Sonos Surround Sound Best Buy
The key thing to know about optical is that it's restricted in bandwidth compared to ARC/eARC. So if you have the choice between the two and opt for optical, you might not be making the most of the audio decoding built into your soundbar. The most advanced immersive formats optical can handle are compressed Dolby Digital or DTS 5.1 surround sound, so that means no Dolby Atmos or DTS:X.
sonos surround sound best buy
Delivering Dolby Atmos from a small chassis is no mean feat, but the 2022 What Hi-Fi? award-winning Sonos Beam Gen 2 achieves a convincing, immersive performance without so much as a vertical speaker in sight. Instead, when watching Atmos content, two of the soundbar's five front-facing arrays are dedicated to reproducing overhead and surround sounds. With its hefty processing power, the Sonos Beam Gen 2 uses psychoacoustic HRTF (head-related transfer function) technology to give the impression of height without needing to get vertical.
For those who want convincing 3D sound without the speakers, this is the best soundbar with a premium price tag that we've ever tested, which is why it retained its title once again at the 2022 What Hi-Fi? Awards.
Produced by hi-fi brand Devialet, the Dione is a premium one-box Dolby Atmos soundbar with no options to add an external sub or rear speakers, instead relying on eight long-throw mid-woofers to deliver an impressively extended bass performance and two side-firing drivers for surround effects.
The SF150 also features Sony's S-Force Front Surround technology, which applies processing to give the acoustic impression of a more encompassing sound stage. While there is no replacement for surround sound, it adds a dramatic sense of weight and separation.
The main soundbar contains ten drivers, with left and right channels handled by two 20mm silk dome tweeters and two 52 x 99mm woofers. A pair of 50mm drivers on either end of the soundbar deliver surround side effects, while two 63mm units on the top surface supply height effects for immersive sound formats.
Sonically this 3.1.2 package also punches above its weight with a broad, vibrant soundstage that can easily match the cinematic scale of larger screens. It can also be easily upgraded to 5.1.2 by the addition of the SPK8 2.0 surround kit for around 130 ($180, AU$249).
Bowers & Wilkins's first Dolby Atmos soundbar is designed as a stand-alone system that delivers 3.1.2 channels of audio from a single unit, with no optional upgrades for surrounds and sub. Instead, it has dedicated subwoofer drivers on the top face alongside its verticle height drivers.
If you want a more enveloping surround set-up, it can also connect wirelessly, via a dedicated wi-fi module, to a pair of Pulse Flex 2i speakers for surround sound and/or a Pulse Sub+ for extra bass, available for purchase separately.
With a generous 22 drivers delivering 11.1.4 surround sound, the HW-Q950A offers the greatest number of channels of any soundbar on the market right now, as well as 3D audio format support from both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.
Generally, soundbars are a single long speaker with several drivers inside but some come with external subwoofers for extra low-end extension and rear speakers for surround sound effects whereas others are compatible with other speakers from within the manufacturer's brand. If floor-shaking bass is high on your priority list then these are models you'll want to consider.
Have a think about the content you'll be viewing and the sources you'll be plugging in. If you are just watching Freeview, many of these technologies will be redundant. But if you're streaming the likes of Netflix, Apple TV and Amazon Prime Video in 4K HDR, you'll want to squeeze out the best possible audio quality to make sure your content sounds as good as it looks. For a complete overview, check out our in-depth guide on how to choose and set up a soundbar.
Below, we've rounded up the best soundbars for various budgets (if you're specifically looking for a very affordable model, check out our best budget soundbars page), or if a Dolby Atmos soundbar is more your thing, we have a page dedicated to that too. Whether you spend a little or a lot, we think that all the models recommended will up your audio game with a fuss-free setup.
We always try to be impartial and do our best to make sure we're hearing every product at its very best, so we'll try plenty of different styles of films, and TV shows that show what each soundbar is capable of with both advanced and standard audio formats. For example, if it's a Dolby Atmos soundbar, we'll use Blu-ray discs to hear its Dolby True HD performance, but we'll also check its performance with streaming services that use Dolby Digital Plus too.
