Soundbar Reviews

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Tom Norton  |  Dec 12, 2023  |  2 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE: $1,000

AT A GLANCE

Plus
Do-it-all abilities
Competent audio performance
Minus
Operational complexity
Intimidating manuals

THE VERDICT
The detailed setup and operation of the Sony HT-A5000 soundbar can be a little off-putting, but its performance doesn't disappoint and offers a dramatic upgrade over the on-board sound of virtually any television.

Rob Sabin  |  Jul 12, 2023  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,471

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Outstanding full-dome Atmos movie effects
Superb spatial audio music reproduction
Plays loud without distortion
Minus
Expensive
No spatial audio streaming from the Sonos Tidal app

THE VERDICT
Sonos has scored a knockout with the Era 300 spatial audio surround speaker, which finally brings the full promise of Dolby Atmos to their flagship soundbar.

Back in 2020 I reviewed the then-new Sonos Arc soundbar for Sound & Vision, and it never left my family room. It’s been swapped out multiple times while I reviewed other Atmos-compliant soundbars, and some of these were mighty impressive.

Rob Sabin  |  Feb 08, 2023  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
11.1.4-channel Atmos/DTS:X with wireless rear surrounds and sub
Audiophile sonics for movies and music
Superb dynamics
Extensive adjustability
SmartThings app for control

Minus
Some functions hard to reach with remote
No Atmos/DTS:X indicator on app

THE VERDICT
Samsung's HW-Q990B is a high-performing Atmos soundbar that easily substitutes for a full AVR-speaker setup.

I've had the liberty of reviewing some very high-performance soundbars in the last couple of years that take advantage of the height information in object-based Atmos or DTS:X soundtracks to effect a more engaging soundstage. These are sweet-sounding systems adept at both movies and music, but all were equipped with only a pair of front-height channel drivers that bounce off the ceiling and no rear surrounds.

Mark Henninger  |  Nov 23, 2022  |  2 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $660

AT A GLANCE
Plus
High fidelity sound
Components sold separately
Easy setup
Built-in Roku 4K streaming
Cordless private listening mode
Minus
No Dolby Atmos support
Weak bass without the subwoofer

THE VERDICT
The top-of-the-line soundbar system from Roku is full of cool features and gives you a surround-sound listening experience that is better than competing systems of similar cost. But it lacks support for 3D immersive sound like Dolby Atmos or DTS:X, and the Streambar Pro on its own is not nearly as impressive sounding as when it's part of a complete 5.1 system.

Soundbars have evolved from simple standalone add-on speakers for TVs into fully self-contained home entertainment systems able to deliver cinematic, immersive listening experiences. The catch is today's soundbar systems can get quite costly, often exceeding the price of the TV they might be connected to. With Roku's Streambar Pro, the cost of entry is only $179.99 for the soundbar itself, and you can expand the system from there. Granted, tricking it out with a subwoofer and four add-on wireless is almost four times the cost, but what you get is a very nice surround-sound solution that's easy to install, easy to use, and outperforms many similarly priced soundbars.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Oct 12, 2022  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $279

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Fantastic vocal clarity
Small footprint
Forward-firing design for easy placement
Minus
Trueplay tuning app only for iOS
Basic surround processing
Limited connectivity

THE VERDICT
The Ray is an affordable entry into the Sonos ecosystem—one that excels in meeting the most basic requirement for any soundbar: dialogue clarity.

Sonos always seems to be one step ahead of the competition, coming out with new products before people even realize they need them. That playbook hasn't changed with Sonos Ray, a new budget-friendly soundbar small enough to fit on a shelf or under almost any TV. While it's a simple design that lacks a ton of features and input options, its sound quality and price ($279) more than make up for those omissions.

Rob Sabin  |  Sep 07, 2022  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,400

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Stupendous bass without an external subwoofer
Outstanding timbre and dynamics
Easy to use via HDMI-CEC or Devialet app
Minus
No remote learning for optical connections
No voice integration
No DTS decoding

THE VERDICT
You'll pay for the privilege, but Devialet's Dione lives up to the full promise of an audiophile-quality, all-in-one soundbar.

From time to time I get to review an audio product that is so thoroughly engineered, so cutting-edge and so high performing that it leaves me in awe. And let's be clear, after three decades of doing this, I'm not easily impressed. But I'll tell you here that the subject of this review, the $2,400 Devialet Dione, is hands-down the best all-in-one soundbar I have ever heard, and undoubtedly one of the two best soundbars currently available. We'll get to that later, but for now, let's take a closer look.

Rob Sabin  |  Jun 23, 2022  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Audiophile sound for music and movies
Atmos height effects
Good bass
Integrated high-res music streaming
Minus
No expandability for surrounds or sub
No voice-boost or height-channel adjustments

THE VERDICT
B&W's Atmos-enabled Panorama 3 delivers audiophile-quality music and excellent movie sound without a subwoofer or surround speakers.

Bowers & Wilkins has developed a solid name in the soundbar category for premium products that reflect the brand's longstanding philosophy of putting respect for the music above all else. This doesn't mean their soundbars don't make sonic compromises, only that those compromises tend to be more careful and measured than we see elsewhere. As B&W's first soundbar to offer Dolby Atmos playback and its least expensive soundbar to date at $999, the Panorama 3 is a perfect example of this philosophy.

Rob Sabin  |  Apr 13, 2022  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $399

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Atmos height effects from a high value soundbar
Easy to set up and use
Well-integrated small subwoofer
Good sonics for TV and movie watching
Minus
No expandability for surrounds
No network connection for music
No height channel level adjustment
Better for movies than music

THE VERDICT
Polk Audio’s Signa S4 makes some canny compromises to bring immersive audio to the masses at an affordable price.

