Choice aid: the 10 best soundbars of now (December 2020)

Interested in a brand new soundbar? There is plenty of choice, because just about every well-known audio and television brand manufactures interesting products. That is why we are happy to help you on your way and we present you the top 10 best soundbars of the moment.

Top 10 Best Sound Bars
  • 1. Samsung HW-Q90R
  • 2. Sonos Beam
  • 3. JBL Bar 5.1
  • 4. Yamaha YSP 5600
  • 5. Denon DHT-S716H
  • 6. Sony HT-ZF9
  • 7. Bose Sound Bar 700
  • 8. LG SL10YG
  • 9. Samsung HW-R650
  • 10. Sennheiser Ambeo
Tips for your soundbar
  • subwoofer
  • Connection options
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
  • Multi-room audio
  • Surround Effects
Frequently Asked Questions
  • Where do you place a sound bar?
  • How do you connect a soundbar to the television?
  • what is arc?
  • How do you play music on a soundbar?
  • What is multi-room audio?
  • What is Google Cast Audio and Apple AirPlay 2?
  • What is Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS:X and DTS digital surround
  • What is aptx?
  • What is the difference between a soundbar and soundplate?

Top 10 Sound Bars (December 2020)

1. Samsung HW-Q90R

The best soundbar 10 Score 100

+ Clear sound

+ Included satellitesand woofer

+ Beautiful design

- Price

The Samsung HW-Q90R is a set with everything you need for clear surround sound. The soundbar is a good 122 cm wide, but is equipped with high-quality Harman & Kardon speakers. Both the soundbar and the two included wireless rear speakers spread the sound not only to the front, but also upwards. With this, Samsung manages to create an excellent Dolby Atmos or DTS:X experience.

2. Sonos Beam

The best soundbar 8 Score 80

+ Stylish

+ Clear sound

+ Google Assistant, Alexa

+ Connection with other Sonos speakers

If you want a streamlined design and excellent sound quality, you've come to the right place with this stylish Sonos Beam. Five separate amplifiers drive four woofers and a tweeter, with the main focus on clear dialogues and detailed audio reproduction. Those who like a strong bass can consider the optionally available subwoofer. The Beam has a length of about seventy centimeters, so you can easily combine the device with smaller televisions. On the back there are only an HDMI port and network connection. Read our review here.

3. JBL Bar 5.1

Truly wireless 9 Score 90

+ Good surround

+ Bass

+ Truly wireless rear speakers

- No network function

The vast majority of soundbars make concessions to surround sound, but JBL takes a different tack with the Bar 5.1. You charge the batteries of the connected background speakers via a magnetic 'dock construction' on either side of the soundbar. If you are going to watch a movie, place both speakers somewhere behind the thank you or chair. Add the wireless subwoofer to that and you can enjoy extremely powerful sound with the Bar 5.1. Thanks to the many connections, you can easily connect multiple devices. Read our review here.

4. Yamaha YSP 5600

Perfect surround 8 Score 80

+ Surround playback

+ Sound quality

+ Surround from one device

- Price

Yamaha is big on speakers, but many groundbreaking soundbars don't have them. Nevertheless, this YSP 5600 is a special model. With no less than 46 speakers, Yamaha knows how to create an excellent surround effect. Of course with support for all necessary standards.

5. Denon DHT-S716H

The best multiroom soundbar 9 Score 90

+ Good audio balance

+ Good app

- Price

- No remote control

The DHT-S716H is part of Denon's highly successful Heos line of multi-room audio products. The easy-to-use Heos app gives users access to online services such as Deezer, Tidal and Spotify, while also allowing you to stream locally stored songs from a NAS or PC. As you would expect from a renowned brand like Denon, the audio balance is neatly taken care of. Despite the relatively thin design, the bass reproduction is still excellent, even without a subwoofer.

6. Sony HT-ZF9

Pure Sound 8 Score 80

+ Vell connectivity

+ Powerful clear bass

+ IR repeater

- Need extra rear speakers for best results

The Sony HT-ZF9 is a simple-looking soundbar with excellent sound quality and functionality. The included subwoofer gives a deep and clear bass that makes film music come into its own. The separately available rear speakers are a must with this system. Although the sound quality remains the same, it is certainly worth purchasing the rear speakers for the surround experience. Read our review here.

