The Best Sound Bar for TV
What is a sound bar? And How To Choose The Right One.
A sound bar is a compact bar-shaped speaker system designed to create home theater sound for your TV -- without the complexity and expense of a multi-speaker sound system. A sound bar can be a great choice, but they are not all created equal.
External subwoofer, internal subwoofer or no subwoofer?
When sound bars were first introduced they usually had an external subwoofer -- a large black cabinet that is placed on the floor to reproduce loud bass notes. This is still the most commonly found kind of sound bar and they range in price from about $150 to $2,000.
In 2007 ZVOX developed a new kind of sound bar with a built-in compact subwoofer. Sound bars with internal subwoofers can, depending on their design, have outstanding bass without the complexity and bulk of an external subwoofer.
A growing number of sound bars have no subwoofer at all. Bass output from such systems is limited, but some people don't care that much about powerful bass.
Sound Bar Sizes.
Sound bars range in size from 17" to 57". Many people like to choose one that is about the same width as their TV, but that's a cosmetic decision. Larger sound bars also leave room for larger, high quality speakers and subwoofers.
Feature - which ones are important?
Virtual surround sound. Some sound bars are simply stereo speaker systems, while others include technology allowing them to replicate surround sound effects, without external speakers. A good virtual surround system creates enveloping three-dimensional sound.
Dialogue enhancement. New Hollywood mixing techniques.often result in dialogue that is very difficult to understand. And many people with minor hearing impairment have difficulty understanding voices on TV. The AccuVoice system developed by ZVOX uses hearing aid technology to make dialogue clear, even at low volumes.
Center speaker or no center speaker. Most sound bars don't have a center speaker -- crucial to balanced sound and dialogue clarity.
Bluetooth connectivity. Bluetooth lets you stream music from your phone or tablet to your sound bar. Bluetooth was was considered a crucial feature, but more and more TVs and media players (like Roku, Apple TV and Googlecast) provide access to music streaming services, making Bluetooth a less important feature.
Wifi audio streaming. A number of sound bars include wifit streaming functionality that lets you stream high fidelity music. This functionality allows a sound bar to integrate with a multi-zone wifi sound system. There are two drawbacks to built-in wifi streaming. 1. You become committed to one technology choice. If you want to swtich to another kind of wifi system later on, you need to buy a whole new sound bar. 2. Technology changes fast. If a new kind of system comes out, you may want to switch to it -- which means you need to buy a new sound bar. ZVOX systems simply offer multiple inputs that allow you to connect a small external wifi connector. Our current favorite is the Google Chromecast Audio dongle ($30). Connect it to any ZVOX sound bar and you've got a "smart" sound system.
The most important feature - sound quality.
Unfortunately, many sound bars on the market are not high fidelity sound systems. They are actually just cheap table radios in bar-shaped cabinets with no radio tuner. So we recommend you read reviews, stick with known brand names, and be sure to get return privileges so you can test it in your own home.
Small ZVOX Sound Bar - No Subwoofer.
The AccuVoice AV200 Speaker is our smallest sound bar. Only 17" wide it fits just about anywhere. It includes three full-range speakers and a 45 watt digital amplifier and sounds very good, but does not offer "window rattling bass." Instead it focuses on dialogue clarity with our AccuVoice technology. Click here to see AccuVoice AV200
Medium ZVOX Sound Bar - Built-in Subwoofer.
The ZVOX SB400 sound bar is 35.5" wide and includes a built-in powered subwoofer. This is a very popular size because it works well with many different TV sizes. It features a 118 watt digital amplifier, Bluetooth and our AccuVoice dialogue boost feature. Click here to see SB400 Sound Bar
Large ZVOX Sound Bar - Two Built-In Subwoofers.
The ZVOX SB500 sound bar is 43.9" wide and features dual built-in powered subwoofers for amazing bass down to 42 Hz without an external subwoofer cabinet. Click here to see SB500 Sound Bar