Soundbars are one of the easiest ways to elevate your content-watching experience without making any significant changes to the existing setup. Soundbars come in different shapes and sizes and with varying configurations.
You may find one with merely the bar, or you may find a 9.2Ch. It also means that whatever be your budget, you will find one that suffices your love for content in its unique ways.
If we talk about the best soundbars in 2020, there are a lot of factors that can shape the choice that you make. Instead of pointing out one single product, we thought it would benefit you if we list down best across several categories.
- Top soundbar for TV – Sennheiser AMBEO
- Best budget soundbar – Sony S100F
- Best soundbar for music – Bose Soundbar 700
- Best soundbar for movies – Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2Ch
- Best wireless soundbar – JBL Bar 5.1
- Best all-in-one soundbar – Sonos Playbar
- Best value-for-money soundbar – Sony HT-S350
- Best smart soundbar – Sonos Beam
Top soundbar for TV – Sennheiser AMBEO
|13 high-end drivers|
|Five high fidelity drivers built-in|
|Sennheiser Smart Control App|
- Minimalistic and impressive build
- Sound output is top-notch
- Supports multiple audio codecs
- The bass or the lack of it
- Heavy and pricey
If simplicity coupled with great sound is what you are looking for in your TV, the Sennheiser AMBEO 3D soundbar is the one for you. It is a standalone bar, which means you won’t get any satellite speakers or subwoofer. But what you get is premium sound, and that can be confusing given what the competitors are doing to reach its level.
You get side-firing speakers, fully parametric EQ, room correction, and dialogue enhancement features. Alongside, you get the home-grown Sennheiser tech, which elevates its performance a few notches. If we talk of the downside, the company is known to not give enough emphasis to bass, and it is no different here. You will miss the rumbles and the fast bass when you watch a movie or play an action game.
Best budget soundbar – Sony HT-S100F
|S-Force PRO Surround|
- Works well for dialogue-based content
- Ultra cheap
- Minimal distortion at highest volume levels
- Not enough bass
- No support for DTS:X, Dolby Atmos, or 3D Surround Sound
If you want to upgrade your TV audio output and have no budget for it, the Sony HT-S100F is the one for you. Given its ultra-low price tag, it is hard to expect anything, but it performs better in most regards. The first thing to talk about is the build, and the faux leather and metal grill ensures that it looks premium.
If we talk about the sound output, the overall impact is neutral but slightly muddy. The lack of a dedicated subwoofer means that there is not enough emphasis on bass, and that can be a deal-breaker for some. Another issue is that you cannot customize the sound profile. Thankfully the neutral sound profile makes it more than usable in most scenarios.
Best soundbar for music – Bose Soundbar 700
|Multiple connectivity options|
|Adaptiq Audio Calibration|
|Alexa voice control|
|Optional bass module and surround speakers|
- Wide soundstage
- Solid build quality
- Not enough sub-bass
- Full HDMI ports missing
The best soundbar for music currently would be the Bose Soundbar 700. It has a wide soundstage, and the instrument separation is clinical. The open sound makes the soundbar capable of playing a broad genre of music effortlessly. The side-firing speakers give you an immersive feeling and enhance the overall feel.
But the lack of subwoofers makes the sub-bass non-existent, which reduces the overall impact of the product. The overall loudness is on point and should be enough for most users. For most users who feel that the lack of a subwoofer is a gripe, you can get an additional one, and the setup becomes almost perfect.
Best soundbar for movies – Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2Ch
|Two 10 inch wireless subwoofers|
|Dolby Atmos & DTS:X support|
|4K HDR pass-through|
- The unique configuration
- Surround sound is terrific
- Well-thought-out design
- Compression at higher volume levels
If you are a music freak, the best soundbar that you can buy is the Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2Ch. It is a serious contender to replace your traditional home theatre setups. It has a unique 9.2.4 configuration, and that makes the surround sound breathtaking. You get two wireless subwoofers and four satellite speakers whose placement is customizable.
