As the new-world televisions get sleeker, the sound quality of their speakers deteriorates. And watching your favourite movie or web series does not seem thrilling enough when the quality of sound is compromised. Here is when soundbars come into play. This soundbar buying guide will familiarize you with what a soundbar is and make you well up on certain tips to make your soundbar purchase worth it. A soundbar is a wide but thin and narrow speaker which delivers high-quality sound. So you can use a soundbar to upgrade the sound of your TV without the need to set up an entire surround sound system.
Though a soundbar may still not be able to keep up with a surround sound speaker system, it has its own advantages and is still far better than the speaker of your TV. It is easy to install, portable, economical, and does not come with a lot of speakers and wires. So yes, buying a soundbar is completely worth it, but only if you choose the right one. And this soundbar buying guide will surely help you with that. You may also want to have a look at the Best Soundbars under £500.
- Placing: The place where your soundbar will be kept needs to be decided so that you can accordingly select the size and type of soundbar. A soundbar is usually placed under the TV.
- Size: Larger soundbars have better sound quality. Preferably, the length of your sound bar should match the length of your TV. Some soundbars come with a separate sub-woofer.
- The number of channels: More the channels, the better will be the sound produced. Soundbars with 2 channels, 3 channels, 5 channels and even 7 channels are available. More the number of channels, the higher will be the cost of the soundbar.
- Active or passive: If sound quality is your priority at all costs, prefer a passive soundbar paired with an amplifier. But if you want a more compact soundbar, go for the active one.
- Connectivity: The soundbar can be connected to your TV through an HDMI port, through a USB port, through an optical port or wirelessly. You can control the soundbar using its remote or the TV’s remote or a dedicated phone application.
Soundbar Buying Guide
The first thing you need to decide before buying a soundbar is the place where you’ll keep it. This will give you an idea about the type and size of the soundbar you can buy. Usually, a soundbar is placed near the television. If your TV lies on a table, you can place the soundbar on the same table. However, if you do not want to place the soundbar on a table or if your TV is wall-mount, then soundbars which come with the option of mounting on a wall are also available.
Size of the Soundbar
The size of the soundbar can vary from a foot long to about 5 feet long. What size of the soundbar should you get is an important thing to decide. The size will depend on the space you can make available for the soundbar. The size of the soundbar will be an important factor in determining the sound quality of the soundbar. As with TVs, the more compact the size, the more compromised will be the sound quality of the soundbar. So, it is better to purchase a larger soundbar. To keep up with the sound quality even after reducing the size of the soundbar, many soundbars come along with a separate sub-woofer.
Number of channels
Channels may be described as sources of sound or individual speakers. Like a home theatre has a number of speakers to give that surround sound effect, the soundbar also comes with a number of speakers. The difference is that in the case of home theatre, you can place the speakers anywhere you want but in the case of the soundbar, all speakers are embedded in a single unit. As the number of channels increases, the sound quality also improves as well as the price of the soundbar.
On the basis of the number of channels, different types of soundbars are available:
- 2 Channel or 2.1Soundbar: It consists of two speakers – one on the left and the other on the right side.
- 3 Channel or 3.1Soundbar: It consists of three speakers on the left, right and centre.
- 5 Channel or 5.1 soundbar: It consists of four speakers on the left, right, centre and two on the rear side.
- 7 Channel or 7.1 Soundbar: It is similar to a 5 Channel soundbar, but the rear and surround channels are split into four parts.
Active or Passive Soundbar
This soundbar buying guide will next educate about an active soundbar and a passive soundbar. The difference between the two is that active soundbars have built-in amplifiers whereas passive soundbars lack these amplifiers, as such, need an amplifier to deliver better sound. Though the sound quality of passive amplifiers is better than the active ones when paired with an amplifier, they are comparatively more expensive, more complicated to install and also, and the additional components might bother you.
To connect the soundbar to your TV, soundbar manufacturers provide different options. You can use the HDMI port, the optical port or the USB port for connecting the soundbar. The USB port option lets you connect your pen drive to the soundbar as well. Many soundbars nowadays provide the option of wireless connectivity where you can use Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to connect your soundbar to the TV. Online music services like Spotify can be accessed using Wi-Fi.
To control your soundbar, many brands provide a remote control along with it but you can also use the existing remote of your TV. Some soundbars also come with a phone application through which you can control your soundbar using your smartphone. Some high-end models of soundbars even provide built-in voice assistants like Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa.