In this article, we have reviewed tens of popular soundbars available in the UK to bring you the six best soundbars at the start of 2016. These are divided into 3 categories – under £200, under £300 and under £500.
For those of you wondering what a soundbar is, or whether you really need one over a surround sound system or a sound base, we have some general expert information to start this article off.
If you know everything there is to know about soundbars and want to get straight to the reviews, then scroll down directly to read our reviews on the best soundbar at different price points in the UK.
What is a Soundbar? Everything You Need to Know
Soundbars are home theater speaker systems that are enclosed in a single cabinet with stereo effect that simulates surround sound.
The technology is useful in the creation of great surround sound while avoiding cluttering the room with speakers and cables. Most sound-bars enclose at least three speakers within the casing.
The sound quality of soundbars is a huge improvement to the quality of sound of TV speakers.
The technology packed into a soundbar has come a long way since the introduction of the ‘LCR Soundbar’. Technology varies from one soundbar to another with different manufacturing companies advancing their technology including phased array technology.
With advancement in technology, soundbars are generally getting sleeker, slimmer and smaller. This has necessitated the introduction of wireless subwoofers for low frequency sound.
Other technological features that may be incorporated include wireless connectivity ( for tablets and smartphones), display panels, Dolby and DTS audio processing support, HDMI inputs and bluetooth.
The most prominent sound-bar manufacturers are; Sony, Yamaha, Samsung, LG, BOSE among others.
Advantages of Soundbars
In comparison to conventional other stereo surround systems, sound-bars are relatively cheap and smaller.
Another major advantage of sound-bars is keeping rooms clutter-free, manufacturers generally design sound-bars to accentuate interiors with beautiful shapes and finishes.
In addition to de-cluttering spaces, soundbars offer child and pet proofing with no wires in sight, this is especially vital for home owners with young children and pets as well as those who prefer a clean simple look.
Disadvantages of Soundbars
Soundbars are designed to work together with the spaces in which they operate. Therefore in a moderately sized square room, sound from the soundbars will bounce off the walls enhancing the surround effect. This however does not apply in open plan spaces and very big rooms.
In addition, for those who desire precise surround systems, soundbars and sound-bases cannot replace detailed speakers placement.
Manufacturers typically pair up soundbars with subwoofers to facilitate delivery of base frequencies. Usually, the subwoofer will be wireless and can therefore be placed discretely in a room for example in a corner or a cabinet, the location of subwoofers in a room is not necessarily important since the frequency is low enough to make it sound unidirectional resulting in a feeling that the sound is coming from everywhere.
The main advantage of the wireless subwoofers is that they do not affect the aesthetics of a room with cables. They however still need to be connected to the power outlet.
Differences between Soundbars and Sound-Bases
The main difference between a soundbar and sound-bases is the shape and positioning. As the name suggests, sound-bases are short and long and are designed as a base for the TV to stand on.
Sound bars and sound bases also differ from each other in performance, generally, sound-bases have better bass sound due to their size which is considerably larger. However, some sound-bars when combined with their sub-woofers outperform sound-bases.
In addition, sound-bases generally do not require subwoofers since they have additional bass drivers incorporated. for those who want good bass but are not willing to use a separate subwoofer, a soundbase is the best choice.
The rating of soundbases considers the weight of the TV they can support.
Best Soundbar under £200
Yamaha YAS-93 Front Surround Soundbar System:
The stylishly designed easy to install and use soundbar features integrated system with built in subwoofers and front speakers as well as powerful surround sound thanks to air surround extreme.
Thanks to its design, it is slim enough to be positioned in front of the TV.
In addition, the soundbar’s built in IR flasher makes TV remote signal transmission is possible. It also comes with additional features such as bass-reflex port for depth and richness of bass and clarity as well as uni-volume to keep the volume at the same level between different input sources, channels and programmes.
The Yamaha YAS-93 Front Surround Soundbar System delivers great sound at a relatively low price.
Sony HT-CT80 2.1 Channel Sound Bar with Virtual Sound System
This soundbar from Sony is yet another high performance soundbar that is reasonably priced.
Its beautiful sleek design is perfect for any interior, the soundbar is only 5.1 centimetres thick therefore it does not obscure view of the screen. It is ideal both resting on a table top and mounted on a wall.
With Sony ClearAudio+, different audio formats are optimized resulting in sound clarity. the soundbar comes with a wired subwoofer that delivers on the low frequency sounds for a richer listening experience.
With Bluetooth capabilities, you can easily stream music from your tablet or smart phone and control the volume and playlist from your device.
Best Soundbar under £300
LG 320W 2.1 Channel Bluetooth Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer
The design of the soundbar is very unique, sleek and minimalist. You can download the LG Bluetooth remote App and install it in your smartphone in order to control the soundbar straight from your phone.
The wireless subwoofer delivers deep and rich tones without compromising on aesthetics and design. The Cinema Surround Processor that is unique to LG creates a cinema experience of 3D sound for movie lovers.
Sony 2.1 Channel HT-CT260 Virtual Surround Sound Bar and Wireless Subwoofer
One highlight of this soundbar is the S-Force PRO Front Surround from Sony. The S-Force PRO Front Surround creates cinema acoustics by bending sound from the front speakers resulting in it sounding like the sound is coming from all around.
With 300W power output, the soundbar and its accompanying subwoofer have immense sound capabilities.
The design of the Sony 2.1 Channel HT-CT260 Virtual Surround Sound Bar allows it to be placed in front of the TV, mounted onto a wall or simply placed on a shelf.
Best Soundbar under £500
Yamaha Sound Bar Speaker System with Bluetooth
In the centre, this powerhouse has 8 array speakers while at both ends are the subwoofers with 8.5 centimetres drive units. The surround sound is actual not virtual reflecting sound beams off walls and predetermining their direction thanks to Yamaha Digital Sound Projectors.
It also features Clear Voice technology to make narrations and dialogue significantly easier to hear without straining by raising level of dialogue without changing the overall sound quality, bluetooth streaming from your tablet or phone and the ability to ‘learn’ the operations of the TVs remote control.
For superior sound imaging, the right and left channel configurations are independent.If you want even more bass, there is a subwoofer outjack that allows connection of an additional subwoofer.
Though a bit pricey, the sound quality is worth it.
Samsung HW-H450 2.1 Soundbar System
The soundbar comes with a supersonic subwoofer that delivers thunderous bass with different options for sound effects.The soundbar can be connected to the TV via bluetooth and you can also control the two from one TV remote. One touch bluetooth control is enabled by the bluetooth app. The design is classic Samsung; simple, functional and elegant.