As the world transitions into new 4K standards, we’ve found that TV speakers alone often leave us wanting more volume and more clarity.
If you’re not looking to decorate your living room with the rat’s nest of speaker wires typically required for a 7.2 surround sound system, try these single speaker (some with a subwoofer) sound bar solutions to make your music, games and movies really crank.
Samsung’s MS750 Sound bar will work with any TV you pair it with but, if you have a Samsung 4K TV, expect it to do more with wireless pairing (via bluetooth OR wifi) and seamless control via the TV’s remote, no extra dedicated remote to add clutter. Once you’re all paired up, the MS750 delivers an incredible, room-filling range of sound that thumps the lows and remains crystal clear with the mids and highs, whether you're watching movies, listening to music or getting your game on.
We were impressed by some of the automated features found in this one, analyzing your room and the feedback it gets to give you the ideal settings for your living room’s shape and size. The bar itself gives you decibels on demand but you can also pair the MS750 with Samsung’s powered subwoofer in case you want to push the boundaries of bass too.
Bose isn’t just about sound, they’re also about style and the Soundtouch 300 encapsulates both of those ideals. The glass topped bar is a phenomenal looking addition to your home theater but it really is the sound quality that puts the Soundtouch 300 above most other offerings. Connecting to your TV via HDMI or optical, we chose HDMI since that gave us more full integration of the Bose into our setup and made controls more seamless as a result.
Bose has a bunch of proprietary tech that went into this bar, developed over years of being in the audio game. Their QuietPort tech insures clear sound at any volume and their PhaseGuide system uses the speaker array found inside the sound bar to displace sound around the room, almost magically. Add the Bose app to your phone and the SoundTouch 300 can instantly switch from booming out your TV’s audio to pumping music via Spotify or other streaming services too.
JBL’s new Bar 2.1 is the latest in the offerings from the audio behemoth. One of the more economic offerings in this lineup, JBL does have higher end sound bars too but we were very impressed with both the quality and impact that we got from using the 2.1. Integration into our home theater was simple, via a single HDMI wire that connected it to our different AV components as well as giving our TV remote full control over the sound bar.
Bluetooth connectivity made it easy to switch from TV audio to streaming music or even a quick fix for getting better volume out of a YouTube video from our computer. While every system on this list has the possibility of adding subwoofers, the JBL comes with one in the box so make sure you actually want that bass boost before pulling the trigger on this one.
The smallest sound bar on this list also packed a mighty punch. Sony also has a wide array of sound bar offerings but we were especially interested in the MT300 because of its space-saving design since not everyone has the space to jimmy a 5’ bar into their home theater. The diminutive design of Sony’s smaller sound bar was a welcome addition in the apartment where it was tested.
Like the JBL, the MT300 also comes with an included, wireless subwoofer that seemed to perform better when we placed it in the rear of the room, opposite the sound bar itself. The combo of the two, while not as powerful or having as many bells and whistles as the Bose or the Samsung, definitely livened up the sound coming out of our TV and was a huge upgrade over the TV speakers themselves.
LG’s mid-range sound bar is much more jack of all trades than one trick pony. That is to say, it performed well enough at all tasks but was never a stand out in a particular category, especially music. The design of the SH7B is little more than a speaker grate on first look and, for those wanting discrete surround sound simulation, LG’s sound bar may be perfect for you. Adaptive sound control tweaks the EQ here to optimize the audio delivery for whatever content you’re watching but physical buttons on the back give the user even more control to tune this sound bar to perfectly suit their tastes.
We weren’t fans of the dedicated remote found here but couldn’t help think that integration into our home theater may have gone more smoothly if this sound bar was boosting the sound on an LG TV instead of the Samsung we tested it with since it’s a near-universal truth now that manufacturers always make components work better when they’re from the same brand. If you’re one of the LG faithful, this is undoubtedly the right sound bar for you.