Sound bars

Use this buying guide to learn how a sound bar compares to a full surround sound system, and decode some of the jargon.

13dec sound bars hero

The best way to test a sound bar is watching movies and listening to a lot of music. We do that hard work, so you don’t have to.

We've tested 27 sound bars.

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How we test

Ease of use:

Each sound bar is assessed by a panel of three people (including two non-experts) for ease of use including installation, basic adjustments, general usage and the remote control.

Sound assessments:

Listening tests are performed in a simulated living room by a panel of four experienced testers. Both classical and pop music are played from three different sources: CDs, USB drives and Bluetooth streaming. A separate test checks for any delay between sound and the picture on a TV.

Overall score breakdown

  • Movie sound quality (40%)
  • Music sound quality (35%)
  • Ease of use (15%)
  • Power consumption (5%)
  • Connections, inputs and compatibility (5%)
Photograph of a sound bar and buffers with a TV on the background.

Sound bars guide

Before you buy, check out our buying guide.

Read the guide