I’ll start this review by settling a hard fought debate. The question that lingers in everyones mind when shopping for a new sound system is, which is better, a home theater or a sound bar? Right?
To be honest, it’s a tight fight but overall a home theater is better than a soundbar although soundbars are catching up with 5.1 channels. Simply because of the fact (as you’ll later see on in this article) that the more speakers the better.
But…don’t be so quick to dismiss the soundbar, it has its’ place especially in tiny homes or spaces that cannot fit a whole surround system with its enormous baggage (yes, I’m expecting threats for saying this).
Once you’ve read our incredibly in-depth review of picture perfect TVs and went ahead and bought one, you’ll soon realize as much as the sound is good it’s not great due to the thin size of the TVs. Hence, the speakers within them.
You’ll need an equally powerful sound system to match your cutting edge TV.I mean, you don’t want to be watching Kong vs Godzilla on your 4K HDR with breath taking picture but it sounds like Frozen. Sawa Sawa my fren?
What to Consider When Buying a Soundbar?
Where are you going to place the soundbar? It’s dictated by where you’ve placed your TV and if there’s space around it. Sounds straight forward but it’s worth a thought. For Example, if you place it on a surface in front of your TV you might block the remote censor for your TV which can be a pain. The right place should be centered beneath or above your TV either hanging on a wall on top of your TV or on a surface below it.
If your TV is mounted on the wall, you can mount the soundbar directly below it. Some sound bars come with mounting kits so be sure to check.
2. Size of the Soundbar
Ideally a sound bar shouldn’t be wider than your TV. It can be the same length for the sake of aesthetics but if not you can get a shorter one and it will still look great.
3. Appropriate “channels” for you
Understanding this is key to choosing the right soundbar for you. The channels simply represent individual speakers. For Example:
A 2-channel (2.0) has 2 speakers on the left and right.
A 3-Channel (3.0) has 3 speakers left, right and center.
A 2.1 Channel or multi-channel soundbar has 2 speakers in the sound bar and 1 external sub woofer. So the second number after the decimal indicates sub woofer(s).
The channels can go upward to a mind blowing 7 channels this is where movies come to life right infront of your eyes or should I say ears. Weh amua.
All in all, sound wise the more speakers the better it’s all up to you na kama mfuko inakubali.
With all the devices that are in a typical home today, it would be convenient for them to be able to connect to your soundbar quite easily.
a. Bluetooth Connectivity
Most soundbars come with Bluetooth connectivity making it easier to connect your phone, tablet or computer and stream directly.
WiFi enabled soundbars allow for streaming from any music service or devices within the same network.
c. HDMI ARC
Just connect your soundbar to your TV with an HDMI cable and you’re good to go. As simple as that. Make sure the HDMI is inserted in the Audio Return Channel(ARC) port.
d. Optical Port
It’s an easy, simple and reliable connection although HDMI can pass high-resolution audio such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio.
e. USB/ SD Card
They offer extra functionality to stream your audio which to me is a great thing ama?
Now that you’ve a solid understanding of what sound bars are and their various functionalities, let’s dive in to the reviews and find the perfect one for you.
Sony 120W SOUND BAR, 2.0CH WITH BLUTOOTH HT-S100F
The soundbar is packed with technology that delivers sound in a deep, rich and crisp way. Not to add the price is almost a steal for this magnificent gadget.
It has a beautiful, compact design that saves you space and looks great. It can also be mounted on the wall either below or on top of your TV. If you need to get a cutting edge soundbar at a great price by a grand brand stop reading now and press the button below.
1. Generic 40W Soundbar BS-18
If you’re on a tight budget and are looking for something simple that will do the job. We highly recommend this. It’s a 2.0 channel but dosen’t have the greatest sound although it will play your music and movies ok.
You have different connectivity options Bluetooth, Coaxial Cable, Optical Cable and HDMI ARC.
It has an in-built fm radio that you can use to tune in to your favorite radio stations.
Wall mounting accessories are included so you can either mount on the top of your TV or below it.
2. Samsung HW-R450 Soundbar
You can easily stream audio from your phone too. The sub woofer is the cherry on top that delivers deep bass which brings out the explosions, gun shots and fighting scenes in movies and games. The woofer connects to the soundbar wirelessly hence does not restrict you on where you can place it which is nice.
It provides a thrilling experience for gaming that will keep you at the edge of your seat throughout your favorite game.
Do you hate it when in movies the sound accelerates and decelerates rapidly? The Smart Sound feature on this Samsung soundbar equalizes that and makes for a smooth sound experience.
You can control it in three ways: Phone App, Remote Control and sleek buttons on the side of the soundbar for quick controls.
3. LG 300W SOUNDBAR, 2.1CH
A 300W LG beast that has a slim elegant design that doubles up as décor. Don’t you hate a collection of remotes in your living room? You can use your TV remote to control this soundbar and reduce the remote control clutter in your living room. Additionally, it has a mobile app to access the bar.
The Bluetooth is always on standby and wakes up on demand when you stream content to it. Since it’s a 2.1 channel it has a wireless sub woofer to amplify the bass of your content and Adaptive Sound Control to automatically adjust the sound according to the type of audio you’re listening to.
The sound technology in this bar is astounding, it comes with Dolby Digital Audio and DTS surround system support what more could you ask for?
4. Hisense HS212 2.1 Channel Sound Bar
The 120W, 2.1 channel soundbar is fitted with four custom modes; Cinema, Music, Gaming and News. It adjusts the sound accordingly to the mode for the best experience.
Enjoy Bluetooth connectivity from the comfort of your couch or allow you friends to play music of their choice while having a party.
It comes with wall mountable hardware which when mounted will compliment your TV and take the aesthetic of your room to 100.
5. Sony 600W SOUND BAR, 5.1CH
This is a 600W force-to-reckon with animal that is a sound bar and home theater hybrid. It’s a 5.1 channel making it a real surround system. The two tall boys compliment the sound bar and make for an immersive experience all around the room.
It has the S-Master amplifier, according to Sony the S-Master digital amplifiers produce higher-resolution sound quality, monitored noise reduction and accurate sound reproduction.
The bar supports USB, HDMI and Bluetooth for wireless play. The technology supported is immense such as Dolby Audio which is not only fantastic for movies but also gaming.
You can download the Music Center App on playstore and control playback from your phone.
1 What is “Virtual Surround”?
Umm, this is a term used to portray that the soundbar has a home theater sound effect. Which err is not really true. Mostly this term is used to calm down the hardcore soundbar enthusiasts when they are debating with their home theater counterparts. So, they’d be able to argue something like “Buda, si unajua soundbar iko na surround effect kama tu home theater”, then the home theater docket will reply “OOliskia wapi?”
Anyway, all it is is an added frictional echo that makes it sound like you’re in a bigger room.
2. Can you add speakers?
It depends on the soundbar. Most soundbars these days come with additional speakers as you can see from the ones reviewed here. So it’s safe to say the soundbar enthusiasts are not so far off?
3. Can you add a subwoofer?
Again, many wireless soundbars ship with a sub woofer that you can connect to through a wireless connection and in any case, if it doesn’t, there’s a port to add a subwoofer for a more thrilling experience.
Soundbars are evolving fast and have become a common household name. They are good at what they do especially modern ones and add an appealing aesthetic look to our living rooms.