Despite all the fascinating technology in today’s TVs, it is a shame that sound takes the back seat. The speakers in most modern TV sets are incapable of providing adequate audio. Often, you will get two speakers, each putting out 10 watts at most. So, is there a solution to this travesty? Yes. All you need is to invest in a soundbar. However, what is the best Bluetooth soundbar for TV? After testing hundreds of these devices, the outright winner is the Sonos Arc. The analysis is on four criteria: the design, speaker configuration, audio technology, and price.
As you read along, you will discover the effect of each of the criteria and alternatives to the Sonos Arc. Furthermore, you will also have a buying guide and answers to some of your most urgent questions. You can also check out the other cool TV accessories to kit out your entertainment room.
Why the Four Criteria?
The focus is on four of the most influential factors to a buy. Unless you are buying an engine for the attest space shuttle, it is unlikely that you will look at the technical specifications of anything. After all, where is your TV manual? Keeping this in mind, here is how we ranked each soundbar in this review.
1. The design
The soundbar needs to be more than an audio output device. It needs to fit seamlessly with your décor and should not require a technical degree to set up. Furthermore, the device needs to be compact and discrete, not to distort the entire setup.
2. Speaker configuration
What does surround sound mean? It is a speaker setup that provides fidelity and depth to audio output. You can avail of it in either 5.1, 6.1, or 7.1. You will find soundbars that accommodate these configurations on one unit or those that come with additional speakers.
3. Audio Technology
The audio technology that your soundbar comes with will determine its overall output. Depending on the brand, your soundbar can come with either Dolby or DTS technology. However, there are also other technologies, including Citrix and IMAX.
Are you getting your money’s worth? When assessing the soundbars, we factor in all the gimmicks you get relative to the final price. Even if your choice comes at a premium price, it does not mean that it is the best quality. For example, you may pay top dollar for Ferrari branded soundbar but get a superior one at one-tenth the price.
Best Bluetooth soundbars for TV
Now that you understand the assessment criteria, here are the best Bluetooth soundbars for TV.
Best Bluetooth Soundbar for TV Overall – Sonos Arc
Where do you start with this marvel of the sound world? The Sonos Arc is an oval cylinder with dimensions of (L x W x H) 45 X 4.3 X 3.5 inches. It features sleek curves and a metallic grille that covers the top and front surfaces. Additionally, the flat back allows you to mount it on the wall, either at the top or below your TV. Alternatively, the rubber foot on the bottom ensure that the soundbar is near immovable when placed on flat surfaces. Finally, you can have it in either black or white, making it fit in even the trickiest of decors.
The 5.0.2 speaker configuration coupled with Dolby Atmos, True HD, and Dolby Digital Plus codecs make the sound emanating from this device heavenly. Although the sub-woofer sells as an add-on, the built-in speakers can hold their own against standard off-brand soundbars. It also comes with HDMI, Ethernet, WiFi, and IR technology, ensuring that you get premium sound for all your devices.
Best Budget Bluetooth Soundbar – Sony HT-S350 + wireless Sub-Woofer
So, your TV has taken most of your entertainment palace budget. Are there any affordable soundbars that you can buy? Yes. Sony offers you its HT-S350. The complete unit features a single bar measuring 35.5 X 3.5 X 2.7 inches with a 15.2 X 15.3 x 7.5 inches wireless subwoofer. Altogether, they produce close to 320 watts of sound across variable sound modes and bass levels.
The HT-S350 is only available in black and includes a false-leather top panel with touch-sensitive buttons to add to its elegant design. Given that this is a budget model, you only get Bluetooth, Optical Audio, and HDMI connectivity. However, these are enough to turn your living room into a small concert hall. Despite not having the standard Dolby codecs, its S-Force Pro codec performs exceptionally across all devices.
Best Smart Bluetooth Sound Bar – Roku Streambar Pro
You did not know that these exist now, did you? The team at Ledmond is always at hand to provide you with the latest in the TV world. Roku Streambar Pro is an innovative device that combines both audio and smart TV capabilities. You can use this device on any of the pre-2000 TVs and enjoy online content like everyone else.
The Streambar Pro measures 32.2 X 3.9 X 2.8 inches and weighs about six pounds. Despite the bulkiness, the matte black finish and dark gray grille cloth give it some skin in the looks department. However, the ingenuity that goes into this device is what makes it stand out.
Once you set it up, you can stream your content in 4K quality with extra support from its HDR10 capabilities. It also comes with the latest version of Roku OS, allowing access to tons of online movies and TV shows. WiFi, Bluetooth, and HDMI connections are standard, meaning you can connect as many devices to it as possible.
The icing on the cake is the voice control remote. Its sleek design and increased range allow you to control the device from any corner of your living room. The sound output fails in comparison to the other models in this list. However, you can boost the sound with the Roku Wireless Subwoofer and Wireless Speakers for a more immersive sound.
