Soundbar Buying Guide: Here is all you need to know before buying a Soundbar to enhance your audio experience - Hindustan Times
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Soundbar Buying Guide: Here is all you need to know before buying a Soundbar to enhance your audio experience

Jul 01, 2024 04:24 PM IST

Soundbar buying guide: Do you wish to buy a soundbar for your home? Then our Soundbar buying guide will help you choose the right one.

While TVs are getting thinner and slimmer, its features are getting richer, the unmatched visual quality that comes with these TVs do not do full justice to the sound quality. Though you can watch some of your favourite shows on your TV at a lower sound, a few of your favourite action and thriller movies and series would not do full justice to a lower sound quality. Hence, a soundbar has to be your best bet. In fact, a soundbar is one of the most effective ways to increase and enhance the sound quality of your TV. While most soundbars are mounted on a wall, some are placed on a shelf above or below the TV. But first you need to understand what is a soundbar and do you actually need it.

Soundbar buying guide for you(Unsplash)
Soundbar buying guide for you(Unsplash)

What is a soundbar?

In literal terms, a soundbar is an audio device designed to enhance the sound quality of televisions and other audio sources. It features a long, slim profile that houses multiple speaker drivers within a single enclosure, making it an attractive and space-saving alternative to traditional surround sound systems. The best part is that its compact design allows it to be easily fitted to a TV or mounted on the wall.

Active Soundbar vs Passive Soundbar:

Active Soundbar: An Active soundbar is worth considering if you need a soundbar with built-in amplifiers that power everything along with a channel processor that separates the soundbar's left, right, and centre speakers. So, you don't have to buy to connect (or buy) an extra receiver, and using an all-inclusive device means fewer cables.

Passive Soundbar: On the other hand, a passive soundbar is one that does not have a built-in amplifier so, you need to purchase these additionally, in turn, increasing your overall cost.

Types of Soundbars:

Which soundbar should you go for depends on the amount of space you have at your home along with the amount of money you are willing to spend. You can either opt for an all-in-one compact soundbar that is space savvy or the one with a woofer or one with rear speakers for that surround sound. What ever the case may be, let us know each one of them closely.

Soundbar + subwoofer

A soundbar with a subwoofer might sound a space savvy option for a dynamic sound experience. The subwoofers with the soundbar creates a bass which is great for soundtracks and low frequency sound effects. The plus point of this type of soundbars is that these soundbars are non-directional, which means you can put them wherever you want in your room for a powerful audio experience.

Soundbars + subwoofers along with rear speakers

Experience the ultimate home cinematic experience with this type of soundbar that comes with a subwoofer and rear speakers. Placed to the left or right of the listener, these rear speakers along with the subwoofer creates a cinematic experience, enhances spatial positioning and creates a sound effect that makes you feel you are in your own personal theatre.

Also Read: TVs with the best audio output: Top 6 picks that offer great sound quality without an additional soundbar

All in one soundbar:

How about a soundbar with a built-in subwoofer? A simpler and convenient option, let's say! The ideal part of this type of soundbar is that it is compact, so it does not take much of your space, while also delivering an exceptional audio experience. You can ideally purchase separate rear speakers if you wish to for a surround sound experience.

Our top 5 picks:

The boAt Aavante Bar 610 Bluetooth Soundbar offers an immersive audio experience with its powerful 30W RMS output. Designed for modern entertainment setups, this soundbar comes with multiple connectivity options including Bluetooth, AUX, and USB, making it versatile and user-friendly. The sleek and stylish design fits seamlessly into any home decor, while the built-in equalizer settings allow for customized sound profiles to suit your preferences. Whether you are watching movies, listening to music, or gaming, the boAt Aavante Bar 610 ensures high-quality sound with deep bass and clear treble. Its easy-to-use remote control and wall-mountable design add to its convenience, making it an ideal choice for enhancing your audio experience.

Specifications of boAt Aavante Bar 610:

  • Output Power: 30W RMS
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, AUX, USB
  • Frequency Response: 80Hz-20kHz
  • Control: Remote control
  • Design: Sleek, wall-mountable
  • Dimensions: 70 x 6 x 6 cm
  • Weight: 1.8 kg

 

Reasons to Buy

Reasons to Avoid

High-quality audio outputLimited to 30W power
Multiple connectivity optionsNo HDMI input
Sleek and modern designBass might be insufficient for some
Easy to install and use 

What are buyers saying on Amazon? Buyers appreciate the boAt Aavante Bar 610 for its excellent sound quality, easy setup, and stylish design. Some mention that the bass could be stronger.

