How To Buy The Best Sound Bar

When buying a sound bar the most important factor is sound quality, but what other features are important?

  • Choosing the best sound bar for your set-up, regardless of what equipment you own.
  • How sound bars compare to other surround sound systems.
  • Advice from experts, your local TV store should be able to provide the required information.

What is a Sound bar?

A Sound Bar (also known as a Surround Bar) is a system designed within a bar or elongated cabinet from which a wider sound field is created. Sound bars are designed to accompany LCD, plasma and the newer LED TV’s. Like modern TV’s sound bars can be wall mounted, placed on a shelf or housed in custom home entertainment units.

Sound bars are available in two configurations with powered and passive (non-powered). Sound quality is comparable, but when integrating a passive sound bar into your home theatre set-up will be different.

Powered Sound bars

These are designed for independent use, simply connecting the outputs of the TV to the sound bar will amplify and produce the sound without any need for an external amplifier. Powered sound bars have additional inputs, perfect for connecting Blu-ray players and games consoles. As modern technology advances current sound bars have the ability to connect to wireless networks and bluetooth devices.

Non-powered sound bars

These sound bars will require an external amplifier or a home cinema system in order to produce sound. Non-powered passive sound bars are commonly known as 2-in1 or 3-in-1 (LCR) speaker systems, the left, centre and right channel speakers are housed in in a single cabinet with terminals being the only provided connection. The positives with this system is that it reduces speaker clutter due to the three main speakers housed in one cabinet. Like powered sound bars quality varies, careful consideration is needed in order to find the right sound bar for your systems need.

Sound Bars and Home Theatre Systems

A powered sound bar is essentially a standalone audio system that is not designed for connection to a home theatre receiver, while a passive (non-powered) requires connection to an amplifier or home theatre receiver.


Sound bars are becoming better as technologies advance, the one area that they fall currently is the reproduction of bass response. To be able to experience the fullest sounds, adding a sub-woofer would be ideal. Many of the current systems now come with a wireless sub-woofer which enables you to place the sub in any location and not worry about cable connection.


A sound bar is a great option if you are looking for a clutter free audio and speaker system, with many sound bars offering more connectivity options to enhance your home entertainment.

If you already own a home theatre receiver/amplifier, a non-powered sound bar would most likely suit you better. If you just have TV then going for a self-powered system will provide you with an excellent enhancement in home entertainment.

Thanks for reading.

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