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5 Step Guide to Choosing the Right Soundbar [+1 Bonus!]

by Reyna Thomas

Even with TVs being as high-tech as they are today, the sound aspect can still leave you wanting more. When looking to improve your home audio, there’s now a much easier solution than having a room full of equipment and speakers — a soundbar!

These slender, low-profile space-savers have gained a lot of popularity in the market because they enhance the sound so that voices are beautifully crisp and distinct. As a result, even whispered dialogue is audible and clear.

Today's market is flooded with soundbars, and while many of them perform admirably, some aren't even worth the money. Yes, there are a lot of options. But that’s why we’re here to help! With this checklist in hand, you can be sure you’re investing in the right soundbar. 

What is a soundbar?

Simply put, soundbars are an easy way to improve and enhance the audio of your TV. These devices are often slim and fit conveniently under your TV, on the wall, or in front of the set on a cabinet or entertainment center. Soundbars do an incredible job of amplifying the sound, and most offer additional features such as simulated or true surround sound, Bluetooth capabilities, subwoofers, and USB compatibility.

Smart tv with soundbar

What To Think About When Shopping for a Soundbar

Now that you know more about what a soundbar is, it’s time to start searching fo the best one for your TV. But don’t go rushing off just yet; see what considerations you need to think about first!

1. Where will it live?

This is probably the most important question you can ask yourself when trying to figure out which soundbar is right for you. The answer will help determine the soundbar's size, shape, and placement.

If you're looking to put the soundbar on a shelf underneath your TV, make sure to measure the space and verify that the soundbar you're considering will fit. If you want to mount the soundbar on the wall, be sure to check if the model you're looking at is wall-mountable and comes with the necessary hardware.

living room interior with smart tv, soundbar and sofa

If you are unsure of where you want to keep it, think of how you want to use it. Do you plan to play music on the device or just improve your home theatre viewing experience? Are you looking for a temporary fix or a long-term solution? If you can narrow down what you wish to experience, you can better find a placement.

2. What size should you get?

Soundbars are available in a variety of sizes and they can range in size from 12 inches in length to even 60 inches in length. While you can always get the biggest one, it might not look so great if your TV is smaller than your soundbar speaker. Instead, you want a soundbar that is 5 to 10 inches shorter than your TV. For instance, your soundbar should ideally be up to 50 inches long if your TV has a screen size of between 55 and 65 inches.

Your soundbar will also be bigger the more channels it has. Generally speaking, most people will be fine with a soundbar between 2.0 and 2.1 channels and between 28 and 36 inches wide. Getting the right size is important to ensure that the soundbar you purchase will fit your media center.

3. Soundbar channels

The number of channels is another important consideration when shopping for soundbars. The number of channels corresponds to the number of speakers in the soundbar, which can affect the quality and strength of the sound. Most soundbars have between 2 and 7 channels. With more channels, that means that the soundbar can produce more sounds simultaneously, which creates a more immersive experience.

If you're looking for a basic soundbar to improve the audio on your TV, a 2-channel soundbar should be sufficient. However, if you're looking for a more immersive experience, you may want to consider a 5.1- or 7.1-channel soundbar.

  • 2-Channel – 2 speakers (left and right)
  • 3-Channel – 3 speakers (center, right, and left)
  • 5-Channels – 5 speakers (a center, left, right, plus two surrounds)
  • 7-Channels – 7 speakers (same as 5-channel with a bonus: splitting surround and rear channel into 4)

led tv with soundbar

4. Active vs. Passive

When shopping for soundbars, you'll come across two different types: active and passive. Passive soundbars don't have internal power amplifiers, so they need a receiver or amplifier to function. However, they do have better speakers, which results in better sound. But that also means a passive soundbar is more expensive and requires you to connect more components. You'll also require a conventional subwoofer connection if you want more bass.

Active refers to a soundbar that has built-in amplifiers to power everything and channel processors to distinguish between the left, right and center speakers. This means you’ll have fewer wires to deal with and no additional receivers to acquire or connect. An active soundbar will likely be the better option if you have a small TV or limited space since it doesn't require an external amplifier. However, a passive soundbar may be a better choice if you have a large TV or room as it can provide more power.

5. What connections do you need?

When shopping for soundbars, you'll also want to make sure that the model you're considering has the right connections for your TV. Most soundbars use HDMI or optical audio connections. If your TV only has an analog audio output (i.e., red and white RCA jacks), you'll need to get a soundbar with an analog input.

Alternatively, some TVs come with Bluetooth connectivity, which allows you to wirelessly connect your soundbar to your TV. And some have WiFi capability as another means for wireless connection. You can also choose an optical patch cord, which has the bandwidth to deliver up to a 5.1 sound signal and is one of the easiest connections to hook up to your TV.

wall-mounted flat screen tv and soundbar

6. How will you control the soundbar?

Finally, you'll also want to consider how you'll be controlling the soundbar. Most soundbars come with their own remote control. However, some models can be controlled using your TV's remote control. While some soundbars can be controlled using your smartphone or tablet. If you're looking for a soundbar that's easy to control, make sure to check the compatibility before making your purchase.

Choosing the Right Soundbar for You

Now that you know about all of the different features and options available in soundbars, it's time to start shopping! Toton’s TV has just what you need to upgrade your home entertainment experience, from soundbars to TVs and speakers! Got questions? Give us a call! Our team is always happy to help and advise on how best to use these electronics when making upgrades at home.