The Best Sound Bars For 2018
The Best Sound Bars For 2018
This will be an article covering the best sound bars for 2018. I’m going to be talking about a few things you want to look for in a sound bar first though, so if you want to skip ahead to the actual list, you can do so by clicking here.
What Is A Sound Bar?
So for most of us, a home theater is our preferred way of experiencing surround since it gives a deeply immersive and satisfying experience. But believe it or not, there may be times when this simply just isn’t possible.
So what happens when you’re unable to utilize a full home theater setup, (due to space constraints, budget, etc) but you still want a better audio than what your television can provide?
Enter sound bars.
A sound bar is quite the interesting creation to put it lightly. Inside each one, there’s usually a long row of individual speaker drivers whose job is to project the sound forwards. The number of drivers is going to of course depend on which one you get, but regardless the end goal is the same; providing the listener with rich, detailed sound.
Now you might be thinking that the idea sounds awesome, but may be curious as to whether it may or may not have any advantages over a typical 5.1 speaker setup? Surprisingly, the answer to that question would be yes.
What Are The Advantages Of A Sound Bar?
So the first major advantage a sound bar would have over a normal speaker setup has to do with the design of the bar itself. Being that all of the drivers are in this elongated enclosure, this ends up saving a lot of space.
This is great for those of you who may not have a lot of space, or don’t want speakers and/or wires everywhere. Rather than having speakers situated all across the room, everything is in this simple bar, making things a lot easier when it comes to set up.
Speaking of which, that actually brings us into the next reason why you may want to go with one. I can even say this from experience, that setting up a sound bar takes way less time than a surround sound system.
Not to mention, it usually comes with everything you need included in the package along with its own set of individual instructions; making it a much more beginner friendly option than the former. Yet another reason why this be an attractive option to people is that typically, a sound bar will not be nearly as expensive as a full on home theater setup.
Again this is speaking generally, since there are some extremely advanced sound bars out there that can definitely be up there, but those are the high end ones of course.
What Are The Disadvantages Of A Sound Bar?
Not everything is sunshine and rainbows with them however, since there are definitely some real disadvantages you need to be aware of as well. The first drawback again, stems from its design. While yes, having all of your speakers in one place does cut down on space, the issue with this is that they can only fire in one direction.
What that basically means is you lose out on a lot of the directionality of surround sound. So when watching a movie, while still immersive yes, you won’t typically get the enveloping sound field that makes the content satisfying; at least in general.
I do say in general because there are again, advanced ones out there that are able to create surround sound by some pretty creative measures, including actually bouncing sound waves off the wall so that they land directly where you ears are.
While amazing, not every sound bar will include something like this, so it’s really a matter of what you prefer. Another disadvantage is that if something goes wrong with it, chances are you’ll have to replace the entire thing. With a speaker, if something goes wrong, you can simply address that speaker.
How To Choose The Right Sound Bar
So now that you know whether or not a sound bar is for you, it’s time to actually go over some things you’ll want to consider when going with one.
I’ve talked about this many times before, but to reiterate, wattage is basically the amount of power a device is capable of. The higher the wattage, the more powerful it’s going to be. You’ll typically want to go with at least over 50 in really big rooms. Just keep in mind that this also increases energy consumption as well.
One That Can Adequately Cover The Low End
What do I mean by this? Well if you haven’t noticed by now, there’s one major difference between the average sound bar and a 5.1 system; the subwoofer! You know, that black box that provides the rumble and tactile feeling during movies?
While some definitely do, not every sound bar will necessarily come with a subwoofer included. In those instances, you’ll want to be sure that the one you’re choosing is able to cover the low end in its absence. How do you do that?
Easy! You can make sure the one you’re choosing can do this by looking at what’s called the Hertz. (Hz) This is a measure of how many vibrations per second speaker is capable of. To put it simply, the lower this number, the lower the bass.
