Home Entertainment / Buying Guide

How to Choose a Soundbar System

Gaming Laptops: Are They Worth It?

Frankly speaking, soundbars are great. When you pack as much technology under the hood as these devices do, they have to be. Not only do many soundbars house multiple speaker arrays in an all-in-one design, but they also incorporate various audio-processing technologies, and wide device connectivity. Some can even serve as a pedestal stand for your flat panel TV. If your TV is mounted on a wall and you would like to have your soundbar mounted above or below it, many soundbars also offer simple mounting solutions for easy placement.

Like other audio components, not all soundbars are created equal. When deciding which speaker is right for you, there are a number of things you should consider. First among those things should be the size of your listening environment. The size of your room can help you determine which soundbar configuration will give you optimal audio performance. As an example, if you have a large room you may want to choose a soundbar system with an external subwoofer, or even dedicated rear speakers to cover more real estate. You should also look at your source components and how they connect to your system. If you’re like me, and you have a vast music collection stored on your smartphone, tablet, or PC, choosing a soundbar with Bluetooth or Internet connectivity will allow you to wirelessly access your favorite tunes. 

In this overview, we are going to take a look at a number of soundbars from various manufacturers. These speakers deliver some of the best audio technology available, and some even rival the sound production that is typically associated with separate amplifier and speaker systems. While the options are many, you’ll soon discover that when it comes to audio, choices are a good thing.

Soundbar pedestal stand

Double Duty

To start things off, let’s take a look at some soundbars that can also be used as pedestal stands for your flat panel television. This is a great option if you want your speaker to be as close to your TV as possible without mounting it on a wall. Placing your soundbar directly under the television keeps distractions to a minimum as your audio and video reproduction will come from a centralized location.

ZVOX is a soundbar legend with a long history of making stellar audio products. The company’s SoundBase speaker systems have been long heralded as top-notch upgrades to paltry TV speakers. The SoundBase 670 is a worthy addition to ZVOX’s speaker family. While typical TVs deliver about 10- to 20 watts of audio power—if you’re lucky—and are equipped with miniature speakers, the ZVOX 670 produces an impressive 105W of power and incorporates three 5.25-inch subwoofers for dynamic bass impact.

 ZVOX SoundBase 670 105W Soundbar System

This speaker is compatible with TVs up to 70 inches and features ZVOX PhaseCue II Virtual Surround Sound Technology. This proprietary audio processing technology adds dynamic three-dimensional sound to movie and music soundtracks. Built-in Bluetooth allows you to stream music wirelessly from your similarly equipped audio sources. Connectivity doesn’t stop there: dual stereo RCA, dual digital optical, and a digital coaxial port are also available. These interfaces are a welcome companion for your wired source connections.

When it comes to audio heritage, Bose has an impressive history of its own. If you take a look at its audio lineup, you will see a wide selection of audio products that are geared to deliver high-quality audio and easy setup. The Bose Solo 15 TV Sound System is no different in that regard. Like the aforementioned ZVOX, this soundbar supports the placement of flat panel TVs. At 24.75 inches wide, the Solo 15 has a smaller frame than the ZVOX’s 36-inch cabinet and can thus support displays up to 50 inches. A smaller frame doesn’t mean smaller sound, however. This soundbar features speaker arrays at each end of its cabinet and incorporates Bose’s TrueSpace Technology for clear and spacious sound quality.

Bose Solo 15 TV Sound System

A bass adjustment knob is located on the rear of the speaker, which allows you to fine-tune bass tones for a customized listening experience. Stereo RCA, digital coaxial, and digital optical ports are onboard for your component connections, and a universal remote is included for streamlined control of the soundbar and your connected devices, such as TVs and DVD players.

JBL is another consumer electronics company with deep seeded audio roots, whose Cinema Base supports the placement of flat panel TVs and produces up to 240W of power—an impressive output for a soundbar that’s merely 4 inches high and 23.6 inches wide. Furthermore, this speaker features a 2.2-channel configuration with dual subwoofers, which create the soundbar’s low-frequency character. To help the speaker deliver lifelike, room-filling sound, the Cinema Base features Harman Display Virtual Surround Sound technology.

