Whether you’re catching up on MasterChef, watching a big match, or enjoying a blockbuster movie night, great sound quality is an important part of the experience – and that’s where a top-notch sound bar comes in.
According to Ofcom, average daily live TV viewing in June 2020 was higher than in the previous two years. And in May 2020, the BBC’s iPlayer streaming service recorded 570 million programme requests, up 72% year-on-year.
These stats come as no surprise, as lockdown restrictions have meant many of us have been watching more TV than usual. If this sounds all too familiar, why not give your home-viewing experience more of a cinema vibe with the help of a sound bar?
The latest models we’ve tested include Best Buy sound bars for less than £300, plus premium models with Dolby Atmos technology – an enhanced form of surround sound.
Sound bar reviews – see more than 100 fully tested models to suit all budgets and needs
Higher price doesn’t always mean higher quality
You can pay close to £1,000 for a sound bar. For that price, you typically get high-end features, such as additional speakers for better surround sound and Dolby Atmos (read more on this below).
However, paying top dollar doesn’t always mean you’re guaranteed the best quality in return.
We’ve tested high-end sound bars costing nearly £1,000 that failed to wow us, and some £300 models that impressed us so much that they’ve earned Best Buy status.
Whatever your budget, always check our sound bar reviews to ensure you get the best sound bar for your home.
Three sound bars fresh from the test lab
Sonos Arc, £800
The Sonos Arc is the first Sonos sound bar to support Dolby Atmos (see below for more on this). This stylish sound bar is best suited to large TVs (more than 46 inches), and you can either place it under your TV or mount it on the wall.
You don’t use a remote control with this sound bar; instead you download the Sonos app to your smartphone or tablet and control it with that. It’s also compatible with the Alexa voice-control system. if you prefer.
Find out if this premium sound bar justifies its high price tag in our full Sonos Arc review.
Samsung HW-Q60T, £500
The HW-Q60T hails from Samsung’s top-end range of sound bars and is designed to work in harmony with the brand’s latest QLED televisions.
The idea is that, when paired with selected Samsung TVs, the sound bar will identify the type of media being played and automatically choose the best sound setting, using both the TV and sound bar audio.
We’ve also tested the cheaper Samsung HW-T550 (£299) in our latest batch.
It’s not as pricey as some, but nor is it cheap as chips, so read our Samsung HW-Q60T review before handing over your cash.
LG SN4, £170
If you’re gulping at the high prices of the Samsung and Sonos sound bars, then this budget-friendly LG model may appeal.
Although you don’t get many snazzy features, you do get a separate subwoofer included, for comfortably under £200.
In our latest batch we’ve also tested the higher-end LG SN9YG, which supports Dolby Atmos.
Read our expert LG SN4 review to find out whether this budget sound bar is both cheap and cheerful.
Other sound bars in our latest test
- Dali Katch One
- JBL Bar 9.1
- LG SN9YG
- Philips HTL3320
- Philips HTL3325
- Samsung HW-T550
- Sony HT-S20R
- Sony HT-G700
Take a look at our guide to buying the best sound bar to find out if any of the latest models we’ve tested make our pick of the top sound bars.
What is Dolby Atmos?
Some of the more premium models we’ve tested recently support Dolby Atmos. This is a new technology that, if claims are to be believed, can optimise your TV viewing experience.
It’s essentially an enhanced form of surround sound. Upward-firing drivers in the sound bar make it appear as though the sound is also coming from overhead, in theory giving you a more immersive experience.
What you’re watching needs to also be Atmos enabled. You won’t yet typically find Atmos on broadcast television (such as Freeview), but content delivered in Atmos format is now increasingly common on video streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and the recently launched Disney+.
If the idea of Atmos sounds appealing, bear in mind that it is typically only available on premium sound bars costing more than £500. And only our in-depth tests can tell you whether it’s a feature that’s really worth paying more for.
Discover the sound bars that got at least four out of five stars for audio performance, in our expert sound bar tests.