So by getting one that’s capable of going as low as possible ensures that you’re getting a full range of sound. For soundbars without a subwoofer, if it can at least go into the 40 Hz range, then it’ll be just fine for movie watching. Honestly same thing with a subwoofer. As long as it can at least dig that deep then you’re golden.
One That Can Adequately Cover The High End
So conversely, you’ll also want to get one that is capable of covering the higher end as well. This is usually denoted by the term Kilohertz (KHz). With this number, the higher it is the better. Try to at least get one that is capable of going up to at least 20,000 KHz as this will give you the most detailed sound.
To help you out even more, you’ll typically see something like this 20Hz – 20,000 KHz; the number on the left is the Hertz or how low it can go, and on the right is the Kilohertz or how high it can go.
You want the number on the left to be as low as possible and the one on the right to be as high as possible. Easy enough right?
Try To Get One That Accepts HDMI
HDMI pretty much rules everything now a days, so it’s pretty rare occurrence for a modern day device not to support it. Still, it does happen. While it’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t, try to at least get one that accepts HDMI cables.
You May Want One With Bluetooth Capabilities
If you’re a lover of music, or plan on using your speaker for parties and that sort of thing, then getting one with Bluetooth would be an invaluable addition to consider. Being able to press a button and play music wirelessly from your phone is much more convenient then having to bother with wires every time.
Get One That Will Fit In Your Entertainment Area
Just as a heads up, some sound bars can be surprisingly long (some totaling over 4 feet in length) So beforehand with any one that you choose, make sure that you’re aware of the dimensions of both the bar you’re thinking about going with, and the amount of space you might have for it.
That way you aren’t caught off guard when it comes time to take it out of the box.
With all of this being said, the following list takes into account all of these things and more. Let’s see what they are shall we? 😉
The Best For A Very Small Room (8 X 10 feet) – ASIYUN Soundbar 10W
So for those of you out there with really small rooms, that still want awesome sound then this would be a really good one to go with. As long as your TV has an mp3 or audio out jack, then you’re good to go. Coming in at 15.8 x 2.2 x 2.4 inches, it is extremely compact as far as sound bars go.
This is particularly useful if you don’t have a lot of space for anything burly or unwieldy. It has Bluetooth, so playing music without wires is also easy to do. What I found particularly alluring about this this choice was the fact that it has a built in subwoofer.
So you get the low end benefits of a subwoofer, without having to worry about setting an external one up. Even more interesting, it happens to also have a built in microphone. This allows you to take calls straight from the sound bar.
As far as looks go, it’s pretty standard, with a metal grill protecting the drivers inside. The sound it produces belies it appearance; don’t let it fool you, this thing can put out some seriously satisfying sound.
- Small & manageable
- Built In subwoofer Is convenient
- Good sound quality
- Built in microphone allows you to make calls from it
- Bluetooth ability
- Not the best looking
- Using it in anything bigger than a small room leaves more to be desired
Overall, you won’t be disappointed if you plan on using this thing in smaller listening spaces. It’s an awesome little thing.
The Best For A Small Room (10 x 12 feet) – EIVOTOR 18”
If you happen to do most of your listening in a small bedroom or even dorm room, then honestly you should go with this one. The first thing that surprised me about this sound bar was the fact it uses horn technology.
Now for those of you out there who are familiar with the company Klipsch, then you’ll now that they employ this technology in their products as well. What is it though? Well you know how within the speaker there’s the driver that’s responsible for the output of sound?
Well with horn tech, what it basically does is place a specifically measured covering around the driver, which duckbills outwards around the edges. This allows the sound to not only cover a wider area, but it’s usually clearer as well. You can read about it here if you’re curious. https://www.klipsch.com/blog/how-do-horn-loaded-speakers-work
At 18 inches long, this is definitely one on the smaller side which I’m sure many will appreciate. Also, if your television has an audio out jack, then you can plug it in there as well to take advantage of its enhanced sound.