The sound profile is dark, and the bass tends to fall over the treble. If you are not a fan of its default setup, there are several EQs and treble presets available to tune the sound to your liking. It doesn’t take away the fact that the soundbar is the best for movie fans who love to hear every minute detail.
Best wireless soundbar – JBL Bar 5.1
|Two detachable speakers|
|3 HDMI inputs|
- The bass is fast and rumbly
- Surround sound
- Overall clean design
- Latency issues creep in
- Music output lacks life
If you are out in the market looking for a wireless soundbar, we suggest that you have a look at the JBL Bar 5.1. The build is mostly plastic, which is of good quality, and the main body comes wrapped in a perforated mesh. You just need to plug it in, and it is ready to play. The satellite speakers connect seamlessly, and the calibration part was natural.
Talking about the sound output, it gets pretty loud without much distortion and focuses on voice throughout. Being a 5.1Ch proposition, you get ample surround sound effects, and all you need to do is place the rechargeable speakers behind yourself. On the downside, the music reproduction is sub-par, and you face latency issues. You will also come across a significant difference between the bass and the mids during playback.
Best all-in-one soundbar – Sonos Playbar
|Nine Class-D digital amplifiers|
|Six mid-woofers to match the sound with the visuals|
|Multiple connectivity options|
- Easy to set up
- Easy to upgrade
- The sound output is vibrant and carries a lot of details
- HDMI missing
- No DTS support
The standalone Sonos Playbar carries a massive soundstage and is a significant improvement over the speakers in most TVs nowadays. The brand is known for a certain kind of sound output, and it too exerts the same feel. The design is unique, and some choices may not suffice everyone in the room.
But the setup is easy, and the sound is entirely different from the typical soundbars. Plus, the Sonos ecosystem and multi-room facilities are an excellent addition and makes the investment worth it. Unfortunately, it will require a smartphone or tablet app to operate and won’t connect to TVs that lack optical connectivity.
Best value-for-money soundbar – Sony HT-S350
|S-Force PRO Surround|
- Powerful sound output
- Setup is easy and clean
- The asking price makes it a sweet deal
- No DTS or Dolby Atmos support
- Lacks good Bluetooth codecs
The Sony HT-S350 is an appropriate choice for people living in small apartments and requiring a lot of power. Even though the carrying box is awkward, the setup is relatively straightforward and easy. You get a remote and a subwoofer as a part of the package. The sound is neutral, and the subwoofer lends sub-bass to the music, which is a welcome addition given its budget pricing.
Even though it lacks any useful Bluetooth codecs, it more than makes up for it in other ways. It is a big improvement over your regular TV speakers, and those who are looking for something relatively inexpensive and clutter-free to set up should buy it.
Best smart soundbar – Sonos Beam
|Four full-range tweeters|
|Five Class-D digital amplifiers|
|Five far-field microphone array|
- Build is superb
- Balanced sound
- Center-heavy makes it appropriate for most situations
- Sub-bass is missing
- Full HDMI is missing
Even though many smart soundbars are capable, when you talk of the best, there is only one name, the Sonos Beam. It has Alexa and Google Assistant directly integrated, and we expect more assistants to join in the future. When you add ARC HDMI and CEC control, you get an excellent product that is capable of handling all your smart devices.
The Sonos Beam is much more than that. The audio output is equally capable and suitable for most content, be it music or movies or podcasts. The side-firing speakers mean that you get an immersive sound experience, and the soundstage is wide enough to suffice your needs. On the downside, the missing height channels ensure that its surround sound capabilities are limited. Even though it gets loud enough, there is compression taking place at higher volumes.
As we mentioned above, there are a lot of factors which can decide which soundbar to get for your family. The first and foremost would be the size and the ancillaries that it carries. If you have a space constraint, we would recommend a standalone or a 2.1Ch setup. Ports and connectivity is another critical area to consider. Make sure that the source and the soundbar are in sync with regards to connecting.
Whatever be your deciding factors, getting one of the above choices won’t disappoint you. The products listed are across budget, so you will always find one that suffices you. Let us know which soundbar you are planning to get for yourself.