Best soundbar for TV 2022


Best soundbar for Samsung TVs

Samsung HW Q950A


Why choose a soundbar for your setup?

There are two sides to this question – why choose a soundbar at all, and why choose a soundbar over a surround sound system.

Well firstly, choosing a soundbar at all is a way of massively improving the sound quality over the TV’s speakers. TVs are thin, and their primary job is to make sure everything looks incredible. But for sound quality you need a bit of depth – nothing necessarily huge, but enough space to pack in directional speakers.

Otherwise, the sound is flat. You might not notice it if you’ve never used a soundbar, but TV speakers just can’t get beyond that static, single layer of sound. As soon as you try either a soundbar or a surround sound system, you’ll really notice just how much more layered and realistic everything sounds.

They’re more powerful too, and while you need to bear in mind the neighbors, there’s nothing like cranking up the settings during high-octane movies and games and feeling completely surrounded by epic sound.

So that’s why you’d choose a soundbar over a TV. But what about surround sound systems?

Surround sound systems are pretty impressive. You get multiple speakers to place around the room, and each speaker is pretty sizeable too.

However there are some drawbacks. A lot of homes just plain won’t have the space to fit speakers in different locations around a single room, and even when you do, you can expect to pay a hefty cost if you want a good system with multiple speakers.

Bearing that in mind, a soundbar is a great compromise. You only need a space in front of (or below) the TV, and potentially a spot for a separate subwoofer. And while some soundbars are expensive, they’re not as costly as the best surround sound systems by some distance.

A soundbar is therefore a great choice for a lot of people who just want a much better experience without a lot of complicated setup.

Are soundbars worth it?

Absolutely soundbars are worth it. The great thing about soundbars is you don’t have to be an audio expert to really appreciate the difference they make. They’re powerful, crisp, and detailed – helping to really elevate the audio of everything you watch and play.

Even if you don’t tend to play many games or watch big action blockbusters, a soundbar will improve the overall depth and sharpness of everything. Even if you only watch the news, or reality TV, you’ll still notice just how much better even simple voices will sound.

And they’re often great for music too, so if you just want to host a party with your playlist, a soundbar will do a great job of bringing the room to life.

How much should I spend on a soundbar?

In reality, there are three price brackets for soundbars, and what you want to get from your soundbar will determine how much you should spend.

You can get a cheap soundbar for $100-300, but for that price you shouldn’t expect a huge jump in quality. What you will get is a boost in audio power. Everything will sound a little better, but it won’t be super-crisp and you won’t get some of the amazing features that can really immerse you. At this price range, your priority should be any extra features too, such as streaming services that the soundbar can add.

From around $300 to $700 you’ll start noticing a real difference in sound quality with everything you watch, but you’ll still be limited by the number of channels. Expect powerful, sharp sound but you likely won’t get any amazing surround sound effect.

And then from around $700+ you’ll start getting into serious sound quality territory, with the best soundbars generally costing between $900 and $1400. For the price you pay, you’ll be getting virtual surround sound through multiple channels, special tech that can incorporate your TV’s speakers into the system, and plenty of other useful features to enhance the overall viewing and gaming experience.

They may be pricey but you’ll truly be wowed by just how good they are.

Where to position a soundbar?

Soundbars are designed to be placed centrally, below your TV. They will act as the center channel of your audio, and if they have multiple directional speakers then they will base their sound on being located centrally.

But the question is – do you put your soundbar on a TV stand, or do you wall mount it?

If your TV is on a stand then it makes sense for the soundbar to also be on the stand. A lot of soundbars have a slim profile and can sit directly below the TV, but for TVs with low stands or for chunkier soundbars you might need a stand with additional shelving.

With a wall-mounted TV you’ve got a little more flexibility. If the TV is mounted high, then you probably don’t want the soundbar directly below it – so it could still sit on a stand. Whereas if the TV is at mid-height then you can get a really clean finish by wall-mounting it just below, especially if you’re only using one cable to connect the soundbar to the TV.

Soundbar mounts are easy to find and to mount, and are nice and discreet.

Ultimately as long as the soundbar is central, you’ll get the best audio performance – everything else is a design choice for your room.

Best soundbar for TV: Understanding the specs

Here are the key spec that you should be looking for when choosing your soundbar.

The one that you’ll probably see referenced most often is Dolby Atmos capabilities. Dolby Atmos is a 3D surround sound codec that programs and splits sound to create an immersive experience.

It can distinguish where a sound should be coming from, and bounce it around the room so that you feel like you’re sitting within the scene – imagine a helicopter flying above you, or crowd sounds at the big game to the left and right while the action takes place centrally.

For a soundbar to work properly with Dolby Atmos, it needs channels that fire upwards for that vertical sound. Some will still only work on a 2D plane around you. So keep an eye out for soundbars that have up-firing channels.

And on the subject of channels – more channels means more definition between different sounds. This is what helps to separate each different type of sound, and make sure it’s projected around the room in the right way. More channels means a more immersive experience because you’ll hear different sounds coming from different places.

The number of channels isn’t the same as the number of speakers, but they are related. Soundbars will use 1-2 speakers per channel depending on the direction.

Another key tech to look out for is HDMI passthrough. Ideally, if you’re using a Blu-Ray player or a games console, you should be connecting those to your soundbar and then using the HDMI passthrough to then send the audio signal to the TV.

But not all soundbars have passthrough tech. Where they don’t, you’d instead connect your console or player to the TV, and then connect the TV to the soundbar – which means you’re relying on your TV to preserve the audio source and not flatten the data.

Ideally you’ll want a soundbar with HDMI 2.1 passthrough if you’re gaming, as this will mean you can still send 4K content at 120fps to the TV without losing picture quality.

Finally, keep an eye out for manufacturer-specific tech that allows you to use a TV as an extra set of speakers. Normally, if you’re using a soundbar, your TV’s speakers are disabled. But both Sony and Samsung have their own tech which uses the TV as a central channel and the soundbar as additional channels, meaning you get more speakers, more power and more definition to your sound.

Best sound for TV in 2022

Sonos Arc

Sonos Arc

HDMI input (ARC), optical digital audio to HDMI converter, Bluetooth, Ethernet port, 802.11b,g Wi-Fi, Apple AirPlay 2, IR receiver