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As televisions have gotten progressively thinner, their ability to contain powerful speakers and project sound outwards has gone down significantly.
That’s where the role of a good sound bar and wireless speaker system comes in. This long, thin external speaker provides way better sound than the speakers built-into your TV, and sound is boosted even more by a subwoofer with booming bass.
At the very least, even an inexpensive sound bar will take your TV’s audio to the next level. From there, the features (and price) increase and offer loads of benefits and connectivity options too.
What to Look for When Buying a Wireless Sound Bar and Speakers
There are a number of factors to consider when looking for the best wireless sound bar and sound system for you. We’ve rounded up some of them below.
Connectivity: First, find out what your TV supports, and consider what other devices you’ll want to connect, such as gaming consoles. Ports are important, and this is where having multiple inputs come in handy. While options are nice to have, there can be a big difference in sound quality depending on what you use to connect.
Optical and HDMI are the most common, but HDMI Arc can pass audio in either direction, so you’ll be able to plug devices into your TV and still have the audio come out through your sound system.
Audio Format: It’s also crucial to make sure all your devices support the same audio formats before you plug in. Dolby Atmos and DTSX are the two most-common high-res formats right now. While HDMI Arc can’t transmit high-res signals like these (yet), there’s a new format that’s started showing up that can. It’s called “eArc,” and it’s becoming increasingly more popular on newer sets. Depending on your sound bar and system, these high-end formats can read information encoded in movies and games, immersing you in authentic surround sound – even with just the sound bar.
WiFi: To cut down on the cables, most systems offer wireless options like Bluetooth and WiFi (or both). This isn’t just for avoiding messy and tangled wires or having to drill holes in your walls to hold speakers. Connectivity to WiFi also means syncing up with services like voice control, Airplay, Chromecast, and of course, adding other speakers. Syncing up with the rest of your smart home can be easy too, as some systems effortlessly link up with Amazon Alexa.
Extras are nice, but it’s best to keep your eyes, and ears, on the prize: sound quality. We’ve selected these five varying sets to give everyone a chance to upgrade.
1. JBL Bar 5.1 4K Ultra HD Sound Bar
This sleek sound bar includes not one, but two wireless speakers, magnetically detachable from the main unit so you can experiment with placing them all over the room to get the best quality surround effects. They’ve got a battery life of about 10 hours, and take around three hours to fully charge up, but they’re always charging as long as they’re connected to the main bar.
There’s also a wireless subwoofer included too, which provides deep bass and can be adjusted with the remote separately from the other two speakers. The system supports Bluetooth, and the main unit itself packs tons of ports: three HDMI inputs and one output, USB, optical audio, and a 3.5mm audio jack.
2. Sonos Beam Smart TV Sound Bar
At 25.6 inches, Sonos packs a lot of sound into a compact bar. Immersive, rich sound can handle the highs and lows of all your fave movies and shows.
Just connect the Beam to WIFI, and use the control on Sonos app, as well as Apple Airplay 2. Amazon Alexa is built right in so you can play music, check news, set alarms, and more, completely hands free. While the bass is a little light, you can always connect it to a Sonos Sub if you need a little boost.
Installation is as simple as connecting the beam to your TV, and the app instructions take care of the rest. It’s also light enough to move around the room, and even mount on the wall.
3. Nakamichi 9.2.4 Channel Sound Bar
This beast of a setup contains 9.2.4 channels: the sound bar, four two-way surround speakers, and not one but two 10-inch wireless subwoofers.
The bar itself is 45 inches wide, with eight speaker drivers (including the two side-firing tweeters), and can receive Dolby Atmos or DTSX when streaming through apps like Netflix. The three advanced audio processing engines enhance the surround effect, allowing you to discover the distinct details in any audio mix.
This is an absolute house-shaker of a system that lets you connect six devices, and features a 52-button wireless remote for full control of pretty much everything.
4. Sony HT-G700 Sound Bar
At 38.6 inches wide, the Sony is compact enough to fit into even a smaller setup. The bar handles the highs and mids, while the included subwoofer bumps out a nice full bass.
Sony’s “Vertical Sound Engine” surround sound is built-in, and does an excellent job of simulating audio from all directions, making it sound bigger as it separates out the channels more than a singular sound bar typically would.
The remote’s capabilities cover the basics, but also offer easily selectable sound settings depending on what you’re watching, such as sports, news and cinema. There’s also the Night mode, which compresses the dynamic range of a Dolby digital signal to provide better sound quality at softer volumes.
As far as ports, there’s an HDMI ARC, plus it’s compatible with Bluetooth to wirelessly connect to your phone or laptop’s audio, and to video with compatible TVs.
5. Samsung HW-T650 Sound Bar
For one of the most immersive sound bar experiences, Samsung’s sound bar uses Dolby Audio and DTS Virtual:X to turn your living room into a theater. Powerful 3D surround sound and a center channel for crisp dialogue audio makes you feel like you’re inside the scene.
Connect to your TV via Bluetooth to go completely wireless, and with multi-connection you can seamlessly switch between devices. We love the intelligent smart sound on this system, so whether you’re watching a loud sports event or a quiet drama, it’ll automatically optimize the sound settings. Gamers will also appreciate the optimized, directional sound from the dedicated “Game Mode”.
This 38.6-inch speaker will give you all the rich bass with a wireless subwoofer, no HDMI cables required.