When it comes to the picture displayed on your LCD or LED television, it’s obvious that quality has improved by leaps and bounds over the past two decades. Despite their much smaller size and thinner design, modern televisions are capable of producing some truly remarkable pictures on-screen, with quality levels that reach as high as 4K, where individual pixels become imperceptible.
Even as picture quality has increased, however, sound quality has actually gone in the opposite direction. The exceedingly thin design of modern TVs doesn’t allow for robust audio equipment.
Instead, speakers have gotten thinner, longer, and less capable of producing full, robust sound. In most cases, that can leave a high-definition picture seeming somewhat out of place when the tinny, highly compressed audio is produced by the TV.
Luckily, sound bars have come to the rescue of audiophiles everywhere. Designed as a slim companion to today’s slim TVs, these dedicated sound devices bring high-quality audio to the high-quality video produced by your television.
Excellent mid’s and highs, along with powerful bass, make for an immersive viewing experience. Though the options are countless, there are 10 sound bars in 2019 that stand above the competition if you’re looking for quality, value, and immersive viewing.
10. Samsung 2.1 Soundbar HW-R550 with Wireless Subwoofer
Samsung is known for producing some of the most impressive TVs on the market, but even those models struggle to produce robust sound. The HW-H550 is Samsung’s mid-range soundbar, which sheds a few of the more premium features of the top-end HW-H750 which allows for a more attractive price point. The soundbar is very discreet and slim and is perfect for anyone who wants to improve the sound quality of their TV without cluttering up the room. The wireless subwoofer included with this sound bar beefs up the bass from anywhere in the room.
- Slim, well-made soundbar
- Good range of features and connections
- Clear, crisp sound with beautifully integrated bass
- Similarly priced rival soundbars offer greater authority, finesse, and scale
9. Sound Off Signal EPL7PDAC Pinnacle Permanent Mount Mini LED Light Bar
For consumer electronics buffs, Pinnacle Speakers is one of the leading names when it comes to blending technology and high-quality audio. The company’s 2.1 sound bar system features a digital display on the front, indicating the current time as well as pertinent settings that affect sound quality and audio availability. A separate subwoofer handles bass, which is generally standard with many of the best sound bar systems. Notably, the subwoofer is wirelessly powered. That makes for easier design choices.
- LED display
- Wireless subwoofer design
- Wall-mountable features with optional kit
- High price tag
- Limited connectivity, with only optical and mini-headphone cable options
8. Bose Solo 15 TV Sound System
Few companies have cultivated a reputation for high-quality audio quite as effectively as Bose. The company’s Bose 15 sound bar system is the entry-level model among its sound bar lineup, perfect if you’re looking for the right blend of reputation, quality, and price. The system doesn’t feature a subwoofer, but uses Bose technology to produce robust bass even without a 2.1 setup. A universal remote is included, making it possible to control an entire entertainment center without fumbling for various controls.
- Included universal remote
- Sound quality controls for fine-tuning after purchase
- Lack of a subwoofer means that bass production is limited
- Large overall size could be cumbersome in tight spaces
7. Bose Solo 5 TV Sound System
Competing for the entry-level consumer among the Bose lineup is the Bose Solo 5. Though it comes in at the same price as the Bose Solo 15, this sound bar is far smaller. It features a very narrow design, perfect for mounting atop or beneath a TV with a screen larger than 24 inches. With a narrower design, however, does come a bit less “punch” in the production of bass.
- Smaller design is easier to install
- Bose technology ensures excellent audio quality
- Lacks a subwoofer
- Smaller design limits bass performance
6. Yamaha YAS-203 Sound Bar with Bluetooth and Wireless Subwoofer
Technophiles and audiophiles alike will be excited by the Yamaha YAS-203 sound bar system. The YAS-203 is designed as a 2.1 system with both a wireless subwoofer and full Bluetooth connectivity. That means the sound bar can work with a television as well as with almost any Bluetooth-enabled device in the home. The sound bar is also highly compact, feature a “learning” remote system for compatibility with existing remotes, and can be mounted on either the wall or a TV stand.
