- Soundbars enhance your home entertainment system by providing better sound quality and surround sound capabilities.
- The Sony HT-A7000 is a top choice with its smooth bass, optimized frequencies, and compatibility with smart systems.
- The Samsung HW-Q990C offers a well-balanced sound experience with its 11.1.4 channels and is ideal for larger TVs.
- The JBL Bar 1300X provides spatial audio with sound coming from above, behind, and directly at you.
- The Sonos Arc is perfect for those already in the Sonos ecosystem and features 11 internal speakers for a 3D listening effect.
When it comes to your home entertainment system, you don’t want to skimp on your sound system, especially for film buffs. Is dialogue getting lost? Does the soundtrack sound tinny? Need more bass for those car chases and action scenes? This is where a soundbar comes in.
The built-in speakers of your TV are limited in their range and quality. Adding a soundbar to your setup can significantly enhance your viewing and listening experience. The great thing is that there are tons of options to choose from to fit your needs.
Soundbars aren’t new technology — they’ve been around since the late 90s. The first soundbar was introduced by Altec Lansing in 1998 as a multichannel soundbar. Since then, the evolution of sound equipment has seen many improvements, including audio quality, portability, and wireless connectivity.
These are 7 sound bars that can elevate your home cinema entertainment system.
- #1 Best Overall: Sony HT-A7000
- Best Budget-Friendly: Sony HT-G700
- Best Surround Sound: Samsung HW-Q990C
- Best Spatial Sound: JBL Bar 1300X
- Best for Sonos Ecosystem: Sonos Arc
- Best for Large Rooms: Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9/2 eARC
- Best High-End: Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Max
#1: Best Overall: Sony HT-A7000
- DTS:X, Dolby Atmos, Vertical Surround Sound Engine
- 360-degree sound mapping
- Converts audio to 7.1.2 Ch automatically
- 4K/120 and 8K passthrough for the best visuals and gameplay
Trusted brand Sony delivers strong audio quality in their single-piece HT-A7000 Soundbar.
First released at the end of 2021, this sound bar continues to wow customers two years later. The HT-A7000 is designed with two beam tweeters, two up-firing speakers, and five front-facing drivers. You can also add dual subwoofers (sold separately) for a customized set-up.
What does this all mean? This soundbar produces smooth bass, optimizes low and high frequencies, and expands surround sound capability.
The Sony HT-A7000 also supports smart systems. It’s compatible with Apple HomeKit, Google Home, and Amazon Alexa, making it easy to use with your preferred home devices. Set-up is simple, with two HDMI sockets, a USB port, and additional ports like eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel), analog, and optical inputs.
The HT-A7000 packs powerful performance and controlled audio quality, perfect for any home entertainment system.
Check out the HT-A7000 Soundbar on Amazon.
|The Sony HT-A7000 operates with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X sound formats for quality audio.
|The Sony HT-A700 sometimes struggles with deep or low bass audio.
|Stream and connect the HT-A7000 with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Spotify Connect, and Apple Airplay 2.
|Subwoofers are not included and will need to be purchased separately.
|Integrate your sound bar with Google Home and Amazon Alexa systems.
Best Budget-Friendly: Sony HT-G700
- 3.1ch Dolby Atmos DTS: X and Vertical Surround Engine
- Immersive AE (Audio Enhancer) upscale audio closes to 7.1.2 for each sound
- The wireless subwoofer delivers a powerful bass sound
- Sound modes to customize listening
- Multiple easy connections
If you’re on a budget and still interested in solid sound performance, the Sony HT-G700 will get the job done.
This speaker is not only affordable but it supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X sound formats — which isn’t always guaranteed, even with high-end sound bars. It’s a relatively compact soundbar, perfect for 48-inch TVs and larger. For those who want a soundbar that features streaming abilities, you’ll have to look elsewhere. However, there is Bluetooth connectivity as well as an HDMI port.
The Sony HT G700 price point is much lower than other sound bars on our list. For that reason, it doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles that some of the speakers have. It lacks high-end height channels for its speakers, meaning the sound doesn’t quite reach listening areas to produce full, immersive sound.
It also isn’t equipped with voice control connectivity to Amazon or Google Home systems. However, if you’re looking for a responsive sound bar for an affordable price, you can’t go wrong with the Sony HT G700.
You can find the Sony HT-G700 on Amazon.
|The Sony HT G700 supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.
|This speaker isn’t designed with up-firing speaker channels, which can limit the reach of audio.
|The subwoofer produces deep bass and delivers clear speech and dialogue.
|The sound quality is a bit lacking during swelling soundtracks, explosions, and musical scores.
|The Sony HT G700 allows Bluetooth connectivity.
Best Surround Sound: Samsung HW-Q990C
- Wireless Dolby Audio rear speakers Included
- SpaceFit Sound Pro
- Adaptive Sound
- Game Mode Pro
- Airplay 2
- Alexa built-in
Samsung’s HW-Q990C soundbar and a top choice for Dolby Atmos surround sound playback.
