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Best soundbases 2021: the best budget TV speaker upgrades around

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Best budget soundbases Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best budget soundbars and soundbases you can buy in 2021.

Good news: there is a surefire way to get better sound out of your TV without filling your lounge with speakers – or even having to make space for a soundbar. It's called a soundbase, and the beauty of it is that it's wide, flat, and it sits directly underneath your telly, (as opposed to a soundbar that sits in front of it and thus requires more room).

A soundbase is a handy, space-saving solution for situations (read: room dimensions) where a 'bar just isn't practical, and if you plump for one of the ones listed below, it'll give your TV far more oomph and quality in the sound department. If you like the look of one of the models, simply click on the attached, in-depth What Hi-Fi? review; you'll soon know the product as well as if it were rested in the palm of your hand. 

You can get HDMI or digital optical inputs, the option of wireless Bluetooth audio and a sizable boost in sound performance when it comes to TV or films. Interested? Course you are. And you should be, with this little lot. What follows is a roundup of the best soundbases we've tested. 

Best soundbases 2020: budget TV speaker upgrades

1. Q Acoustics M2

The Award-winning M2 provides a detailed and punchy listen, and it's simple to use to boot

Specifications
Features: aptX Bluetooth
Connections: HDMI, optical, RCA and 3.5mm
Dimensions: 93 x 55 x 34cm
Reasons to buy
+Crisp, punchy, detailed listen+Expressive, easy to use+Rugged, fuss-free design
Reasons to avoid
-Remote could be nicer

Q Acoustics seems to be in for a penny, in for a pound when it comes to boosting your TV's sound. From speakers to soundbars and now soundbases, the British company has turned out brilliant-sounding products. This particular product even won What Hi-Fi?'s coveted Award in 2019 for the the best soundbase on the market – so you know you're buying quality. The M2 is sturdy enough to sit comfortably underneath a fairly big-screen TV. It can handle weight of up to 25kg, which is a few kilos more than most 65in LCD TVs. You'll find ARC-compatible HDMI, optical, RCA and 3.5mm inputs, and it supports streaming over Bluetooth, too.

Read the full review: Q Acoustics M2

Best soundbases 2020: budget TV speaker upgrades

2. Sonos Playbase

Sonos' entry is simple, stylish and bests most TVs' sound, even if it's not quite as smooth as we would like. Call us picky.

Specifications
Features: Dolby Digital 5.1, Spotify Connect, multi-room
Connections: Digital optical
Dimensions: 5.8 x 72 x 38 cm
Reasons to buy
+Impressively wide soundstage+Solid, natural bass+Multi-room functionality
Reasons to avoid
-Harsh treble -No HDMI-No hi-res audio support

Sonos is the original multi-room champion, with multi-room speakers, a couple of soundbars and this soundbase. So not only do you get better sound from your TV, you also get all the clever streaming functionality Sonos affords, and the ability to easily connect to a multi-room system and be upgraded to a full 5.1 system with the addition of a Sonos Sub and two Sonos Ones, Sonos One SLs, Sonos Play:1s (or even Play:3 or Play:5) speakers. The Playbase is solid and able to support TVs weighing up to 35kg. Sonically it's a punchy, dynamic and fairly detailed performance, with only an occasionally harsh treble causing us some concern.

Read the full review: Sonos Playbase

Best soundbases 2020: budget TV speaker upgrades

3. Canton DM55

A drop in price makes this excellent-sounding Canton even more of a bargain

Specifications
Features: aptX Bluetooth, LED display
Connections: Optical, coaxial, RCA analogue inputs, subwoofer output
Dimensions: 6.8 x 54.5 x 30cm
Reasons to buy
+Deep, punchy bass+Loads of detail+Easy to use
Reasons to avoid
-No HDMI inputs

Canton has a great record with soundbases, combining excellent sound quality with ease of use in one nicely built and affordable box. The Canton DM55 replaces the much-praised DM50, a five-star performer at £400. The addition of a glass top, some sonic tweaks, and a price drop make this good-looking and capable unit even more appealing than before. There's no HDMI connection, but otherwise you get good sound and wireless Bluetooth on a budget.

Read the full review: Canton DM55

Best soundbases 2020: budget TV speaker upgrades

4. Cambridge Audio TV5 v2

It might lack a display, but this soundbase is sonically superb

Specifications
Features: aptX Bluetooth
Connections: HDMI, optical, 3.5mm and RCA analogue inputs
Dimensions: 34 x 72.5 x 10 cm
Reasons to buy
+Tight bass, full midrange+Good amount of insight+HDMI connectivity
Reasons to avoid
-Lack of display-Remote could be nicer

The TV5 v2 has a 3.5mm input jack, an RCA connection, an optical input, and aptX Bluetooth connectivity, plus an HDMI cable for 24-bit/192Khz hi-res audio. Sonically, the TV5 v2 is a great soundbase. The bass is tight, the midrange is full and it provides a good dynamic injection across any input. While the TV5 v2 might be marginally behind in terms of midrange detail when compared to the similarly priced Canton DM 55, it does have a greater sense of scale and a more potent bass. The choice is yours.

Read the full review: Cambridge Audio TV5 v2

Best soundbases 2020: budget TV speaker upgrades

5. Canton DM100

A big soundbase with big sound, this Canton will give even the largest TV an audio boost

Specifications
Features: aptX Bluetooth
Connections: Optical, coaxial and analogue RCA inputs, subwoofer output
Dimensions: 6.8 x 54.5 x 30cm
Reasons to buy
+Clear and insightful+Deep, taut bass+aptX Bluetooth
Reasons to avoid
-Size won’t suit all-Treble can edge on brightness at times

If your TV’s impractical size has put you off investing in a soundbase, the talented DM100 may well change that. Bigger than the DM55 (listed above), you can expect a deeper, more powerful, room-filling sound. If you've got a big TV – and the space – it's a worthwhile upgrade. Like its siblings, there’s aptX Bluetooth streaming onboard, as well as two digital inputs (optical and coaxial), an analogue input and subwoofer output.

Read the full review: Canton DM100

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.


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