Soundbars: Boost Your Audio Experience

Maxwell, Blown Away

by William Lobley |
Updated on

Contemporary LED and 4K televisions are both beautiful to watch and beautiful in design. There is only one downside of their diminutive outline, and that is their equally thin audio, which results from the fact that there simply isn’t the space within the TV’s housing to install the high-quality speakers and amplifiers needed to deliver high-class, cinema worthy sound. And what with films being a far from being a visual-only media, sound is just as important as picture. Films like Dunkirk and Interstellar wouldn’t be so immersive without Zimmer’s scores, and would Jurassic Park or Saving Private Ryan really feel as tense without their impeccable sound designs? To truly appreciate these cinematic features, at the very least, you need quality bass, EQ, volume and surround sound capabilities and these cannot be produced by a TV’s in-built speakers.

Luckily you can outsource your audio responsibilities to an elegant soundbar – a bank of speakers installed below the television to deliver immersive, from a high-quality compact one-box solution. For some, a soundbar can even serve as their primary method of enjoying music via streaming services like Spotify, or even Amazon Music Unlimited.

Here’s a roundup of some of the best soundbars available today.

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Empire: The Best Soundbars

Majority Skiddaw II Soundbar1 of 10

Majority Skiddaw II Soundbar

This list's budget option, featuring huge value for money - the Majority Skiddaw II brings virtual surround sound to your living room and has a subwoofer built into the bar itself to cut down on its footprint, making it ideal for compact spaces and budgets. Other devices like smartphones and tablets can also stream audio through Bluetooth or via the 3.5mm line-in cable too.

Sony HT-SF150 2ch Single Soundbar, £952 of 10

Sony HT-SF150 2ch Single Soundbar

This sleek offering pushes your audio through a 2-channel speaker and by utilising S-Force, Sony has managed to produce a frontal surround sound experience. There's a Bass Reflex speaker too, which is a real boon for this device as its bass is both punchy and clear – there's no fuzzing out at higher volumes. You can also stream wirelessly with a Bluetooth connection.

Bose Solo 5 TV Soundbar3 of 10

Bose Solo 5 TV Soundbar

Specs: N/AConnections: AUX In, Optical, BluetoothBose is a name you can trust. The Solo 5 works to bring a clarity to your TV's audio with dialogue refinement, EQ to boost your entertainment's sound effect and bass to show you the power of sound. It's a simple and effective device with a low footprint which can also stream music via Bluetooth.

Polk Command Bar Home Theatre Sound Bar System with Built-in Amazon Alexa, £218.804 of 10

Polk Command Bar Home Theatre Sound Bar System with Built-in Amazon Alexa

Not only does this Polk unit enhance the sound coming from your TV thanks to Dolby/DTS surround sound and a wireless subwoofer, it's also controlled and integrated with your smart home devices thanks to built-in Amazon Alexa voice control. Want to increase the volume or change the sound source? Just ask, with no need for additional inputs on the remote control.

Sonos Beam Compact Smart Soundbar with Amazon Alexa Voice Control, £3895 of 10

Sonos Beam Compact Smart Soundbar with Amazon Alexa Voice Control

The Sonos Beam is crammed with four woofers for mid-range and bass richness, and one tweeter for a crisp, but non-abrasive, higher range. It is well exhausted, giving the sound a warm, analogue quality. This unassuming techno-slab has even been tuned by Oscar-winning sound engineers to deliver you the best possible sound. If you can't trust them, who can you trust?

Yamaha MusicCast BAR 400 soundbar with wireless subwoofer, £4496 of 10

Yamaha MusicCast BAR 400 soundbar with wireless subwoofer

Yamaha appear to have focused on one thing with this soundbar and subwoofer – maximum power. The bass is huge, and a Clear Voice mode makes sure that dialogue isn't lost in the mix. The subwoofer is wireless too, which helps keep the set-up uncluttered. Bluetooth streaming and Alexa compatibility will give your music that extra boost too.

SONOS PLAYBAR Wireless Home Cinema Soundbar7 of 10

SONOS PLAYBAR Wireless Home Cinema Soundbar

The Sonos Playbar is simple to set up and can be used on its own, with a subwoofer, or with extra Sonos speakers offer 5.1 surround sound. The Playbar produces rich and accurate audio which is guaranteed to satisfy. It comes with Trueplay, an app which measures the space in your room and tunes the speaker (or speakers) to offer customised, perfect audio. As it's Sonos, it'll also play music from your streaming services and link to an Amazon Echo.

Samsung HW-Q90R8 of 10

Samsung HW-Q90R

This ultimate home cinema soundbar comes loaded with features to deliver high-definition audio. Samsung has teamed up with Harman Kardon to create 17 quality speakers, which will pump out audio refined and expanded by Dolby Artmos and DTS – this tech will put you at the heart of the action. Okay, you get a little more than just a soundbar with this product, but the extra equipment and extra cost is worth it.

Sony HT-ST5000 Wi-Fi Bluetooth NFC Sound Bar9 of 10

Sony HT-ST5000 Wi-Fi Bluetooth NFC Sound Bar

Far from a budget solution and boasting high-end features like Dolby Atmos, this Sony soundbar and its wireless external subwoofer promises immersive, powerful audio. Seven coaxial speakers deliver impressive clarity and depth, plus connectivity via NFC and Bluetooth means you can wireless stream music from your devices to multiple rooms by using the Sony Music Centre app.

Echo Dot (3rd Gen) - Smart speaker with Alexa, £49.9910 of 10

Echo Dot (3rd Gen) - Smart speaker with Alexa

This has been included at the end here because some of the above selection can be hooked up to the Echo Dot. With the Echo Dot, you'll be able to unlock your home and entertainment system with the power of your voice. It gets even better with an Amazon Prime membership as you'll be able to access Amazon Music, Amazon Video and get next day delivery on your Amazon order. If you're still not convinced, try it out for 30-days with a free trial.

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