JBL Cinema Base 240W

Integrated Bluetooth connectivity allows you to enjoy wireless music streaming in addition to the speaker’s wired 3.5mm and digital optical inputs. The Cinema Base also features a USB port, which allows you to conveniently charge USB-powered devices, such as smartphones and MP3 players. An HDMI output is also available on the soundbar, which supports Audio Return Channel, otherwise known as ARC. ARC allows you to connect one cable between the soundbar and your TV for high-quality audio.

Soundbar and Subwoofer Combinations

Yamaha is well known in audio and video circles and is pretty synonymous with high-quality audio. The Yamaha YAS-203 produces up to 200W of power and sports a 2.1-channel configuration. This system’s external front-firing subwoofer incorporates a linear port for deep and smooth bass reproduction. Along with wireless subwoofer connectivity, the soundbar includes a template for wall mounting.

Yamaha YAS-203 200W 2.1-Channel Soundbar System

Yamaha’s internal AIR SURROUND XTREME technology is designed to a deliver a virtual 7.1-channel audio experience. With integrated Bluetooth connectivity and digital optical, digital coaxial, and stereo RCA inputs, this soundbar is well equipped for external device connections. A free app is also available for controlling the YAS-203 from an Android or iOS device.

VIZIO may be well known for its TVs, but the company also makes some impressive audio products that shouldn’t be ignored. The 38" 5.1-Channel Soundbar Speaker System is such a product. The main soundbar houses three full-range drivers, while the system also includes two dedicated rear satellite speakers and a 6" external wireless subwoofer to handle your low-frequency sounds. This VIZIO soundbar is wall mountable and is also ready to connect to your audio sources via Bluetooth, digital coaxial, digital optical, USB, stereo RCA, and 3.5mm interfaces.

 VIZIO 38" 5.1-Channel Soundbar Speaker System

Sony is a manufacturer that needs no introduction. The company’s product catalog pretty much covers the consumer-electronics spectrum. The Sony HT-CT260H may look like a simple soundbar and subwoofer combination, but it is capable of delivering powerful sound at up to 300W from its 2.1-channel array. Like the previously mentioned Yamaha and VIZIO systems, this soundbar’s subwoofer connects wirelessly for flexible placement. It is also equipped with Bluetooth, digital optical, and digital coaxial connectivity, and adds an HDMI input and output for connecting to high-definition televisions.

 Sony HT-CT260H Surround Sound Speaker Bar & Wireless Subwoofer

Premium Soundbar Solutions

The Focal Dimension 5.1-Channel System isn’t your typical soundbar system. This powerhouse produces 450 watts and has five identical 3.9" drivers built into the soundbar and another two 7.9 x 3.1" drivers in the external passive subwoofer. This system doesn’t just rely on brute force, however; it incorporates Optimum Acoustic Integration technology. Using settings on the rear of the soundbar, you can tailor the sound of this soundbar to your room’s characteristics.

 Focal Dimension 450W 5.1-Channel Soundbar System

For intuitive control, the Focal Dimension features a touchscreen user interface and a proximity sensor that automatically awakens the soundbar when you’re nearby or when you use the system’s remote control. As expected with a premium soundbar, this system is loaded with HDMI, digital optical, and a 3.5mm audio interface. The Focal Dimension is built for durability with a rigid aluminum chassis.