In terms of looks, it’s admittedly plain, but it’s not bad looking by any stretch. In fact, I really liked the metallic volume knob on the side which moved smoothly when adjusting the volume. This also supports essentially any device you can think of; so if you wanted to connect your laptop and watch Netflix through it, this is something you can do.
- Horn technology makes sound incredibly enjoyable
- Not insanely long, making it ideal for smaller rooms
- Compatible with many devices including your smart phone, laptop, and television
- No Bluetooth
- Average looks
- Could be better when it comes to the low end
It’s hard to fault it for what it doesn’t have when what it does have is executed so well. I’m sure you’ll like this one.
The Best For A Medium Room (14 x 16 feet) – TaoTronics Sound Bar
Now in an average room, this will certainly be the one you’ll want to go with. To start, it’s a little bigger than the previous entries on the list, clocking in at around 25 inches. While this isn’t huge by an any stretch, it still is a slight difference. But that difference also brings with it a few advantages, the main one being sound.
The sound on this one is surprisingly full bodied and warm, which contradicts what you’d think it would sound like. Another really cool fact about this one is the different ways you can connect it; you can choose to go either wired or wireless depending on what’s more convenient for you.
If you choose the wired route, then from there you can choose to either hook it up via an optical cable or an RCA cable. If you choose to go the wireless option, then it uses Bluetooth to connect to whatever device that can pair with it.
Pairing distance also goes up to 33 feet, so you won’t have to worry about always staying right next to it either. Even the remote it uses is pretty cool. Depending on which mode you’re using for the sound bar, the led on the remote will light up a different color.
This is a small detail, but it’s definitely an appreciated one. And to top it all off, you can either place the bar itself below the TV, or mount it on the wall.
- Multiple ways to plug it up
- Big sound in a little enclosure
- 33 foot Bluetooth distance
- Can be wall mounted
- Could go just a tad deeper
- No option to plug it up via HDMI
Still for what you get, this is definitely one that’s worth it, and worth checking out.
The Best For A Medium To Large Room (16 x 20 feet) – VIZIO SB2920-C6 29-Inch 2.0
In this size of a room where you nearly getting into large territory but not quite, you’re going to want something with a little more oomph. The Vizio SB2920 is that very thing that provides you with just that. Being able to go up to 95 decibels ensures that you get a very full and rich sound that makes movies come alive.
To put that into perspective, that’s nearly the equivalent of standing right next to a subway train in terms of loudness (that’s plenty loud) But the thing is it’s not just the loudness that makes it impressive, but the clarity of the sound as well.
It also offers Bluetooth so that you can enjoy your music without the hassle of wires. Even better is the fact that it utilizes DTS sound to give you the most realistic experience possible. Set up is also simple, and even comes with the cables necessary to plug it up.
Coming in at around 4 and a half pounds and 29 inches, it makes it manageable for those with not the most space in the world as well. It’s also very simplistic looking, but it definitely works.
- Easy to setup
- DTS sound gives a very lifelike and appreciable sound
- 95 decibels peak also ensures it can go plenty loud when it needs to
- Small enough to still be manageable
- Only goes down to 70 Hz, so unless you use a subwoofer, you may want a little more in the low end
- No option to hook it up via HDMI.
- No additional sound presets to further customize sound.
If you can disregard those few things, then this is a fantastic one to go with.
The Best For A Large Room (22 x 25 feet) – Yamaha YAS-107BL
When we start to get into the large room territory, this is where speakers need to be able to go loud, otherwise they’ll come off as disappointing. The Yamaha YAS-107BL does exactly that. Now before even that, the first thing you’ll notice is just how thin it actually is.
This is part of what Yamaha is calling its ultra slim design. This is to allow it to fit anywhere in your theater space with ease. However despite this small design, it still has managed to build in 2 woofers, 2 tweeters, and even 2 subwoofers all within this little enclosure.
