Soundbars always have been a great complimentary item with a TV which makes your entertainment so much more better. Thus, we came up with an in-depth review guide regarding the Best Soundbar 2020 to help you choose the best. The hassle of having several different speakers plus a subwoofer is complicated whereas a soundbar offers a great surround system in just one device. Some sound bars also come with wireless subwoofers so you can get better bass.
But before we start with the reviews we would like you to know the basic features which make up the sound bar and different types of sound bars the market offers.
Types of Soundbars
There are two types of sound bar designs :
Traditional Style Soundbar :
The traditional style sound bar really speaks for its name because it literally looks like a sound bar. It is a long speaker that is thin in shape and is most typically mated with a wireless subwoofer. There are different options for its placement, you can either mount it on the wall or go with the most common technique of placing it in front of your television set. The over all design of the traditional style sound bar is out of any trouble and doesn’t give any hassle but there is a drawback we have seen in some models of this design, it blocks the sensor of your TV which causes the issue of operating your TV comfortably.
Pedestal Style Soundbar :
The pedestal style sound bars are designed more in a modern way by making the design much more sleeker than that of traditional sound bars. They were first made by a company called Zvox but now a lot of companies manufacture them.The word pedestal means bottom or base, and that is the idea behind this style, they are made to be placed under your TV set making them look like a part of your TV instead of a separate device. Because they are placed below the TV there is no issue of the TV’s remote sensor getting blocked. But there is still a drawback with this style and that is the issue of the bass. This is because the pedestal style sound bar does not come with a subwoofer which cuts down its ability to produce a bass as good as traditional style sound bars.
So if you want a sound bar with a very powerful bass then we suggest you go with the traditional style, at least till they come with a pedestal style sound bar which includes a wireless subwoofer.
Basic Features of A Sound Bar:
All sound bars comes with these basic features :
Use TV as a switcher :
Sound bars come with few audio-only inputs, given at the back of the device, which is surprising because in today’s high tech times most of the devices we have are HDMI supported. But this is not a draw back of the design but it is done intentionally so the user connects all their devices to their TV and then connect the TV’s audio output to the sound bar. This is a good interaction design and helps saves the users time because now they only have to connect their devices to their TV instead of connecting them to both the TV and sound bar. There are some issues though with this user friendly design and those are :
- If your television set has a limited number of options for input then your sound bar will also be limited to connectivity. Like for an example if your TV set has only three options for input, it means you can only connect three devices. This issue can be solved by using an HDMI switcher but that would make things complicated which most people want to avoid.
- Some TVs decline the incoming audio signal to stereo instead of a true surround signal so when its connected to your sound bar you will get a sound system which is declined by your TV. The problem even occurs if your TV outputs a Dolby Digital signal but your sound bar doesn’t read it because it doesn’t have a Dolby Digital decoder.
But even with these few drawbacks people still prefer a TV switcher. If you just have an audio output on the back of your sound bar then you don’t have to worry about the number of input options.
Built In Bluetooth :
This is one of the best feature sound bars offer. A lot of people have music stored in their phones or tablets so a built in Bluetooth is really what they would need. Now almost all sound bars come with built in Bluetooth which lets the user connects it to their phones or tablets. This lets you listen to music directly from your device instead of first connecting it to the TV. If your sound bar doesn’t have a built in Bluetooth you can connect an adapter to it which makes it works like one, but then there are already few limited options for input. Almost all models of sound bars manufactured since 2013 have this feature so there is hardly a chance your sound bar won’t have a built in Bluetooth.
This was something to help you understand a sound bar better, now we’ll have give you a review on the best sound bars we selected for you but before that we have listed down how we have done our review to help you understand more on what capabilities we have reviewed these innovations.
How do we rate soundbars ?
We brought 36 models to our National testing and Research Centre where experts tested on each one to see which one is best in terms of performance.
