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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 rating Reliability score
97%
96%
94%
93%
92%
91%
91%
89%
84%
83%
Table notes
Results based on June/July 2017 reliability survey of 1,730 sound bar owners.

Key

Member Content

Which sound bar brand stays fault-free longest?

The graph below shows how the brand that stays fault-free for longest compares to the worst brand and the average. Which? members can see how brands compare for faults and which are the best and worst in the table underneath.

 

Brand % faults after 1 year % faults after 5 years
2% 3%
4% 4%
5% 6%
6% 7%
4% 9%
9% 10%
8% 10%
8% 13%
9% 16%
13% 18%
Table notes
Results based on June/July 2017 reliability survey of 1,730 sound bar owners.

Key

Member Content

How sound bar brands compare

Sound bars are pretty reliable overall. On average, just 9% 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.

6%Just 6% of the leading brand’s products developed any kind of fault within five years, two fifths of were 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. We ask our respondents to describe their faults as minor, major or catastrophic based on the following guidelines:

  • Minor - a fault that doesn’t affect the product’s performance significantly or a fault that only occurs occasionally with minimal impact. This issue may be irritating or annoying but it isn’t frequently problematic and you can easily work around it. For example, one of the buttons stops working.
  • Major - a fault that has a noticeable effect on the product’s performance. This fault affects how you use the product and can be problematic. For example, the connection you use to connect it to the TV is faulty.
  • Catastrophic - a fault that renders the product unusable, with the fault needing to be repaired or parts replaced before it can be used again. For example, one of the speaker blows.

Common sound bar problems

As mentioned above, the most common faults were:

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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