The Yamaha YSP-2500 is a soundbar juggernaut. This 7.1-channel system houses a whopping sixteen 1.1" beam drivers and dual 4-inch woofers to handle its bass responsibilities. While delivering 162 watts of power, the YSP-2500 features Yamaha Digital Sound Projector technology. This technology handles the timing of the soundbar’s amplifiers and drivers precisely to deliver powerful and in-sync audio. This soundbar’s internal beams can also be aimed to your listening position or outer walls to create an expansive audio effect. To help this system sound its best in your listening environment, it is equipped with Yamaha’s IntelliBeam auto-calibration system.

yamaha ysp 2500bl sound bar

This system is also ready for your high-quality video connections with its three 4K- and 3D-capable HDMI inputs and one HDMI output. Like the Focal system, this Yamaha system is endowed with Bluetooth and wired digital and analog connections. It also features smartphone and tablet control with the free Yamaha app for Android and iOS. If you have high-resolution audio sources you’re in-luck, as the YSP-2500 can decode audio formats such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.

Choosing the Right Soundbar System

At B&H we offer a wide variety of soundbar systems that are designed to accommodate almost any listening environment. Whether you’re looking for a single-box solution, additional external speakers, or even Bluetooth connectivity, the advancements in soundbar technology make these sought-after features easily accessible. It’s amazing how far soundbar systems have come from their simple and humble beginnings. We’re excited by what’s currently available and what’s yet to come. It appears that the present and future of soundbar systems shine mighty bright, and we couldn’t be happier.

Discussion 26

Add new comment

Add comment Cancel


I am thinking about purchasing the Samsung UE65SK9000 and an accompanying sound bar. Do I need a 4K pass through sound bar?  Thank-you

I should have mentioned My input comes from a cable box

Hi - 

If you are not going to connect another component that requires a 4K video signal after the soundbar, then you will not need a pass through.

I am looking to buy a sound bar for Xmas for our Samsung 65" TV that is mounted on a full motion wall mount  in a built in cabinet. There is 4" between the unit and the TV.  Any suggestions

Hi Linda -

Enjoy wireless audio streaming with the black Samsung HW-K550 340W 3.1-Channel Soundbar System. This 3.1-channel system delivers up to 340W of total power and includes an external wireless subwoofer. Bluetooth connectivity is built into the soundbar for wireless audio streaming from devices like MP3 players, smartphones, and tablets. Additionally, this soundbar allows you to enjoy Dolby Digital 5.1- and DTS 2-channel audio.

The HW-K550 soundbar system is ready for external device connections with HDMI, USB, stereo RCA, and optical inputs. The HDMI input supports ARC and Anynet+ CEC connections to an external display. An optical cable is included for streamlined connectivity to your TV. In addition to tabletop placement, this soundbar features a wall-mountable design and includes mounting hardware.

Hello, Would you recommend the Bose Soundtouch 300 over the Sonos bar? or Vice Versa? I'm talking about the complete setup SOundbar + Sub + two rare speakers AKA 5.1 :) 

Hi Alex -

   I just had the opportunity to thoroughly audition the new BOSE SOUNDTOUCH 300 series family of components. They look spectacular and the audio?  You must hear them for yourself, of course, but to my  ears they sound and perform better than SONOS.  And the set-up is very easy as well.  Get to a store and have a listen.  You will not be disappointed!

Would you recommend the Bose soundtouch 300 over the focal dimension ? Which one is better?

Hi Hasan -

  The Focal Dimension 5.1-Channel System is no longer available. At less than 1/2 the cost, the Bose SoundTouch 300 Soundbar is an incredible bargain:

     Enhance your TV's audio with the Bose SoundTouch 300 Soundbar. Its ability to decode Dolby Digital and DTS signals is designed to provide enhanced sound quality compared to that of your TV's speakers. Its ADAPTiQ setup process will tailor the audio output to your specific listening area. The soundbar has Bluetooth with NFC for pairing with your smart device and wirelessly streaming your audio content; similarly, it has Wi-Fi built-in so you can stream music from your smart device, computer, or NAS.

The SoundTouch 300 features an HDMI input and an ARC-compatible HDMI output to enable one-cable connection to your TV. Its HDMI ports also support 4K pass-through so you can wire it between your Blu-ray player and TV without sacrificing any resolution. It also has an optical input onboard for legacy equipment. The soundbar includes an HDMI cable, an optical cable, and a universal remote control.