What do the experts look for while rating :
This is an important question for people who want to know on what basis really are the products being rated, so for your satisfaction we have mentioned here all the things our experts look for. The rating is done on the over all performance of the model which includes the sound quality and picture quality for models with video players, the rating mainly focuses on how much its user friendly and how much skill is put into its manufacturing.
- Sound Quality :
Sound quality includes the accuracy of tone, reproduction of decent sonic details of the front speakers, center channel speaker, subwoofers and surround speakers. The rating of sound quality is done by using its own auto speaker setup function and by adjusting its own pre tone settings and tone controls, if there are any given, to check the best sound quality.
- HD Picture Quality :
To check the HD picture quality we have trained experts who rate the picture quality on the basis of clarity of picture and color accuracy of HD progressive scan signal of 1080p. For this a blu-ray content is played on HD TV from HTIB system’s blue-ray player. All signals are routed via HDMI connection.
- Up Converted DVD Picture Quality :
To check the DVD picture quality we have trained experts who rate the picture quality on the basis of clarity of picture and color accuracy of up converted HD signal of 1080p. For this a DVD content is played on HD TV from HTIB system’s blu-ray or DVD player. All signals are sent via HDMI connection.
- 480i DVD Picture Quality :
To check the DVD picture quality we have trained experts who rate the picture quality on the basis of clarity of picture and color accuracy of standard definition signal of 480i. For this a DVD content is played on a CRT TV from HTIB system’s DVD player. All signals are sent through a S-video connection, if not available then through composite video connection.
- Easy To Use :
Rating is also done keeping in mind how easy the equipment is for the user to use, this includes setting up the system like its installation or placement. It is also important to make sure how easy the controls on the remote or front panel are, so it is not hard for the user to understand the control of its device. A survey showed that people don’t like to use technology based equipments which are harder to control because if you can not control a thing you bought spending so much money then whats the point at all.
- Skillfulness :
The rating of how skillful a sound bar is is done by seeing which features are present and which are absent.
- Number of Channels :
This is done to see the number of audio signal channels offered by the system. An HTIB system usually has 5.1 channels, front left and right, center, surround left and right, and the .1 which is the subwoofer. Some systems comes with 7.1 channels which are same as 5.1 but have rear surround left and right in addition. Some systems will need additional amplifiers to drive some speakers like subwoofers or rear surround channels.
- Number Of Speakers Supplied :
This is done to see the number of speakers offered by the system. Most of the HTIB system comes with 5.1 speakers, front pair, center, surround pair, and subwoofer which is the .1. For a 7.1 setup some systems come with extra rear surround speaker pair.
Now we’ll begin with our reviews, each review has been categorized so you can have a better understanding:
1. Yamaha YSP-4300 Digital Sound Projector with Wireless Subwoofer
The Yamaha YSP-4300 is designed in such a manner that the sound bounces off the walls giving a surround system like feeling, this is done by using an arrangement of drivers. This is an amazing thing about this sound bar that it gives you the feeling of a surround system without several speakers mounted here and there.
The previous models of Yamaha, the YSP-4100 and YSP-5100 were pretty good as compared to the sound bars released at that time but the Yamaha YSP-4300 is something extra ordinary. In contrary to the former models this one comes with a subwoofer. Few people who are minimalist and like the sound bar because of its one single packaging might not like the extra box, but its a wireless subwoofer so you can place it anywhere out of your sight. Now that the bass is dealt separately by a subwoofer this makes the design of the sound bar more slim.
The shape is designed in such a manner that it can stride a TV pedestal stand or an IR repeater, which will stop it from getting in between your remote signals. The design is is simple and sleek and can easily become a part of your setup.
It just takes few minutes to set it up with the bundled mic attached, the Yamaha YSP-4300 has been calibrated to serve the best sound for its users’ listening position. As soon as you play a movie or any content you’ll notice how the sound fills up your whole room from the leading sides and create an engaging environment.
Talking about the performance of the subwoofer it gives an extensive bass which mixes up smoothly with the sound produced by the sound bar. If you are watching an action movie you’ll notice the bass gives a powerful bottom end feel to the scenes where its needed.
