How to Choose a Soundbar

Do you ever find yourself disappointed with the sound quality of your TV? Flat screen TVs simply cannot be designed to produce booming, hi-fi sound. If you want better quality sound without investing in an entire surround sound system, a soundbar may be right for you. Soundbars are a great way to take movie night to the next level; they can produce louder audio and make dialogue easier to understand. They are also one of the most cost-effective ways to get hi-fi sound and are the perfect introduction to high fidelity audio if you don’t have a speaker system. Interested in getting a soundbar? Here are the most important things to consider before making a purchase:



One of the most important considerations to make it the placement or location of the soundbar. Typically, soundbars are placed directly in front of the TV on a TV stand or are mounted on the wall underneath the TV. You can also get a platform soundbar that sits underneath the TV. If your TV is wall mounted, you likely have limited placement options besides mounting the soundbar on the wall. Be sure to get a soundbar that is compatible with mounting or comes with the necessary hardware.


Consider the size of your TV as well. You don’t want the soundbar to look too small or too large compared to the TV, so measure out the size of the soundbar to see how it will look. If you want to place the soundbar in front of the TV, is there enough space below the bottom edge of the TV screen, or will the soundbar obstruct your view?


Additionally, consider whether you have space for a subwoofer. Most soundbars come with subwoofers to deliver the booming bass that often can’t be produced by a soundbar’s small drivers. It’s best to place the subwoofer close to the soundbar to avoid loss of integration, so make sure you have space for a subwoofer if you want one. Some high-end soundbars can produce bass frequencies well without a subwoofer, such as the Sonos Arc, but these are not cheap.




What is the main reason you want a soundbar? If it’s just to be able to hear the TV and dialogue better, then you don’t need to invest in an expensive soundbar. You can even find a model that is designed specifically for dialogue enhancement. You also probably don’t need to worry about a subwoofer.


If you want to have a full surround sound experience when watching movies, you can do a bit more digging. Soundbars are equipped with two to as many as 13 drivers, or individual speakers, that each play their own audio signal and are angled in different directions to mimic surround sound produced by multiple speakers. Consider getting a soundbar that has at least 5 drivers if you want an immersive movie experience. Alternatively, some soundbars can be connected to rear surround speakers or even have detachable speakers included. If you get a model that is compatible with rear speakers, you can connect additional channels in the future.


If you want to listen to music or dip your toes into the world of hi-fi audio, it’s best to get a soundbar from a hi-fi audio brand like Polk. You should also consider a soundbar that comes with a subwoofer, or one that doesn’t require a sub, to ensure you’re getting the full range of frequencies.


Sources and Connections


Having the proper connections for your equipment is essential. Consider the sources you use to watch media or listen to music (bluray player, game console, etc.) and what you will be connecting to the soundbar. Be sure to get a model that has the ports you need. Typically, you’ll only need HDMI ports, which are included on any standard soundbar, if not all soundbars ever. You can choose to connect your media sources directly to the soundbar, or connect your TV to the soundbar and run all audio through the TV. The latter is best done with an HDMI ARC cable or an optical audio cable. Additionally, if your wi-fi connection can be unreliable, you can opt to use an ethernet cable.


Convenience Features


Other than ports and the number of drivers, you’ll probably choose a soundbar based on its other nifty features that appeal to you. One of the most common features is wireless capabilities. If you don’t like dealing with cables then a wireless soundbar is a great choice. Many soundbars have Bluetooth capabilities to connect to your phone or another audio source from anywhere. Some are designed to connect to other speakers wirelessly, such as rear speakers or a subwoofer, or come with an app for wireless control from your phone.