A soundbar is the perfect way to boost the weedy sound of your flatscreen TV if you can't be bothered with – or don't have the room for – speakers and cables all over your lounge. Most will sit comfortably beneath your TV (or on a wall if your TV is s mounted) and some also come with a separate subwoofer to further boost the bass from broadcasts, DVDs, Blu-rays and the like.
Some soundbars come equipped with Bluetooth for wireless streaming of audio from your PC, laptop, smartphone or tablet, and Sonos goes one further by integrating its Playbar with other speakers in your Sonos wireless set-up. Whatever your budget, we've picked the best soundbar for you.
Best soundbar up to £400, Awards 2013. LG deserves the plaudits for squeezing plenty of features into, and excellent sound out of, this remarkably thin soundbar.
Given its waif-like dimensions, this soundbar manages to create a broad soundstage. Leaving out the 3D surround mode, which doesn’t quite deliver, the LG NB4530A still gives effects a decent reach over the horizontal and vertical. (We'd advise you spend more for the Yamaha YSP-5100 if you want the best surround sound we've heard from a soundbar.)
Crank up the volume and the LG soundbar handles things extremely well. It sounds a touch closed in and boxy, but still manages to deliver the punishing climax of the film with gusto.
The bar can decode vanilla Dolby Digital and DTS – any high-definition formats fed through the LG’s HDMI input are simply downsampled, while it can also pass-through a 3D picture should you wish.
The LG NB4530A soundbar looks the part and sounds great. The expert execution makes it a must audition.
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Product of the Year, Awards 2013. If you want a shape-shifting soundbar with surround sound, make sure to seek this one out.
We don’t really expect innovation from soundbars. They’re simple products after all: speakers shoved into a bar to save space and boost TV sound. Many of them come with subwoofers nowadays, along with a few wireless tricks like Bluetooth, but that’s about it.
The Philips HTL9100 is different. This one gives you convincing surround sound. It sounds great, it’s versatile, and we think the surround-on-demand option is a really neat idea. If you want good sound without the hassle of trailing cables and fiddly set-ups, this is the way to go.
Best soundbar £800+, Awards 2013. It’s a brave move making your first soundbar £1000, but Monitor Audio pulls it off
It’s an ambitious feat when you consider not only is this Monitor Audio’s first soundbar, but also that it’s been built from the ground up, and it has a £1000 price tag.
You get a decent spread of sound out to the sides with the soundbar’s 3D Audio mode engaged, but that’s not vital to enjoy movies.
There’s a fantastic sense of scale among all the commotion of Gladiator, and the ASB-2 digs out a superb level of detail. During the calmer, more emotive chapters of the movie, the Monitor Audio simply shifts down a few gears to capture the subtle details and nuances of the soundtrack.
The only thing you really need to be concerned with is how you’re going to accommodate it – the ASB-2 is a solid, chunky-looking unit. Measuring 18cm tall, and more than a metre wide, it’s probably going to have to live on a wall or on a shelf below your TV.
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