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The best soundbars: amplify your music, movies and more

TVs are steadily becoming slimmer and slimmer, with the newly launched Sony Bravia XC90 (4.9mm at its thinnest) pushing the boundaries when it comes to squeezing all the necessary technologies into the slimmest space possible. Because of this advance in screen technology, designers have had to make a compromise; and that’s on the speakers. While sound quality is still pretty decent across most televisions, a soundbar is a fantastic way to boost it to a level that, for many people, is required for full appreciation of their favourite film or television show. But what exactly is the best soundbar?

Of course, a soundbar isn’t just for boosting the sound emitted from your television. Many have wireless capabilities, allowing you to easily pair up your Smart device for instant background music. Other soundbars can form part of a wider surround sound system, with the likes of our top pick, Sony HT-ST5000 800 W Soundbar available to purchase alongside a subwoofer for that immersive deep bass sound experience. 

If you’re looking to buy a soundbar only, you should be looking out for qualities including a wide listening angle, so you benefit from high quality sound no matter where you’re sitting in the room; good quality connections - HDMI cables and audio jacks are pretty essential for a good all-round usability; wireless connectivity, so you can conveniently hook your tunes up; and the appearance, too, is important - it is going to take pride of place in your lounge after all. 

If you’re struggling to find the right soundbar for you, we’ve come up with a list of the best soundbars from popular retailers including John Lewis and Amazon. While Amazon prices are often cheaper than high street stores, it’s worth noting that John Lewis offer a 0% APR credit account for those looking to push the boat out without paying right away. 

1. Sony HT-ST5000

Sony overcomes the dreaded ‘sweet spot’ with this immersive soundbar

Specifications

Best for: 3D Sound
HDMI: Yes
Audio power: 120W

Reasons to buy

+
Supports Dolby Atmos
+
Higher than CD quality resolution

Reasons to avoid

-
 Excessive price doesn’t include a subwoofer

Overcoming one of the biggest downfalls of the soundbar, this offering from Sony promises to deliver virtual surround sound thanks to its 7.1.2ch S-Force PRO Front Surround technology. With Dolby Atmos enabled to further enhance its 3D sound capabilities, a USB port, 3 HDMI ports and bluetooth connectivity, this is the best soundbar for quality, and ease of use. And don’t forget that you can also buy the compatible subwoofer for deeper base. 

2. Samsung HW-MS650

A fantastic compromise, and less than half the price

Specifications

Best for: Power and base
HDMI: Yes
Audio power: 9x20W

Reasons to buy

+
9 seperate speakers to deliver a wide range 
+
Distortion cancelling properties

Reasons to avoid

-
Doesn’t support Dolby Atmos 

While the Sony contains heaps of technology that make it the best 3D soundbar speaker, there’s no doubt that this Samsung comes in close second. Much cheaper than our second pick, it lacks the qualities of Dolby Atmos, but thanks to Dolby Digital, is still capable of producing incredibly immersive HD sound. Because of its 9 speaker design, its power output is much bigger than our first pick, enabling it to almost keep up with the 3D speaker qualities of the Sony. There’s only 1 HDMI port, but, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled, playing your favourite tunes certainly won’t be an issue.  

3. Focal Dimension

A high performing soundbar, without the hefty price-tag

Specifications

Best for: Big rooms
HDMI: Yes
Audio power: 450W

Reasons to buy

+
Cranks out a massive 450W of power
+
Natural-sounding dialogues

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacks the technical features of other soundbars 

If you want power, you’ll get it right here with the Focal Dimension. While we argue that it doesn’t boast as many technical features as our Sony or Samsung offerings, it can crank out a massive 450W of power, which will deliver HD sound across even the largest of lounges. One of its key features is its high dialogue intelligibility, which is great for those who have issues picking out dialogue from the rest of the soundtrack.  

4. Q Acoustics M4 Sound Bar

An award-winning piece of kit that compromises prettiness for awesome sound quality

Specifications

Best for: Value for money
HDMI: No
Audio power: 100W

Reasons to buy

+
Integrated subwoofer
+
Features a Balanced Mode Radiator for wide sound dispersion

Reasons to avoid

-
Not particularly pretty 

If quality of sound and decent sound dispersion are your focal points for choosing the best soundbar, this offering from Q Acoustics could be an contender. Yes, it’s not pretty, but it features a balanced mode radiator for good sound dispersal, and promises great bass quality thanks to its inbuilt subwoofer. While it doesn’t have an HDMI import, it features optical and analogue imports and can be easily paired to a smart device via Bluetooth.  

5. Sonos Playbar

Cinematic sound quality, all from one soundbar

Specifications

Best for: Wireless surround sound
HDMI: No
Audio power: N/A

Reasons to buy

+
9 digital amplifiers
+
6 mid woofers

Reasons to avoid

-
No HDMI compatibility 

We know by now that a soundbar doesn’t have to come with all the very latest bells and whistles to deliver good sound quality. With 9 digital amplifiers, the Sonos Playbar promises to deliver cinematic sound, whether you’re watching television or playing music. With 6 mid woofers and 3 tweeters, high frequency and mid frequency sound quality should pretty high. The Playbar can be accompanied by an entire surround sound system, and compatible with Alexa, can easily become part of your smart home set up.

6. Orbitsound ONE P70

A quality entry-level soundbar

Specifications

Best for: Entry level
HDMI: No
Audio power: 150W

Reasons to buy

+
Great value
+
Surprisingly good bass sound

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacking a few technical features

Those not looking to spend an arm and a leg on their soundbar should look at this offering from Orbitsound. Combining airSound technology with an integrated subwoofer, you should be able to receive stereo quality sound and a decent bass. While it lacks the technology and connection ports that other more expensive soundbars have, you should still be able to appreciate higher quality sound with this plug in and play device. With Bluetooth capabilities, it’s easy to hook up your smart device so you can appreciate the base of your favourite tunes. 

7. Panasonic SC-ALL70T

A high tech soundbar that’s a fraction of the cost of our top picks

Specifications

Best for: Dynamic sound
HDMI: Yes
Audio power: 350W

Reasons to buy

+
HDMI connection
+
4K signal pass through

Reasons to avoid

-
Surround sound is lacking 

With 4K signal pass through and a wireless subwoofer included, the Panasonic SC-ALL70T promises superior quality sound for a fraction of the price of our first couple of products. While it lacks Dolby Atmos for that 3D surround sound feel, the soundbar, alongside the subwoofer, should provide immersive, high quality sound. Supporting wireless multi-room function, you can play your music over the Wi-Fi network. You can also create a wireless 5.1 speaker system using other 2 ALL2 speakers from the range.  

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