Soundbar Buying Guide

Speakers built into the TV may sound good, but soundbars allow you to really hear the drama of movies and music with deep bass and clear tweeters that bring out every word and detail.

A soundbar is an excellent complete speaker system that delivers high-quality television sound. This extraordinary device eliminates the need for a home theater, which requires space, is expensive and complicated to operate. More and more people are switching from home theaters to soundbars. A soundbar adds depth, power and volume to entertainment. Speakers built into the TV may sound good, but soundbars allow you to really hear the drama of movies and music with deep bass and clear tweeters that bring out every word and detail.

The laws of physics make it difficult to get powerful sound from modern televisions. To try to achieve the superiority of a flat, paper-thin screen, speakers have shrunk and migrated from their logical front-facing position to the back of the TV or underneath, or wherever they can be compressed. Large forward-facing speakers will always be clearer and louder than small speakers facing in another direction. Not surprisingly, these small speakers do not have much to offer in terms of dynamics and range.

Finding the Right Size

Soundbars are classified according to the number of built-in treble, bass and tweeter channels. You can think of the channels as the sound being output on a soundbar. For example, a “2.1” system has two speakers and its own subwoofer. A 5.1 system has five speakers (a center, a left, a right, and two surround speakers) and a subwoofer. Soundbars usually have at least three channels in the front (left, center and right) and a subwoofer. That’s a 3.1 system. In my opinion, the most important channel is the center channel, because that’s where the dialogue from TV and movie mixers is placed. Do you have problems understanding dialogues in movies and series? Then get at least a 3-channel bar.

Sometimes you will see an additional number at the end, like in a 5.1.2 system. This means that there are two height channels. These are upward or side-facing speakers that bounce sound off the walls to simulate side and ceiling speakers for content mixed in Dolby Atmos or DTS:X. Basically, these soundbars try to create a surround sound experience without having to put a bunch of speakers in your living room. More expensive soundbars are even equipped with additional surround speakers at the back and height for an even more immersive sound experience.

Placement Choices in Your Home

Most of the best soundbars have a low enough profile that they won’t interfere with your TV (or even the TV’s remote detector) when placed on a shelf, but check the height to be sure. If you want to mount your soundbar on the wall, make sure it has keyhole slots or any brackets.

In years past, a surround sound installation in the home required a receiver and five speakers. That’s still the best configuration for a home theater, but a soundbar can be a great solution for people who don’t have the space or inclination for that kind of installation

Types of Soundbars

You may have heard, seen or read about the different types of Bluetooth headphones. But do you know that there are also different types of soundbars.

Active Soundbar

The market is now full of active soundbars, and we all know why – convenience. Active soundbars have amplifiers, sound processors, speaker cables, crossovers and other elements such as RF transmitters and Bluetooth receivers – all in a single system. They are easy to install and lightweight, which makes them the ideal choice for all households.

Passive Soundbar

A passive soundbar differs from an active soundbar in one respect: it does not have a DSP or internal amplification. As with a conventional speaker system, you need a separate amplifier/preamp, integrated amplifier, or external receiver for a passive soundbar. This soundbar usually includes a passive crossover, speaker inputs, and up to seven speaker drivers.

Features to Look for in a Soundbar

Front Display Panel

A display on the front of the soundbar is very handy if you want to listen to music without turning on the TV. Look for a model that allows you to dim or turn off the display when you don’t need it, as it can be distracting if it’s too bright.

Rear Speakers

Some models additionally support “surround sound”, so you can connect additional speakers that are placed in the back of the room to imitate 5.1. These speakers are available separately as optional accessories or in packages at an additional cost.

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

Many soundbars also offer wireless connectivity. This is important if you want to play music directly from your phone or computer. This can be done either via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

Bluetooth is sufficient for most purposes, but requires a range of about 30 feet. Depending on the size of your home, Wi-Fi may therefore be more practical. Wi-Fi also allows you to listen to music in multiple rooms at the same time.

Remote or App Control

Most soundbars come with remote controls, but many can also be controlled with your TV’s remote. This is useful if you already have more remotes than you need. Many soundbars also come with apps that let you control them from your phone.

Music Streaming

Integrated streaming services like Spotify and Tidal are handy if you like your music. Instead of streaming via Bluetooth, built-in connectivity uses your phone or tablet as a remote, while streaming is done via Wi-Fi directly from the cloud to the soundbar. This can improve audio quality and battery life.

Video Switching

Allows you to pass the video signal through the soundbar to your TV. This is only possible on soundbars with HDMI connections and reduces the number of cables from the DVD player to the soundbar to one cable and one cable from the soundbar to the TV. If you connect the soundbar to the TV via a digital audio connection, the audio signal is transmitted through the soundbar every time it is played on the TV.

