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Best Sound Bars: Shopping Guide to Small, Powerful Home Audio Devices

Big home theaters are no longer necessary thanks to small speakers and soundsystems

best speakers, best soundsystems, home audio, best home audio, home theater, audio accessories, rolling stone, sound bars, music tech, sound bar shopping guide

Small devices – like the Sonos Playbase, seen here – can shake your living room.

Courtesy of Sonos

Whether you’re trying to flood your sprawling basement for aural pleasure or just hook up a small apartment, small home audio devices speakers are changing the way you listen to music in your living room.

best speakers, best soundsystems, home audio, best home audio, home theater, audio accessories, rolling stone, sound bars, music tech, sound bar shopping guide

Courtesy of Vizio Smartcast

Cost Cutter: Vizio Smartcast

The All-in-One Package: This complete, affordable surround-sound system
includes two small satellite speakers, a sound bar and a ground-shaking
subwoofer. While the setup is more cluttered than some of its competitors, the
sound is huge. An accompanying app allows you to use your phone as a remote
control.

Little Buddy: MagniFi Mini

Courtesy of MagniFi Mini

Little Buddy: MagniFi Mini

Small-Apartment Option: This may look like an old digital clock, but it’s one of the most compact TV speakers on the market. The easily installable foot-long sound bar also comes with a separate wireless subwoofer that’s easy to move around the room. They work together seamlessly, and a remote allows you to switch between movie, music and sport modes.

The TV That Disappears: Samsung's The Frame

Courtesy of Samsung

The TV That Disappears: Samsung’s the Frame

Art Attack: If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t want a massive screen to be the visual centerpiece of your home, this is the answer. When you’re not watching TV, you can use an app to swap the screen for a picture, whether it’s your favorite Picasso or a classic concert poster. And when it gets dark, the Frame (a 4K UHD TV that comes in 55- and 65-inch models) will dim, so it seems less like a television and more like a wall-hung picture. “The image actually changes in different light,” says a Samsung rep. “It really looks like a piece of art.”

best speakers, best soundsystems, home audio, best home audio, home theater, audio accessories, rolling stone, sound bars, music tech, sound bar shopping guide

Courtesy of Sonos

Two-Inch Wonder: Sonos Playbase

For the Whole House: This discreet, ultrathin sound bar (left, at bottom)
blasts full theater sound from directly under your TV. With a look that
suggests a piece of chipped granite, it packs in 10 internal speakers,
including a subwoofer. The Sonos app helps create a multiroom listening
experience by connecting the Playbase with other Sonos speakers (some pictured
here) and your favorite streaming service. Even cooler, the app analyzes the
size and layout of your living room and customizes your sound accordingly. The
Playbase’s sensitivity doesn’t end there; a low-volume Night Sound feature
boosts quiet TV sounds and lowers loud ones. Pretty awesome, especially for
something so conveniently tiny.

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