7 Best Sounbars for 2017 in the UK
Music addicts live in the best era of human civilisation. Technology allows them to enjoy to this cosmos of melodies wherever they are, without compromising neither the sound quality nor ergonomy and efficiency.
Soundbars are now the leading force in this unstoppable torrent of top-notch technological solutions. We have selected the best-selling soundbars for 2017 and put them under the microscope for you.
Without further ado, let’s start with the first and affordable speaker in our list!
TaoTronics TV SoundBar – Best under £100
We start by stepping into the world of TV soundbars, with a fantastic model by TaoTronics. Still, this one ranks among the economical options in this category, while scoring excellent reviews. Let’s find more.
At a Glance
- Dimensions: 87.5 x 6.5 x 8.7 cm
- Actual weight: 1.8 Kg
- Boxed-product Weight: 2.5 Kg
- Item model number: TT-SK15UKUK
- Connectivity Technology: Bluetooth – effective distance of up to 10 meters (33 feet)
- Output Wattage: 40 watts
- 0 channel audio: 4 full range high-quality speakers – 2 passive radiators bringing the bass
- Both Wire and wireless connectivity, connectable to modern and traditional devices alike, including 3.5mm, optical, coaxial, and RCA aux input
- Touch or remote control: dual operation modes
- High-grade metal controls plus a remote for adjusting playback settings (volume, track selection )
The TaoTronics TV Sound Bar was meant to highlight the outer simplicity and inner might. This its design is modern enough, but nothing out of the ordinary.
Featuring the classic soundbar square appearance – quite typical for most high-end choices on the market. Its body is covered almost in its entirety with a thin fabric. A brushed aluminium strip dominates the bar’s centre. Control buttons are on top, activatable by touch. At the back, convenient mounting points with proper plastic guides make sure the soundbar stays in place wherever you decide to hang it.
All in all, a minimal and discreet choice, versatile, ideal for small apartments where saving space is critical.
A Bluetooth connection is feasible with a 10-metre (33 feet) range. Not bad, especially for such a low price. The connection is very good, compatible with all Bluetooth versions, and with a relatively easy pairing.
Since “relatively” always raises a red flag, let us amplify. The truth is a few problems have emerged when more than one Bluetooth devices work within the speaker’s range. Operation gets a bit slower, and you might have some lags. That said, you can always connect the speaker through the 3.5 output or the RCA jacks, and all your Bluetooth connection problems are gone.
Battery Life – Not an Issue
This soundbar (as most such speakers) uses a power cord, so no worries about batteries here. On the other hand, this somewhat restraints your outdoor options.
The sound quality is just excellent. Bringing out a 40 Watts sound, it quickly fills a spacious room. Its passive radiators boost the speaker’ performance in low frequencies but do not wait for the crisp sound of a HiFi system when it comes to mid and high frequencies. Again, the sound is more than enjoyable, just not as good as we would like it to be. But again, you cannot have the cake and eat it, can you?
If you are looking for something more powerful, keep on reading!
Bose Solo 5 TV Soundbar System – A High-Quality Best Seller
We must raise the bar if we wish to cater for the more demanding reader. The Bose Solo 5 TV Soundbar System surely suits our purpose. Designed to bring out any type of sound, from a cat walking to whispers to its deserved clarity, it features a dialogue mode, making each and every word more distinct and clear and negating any need to adjust the volume for each different scene.
At a Glance
- Dimensions: 8.6 x 7 x 54.8 cm
- Actual weight: 1.6 Kg
- Boxed-product Weight: 3.8 Kg
- Batteries: 2 Lithium Metal batteries required & included
- Item model number: 732522-2110
- Dialogue mode, making words and audio details even more distinct
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Connection to your TV Speaker
- Universal remote to command your TV bass module, Bluetooth devices and more
The Bose Solo 5 TV sound system is a one-piece soundbar meant to sky-rocket your TV programs sound quality.