The results of this is actually pretty astonishing. You get a crisp high, and convincingly ominous low that really melds beautifully together. Power is also something that this doesn’t lack, as it has over 120 watts of power.
What’s really interesting is the different modes available to further customize the sound. There’s even a clear voice mode that emphasizes dialogue over everything else; which would help in scenes where the characters may be whispering or talking really low.
It comes with Bluetooth as well so you do have the option of going wireless if you want. What’s also noteworthy about this one is the fact that you can hook it up however you want since it supports all the common connection methods like HDMI and optical.
The bar even has its own app that you can download to customize your sound even further.
- Built in subwoofer
- 120 watts of power makes for a very entertaining presentation
- Multiple sound modes
- Dedicated app for even further customization
- 35 inches puts it on the slightly longer side.
In all, it really is amazing, and I have no doubts you’ll love it.
The Best For A Very Large Room (Over 25 feet) – Samsung 2.1 Channel 300 Watt
If you haven’t heard of the name Samsung by now, then I genuinely don’t know what to tell you (do you even technology?) From smartphones to TV’s, they seem determined on being heads and shoulders above the competition. In some respects, they’ve managed to do this.
This sound bar made by Samsung is definitely one of the best ones I’ve personally tried. Maybe it might have something to do with the fact it can support a whopping 300 watts.
Couple this with the fact that there’s an included subwoofer (which also happens to be wireless), and you’re obviously bound to get something that you’ll be pleased with. The best way to describe the sound would be super crisp with no distortion, even at high levels.
Of course it comes with the usual features you’ve come to expect from a quality sound bar like Bluetooth and HDMI compatibility. But what’s odd about it is the fact it supports surround sound. But wait, aren’t sound bars incapable of doing surround sound?
Well as it turns out, not necessarily. By utilizing special processing technology, it can reflect sound in specific ways where it gives the perception of being all around you. It’s a really cool feature. The sound bar itself is 37 inches long and has an attractive design.
There’s even the ability for it to connect with certain Samsung TV’s without any wires. Now that’s convenience.
- 300 watts provides plenty of power for even the biggest of rooms.
- Wireless subwoofer
- Provides surround sound through special 3D processing tech
- Amazing sound
- A little on the larger side at 37 inches.
If you have a big room you plan on doing your listening in, then you should no doubt go with this one.
The Best Looking – Klipsch RSB-3
Klipsch is known for making good looking speakers, and the RSB-3 is no exception. Of course sound trumps all, but it’d be hard to ignore how good this one looks, especially when it sounds just as good!
The copper metal accents and metal grille give a premium feel to the sound bar, and the logo on the front of it adds even more. There’s a built in subwoofer that ensures you’re taken care of when it comes to bass, and the added tweeters help make the higher end sounds much more pronounced.
Even better is the fact that it’s 2.6 inches tall, so even if you place it under your TV, you won’t have to worry about blocking the screen. Bluetooth makes a welcome appearance as well, ditching the need for any wires.
It has a virtual surround mode that as the name suggests, creates the illusion of surround sound without the need for additional speakers. Surprisingly it works well, and is sure to impress you.
Rubber feet fixed to the bottom of the bar also ensures it can be placed anywhere without sliding, and the keyholes included as well allows for wall mounting. Of course Klipsch’s signature tractrix horns are here as well, allowing for a much wider dispersion of sound.
- Looks great
- Built in subwoofer for low end sounds
- Virtual surround sound mode
- 2.6 inch height ensures it won’t block the TV
- Great sound
- Subwoofer may not go necessarily as deep as a dedicated one.
Besides that, this is a great option that manages to combines looks and functionality into one great package.
The Best Value – Mhhdal TV Sound Bar
So if you’re someone who’s concerned with getting the absolute most for the most reasonable amount, then this would be the one for you. For starters, it comes with a lot of specialized circuitry to maximize the audio range it can exude.