7. Bose Sound Bar 700

8K Ultra HD 9 Score 90

+ Full sound

+ Network support

+ Finish

- Subwoofer sold separately

Those who go for sublime audio quality may end up with the Soundbar 700 from the American speaker specialist Bose. That does come at a price, but you get a high-quality performance with a length of almost one meter in return. Bose fans with multiple speaker systems can easily connect this device to a multi-room audio network. You then control the music with a mobile app. Keep in mind a limited number of connections, because only HDMI is available. Furthermore, a subwoofer is missing, although you can purchase it separately.

8. LG SL10YG

A slim soundbar 9 Score 90

+ Slim design

+ Good sound

+ Google Assistant

- LG app required

The LG SL10YG is remarkably wide with a width of 144 cm, but also very slim due to the height of only 6 cm. The soundbar does come with a large subwoofer with a height of 39 cm. The soundbar offers support for all modern surround sound standards, including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. The set, with a total power of 570W, comes into its own with two separately available rear speakers (LG SPJ4-S).

9. Samsung HW-R650

The best entry-level 6 Score 60

+ Great sound

+ Bluetooth 5.0

- Connections

- No surround

For an excellent entry-level soundbar you have to go to Samsung. The HW-R650 offers excellent sound quality, but has a limited number of connections. A sturdy subwoofer is included and wireless connectivity is available via bluetooth.

10. Sennheiser Ambeo

The best of the best 10 Score 100

+ Perfect sound

+ Lots of functionality

+ Sound at high volume

- price

If only the best of the best is good enough, then Sennheiser has the perfect soundbar for you. The Ambeo has an impressive collection of speakers with an excellent sound. Sennheiser also knows how to create a convincing surround effect without using rear speakers. The high purchase price is certainly justified, but floorstanding speakers may be a better choice with this budget.

Tips for your soundbar

A soundbar requires little space, while with this audio system you significantly improve the TV sound. In addition, you can usually also play audio from other sources, such as a smartphone, tablet, Blu-ray player or game console. How do you find a soundbar that fits your needs seamlessly?

An sound bar is in short an elongated loudspeaker. For this particular format is an important reason. The device is always a combination with a television. Due to the narrow design, you can place a soundbar in front of or under the television. Since smart TVs often hang on the wall, manufacturers often supply wall mounts. In this way you position the elongated speaker neatly under the television. A soundbar is a simple solution to improve the tinny sound of the television. Voices sound less shrill and are therefore more intelligible, while special effects of films and series come into their own. The sound is much fuller across the board. A soundbar is therefore a price-friendly option for film lovers who do not have room for a home cinema set.

subwoofer

The Achilles heel of a soundbar is almost always the bass reproduction. Understandable, because because of the slim housing, the woofers present have too few muscles to provide the bass with sufficient depth. The better soundbars contain a separate subwoofer for that reason. You place it somewhere on the floor, after which the sound contains a lot more bass. You will experience explosions and wild chases a lot more intensely, while music also gets more depth in the low. Usually the subwoofer is connected wirelessly to the subwoofer, although there are also audio systems that use a cable. No room for a subwoofer? There are also slim models that you can effortlessly slide under the sofa or coffee table!

Connection options

Fortunately, connecting a soundbar to the television is no higher math. In most cases, you use an HDMI cable for this, after which the soundbar takes over the sound from the television. More luxurious soundbars have multiple HDMI inputs to connect, for example, a game console, Blu-ray player and/or media streamer. Is there only one HDMI port available and do you want to play the sound from various audiovisual sources?

The arc (audio return channel) technology offers a suitable solution, provided this function is available on both the soundbar and television. As soon as you connect a game console, Blu-ray player or media streamer to the television, the picture tube sends the audio signal to the soundbar. Depending on the product, optical, coaxial and analog connections may also be available. With this you can, for example, connect a CD player, DVD player or television without an HDMI arc port.

Bluetooth and WiFi

For music lovers, a soundbar with Bluetooth support has a lot of added value. In that case, you stream songs directly to the soundbar from a smartphone or tablet. For example, consider a Spotify playlist or audio files stored on the mobile device. There are also soundbars with a wireless network adapter and/or wired network connection. Then register the audio system on the (Wi-Fi) network. Many manufacturers make a mobile app available for Android and iOS users, so that you can control the audio system via the home network. For example, you can adjust audio settings with the mobile app and you have access to various online music services. In addition, you may also be able to access music servers within the home network, such as a NAS or PC with audio files.

Multi-room audio

Soundbars with a network function usually support the multi-room audio technology. As the name suggests, you can listen to music in multiple rooms with this. From the mobile app you decide which songs you want to play in which room. For example, walk from the living room to the kitchen, while the same song is playing in both rooms. The use of multiroom audio is often proprietary. For example, if you use a soundbar from Samsung, you need other suitable speakers from the South Korean manufacturer to enjoy 'multi-room sound'. There are two universal solutions for multi-room audio via Google Cast Audio and Apple AirPlay 2.