Versatile and easy to handle, its sleek design does not leave much room for hesitation. Just as our previous option, Bose Solo 5 cannot be portable, for this was not the manufacturer’s priority. Though Bluetooth connectivity is available, and its size is quite small, the lack of a durable power autonomy limits its portability. Besides, it doesn’t claim to be portable.
Bose Solo 5 was designed mainly as a TV soundbar system. Its purpose of existence is to give volume and clarity to small TV’s sound system, and its dimensions mean it fits ideally under any type of TV set.
Bose Solo 5 offers several connectivity options, be it a TV, a computer, or a Bluetooth capable mobile device. It can be connected through a digital optical cable, digital coaxial cable, 3.5mm aux analogue input as well as Bluetooth.
The Bluetooth range covers easily a distance of 10 metres (indoors), but have in mind that distance is just one side of the coin when it comes to wireless links. Interference from Wi-Fi networks, other wireless devices, obstacles, and walls can reduce the performance in the audible level.
The bar comes by default with the optical cable which delivers the best sound quality, free form the interference of the other types of connections.
The connection itself is straightforward; just connect the cable to the TV and the other end to the soundbar and off you go.
As mentioned earlier, Bose Solo 5 Soundbar is mains-operated so that no autonomous battery operation can be evaluated and discussed whatsoever.
As to sound performance, Solo 5 has nothing to offer to TV sets with top-notch audio quality, but when it comes to older TV sets or ones of inferior quality and smaller size, Solo 5 does wonders, proving far more than a worthy addition.
Equipped with special programs of digital audio processing, Solo 5 brags its ability to bring forth all subtle details that most built-in TV speakers just can’t reproduce. In scenes with low audio level or dialogues, the soundbar demonstrates an outstanding ability to offer crystal-clear audio, something that makes the movie or the program more comprehensive and enjoyable.
On the other hand, if you try something more powerful, i.e. an upbeat Youtube song, you end up confused with the lack of punch and the narrow sound field. Most of the complaints coming from verified owners of the model are focused on this very issue.
Solo 5 comes with a USB on the back, and this consists a caveat too. For it is not there for USB sticks, to plug them in and play mp3s. It is just for firmware updates. This makes Solo 5 upgradeable to newer audio capabilities and, why not, to settings that will deal with some of its soft points.
Apart from this, the device comes equipped with a rather large remote control, which can be used for handling the soundbar as well as the other types of electronic equipment. Frankly, it seems like Bose provided a universal remote control, cluttered with capabilities, to comfort any disappointment regarding sound performance – if that is the case, it hits the nail on the head!
Samsung HW-K450 TV Speaker – A Powerful Soundbar
Promising to expand your audio system without cluttering your space, the Samsung HW-K450 2.1 Wireless Sound Bar offers rich and powerful sound, that will bring your TV viewing to life. The wireless subwoofer adds bass depth, without lessening the sound’s clarity.
Explicitly designed to highlight vocal clarity, the HW-K450 promises to reproduce the highest highs and mid-range tones without distortion, making the listening area as realistic as it could be. Let’s see if it delivers.
At a Glance
- Actual weight: 3.5 Kg
- Boxed-product Weight: 9 Kg
- Item model number: HW-K450/EN
- Product features 300 W Wireless subwoofer
- Bluetooth Digital connection: optical & HDMI
- 5 Number of Sound Modes (DSP)
- 1 Channel Number of Channel
- Net Dimension (Main Speaker) (WxHxD) – 908.5 x 53.5 x 70.5 cm
- Net Dimension (Sub Woofer) (WxHxD) – 179 x 361 x 299.5 cm
Samsung HW-K450 is another soundbar system produced to enhance the home-bound audio experience. Contrasting to other popular Samsung curved soundbars, the HW-K450 is straight. The sound bar is 90.8cm wide. That is almost twice the Bose Solo 5 width. With such a width, TV sets of at least 55 inches diagonal can keep the presence of the beautiful bar discreet.
It should be mentioned that the central unit comes with a wall mounting bracket and all the assorted mounting nuts and bolts. The build quality is high, and it gives the feeling of a well-engineered product. The 2.1 channel system comes with a decent quality subwoofer of 17.9×36.1×30.0cm linked wirelessly with the main unit.
