While soundbars remain as popular as ever, they now have a partner in crime to boost the tinny sound of the average flatscreen TV: soundbases. While soundbars are typically slim, designed to lie in front of your TV and often come bearing a subwoofer, soundbases are one-box solutions that sit beneath your TV.
It might not be much to look at but its TV sound boosting qualities are superb, and helped the TV2 see off rivals from Panasonic and Otone.
Not just a step-up in TV volume but in weight, scale, detail and dynamics for just £200? Yes please.
Up next is the pricier Canton DM75 (£450, pictured) – a bigger and more powerful version of the brilliant Canton DM 50 designed for larger TVs, it takes the gong for its big, dynamic and hugely insightful sound.
That’s your lot for soundbases, but lest we forget the trusty soundbar – especially the Q Acoustics Media 4 (£400) - our Product of the Year.
When we knuckled our mid-market soundbar shortlist down to the final two, it shared the privilege with the five-star Yamaha YSP-1400 (pictured). But though the Yamaha produced more of a ‘surround effect’ (thanks to the company’s acclaimed YSP technology), the Q Acoustics prevailed with a more insightful and authoritative presentation.
Like 2013, this year’s budget soundbar market has been filled to the rafters, though there’s been a lack of truly great budget bars in 2014. Two Philips soundbars are the exceptions. The Philips HTL5120 got our attention back in February, and its brand new successor, the HTL5140, is an even better package where sound and design is concerned.
Yamaha won over in the end for its more practical, convenient build and convincing emulation of a 5.1-channel surround field. When you get to high-end soundbars, we think that matters more.
Soundbar or soundbase?
Soundbars and soundbases: two cost-effective and space-efficient alternatives to a 5.1 surround sound package – which one’s for you? That really depends on your set-up. But if you have the budget and space on your equipment rack, we’d pick up the Media 4 soundbar every time. And that's why it's our Product of the Year.