Surround Effects

Soundbar manufacturers often mention all kinds of hip surround formats in marketing communications, for example dts virtual:x or dolby atmos. That is actually strange, because apparently a soundbar consists of only a single speaker. If you study a soundbar more thoroughly, however, you will discover several small speakers. Manufacturers try to direct these so-called audio drivers (to the side or upwards) in such a way that they more or less create a surround experience through reverberation. That works reasonably well with the better soundbars, although a home cinema set with separate surround speakers offers a more realistic surround experience. You can optionally expand some soundbars with (wireless) background speakers!

Frequently Asked Questions

Where do you place a sound bar?

There are two options for placing a soundbar. If the television is on a piece of furniture, you simply place the elongated speaker in front of the picture tube. It is important that the housing is not too high, otherwise you may block the signal from the remote control. If the television is hanging on the wall, it is obvious to also mount the soundbar on the wall. There are often screw holes on the back or the manufacturer supplies wall mounting. In some cases you have to buy an optionally available bracket.

How do you connect a soundbar to the television?

In the vast majority of cases, you connect a soundbar to the television with an HDMI cable. A condition is that the television and soundbar can handle arc (see next question). Is there no support for this technique or is an HDMI port missing? In that case, you lay an optical cable between the two devices. Please note that the intended soundbar contains an optical input, because that is not always the case.

what is arc?

Written in full, arc stands for audio return channel. This technique can send images from an amplifier, receiver or soundbar to the television via a suitable HDMI port, whereby the sound is directly returned from the television. In this way, the soundbar receives sound from television channels, TV apps (Netflix and NPO Start) and audiovisual sources that are connected to the television. In the latter case, consider, for example, a Blu-ray player or TV decoder. Almost all recent soundbars and televisions support arc.

What remaining connections does a soundbar contain?

In addition to an HDMI arc port, you will often find extra HDMI inputs on the better soundbars. You can connect a Blu-ray player, TV decoder or game console to this, for example. The image sends the soundbar to the television via the HDMI arc output, while the device itself processes the audio track. If you connect an audiovisual source with support for 4K resolution, check whether the soundbar can handle it. Many soundbars also have an analog connection to connect playback equipment. Finally, you may also find a USB port to play music from an external storage carrier.

How do you play music on a soundbar?

If the soundbar has WiFi or a wired network connection, you can stream music from online services such as Spotify or Deezer. For operation, you usually use an app on a smartphone or tablet. In addition, most products support bluetooth. This allows you to send music directly to the soundbar from a mobile device. Alternatively, you may be able to connect a USB storage device with audio files or a CD player to the soundbar.

What is multi-room audio?

Multiroom audio literally means 'multiroom sound'. Suitable speakers, receivers, music streamers and therefore also soundbars are connected to each other via the (wireless) network. For example, listen to the same song in the living room, hall and (utility) kitchen. To use multi-room audio, you usually need products from the same audio brand. Exceptions are products that support Google Cast Audio and Apple AirPlay 2.

What is Google Cast Audio and Apple AirPlay 2?

Google Cast Audio and Apple AirPlay 2 are two protocols that allow you to stream music. Many recent soundbars support one or both protocols. Conveniently, you can combine suitable playback equipment from different brands within a multi-room audio network. Google Cast Audio support is built into several apps, including Spotify, Deezer, SoundCloud and Tidal. You can control devices with Apple AirPlay 2 support from an iPhone, iPad, Mac or PC.

What is Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS:X and DTS digital surround?

Movies that contain such a surround format can be played by the soundbar without murmuring. Using virtual surround techniques, audio waves bounce off the wall or ceiling, making the sound slightly more spacious. For practical reasons, it is nice if the intended soundbar accepts Dolby Digital and DTS, since many films support these formats.

What is aptx?

Aptx is a Bluetooth standard that allows you to send music in high quality to an audio system. The condition is that the smartphone or tablet and soundbar used can handle this standard. You also need good flac files or a subscription to a high-quality online music service like Tidal. When you use aptx to play music, the quality is comparable to that of CDs.

What is the difference between a soundbar and soundplate?

In your search for a soundbar you may also come across names such as soundplate, soundbase or soundbase. These concern audio systems where you position the television on top of the device. As a result, the picture tube is a few centimeters higher. An advantage of such products is that they already have a subwoofer built in because of the deep sound box. Also take into account the maximum carrying weight.

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