Dolby Atmos Compatibility

Dolby Atmos is an audio technology that enables the virtual creation of a 3D soundstage. You get the feeling of incredible surround sound without the huge cost of a full home theater system with many individual speakers. The added benefit of Dolby Atmos is the ability to drive upward-facing speakers. This is in addition to the front-facing speakers and subwoofers used for surround sound output.


Most soundbars are designed to connect to a TV via an HDMI cable. You simply connect your input devices to your TV and then connect your TV to the soundbar. Soundbars can also be connected to a TV via an optical cable. If you want to connect devices directly to the soundbar, this is also possible, but you will need a soundbar with additional HDMI ports. This is useful if your TV itself does not have many input ports.


A soundbar with its own (external) subwoofer can sound better than a soundbar without a subwoofer, especially in a large room. A well-made subwoofer improves low-end audio quality and gives your system a cinema feel. However, an inferior subwoofer can have a negative impact on sound quality. If you want some bass but don’t have room for an external subwoofer, consider a soundbase. These have a built-in subwoofer.

Voice Assistant

Some soundbars have voice assistants like Alexa or Google Assistant. This is useful if you want to control the soundbar by voice or use it to control other parts of your home, such as smart lights. It should be noted that voice assistants come with privacy concerns. When you buy a soundbar with this feature, you are basically installing a microphone that is designed to hear what you say.

Wall Mount

Soundbars are usually mounted on a stand under the TV, but you can also buy third-party wall mounts. These are only available in horizontal orientation. It is possible to mount a soundbar vertically, but they are not designed to project audio in this way, so there is no real reason to do so. For example, if you put a soundbar on the end, it won’t reproduce the sound you get from floorstanding speakers.


The drivers are the key elements responsible for the sound produced by the soundbar. The more and the bigger the drivers are, the better the sound quality.

Surround-sound speakers

Some premium soundbars are equipped with separate surround speakers, like those found in some home theater systems. Surround sound is designed to give the sound a sense of movement and direction, creating an immersive cinema experience. Unlike Dolby Atmos, where the sound is spun around, surround speakers actually have the sound coming from different directions.

Surround speakers can be wired or wireless, though wireless modules usually still need to be connected to a power source. Dedicated surround speakers are generally reserved for the most expensive soundbars, but some affordable models are compatible with separately purchased surround speakers.

The Role of Multi-Channels

How many channels can be called surround sound compared to 2-channel stereo? The answer is 4 channels. The first surround sound track is 4-channel. Left front (FL), right front (RL), left surround channel (SL), right surround channel (SR) are enough to surround the audience with the sound field. The center channel is not necessary. However, if the room is large, the center channel can ensure that the spoken dialogue is clearer. If the budget is not enough, it can’t hurt to remove the center channel, because the center channel does not contain much positional information. These are 4.0 or 4.1 channels, where the first number indicates the number of main channels.

Left-front FL, right-front RL, left-surround SL, right-surround SR, center channel plus bass channel form the most widely used 5.1 surround sound system. Of course, it’s not difficult to add a center channel, just like a soundbar. However, there are still many inexpensive soundbars that omit the center channel, which is something you should look for when buying.

The 7.1 channel is the addition of the left and right channels. At this point, they are called the left and right surround channels, and the original left and right surround channels on the back become the back surround channel. Chances are the speakers on either side won’t be in many people’s living rooms, so I won’t consider them for now. And if the Sky channel is added, 9.1 channel decoding and amplification capabilities will be required. Ceiling speakers are more effective.

Other Things to Note

Sound Field Calibration Technology

The listening environment has a significant impact on multi-channel surround sound, and the sound field calibration function built into AV receivers has become almost standard. Measuring listening position data via phase and frequency response through the microphone makes the overall sound field more balanced. For the soundbar, this function represents professionalism.

Impact of Supporting Video Formats

Either the power amplifier or the soundbar. The high-end devices will be labeled with terms like support for 4K / 60p, HDR, HLG, Dolby Vision and BT2020. What good is it for a speaker to support these? The key lies in the transmission of audio and video signals via an HDMI cable. If these video specifications are not supported, it is very likely that the video signal from the video source will not be transmitted to the TV.

With conventional AV receivers, the video source is connected to HDMI IN and the display device is connected to HDMI OUT. The power amplifier leaves the audio signal for decoding and the video signal is transferred to the display device intact, so it must support the appropriate video protocol to make a successful connection.


If you enjoy watching TV and movies at home, you will certainly benefit from an audio upgrade such as a soundbar. And the good news is that you don’t have to spend a fortune to notice a noticeable difference. Soundbars are referred to by the amount of integrated channels for treble, bass, and pitch. You can think of channels as the place where audio is output on a soundbar. A “2.1” system, for example, has two speakers and a dedicated subwoofer.

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
The Bollyinside editorial staff is made up of tech experts with more than 10 years of experience Led by Sumit Chauhan. We started in 2014 and now Bollyinside is a leading tech resource, offering everything from product reviews and tech guides to marketing tips. Think of us as your go-to tech encyclopedia!


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