If you are a gamer then this will definitely live up to your expectations, the sound will fill up your whole room and you’ll experience the game more better, this will be a an amazing change for gamers who have been formerly using flat screen speakers. Its truly a great model for gaming because it adds detail to every sound track, playing action games or speeding games really makes the experience life like.
When it comes to music this model might disappoint you a little, its a good experience with this sound bar’s surround system like feel but that make sthe stereo signal processor a bit thick which results in adding quite a number of expansion, but that also creates timing, connectivity and focus.
It might not give the best when it comes to music but when it comes to other stuff especially movies then the Yamaha YSP-4300 does remarkably well. If you want to make your sound system more better then you can add HD audio decoding and 3D and 4k pass through of video, which will add up to the great performance of your sound bar.
You can also make your music sound better by keeping it on virtual surround mode and use your phone as a source, this is better than keeping it at stereo mode which dis balanced the range of tones so some notes and instruments are highlighted while some are pushed back.
2. Sonos – Playbar Soundbar Wireless Speaker
Sonos has designed their Sonos Play Bar TV in the same manner as they designed their module speaker system, that is keeping the design simple and refined. In terms of size the Sonos Play Bar is not as big as other sound bars, it is only 35 inches long which is good enough when it comes to placement. But when it comes to its weight than it is approximately 12 pounds heavier than the other sound bars, this is because of the six midrange drivers and three tweeters packed inside it, which also makes it 5.51 inches deeper where as normal sound bars are usually 2.5 inches deep. There are multiple options for the placement of this play bar, you can either place it under the HD TV or put it up on the wall below or above the speaker.
There are some drawbacks of the model like it does not come with a subwoofer, but you can purchase one from the market separately. Another problem is that it does not perform as a video hub as compared to most of the sound bars in the market right now, you have to connect everything to your HDTV first and then connect it to to the player through the digital audio cable. It does not even have a built in blue tooth, so you have to connect it to the TV or use Sonos applications to play any sort of audio. As mentioned above they have designed the architecture of the model quite simple, they have made it very minimalist by only giving few buttons on the side of the speaker, one power button and another one to adjust the volume. All the functions and features of the model are managed through Sonos mobile application, the status indicator light placed below the power button is the only visual you will see on the play bar.
Setup and Handling
For setting up the play bar the most important thing you would need is a single optical digital audio cable, which means people who have a TV which doesn’t have an optical audio output are bound not to buy this model. Once you have connected it to your TV via the digital audio cable the rest of the work will be done using the Sonos controller application, which is free and is available for iOS, android, Mac and Pc. For a setting up the Sonos Play Bar you’ll be needing a network to connect to, later there isn’t any need for you to stay connected. But there is a great benefit of keeping your play bar connected to the internet because when you are not connected you can’t freely control the sound system, while you are connected you can take guidance from the applications provided which help you better to deal with your play bar. There is a good thing that you can do is and that is program your TV remote, while setting up the play bar, to handle its volume controls.
Sonos Applications And Services
The extra stuff which comes with the play bar is actually the stuff which makes it much more worth it. The applications which Sonos offers will only benefit you by making your sound system so much more amazing. Using the apps is necessary while setting up the play bar, after that you don’t need them, but if you make use of them you can control your play bar better. There is an application which lets you play music by letting you sign in to your accounts for music services like Amazon Cloud Player, Spotify, Google Play Music, Beats Music, Pandora and many different famous services, if you are connected to the application it even lets you play music from your phone. The application has a good interface and is quite user friendly, you can easily reach up to your play list or library in different music services, it even lets you control the bass and sound.
Sonos has never let its users’ expectations down when it comes to audio and they have surely maintained the same level of expert with the Sonos Play Bar. While you are watching a movie or playing a game the play bar will give you surround system experience by filling the whole room with top notch quality of sound. It is not a 5.1 system and is quite small too as compared to other sound bars but it does play a very good role in creating a memorable experience for its user. We played some movies and noticed that even the tiniest of sound was caught and detailed by the play bar.
