The default sound from TVs can be very disappointing. Here is a list of the best sound bars to give your TV an easy aural boost
Sound bars are a great way to add auditory depth to an entertainment enclave without sacrificing the space required for a surround sound system. Selecting one can be a pain, since there are thousands to choose from. Hopefully, this guide to the best ones can make things a little clearer.
If you are looking to expand the sound of your entertainment system without breaking the bank, the LG SL4 is a fairly good option. The sound bar is a 2.1 channel system with a wireless subwoofer. You can also purchase, and add rear speakers to the system whenever you feel like upgrading to a 4.1 setup. The included subwoofer has an output of 200W RMS while the left and right speakers have an output of 50W RMS each. A remote makes things easier and the sound bar also has Bluetooth allowing you to stream music from your phone directly to the speakers.
Creative Stage 360
Looking for something with Dolby Atmos certification and still on a budget? The Creative Stage 360 has you covered. The sound bar is a tiny but comes with a 60W RMS stereo speaker setup and a 120W RMS subwoofer. The system supports HDMI Arc for easy control, has an HDMI input and optical input. Bluetooth 5.0 lets you connect to your devices wirelessly. Creative claims their system emulates a 5.1.2 sound experience, but this is usually nothing more than marketing talk. Nevertheless, the speaker is pretty good with spatially separating sound and is good value for money.
Samsung HW A670/XL
Not too far behind from the Sony in the mid-range is the Samsung HW A670/XL. The 5.1 speaker system comes with a wireless subwoofer and Dolby Digital certification. Even the rear speakers are wireless which makes placing the speakers in the house relatively simple. The entire unit has a sound output of 500W RMS and gives you a true surround experience. It also offers HDMI connectivity and Bluetooth. The Bluetooth can also support multiple connected devices at once.
Motorola AmphisoundX 500W
Not particularly known for their TVs or their sound bars, Motorola is a surprisingly good choice for mid-range users offer Dolby Atmos on a budget. The sound bar is a 500W RMS 5.1 setup with the bar itself housing the left-centre-right speakers, the woofer is wireless and so are the rear speakers. They all need to be plugged into an outlet but other than that they are good to go. The sound bar also has multiple HDMI Inputs including an HDMI Arc. It has Aux, coaxial and optical inputs allowing you to add a selection of devices no matter how old. Not to mention Bluetooth.
Sony HT S40R
For a little more than Rs 20,000, you can have this wonderful 5.1 speaker set. It comes with a dedicated sound bar for the front, two speakers at the back, and a subwoofer. The entire thing is rated for 600W RMS and has a Dolby Digital certification, which is quite something. It features both digital connections and analogue so you are not confined to modern devices. You can also connect via Bluetooth. The device also has a USB port if you feel the need to play music from a hard drive or USB stick. The process to set this up is a little more complicated than a sound bar with just a woofer, but at this price point, it seems like it’s worth the effort.
If overkill is what you are looking then the Samsung HW-Q950/XL offers it in spades. It is an 11.1.4 Dolby Atmos certified system that does all sorts of fancy things. The 11 is for the different direction the sound comes from the .1 is for the subwoofer and the .4 is for the four speakers that bounce sounds off the ceiling. The sound bar has Alexa built-in, 11.1.4 Dolby Atmos Soundbar 616W RMS sound output. The entire setup is wireless, which means you don’t have to connect the main unit to any of the speakers. It can directly play audio files and has two HDMI interfaces. Bluetooth lets you connect to all your wireless devices.
What do the numbers next to the home theatre systems mean?
The numbers next to the home theatre systems indicate how many speakers are in the system. Usually, a bigger number means more speakers, each firing from a specific direction. So, 5.1.2 means there are three speakers in front (left-center-right), two at the rear (left-right) and a subwoofer that makes the .1 component of the 5.1. You can check out more configurations online. The higher the number, the crazier it gets. The last .2 would refer to the speakers facing upwards bouncing audio off the ceiling.
More speakers kept in various locations also increase how directional the sound is, which is why most sound bars include a subwoofer and rear speaker setups, the ones that don’t try to bounce audio off walls and the environment to simulate spatial audio. It doesn’t always work but in a limited space it is more than sufficient.
What is RMS?
RMS stands for Root Mean Square. It refers to the continuous power output a speaker can constantly handle without getting damaged. Always check the RMS of a system and not the peak power rating. Peak power is usually double of RMS rating but there are inconsistencies with that. Manufacturers often claim big numbers in power output that is usually the peak rating and not RMS.