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Which sound bar brand?

Most reliable sound bar brands

By Daniel Nissenbaum

Article 1 of 8

Don’t waste your money on a sound bar that will let you down soon after you get it home. We rank the most popular sound bar brands to reveal which you can rely on

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Every year, we survey more than 10,000 people to find out which sound bar brands cause you the most problems and which you can rely on. The brands with the fewest faults get the best reliability scores.

The most common faults reported with sound bars are connection issues – such as problems with the HDMI port, deterioration of sound quality and faulty remote controls. Faults with sound bars are rare in general, but you’re twice as likely to develop a fault with our worst-rated brand compared with the best. We’ve got ratings for all the most popular brands, including Bose, LG, Panasonic, Samsung and Sony.

The table below summarises the results for each brand. Once you’ve got the information you need, find the ideal sound bar for you by visiting our Best Buy sound bars page. 

Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings in the table below. If you’re not yet a member, sign up for a £1 trial to get instant access.

Brand Reliability star rating Percentage reliability score
96%
94%
94%
94%
93%
92%
92%
92%
Table notes
Results based on June/July 2016 reliability survey of 1,465 sound bar owners. Data correct as of March 2017.

Key

Member Content
Brand % faults after one year % faults after three years % faults after five years
3% 5% 5%
4% 7% 7%
6% 7% 7%
5% 8% 8%
6% 8% 8%
8% 9% 9%
7% 9% 9%
6% 10% 10%
Table notes
Results based on June/July 2016 reliability survey of 1,465 sound bar owners. Data correct as of March 2017.

Key

Member Content

How sound bar brands compare

Sound bars are pretty reliable overall. On average, just 8% of them will develop a fault within the first five years of use. The data shows that the majority of these faults seem to happen within the first couple of years, so a reliable sound bar should comfortably last the 10 years that you say you should expect.

The most reliable brand in our survey is also one of the most successful in our product testing, so there’s a clear winner when it comes to which you should opt for.

However, there are some other brands with high reliability but test scores that don’t match, so it’s important to check our reviews before you buy.

5%Just 5% of the leading brand’s products developed any kind of fault within five years, and two thirds of these were only classed as ‘minor’

The more eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that the reliability scores we give in the first table do not exactly match the percentages of faulty products in the second table. This is because we don’t just take the raw number of faults into account when we calculate our scores: we also ask people how severe faults were and when they happened. We judge major or catastrophic faults more harshly than minor annoyances, and also penalise faults that occur when the product is new and hasn’t had much use.

Common sound bar problems

As mentioned above, the most common faults were:

  • faulty connections – 27% of reported faults
  • deterioration of sound quality – 20% of reported faults
  • faulty remote control – 14% of reported faults

A faulty connection could be anything from mildly annoying (on a port you don’t use, for instance) to catastrophic (the only audio connection breaks). If your sound bar is out of warranty, you may be able to make do by switching to a different connection type. See our sound bar connection guide for more info on which ports you can use.

Deterioration of sound quality can be caused by a number of factors, including faulty connections. If you’ve been listening at extremely high volumes, it could be that the speaker cones have blown. It’s also possible that you may have inadvertently changed the audio settings to something that you don’t like. Try doing a factory reset to see whether this changes things.

There aren’t any easy fixes for a faulty remote, unfortunately. However, if your sound bar and TV both support HDMI ARC (for more information, see our sound bars glossary), then you’ll be able to use your TV remote to control both the TV and your sound bar.

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