If we want to turn our home into a real movie theater, we will need a large Smart TV with great image quality. But if we want a complete experience, we will need a sound bar that allows us to improve the poor sound that televisions usually offer. That is why we have decided to launch a sound bar and we may not know where to start. In this complete guide we are going to know everything we need to know to find the right bar for each user.
In the market we are going to find a wide range of sound bars, with all kinds of features and prices to choose from, so we may not know where to start and what criteria to take into account when searching. In fact, we are talking about devices with many features, that if design, power, connectivity… that can surpass us. For this reason, at Topes de Gama we are going to discover the keys that we must know in order to choose the perfect sound bar to turn our living room into a home theater.
- Differences between soundbar, soundbase and home cinema
- Why buy it?
- Differential factors
- Where do we put it?
- popular brands
- Buying a sound bar online
Differences between soundbar, soundbase and home cinema
Before taking out the card to buy a sound bar, it is important to be sure that we are dealing with the desired product. Well, although it may be a great option, we may not know of other possible solutions to improve the sound of our television, such as a soundbase or a home cinema.
And it is that if we have a living room with small furniture it is possible that we may be interested in a soundbase since it occupies much less than a bar. Or, it may happen that the room is very large and a sound bar falls short. In this case, we can opt for a complete home cinema to achieve real surround sound with a system of 5 or 7 speakers and the subwoofer. Although against it, it should be noted that for its correct assembly we will need to pull many cables around the room. So, unless we do it right, the aesthetics of the room can worsen considerably.
And it is that sound bars are positioned in the market as an intermediate solution between a soundbase and a home cinema, so it is usually the ideal solution in most cases. In terms of size, we find smaller and smaller bars and subwoofers. These are powerful enough to get loud and clear sound and offer compatibility with all major audio technologies. In addition, they are super easy to install, start up and manage, which is why it has become the preferred option for many users.
Why buy it?
As we have mentioned, current televisions can offer great image quality, but, on the contrary, they tend to falter in the sound section. In order to improve it, it would be necessary to change its aesthetics, with larger, thicker and unsightly frames, which goes against the market trend and what consumers are generally looking for.
This means that, in order to improve sound quality, combining it with aesthetics, the best option is to acquire a sound bar. There are many types and prices, and they are usually discreet, compact, elegant and very powerful , so surely there is one that can be adapted to the sound quality we are looking for and the aesthetics of our living room.
These bars can integrate various speakers and the necessary technologies to achieve a significant improvement with respect to the sound quality of the television. They allow to improve the sharpness and details of all frequencies, standing out for their clarity and the ability to emit surround sound. In addition, they can be hung on the wall or left under the TV .
If we are clear that we want to improve the sound quality of our TV with a sound bar, we must take into account a series of differential factors such as those that we detail below.
Size and weight
The size of the bar will be an important factor, especially since it will depend on the free space we have to place it . It is possible to find bars that range from 500 to 1000 mm long and weigh between 4 and 6 kilos. Ideally, its size is consistent with that of our television. For example, if our TV is 40 inches, it is equivalent to about 101 cm, so a 700 or 800 mm bar may be enough.
Another important factor is the design, as it must fit perfectly with the style of our living room. For this reason, we must know that we can find bars with different styles and designs. Whether they are rectangular, round or hexagonal, we will always be able to find the design that best suits the aesthetics of the whole. In addition, we can place it under the TV, hanging on the wall or on top of a piece of furniture so that it can always fit in the best possible way.
It is also worth taking into account the capacity of the bar to be able to process different formats of surround sound, as well as compressed sound and without quality loss. Here we can find compatibility with Dolby Digital in the cheapest options, such as Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD, 3D or Dolby Atmos in the most advanced sound systems. Also, if we are going to use the bar to listen to music, it is important that it is capable of reproducing sound without loss, such as the FLAC format.
This is not a key factor, but also a determining factor. The bars are capable of offering different sound systems. From a simple 2.0 in the cheapest, to others with multichannel output with 2.1 and 5.1 systems. In more specific and advanced cases we can even find 7.1 and 9.1 systems to achieve surround sound. In addition, they can include a subwoofer as a complement to improve the bass experience.
Power and consumption
Another important point is related to the power that the bar is capable of providing. This will also depend on the space we have, since it is not highly recommended to use a lot of power in small spaces. In general, in the bars we will use a low volume, about 20 or 30% of the usual volume, so it does not make sense for it to be very powerful and then use it at low power.
