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Last updated: 06 April 2018

Soundbars can deliver better sound for your TV and movie viewing, particularly for older TVs. They're also a practical solution for smaller rooms.

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Our expert testers give every soundbar a thorough workout to help find the models that:

  • are best suited to your TV and your room
  • are easy to operate
  • have the best remote
  • are the most energy efficient.

Our interactive comparison tool also helps you find out which models have Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Our Recommended list will help you quickly see which models come out on top.

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List of brands we tested in this review.

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Recommended retail pricing is used, where possible. Shop around to find more competitive pricing from retailers.

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Bluetooth

HDMI ARC support

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Most new TVs support the HDMI Audio Return Channel (ARC) protocol. Once you connect all your devices to the soundbar using a HDMI connection, simply connect the HDMI cable from the soundbar's HDMI (ARC) connection to the HDMI (ARC) connection and you can enjoy audio from your set-top box as well as from the TV. Unlike a learning remote, devices connected to and supporting ARC send the device information and remote control information through the HDMI cable so you can use your current TV remote to control your PS4, Blu-ray player and PVR. Take a little extra time to get your cable connections in the right order and you'll find your soundbar not only improves the audio when watching TV, but also helps organise your home entertainment gear as well.

Wall mountable

NFC

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Near field communication (NFC) allows your smartphone to connect to the soundbar speaker by simply tapping the smartphone on the NFC area to create an instant pairing. Apple iPhones do not support NFC connectivity between devices, but most of the latest Android and Windows phones do.

HDMI inputs

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Multiple HDMI inputs allows you to connect different devices into the soundbar such as a PVR, Blu-ray player or games console and switch between devices to listen to and watch on the TV. If a soundbar only has an optical input then you need to plug the devices into the TV and use the audio out function from the TV to the soundbar.

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Wi-Fi

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Wi-Fi connections allow your speaker to be incorporated into a wireless home network to play music stored on your local drive, in the cloud or on your smart device, as long as it's also connected to your home network.

Test results

Overall score

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The overall score is made up of listening panel (70%), ease of use (20%), remote control (5%) and standby energy (5%).

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Ease of use score

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We check how easy it is to use the connections, calibration options, on-screen and front panel displays, as well as the manual and any other instructions that come with the product.

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Stereo listening panel score

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The soundbars are placed in a typical small lounge room (4 x 5m) with furnishings, and calibrated according to the manufacturer's instructions. Our three audio industry expert listeners appraise 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 soundbar's ability to produce an immersive surround sound experience in comparison with our reference 5.1 system, which is worth about $3000.

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Multi-channel listening panel score

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The soundbars are placed in a typical small lounge room (4 x 5m) with furnishings, and calibrated according to the manufacturer's instructions. Our three audio industry expert listeners appraise 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 soundbar's ability to produce an immersive surround sound experience in comparison with our reference 5.1 system, which is worth about $3000.

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Standby energy score

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We measure the amount of power the soundbar uses when in standby mode and give it a percentage rating.

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Included in this review

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  • Recommended
  • Annual standby energy cost
  • Overall score
  • Stereo listening panel score
  • Multi-channel listening panel score
  • Ease of use score
  • Remote score
  • Standby energy score
  • Good points
  • Bad points
  • Price
  • Brand
  • Model
  • Availability
  • HDMI ARC support
  • Video switching
  • Bluetooth
  • NFC
  • Wi-Fi
  • HDMI inputs
  • Automatic Room Calibration
  • Wall mountable
  • Wireless subwoofer
  • Wireless surround speakers
  • Subwoofer speaker orientation
  • Multi-channel claim
  • Internal speakers
  • Soundbar dimensions (cm, H x W x D)
  • Subwoofer dimensions (cm, H x W x D)
  • Soundbar weight (kg)
  • Subwoofer weight (kg)
  • Country of manufacture
  • Contacts
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