The best soundbars for TV shows, movies, and music

Finding the right soundbar for you is a big decision. Maybe you want to build the home theater system of your dreams. Or maybe you’re just looking for a more reliable and excellent-sounding audio source to accompany your TV.

The soundbars are a must-have device to complete most of today’s smart TVs. As the newest and best TVs get slimmer and slimmer they might look fantastic but this means there’s less room for built-in speakers. This means you require another way to do the advanced screen tech justice.

Take a look through the specs of any of the top TVs at the moment and you’ll see the audio doesn’t tend to be up to scratch. In our opinion, even the best Samsung TV could use an external soundbar to improve its audio performance.

That’s why we’ve created this guide to the top soundbars you can buy right now. We’ve picked the best of the best soundbars in the store for you. That’s because we don’t require you to spend a lot on a new TV display only for the audio to fall short as soon as you’ve got it all set up.

In the list below you’ll find our top of the best soundbars available for you to buy in 2020, from those that boast Dolby Atmos through to ultra-affordable plug-in-and-go models.

1. Sonos Arc

Sonos has a new surround sound solution and it’s comprised entirely in a single soundbar it calls Arc. While we’re not certain if the device gets its name from the HDMI interface it uses, the curved sound it pitches, or the fact that it is maybe, metaphorically, a vessel delivering powerful surround sound to the modern minimalist home, whichever the event this system is hell-bent on short-circuiting the surround sound game.

The Sonos Arc draws on Dolby’s latest TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus sound codecs to abandon the outstanding quality lossless audio found on cutting-edge Blu-ray disks and some of the leading streaming services. It then enhances the 3D soundscape using Dolby Atmos object tracks to bounce certain sounds off the walls around you so they feel like they’re coming at you from all angles.

While all this force sound complicated, the Sonos Arc setup couldn’t be easier, involving just a couple of steps on the smartphone app. The minimalist cable connections and all-in-one system construction add to this no-fuss feeling and streamlined aesthetic – giving it the best soundbar you can buy in 2020.

2. Samsung HW-Q90R Soundbar

The key feature of the SB362An-F6 – also referred to more helpfully as the “36-inch 2.1 Sound Bar” on most retailer’s websites – are its sheer value for money, costing just £149 in the UK and an even more competitive $139 in the US, where it was launched at the end of last year.

Despite the bargain-basement price, the SB362An-F6 is neatly designed, measuring 36 inches wide, and a streamlined 2 inches high, and 5.2 inches deep (914xx52x133mm). This soundbar will sit comfortably underneath the screen of most TVs, and Vizio also includes a pair of wall-mount brackets as well.

The SB362An-F6 isn’t ideal, but its exciting and imposing sound provides a real audio upgrade for your television’s built-in speakers. Virtual:X technology serves well too, helping to create a more immersive atmosphere while you’re watching. And while its strength is missing a few bells and whistles, there’s no doubt that the SB362An-F6 provides excellent value for the money.

3. Sony HT-X8500 Soundbar

Given that rival Dolby Atmos-compatible soundbars typically sell for twice the price, Sony’s HT-X8500 permits an easy reference – and it’s the most immeasurable soundbar with Dolby Atmos that won’t break the bank. Cost-cutting can be compared to connectivity and features but what’s genuinely confounding is just how great the HT-X8500 sounds.

The key to the HT-X8500’s gutsy performance is Sony’s proprietary Vertical Sound Engine – working with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X content, it creates a convincing illusion of wraparound sound that supports Dolby Atmos movies to play with a clear sense of expanded length and width.

The build quality and design of the soundbar are excellent, and its general audio performance impresses with its clarity and spatial presentation.

Overall, if you want a home theatre sound system that won’t dent your budget, this is the best soundbar for you.

4. Denon HEOS Bar

With its nine drivers are arranged in trios for left, center, and right channels and a virtual surround mode to create the myth of having more speakers around the room, the HEOS Bar is ample enough whatever you require it to be.

Blessed with such a balanced soundscape, this soundbar is fixed quickly proficient with music and has a consistently warm yet refined sound quality that’s all its own. The fact that it needs the possibility to squeeze the audio settings is not as important as we had feared.

The music sounds superb, especially lossless tunes, from which HEOS Bar drags out a lot of detail. However, we did notice on a couple of occasions that the first half-a-second was cut-off songs.

5. Sennheiser Ambeo 3D Soundbar

Sennheiser is famously known for its variety of headphones and professional microphones, but it recently extended its aims to home audio as great, with the introduction of its new Ambeo Soundbar.

The bulky soundbar is prepared with the latest audio technologies, including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X for surround sound audio, as well as Sennheiser’s own Ambeo ‘virtual 3D’ sound system. Sennheiser has its scenes placed on the home cinema market with the Ambeo, although the bar’s Wi-Fi connectivity means that it can grow up as a pretty awesome music system as well.

It’s not perfect – Sennheiser’s dependence on Google Home to provide Wi-Fi streaming looks like an odd choice – but the sheer sound quality of the Ambeo Soundbar ensures that it maintains its wallet-breaking price tag.

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