Why choose this product? Choose the boAt Aavante Bar 610 for its reliable performance, versatility in connectivity, and stylish design that complements any home entertainment system.

Also Read: Best speakers and soundbars for immersive audio experience: Enjoy superior audio and entertainment at home, top 8 picks

2.ZEBRONICS Zeb-Juke BAR 9500WS PRO Dolby 5.1 Soundbar

The ZEBRONICS Zeb-Juke BAR 9500WS PRO Dolby 5.1 Soundbar is engineered to deliver a true cinematic experience at home. With Dolby Digital technology and a 525W RMS output, it provides powerful and immersive audio that enhances your movie, music, and gaming experiences. This 5.1 channel soundbar comes with wireless rear satellites and a subwoofer, ensuring rich bass and surround sound. Multiple connectivity options including HDMI ARC, optical input, Bluetooth, and AUX make it highly versatile. The sleek and modern design, combined with an easy setup process, makes it a perfect addition to any home entertainment system.

Specifications of ZEBRONICS Zeb-Juke BAR 9500WS PRO:

  • Output Power: 525W RMS
  • Channels: 5.1
  • Technology: Dolby Digital
  • Connectivity: HDMI ARC, Optical, Bluetooth, AUX, USB
  • Control: Remote control
  • Design: Sleek, wireless rear satellites
  • Dimensions: Soundbar: 96 x 7.8 x 8.2 cm; Subwoofer: 19 x 30 x 36 cm
  • Weight: Soundbar: 3.8 kg; Subwoofer: 5.2 kg

 

Reasons to Buy

Reasons to Avoid

True 5.1 surround soundHigher price point
Dolby Digital technologyComplex setup for some users
High power outputBulky subwoofer and satellites
Multiple connectivity optionsMay require space for rear speakers

What are buyers saying on Amazon? Buyers rave about the ZEBRONICS Zeb-Juke BAR 9500WS PRO's outstanding sound quality and immersive experience, though some find the setup process a bit complicated.

Why choose this product? Opt for the ZEBRONICS Zeb-Juke BAR 9500WS PRO for its superior sound quality, Dolby Digital support, and comprehensive connectivity options.

Also Read: Best soundbars under 10,000: Ultimate entertainment on a budget, top 10 picks

The Sony HT-S20R Real 5.1ch Dolby Digital Soundbar brings the cinematic audio experience to your living room. With a total power output of 400W and true 5.1 channel surround sound, it delivers rich, powerful audio. The soundbar is equipped with a subwoofer and rear speakers that work seamlessly to create a dynamic sound field. Dolby Digital technology ensures clear, high-quality sound. Connectivity options include HDMI ARC, optical input, USB, and Bluetooth, making it versatile and convenient. The sleek and stylish design fits well in any home setup, while the user-friendly remote control ensures easy operation.

Specifications of Sony HT-S20R:

  • Output Power: 400W RMS
  • Channels: 5.1
  • Technology: Dolby Digital
  • Connectivity: HDMI ARC, Optical, USB, Bluetooth
  • Control: Remote control
  • Design: Sleek, compact subwoofer
  • Dimensions: Soundbar: 76 x 5.2 x 8.6 cm; Subwoofer: 19 x 39.2 x 31.5 cm
  • Weight: Soundbar: 2 kg; Subwoofer: 6.9 kg

 

Reasons to Buy

Reasons to Avoid

True 5.1 surround soundHigher price point
Dolby Digital technologyBulky subwoofer
High power outputLimited advanced features
Multiple connectivity optionsRear speakers are wired

What are buyers saying on Amazon? Customers love the Sony HT-S20R for its exceptional sound quality and immersive experience, though some mention the rear speakers being wired as a drawback.

Why choose this product? Choose the Sony HT-S20R for its reliable performance, true 5.1 surround sound, and trusted brand reputation.

Also Read: Best soundbars: Pick from 10 options to transform your home audio experience

4. JBL Cinema SB241, Dolby Digital Soundbar

The JBL Cinema SB241 Dolby Digital Soundbar is designed to elevate your home audio experience with its powerful and clear sound. With a total output of 110W, this soundbar provides deep bass and crisp highs, ensuring an immersive audio experience. Dolby Digital technology enhances the sound quality, making it perfect for movies, music, and gaming. It features multiple connectivity options including HDMI ARC, optical input, and Bluetooth, allowing you to connect various devices effortlessly. The sleek and compact design ensures it fits seamlessly into any room setup, while the easy-to-use remote control makes operation simple and convenient.