The 4.6kg weight of the sub makes it stable enough and firm. The fabric that covers the loudspeaker protects it well from collisions and dust.
Two recesses on the bottom of the main unit host a variety of sockets that contribute to an extended connectivity. This model supports HDMI input and output, from which the sound processor can pick up both Dolby Digital or DTS encoded signals. Bluetooth and TV SoundConnect (Samsung’s proprietary wireless connection protocol) are the two wireless choices available in the arsenal. Both can be used to connect efficiently with a wide variety of devices, from mobile phones to smart TVs.
Apart from these wireless solutions and the HDMI port, K450 offers digital optical and standard 3.5mm analogue inputs. Moreover, it provides a USB port that can host flash drives and playback media directly from them.
K450 is designed to be accommodated under the shadow of some big and wide TV set. Thus, it is no surprise that it has no battery-operated provision. Both the size and the power consumption disallow of such a possibility. Yet, the system can be easily connected to one or more sources and be set up for a few minutes.
The operation is smooth as a breeze mainly due to the simple but effective remote control. Slim, uncluttered and ergonomic, it is dedicated to its parent soundbar, instead of universally programmable as the remote of the Solo 5. The buttons are shaped into icons denoting their function, while special buttons that deal with the Sound Control provide convenient shortcuts for useful, everyday tasks.
Naturally, the main unit can be operated on a basic level without the remote, from buttons located on the sides of the main unit. On the centre of the main unit, a small display provides timely feedback about the operation.
The audio output stage of the system has a combined rated power of 300W. In practice, this power is sufficient to yield powerful and vivid moments without kneeling out. The audio processor does a brilliant job, and the audio is overall much better than expected.
Rich and vivid bass, as well as balanced and crisp mids, fuse together to provide a clear and live acoustic experience. Of course, the K450 is not meant to enter the high-end segment, but the result is impressive all right.
The different audio modes and equaliser preset profiles (Standard, Cinema, Sports, Clear Voice, Music and Night Mode) offer audio settings that cover all tastes and needs. Night mode is a special audio mode where you can listen to the TV without disturbing the others.
The surround mode increases the depth of the field in a very effective way. If the scene includes echo, the widening result sounds a bit unnatural but still acceptable.
The K450 audio system can be expanded further by adding an optional wireless rear speaker kit (SWA-8000S, £100). This way you can create a 4.1 channel system without the slightest intervention of wire. Yet, in a full-blown wireless audio system like K450, the missing link of the WiFi cannot pass by unnoticed.
Samsung did not incorporate either WiFi connection or any multiroom or streaming functionality in this model. It would have been a convenient addition, but let’s be honest. With a budget around £280.00, we cannot have everything, right?
Sony HT-CT180 2.1ch Soundbar – Best under £200
Evangelising the reproduction of every movie’s full force and a balanced audio response across all frequencies, offering a room-filling virtual surround sound, which mimics the way our brain correlates sound sources and creates a realistic three-dimensional sound field.
Can all these be true?
At a Glance
- Product Dimensions: 90.1 x 8.4 x 5.2 cm ; 2 Kg
- Boxed-product Weight: 9 Kg
- Batteries 2 AAA batteries required.
- Item model number: HTCT180
- 1 channel sound bar along with 100 W of cinematic sound gives movies realism they deserve
- Easy Bluetooth connectivity with NFC One-touch
- Experience cinema-quality surround sound with virtual surround sound processing
- S-Master digital amplifier for pure sound quality and clear audio plus provides good sounding music in one step
- Flexible setup with a compact wireless subwoofer. Main Unit Size – Body Only (W x H x D) (mm)-90.1 x 5.2 x 8.4 cm
With the advent of the HT-CT180 model, Sony aims to hit the low budget and entry-level portion of the market.
It is a 2.1 channel set comprised of a well-designed main unit and a wireless subwoofer. It may not be the most powerful composition in the market, but it is not the most expensive either. If your current TV set frustrates you with its poor audio quality and volume, then the HT-CT180 can offer you a guaranteed result without having to break the bank.
