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How to buy the perfect sound bar and not waste money on useless features

Flatscreen TV displays are getting more amazing each year it seems. With each generation of upgrades, we see incredible screen technologies like 4K resolution, HDR and OLED make their way to the mainstream TV market with increasingly affordable prices.

Click here to learn why HDR matters more than 4K.

However, as manufacturers continue perfecting their flatscreen production techniques, TVs are also continuously getting slimmer and thinner. While aesthetically speaking, these form factor advancements are always welcome, thinner TVs mean smaller speakers and worse sound.

Fortunately, there are modern ways to enhance your flatscreen’s sound without the need for complicated set-ups and equipment. For most common households, the best way to boost your TV’s sound is via a sound bar.

Here are the various types of sound bars you can currently get and tips on how to choose the best one for you:

Form factors

Sound Bar

The sound bar is the most common form factor for external TV speakers these days. Like its name suggests, it is shaped like a long, thin bar that can be wall mounted or positioned on top of a table below the TV.

Sound bars typically house two or three speakers and popular models now come with a separate sub-woofer for enhanced bass. For most homes, the sound bar form factor is a good choice. The tricky part is positioning it properly for optimum sound without blocking your TV’s front sensors.

Sound Base

If you don’t want to mount your TV but you’d still prefer a clean look, you can opt for a sound base instead. With their boxy and flat form factors, these are essentially stands or pedestals for your TV. This speaker setup eliminates positioning problems and potential TV sensor obstruction.

Sound bases are often integrated with multiple speakers and a sub-woofer too, making them perfect all-in-one solutions if you have limited space.

Number of Channels

You’ve probably noticed these decimal numbers (2.1, 5.1, 7.1, etc.) while shopping for your next sound system.  They may look like earthquake magnitudes but nope, these don’t indicate how intense or loud they can go.

These numbers actually represent the number of channels a speaker system has. For example, 2.1 means it has two front speaker channels and the number after the decimal point (.1) represents the sub-woofer. A 5.1 system, on the other hand, will have 6 speakers – left, right, center, left surround, right surround plus a sub-woofer.

A 5.1 system, on the other hand, will have six speakers – left, right, center, left surround, right surround plus a sub-woofer.

If all you want is better TV sound for your living room or bedroom, a simple 2.1 system may suffice. However, if you ‘re looking for a more immersive and cinematic sound, shoot for at least a 3.1 system with virtual surround sound or better yet, a 5.1 system.


The most popular connection option for TV sound bars is digital optical. Make sure the model you’re getting has this.

Most flatscreen TVs have at least one digital optical output (it’s easy to spot – it emits a red laser light). With this connection, you can hook up multiple types of gear to your TV via HDMI and the single cable will handle the switching for you.

If your TV supports digital pass-through, an optical connection will even deliver true multi-speaker surround sound formats like 5.1.

More expensive sound bars have multiple HDMI inputs and connect to your TV via single HDMI cable instead. With this setup, the sound bar will act as your input switcher instead of the TV. You’ll also want a sound bar with Bluetooth connectivity so you can stream music from your smartphone wirelessly.

Kim recommends

These are the sound bars that Kim recommends, depending on your budget:

Samsung HW-M550 3.1 Channel Audio Soundbar 

If you’re on a budget but still want floor rumbling theater sound in your living room, check out Samsung’s HW-M550 3.1 Channel Sound Bar.

This model is Bluetooth-compatible and you can connect your gadgets like your smartphone or computer for wireless audio streaming.

You can even turn it into a complete 5.1 surround sound system with the optional Samsung SWA-8500S Wireless Speaker Kit.

Click the button below to buy the Samsung HW-M550.

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Samsung Curved 6.1 Channel Soundbar


For a fancier setup that goes well with curved TVs, you can get the Samsung HW-J6500 Curved 6.1 Channel Soundbar instead. You can enjoy 320-watt 6.1 and 5.1 channel audio with this sleek sound bar and similar to the Samsung HW-M550, it is Bluetooth-capable and can be expanded with multiple wireless speakers.

Click the button below to buy the Samsung HW-J6500.

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Sonos Playbar

Already have an existing Sonos wireless speaker system in your home? Then the Sonos Playbar will be perfect for you since it will work seamlessly with your other Sonos speakers. While the Sonos Playbar sounds great, you can pair additional two Sonos Play 1 speakers and a Sonos Sub for true 5.1 surround sound.

It’s on the expensive side, but if your home is already rocking the Sonos speaker ecosystem then the Sonos Playbar is the one to get.

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Do you want to know how to turn up the dialogue on your TV?

It’s a common problem with flatscreen TVs; sometimes, you can hardly hear the dialogue in TV shows and movies. Thankfully, we have a few tips for you that may just help you solve your TV’s sonic deficiencies.

Click here learn how to turn up the dialogue on your TV.

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