The SLMan Guide To… Soundbars | SLMan
If you’re in the market for a new TV and want a cinematic effect without too much hassle or cost, a soundbar is your best bet. SLMan spoke to Neil White from specialist retailer Richer Sounds to fill us in on why they can be worth the money, and the best models on the market…

First of all, what is a soundbar?
Soundbars are wide, thin speakers designed to sit beneath your television. They enhance the sound of any source plugged into your screen – think Sky Box, a Blu-Ray player or a Firestick.

What makes it a worthwhile investment?
As TVs have gotten thinner, it’s become increasingly difficult for them to reproduce good quality sound and bass. Put simply, there is not as much space for large speakers, unlike the older, more traditional sets. Soundbars are designed to fill this void and enhance your listening pleasure.

Do they come with any extra features?
Most are equipped with Bluetooth which will allow you to stream music from a phone or tablet. Some newer, more premium models are also Dolby Atmos enabled. In layman’s terms, this means sounds are fired at different angles around the room to give you the sense of things moving on the screen.

How much should you be prepared to spend on one?
They can start from as little as £50 for a very basic solution and go right up to £2,000. However, it would depend on the room size and your viewing habits as to what you eventually spend. For everyday use in an average size room, aim for around the £300-£500 mark – although £1,000 will get you a pretty decent model if you’re more of a movie buff.

Is there anything else you need to consider?
They’re designed to be pretty simple – just plug in and play. Though you may need extra leads for your source equipment to connect.
 

Interested? Here Are Neil’s Recommended Soundbars…

Budget

JBL Bar 2.0 All In One, £99
Small in size but mighty in sound, the JBL Bar 2.0 is a compact and affordable choice that will enhance the sound quality of your TV without breaking the bank. Standing less that 6cm tall, it’s an unobtrusive pick for a smaller room, designed to effortlessly sit below your TV, or it can be wall-mounted. The All-in-One soundbar also acts as a speaker – simply hook it up to your Bluetooth to enjoy wireless music streaming.

Available here.

Mid

Denon DHT-S316, £249
From one of Japan’s first audio electronics manufacturers, this model is a sophisticated choice that adapts itself to your needs – allowing you to choose between Movie, Night or Music modes. The Denon Dialogue Enhancer allows for the perfect vocal balance – enabling smooth, natural sounding dialogue which you can turn up without having to increase the overall volume. It also comes with a separate subwoofer to give the bass sounds an extra kick – and it’s wireless, so it’s easy to position.

Available here.
 

Upper Mid

Sonos Arc Premium Smart Soundbar With Voice Control, £799
The talk of the town at the moment when it comes to home-entertainment tech, this sleek number from Sonos uses Dolby Atmos to deliver finely balanced sound quality. With 11 drivers that project sound upwards, as well as left and right, this single unit is able to give the impression of surround sound by filling the space in front of you, moving noise across the room to reflect what’s happening on the screen. Built in with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, its impressive voice control feature makes it ideal for effortless viewing. 

Available here.
 

Top End

Sennheiser Ambeo, £2,199
The Sennheiser Ambeo delivers an unparalleled sonic experience. Compatible with Dolby Atmos, this model also features DTS:X speakers that are more commonly found in high-end cinemas, bringing you the finest viewing experience straight to your living room. Fully equipped with a calibration microphone, advanced technology measures the acoustics of your room and adjusts itself accordingly to provide optimum sound quality. Plus, you can connect up to the Sennheiser Smart Control App through your smartphone to easily tailor the sound to your taste.

Available here.

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