When it comes to hi-fi and home theater, I'm a space hog. Some folks zero in on tight, room-shaking bass, others seek immaculate midrange accuracy or high frequency extension with gobs of etched detail. For me, it's always been about imaging and soundstage first. I can forgive a lot of sins if a system conveys the sense of a three-dimensional instrument, voice, or sound object in the listening room. This is what makes things real for me.

Mark Henninger  |  Dec 15, 2021  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $449

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Compact, with exceptional build and sound quality
Built-in Google Assistant and Alexa voice control
Expandable with Sonos speakers and SUB
Minus
Modest bass output
Single HDMI input
No display for volume level or sound mode

THE VERDICT
The next-gen version of the Sonos Beam soundbar is remarkably full-featured considering its size. It’s also attractive, great-sounding, and a snap to set up.

Both the original Sonos Beam and the company's new Beam Gen 2 soundbar use beamforming, a technology that combines an array of drivers with advanced signal processing, to create an enveloping audio experience without need for multiple speakers. With the Beam Gen 2 ($449), Sonos builds upon the virtual surround sound abilities of the original by adding Dolby Atmos processing to up the sense of immersion it can create. The cost for this upgrade: a mere $50 premium over the original's $399 price.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Nov 16, 2021  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $599

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Convincing DSP-based surround
Excellent sound quality
Compact footprint
Minus
Built-in Amazon Alexa
Limited front panel feedback
Requires HEOS app for best results

THE VERDICT
Denon’s soundbar scores with convincing virtual Dolby Atmos and DTS:X sound, along with excellent performance on music playback.

I rarely have very much good to say about soundbars with DSP-based simulated surround. But the Denon Home Sound Bar 550 ($599) instantly impressed me by delivering convincing immersive sound. Add in the built-in HEOS multiroom platform, which lets you stream from music apps over Wi-Fi, and Denon's Sound Bar turns out to be a winning proposition.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Oct 19, 2021  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $280

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Includes wireless subwoofer and surround speakers
Good clarity with movie dialogue
Low price
Minus
Bright LED display
Cable required for surrounds
Music playback can sound thin

THE VERDICT
Monoprice's SB-500 delivers near-wireless true 5.1 surround at a very affordable price, making it one of the best soundbar options in its class.

Value-priced audio products usually come at a, well, price. A user can typically expect to sacrifice sound quality and/or features, but the Monoprice SB-500 soundbar system breaks that mold by offering true Dolby Digital 5.1 with a wireless subwoofer and surrounds, all for $280.

Rob Sabin  |  Sep 22, 2021  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,899 (Editor’s note: Between the time the review was conducted and when it was posted on September 22, Klipsch increased the system price from $1,699 to $1,899.)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
All-in-one 5.1.4 Atmos system
Stupendous dynamics
Great sound quality with music and movies
Class-leading 12-inch subwoofer
Minus
Ineffective surround processing of stereo music
No mic on remote or bar for Alexa and Google Assistant
No DTS decoding

THE VERDICT
The Klipsch Cinema 1200 is among the least expensive of today's high-end soundbar solutions and over-delivers on both sound quality and value.

Klipsch's new Cinema series soundbars are the latest effort of an iconic, 75-year-old speaker maker to push new performance barriers while delivering a product that is quintessentially, well, Klipsch. There are four systems, each with the real wood cabinetry and the signature Tractrix horn- loaded tweeters that have come to define the brand. These run from the entry-level Cinema 400 ($329), a 40-inch-wide 2.1-channel bar with an 8-inch wireless subwoofer, to the Cinema 1200 ($1,899) reviewed here—a 5.1.4 system with a 54-inch-wide Atmos-enabled bar, a wireless 12-inch sub, and a pair of wireless Atmos- enabled surrounds.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Sep 01, 2021  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $100

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Great value
Impressive dialogue clarity
Voice Assistant input
Minus
Lacks bass impact
Complicated LED display
Narrow soundstage

THE VERDICT
With its strikingly clear dialogue delivery, Vizio's V21d-J8 might just be the best $100 soundbar you can buy.

Whoever complained that you get what you pay for never listened to Vizio's V21d-J8. The company's latest 2.1-channel soundbar is a $100 entry-level model offering strikingly clear sound. Although the V21d-J8 lacks a dedicated subwoofer, it delivers a fair amount of upper-bass impact. For the price, it can't be beat.

Michael Antonoff  |  Jul 28, 2021  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $180

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Room-filling sound
Enhances dialogue
Built-in Roku streaming interface
Minus
None worth noting

THE VERDICT
The Roku Streambar Pro offers a considerable sound upgrade over a TV's internal speakers and comes with the company's comprehensive streaming platform built-in.

Soundbars are popular for a good reason. The speakers in a typical flat panel TVs sound puny compared with the visual sway of increasingly larger, higher-resolution displays. Also, since not every viewing room can accommodate the separate components of a home theater, a narrow-footprint soundbar solves the problem of raising the impact of the audio and it does so with one cable.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Oct 14, 2020  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Immersive 3D audio mode
Chromecast-built in plus Bluetooth
Stylish, wireless subwoofer
Minus
Imaging can be vague with stereo music
Remote control hard to read

THE VERDICT
Polk Audio’s elegantly simple and affordable MagniFi 2 delivers expansive sound from a system with a relatively small footprint.

Polk Audio's new MagniFi 2 soundbar hits a sweet spot of affordability, performance, and convenience. It features Polk's patented SDA Stereo Dimensional Array technology to enhance stereo imaging, a 3D Mode that adds virtual height and surround effects, and a Voice Adjust feature to boost dialogue levels in movies and TV shows.

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