This model has overall excellent build quality, keeping the dimensions of the main unit and the subwoofer compact. With a height of only 5.2cm, the main unit can be easily positioned in front of the TV set or mounted on the wall below the TV. The width (90.1cm) of the main unit allows it to fit with TV’s with at least 32 inches diagonal.
The subwoofer’ dimensions [34.2cm (13.5”) x 17cm (6.7”)] are a bit bulky but nothing close to a problem. It is all plastic, and the loudspeaker is not exposed on the sides apart from the air woofer hole.
Caution should be taken if you try to lift the 5.5 kg unit as the 130mm subwoofer driver is positioned in the bottom of the box and such an operation may damage the loudspeaker cone.
The HT-CT180 keeps things straight having only one analogue audio input (mini jack), one digital audio optical input and one Bluetooth connection available. The default connection is optical, and the set comes with an optical cable packaged. Initial installation and setup are pretty straightforward. All you have to do is connect the main unit to the TV and power on the set.
The subwoofer is then connected to the main unit wirelessly, and you can have your first impressions. Even for the first-timers with soundbars, the procedure should be bread and butter.
The existence of the Bluetooth capability makes it easy to connect the bar to mobile devices or computers and stream music to the sound bar. Also, the NFC capability makes the pairing sequence effortless. If your device does not support NFC tag reading, fear not. The sound bar can still be paired easily using the traditional paring menu.
The operation of the bar is kid-easy and provides all the basic functionality for those who want better TV sound performance without all the bells and whistles. All the control is initiated through the remote control where you can quickly and easily change the different audio settings and control options.
Considering the set’s price, the acoustic result is more than decent. The total power output of the 2.1 channel system amount to 100W, which is divided to 50W on the main unit and another 50W on the wireless subwoofer. Of course, these values may seem lean compared to what other models can achieve. Yet, the resulting power is sufficient to provide a sound that is strong and vibrant.
The audio processor provides Dolby Digital Sound decoding as well as proprietary Clear Audio Plus. Both can be employed to offer a more vivid, less noisy audio, especially in vocals and dialogues or less dynamic scenes. The amplifier, Sony S-Master, also offers Virtual Surround Sound profile. This audio mode expands the sense of depth in a balanced manner and provides a more immersive, room-filling acoustic experience than the standard 2-channel sound, but it is not a true surround like what you would expect from a 5.1-channel system.
Another great feature of this amplifier is that it works solely on the digital spectrum. This means the amplification occurs in the digital source signal after the DSP processing and then the signal is transformed to analog and driven to the loudspeakers – a feature of immense importance, since it eliminates excessive analog to digital conversions and vice versa and the assorted round-off errors to only one conversion from initial digital (optical or Bluetooth) to high power analog.
A prominent feature of this bar is its low cost. The price tag of about £190.00 is really tempting for the equipment and capabilities you get.
One thing that would have made a positive impact but now missing would be some sort of feedback about the current audio mode or even the volume control. Evidently, you can adjust the volume by ear, but it would be nice to have some optical feedback from the device.
Samsung HWJ6000 – Curved Design + 300w SoundBar
Designed primarily to complement Samsung’s curved TVs, the HW-J6000 soundbar has no less than eight drivers and is equipped with a new wireless subwoofer.
Let’s take a closer look…
At a Glance
- Dimensions: 123 x 17 x 4.7 cm
- Actual weight: 7 Kg
- Boxed-product Weight: 17 Kg
- Item model number: HW-J6000
- RMS rated power: 320 W
- Built-in audio decoders: Dolby Digital, DTS digital surround
- Wireless Multi Air Gap subwoofer
- Depth of subwoofer: 370 mm
- Subwoofer RMS power: 160 W
- Frequency range: 20 – 20,000 Hz
- Power consumption: 42 W
- 1-channel sound with side-facing drivers
- Bluetooth and multiroom via Wi-Fi
- Surround Sound Expansion and Clear Voice
- High-resolution audio playback
Except for its curvy shape, the HW-J6000 features a relatively stylish and elegant design. Build quality is excellent, with robust slabs of aluminium shielding the speaker against bumps and damage.