It is possible to find bars with very different power, from 70 W RMS to 700 W RMS. But neither should we be fooled by the numbers, especially in the cheapest bars. And it is that they usually inflate the power to give it a higher value, but, in exchange for distorting the sound at the moment that we approach the figures that they offer us, so it can become torture. For an average room of about 15 m2, it is advisable that it has at least about 100 W RMS in total. Above, and up to 25 m2, it is better to opt for one of 200 to 300 W.
Finally, it should be noted that the higher the power, the higher its electricity consumption will be, so abusing it can cause the electricity bill to skyrocket. Typically, they consume between 50 and 200 watts depending on the power. Even in standby mode, the consumption is low and can range between 0.3 and 6 watts.
Connectivity is a factor that has been gaining importance over time in sound bars, since they usually have wireless connections such as WiFi and Bluetooth. Ideally, it should contain the fair connections that we are going to need. For example, to connect it with the TV, it is best that it has HDMI with ARC so that they can combine information with each other. The optical input is also a good option and is usually chosen by the most audio gourmands.
However, connecting the bar with the TV via Bluetooth is not a good idea, since we may lose both quality and stability. This type of connection is ideal to link it with the mobile and take advantage of it to play music taking advantage of its power and sound quality, making it ideal for parties. Also great for connecting wireless headphones. And if we want to go one step further, WiFi can help us create a multiroom system.
Other connections that we can find are the USB port and the 3.5 mm jack input. The first can be used to connect a flash drive and play music, while the second allows us to connect our wired headphones to enjoy great sound quality without disturbing other people.
Where do we put it?
Once we have verified the different differential factors of a sound bar, now it is time to consider where we are going to place it. For this we must take into account factors as important as the size of the room, the elements that are in it and the viewing distance.
Sound bars work by bouncing sound off the walls, the size of the room is an important factor. If there is a lot of distance between the bar, the walls and the listeners, we will surely have a less forceful sound. In case there is little distance, it is possible that the sound becomes distorted or mixes different channels. In general, in the specifications that we find on the bar itself, it should inform us about the ideal size of the room for which the bar is recommended.
Since the sound from the sound bar bounces off the walls, it is clear that the distance between the two also plays an important role in getting the best audio quality. Ideally, the distance between where the sound bar is located and the side walls should be equally large on both sides, so that the sound bar is centered in the room. The optimal distances between the sound bar and the walls should be between 1 and 5 meters .
Another important aspect is the number of elements that are in the room. Ideally, there should be no objects between the sound bar and the side walls and ceiling of the room. This is because they can block sound or have a strong sound-absorbing effect, such as furniture, shelves, curtains, flower pots, etc.
The distance between the sound bar and the ceiling should be between 1 and 5 meters , but not more than 5 meters. The ceiling must be flat and horizontal, not a sloped or vaulted ceiling. In addition, the bar must always be placed below the television, whether it is hung on the wall or on a piece of furniture, but always below. The distance from the sound bar to the TV should be at least 10 cm. And the seat should be centered in front of the soundbar and keep a minimum distance of 2 m from the soundbar .
Once we have seen the characteristics of a sound bar that we must take into account, as well as where to place it, we are now going to focus on which are the main brands, which can also become a differentiating factor, especially if we have a better or worse experience with one than with another.
Undoubtedly one of the great brands related to sound. It has sound bars of different qualities and prices . We can find bars with cheap 2.0 systems with virtual 3D surround sound and integrated subwoofer, to more advanced models with compatibility with DTS Virtual: X, wireless subwoofers, voice compatibility with Alexa and a sound system of up to 7.1.2 channels. They generally have simple and elegant designs.
The renowned Sennheiser brand has positioned itself for several years as one of the best sound-related manufacturers on the market . Their quality is recognized in all areas of the audio world and they are used in all types of recording studios. Although it is specialized in professional audio, it also has a good variety of products within the domestic sphere. Especially, it focuses on the mid and high range, offering compatibility with the highest sound standards on the market.
Another of the most prestigious brands on the market can be found at Bose, a specialist in all kinds of devices related to audio , among which we can find sound bars. In general, they usually work in the medium/high and high range, so they are not cheap devices, but they do incorporate the quality that one can expect when buying a product of this brand. Their designs are very elegant, compact and very premium.
