The best soundbars for rich sound on the TV

These days, our TV screens are getting bigger, the picture quality sharper, and the images more detailed and colorful. Those hoping for an immersive home theater experience with their Full HD or 4K TV are often disappointed by the sound that accompanies our favorite shows and movies. That’s because inferior sound systems are often hidden in the increasingly narrow frames of the flicker boxes.

A soundbar is the remedy: The stylish speaker bars not only enable cinema-like top sound in your own four walls, but also nestle inconspicuously under the screen thanks to their slim design. Whether for TV, movies, music or gaming – soundbars are conquering our living rooms and creating a cinema atmosphere that transports us to other worlds. If you’re still looking for a suitable soundbar for your own TV experience, atechbook has compiled the 5 best soundbars in each price range – because good sound shouldn’t be limited by your wallet.

What to look for when buying a soundbar?

A quick research shows: The prices of soundbars are often far apart and, especially as an audio novice, confusion quickly arises due to terms like HDMI or TOSLINK, which stand for standard connections of technical devices.

Initial questions such as “What size is the living room and what does your TV screen measure?” already bring some clarity to the matter. For a smaller to medium-sized room, a soundbar with 300 watts of power is already sufficient, while an audio system with 500 watts should be considered for additional square meters. The width of your TV also plays a role, because the soundbar should not protrude beyond the screen for a balanced overall picture.

Other simple questions are: Is the focus more on listening to music, watching movies, gaming or perhaps all at the same time? Is surround sound enough or should it absolutely be Dolby Atmos? And above all: How high is the budget? atechbook has found the best soundbars for every budget and presents them below.

The test winner over 1000 euros: Samsung HW-Q950A/ZG

The test winner in terms of all-round sound in the over 1000 euro category is the Samsung HW-Q950A/ZG soundbar. Although it exceeds the actual definition of a soundbar with its four individual components, the Samsung HW-Q950A/ZG makes up for it with pure horsepower of 616 watts and fabulous 15 speakers. The subwoofer’s automatic bass calibration creates excellent room acoustics in any room size and, in combination with Dolby Atmos surround sound technology, ensures outstanding sound. If you have a bit more space available, you can already buy a cinema system with separate speakers in this price range. However, those who are looking for compact quality will currently not find a model that is more convincing.

Features of the Samsung HW-Q950A/ZG

Samsung HW-Q950A/ZG
Product type Soundbar with subwoofer, Dolby-Atmos-Soundbar, Alexa-Soundbar
Components Rear speaker
Broadcast Wireless (WLAN, Bluetooth)
Connections Digital inputs: HDMI, HDMI x2, optical (TOSLINK)
Digital output: HDMI
Audio features A/V sync, equalizer (DSP), external subwoofer
Video functions HDR passthrough, 4K passthrough
Surround formats DTS:X, Dolby Atmos, DTS Digital Surround, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby True HD
Comfort features Learning function (control via TV remote), voice assistant, HDMI eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel), HDMI CEC, smarthome control
Voice assistant Alexa, Bixby
Dimensions 1,232 × 69.5 × 138 mm (W × H × D)
7.1 kg
Scope of delivery Batteries, user manual, remote control, HDMI cable, material for wall mounting, power adapter

Advantages and disadvantages of the Samsung HW-Q950A/ZG

Pro

  • + Excellent sound quality and room acoustics.
  • + Compatible with Alexa, AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect
  • + Dolby Atmos

Contra

  • – Somewhat dust-sensitive fabric covering
  • – Unfavorable placement of the display

Premium soundbar under 1000 euros: Sonos Arc

Slim and extremely chic, the Sonos Arc in white or black ducks under almost any screen. A bit inconspicuous at first glance, the soundbar from the Californian manufacturer convinces with its simple handling: It is ready for use within a few minutes with the help of the Sonos app. In addition, 11 digital amplifiers, 8 woofers and 3 tweeters are hidden in the Sonos Arc and thus ensure a strikingly pleasant sound. Other interesting features include night mode to curb loud noises and voice enhancement that accentuates conversations. Music lovers in particular will get their money’s worth with voice-controlled access to almost any music streaming service.

Features of the Sonos Arc

Sonos Arc
Product type Soundbar without subwoofer, Dolby Atmos soundbar, Alexa soundbar
Broadcast Wired, kabellos (WLAN)
Connections Digital inputs: HDMI, optical (TOSLINK)
Digital output: HDMI
Additional connection: LAN network (Ethernet)
Audio features Night mode, equalizer (DSP), 3D sound
Surround formats Dolby Atmos
Comfort features Voice assistant, smartphone remote control compatible, learning function (control via TV remote control), sensor buttons, software update possible
Voice assistant Alexa, Google
Dimensions 1,141.7 × 87 × 115.7 mm
6.25 kg
Scope of delivery Remote control, warranty card, batteries, HDMI cable, power cord, optical audio cable.
Comments AirPlay 2

Advantages and disadvantages of the Sonos Arc

Pro

  • + Immersive 3D sound with Dolby Atmos
  • + Voice control via Alexa and Google Assistant
  • + Simple operation
  • + Also works well for playing music

Contra

  • – Price a bit high
  • – Only one HDMI connection

Soundbar and receiver combo under 1000 euros: TechniSat Sonata 1

Here, the name says it all: The TechniSat Sonata 1 comes with plenty of technology hidden in the casing of a soundbar. Because the audio bar is so much more than just a slim sound system. Although the TechniSat Sonata 1 does without subwoofers, it is also a hard drive receiver that enables HDTV reception via cable, satellite and antenna. If the sound depths of the TechniSat Sonata 1 aren’t booming enough, you can turn it into a surround system by purchasing a subwoofer like the Klipsch R-120SW. TV fans who like to record programs, watch pay TV, and access media libraries and streaming portals will find great joy in this soundbar combo.

