Want better sound from your TV? We round-up the best soundbars you can buy, from brilliant budget models to premium surround sound options

What is a soundbar? A soundbar is the simplest way to improve your TV sound without adding a full 5.1 surround sound cinema system. Here we review the best soundbars to buy in 2014, from budget soundbars to more premium options – and take a look at the best soundbases (and explain what a soundbase is).

If you don't have the space or inclination for a home cinema system, then the good news is a sound bar or soundbase provides an excellent alternative, is easy to set-up and can work with pretty much any TV on the market. With wireless subwoofers, wireless Bluetooth streaming and HDMI connections all on board, there's something for everyone.

We've rounded-up the best TV soundbars in 2014 from our most recent reviews, and we'll be keeping this page updated as and when we review new soundbars and soundbases...

Best soundbar up to £300

Philips HTL5140

Five Stars, Best soundbar up to £300, Awards 2014

Tested at £270

If we had one criticism of Philips’s brilliant debut soundbar - the HTL5120 - when we reviewed it earlier this year, it was its slightly screen-blocking height.

There’s no such problem with its brand-new successor, the HTL5140. 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 subwoofer boosting its efforts.

This is a wonderfully slimline soundbar that will suit almost any set-up, with an unobtrusive design and a precise, wide-open soundfield.

MORE: Philips HTL5140 review

ALSO CONSIDER:  LG NB3520A review

 

Best soundbars up to £400

Q Acoustics Media 4

Five stars, Product of the Year, Awards 2014

Tested at £400 

Q Acoustics has taken the plunge and carried its speaker expertise in to the soundbar category. And the result is a success. 

The ‘QM4’ should be a good fit for 40in TVs and larger – it looks reasonably compact from the front, but the trapezoidal cabinet actually extends back around 14cm. A large elliptical subwoofer sits in the back of the cabinet and a couple of 65mm BMR drivers (Balanced Mode Radiators) complete this 2.1 soundbar.

It’s a huge step up from conventional flatscreen sound, bringing the full-bodied, nicely rounded character we’ve come to expect from the company’s stereo speakers into a soundbar setting. It’s sensibly priced and sounds fantastic.

MORE:  Q Acoustics Media 4 review / Compare latest prices

ALSO CONSIDER:  LG NB4530A review + video

Yamaha YSP-1400

Five stars

Tested at £400

Yamaha’s soundbars have led the way in this market for some time, dominating the high-end and now making its mark further down the price range. The £1000-plus YSP-5100 and YSP-4100 brought home five stars respectively, while the £800 YSP-2200 and the £600 YSP-900 have also delivered the goods.

The YSP-1400 keeps up the good work, bringing a big, enveloping sound that isn’t trumped until you spend quite a lot more or opt for speakers all around your room. There's Bluetooth, too, but no HDMI inputs, so you're left with optical, coaxial and analogue connections. And there's the option to add a sub.

Provided the connectivity isn't an issue, and at £400 it's no great surprise, this is an excellent midrange soundbar.

MORE:  Yamaha YSP-1400 review / Compare latest prices

More after the break

Best soundbar under £500

JBL Cinema SB400

Five Stars

Tested at £450 

The  JBL Cinema SB400 walked-away with top honours in our most recent soundbar Supertest, and it's the combination of big, beefy dynamics and added attention to detail that makes the difference. Three HDMI inputs is handy, too, as is Bluetooth streaming.

You need a little more room with this soundbar and sub combo, the wireless subwoofer is pretty hefty and the bar itself is a little thicker than the LG soundbar. The trade-off is a spacious sound, especially with Harman's Display Surround technology (though we prefer the music mode for a more solid sound).

We're not sure about the remote control and it's a shame there's no lip-sync adjustment but for connectivity and sound quality, the JBL Cinema SB400 is a winner.

MORE:  JBL Cinema SB400 review / Compare latest prices

ALSO CONSIDER:  Samsung HW-E551

 

 

Best soundbar under £1000

Yamaha YSP-2500

Five stars, Best soundbar £600+ Awards, 2014

Tested at £800

The YSP-2500 takes over from 2012’s Award-winning YSP-2200, and remains one of the best solutions for those who don’t want the clutter of a traditional 5.1 speaker package and AV receiver.

It’s a sleek, slim bar and the impeccable build and finish quality is worth every penny of its £800 asking price. Its 16 speakers are hidden under a grille, each driver powered by 2W of amplification.

The YSP-2500’s expansive soundfield, punch and scale are impressive, and it’s the most appealing solution for those that want plug'n'play cinema-style sound.

MORE: Yamaha YSP-2500 review

 

 

Best soundbase up to £300

Cambridge Audio TV2

Five stars, Best soundbase up to £300, Awards 2014

Tested at £200

We loved the Cambridge Audio Minx TV soundbase when we reviewed it in February, so we’re sad to hear that the British company has said goodbye to its debut model.

The fact that it makes way for an equally impressive successor somewhat softens the blow, though. Meet the TV2 soundbase (or ‘TV Speaker Base’ as Cambridge Audio calls it).

The design has had a makeover, and Bluetooth now supports aptX.

What's more, 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.

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.

MORE: Cambridge Audio TV2 review

MORE:  Best tech products 2014

Best soundbase £300+

Canton DM 75

Five stars, Best soundbase £300+, Awards 2014

Tested at £450

If you fancied Canton’s brilliant debut soundbase - the DM 50 - but thought your large TV would dwarf the small black box, the DM 75 could be for you.

The big brother to the DM 50 has been sensibly designed with a larger chassis to accommodate bigger TVs. It promises more powerful sound through four (next to the DM 50’s two) downward-firing bass drivers.

And it delivers big-time with a rich, balanced sound, dynamic aptitude and insightful expression. As its size might suggest, the DM 75’s sound is bigger and more open than that of the smaller DM 50. The DM 75 is fast and attacking, too – made for action movies. There’s a blistering sense of pace to the pulsating, beat-driven score, and startling pop to gunfire.

We said it would “take one hell of a soundbase to better the Canton DM 50”. Canton has come up trumps with the DM 75. Clearer, bigger and more powerful sounding - it’s surely worth the £50 price hike if you can justify it.  MORE: Canton DM 75 review

 

 

 

Comments

wonneil's picture

Philips HTL5120

Unfortunately the Philips HTL5120 is no longer available from anywhere as it's been discontinued by Philips Bad

Andy Clough's picture

Best Buys

We'll be updating our Best Buys soon as we're in the middle of testing lots of new products in the run-up to our 2014 Awards.

Jota180's picture

The Philips HTL5120 was a

The Philips HTL5120 was a nightmare to get hold of a year ago when I bought mine.  It was sold only on Amazon and they had 4 items plus it came with a daft Euro plug that required a UK adaptor. You couldn't even buy it on Philips online store at the time.

I don't think they ever officially released it in the UK which is a shame as it looks amazing and sounds great.  Well worth the £250 asking price.

Rajat Khosla's picture

Good article on best sound

Good article on best sound bar speakers 2014 to buy but needs to add Bose and Fenda sounds too they sound good

festus's picture

Good Article

Good Article, I like the Samsung HW-H551 Wireless Audio Soundbar but i am not sure if it is a good one. Can anyone advise please?