Buttons are set on top (volume, input navigation and power).
No doubt the HW-J6000 is big, designed for TVs of approx. 55in, but the brackets supplied are durable enough.
Discreetly, on the set’s bottom, you will find the connection options (HDMI input, ARC output, optical digital input, 3.5mm mini jack input, Ethernet and USB port). A set of buttons on the back allows the integration of the HW-J6000 into a multiroom system through a Wi-Fi connection.
As to the subwoofer’s design, it features the innovative cuboid design that was launched for the first time in 2016. The Multi Air Gap is much thinner, placeable either upright or flat on its feet, with a brush-effect top panel and black cloth look stylish.
First of all, music streaming from mobile devices is made easier than ever and, most importantly, flawless. Equipped with eight different speaker drivers, each with its own amplifier and active crossover, adding accuracy and clarity to the sound. Note that total power output is 300W.
The onboard Dolby Digital decoding and the array of sound modes (Standard, Music, Voice, Sports, Cinema Night, Clear Voice for dialogues, and Surround Sound) boost sound performance to its limits. Supporting FLAC files up to 96kHz/24-bit, thus making the most of the compressed audio formats such as MP3, AAC and WMA, its hi-res playbacks are surprisingly good.
Another great feature is the High-Frequency Restoration (HFR) operation, designed to recover data lost during compression, thus restoring the tracks’ original quality.
Installation is more than simple. The operation gets trickier when you try integrating the soundbar into a multiroom system, but nothing that would cause you a headache. The included remote is thin and handy.
The HW- J6000 is justly ranked among the best performing soundbars in the market. Models that do succeed to do better are far more expensive – and the difference between them is not so great. Restoring the sense of scale and presence in movies, adding depth and weight to action scenes, keeping the treble crisp and clear and dialogues audible, any given movie and track becomes a fascinating audio experience.
When we tested the bar to its limits, it performed equally well. True, the bass could be tighter and more extended, but that is a trifle for most people.
Philips B5/12 Fidelio Nano Soundbar Speaker 5.1 Channel
Philips’s efforts to take the lion’s share of the soundbar market is nicely summarised in the Fidelio B1 model, which is described as a ‘nano cinema speaker’, highlighting its a compact design and impressive sound performance. Oriented towards people who put small size and versatility above all.
The question is whether it has managed to live up to all these expectations, especially at this price.
At a Glance
- Dimensions: 15.5 x 103.4 x 7.2 cm
- Actual Weight: 11 Kg
- Boxed-product Weight: 13 Kg
- Batteries 2 AAA batteries required and included
- Item model number: B5/12
- Detachable wireless rear speakers with built-in Bluetooth
- Bluetooth with apt-X, AAC and NFC for wireless music streaming
- Two HDMI inputs and ARC-enabled output
- Automatic Spatial Calibration
- Dolby Digital, DTS and Dolby Pro Logic II
Philips never failed to impress us when it comes to style, and B5/12 is certainly not an exception. Its build and overall construction quality (aluminium shell curving stylishly around the edges, black cloth covering the sides) are also top-notch, so rest assured bumps and mishandlings will not prove fatal.
Its exceptionally compact size (40,8 cm, 11, 5 cm) smoothly rises it to prominence among its competitors, making placement easier than ever. Control buttons are on top (volume, input selection, power), while a handy LED display dominates the front. On the back, you will find an impressive array of sockets (HDMI input, ARC output, optical input, a 3.5mm analogue input, USB port). As to wireless connectivity, you have a Bluetooth aptX, AAC and NFC pairing.
Operation & Set-up
Connections are simple to do – only the ARC and optical connections might take a little more time, but still pretty straightforward. The subwoofer pairs automatically.
The remote control follows the same principles with the unit: slim, ergonomic, with different buttons for each input and sound mode, and Bluetooth controls.
