Sound bar buying guide: What you need to know

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Sound bars are the best and easiest way to get better sound in your living room or bedroom: Here's what's important, and what's not.


Philips HTL2160 2.1 Sound bar with Bluetooth and USB
For most people, sound bars are the best way to get better sound quality in the living room. They're simple and inexpensive, and don't have all the frustrating wires that come with a true surround-sound system. Sound bars don't sound as good as true separate speakers -- especially with music -- but if you're mostly looking for better sound with movies and TV shows, they're vastly better than your TV's built-in speakers.
So which sound bar should you buy? A good place to start is CNET's list of best sound bars. At the moment, the sound bar with the widest appeal is the Sony HT-CT260, although there's strong competition from Vizio's 5.1-channel S4251w-B4 sound bar and SpeakerCraft's sleek CS3.
But before diving into specific products, it's worth brushing up on the different types of sound bars offered, what features are important, and why you may be better off buying a simple stereo system instead.For most people, sound bars are the best way to get better sound quality in the living room. They're simple and inexpensive, and don't have all the frustrating wires that come with a true surround-sound system. Sound bars don't sound as good as true separate speakers -- especially with music -- but if you're mostly looking for better sound with movies and TV shows, they're vastly better than your TV's built-in speakers.
So which sound bar should you buy? A good place to start is CNET's list of best sound bars. At the moment, the sound bar with the widest appeal is the Sony HT-CT260, although there's strong competition from Vizio's 5.1-channel S4251w-B4 sound bar and SpeakerCraft's sleek CS3.
But before diving into specific products, it's worth brushing up on the different types of sound bars offered, what features are important, and why you may be better off buying a simple stereo system instead.
For most people who don't want to pay big $$$ for installation, running wires and drilling in the walls, sound bars are the best solution to get better sound quality in 
the living room. Most of them are simple and inexpensive, and don't have all the frustrating wires or installation skills that needed to use with a true 5.1,7.1 surround-sound system. Sound bars don't sound as good as proper stereo speakers -- especially with music -- but if you're mostly looking for better sound with movies and TV shows then the poor sound of the flat screen TV speakers, then sound bar is what you want.
 
So which sound bar should you buy?
2 channel, 2.1CH, 5.1CH 7.1CH?
 
Before diving into specific products, it's worth brushing up on the different types of sound bars in the market, what features are important, and which are not.

2 channel and 2.1 sound bars are  basically stereo speakers, so what they will do is provide a better sound then your current speakers.
* 2.1 is for the 2 channel sound bar with a subwoofer for better low frequency 
 
the range of price for them will move from $99 up to $200.
 
Few good players in the market are: HTL2100 &  HTL2160 (the one in the top right image) by Philips.

The next jump in price is the $250 - $400

Some of the sound bars in that market may still be called 2 channel, but they will come with some cool features that will give you the ability to enjoy the feel of 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound although there are no speakers behind you. they are the Virtual surround sound sound bars, they as well come in the range of 2 channel or 2.1.

Few good player in the market: HTL3120 by Philips, NB2430, NB3530A by LG, YAS-101 , Yamaha

Not only they have the virtual surround sound feature, most of them will be packed with the technology that i would say is necessary in our lives this days:
  • Bluetooth connectivity, for streaming our smarphones music to the sound bar,
  • USB Input to connect our USB devices in to play music from them.
  • Audio in/AUX to connect our basic audio devices to play music.
  • HDMI inputs to enjoy the highest level of connectivity with blue-ray player and other accessories like PS3, Xbox and many more.
     
How to connect my sound bar to the TV?

for the best and easiest way, i would use the TV as the switcher and won't worry about inputs.
If you look at the back of most basic 2CH or 2.1CH sound bars, you will be able to see just a few audio-only inputs, which doesn't seem helpful in modern home theaters filled with HDMI-equipped gadgets. but will be more then enough to connect to most Flat screen TV's Today.

Just connect all your equipment to your flat screen TV and use the Audio output at the back of the set to conn
analog Audio out
ect to the Audio-in in your sound bar, using the most common one the optical. in some case you will have coaxial digital output. most respectful sound bar brands will have the coaxial input in the back. in some small cases you may have a TV like Dick smith flat screen TV that will only offer analog RCA( you may know it as the Red and White) audio output. at this case if your sound bar don't have analog input, you may need to use an Analog/Digital Converter to convert the analog to the digital input your sound bar may require.

Some sound bars are more generous with the input variation they offer -    HTL3120 will have 2 HDMI inputs and the usual audio inputs his other competitors offer in the same price range.

As we jump up to the next price range $400 - $800 we meet the type of sound bars in the market the will have most of the needed technology under the bonnet as well they will be packing a wireless subwoofer in most cases.
 
Great players in that market:    YAS-201, YHT-S401  by Yamaha, NB4530A, NB5530A by LG

The Best player in the market at the moment is not cheap, but at the same time what it will offer you is the best of both worlds. a full sound bar with all the technology you are after in a nice home theatre system, with great sound and the best option as at the moment he is the only one who can Transform to a 5.1 surround sound with out any wiring at all. Yes you heard it right no need to get an installer to charge us $500 to run wires in the wall, no mounting speakers and holes in the walls and even no need to connect to a power source at the back.

The Philips HTL9100

The best way to describe the features and technology is just to press the play in the you tube video.
  



This Sound bar have it all. 5.1 virtual surround sound with great sound in movies and in music, the ability to transform to a proper wireless 5.1 surround system just by taking the side speaker out of the sound bar and locating it at the back. the speakers are wireless and don't need any power as they are on battery power( brilliant idea). when you allocate them at the back the sound bar knows to automatically give them the rear function and to have the front centre and sub work as a proper 5.1 home theatre system. when you movie finish you can connect them back and they will recharge when docked in.

all the great features that are needed are in this unit:
 
  • Bluetooth connectivity, for streaming our smarphones music to the sound bar,
  • Audio in/AUX to connect our basic audio devices to play music.
  • Digital Audio inputs: Optical, coaxial and HDMI ARC function.
  • HDMI inputs to enjoy the highest level of connectivity with blue-ray player and other accessories like PS3, Xbox and many more.
If you have the budget,  this sound bar is the best one i saw in the market.   Why? it will give you both worlds of the home theatre experience with the benefits of the sound bar design, no wires, no expensive installations and no complicated operating.
 

 

Conclusion

There are several factors to take into account when buying a sound bar. We think the most important features to look out for is that the sound bar has all the Digital Inputs like Optical and coaxial but as well have analog inputs just incase your TV is not ready for the digital once. But you always need to ask your self two questions:
  1. Do i want to to upgrade my current TV speakers and enjoy a nice surround sound effect?
  2. Do i want to have a sound bar to act as my home theatre system as well?
  • If the answer is to replace the your current TV speakers, the lower range of sound bars will do the job Perfectly and will provide a virtual surround sound effect.
  • if the answer is to have a sound bar as my home theatre system, I will go to the higher range, as they will provide all the technology that is in the market and will provide a 5.1 or 7.1 (depends on the unit you buy) surround sound effect.

We suggest that you conduct your own research before making any consumer electronics purchases. There is a lot of information on the internet (and some great bargains too).

At K.G.Electronic  , we know we have the best value for money and range of sound bars in Australia. 


 
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