Soundbar Buying Guide For 2021

Nothing beats listening to and watching your favorite shows or movies on TV with a good sound system that not only amplifies the sound but also adds depth to the experience. Soundbars do this exact job and hence improve your viewing experience manifold by improving your TV’s sound quality as well as giving you a more immersive experience.

There are a range of soundbars available in the market these days due to their immense popularity and while some of them are mind blowing, others do not even amplify the sound, let alone enhance it.

Thus, it becomes super important to differentiate one group from the other, especially with all manufacturers claiming that their soundbar is the best. Before getting into the factors that affect the quality of a soundbar, let us learn a little about this device.

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We will discuss all the steps for the Soundbar Buying Guide.

What exactly are soundbars and what do they do? Are they worth it?

A sound bar is a long, thin and rectangular gadget in the shape of a bar that is used to amplify and enhance the sound coming from the device it is connected to, usually a TV set. The bar is filled with speakers and drivers for bass and depth to the sound.

Soundbars do an excellent job at amplifying sounds even when they are too low to be heard so you could enjoy listening to the fullest. Buying a super high end soundbar is recommended if you have a very large space where your TV is located and your sound just does not reach every corner.

For small rooms and good quality TV sets, sound bars are not very much required and even if they are, a mid range soundbar would be just fine. The cheapest soundbars are sadly never up to the mark and are worth less than even the packaging they come in.

Knowing about all the features can get a little overwhelming and confusing. To help you out, we bring to you a list of the factors one needs to look out for before buying a soundbar for yourself. The factors are as follows.

Location of the soundbar

Soundbars can be located on a shelf below your TV, mounted on a wall or even sit in front of your TV on a table. Thus, the location of a soundbar plays a key role in deciding the kind of soundbar you must get for yourself. If your TV is on a platform or a table, just set the soundbar there and you are good to go.

Some soundbars come with a mounting kit which makes setting up soundbars a very easy task for you. You also get sound bases for soundbars which makes working with them easier.

When it comes to the room where you place your soundbar, you have to be careful about the size of your room. A large hall like room will require a bigger and more efficient soundbar while a small room might not even require a soundbar. But if you still require a soundbar for it, go for one which is not too powerful or the sound will be too high for you even at the lowest volume level.

Dimensions of the soundbar

In terms of interior décor and aesthetics, your soundbar should not be wider than your TV set otherwise it looks odd. However, you get soundbars in a wide range of sizes so it is completely up to you to buy a size that suits you and your interior décor of the room you are to keep the device in.

The perfectly even look is not as important as connectivity though. Make sure your soundbar has enough connectivity and flexibility to connect to your TV especially if your TV is of an older version (say, about 8 years).

Active or passive soundbars?

When it comes to soundbars, you have two wide varieties – active and passive soundbars. Let us have a look at these individually.

Active soundbars

Are soundbars that come with built-in amplifiers that control everything – processors, channels, speakers, etc. they do not require receivers or extra wires to plug in and are more flexible and hassle free.

Passive soundbars

Means that the soundbars do not come with built-in amplifiers and thus need an amplifier or a receiver to make things work. This soundbar though has great quality of speakers which is also why they cost a lot more. You might also need a subwoofer for this soundbar.

If you are looking for soundbars that only enhance your T’s audio, go for active soundbars but if you want more customization and better and more efficient installation, go for passive soundbars.

Number of channels in the soundbar

The number of channels determines the number of places the sound will come from. The more the number of speakers, the more deep and real the sound is. 5 channel speakers are mostly considered perfect.

A 2 channel soundbar: comes with 2 speakers – left and right.

A 3 channel soundbar: comes with 3 speakers situated center, right and left.

A 5 channel soundbar: comes with all 5 speakers – center, right, left, and two rear speakers for greater depth and surround sound technology. These soundbars are the home theater standard and this has been the case since 20 years now.

A 7 channel soundbar: comes with 7 speakers. This type of soundbar is almost the same as the 5 channels soundbars but it comes with an additional advantage. You get the best and newest sound standard with a 4 channel surround as well as rear channel information.  

The Dolby Atmos soundbar: the best and most efficient version of the 5 or 7 channel sound bar, soundbars with this audio have a three dimensional soundstage due to its upward firing speakers that are located in the sound bar.

These soundbars are perfect for flat ceilings, and bigger halls with reflective and sturdy walls.

Compatibility and connectivity of the soundbar

Connectivity and compatibility is important for soundbars as it ensures connectivity of the device to a range of other devices, especially if you have an old TV set. Here is a list of some important connections to keep a lookout for:

1. HDMI ARC connection

This connection is the easiest and most important one. Connect your TV’s audio return channel to the ARC and you are good to go. This type of connection is most suitable for soundbars with multiple channels.

2. Wireless connectivity

With this connection you can easily stream your music from a soundbar via your phone or tablet which has a wireless connection option. There are two types of wireless connections and they are as follows:

Wi-Fi – these soundbars are wireless and come with this connection so that they can connect via your internet connection from anywhere like apps (Spotify, Gaana, Soundcloud, Pandora, etc.)

Bluetooth – if the soundbar and the device you need to connect it to have bluetooth then you do not need the hassle of wires at all and can establish connection easily and quickly. You can stream music from a wide range of devices in this way as a lot of devices today have bluetooth.

3. Optical port

An optical patch cord gives you the most secure and solid connection for your TV and soundbar. This patch connection is easy, simple and reliable enough to connect to all channels of soundbars except over a 5.1 signal.

4. USB inputs

USB inputs are very useful and generally used for firmware updates. All updates are installed by softwares which is why this input is not really of any use. You need this kind of connection only if you prefer physical plug and play connection.

There are definitely a ton of options, features, and designs to choose from when it comes to soundbars but deciding the right one is very important. We hope this article helped you in doing it and also gave you a few tips on how to choose the perfect soundbar for you.

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Mayank Patel Author At Gadgetrates

About Mayank Patel

Mayank is a tech product expert at GadgetsRates. He is frequently written about computers, laptops, smartphones, and other gadgets.

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