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Don't Buy sound bars

by Elisa Roberts

Thuddy bass, unclear dialogue, shrill high notes and tricky controls can ruin your TV viewing experience. Read our Don't Buy sound bar reviews to avoid buying a clanger.

Put us to the test

Our Test Labs compare features and prices on a range of products. Try Which? to unlock our reviews. You'll instantly be able to compare our test scores, so you can make sure you don't get stuck with a Don't Buy.

Get the wrong sound bar and you may as well not have got one at all. You'll be wincing at the painfully distorted sound, and straining to hear the dialogue in your favourite films and TV dramas. Our rigorous sound bar testing will help you eliminate the risk and make sure that you know what to go for. 

Log in or join Which? to unlock the Don’t Buy-rated sound bars.

What makes a Don't Buy sound bar?

There's a huge choice of sound bars, from temptingly-cheap supermarket brands to big guns such as Sonos, Samsung, and Panasonic, and it's possible to get a great one for a decent price. Impressive-sounding features can sometimes mask those that are tricky to use or fall short of the superb sound they promise.

Which? Don't Buy sound bars are those models that have failed to deliver even average sound quality in our testing. We'll help you avoid ending up paying extra for a dud sound bar that offers absolutely no improvement over your TV's built-in speakers.

Unique sound bar testing by Which?

Our sound quality experts listen to 11 audio tracks, from TV dramas and films, such as The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, to music of a variety of genres. Each sound bar is tested in an environment that reflects a real-life living room setup. We check how loud it'll go before distortion kicks in and ease-of-use tests reveal which are a pain to setup, and if controls and extras like Bluetooth music streaming are straightforward.

  • We test sound bars on over 50 unique criteria - from sound quality and ease of use, to the number of connection options and even power consumption - to ensure that we don't miss a trick.
  • Those ratings combine to create a total test score out of 100 so that you can easily see which models are worth your money.
  • We don't take price into account either. Every sound bar is judged on its own merits, and we've uncovered some fantastic value models.

To find out which sound bars are Don’t Buys and which are Best Buys, join Which? today.