  • Less Effort, More Music
  • With the SoundTouch 300 soundbar, you can listen whichever way you want, without worrying about which technology is best. This speaker lets you play music directly from a phone or tablet using Bluetooth, or connect the speaker to your Wi-Fi network for instant in-home listening, without the need for your phone.
  • SoundTouch App
  • Once you have one SoundTouch speaker, you can add more at any time. They all work together, so as you go from room to room, your music goes along with you. The free SoundTouch app gives you greater control of any SoundTouch product, even your SoundTouch 300 soundbar, from a smartphone or tablet. Use it to browse and control music throughout your home. Start streaming instantly or use the app to personalize the presets to your favorite music and stations.
  • Expand Your SoundTouch System
  • If you're looking for more low-end sound, add the Acoustimass 300 wireless bass module; if you want a true surround system, add the Virtually Invisible 300 wireless surround speakers.
  • Additional Features
    • Bluetooth with NFC pairing and Wi-Fi technology let you stream music whichever way you prefer.
    • ADAPTiQ audio room calibration fine-tunes the system's sound to your room.
    • HDMI connectivity with 4K pass-through ensures a high-quality digital connection.
    • Includes a universal remote, so you can control your other devices.
    • One simple connection to your TV makes setup easy.
    • The WB-300 wall bracket (sold separately) lets you mount the soundbar below your TV.

would you recomenc the Yamaha YSP 2500 for its price range or am I better of with something else?

Hi Maarten -

Love this product!  It has been recentlydiscontinued and replaced the new and improved:

Yamaha MusicCast YSP-2700 107W 7.1-Channel Soundbar System. The soundbar is equipped with 16 1.125" beam drivers and includes an external wireless subwoofer with a 5.5" driver, providing up to 107W of total power. It is able to decode high-resolution audio formats such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.

The Yamaha YSP-2700 is well-equipped for connecting high-quality sources with three 4K-ready HDMI inputs and an ARC- and CEC-enabled HDMI output. Stereo RCA, digital coaxial, and optical inputs are also onboard for interfacing other high-quality audio sources, and an optical cable is included.


MusicCast is designed to make it easy to bring music to every room in your home wirelessly with playback controlled by an app. Start with a MusicCast soundbar, then add separately sold MusicCast wireless speakers or other MusicCast products in other rooms.

Virtual 7.1-Channel Surround Sound

The YSP-2700 is equipped with a 16-speaker array and Yamaha's Digital Sound Projector technology to deliver virtual 7.1-channel surround sound.

Digital Sound Projector Technology

The YSP-2700 employs a processor to control the timing of 16 digital amplifiers and 16 speakers, creating controlled "beams" of sound. The sound beams are then aimed - either directly or by reflection off your walls - to arrive at your ears from discrete, channel-appropriate directions.

Easy Sound Calibration for Your Room

Yamaha's IntelliBeam auto-calibration system makes setting up your sound bar easy. Using the supplied microphone to measure room acoustics, IntelliBeam automatically sets the best beam angles while optimizing the level and frequency response of each beam.

Reproduce the Ambience of a Concert Hall or Movie Theater in Your Living Room

Yamaha's CINEMA DSP Digital programs are based on actual sound field data, measured in famous concert halls, jazz clubs, live performance venues, and theaters. The result is an enhanced sound field experience for enjoying music and viewing movies in your living room. The YSP-2700 features 10 different surround programs.

Slim Design

At only 2" tall, the soundbar is designed to fit in front of a display without blocking the picture. It can also be placed on the shelf of TV furniture or mounted on a wall using an optional wall bracket.

Wireless Subwoofer for Flexible Placement

The wireless subwoofer eliminates the need to connect audio cables, so setup and placement are faster and easier.

Control at Your Fingertips

Use the MusicCast Controller app to operate the sound bar and change settings, select your source, and control music playback.

