- Firstly, what is a soundbar:
Soundbar - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A soundbar or sound bar is a special loudspeaker enclosure that creates a reasonable stereo effect from a single cabinet.
- Why use a soundbar?
But having said this, one must understand that a soundbar is merely as good as the reflections off the side walls, which it uses to recreate the surround experience. That means that if you have a room with irregular walls, or different textures on the wall, you will lose the regular effects and it can never be as good as a proper surround system.
The advantages are that you can get some effects and avoid ripping up the ceilings or walls to place cables.
Other factors to consider are:
- is there an integrated disc player - that costs more, and if the play breaks down, you will find it hard to repair
- number of inputs for your other gadgets - the more expensive ones have more inputs obviously
- subwoofer - active, built in or passive (having the subwoofer in the same head unit isn't a good idea
- auto-Eq and calibration - some better ones offer a one button solution, but good placement is still a good idea
- wireless subwoofer?
- there is no need to buy the same brand as your TV or BR player
- can you tilt or adjust the height of your soundbar?
- give yourself room to see the display
- can your shelf support the weight?
- more speakers in the soundbar isn't always better
- do you need pseudo 5.1 or 7.1?
- wall mount or tabletop?
Give some thought to placement of paintings, mirrors and bookshelves, so you try to get an even reflection of sound from all the side walls and even the ceiling. Also plan the cabling, even if it's a lot simpler.
A note, built in enough space, so you give yourself room if you expand and buy a better soundbar, or decide to upgrade to a full HT system.
Also, as with most satellite and sub systems, the mids are where soundbars perform worst. So if music is your cup of tea, make sure you bring some of your favorite tunes along, and audition the system in question for the mids, the soundstage and depth.
Finally, how much you pay frequently determines the quality of the sound and surround experience. Buy a good one, and you won't need to upgrade for a while. Don't cave in and get the cheapest only to regret it. And if you are really keen on a full home theatre experience, there is nothing like a real surround system. Talk to your spouse first.
Some useful links:
Setting Up a Sound Bar to Enhance Your Flat Panel TV's Audio | Audioholics
Sound Bars: How to Choose
Sound bar buying guide: What you need to know | TV and Home Theater - CNET Reviews
8 best soundbar speakers for your HD TV | News | TechRadar
Read this before you buy a sound bar | TV and Home Theater - CNET Reviews
Five Tips to Pick the Right Soundbar
9 Great Soundbars For Any Budget: TV Speakers Be Gone! | Audioholics