There is an application provided by the Sonos Play Bar TV which is used for speech enhancement setting, by using this application you can adjust the mid range volume and advance the clarity of dialogue. We noticed that when the application was not turned on we had some issues in understanding few dialogues because the voices got lost in the mix. Even though it does not have a subwoofer included then even it produces quite a good bass all by itself.
Sonos have always kept its name in the market for its remarkable innovations and the Sonos Play Bar has lived up to that reputation. It is user friendly and can very easily be set up, the model transcends at sound quality when it comes to both movies and music. What is a great advantage of having a play bar is that you can keep on adding things to, if you wish Sonos Play Bar to give you a complete home theatre feel then all you need to add are two Sonos Play:1 speakers and one subwoofer.
This model may have bound the user by giving most of the controls through applications but it fulfills all the needs. It may cut back on the blue tooth connectivity but it advances in other categories. It is the best option in the market, especially for people who are in to music because the Sonos Play Bar just know how to do it right. At the price it offers we don’t think you will find a better sound bar than this.
3. Paradigm Shift SoundScape Soundbar
Paradigm a while back brought their latest model of sound bar in the market the Paradigm SHIFT Sound Scape. Paradigm is a Canadian company and has an out standing reputation in the market for their remarkable innovations. As per the company’s reputation Sound scape has been engineered to deliver best performance for its users, the way this sound bar is designed and the features it offers makes it so much better than the average sound bars. Its better if we categorize Paradigm’s Sound scape as a luxury sound bar, and with great luxury comes great money. The Paradigm SHIFT Sound Scape is heavy on the pocket but if one doesn’t want to make any compromises on the attributes of sound nor wants to fill up their room with speakers then this sound bar is the best choice you can get and it is worth your every penny.
The price this model offers you are going to expect everything to be beautiful and perfect and you won’t be disappointed. The architecture of the Sound scape has been build beautifully and gives a luxurious look. The sound bar is heavy in size about 9.1kg. It is sheltered in a black cabinet which is gleamingly glossy, and has a curved shape on the back end and the angled sides. A frame work is done on the length of the sound bar with a black cloth which can be removed as well, but that will make the driver pattern visible which won’t give a good look. The dimensions of the Sound scape are as such that width is 1067mm and depth is 12rmm.
This sound bar would be best suitable with a 50 inch TV. For its installation, you can mount it on the wall with the use of the supplied bracket but you will need some heavy duty fixings for that because of its heavy weight. There is a LED display given on the front which informs the user of any information needed in big blue digits, the light of the LED display can be dimmed so it doesn’t become a distraction while watching the TV. A remote comes with the sound bar which lets you go through the menu, control volume and skip through inputs, but you’ll have to use it bringing it close to the sound bar.
Looking at the heavy price you’ll be disappointed a little when you take a look at the rear panel, because the number of option for HDMI inputs is less nor it supports Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio decoding, which is big shock because from sound bars like these people really expect these kind of features. It also lacks a USB port for high res music playback and a 3.5mm mini jack input. Though the Paradigm company makes up to these disappointment by offering two optical digital input, one coaxial input, analogue stereo input and a subwoofer output if the subwoofer given with it are not good enough for you. Paradigm offers a wireless subwoofer receiver which lets you connect it to any external subwoofer, you can place that subwoofer anywhere in the room without worrying about space issues.