Access All Your Content

MusicCast allows you to access your digital music library, streaming music services, and Internet radio, as well as Bluetooth sources and external sources attached to your MusicCast soundbar, such as a Blu-ray Disc player or CD player.

Stream via Bluetooth or AirPlay

Listen to the music sources from your smartphone via a Bluetooth or AirPlay connection. Play music from music apps, radio apps, or video hosting services.

Bluetooth Output for Music Streaming

The YSP-2700 is equipped with a Bluetooth output, allowing you to stream music from the YSP-2700 to headphones for private listening or to other speakers.

Compressed Music Enhancer

The Compressed Music Enhancer is designed to restore frequency response lost during digital compression to help your music sound the way it should. It is optimized for any compressed content, for enhanced sound quality during wireless playback. The function can be switched on and off via the remote control.

HD Audio Decoding

The YSP-2700 decodes HD Audio signals to ensure that you hear the best possible sound from Blu-ray Disc players as well as from other digital sources.

HDMI Terminals with 4K Ultra HD Support

The YSP-2700 has three HDMI input terminals and one HDMI output terminal, supports 4K/60p video signal pass-through, and is compatible with HDCP 2.2 digital copy protection.

which sound bar/wireless sub combination would you recommend if i have built in surround sound in my ceiling... looking more for a center speaker and base

Hi Jacob -

A sound bar and companion wireless subwoofer cannot  be used as you have described.  Please consider a separate center-channel speaker and wired subwoofer connected to your receiver.  Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

70 inch TV....recommended 5.1 sound bar size.....40", 54"....?

 Hi Bruce -

Enjoy an immersive audio experience with the Samsung HW-K950 500W 5.1.4-Channel Dolby Atmos Soundbar System. It features two up-firing Atmos speakers built into the soundbar and two more built into the rear wireless speakers for object-based audio, allowing for a more 3-dimensional feel to your media. It delivers up to 500W of total power and includes a wireless subwoofer for convenient placement.

The HW-K950 soundbar system has two HDMI, an optical, and an 1/8" Aux input for connecting your external devices. The HDMI output features ARC-compatibility for the reproduction of TV-based audio such as that from built-in apps. For wireless connectivity with your compatible smart devices, it also has Bluetooth built-in. The system includes an HDMI cable for instant connectivity and a wall mount bracket for the soundbar.

Sound from All Around

Get cinema-style sound without leaving home. 15 built-in drivers, including four upward-firing drivers, rear wireless speakers, and a wireless subwoofer deliver sound that feels like it comes from all around, including above, like in the theater.

Feel Every Dimension

Dolby Atmos transports you into the story with moving audio that flows all around you with enhanced realism. Rather than being constrained to channels, sounds exist as individual entities that are precisely placed and moved in three-dimensional space – including from above – putting you in the center of the action.

A Seamless 4K Experience

With 4K pass-through, a simple HDMI connection delivers your audio and video signals. Connect any 4K video source, like a UHD Blu-ray player, through the Samsung HW-K950 to your TV for enhanced sound and 4K picture quality.

Connect Wirelessly and Seamlessly

The soundbar and subwoofer connect to each other wirelessly for seamless sound. Connect the HW-K950 with the optional Samsung Radiant360 wireless speakers for an even more immersive 5.1.4-channel surround sound experience.

Stream Music Your Way

Play your favorite streaming services from your mobile device. Connect the HW-K950 to the Samsung Multiroom App and optional Samsung Radiant360 speakers via Wi-Fi and stream music throughout the house. Built-in Bluetooth connectivity allows you to stream and play music wirelessly from Bluetooth-compatible devices.

Sweet Anywhere You Sit

With a wide-range tweeter engineered by Samsung's audio lab in California, you'll get consistent sound no matter where you sit.

Is it better to have a sound bar that has HDMI inputs or an optical audio input?

Hi Richard -

Many have both so that connectivity is flexible.  Most televisions offer optical audio outputs only.

i  want a sound bar that will level the sound difference Chanels and show and comercials.