Specifications of JBL Cinema SB241:

  • Output Power: 110W RMS
  • Technology: Dolby Digital
  • Connectivity: HDMI ARC, Optical, Bluetooth
  • Control: Remote control
  • Design: Sleek, compact
  • Dimensions: 90 x 6.7 x 8.5 cm
  • Weight: 1.6 kg

 

Reasons to Buy

Reasons to Avoid

Dolby Digital sound qualityLower power output compared to competitors
Multiple connectivity optionsNo subwoofer included
Sleek and compact designLimited bass performance
Easy setup and useBasic remote control functions

What are buyers saying on Amazon? Customers praise the JBL Cinema SB241 for its clear sound and easy setup, though some wish for a subwoofer to enhance bass.

Why choose this product? Select the JBL Cinema SB241 for its reliable performance, Dolby Digital technology, and compact design that fits any room.

 

5.GOVO GOSURROUND 900 | 200W Soundbar

The GOVO GOSURROUND 900 is a powerful 200W soundbar that transforms your home audio experience. With its robust sound output and deep bass, it is perfect for watching movies, listening to music, or gaming. The soundbar features multiple connectivity options including Bluetooth, HDMI ARC, optical input, and USB, providing versatile and convenient connections for various devices. Its modern design and sleek profile make it a stylish addition to any home entertainment setup. The GOVO GOSURROUND 900 also comes with a wireless subwoofer that enhances bass performance, delivering a full-bodied audio experience. The included remote control allows for easy operation and customization of sound settings to suit your preferences.

Specifications of GOVO GOSURROUND 900:

  • Output Power: 200W RMS
  • Technology: Deep bass
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, HDMI ARC, Optical, USB
  • Control: Remote control
  • Design: Modern, wireless subwoofer
  • Dimensions: Soundbar: 88 x 6.5 x 9 cm; Subwoofer: 20 x 30 x 40 cm
  • Weight: Soundbar: 2.5 kg; Subwoofer: 5 kg

 

Reasons to Buy

Reasons to Avoid

High power outputHigher price point
Deep bass performanceBulky subwoofer
Multiple connectivity optionsNo Dolby Digital support
Sleek and modern designLimited advanced features

What are buyers saying on Amazon? Buyers commend the GOVO GOSURROUND 900 for its powerful sound and deep bass, although some note that it lacks Dolby Digital support.

Why choose this product? Opt for the GOVO GOSURROUND 900 for its robust sound output, deep bass, and versatile connectivity options that enhance your home audio experience.

What should you look for in a soundbar?

Before buying a soundbar, make sure you consider the following factors:

Sound quality: The first and foremost thing to look out for when buying a soundbar is obviously the sound quality. After all, that is why you need a soundbar, right? Look for soundbars with clear and balanced audio output. Consider models with multiple channels (e.g., 2.1, 3.1, 5.1) for surround sound effects. Check for features like Dolby Atmos or DTS for an immersive audio experience.

Connectivity Options: Ensure the soundbar has a variety of inputs and outputs to connect to your TV and other devices. After all, you will need to connect your soundbar with your TV so, in case you have a slightly old television set that lacks HDMI, you would require an optical fibre connection. Common options include HDMI ARC, optical, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. HDMI ARC or eARC is particularly useful for high-quality audio and easy control.

Size and Design: Choose a soundbar that fits well with your TV setup and complements your room’s aesthetics. The size should match or be slightly smaller than your TV for a cohesive look.

Subwoofer and Satellites: Decide if you want a soundbar with a built-in subwoofer, an external subwoofer, or additional satellite speakers. External subwoofers provide better bass, and additional satellites enhance the surround sound experience.

Smart Features: Some soundbars come with built-in voice assistants like Alexa or Google Assistant, allowing for hands-free control and integration with smart home systems. Also, look for compatibility with music streaming services.

Channels: You have to be clear of the channel you want in your soundbar. Whether you want to have a 2.1 channel, multiple individual speakers, or, simply, a lot of speakers in the bar itself to create that surround sound. We recommend you buy a soundbar with 3 or more channels.

Understanding the Soundbar size:

Aesthetically, the size of the soundbar shouldn’t be wider than your television. Ideally, it should exactly be the same width for a consistent look. Here is a table that gives you detailed knowledge on the soundbar size and the size of the TV required.