The Ikea Symfonisk line is a result of a collaboration between the Scandinavian furniture giant and Sonos. It's fully compatible with other Sonos products, and the Bookshelf, Table Lamp and Picture Frame can also be used for stereo sound, or as a relatively inexpensive pair of rear surrounds ($240 for two Bookshelves versus $378 for two One SLs). If you want a Sonos speaker for the price of a Bluetooth speaker, this is the model to get.
While it doesn't support Dolby Atmos surround sound or have an HDMI port to connect to your TV (you connect it to your TV with an included optical cable), the sound quality for music and movies is impressive. You can pair it with a couple of other Sonos speakers, like the Sonos One, to create a surround sound system.
With the addition of Dolby Atmos, the Sonos Beam Gen 2 is the smart sound bar to get. You may be missing out on deep bass without a sub, but the speaker makes your movies sound huge with its virtual surround capabilities.
The Sonos Arc is the best soundbar the company has ever released. It has some great features, including an onboard voice assistant, HDMI eARC and Dolby Atmos playback. Unlike the Beam, the system doesn't need a subwoofer, and unless Sonos comes up with a cheaper Sub, this is the best money you can spend under a grand.
At the upper limit of what most people should pay for a Sonos soundbar surround sound system, this system will offer plenty of surround sound and musical thrills. You can buy the Sonos Beam Gen 2 ($449), Sonos Sub ($799) and a pair of Era 100s as part of a set, or you can combine the subwoofer and soundbar with a pair of the Ikea Symfonisk bookshelves ($260) separately. Though the Sub on its own is pretty expensive, it makes a great partner for the smaller Beam, while adding surrounds completes the effect. The system doesn't have true Atmos, and if you want that, you can upgrade to the Arc, add a Sonos Era 300 in the rear or mount the bookshelf speakers high on the walls behind you.
Wireless audio speakers start at around $100 -- with most featuring Apple AirPlay, Chromecast or both -- and great wireless sound bars such as the Polk Command Bar start at $250. Here are some of the best multiroom music systems.
A wireless multiroom speaker system is the easiest way to listen to music, podcasts, and other audio entertainment in more than one room at a time, and Sonos is the best option. It supports the widest variety of streaming services, the speakers sound great, and its apps are practically foolproof. The competition is catching up, but Sonos is still the most complete and reliable package overall.
The Sonos system is the best multiroom wireless speaker system because it supports the most services and has a wide selection of great-sounding speakers, comprehensive search features, and a well-organized app that runs on almost all major mobile platforms. Sonos keeps its platform current by updating its speakers, adding more services, and introducing new features such as Trueplay room-correction technology. The Sonos user experience is the best of any of the multiroom wireless speaker systems currently available.
Sonos offers speakers that start at the budget end with the small Sonos One and Sonos One SL (which lacks voice control) and extend to the Arc, Beam, and Ray soundbars for use with a TV. You can use a single speaker, combine two into a stereo pair, or even build a 5.1-channel home theater system using a soundbar along with two other speakers for surrounds and the matching Sub. You even have the ability to add dual Subs to home theater setups.
The best way to connect a soundbar to your TV is with an HDMI cable. You'll need to make sure you have an HDMI port on your soundbar and an HDMI ARC port on your TV. This allows you to use a cable to connect them.
True surround sound means speakers are positioned around you. Some soundbars on this list also come with a subwoofer and two smaller rear channel speakers, meaning you can place them around your room.
However, other devices with only one soundbar claim to offer surround sound. What this means is they deliver a stereo effect, which seems more like sound is coming from different directions, but isn't.
Many of the high-end soundbars in this list also have Dolby Atmos built-in. Again, this isn't technically surround sound, but the audio tech is advanced and creates the illusion of immersive sound by bouncing sounds off the walls and ceiling around you.
If you can afford the high price tag that comes with the best Dolby Atmos soundbars, then it's worth investing in this technology. Especially if you love watching movies and want to recreate that cinematic atmosphere at home.
You generally have two options when it comes to soundbar placement: wall-mounting it, or placing in below your TV on your TV cabinet. If your soundbar is quite tall, wall-mounting may be the best option, as it could obscure the IR receiver on your TV, rendering your remote control useless. 041b061a72