Review Round Up: Soundbars

In a perfect world, we’d all have five huge speakers circled around the sofa and a substantial subwoofer in the corner. And there’d be a Porsche in the driveway. With a Ferrari next to it.

In the real world, certain compromises must be made. For starters, those six speaker cabinets may be reduced to two or even one. That may seem like a mighty big compromise, but soundbar manufacturers manage to soften the blow by adroitly consolidating multiple channels into one box that in some cases also imparts a sense of surround envelopment. Throw in a subwoofer and you can wind up with a very respectable audio-playback system.

To test the soundbar state of the art and explore the breadth of offerings, we rounded up four models. Customarily in such comparisons, we pit similar products against one another and pick the winners and losers. Not so here. We intentionally chose very different soundbars to show just how diverse the product category is. So let’s begin by saying that each of these soundbars is quite good in its own way. The more interesting questions are what makes them good, and why they might be sound choices for you.