Updated: May 9, 2015

Sound Bar Reviews and Buying Guide:

Choosing the Best Sound Bars - If you have just purchased a sleek flat screen television because you like the clean lines and lack of bulk, chances are that you don't want to add big, space-hogging speakers to your home as well. But you do want rich, dynamic sound to complement your high-def TV experience. This dilemma is solved easily enough with slim sound bars. Instead of adding a bulky, boxy sound system that takes up half your living room or bedroom and covers it with a network of wires and cables, you can add a single bar-like speaker that is much less obtrusive and much more streamlined. Sound bars not only enhance the look of your home, they will enhance the enjoyment of your television. Movies, games, television shows, concerts, sporting events, and more will sound much crisper. How do you choose the best sound bar for your home and your TV? This guide will take a look so you can listen.
sound bars


What is a Sound Bar? - A sound bar is simply an elongated speaker system. Inside is one or more smaller speakers, but the entire unit fits perfectly under a flat screen, making it a great, space-saving choice, especially for smaller rooms. Its main selling point is its incredibly streamlined design, as well as the enhanced sound quality you get. Is the sound similar to that which you get from a full surround-sound system? No. It is not quite as vibrant as the audio quality you'll get with an entire system. It is, however, much better than the sound you get from the television itself. Again, it is worth mentioning that sound bars are much smaller, less bulky, and require less wiring than do other systems. Before you buy your sound bar, here are some things to consider:

*The size and shape of a room. Sound bars are typically designed to work in small or medium-sized spaces with closed floor plans. This makes them perfect for the bedroom or den. For a large room or an open floor plan, you will require more powerful sound bars. The shape of the room also makes a difference: a small room that has four walls, for instance, can be outfitted with a smaller, less powerful (less expensive) sound bar.
*Stereo or surround? Stereo sound is more defined and clearer than you will get from your TV's speakers. But for more dynamic sound, you may want sound bars with virtual surround sound or sound bars that work as part of your full surround sound system.
*Built-in amplification? Most stereo-sound bars have built-in amplification, meaning you won't have to have a separate home theater receiver. Some of the more advanced virtual surround options must be connected to a receiver. If you already have a receiver, these "passive" systems can be great because they typically deliver more intense, crisp detail.
*Subwoofer. You'll need this for lower tones and to complete a good sound system. Some sound bars come with subwoofers, and others do not. Make sure to check so you have the full range of sound you want.
*Price. You can spend anywhere from $100 to over $1000 for sound bars, depending on the brand, your needs, its features and options, and the power required. There is a good variety in the $200 to $350 range, but good sound bars are not necessarily cheap. They can make the investment in your flat screen TV, however, much more worthwhile.

Sound Bar Reviews - There are plenty of sources when looking for customer and expert comment on the latest sound bars. CNET offers excellent comparisons and in depth technical aspects of the top rated soundbars. One of our favorite reviews are those done by Consumer Reports magazine in which they test and rate the sound bars on sound quality, ease of use, # of channels, and of course price. Vizio scores well with CR while Sony and Yamaha rate well with CNET and other users. You can browse the best selling sound bars online here.


Best Sound Bars:

According to technology experts, CNET, the Definitive Technology Mythos SSA-50 is one of the best sound bars on the market. With a CNET Editor's Rating of "Excellent," the Mythos "raises the bar" for sound bars. It features a one surround array speaker, 3 - 4.5 inch BDSS drivers with high output coincident array, fluid damped pure aluminum dome tweeter (for superior high frequency sound), 2- 4.5 inch BDSS high output full-range drivers, 4- 3.25 inch full range high output surround drivers with butyl rubber surrounds, 50Hz to 30kHz, virtual surround system technology, multi-channel receiver, and powered subwoofer. This system delivers outstanding sound - and it should. It sells for about $1100. The Yamaha YSP-4100 is another high-end choice; ConsumerSearch named it as the best, "but expensive." The Yamaha sound bar features a super slim design, HD audio decoding, built-in DSP, speakers, and amplifiers, UniVolume for consistent volume, wireless iPod/iPhone connectivity, support for 1080, high def resolution, analog video to HDMI digital video upconversion, and Intellibeam Automated System Calibration. It costs $1500. If you would prefer your sound bar not be more expensive than your television, there are some top "budget" models that you should consider. ConsumerSearch names the Sony HT-CT150 as the best budget sound bar system. The Sony offers 3D compatibility, subwoofer, S-Force Surround, 100 digital Sony S-Master amplifier and DSP, HDMI repeater with pass-through and audio return channel, CPCM Playback for high resolution audio, digital media port, and Bravia Synch-compatibility. It carries the much lower price tag of $250. The Sony is not a second rate choice; it is an affordable choice that reviews extremely well with consumers. See Sony sound bars here. A Samsung sound bar is another good choice for those who want great sound at a lower cost. The Samsung HW-C450, for example, features wireless subwoofer, 280 watts of 2.1 channel surround sound, Smart Volume, and is Energy Star compliant. A review in CNET said that the Samsung sound bar offered "surprisingly solid sound" for movies and television. Music wasn't as crisp, but if you plan on watching movies or don't have the ear of an audioholic, this is probably perfectly fine. The Samsung sells for about $250. There is an incredible range of sound bars, from those designed for expert audiophiles to those designed for people who want to increase their enjoyment of movies and TV shows. You can pay under $300 or over $1300 to get the quality that is right for you, but don't overextend yourself. Brands like Sony, Samsung, and Vizio can offer you solid quality that doesn't cost a fortune. Look here for a great selection of the best sound bars.