How to Set Up A Vizio Sound Bar & Connect To TV (9 Steps)
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Vizio has released various versions and models of their sound bars, but they’re pretty much the same when it comes to setup and use. Still, you can get lost in the instructions if you don’t know what you’re doing. So, we’re walking you through the setup with easy-to-follow steps.
Instructions For Vizio Sound Bar Installation
Here’s a video explaining the process:
How To Setup A Vizio Soundbar:
- Locate the two analog audio jacks called INPUT1 and INPUT2 on the right side of the rear panel of the soundbar. Plug-in the two analog audio cables to those jacks.
- Find the yellow connector labeled SUB OUT in the center of the rear panel and plug-in the subwoofer. If your soundbar has surround speakers, they will be usually connected to the subwoofer through speaker cables.
- Plug-in the HD S/PDIF cable inside the S/PDIF input jack found on the left side of the yellow SUB OUT jack. In case you have a non-HD version of the soundbar, you can skip this step.
- Plug-in the AC/DC power adapter included in the package into the 24V DC jack. You can find this jack on the left side of the soundbar’s rear panel. Afterward, you can plug the other end of the power adapter into the wall outlet.
- Press the power button. It is located on the left side of the soundbar’s top panel. Remember to turn on the speaker bar, too.
- Press the Input button and select the input you prefer. This button will come in handy whenever you’re switching between different audio sources.
- Select the Vol- or Vol+ buttons to control the speaker bar volume. There is a Mute button you can select as well.
- Press the TVOL button (TruVolume) to turn it on/off. If TruVolume is on, it will maintain a comfortable volume level and prevent sudden bursts of loud audio.
- You can also turn the surround sound ON and OFF with the TSHD button.
Vizio offers different sound bar systems that cater to varying audio needs. Some may have just the soundbar unit while others may have separate speakers you need to place around the room. You may look at the systems options in the catalog so you can select the one that’s best for your setup.
These soundbars feature anywhere between two to five audio channels. They are also optimized for an immersive sonic experience that will transform a common movie or TV show into an immersive watching experience.
Aside from the wired setup, the Bluetooth connectivity feature benefits those who want to go the wireless route with their Vizio soundbar. With Bluetooth, you can program and control a range of tasks remotely, streamline the installation procedure, and keep the house clutter-free.
Fundamentals Of The Vizio Sound Bars
There are three different soundbar packages from Vizio. The brand also has best Dolby Atmos soundbars you can find in the market, which all vary in terms of their functions and size.
Out of these three, the most affordable package is called “Enhanced Sound” system. It provides its users a two-channel stereo sound bar and there is an option available for adding wireless subwoofers.
The other two packages are the Premium Home Theater and the Surround Sound. Both of these packages include rear surround speakers and a single wireless subwoofer.
The basic difference between these packages is that a specific number of audio channels are included in the sound bar itself. But of the two, the “Premium Home Theater” is Vizio‘s high-grade option, which includes a range of powerful extras such as Wi-Fi connectivity.
No matter what package you buy from Vizio for your sound bar system, most of the installation steps will be the same, despite possible difference in some of the hardware.
Upon unwrapping the package, make sure it contains all the cables, screws, and mounts as indicated by the catalog or the official product description by Vizio. In case any of these parts are missing, you should directly contact customer service to get the missing parts or replace the unit altogether.
If the parts are complete, you may proceed with deciding where to put the system. Make sure you are settled with the final position of the sound bar, subwoofers, and speakers before you start hooking them up to each other and the television.
If you’re unsure where to place them, we don’t recommend connecting them before you’ve finally decided. That’s because you might risk damaging the hardware when you move around the main pieces after they’re already connected with cable wires.
Once placed, you can connect your TV or other media to the sound bar easily without worrying about the subwoofer.
On the other hand, if your soundbar comes with a wireless subwoofer, you’ll have more freedom when it comes to placement, but our experts recommend placing it in the front of the room, where the TV is also located.
Connect the SPDIF cable included in the kit to the optical port at the back of the TV and sound bar. The optical port is usually covered, so it’s easier to spot. After connecting the SPDIF cable, the system will get ready for testing.
Plug the soundbar to a power outlet and then turn it on by using the remote control included. Select the appropriate input source. Next, check the Menu settings by pressing Menu on the remote. Then, select the audio option.
Make sure you disable the TV speakers and make the sound bar your main audio resource. To check if it’s done correctly, go to the TV settings and raise the volume of the system. You should hear the audio played via the sound bar instead of the TV speakers.
Aside from the SPDIF, you may also connect the sound bar to your TV by using the optical connection. You would have to purchase a separate standard RCA cable for this type of connection though. Rather than selecting the optical input, you should select the Aux as the preferred audio input method.
Pairing A Vizio Soundbar To A Subwoofer
Pairing the subwoofer to the soundbar is simple and straightforward. Press and hold the button labeled “pairing” on the back of the sub. When the light starts to blink, press and hold the power button on the soundbar for 5 seconds.
When the subwoofer is successfully linked to the soundbar, the LED indicator lights on the front panel will blink 3 times.
Vizio Soundbar Not Working – Troubleshooting
1. Optical input not working
If the optical input isn’t working, make sure you have inserted the optical cable tightly into each input. Sometimes it just takes some jostling and jiggling to get it to work, but it’s pretty easy to do.
Take a closer look at the power cables to make sure that there are no tears or cuts. Physical damage can also be the cause of the optical input not working. If there is damage, you would need to replace the cables.
