A soundbar or soundbase 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 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, Awards 2014.
The Cambridge Audio Minx TV is no more, but in its place comes the even better TV2 with added support for aptX Bluetooth. The design may be more conventional, but its successor is further proof that the company knows what it’s doing in the burgeoning, budget soundbase market.
Performance is even better – its predecessor’s punchy, agile and balanced sound is still present, but if anything the TV2 sounds a little clearer in comparison. Heard through a TV’s speaker, punching, stabbing and bone-shattering sound effects are thin and hollow. Out of the TV2, they are dense and better defined. Metal-on-metal sounds forceful and solid.The TV2 is an affordable product that ticks all the criteria of a good TV sound-booster: a full-bodied, detailed sound, smart style, and practical build.
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.