It’s quite an obvious thing that the speakers, integrated in your TV, aren’t able to provide a cinematic sound. That is why they are rarely used as a part of home theater. A soundbar can easily solve the problem with weak built-in speakers of your TV, providing a truly immersive surround sound.
Technically, a soundbar is a mono speaker that contains several speakers inside. It’s a more convenient replacement for a multi-speaker audio system. Its main advantages are portable dimensions, simple setup, and the ability to provide a significant sound improvement. Moreover, a lot of TVs have special space between their feet, designed specifically for soundbar, so it takes minimal space (unlike most other audio systems).
However, what should you look for when choosing a soundbar? First of all, you should look for its power and functionality. Additional criteria also include subwoofer’s type, interface, number of channels, etc.
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The soundbar’s volume level depends on its power which indicates in watts. For a large-sized room, you will need a soundbar with a power level of at least 200W. For medium-sized rooms, go for 80W – 100W model. For a small space, 25W – 50W will be enough. In any case, it’s recommended to choose a slightly more powerful model than you need so you didn’t feel the lack of loudness. You can always make the sound quieter.
Types of connection
Soundbars can be divided into two types according to the type of connection to the TV:
- Active models that can be connected directly to your TV. This option is the simplest, and takes minimum time for connection, without requiring any special skills from the user.
- Passive models can be connected only with the help of an AV receiver. They allow getting sound of better quality.
If the soundbar supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, it can be connected without any wires at all. It will be suitable for those who value mobility and don’t want to deal with wires in order to preserve a neat look.
How do you control it?
Some models can be controlled both via a dedicated remote and a TV remote itself. There are also models that can be controlled by voice (via remote or thanks to Alexa/Google Assistant support). The advanced models also may be controlled via a special app on your smartphone.
In terms of functionality, soundbars can be divided into three groups. The first one presents the simplest models that are used only as additional acoustics. The second group includes those soundbars that have an extended sound range. And the last one contains multifunctional speaker systems that can replace almost any home theater audio system.
Some other features to consider
The additional criteria that can affect your choice of a soundbar include:
- The presence of a panel or stand. There are models that can be hung on the wall or models that come with a shelf which allows saving space in the room.
- Number of channels. More channels mean more spacious sound. Standards 2.1 and 3.1 models provide stereo sound. Models with 5.0, 5.1 and 7.1 configurations create so-called surround sound: thanks to the presence of several channels, it feels like sound comes from all the sides.
- Number and types of connectors. Most importantly, the soundbar must have an HDMI port for connection to a TV. The USB port for connection to other devices and flash drives also should be present. The presence of wireless connection support allows you to connect a smartphone or tablet to the soundbar, as well as install the device at a distance from the TV. The Wi-Fi support makes it possible to connect the device to a home network.
- There are two types of subwoofers that come with a soundbar: built-in and external. The first one increases the size of the device and is characterized by low volume level and quite weak low frequencies. An external subwoofer provides great sound quality and an increased volume level but requires a separate space.