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Which sound bar brand to buy in 2019

By Haddi Browne

Our latest reliability survey can help you to pick a sound bar brand that lasts. We surveyed owners of Bose, LG, Panasonic, Samsung and Sony sound bars to find out which develop the fewest faults over time.

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In this article: 

Connection issues - including problems with the HDMI port, deterioration of sound quality and faulty remote controls - are the most common sound bar problems, according to our research. Shockingly, 9% of owners said their sound bar just stopped working, with no indication of the cause. 

Each year we send out our unique reliability survey, asking customers to tell us why they're pleased with their sound bar, and whether they have experienced problems. In our latest analysis, we've looked at the performance of the biggest sound bar brands, including Canton, LG, Samsung, Sonos and Sony. We've calculated a reliability rating for each, so you know which sound bar brand will be music to your ears for the longest, and which fall flat.

While sound bars don't have a huge variation in reliability, compared to some tech products, it's still important to choose the right brand. The brand rated as the most reliable by users had an impressive 94% rating, while the least reliable only reached 82%. 

The most reliable sound bar brands 

The table below summarises this year's reliability results. Brands are ranked by their customer score, which relates to whether their customers would recommend them. The more stars for reliability, the fewer problems reported. 

Brand Reliability score Reliability rating Customer score
95% 82%
88% 77%
93% 73%
91% 71%
92% 69%
92% 69%
90% 65%
90% 64%
82% 59%
Table notes
The above data is based on a survey conducted on 1,734 Which? members, June-July 2019

Key

Member Content

Common sound bar problems 

The top two most common sound bar faults were problems with the audio connection, and problems with the remote control - 14% of users had experienced these annoying issues. 13% of users had experienced a deterioration in sound quality. 

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). 

Deterioration of sound quality can be caused by a number of factors, including faulty connections. If you've been listening at extremely high volumes, the speaker cones may have blown. It's also possible that you may have changed the audio settings, and that this has changed the sound quality - try doing a factory reset to see whether this improves things. 

Other problems users had experienced included faults with the wi-fi or Bluetooth connection (8% and 7%), soundbars powering down (7%) and issues with the smartphone app, either technical (3%) or after an update (2%).  A shocking 9% of users told us that their sound bar had stopped working completely, without explanation. 

Sound bar brands rated 

Choose a brand from the list below to find out more detail about its performance in our survey. 

Sonos sound bars overview table
Number tested in the past three years 2
Number of Best Buys
Average test score
Brand reliability rating
Customer score (%)
Loyalty score
Typical spend
Table notes The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey conducted in June-July 2019 of 1,734 sound bar owners. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand, and reliability is based on members’ experience of that brand.

Key

Member Content
  • Find out how well Sonos sound bars score for reliability.
  • See how Sonos fared based on its customer score – we asked those in our survey how satisfied they were with its sound bars, and whether they’d happily recommend one.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, join Which? to get instant access.
Canton sound bars overview table
Number tested in the past three years 2
Number of Best Buys
Average test score
Brand reliability rating
Customer score (%)
Loyalty score
Typical spend
Table notes The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey conducted in June-July 2019 of 1,734 sound bar owners. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand, and reliability is based on members’ experience of that brand.

Key

Member Content
  • Find out how well Canton sound bars score for reliability.
  • See how Canton fared based on its customer score – we asked those in our survey how satisfied they were with its sound bars, and whether they’d happily recommend one.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, join Which? to get instant access.
Samsung sound bars overview table
Number tested in the past three years 24
Number of Best Buys
Average test score
Brand reliability rating
Customer score (%)
Loyalty score
Typical spend
Table notes The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey conducted in June-July 2019 of 1,734 sound bar owners. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand, and reliability is based on members’ experience of that brand.

Key

Member Content
  • Find out how well Samsung sound bars score for reliability.
  • See how Samsung fared based on its customer score – we asked those in our survey how satisfied they were with its sound bars, and whether they’d happily recommend one to friends and family.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, join Which? to get instant access.
Bose sound bars overview table
Number tested in the past three years 3
Number of Best Buys
Average test score
Brand reliability rating
Customer score (%)
Loyalty score
Typical spend
Table notes The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey conducted in June-July 2019 of 1,734 sound bar owners. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand, and reliability is based on members’ experience of that brand.

Key

Member Content
  • Find out how well Bose sound bars score for reliability.
  • See how Bose fared based on its customer score – we asked those in our survey how satisfied they were with its sound bars, and whether they’d happily recommend one.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, join Which? to get instant access.
LG sound bars overview table
Number tested in the past three years 21
Number of Best Buys
Average test score
Brand reliability rating
Customer score (%)
Loyalty score
Typical spend
Table notes The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey conducted in June-July 2019 of 1,734 sound bar owners. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand, and reliability is based on members’ experience of that brand.

Key

Member Content
  • Find out how well LG sound bars score for reliability.
  • See how LG fared based on its customer score – we asked those in our survey how satisfied they were with its sound bars, and whether they’d happily recommend one.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, join Which? to get instant access.
Yamaha sound bars overview table
Number tested in the past three years 6
Number of Best Buys
Average test score
Brand reliability rating
Customer score (%)
Loyalty score
Typical spend
Table notes The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey conducted in June-July 2019 of 1,734 sound bar owners. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand, and reliability is based on members’ experience of that brand.

Key

Member Content
  • See how reliable Yamaha sound bars are compared to other popular sound bar brands.
  • Reliability is one thing, but are owners happy with their purchase? Find out how likely people are to recommend a Yamaha sound bar to others.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, join Which? to get instant access.
Panasonic sound bars overview table
Number tested in the past three years 8
Number of Best Buys
Average test score
Brand reliability rating
Customer score (%)
Loyalty score
Typical spend
Table notes The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey conducted in June-July 2019 of 1,734 sound bar owners. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand, and reliability is based on members’ experience of that brand.

Key

Member Content
  • Find out how Japanese brand Panasonic was rated by its users, and whether you should buy a Panasonic sound bar.
  • Being well-liked is important, but so is reliability. Can you rely on a Panasonic sound bar?
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, join Which? to get instant access.

Head to our sound bar reviews

If you already know which sound bar brand you want, but not the model, then use the links to browse our reviews and find the sound bar that's best for you:

Bose sound bars

Canton sound bars

LG sound bars

Samsung sound bars

Sonos sound bars

Sony sound bars

Yamaha sound bars

How we calculate the best and worst brands 

Every year we carry out a huge member survey. Thousands of people are asked about the products that they own, and how satisfied they are with them. We also ask how likely they are to recommend their products. 

We analyse these figures to calculate customer and reliability scores for the most popular sound bar brands.

Our reliability surveys, combined with our extensive lab tests, mean we can recommend the best sound bar for you. 

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