The sound is the Ugly Duckling of the televisions. And it is that except for the high range and some other exceptions, the evolution that has taken place in image quality has not found a replica to match in sound. After all, and despite the progress that has been made, the increasingly compact chassis does not make it easy. Fortunately, soundbars mitigate this problem without large space requirements or considerable investments… if we know which one to choose. What are the sound bars with the best quality price on the market?
Choosing a good sound bar
A compact design with its advantages and disadvantages
Faced with more ambitious proposals such as bases and projectors, which differ in design and the way of projecting sound, sound bars are the audio solutions that are most popular for their simplicity and compactness.
Thus, under their generally elongated and stylized shape, they hide a variable number of speakers. Its placement is not very complicated either: next to the base of the television, slightly in front of it.
Of course, its compact design also works against it, since unlike the bars, its interior is more limited to house speakers with a larger diameter and/or capable of covering a greater range of the frequency spectrum.
To extend their frequency response in the bass, some models resort to an external subwoofer, a particularly interesting addition for cinema.
What sound formats do you process?
Another factor to consider is your ability to process sound formats surround, as well as compressed music with and without loss of quality.
The simplest bars are capable of processing Dolby Digital audio, while the most advanced ones are compatible with more advanced surround sound formats such as Dolby TrueHD or Dolby Atmos, a feature that we will appreciate in our cinematographic experience, as we perceive a more spatial sound and delight ourselves with greater sound precision in soundtracks.
And if we are going to use them for music, it is worth betting on those that can process high resolution formats like FLAC or ALACthe two most used for distributing high-resolution music on the Internet, as they offer a very interesting compression rate and no quality loss.
How many virtual channels
From the hand of the formats that the sound bar is capable of processing we find the number of virtual channels that it is capable of recreating.
In sound bars, it will be usual to find 2.0 or 2.1 channels, although thanks to the surround sound technologies it is possible to recreate more complex configurations such as 5.1 or 7.1.2, topologies that result in a more successful immersion in the sound content.
The minimum that we are going to find in a soundbar is an EIAJ/TosLink optical digital input and another analog line input, however there are quite a few models that lack HDMI sockets and S/PDIF electrical digital inputs.
For convenience, it is becoming common for them to implement wireless connectivity: some have Bluetooth, others only Wi-Fi and the most advanced have both.
Best sound bars in value for money: featured models
Samsung 2021 HW-A550
The Samsung 2021 HW-A550 bar (159 euros) from Samsung is a good way to improve the sound of your television with a simple but effective proposal with a wireless subwoofer. With a 2.1 channel configuration and 410 W power, it is compatible with Dolby Digital 2.1 sound, the One Remote Control for unified handling and Bluetooth connectivity.
Samsung HW-A550 Soundbar – 3D surround sound, DTS Virtual:X, Dolby Digital 2.0, Bass boost with Bass Boost mode, Wireless Subwoofer, Sound, Game Mode and Bluetooth connection
JBL Bar 2.0
The JBL Bar 2.0 (179 euros) is a compact bar, simple and very easy to use, with 2.0 channels and a delivery of up to 40W per channel. It features a single HDMI ARC or optical socket, plus Bluetooth, so connecting your TV or devices is quick and easy. With Dolby Digital sound
JBL BAR 2.0 All-in-One, Compact Soundbar with Bluetooth Wireless Streaming for TV or PC, with JBL Surround Sound and Integrated Dolby Digital Sound, Black
Ultra-thin bar is Denon DHT-S216 (188 euros) inside which are two 3-inch woofers for low frequencies, accompanied by two other drivers for mids and two 1-inch tweeters for treble. Supports DTS Virtual:X surround sound and is capable of decoding Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks
The bar has a digital optical input and HDMI-ARC for the TV, as well as a Bluetooth interface and an RCA output to connect an external subwoofer to complement the low frequency response.
With several default listening modes (movie, music and night mode) and a system to enhance dialogues with three different options or intensities depending on the content we are viewing.
Denon DHT-S216 – Soundbar with DTS Virtual: X and Bluetooth
The Bose TV Speaker (234 euros) stands out for being very successful in home theater applications such as listening to music with that dynamic punch characteristic of the brand.
It has the “essentials”: optical and coaxial digital inputs, an analog 3.5mm jack input, and Bluetooth connectivity to stream music from your phone or tablet. Taking into account that it has a width of 549 mm, it is suitable for very small spaces.
Bose TV Speaker Compact soundbar with Bluetooth connectivity
Very good cost-performance ratio for the LG SN6Y (299 euros), made up of two elements: the bar and a wireless subwoofer to achieve a 3.1 sound system with a power of 420W. It offers high resolution sound, is compatible with DTS Virtual: X and its connectivity proposal is versatile, with Bluetooth, HDMI and optical.
LG SN6Y – 3.1 sound bar with 420W of power, DTS Virtual: X, wireless subwoofer, Multi Bluetooth 4.0, HDMI, USB and optical input
Polk Audio Command Bar
The Polk Audio Command Bar (268 euros) comes with an external subwoofer that has a rather peculiar design and inside which it has two elongated 1.25 x 3.25-inch full-range drivers accompanied by two one-inch tweeters. Together, they offer a frequency response between 40 Hz and 22 KHz.
At the top of the bar we find a microphone from which to give orders to Alexa, the integrated voice assistant who, in addition to the usual commands, can be asked to modify the volume or vary the equalization
In terms of connectivity, it supports 4K HDR video from its HDMI 2.0b inputs, includes an optical audio input, an HDMI ARC output, a USB port, WiFi, Bluetooth, and supports Dolby and DTS multichannel stream decoding with full power. 260 watt peak.
COMMAND BAR with built-in Alexa
Updated March 2022 with new models and current prices
For the most gourmet people looking for a truly immersive experience, the Sony HT-S40R (399 euros) is one of the most attractive. Featuring 5-1 channels with S-Master digital amplifier, Bluetooth connectivity with NFC in one touch and ClearAudio+ technology for clearer sound
Sony HT-S40R – 5.1 Sound Bar (Home Theater System, Wireless Rear Speakers, 600 W, Dolby Digital, Bluetooth, Surround Sound), Black
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism