Sound bars review

Fewer boxes, easier connections, compromised sound.
 
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02.Results

The following models scored the best results in our test.

What to buy
Brand Price
Sony RHT-G900 $1499
Yamaha YSP-4000 $3299
Yamaha YSP-600 $1099
 

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Results table

Full results for all models are shown in the table below.

Performance Cost
Brand / model (in rank order) Overall score (%) Listening panel score (%) Technical sound quality score (%) Ease of use score (%) Standby energy score (%) Price ($)
Sony RHT-G900 69 66 71 64 83 1499
Yamaha YSP-4000 65 73 72 70 0 3299
Yamaha YSP-600 64 66 76 71 0 1099
Denon DHT-FS5 60 50 64 70 51 999
Denon DHT-FS3 56 57 61 66 6 1999
Samsung HT-X810 55 49 73 60 0 999
Yamaha YAS-71 55 49 70 58 15 999
TEAC SB03iDV 54 48 70 62 0 999


Features
Brand / model (in rank order) Wall mountable / hardware included Tuner HDMI inputs iPod dock Video switching
Sony RHT-G900 - /na FM radio 3
Yamaha YSP-4000 • / - FM radio 2
Yamaha YSP-600 - /na 2
Denon DHT-FS5 • / • 0
Denon DHT-FS3 • / • 0 (A)
Samsung HT-X810 • / • FM radio 0
Yamaha YAS-71 • / - FM radio 0 (A)
TEAC SB03iDV • / • AM/FM radio 0


Specifications
Brand / model (in rank order) Subwoofer model Subwoofer speaker orientation Multichannel claim Internal speakers Soundbar size (cm, HxWxD)* Subwoofer size (cm, HxWxD)* Soundbar Weight (kg) Subwoofer Weight (kg)
Sony RHT-G900 na Left & right ns 6 50 x 112 x 40.5 Inbuilt 52 Inbuilt
Yamaha YSP-4000 YST-SW225 Down 5.1 42 19.5 x 103 x 14 35.5 x 29 x 35 15.7 11.2
Yamaha YSP-600 YST-SW030 Down 5.1 18 12 x 61 x 22 36 x 29 x 31 8.3 10.3
Denon DHT-FS5 na na ns 6 12 x 75 x 13.5 na 5.1 na
Denon DHT-FS3 DSW-FS3 Right 5.1 6 10 x 85 x 13 38 x 10.5 x 36 4.6 5.4
Samsung HT-X810 PS-WX810 Right 5.1 2 19.5 x 100 x 16 41.5 x 26 x 33 8 9.1
Yamaha YAS-71 YAS-71SPX Right 7.1 6 11 x 80 x 10 45.5 x 20 x 41.5 4.9 12.5
TEAC SB03iDV na Left 5.1 10 19.5 x 94 x 14 Inbuilt 11.4 Inbuilt

Using the table

Scores The overall score is made up of:

  • Listening panel: 30%
  • Technical sound quality: 30%
  • Ease of use: 30%
  • Standby energy: 10%

Features See What to Look For, for details on these and other features.

Specifications

  • Subwoofer freestanding model supplied separate from the sound bar.
  • Inbuilt means the subwoofer function is within the bar itself.
  • Subwoofer speaker orientation is the direction in which the subwoofer points, which may limit where you can put it in your room. Subwoofers that face down output sound in all directions (except up).
  • Multi-channel claim is the number of channels the sound bar can mimic according to the manufacturer.
  • Internal speakers gives you some indication of the type of system.
  • Dimensions are rounded up to the nearest half centimetre.

(a) discontinued but may be available in some stores.

Price Recommended retail, as of March 2009.

Table notes

* Rounded to the nearest half centimetre.
(A) Available as an optional extra.
na Not applicable.
ns Not stated.

How we test

Technical sound quality Our testers place each sound bar in an anechoic chamber and measure its frequency response, total harmonic distortion, subwoofer integration and channel separation. Reflecting panels are used to simulate walls where necessary.

Listening panel The sound bars are also placed in a typical small lounge room with furnishings and calibrated according to the manufacturer's instructions. Our panel of three expert listeners appraises them for their ability to cope with stereo and 5.1 channel music, as well as 5.1 movies. They pay particular attention to the sound bar's ability to produce an immersive surround sound experience in comparison with our reference 5.1 system, which is worth approximately $3000.

Ease of use Our testers assess the remote control, connections, calibration options, on-screen and front panel displays, as well as the manual and any other instructions that come with the product.

Standby energy They measure the amount of power the sound bar uses when in standby mode.

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