Along with the amazing speaker technology Paradigm SHIFT Sound Scape offers a wide range of impressive features. The key features of this sound bar are as following:
- 4 x 4in woofers and 3 x 1in tweeters
- Built-in Bluetooth with apt-X
- Dolby Digital and DTS decoding
- Paradigm Virtual Surround
- Supplied wireless subwoofer receiver
It has a number of three isolated channels, one on the left one on the right and one in the center along with seven drivers which are individually powered by a separate amplifier channel. The channels on the left and right use a 4in cone bass woofer and a 1in aluminum dome tweeter. The channel in the center uses two 4in cones which hand the 1in tweeter. The design is bass automatic and made in such a way that the airflow is controlled well through the ports at the end of the sound bar. The bass drivers control the low frequency channel which work together as a subwoofer for frequencies below 120 Hz. For the lovers of music there is a blue-tooth in built for producing the best quality music. The remarkable performance of the sound bar’s frequency response and Paradigm virtual surround mode is the result of Class-D amplifier’s digital signal processing. This recovery platform circulates effects in such a manner that it gives the feel of a surround system, in advance to blend for the absence of posterior speakers.
Even though there are some inclinations with its audiophile, but other wise the installation and use of the Sound scape is very easy and handy, the model over all is quite user friendly. There is a one cable connection offered by the digital port which you can connect to your TV. The remote given with the sound bar is quite simple thought it lacks the main unit build quality but over all it is quite good. The buttons on the remote are of rubber and are aligned in a logical manner, in the center you have the blue-tooth controls and at the bottom you have devoted buttons for movies and music.
The size of the volume keys could have been bigger but they are still nice. You can also program your remote to learn commands from ither remotes which is pretty cool if you are used to of using some same commands on a controller for a while. The set up menu has a lot of options for the user to adjust the sound bar according to their liking, just hit the menu button on the remote and you’ll get a long list including bass, treble, loudness and surround settings, display options, subwoofer settings and a choice of two EQ settings for on-wall and shelf placement.
If Paradigm SHIFT Sound Scape’s performance can be defined in one word then it would definitely be astounding. It has a performance that is truly worth your every penny. We tried out some movies of different genre and we were blown by the amazing sound quality it produced. As soon as we played the movie our whole room was filled with loud and powerful sound like we have huge speakers installed in the room, that good sound from a device which is compact is truly remarkable. The sound bar has an outstanding sensibility of scale and the dynamics are huge and crisp. Its excellent bass performance is what makes it so much better than the other sound bars in the market, we noticed this while watching an action movie, the punches ad kicks gave a real feel because of the powerful bass.
The company has given room to its users for adding an external subwoofer but you won’t really need it because the included woofers produce quite an astonishing sound quality and bass execution, so be ready to experience the best sound quality you can ever get. Your action movie experience can not get any better with this amazing sound bar which lets you live the moments playing in the movie, and what tops it up are the super food high frequencies. The subtle bass depth and top end clarity of the sound bar makes the understanding of dialogues so much clear and perfect, it actually gives you the feelings of the word. With the top performance of its virtual surround feature the sound is magnified ahead the environs of the sound bar, though the effects of the virtual surround don’t really spread beside or behind you but are restricted to only front of the room. But its so loud and magnificent that it really gets you involved into it no matter what.
When it comes to music sound bars don’t fall very well on the scale of satisfaction but Paradigm SHIFT Sound Scape will leave you surprised with its brilliant two-channel performance. We played some music on this sound bar via blue-tooth and our minds were blown by the amazing results we got. Each and every instrument gave its real feel, we could hear the energetic and snappy sound of the drums, the emotions of the piano chords etc etc.
What tops up all these amazing features of performance is marvelous reproduction of bass; the woofers are clever enough to keep balance of the bass grooves and blends everything together remarkably.
If you are looking for the best sound bar and you have a big budget then Paradigm’s Sound scape is definitely worth your every penny. From a lavish design to sensational sound performance Paradigm SHIFT Sound Scape is a whole package. It might fall back a bit because of the less HDMI ports and HD audio decoding but besides that it has everything that is needed to make an impressive sound bar. The home theatre experience that people expect from big speakers which fill the whole room with amazing sound is brought you by Paradigm in this compact design. The high end driver pattern just doesn’t make it good for movies but also for music. So if you are ready to spend some good amount of money then we would definitely recommend you this model.