Let’s start with the most fascinating ones. The B5/12 model enables you to detach the wireless surround speakers from the central speaker units and place them in different corners of the room, thus getting a multichannel surround sound experience that will help your gaming and movies become even more thrilling.
Note that both detachable rear speakers feature an independent Bluetooth module, making them truly independent.
The NFC Technology makes pairing with Bluetooth devices a snap, while spatial calibration function ensures the sound’s possible balance, whatever the spot you chose to place the rear speakers since it utilises a different tonal signal for their location. The Bluetooth aptX and AAC allows you to stream music directly from your smartphone, tablet or laptop.
The integrated Dolby Digital decoder negates the need for an external decoder since all audio input channels are processed, providing a rather convincing surround sound experience regarding realism.
If its looks fill you with doubts as to its possible might and performance, then your first listening experience will surely astonish you – in a positive way. Strong, overwhelming sound, zero distortion is uniquely combined with excellent dialogue detail. Some sound trifles in sophisticated music track may not get the attention they deserve, but this applies to an insignificant minority.
Taking B1’s remarkable performance to the next level, it complements its predecessor’s inability to offer decent surround sound with its entirely independent, detachable speakers. Midrange its much improved too, and resonant edge ceases to be an issue with certain effects.
The subwoofer’s added depth is of equal quality, without choking effect’s details or sacrificing cohesion between sub and soundbar.
LuguLake Soundbar – Value-for-Money under £100
Our last suggestion may surprise you a bit. The LuguLake 2.1 channel soundbar speaker system, equipped with a powerful subwoofer offers much less than our previous recommendation, but it offers much more than other soundbars costing below 100.00 pounds.
At a Glance
- Dimensions: 45.5 x 29.5 x 43.9 cm
- Actual weight: 8 Kg
- Boxed-product Weight: 8 Kg
- Item model number: T-200
- Length & Power Output: 31.5″(15.7″ Each) in Total; 110dB (2.1 channel); 2-in-1 Transformers
- Wired Subwoofer: Big 8″ Wood Subwoofer
- 5-Colors LED flashlight
- Connection Options: BT, RCA, RCA to Optical/Digital
- Wall Mountable, Stand-able
- Other features: FM Radio, USB Flash Drive 2.0
- One year warranty
- Lifetime free easy-to-touch technical support
Nothing fancy here, more of a standard soundbar design. A bit long, but nothing close to uncomfy, it is fairly well-built. Not as robust as other picks from our list, but certainly not flimsy, it will endure the adversities of time and harsh use, that is for sure.
Set-up & Operation
The set-up is a cinch – just use the corresponding connection, and your soundbar will be able to serve as a rather decent TV soundbar, a computer speaker or a floor stand speaker system, catering for several needs of its winning buyer.
The support mode includes FM radio operation (from 87.5-108 MHz), the use of the USB flash drive, the RCA/AUX input, as well as a somewhat handy Bluetooth connection, allowing you to stream music from your smartphone or tablet.
The LED is designed to beam light (in 5 different shades) and add to the whole viewing or listening experience.
The remote control is simple enough to handle without even looking in the manual. Its grip is not as comfortable, but we guess you do not plan to sleep with it!
The LuguLake Soundbar Speaker System supports four connection modes:
- When the BT 4.0 is enabled, it supports wireless connection with all kind of smartphones, pads, tablets, as well as all sorts of other Bluetooth devices.
- The FM radio mode supports switching from 87.5-108 MHz to enjoy your favourite radio station.
- The RCA/AUX/3.5mm-to-RCA cable connections support any devices with RCA port or 3.5mm port.
- The USB connection allows you to enjoy your favourite tracks stored handily in your removable flash drive.
Well, sound performance is neither terrific nor lousy. It is exactly what you pay for, nothing more, nothing less – which is decent, considering there are plenty of soundbars out there offering less than their price evangelises.
Highly demanding tracks and movies with heave sound effects will suffer some distortion when speaker volume is set to its limits, but at lower levels, its performance is rather enjoyable. The subwoofer’s added depth is adequate and pleasing in common settings, highlighting the bursts it should without choking much of the audio’s more subtle details.