Best All-in-One Bluetooth Soundbar – Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar
Sennheiser is a legend when it comes to audio technology. Since its inception, the company is the leader in headphones and microphones. However, their entry into the soundbar market is not in vain. The Ambeo soundbar is in a different league.
Firstly, you do not need an external sub-woofer as all the speakers are within the bar itself. The unit features a 5.1.4 channel setup, the only one of its kind. Consequently, the unit offers you an audio experience that defies human understanding. Thirteen drivers and virtualization technology allow it to capture your living room’s acoustics and generate a 3D sound experience like no other.
Secondly, it is compatible with most audio codecs such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. However, Sennheiser’s Upmix Technology sets it miles apart. The codec enables the soundbar to convert both 5.1 audio and stereo to 3D sound.
The design is simplistic yet stylish. It comes with a cloth grille on the front and side panels, with an LED display at the center. The Ambeo soundbar is 49.8 X 6.7 X 5.3 inches, with a weight of 41 pounds. You are better off placing it on a TV stand, but you can also purchase the device-specific mounting kit. There are controls on the center of the top panel, which allow you the manual operation of the unit. Using the remote or smartphone app opens up even more functions to enhance your listening experience.
Sennheiser’s Ambeo soundbar commands premium price. However, it justifies every penny with all its capabilities and rarity in the market. You can get yourself a unit from the official Sennheiser store.
Best value for money Bluetooth Soundbar – Vizio SB362An-F6
The SB362An-F6 is a 36-inch long soundbar that outputs audio from a 2.1 channel configuration. It is your best option if you are still unsure of going big in the subwoofer game. You get two built-in subwoofers that enrich your bass and still perform admirably well against other high-end brands.
The Vizio 36-inch features a flat design that makes it almost invisible in any setup. You can either place it on your TV stand or mount it on a wall. Regardless of its placement, the soundbar will deliver when put into action. Additionally, the DTS Virtual:X codec enhances the virtual surround effect of this unit, making it feel as if you are in a 200-seater cinema.
Finally, you get a 3.5mm input jack for your analog devices as well. You will best enjoy this device if you use it with TVs greater than 40″.
Are You Looking to Buy a Soundbar? The Buyer’s Cheat Sheet
As you can see, there is a soundbar available for each type of buyer. However, if none of the above recommendations tickle your fancy, here are some tips to help you along.
1. Always buy legit
The internet is home to millions of retailers, each claiming to be the leader in their field. However, not all of them have your best interests at heart. Therefore, always shop for your soundbar from an authorized dealer to receive your money’s worth. Some of the benefits of using a licensed dealer include a product warranty and free shipping.
2. An active soundbar is your best bet
You should always purchase a soundbar that comes with a built-in amplifier (active soundbars). Ensure that you verify this by checking the device from the manufacturer’s website before committing to a purchase.
3. Look for three and up
Whenever you go shopping for a soundbar, always look for one that has three or more channels. You can verify this by the number that appears on the manual. For example, when you get to the store, look for devices with the number 3.1 and above to be safe.
4. Check your entertainment setup
A rule of thumb is that your soundbar should not be wider than your TV. Whether you are mounting it or placing it on a stand, ensure that you have enough space for the new device. Additionally, be mindful of the devices that you will be pairing the soundbar with. Although most devices come with WiFi and Bluetooth, buying a soundbar that supports HDMI-switching is also a good idea. With this, you will not need to interchange cable inputs when using different devices.
Without a doubt, there are things you need to compromise as technology gets better. For example, the latest smart TVs offer wonderful visual experiences, but the sound is deplorable. However, Soundbars are there to mitigate this shortfall. Judging by the information above, it is no doubt the Sonos Arc is the best Bluetooth soundbar for TV.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are soundbars and sound bases the same?
No. There are key differences between them as listed below:
Soundbars are longer, and you can either mount them or place them on a TV stand. Sound bases tend to feature a rounder appearance and are significantly shorter. Furthermore, their design only allows you to put them under the television or within the TV stand.
Sound bases have more space within them in comparison to soundbars. Consequently, you get better amplification of stereo and bass, making the need for a sub-woofer optional.
Is it possible to add extra speakers to a soundbar?
It all depends. Some brands come with the option to add wireless speakers and sub-woofers. For example, you can buy additional speakers and a sub-woofer for the Roku Streambar Pro.
Can you use a soundbar with a gaming console?
Yes, you can. Most soundbars come with multiple connections to support as many devices as possible. For example, Bluetooth and WiFi allow you to interact with wireless devices such as your phone. The HDMI eARC connection will enable you to connect your gaming console and any other machine that supports HDMI.
Can you operate a soundbar without the remote?
As the technology continues to evolve, soundbars now feature voice control and smartphone apps in their functionality. Additionally, you can also find the manual controls on your soundbar’s back or top panel. Check your manual to be sure.