Sound bars

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Does price make a difference to sound quality?

A sound bar is a middle-of-the-road option if you want to improve the sound of your TV but not fork out for a home theatre system.

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What's a sound bar?

A sound bar is an array of speakers set into a long bar which sits below or above your TV (some are wall-mountable).

Sound bars trick your ears into believing that sound is coming from all around you, eliminating the need for annoying speakers and cables. The speakers are angled so that the sound will bounce off the walls of the room and create a virtual “surround sound” environment.

Obviously the effect won’t be as good as what you’d get from a real home-theatre system. However, the sound’s much better than from a TV by itself.

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Because of their shape, sound bars are perfect for placing in front of your TV. You should get a good stereo “image” and reasonable surround-sound simulation in a room of 4 to 5 metres square. (Your viewing and listening position should be no more than a few metres from the TV screen and sound bar.)

Tip: Sound bars won’t work if you have large open area. While it’ll still give you good sound, the virtual-surround-sound effect will be less. A subwoofer should give you decent bass sounds.

Top Brand

The Top Brand award recognises brands that perform consistently well across product testing, reliability and customer satisfaction.

We have awarded the Top Brand award to Bose for sound bars, home theatre systems, wireless speakers and headphones. Bose sound products tested very well and returned exceptional owner satisfaction.


One brand, Sonos, achieved 100% reliability. Unsurprisingly, it also managed the highest number of “very satisfied” owners of any brand (92%) with the same proportion very likely to buy the brand again.

  • Above-average: Sonos
  • Average: Yamaha, Sony, LG, Onkyo, Philips, Samsung, Panasonic, Pioneer, Bose

Total number surveyed: 988

After Sonos, Yamaha and Bose products had the most very satisfied owners (82% and 79%), whereas fewer Philips and Panasonic owners were very satisfied (29% and 51%) despite the products having similar reliability. This is also reflected in the likelihood of buying the brand again, with 84% of Yamaha owners very likely but just 53% of Panasonic owners and 42% of Philips owners.

For more on brand reliability, see our survey.

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Digital Living

Want your home to be a digital wonderland but not sure where to start? Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a technical genius. Our guide will take you through all the steps you need to get your devices connected and working.

Start reading.

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