There are big benefits to adding a quality soundbar to your television watching experience. Not only do you save space and money when compared to your traditional 5.1 surround sound set up, but you will enjoy a bigger sound when compared to your television speakers.
Soundbars, like any other audio product, cannot be judged with a broad brush – not all soundbars are created equal. The quality of componentry, acoustic design, and other features can have a huge impact on how a soundbar sounds and, perhaps more importantly, how versatile it can be.
Here are a few pointers when purchasing a soundbar.
How does it sound?
Look for clarity and balance, as well as spatial presentation. The laws of physics are immutable, and characteristics like cabinet and driver size will affect the ability of the soundbar to reach certain frequencies. Generally, the larger the cabinet and drivers, the more ably the soundbar can hit the bass frequencies. However, the crossover design and any added signal processing can also improve the sound by ensuring smooth transitions and providing a wider soundstage, which should satisfy most audiophiles. Even with some of these adjustments, some soundbars are actually best supplemented with a subwoofer, which may bring up other issues like extra cost and the fact that subwoofers aren’t particularly aesthetically pleasing.
Is it versatile?
Many people use their soundbar not only for watching movies or TV shows but also for music listening. If you also want to be able to listen to music through your soundbar, then you will want to ensure that the soundbar isn’t just capable of “booming”, but also that there is a musicality to the sound reproduction, in which case, the previous point will be extra important in your considerations when looking for a soundbar.
What can it connect to?
Different TVs will have different inputs and outputs, and different soundbars will have different inputs and outputs. Therefore, you’ll want to ensure that you buy a soundbar with the right connectors for your TV. If you want to be able to stream music from your phone or other music streaming services, or even share music with multiple devices, you will want to ensure your soundbar has the right hardware and software to do that.
Do you want surround sound?
Many soundbars will come with things like surround sound built-in, while some will “talk to” satellite speakers that you would place behind your couch or in your ceilings to create that “surround” sensation for you.
Soundbars as a Philosophy
At Bluesound, we created a versatile soundbar. We know that a space-efficient, great sounding soundbar with connectivity to a wide range of audio sources is important for consumers who want the best bang for their buck. As part of the Bluesound range, the Pulse Soundbar 2i can used be by itself or connected to other BluOS Enabled devices to form part of a whole house audio system. It connects to AirPlay 2 devices and streams music from over 20 music streaming services. It can also connect to any Bluetooth device for music playback from a phone. HDMI ARC, TOSLINK, and other connectors are provided for those who want to connect to gaming consoles. You can even connect a turntable. We’ve considered every possible use case for the soundbar.
And of course, the acoustics are designed and voiced by the legendary Paul Barton of PSB Speakers, which means it sounds great. It goes down to 50 Hz (-3dB, flat to 70Hz!), meaning that even though we offer a wireless subwoofer, it’s not needed for most use cases.
By Matt Simmonds, Bluesound Product Manager