surrounds each with a single 15W 2½-inch full-range driver and 1-inch tweeter. The one downside to the rear surrounds is they connect to the soundbar via a cable connection. I don’t see this being a big issue given the Shockwafe Pro 7.1 price and the fact you would need to run power to the surrounds anyway.
Also included in the Shockwafe Pro 7.1 system is a 60W 8-inch subwoofer. This awesome sub connects to the soundbar wirelessly, reducing the number of cables running down the wall or around the back of your speaker cabinet. This also means you can find the optimum position for your sub without the constraint of a signal cable.
The soundbar houses the inputs for the Shockwafe Pro 7.1 system. These include optical, coaxial, ⅛-inch AUX, 2 x HDMI, and Bluetooth. There is also a 4K HDMI Pass Thru and a USB port for firmware updates. The USB can’t be used for audio or video connections. The inputs are located on the rear of the soundbar in recessed ports allowing the speaker to mount flush with the wall.
Included with the system is a back-lit remote to control functionality of the Shockwafe Pro 7.1. Using the remote you can perform the usual functions like play/pause/skip/search, adjust volume and audio settings, switch between inputs, and access Bluetooth pairing.
In the center of the soundbar is an LED display hidden discretely behind the speaker grille. The LED display shows the current input selection so you can see what you’re doing when making changes. The LED can be dimmed if needed.
What Does the Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.1 Sound Like?
At the $450 price point, you’ll be truly blown away by the Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.1 sound. The 8-inch subwoofer does an excellent job of providing a deep, rich low-end sound which makes watching movies, playing games or listening to music that much more enjoyable.
The soundbar is another impressive piece in this system. The virtual left/right/center works exceptionally well and the addition of DTS:X gives the system a truly immersive audio experience. Vocals come through crystal clear and the overall quality is good. The rear surrounds perform well too providing excellent clarity and detail for special effects.
Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.1 Conclusion
If you’re looking for an all-in-one wireless home theater system with a soundbar, then the Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.1 is definitely one to consider. For $450 you get a 45-inch soundbar, 2 x rear surrounds, and an 8-inch woofer. The system sounds great and comes with the latest audio features like DTS:X, Dolby, and advanced DSP technology. Excellent value for money.
9. Bose Solo 5 TV Sound System
If you’re a Bose fan but the SoundTouch 300 is a bit too big or expensive for your needs, then you might want to consider the smaller and more affordable Bose Solo 5 TV Sound System. At just 21-inches wide, the Bose Soundbar is a compact soundbar designed to provide high-end audio for small living spaces.
If you’re looking to improve the sound of your flatscreen TV in the bedroom or your apartment, then this part of the review is specifically for you.
The Solo 5 is a very simple soundbar which only offers stereo audio. No virtual surround sound, Dolby or any of those other exciting audio formats. Inside the soundbar, you’ll find two full-range drivers for left and right, each paired with a tweeter.
If you’re an HDMI fan, you’re going to be disappointed that the Solo 5 does feature any HDMI inputs. Instead, you have optical, coaxial, ⅛-inch AUX, and USB (audio only). You can, however, run all your HDMI connections to your TV and then use the optical connection between TV and soundbar. Since the Solo 5 only delivers stereo sound, optical is more than sufficient for this speaker.
While the Solo 5 is ultra-compact, the remote control is probably the biggest we have seen for any soundbar on the market. This is because it’s a universal remote which means it can be programmed to work with multiple electronics devices including TVs, DVD players, gaming consoles, and more.
Essentially, you can program the Solo 5 remote to replace all your other remotes and just use just one. Full details on how to do this can be found in the user manual.
What Does the Bose Solo 5 TV Sound System Sound Like?
The first thing I will say is because this is a compact, stand-alone soundbar without a subwoofer, the Solo 5 does lack bass. Which is to be expected from a soundbar. Having said that, the Solo 5 is impressive in low-end response when compared to other soundbars at this price point.
Even larger soundbars with multiple drivers. The Solo 5 offers a decent low-end punch which is more than enough for a small living space or in the bedroom.
Where the Solo 5 shines is in the mid-range and highs. Dialogue is present and crystal clear. Certainly better than most soundbars at this price point. The detail the Solo 5 offers is excellent with even nuance sounds and special FX come through.
You might not have the surround sound element, however, the Solo 5 does offer a somewhat immersive audio experience. The speaker can also deliver some serious volume and never breaks up or distorts.
Bose Solo 5 Conclusion
It’s important to note that while the Solo 5 delivers excellent sound quality and power for its size, gamers and those who like a lot of bass when watching movies, might be disappointed. Playing music through Bluetooth is also a little underwhelming, but for background music, the Solo 5 works just fine. For just under $200, the Solo 5 delivers a premium audio experience for small living spaces.
10. TaoTronics Sound Bar (TT-SK15)
If you’re looking for a cheap soundbar, then the best company to turn to is TaoTronics. TaoTronics are renowned for producing affordable, decent sounding soundbars in a range of sizes. The TT-SK15 is a 34-inch soundbar with the ability to deliver up to 40W of sound. Perfect for the bedroom and small living spaces.
