TVs have been getting flatter, bigger and better in picture resolution over the years, but one thing that has not improved much is audio quality. Tiny speakers at the back of the TV just aren’t enough, if you’re after good quality sound reproduction. As such, due to its easy set-up, size and sound quality, sound bars have been gaining popularity in recent years.
Philips Fidelio B5, $1,699
The Philips Fidelio B5 sound bar allows you to easily switch the sound experience from stereo to surround, for a full home theatre experience. The two detachable, self-powered side speakers also work as portable Bluetooth models for music streaming flexibility. Each has an internal battery lasting up to 10 hours, and charges when connected to the main unit. Awarded the European Home Theater Solution 2015-2016 by the European Imaging and Sound Association, it has two HDMI inputs and features a wireless subwoofer.
LG SH8, $1,099
This sound bar is long at 120cm, and while it might not go well with a TV that’s sized under 55 inches (1.4m), it can be wall-mounted to save cabinet space. Its sound quality is well balanced, punchy and powerful. LG’s Adaptive Sound Control (ASC) feature allows the sound bar to detect and modify its settings to suit a range of situations. For example, when it senses high levels of vocalisation, such as narration in a documentary, the ASC will lower the bass level to make dialogue sound crystal-clear.
Sony HT-NT3, $999
If watching movies and playing Playstation games on TV are your main reason for getting a sound bar, the Sony HT-NT3 could be ideal. Its speakers allow for an immersive virtual surround sound experience. Besides Bluetooth wireless technology, the sound bar also has a USB port for you to connect your laptop for high resolution audio playback.
HOW IT WORKS
A sound bar comprises several speakers in one long casing. All you need is a cable connecting the TV to the sound bar – no more messy cables and multiple speakers! Surround sound – usually achieved with multiple speakers or home theatre systems – can be simulated with some sound bars, because the sound is dispersed at various times and in different directions. Most come with an optional wireless subwoofer, for a stronger bass frequency response.
ASK BEFORE YOU BUY
If you need to connect other devices, such as a DVD player or gaming console, to the sound bar, check the connectivity specs. Many sound bars have Bluetooth wireless technology, too. So if playing music via your mobile devices is crucial, test the sound bar’s Bluetooth connectivity. If you do not have space for a subwoofer, look out for sound bars that deliver punchy low-end frequencies. Use your trusty ears when deciding which sound bar sounds the best!