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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

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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.

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.”

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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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