The TT-SK15 offers stereo sound capability and unfortunately, does not support virtual surround sound, Dolby or other audio formats. Instead, this soundbar is designed specifically for boosting your flatscreen TV’s audio capability.
Inside the TT-SK15 you’ll find four full-range drivers paired with two bass radiators for extra low-end performance.
Inputs on the TT-SK15 include stereo RCA, ⅛-inch AUX, coaxial, and optical. All the inputs are located in a recessed port so you can still mount the soundbar flush against the wall. The ⅛-inch AUX port is located on the side making it easy to plug and unplug audio devices. Unfortunately, there are no HDMI ports but as there is no virtual surround sound capability, an optical connection will work just fine.
The soundbar comes with a simple remote control which enables you to adjust volume, mute, play/pause/skip, and switch inputs. On the front of the speaker is a silver capacitive-touch strip offering the same controls found on the remote. This is especially convenient for those times when the remote disappears.
Mounting the TT-SK15 is extremely simple. The soundbar comes with screw mounts fitted to the back of the device which means you just need to install a couple of screws into the wall and you’re done. In terms of convenience and ease of setup, the TT-SK15 beats most soundbars on the market.
What Does the TaoTronics TT-SK15 Sound Bar Sound Like?
As with most soundbars, the TT-SK15 has a very poor bass response. Still, you get some punch but it’s a little woolly and not as defined as the Bose Solo 5. Taking into account that Solo is more than double the TT-SK15 $80 price point, it’s safe to say this is to be expected. Still, for a cheap soundbar, the TT-SK15 performs adequately on the low-end response.
Vocals are up front and clear, however, you don’t experience the same detail and clarity as you do with other premium soundbars. If you compare to the TV’s speakers or other soundbars under $100, then the TT-SK15 performs really well.
TaoTronics TT-SK15 Conclusion
If you’re looking for a cheap soundbar, then the TT-SK15 is definitely the way to go. TaoTronics soundbars come in several different sizes so, if the 34-inch TT-SK15 isn’t suitable you do have bigger and smaller options available. There is also a subwoofer/soundbar combo available.
At under $100, there isn’t much that competes with the TT-SK15. If you’re just looking to boost the audio of your flat-screen TV, then you can’t go wrong with this product. If you’re looking for a soundbar with virtual surround sound, then you might want to consider another option from our list.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
WiFi vs Bluetooth – which is better for my soundbar?
If you’re just looking to quickly connect and play music, then Bluetooth is perfect for this. However, this is where Bluetooth’s advantage over WiFi streaming ends. WiFi offers a better range, better connectivity, and far better audio quality. WiFi also allows you to connect to other speakers on a network and voice assistant devices such as the Amazon Echo for Alexa.
What is DTS:X and Dolby Atmos?
DTS:X and Dolby Atmos are the latest in home theater surround sound technology. Also referred to as 3D sound, this technology uses upwards firing speakers to reflect sound off the ceiling and create the illusion of sound coming from above.
As you can imagine, for helicopter or jungle scenes, the sound coming from above creates a whole new dimension of experience and immersion. In some of the advanced home theater systems, you can adjust the height of the ceiling too for fine-tuning.
What is virtual surround sound?
Soundbars feature what’s called virtual surround sound because they use internal processing within a single speaker to achieve a surround sound image. Here are two common ways manufacturers may configure their soundbars for virtual surround sound.
In some cases, a soundbar will be used as the front left, right, center speaker while additional satellite speakers make up the rear surrounds. In this scenario, the soundbar acts as a virtual left, right, and center speaker. The soundbar might also incorporate upwards-firing speakers for DTS:X or Dolby Atmos.
Other soundbars, especially the cheaper models, will use internal processing to create a full surround sound experience. Like the example in scenario A, the soundbar will house the front left, right center speaker but also the rear left and right speakers. Usually, the rear surrounds are mounted on the side of the soundbar firing at 45° angles at the surfaces either side of where you sit.
The sound is reflected off the surfaces and over the back of your head to create a surround sound experience. The obvious downside to this is if you don’t have any surfaces on either side of your sofa or living area, the experience might be somewhat underwhelming. This type of soundbar is best used in a bedroom where you’ll typically have walls either side of where the TV is positioned.
How do I get more bass out of a soundbar?
One of the biggest complaints consumers have about soundbars is the lack of bass. What you need to realize is soundbars are made up of many small speakers optimized for virtual surround sound and dialogue clarity, not bass.
Having said that, there is one way to ensure you get the most bass out of your soundbar. Almost all soundbars feature a bass port on the rear of the speaker. Often this is connected to a passive bass radiator to improve the low-end performance.
For this bass radiator to work optimally, it needs to have a solid surface, such as a wall, behind it. This is why mounting a soundbar to a wall is the best way to improve bass response. It’s not going to be mind-blowing bass but will certainly be better than just placing the soundbar on a shelf or TV cabinet.