Hi -

The feature you are looking for is called DTS TruVolume

DTS TruVolume is designed to provide a consistent volume level for your audio sources. Simply set the volume once.

The VIZIO SB3821-C6 38" 2.1-Channel Soundbar Speaker System offers powerful bass performance and virtual surround sound. This 2.1-channel speaker system features two 2.75" full-range drivers, along with a 5.25" wireless subwoofer for low bass impact. Bluetooth is built into the soundbar, which allows you to easily stream wireless audio from compatible devices such as smartphones and MP3 players.

The VIZIO SB3821-C6 soundbar system is well equipped for external device connections with USB, 3.5mm, stereo RCA, digital optical and coaxial inputs. Additionally, the USB port supports the playback of .WAV audio files. For connectivity, stereo RCA-to-3.5mm, digital coaxial, and digital optical cables are included. A remote control is also included with the soundbar for simple operation and control. In addition to tabletop placement, the soundbar features a wall-mountable design and includes mounting hardware.

Wireless Subwoofer

The included wireless subwoofer provides placement flexibility and is designed to deliver deep bass tones for music and movies.

DTS TruSurround

DTS TruSurround is engineered to deliver immersive and detailed virtual surround sound without the need for rear speakers.

DTS TruVolume

DTS TruVolume is designed to provide a consistent volume level for your audio sources. Simply set the volume once.

Dolby Digital

Dolby Digital is an audio standard for cinema, broadcast, DVD, Blu-ray, and streaming content. Dolby Digital surround sound provides spatial dimension to soundtracks and enhanced audio definition for an engaging listening experience.

Additional Features

  • Produces 100 db of audio to deliver a room-filling audio experience
  • Suitable for 42"-class and up TVs

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

I am thinking of getting a Sony HT ST 9. It is offered with an included  Blue Ray player. I am hoping I can connect the Blue Ray player directly to the sound bar or directly to the sony XBR 49x850b (perhaps mounting it to the back of the tv). My hope is to create an "all in one" that can be operated easily by those less tech savy. (I will have a separate system for audio, to keep it all simple) Thoughts?

Hi Allen -

The Sony HT-ST 9 will connect to your TV via the digital optical audio inputs and outputs, with a TOSLINK cable (included).  The bluray player will connect to the TV via an HDMI cable (not included).  The soundbar is also wall mountable, ideally just below the TV.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

Need sound bar with strong capability to project human voice, not crashes, gun shots, or explosions.  I have an elderly friend who does not hear mid-range sounds very well.  Do not need sub.  Have an older Samsung 720p.  Considering Bluetooth speaker as well.  Any suggestions? Compatibility?  Thanks.God bless.

Hi Annie -

The Yamaha YAS-103BL Surround Soundbar offers dynamic sound quality from a compact speaker design.  it should do a very nice job of enhancing dialog.  This soundbar is equipped with dual 2.5" front drivers and dual 3" built-in subwoofers to deliver a full-range sound. These drivers are powered by a digital amplifier that delivers up to 120W of power. With a system frequency response of 50 Hz - 22 kHz, this soundbar was engineered to handle mid-bass and high-frequencies alike. The built-in bass reflex port further contributes to the soundbar's robust bass response.

The YAS-103BL features Bluetooth 2.1 for wireless streaming from other Bluetooth enabled devices such as smartphones and tablets. A digital coaxial and two digital optical connections are also on-board for wired audio connections; an optical cable is included with the soundbar. This soundbar features two pre-installed feet for table or stand mounting, but you do have the option of using the included mounting template and spacers for mounting the YAS-103BL to a wall.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

 Thanks for the great info! I have a large sound system in our Den but I really need some decent sound in the Master BR. I am old school and know nothing about sound bars. They do look like some amazing technology.

article provides good information

We'll be moving to a new home in a few months, so this information is timely.  I'll need to set up our viewing area & sound once we determine how the room(s) will be arranged.