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Wireless subwoofer
- Easily mountable design features
- Remote “learning” feature may prove problematic with some brands
5. Sony HTXT1 2.1-Channel TV Base Speaker with Built-in Subwoofer
Sony’s HTXT1 2.1-channel sound bar is a bit more “speaker” and a bit less of a traditional sound bar. That’s because this model, like the Bose Solo 15, is quite deep and is best mounted beneath the television as a base. This design was chosen intentionally, however, since it allows Sony to produce richer sound and deeper base by building the subwoofer into the box. Though marketed as a 2.1 system, there is no separate subwoofer to install, place, or configure.
- All-in-one design is great for entry-level buyers
- Bluetooth and NFC connectivity
- Built-in subwoofer limits entertainment system configuration choices
4. Sony HT-RT5 Soundbar with 2 Wireless Rear Speakers
A 2.1 sound bar system is great, but a 5.1 system is even better. With a 5.1 system, customers experience five dimensions of audio alongside the separate subwoofer for bass production. The HT-RT5 system from Sony features a slim sound bar speaker to be placed at the front of the room, two rear speakers, and a large subwoofer. This makes for immersive, cinema-style sound that will prove a definite upgrade for almost any television in the home.
- Wireless connectivity for mobile device compatibility
- Rear speakers, subwoofer, and 5.1-style surround system
- Compact design
- No universal remote or control system
3. VIZIO S3851w-D4B 38-Inch 5.1 Sound Bar with Wireless Subwoofer
The 38-inch, 5.1 speaker sound bar system from VIZIO is a perfect addition to any living room. With Bluetooth connectivity and five channels of sound, the system can provide surround sound in most living rooms at a fraction of the cost of a high-end audio installation. The VIZIO system provides 100dB of sound, enough to fill the room and create a cinema-like experience in any living room. A separate subwoofer provides rich bass, while rear speakers complete the setup.
- Highly affordable
- Full surround sound
- Wireless connectivity
- Somewhat clunky remote control design
2. SONOS PLAYBAR TV Sound Bar/Wireless Streaming Music Speaker
SONOS might be best known for their small Bluetooth speakers that work with mobile devices, but the Playbar TV sound system is just as compelling a product from this industry leader. The system comes in three styles: sound bar, sound bar with subwoofer, or sound bar with full surround sound speakers. Each system is among the most expensive in this category, but provides room-filling sound that rivals anything Bose or Sony can produce. Wireless connectivity enhances the experience and makes this system a perfect fit for almost any device.
- Capable of full surround sound
- Additional components can be added over time
- Exceedingly high price point
- No subwoofer in the base configuration
1. VIZIO S3820W-C0 38-inch 2.0 Home Theater Sound Bar
When it comes to the best, most compact, highest quality system on the market, the VIZIO S3820W is a perfect fit for your living room. The system produces 98dB of sound, just a touch less than the full, 5.1 speaker system also sold by VIZIO. In addition to room-filling sound, the system features a highly specialized set of bass speakers, a very slim profile, and a remote control that can adjust both volume and sound quality from a distance.
- Highly compact design
- Wireless connectivity
- Appreciable bass production
- No separate subwoofer
- 38-inch length limits compatibility with smaller televisions
My Personal Favorite Sound Bar
Whether you’re looking for a compact sound bar or a full, 5.1-channel sound system that can create a cinematic experience at home, there really is a top-notch option on the market. Leading brands like Pinnacle, Bose, Sony, VIZIO and SONOS have created a wealth of choices.
In addition to reading sound bar reviews, make sure to pick the model that best fits your living room design, your television size, and your viewing habits. With these considerations in mind, you can’t go wrong by updating your home theater experience so that your television’s sound finally matches its impressive picture quality. Click here to view the one that I bought for myself.