As TV’s become slimmer and more streamlined, there’s less space available in the TV for speakers to produce rich, defined sound. Some TV manufacturers have even chosen to sacrifice the space speakers consume for a more slimline appearance. While the sound produced by new HD TV’s may sound good when compared with past TV models, there’s little doubt that there’s definite room for improvement when it comes to the sound quality offered from recent TV models.
But for people who don’t want the cost of wiring, installing and mounting 5 or 7 separate surround sound speakers around the room, there is a fantastic alternative known as a sound bar.
Essentially a horizontal ‘bar’ of individual speakers encased in one slim speaker system to fit neatly between your TV screen and its stand, sound bars have become increasingly popular in recent years. But with so many different models, features and price points to consider what should you look for? In this guide we explain what to look for to ensure you get the best sound bar for your needs and budget.
What Features Should I Look for in Sound Bars?
There are some features that we recommend you strongly consider when selecting a sound bar
- Models with a Subwoofer – Most mid-range and above sound bars come with a separate subwoofer speaker. Unless the model you go with is a larger pedestal style bar, narrower sound bars rarely can support rich low frequency sound on their own. Some people might be reluctant for the extra wires needed for this but it’s only one extra wire, and in most homes it should be relatively easy to connect the wiring and place the subwoofer discreetly enough. Some subwoofers included are wireless, allowing you to forget about running long cables. When playing the X Box or watching an action flick, this extra sound depth from your subwoofer will certainly be appreciated.
- Models with Bluetooth Connectivity – A good speakers system is also one that easily integrates well with your other devices. For the convenience of being able to listen to the music on your tablet or phone or through music streaming services like Spotify wireless Bluetooth capabilities is a must. This will also allow you to turn on music from the bedroom or change tracks from the kitchen all at the touch of a button.
- Sound Control – Many people prefer to adjust the treble, bass and use other sound modes and tone adjustment depending on the music or material they are watching. For many people this is a very important function in any sound system.
- Inputs – Also usually the less inputs the better and when it comes to sound bars you really don’t need a lot of fancy inputs. Nearly all HDTV’s come with digital optical output, so look for a sound bar with a digital optical sound bar input (nearly all will have these) which will allow anything on your TV (DVD, Game Consoles, Blu Ray) to play through your sound bar.
It’s also important to measure the space underneath your TV screen and the area available in front of your TV. While most come in similar dimensions, there’s nothing worse than finding your new sound bar doesn’t quite fit neatly underneath the television like it should.
Be Sceptical of Claims of Surround Sound
Surround sound is only truly achieved when speakers are placed surrounding the room, which is not how a single sound bar unit operates. While many models offer a surround sound feature which can create a wider scope of sound, people buying on the hope to achieve complete surround sound solution alone with a sound bar are likely to be disappointed.
We specialise in complete home theatre solutions here at Universal Home Theatre and for a complete home theatre solution for a special media room or home theatre room, we ALWAYS recommend installing and mounting surround sound speakers over sound bars.
How much do I need to spend?
With sound bars and speaker systems like most things you can expect to get what you pay for. You can pick up sound bars as cheaply as a couple of hundred dollars but they are unlikely to have the same quality sound or features to get the most from the technology. Most mid-range systems from acclaimed brands like Yamaha and Samsung start from around 599.00 dollar price point with a good range of the features discussed above. There are larger systems with even more features but for many people these might hardly necessary and may even be bulkier than they want they are ideally looking for. We are currently offering many specials for sound bars through Universal Home Theatre so be sure to check them out here.