This applies to listening to music or watching movies, as the HW-Q990C offers a well-balanced sound experience. This is in part due to the 11.1.4 channels across the main soundbar speaker, two rear speakers, and a subwoofer. That’s a lot of sound packaged in an affordable bundle for the value and quality it provides.
The overall sound performance is smooth, whether it be at low frequencies or high trebles, audio quality is consistent. The Samsung HW-990C is ideal for TVs that are 55 inches or larger, as the main soundbar measures 48.5 inches and weighs 50 pounds.
To get the most out of this speaker, it’s best to mount the sound bar on the wall so sound can properly bounce off and around the room. Thankfully, it comes with a wall mounting kit for easy installation.
Check out the Samsung HW-Q990C Soundbar on Amazon.
|The Samsung HW-990C provides excellent sound quality and range, with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support.
|The HW-990C is on the more expensive side of the spectrum of surround sound speakers.
|This sound bar comes with a wall mounting kit for easy installation.
|This soundbar does not have 4K 120Hz HDMI passthrough.
|You can connect your sound bar through Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Best Spatial Sound: JBL Bar 1300X
The wireless satellite speakers of the JBL Bar 1300X provide the best spatial audio and a versatile setup.
What exactly is spatial audio? Similar to surround sound, which directs sound from left to right, spatial audio also creates an effect of sound coming from above, behind, and directly at you. This technology helps immerse you in a movie theater atmosphere with high-quality sound performance. For a more dynamic experience, detach the wireless speakers and place them around the room to fill in gaps.
Within the body of the JBL Bar 1300X is a 12-inch subwoofer. The size alone provides rich sound quality able to fill larger rooms and spaces. That being said, you can use this speaker in smaller homes, but the sound may be too powerful and loud for a confined space. If you’re interested in an immersive audio experience with a flexible setup, the JBL Bar 1300X is a great option to incorporate into your home cinema.
Take a look at the JBL Bar 1300X on Amazon.
|The JBL Bar 1300X supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X for high-quality audio performance.
|The JBL Bar 1300X is one of the more expensive sound bar speakers on the market.
|For a flexible listening experience, you can detach the two wireless speakers and place them anywhere in your room to fill in gaps in the soundstage.
|The detachable speakers need to be regularly charged.
|The HDMI ports don’t support 4K 120Hz pass-through for high resolution and frame rate.
Best for Sonos Ecosystem: Sonos Arc
- Features Dolby Atmos
- Enhanced Trueplay tuning technology
- Support for AirPlay 2 as well as many favorite music streaming services
- Blends in beautiful underneath a TV
As a leading manufacturer of audio equipment, Sonos’ Arc Soundbar is a great addition to your Sonos home ecosystem.
With just a few steps in the companion Sonos app, you can easily hook up the Sonos Arc to your other Sonos speakers. This is a good option if you’re looking to build on your existing audio system. The dynamic sound quality and all-in-one construction put this ahead of fellow Sonos speakers, like the Sonos Beam and Sonos Ray.
The Sonos Arc features touch-sensitive controls and LED status lights. Its unique cylindrical design also gives it a sleek and modern look. This soundbar is voice-controlled with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant and is compatible with Spotify Connect, Apple Airplay 2, and the companion Sonos app.
By using 11 drivers — including several up-firing speakers to bounce sound off your walls and ceiling — the Sonos Arc delivers clear and strong audio with Dolby Atmos support.
Discover the Sonos Arc soundbar on Amazon.
|The Sonos Arc features 11 internal speakers with Dolby Atmos support, creating a 3D listening effect.
|Wall mounting fixings are not included and need to be purchased separately.
|Easily integrate the Sonos Arc with your Sonos home ecosystem, through smart setup in the companion Sonos app.
|Due to its size (45” long), the Sonos Arc is ideal for larger TVs and TV stands and may not fit on smaller-sized TV stands.
|Use voice control devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant to operate the Sonos Arc.
|Although the Sonos Arc has Wi-Fi connectivity, it doesn’t support Bluetooth.
Best for Large Rooms: Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2 eARC
- Four 2-way rear speakers
- 10" wireless subwoofers
- Spatial Surround Elevation SSE Technology
- 3 advanced audio processing engines
Large rooms need a sound bar that can fill the space, and the Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2 eARC can do just that.
Thanks to its built-in dual subwoofers and four satellite speakers, this speaker provides smooth bass reproduction. You can also move the satellite speakers (meaning they aren’t attached to the soundbar) to fill in gaps within the sound stage.
The spatial surround elevation feature comes with three presets to choose from based on the size of the room. This helps the speaker adjust its settings to your specific needs. Adjusting the settings of the subwoofers allows you to enjoy balanced frequency responses with clear dialogue and music.
