The immersive experience of watching a great film or television show has more to do with sound than we tend to realize. Sound design and score composition help tell the story on screen, giving the viewer emotional cues and making even high-octane action sequences feel realistic. This is part of why certain movies elicit the old “you have to see it in theaters” line. But the truth is that you shouldn’t have to leave the house to take in a pristine moving image with killer sound to match. Here’s what to look for in a tv sound bar for your home.
- Passive and Active Soundbars: You’re going to come across two different types of soundbars during your hunt—passive and active. Passive soundbars have higher-quality sound, but they don’t have built-in amplifiers, so you’ll have to purchase additional equipment to use them. Active soundbars, on the other hand, come with everything you need (including an amplifier), so you’ve got little extra work to do. If you’re looking for a simple, one-and-done option, go with an active model.
- Channels: Every soundbar has at least two channels, but the more there are, the more of a “surround-sound” feel you’ll get. While two channels (left and right) will do the job, adding a third (center) or more will provide a more theater-like experience.
- Matching Your TV: If you want the best-looking outcome, You’ll want your soundbar to be about as long as your TV is wide but no bigger. Don’t blindly match the measurement of your TV to the measurement of a potential soundbar—TVs are measured diagonally, so measure the true width yourself when comparing it to soundbars.
Our Picks for the Best TV Soundbars on Amazon
Top pick overall: Polk Audio TV Sound Bar and Wireless Subwoofer
This can either be mounted on a wall or placed in front of your television, and it allows you to stream music without any cables.
Runner Up: SAMSUNG Soundbar with Dolby Audio
Bluetooth TV Connection
This product packs a rich bass sound and automatically optimizes its sound setting depending on what you’re watching.
Budget Pick: Majority Bowfell Sound Bar for TV
Tiny But Mighty
Use Optical, RCA, or Bluetooth connection to hook this compact product up to your smart television. It can also connect to your laptop, desktop, or computer monitor.
Premium Pick: Bose TV Speaker- Small Soundbar
This product clarifies speech for a better movie-watching experience. You can also stream music or podcasts from this device.
Popular Science is here to help you choose among the most popular products on Amazon, and hidden gems our experts think are worth checking out.