The Japanese firm is a benchmark when it comes to consumer electronics as it is capable of successfully covering different fields, including audio with headphones, speakers and sound bars. It is possible to find mid-range or high-end products, since we can find devices starting at €200 and in the most extreme cases exceeding €1,200. Its bars usually have at least a 2.1 system, also reaching 7.1 and it is compatible with sound systems such as Dolby Atmos and DTS: X.
Another brand specialized in sound is JBL, so products such as sound bars cannot be missing from its catalog. These are characterized by being easy to use and to connect to our television with a single optical or HDMI cable. We can also use them to stream music from the phone via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi thanks to built-in Chromecast, Airplay and Alexa MRM support. Technologies such as Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital and JBL Surround Sound with MultiBeam Sound Technology are capable of bringing a true cinematic experience to our home, making everything we see or hear more epic, more exciting and more powerful. Their devices start at around €200 and can cost up to €1,000 in the most advanced options.
The Korean company is also a leader in the field of consumer electronics, being able to offer products for all types of users . With its sound bars we can extend the speaker system of our television and enjoy better sound quality. It has devices of all ranges and prices so that we can find the one that best suits our needs. We can find bars that start at €100 up to more advanced models that reach €800, offering compatibility with the most advanced sound technologies.
Buying a sound bar online
Once we know everything we need to know when choosing our ideal sound bar, it’s time to buy it. For this we must also have different purchase factors such as the variety of prices according to the store in which we look, the opinions of the buyers, the possibility of buying a bar second-hand or from past years, and the best times to obtain it at the price more economical.
Variety of prices
We must know that, although all sound bars have a PVP established by the brand, this may vary depending on the store that sells it. On the Internet we can find all kinds of reliable stores such as Amazon, El Corte Inglés, Worten or PcComponentes, to give a few examples. If we look at them, we will surely see how the price can vary significantly between one and the other, so it is good to look and compare beforehand to make sure that we are going to buy it at a good price.
all kinds of opinions
Reading the opinions of other buyers can always become one of the most important points prior to the purchase. And it is that no matter how good specifications a product or references of its brand have, it may not turn out as good as we expect, so knowing what those who already have it think can help us decide . On pages like Amazon or PcComponentes it is possible to find a good number of opinions that should always be reviewed to avoid bad surprises.
Used sound bars?
If we are considering the possibility of buying a second-hand sound bar, this can be a good option to save a few euros compared to its price being new or with the same budget to be able to opt for a superior model. If the purchase is from an individual, we must make sure that it is in good condition, works perfectly and that it has an invoice so that we can use it as a guarantee in the event of any problem.
In addition, there are pages like Amazon or Ebay that sell refurbished sound bars, and they can also be a great option, since they are products that have been reviewed and must work perfectly like a new product, except for some insignificant aesthetic feature that deserve for the savings.
Current or from other years?
Sound bars are not products that lose value over the years, since the same model can be on the market for many years. The great advantage they have is that their price is reduced over time, however, their characteristics can be equally useful. Therefore, opting for a model with 2 or 3 years on the high-end market can surely allow us to save a few good euros. If it is also a reputable model and with great satisfaction from its buyers, we are facing a safe purchase.
Wait for the discounts
Without a doubt, to get the best possible price, it never hurts to have control of the different periods where the big stores take the opportunity to offer their best prices . Beyond the winter and summer sales, there are other times to take into account, such as Black Friday in November, Amazon’s Prime Day in July or the Days without VAT that are usually released several times a year by stores such as El Corte Inglés or Worten. In any of them it is possible that we can find the desired sound bar at a cheaper price.
To finish, once we have known everything necessary that we must take into account before buying our sound bar, we are going to review, by way of conclusion, the most outstanding aspects that we cannot forget.
- Remember that we must ask ourselves if we really want a sound bar and the reasons why it may be interesting to the detriment of other options such as a home cinema.
- Take into account its characteristics , such as how many sound outputs we want it to have, if we need it to have an external subwoofer, compatibility with different audio technologies, power and its connections.
- We must also take into account where to place the bar, the size of the room and the distance from other elements and from the place where we are to listen.
- We must know the main brands on the market , those that can guarantee us a quality product according to the price we are going to pay for it.
- Finally, everything related to your purchase , from possible stores, price differences, the possibility of buying it second-hand or taking advantage of different sales periods or special offers.