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What does a soundbar do?

22 March 2016

Soundbars became increasingly popular as an alternative to poor quality built-in TV speakers that fail to match the visual excitement of the flat generation of screens.

A soundbar is fast becoming the centerpiece in your living room to match that shiny new 4K TV but it’s no fun watching your favourite movie or listening to your favourite track on a TV that produces thin and tinny audio. A soundbar is essentially a speaker that upgrades your TV audio. Soundbars became increasingly popular as an alternative to poor quality built-in TV speakers that fail to match the visual excitement of the flat generation of screens. They inject fidelity and bass into the sound without the intrusive cables and clutter of a home cinema system. They can be wall mounted or placed in front of a TV on the tabletop or cabinet.

A good soundbar will either come with a separate or a built-in subwoofer to deliver powerful audio. They often offer features such as Bluetooth and NFC so you can easily stream music from your smartphone or your tablet, making them replacement home audio systems. Physical connections can also include USB ports, HDMI inputs but these are not essential as they can often add complexity. Other inputs are really important because of recent developments with multiroom audio that can now be accessed with a simple AUX input. E.g. a Chromecast Audio can use an AUX input to allow a soundbar to play directly across Wi-Fi.

Most soundbars come with a remote control so you can control the volume, bass and treble but smart soundbars allow you to learn your current TV remote control eliminating the use of two controls. Plus who has space to keep so many remote controls these days?

Which one is the right one for you?

Soundbars come in many shapes, sizes and a varied price range. If you are trying to bring the cinema experience into your living room then the key is to listen to the audio quality. Buy one to suit your listening environment. Beware of cheap soundbars that sometimes use speakers only marginally better than the TV speakers you are replacing!

If space is at a premium then smaller is fine, but smaller soundbars will rely more heavily on a subwoofer. Bigger does not always mean better! If your soundbar delivers a thrilling movie/music experience then you’ve picked the right one.

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