Equipment of the TechniSat Sonata 1

TechniSat Sonata 1
Product type Soundbar without subwoofer
Components Receiver, FM radio, digital radio/DAB+ radio
Broadcast Wired
Connections Analog inputs: AUX 3.5 mm jack (line-in), audio (cinch), composite video (cinch)
Digital inputs: HDMI, USB
Other connections: CI+ slot x2, antenna connection, hard drive slot, card reader, LAN network (Ethernet).
Audio features Equalizer (DSP)
Video functions 4K passthrough, HDR passthrough
Surround formats DTS
Comfort features Internet access, playback from external hard drives, USB recording (PVR ready), USB host
Dimensions 101 × 7.3 × 18.0 cm (W × H × D)
8.5 kg

Advantages and disadvantages of the TechniSat Sonata 1

Pro

  • + Soundbar and hard disk receiver in one
  • + Good sound quality
  • + Expandable to a surround system
  • + Smart TV functions

Contra

  • – Extras like subwoofer expensive
  • – Not wireless

Best value for money under 500 euros: Sonos Beam (Gen 2)

In the sub-$500 price range, the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) places itself as a more affordable alternative to the Sonos Arc, which costs twice as much. Chic in black or wonderful in white – the soundbar promises a room-filling and natural sound thanks to Dolby Atmos technology and 3D sound, even if a subwoofer is not included. The manufacturer’s practical Sonos app makes the setup and all settings as easy as usual. You should definitely make use of the Trueplay technology, which automatically calibrates the speakers and adjusts them to the room conditions. If you have an Atmos-enabled TV, the surcharge compared to the predecessor model is definitely worth it and you invest in a compact audio bar with good features with the Sonos Beam (Gen 2).

Features of the Sonos Beam (Gen 2)

Sonos Beam (Gen. 2)
Product type Soundbar without subwoofer, Alexa soundbar
Broadcast Wireless, wired (WLAN)
Connections Digital input: HDMI
Additional connection: LAN network (Ethernet)
Audio features 3D sound, multi-room
Surround formats Dolby Atmos, Dolby True HD, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, PCM
Comfort features HDMI eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel)
Voice assistant Alexa, Google Assistant
Dimensions 651 × 69 × 100 mm (W × H × D)
2.8 kg

Advantages and disadvantages of the Sonos Beam (Gen 2)

Pro

  • + Clear voice reproduction and good sound quality
  • + Sonos app with Trueplay calibration
  • + Voice control via Alexa and Google Assistant

Contra

  • – No subwoofer included
  • – Only few improvements compared to the 1st generation

For those looking to save under 100 euros: Creative Stage V2

No doubt: The Creative Stage V2 is so affordable that it fits into the budget of almost every movie and TV fan. But what are the realistic demands on a soundbar under 100 Euros? Our everyday test shows that the Creative Stage V2 does not have enough power to fill more than a studio apartment or small living room with sound. Instead, it should be seen as a performance enhancer for the small to medium-sized TV screen, because this is where its strengths lie. It can just as well be connected to a desktop or act as a Bluetooth speaker by connecting to a smartphone. Especially those who like to watch movies and series with a lot of verbal exchanges will like the Dialog Mode, which puts conversations clearly in the foreground. All in all, the Creative Stage V2 places itself as a good budget model in small spaces.

Features of the Creative Stage V2

Creative Stage V2
Product type Soundbar with subwoofer
Broadcast Wireless, wired (Bluetooth)
Connections Digital inputs: optical (TOSLINK), USB-C
Analog input: AUX 3.5 mm jack (line-in)
Digital output: HDMI
Video functions WLAN, Bluetooth
Surround formats Rear camera 8 PM, front camera 12 MP
Comfort features HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel)
Dimensions 116 × 423 × 250 mm (W × H × D)
3.3 kg
Scope of delivery User manual, audio cable (3.5 mm to 2x RCA), without batteries, remote control, material for wall mounting, USB cable.

Advantages and disadvantages of the Creative Stage V2

Pro

  • + Suitable as a speaker for TV and PC
  • + Favorable price
  • + Easy to set up

Contra

  • – Only suitable for smaller rooms
  • – Music sounds a bit flat

Conclusion

Get sound on a grand scale: This is what soundbars promise and are establishing themselves on the technology market as a practical addition to the suboptimal audio systems of high-end screens in our living rooms. Those who find the purchase of a cinema system too expensive or space-consuming will find a good alternative in the elongated audio sockets.

However, as is often the case when buying a new technical device, the question arises as to how deep you have to dig into your pocket to get good quality with interesting features. Fortunately, well-known manufacturers bring soundbar models in every price range onto the market and thus enable every audiophile TV owner to experience the big screen in a small space.