If you can't be bothered with – or don't have the room for – speakers and cables all over your lounge then a soundbar or soundbase is the ideal solution for better TV sound. Most will sit comfortably beneath your TV (or on a wall if your TV is so 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 £300, Awards 2014.
Philips’s latest range of soundbars is off to a flying start with the HTL5140.
The company has taken the successful sound recipe of its earlier HTL5120 and packed it into a wonderfully slimline package that’ll suit almost any set-up. At only 5cm tall (a third less than its predecessor), it’s one of the least obtrusive designs we’ve laid eyes on. And it has a wireless subwoofer boosting its efforts.Design and build win our good word, but it’s the HTL5140’s sound quality that rubber-stamps our appreciation. Balanced, dynamically expressive and well integrated, the HTL5140 takes this year’s budget ‘bars to new heights.
If that’s not deserving of five stars, we don’t know what is.
Product of the Year, soundbars & soundbases, Awards 2014.
Q Acoustics has taken its stereo speaker expertise and put it to great use, making its first foray into the world of soundbars. And in true Q Acoustics style, it hase come up with a cracker.
It's designed for 40in TVs and above, its reasonably compact front disguising the trapezoidal cabinet that extends back around 14cm.
Features include aptX Bluetooth for streaming, Near-Field Communication (NFC) for easy pairing of mobile devices and the usual analogue and digital (optical) audio inputs. The only thing lacking is an HDMI input.
As for sound, it's a huge step up from the tinny speakers in most flatscreen TVs, and manages to convey a real sense of excitement and drama. All that and a sensible price.
The company knows a thing or two about surround sound. Its YSP range of soundbars has impressed us for years, being one of the few one-box solutions that come close to giving a genuine 5.1 surround-sound experience.
Its impressive sound-projection technology makes a return in the new YSP-2500 – a brilliantly designed soundbar with wireless subwoofer that’s yours for £800. It remains one of the best solutions for those who don’t want the clutter of a traditional 5.1 speaker package and AV receiver.
Best soundbase up to £300
The Cambridge Audio is a larger version of the Award-winning TV2, 18cm wider than its forerunner (bringing its width to 73cm) and housing a second 16.5cm subwoofer underneath the unit for a bigger, bassier sound.
It might cost £80 more than the TV2, but it's ideal for bigger tellies with greater scale and an increased sense of power from the extra subwoofer and larger enclosure. It retains the TV2's rich, full-bodied and balanced character, but builds on its level of clarity, subtlety and dynamic ability too.
The TV5 does exactly what it sets out to do, and is a sensible addition to the company's range at a time when good budget soundbases are few and far between.
Should you buy the TV5 over the TV2? If you have the space and extra cash, then sure. It's a great budget option for anyone looking to take their first step to improve their TV's thin, tinny sound.
Best soundbase £300+, Awards 2014
OK, it's a soundbase rather than a soundbar, so it's larger and will have to sit under your TV, but the Canton DM 75 is our favourite soundbase to date.
It delivers a hugely thrilling sound and a beautiful design in one simple box. There's plenty of deep, agile bass and oodles of detail as well as soaring dynamics. Build quality and finish are impeccable.
It sounds gorgeous, it looks great, and we reckon it's worth every penny for the huge boost in TV sound quality it delivers.