This means that it’s actually able to handle the high and low ends fairly well. This is also due to the fact that it has a built in subwoofer and tweeter to further enhance this. A surprising thing this comes with is the latest version of Bluetooth, 4.2.
Now this isn’t all too common so it’s awesome to actually see it here. Reason being it brings with it an entire host of new features including triple the connection distance along with a stronger connection overall.
There’s also different EQ modes along with bass and treble control to further tailor it to your preferences. The LED screen on the bar also shows you whatever it is that your doing; be it going through the menus, or listening through a specific mode.
It’s pretty similar to a receiver in that regard, which makes it extremely helpful. When it comes to connecting it, you have a few options including aux, optical, and analog. It’s also on the longer side of things, coming in at around 39 inches so just be aware of that.
Even when it comes to looks, it has a premium look without you having to give an arm and a leg which is nice. It can even be wall mounted if you so chose. All in all, you really do get a lot here.
- Great sound which can be further customized
- Bluetooth 4.2
- Different ways to connect it
- Built in subwoofer and tweeter for high and low end sounds
- No HDMI connections
- 39 inches could be a little long for some people.
Again, here is one that to be quite honest, would be hard to dislike. It offers a lot of things that many would certainly enjoy.
My Personal Favorite – Yamaha YAS-207BL
This is one that’s different to say the least. Even though it’s just a sound bar, you wouldn’t be wrong for also considering it to be full fledged system. How can that be? Well it has something to do with Yamaha’s inclusion of DTS Virtual X.
If you’re curious about all the specific details then you can check it out here, but to sum it up, this allows it to move sounds around you as if that object were really there. Normally you would need extra speakers for this, but that’s where the virtual part comes in.
It uses special processing (and a bit of sorcery) to do accomplish this without all the extras. The result is probably unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. I know I’ve tried standard Dolby Atmos and DTS X, and this comes pretty darn close to accomplishing the same exact thing surprisingly.
What’s also really cool about this one is that it comes with a wireless subwoofer to provide that extra bass. This bar also supports HDMI so no need to worry about that. There’s even an app which allows you to control the bar with your smartphone (just in case you lose the remote.)
The bar itself is a little over 36 inches, and looks good but could be considered a little plain. Still what does it matter when it sounds this good?
- First sound bar to include DTS Virtual: X
- Can be controlled by smartphone
- Comes with a subwoofer
- Can be connected via HDMI
- 200 Watts of power
- On the long side
Simply put, if you have the room for it, then this is one I would get since it excels in any room.
The Best High End – Sonos 3.1 Entertainment Set
If you were set on getting something ultra premium, where money wasn’t an object, then I would go with this one. The most noteworthy reason has to do with Amazon Alexa.
Now for those that don’t know what that is, then this article might help, but to summarize, it’s an AI assistant that basically makes your life easier. You can do a bunch of things with it including control your devices, so being implemented in this soundbar means you would be able to control it with your voice.
So if it was a particularly loud scene, you could tell it what volume to go to and it would adjust. Of course there’s so many more things to it, but that’s just to give you an idea of what it entails. The included subwoofer is wireless meaning you don’t have to worry about cords.
Speaking of which, the bar itself is super easy to hook up with only 2 cords to worry about (one is the power cord itself) In terms of sound, this thing offers a clarity that’s hard to put into words. You really need to try it for yourself.
There’s even a night mode that makes quiet sounds louder, and loud sounds quieter. Talk about awesome.
- Unreal clarity
- Included subwoofer
- Amazon Alexa compatible
- Attractive design
- Customizable sound
- May not be the most accessible in the world
Still, if you have the means to, then I would no doubt go with this one.
Well that’s it for now, I hope you enjoyed this article on the best sound bars for 2018. Hopefully with this list, you now understand what a sound bar actually is, along with why it still has its place in home theater overall.
But of course, if you still have questions, don’t hesitate to comment or email me. Until next time, make it easy, keep it simple 😉