The holidays are coming again and that means that many are looking for new home cinema equipment. The soundbar is still immensely popular, especially because this long speaker occupies little space. But, it is still wise to inform yourself well before you buy a soundbar. In this article we put five tips together for buying a soundbar.
What is a soundbar?
A soundbar is a narrow and wide speaker that can provide a wide sound field by integrating various small drivers into the housing. The soundbar is generally developed for and used in combination with a TV. Manufacturers often adjust their design to the design of their own TVs. The soundbar can be placed under or in front of the TV but can also be mounted on the wall with the right accessories. A soundbar is especially the ideal solution for those who have little space or just want to have a few speakers in sight.
Tip 1: Where to place the soundbar?
As mentioned above, you can place a soundbar in various ways. Think carefully about this beforehand, because not everything is always possible. Is your TV hanging on the wall and do you want to hang the soundbar below? Then make sure you have enough space and take into account the cabling that probably has to run over the wall. Do you want to place the soundbar in front of the television, on a cupboard? Then keep in mind that there is sufficient space for the television, take into account the foot of the television and ensure that the soundbar is not too high so that it can fall into the picture. If the soundbar covers the infrared receiver of the television, you can always purchase an infrared extender.
There is also a category of soundbars that can serve as the basis on which the TV can be placed. However, manufacturers all give their own name; a soundbase, a soundplate, a sounddeck, etc. The principle is the same with all these systems. The loudspeaker is a large base on which a TV can be placed. In the base, speakers are processed like in a soundbar, but often a subwoofer is integrated. It is an all-in-one system on which your TV should be placed.
Tip 2: How important are the low tones?
Not all soundbars that you can purchase are the same with the bass, the bass . Some soundbars have a built-in subwoofer, other soundbars come with a wired passive subwoofer and other soundbars are equipped with a wireless active subwoofer. The question you have to ask yourself is how important you find those low tones. Do you not have that much with you and do not you miss it during normal TV viewing? Then a soundbar with a built-in subwoofer is probably good enough. Do you want a little more impact while watching a movie or listening to music? Then an external subwoofer is recommended. The best solution is an active subwoofer, which in most cases is also wireless. This can be placed anywhere in the room, for optimal audio reproduction and also so that it also fits aesthetically in the room. An active subwoofer can in many cases also be further adjusted for a display that suits your taste.
Tip 3: How important is surround sound?
A soundbar is basically just one device that is in one position placed. The device can be equipped with various drivers (speakers) but in the base there are no separate speakers that are placed elsewhere in the room. This ensures that the average soundbar can not provide surround sound. The sound comes straight from the front and the sound field is at the most a bit wider due to the placement of the drivers in the soundbar. Many soundbars come with a feature called ‘virtual surround’, which is actually a DSP function. Simply put, this means that the soundbar can produce a (kind of) surround sound by means of software modifications to the sound. In practice, however, this often only results in a slightly wider and deeper sound field; Surrounding is never really the case.
However, today we see more and more (premium) soundbars that support Dolby Atmos and DTS:X and are also equipped with extra drivers for this. which are directed towards the sides and the ceiling. By means of the DSP and reflections, a surround effect can be created that is slightly closer to the real surround. If that is not enough then at various premium models you can now also choose wireless speakers that you can place in the back of the room. Samsung, Denon (Heos), Sonos and Sony, among others, offer the possibility to purchase wireless and matching speakers and plug them into the socket for a semi-wireless surround experience.
Tip 4: What do you want? to connect to the soundbar?
A very important point when buying a soundbar is how you want to use it. If you only want to watch television and you connect the soundbar to that, then this is not so important. Make sure you buy a soundbar with HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel) because that means that you only have to connect one cable so that the sound can move towards and from the TV. But, if you want to connect other equipment to it, then you need multiple connection options. Think of a Blu-ray player, a CD player, a game console or a digital decoder from Ziggo or KPN. The best way to connect these devices to your soundbar is the HDMI connection, so a soundbar with multiple HDMI inputs is preferable. If HDMI is not an option, you come to audio connections like optical, digital coaxial and RCA (tulip). So make sure you look closely at what you want to connect to the soundbar.
Tip 5: How do you want to operate the soundbar?
Virtually all soundbars are delivered today with their own remote control, but of course we want to have as few of these remote controls on the coffee table as possible. What is higher in the line-ups of manufacturers we see soundbars that can be operated via an app on your smartphone. In addition to operating the soundbar, these apps often offer the possibility to quickly and easily use music streaming services or display their own media. If you buy a soundbar with HDMI-CEC it is also possible to operate the soundbar with the remote control of the TV.
Bonus tip: Read the reviews before buying
It should not be missing in this list when you buy a soundbar; the audio quality. However, this is a tricky one because most of the soundbars can not be (properly) listened to at the average store. So you only realize at home how something really sounds. That is why we refer you to our soundbar reviews in which we make an expert opinion on both the sound quality and the ease of use and the features of the latest soundbars.