You can also stream audio from devices through Bluetooth connectivity and utilize Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant with voice control.
Check out the Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2 eARC on Amazon.
|The Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2 comes with the main soundbar and additional subwoofers and satellite speakers. This allows you to customize the speaker location to fill any soundstage gaps in your room.
|The size of the Shockwafe Ultra 9.2 eARC sound bar and speakers requires excess space.
|The Shockwafe Ultra 9.2 supports Dolby Atmos for a surround sound experience.
|The cost of the bundle package of the Shockwafe Ultra 9.2 sound bar and speakers can be expensive.
|Additional subwoofers and satellite speakers are wireless for easy setup and connection.
Best High-End: Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Max
- Deep 30Hz bass
- Delivers 3D surround sound via advanced room calibration
- Built-in equalizer and 3 bespoke AMBEO 3D technology modes
- Fully compatible with Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and MPEG-H
- Built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Chromecast, AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, and Tidal Connect
The Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Max delivers a balanced and rich sound performance, perfect for home cinemas.
Even though it’s Sennheiser’s first consumer speaker, it doesn’t fall short of dynamic audio performance and 3D sound. The Ambeo Soundbar Max is packed with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X and 3 high-end drivers to produce top-tiered audio quality. Low frequencies remain full and delivered with gusto. There’s also a broad soundstage to provide depth and a dynamic range of dialogue and music.
For the best surround sound effect, it’s recommended that you mount this speaker to the wall instead of placing it on your TV stand. If you do, the experience produces the same effect as if you’re sitting in the movie theater watching your favorite film.
This quality audio doesn’t come cheap, though. You also want to consider the size of the Ambeo Soundbar Max (measuring 50” long and 40 pounds) and whether or not you can accommodate the sound bar in your setup.
Take a look at the Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Max on Amazon.
|With 13 high-end drivers built into the Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Max, this speaker delivers natural tones and rich sound quality.
|The Ambeo Soundbar Max is one of the most expensive soundbars on the market.
|The Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support provides full surround sound effects.
|Due to its large size and weight (around 40 pounds) mounting the soundbar is challenging and not easy to maneuver.
|This speaker is compatible with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.
How to Pick the Best Soundbars: Step-by-Step
Choosing a sound bar for your home cinema or entertainment system is a big decision. There are certain criteria to keep in mind before buying speakers.
- Sound quality
- Tech compatibility
Keep reading to learn more about each of these elements.
Without a doubt, sound performance should be top of mind. The goal is to find a soundbar that meets your home theater needs and provides a great listening experience. Most soundbars on the market are designed with Dolby Atmos technology. This is a type of technology that creates a full, immersive sound experience like one you’d get at a movie theater. Sound should provide a 3D effect, with sound and audio coming together from all sides — left to right, behind and in front of you, even from above.
Purchasing a soundbar for your home is going to be an investment, no matter which one you choose. It’s typical to find high-end sound bars by popular brands priced much higher than others. Of course, for a higher price, you’re more likely going to get better features, sound quality, and an ideal listening experience. That’s not to say that cheaper soundbars won’t perform well. The key is to find a speaker that meets your home theater needs but also keeps you within budget.
Soundbars come in all shapes and sizes, and some may be more appropriate for your home than others. Your available space will dictate the size of the sound bar that would fit best for your entertainment system.
If you have a large room or area, you’re probably faced with less restriction than a room with minimal available space. Some soundbars are one-piece speakers, while others contain multiple satellite speakers and subwoofers. Consider where you’d like to place the sound bar and keep that space in mind while shopping around.
Unfortunately, soundbars aren’t made equally, so specific features and technology will vary. Not all soundbars are equipped with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity. Similarly, not all sound bars have HDMI ports, which may limit your ability to use that particular speaker.
Take a look at your current entertainment setup and make note of what types of connectivity you need. If you’re also concerned about voice control capabilities, through devices such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, you’ll need to narrow your search to ensure you’re looking for products that include these features.
What to Know Before Buying Home Theatre Soundbars
As mentioned above, not all soundbars come with the same features. Many are designed to connect through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, but not all speakers are equipped for both. If a true wireless connection is important to you, check the type of connectivity to ensure it’s compatible.
The same can be said for the power source. Many operate through a power cord plugged into a power source. Although this is the most common power source it can lead to too many cords cluttering up your home theater. You may be able to find rechargeable or battery-powered sound bars, depending on the brand and specific model.
Just remember you’ll need to recharge the sound bar and additional speakers for optimal performance and use.
Using Soundbars for Home Theaters: What It’s Like
Incorporating soundbars into your home theater and entertainment system is a great way to enhance your viewing and listening experience. Many are simple to set up and operate and you can easily connect them to your TV through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
With so many soundbars available, it comes down to your personal preference and desired features. Whichever you choose, it’s a worthy investment toward your at-home theater experience.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Maxx-Studio/Shutterstock.com.