TV SizeRecommended Soundbar Size
32"62~70 cm
43"82~92 cm
50"95~106 cm
55"105~117 cm
65" and above123~148 cm

Connecting Soundbars:

Connecting a soundbar can vary slightly depending on the model and available ports. Below are general steps to connect your soundbar using different methods, including HDMI ARC, Optical, Bluetooth, and AUX/3.5mm:

HDMI ARC

Steps:

  1. Check Compatibility: Ensure both your soundbar and TV have HDMI ARC ports.
  2. Connect HDMI Cable: Plug one end of the HDMI cable into the HDMI ARC port on your TV and the other end into the HDMI ARC port on your soundbar.
  3. Select HDMI ARC Input: Use your TV remote to select the HDMI ARC input (this might be automatic on some TVs).
  4. Enable CEC: Enable the CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) function in your TV settings, often labeled as HDMI-CEC, Anynet+, or Simplink.
  5. Adjust Settings: Set the TV audio output to “external speakers” or “HDMI ARC” in the audio settings.

Optical Steps:

  1. Check Optical Ports: Ensure both your TV and soundbar have optical (TOSLINK) ports.
  2. Connect Optical Cable: Plug one end of the optical cable into the optical out port on your TV and the other end into the optical in port on your soundbar.
  3. Select Optical Input: Use the soundbar remote to select the optical input.
  4. Adjust Settings: Set the TV audio output to “optical” or “external speakers” in the audio settings.

Bluetooth

Steps:

  1. Enable Pairing Mode: Turn on the Bluetooth pairing mode on your soundbar. This usually involves pressing and holding the Bluetooth button on the soundbar or remote until the indicator light starts flashing.
  2. Pair with TV: Go to the Bluetooth settings on your TV and search for devices. Select your soundbar from the list of available devices.
  3. Connect: Once paired, your TV should route the audio to the soundbar. Ensure the soundbar is set to the Bluetooth input if necessary.

AUX/3.5mm

Steps:

  1. Check Ports: Ensure both your TV and soundbar have AUX/3.5mm ports.
  2. Connect AUX Cable: Plug one end of the AUX cable into the headphone or audio out port on your TV and the other end into the AUX in port on your soundbar.
  3. Select AUX Input: Use the soundbar remote to select the AUX input.
  4. Adjust Settings: Set the TV audio output to “headphones” or “external speakers” in the audio settings.

Troubleshooting Tips

  • Volume Control: After connecting, ensure the soundbar’s volume is turned up and the TV’s internal speakers are turned off or set to a low volume.
  • Check Connections: Make sure all cables are securely connected to the appropriate ports.
  • Input Source: Verify the correct input source is selected on your soundbar.
  • Firmware Updates: Check for any firmware updates for both your TV and soundbar, as these can improve compatibility and performance.

By following these steps, you should be able to connect your soundbar to your TV and enjoy an enhanced audio experience.

Similar articles for you:

Best soundbars under 10,000: Ultimate entertainment on a budget, top 10 picks

Best soundbars: Pick from 10 options to transform your home audio experience

Best soundbars under 10,000: Unveil top 10 options for ultimate audio bliss

FAQ for Soundbar buying guide:

Q1. Can I control my soundbar with my TV remote?

A: If your soundbar is connected via HDMI ARC and both devices support HDMI-CEC, you can control the soundbar volume with your TV remote. Ensure CEC is enabled in your TV settings.

Q2. Can I connect my soundbar to other devices like a smartphone or tablet?

A: Yes, you can connect your soundbar to other devices using Bluetooth or an AUX cable, depending on the available ports on your soundbar.

Q3. What is the difference between a 2.1 and a 5.1 soundbar system?

A: A 2.1 soundbar system includes two channels (left and right) and a subwoofer. A 5.1 system includes five channels (left, center, right, and two rear) and a subwoofer, providing a more immersive surround sound experience.

Q4: Do I need a subwoofer with my soundbar?

A: While not mandatory, a subwoofer enhances bass performance, providing a fuller and richer audio experience, especially for movies and music.

Q5.How should I position my soundbar for the best sound quality?

A: Place the soundbar directly below or above your TV, centered and facing the seating area. Ensure it's not obstructed by other objects. If it comes with a subwoofer, place the subwoofer near the TV but not in an enclosed space.

Disclaimer: At Hindustan Times, we help you stay up-to-date with the latest trends and products. Hindustan Times has an affiliate partnership, so we may get a part of the revenue when you make a purchase. We shall not be liable for any claim under applicable laws, including but not limited to the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, with respect to the products. The products listed in this article are in no particular order of priority.

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