2. Static Noise
Static noise can also be a result of the inputs not being secured tightly. Look at the inputs and make sure you have inserted them all the way. You can also check for physical damage as you would in the case of the input not working.
Another possibility is that your input settings are incorrect. Try selecting a different audio input on the remote and see if it makes a difference.
If there is a buzzing or humming sound coming from your TV, try turning off the power of all devices and then turn them on again. If that doesn’t work, try turning the devices off again but unplug all the cables this time. Then, replug them in and turn everything on again.
It could also be a case of the backlight. In this case, press the menu button for the TV menu, select “picture”, then find the “backlight” setting and turn it down lower.
The crackling or even maybe popping sound may be from nearby wireless devices. Move other Wi-Fi devices further away from your soundbar and see if it helps.
If not, then resetting your soundbar to factory settings is your best bet. Hold down the Bluetooth button and the volume down button for up to 5 seconds. Doing this will erase all your previous settings, though, just something to keep in mind.
5. Blinking with No Sound
A blinking light on a Vizio soundbar most likely means it’s waiting to be paired. Similar to most products, the light is a signifier of it standing by. Power whichever device you want to pair with the soundbar by pressing the “pairing” button.
Want to know how to fix other soundbar issues? Check our guide on troubleshooting common soundbar problems.
All sorts of soundbar installation methods are available for connecting a soundbar to TV sets. A range of cables can also be used for installation, including a coaxial cable, digital optical cable, or an RCA cable.
However, the one we recommend the most is the HDMI ARC because you don’t need a separate audio cable to connect the TV and the soundbar.
Some of the Vizio sound bars also come with a Bluetooth pairing feature for a wireless connection. If your sound bar has Bluetooth, you can use your smartphone to stream music or other content. In addition, some of the finest sound bars allow connections to Bluetooth speakers or headsets as well.
For the best home theater experience, make sure to place the sound bar close to your ear levels. However, it should be below the TV so as not to make any obstruction.
When you are not sure about the various ports available on the TV’s back, read the TV manual or user guide before you carry out the soundbar installation. Also, refer to the Vizio manual if you have any specific concerns on settings. The manual is always a great reference on how some things work so you can use your device to the fullest.
If you’re looking for other options, you can find some good ones for cheap with our list of top models under 300 bucks.
How to Connect Your Vizio Soundbar to a TV Without a Remote 
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Want to watch a movie at home but can’t find the soundbar remote to set it up? That’s frustrating, but don’t give up just yet.
We’ll walk you through the different options on how to connect your Vizio soundbar to the TV without a remote. It’ll require a few more steps, but it’s better than settling for your television’s native speakers that are subpar!
Method #1: Connect Vizio Soundbar Using HDMI Cable
Most devices support HDMI ARC, including your own Vizio soundbar. TVs also typically have several HDMI ports.
It’s also the most ideal because you only need an HDMI cord that’s already capable of delivering a high data transfer rate and reversible digital audio signals.
Step #1: Choose an Appropriate HDMI Cable
You don’t need a Vizio TV for your soundbar to work this way. All it takes is a functional HDMI cable that’s already provided in your purchase.
If you happen to lose it, just like your Vizio soundbar remote, you can use your spare HDMI cables or purchase a new one.
Step #2: Plug the Cord Into the TV and Soundbar
Take one end of the HDMI cable to connect to the HDMI port on your Vizio sound bar. Connect the other end of the cord to your TV’s HDMI port, which is typically located at the back.
Step #3: Start Both Devices
The original packaging should also come with a power cable. Take the cord, connect it to your Vizio sound bar, and then plug it into a power outlet. Afterward, press the power switch on both the TV and the soundbar.
Step #4: Tweak the Input Settings
With the Vizio soundbar switched on, locate the input button, which is usually third on the device. Press the button and change the setting to “HDMI” to adjust the audio input settings.
Step #5: Tweak the Output Settings
You need to change the audio settings of your smart TV to stream sound to your Vizio soundbar instead of the TV speaker. Do this by locating settings and changing the audio output to HDMI.
You can also control your soundbar through a smart TV remote by simply enabling HDMI CEC control.
Method #2: Connect Vizio Soundbar Using RCA Cable
Your next option is to connect your Vizio soundbar to your TV without a remote through an RCA or analog cable. RCA cables are still widely supported but not as reliable compared to connecting a Vizio soundbar through HDMI.
Step #1: Choose an RCA Cable
Vizio soundbars also come with RCA cables, but if you have spares from an older soundbar model or TV, then those should also work. These are easy to spot as they usually come in conjoined red and white cables.
Step #2: Plug the AV Cord on Your TV’s Audio Out Ports
Connect the Vizio soundbar to the TV by locating the RCA ports labeled “Audio Out” behind your smart TV. These are adjacent ports that say right (R) and left (L).
The colors are often red and white, which means you should insert the red cable into the red port and the white cable into the other.
Step #3: Plug Other Ends on the Audio In and AUX Ports
On your Vizio sound bar, there should be two audio ports labeled either “AUX” or “Audio In”. Using the colors or labels as a guide, connect the Vizio soundbar to the TV by inserting the RCA cables into the TV plug.
Step #4: Start Your TV and Soundbar
After successfully connecting the Vizio soundbar to the TV without a remote through the RCA port, make sure that both devices are plugged into a power outlet through a power cable. Switch them on to proceed to the next step.
Step #5: Select AV and AUX as the Input Method
Find the input button on your soundbar to access the Vizio menu bar. Use the pointer keys to change the input setting on the audio option to AV or AUX.
Step #6: Select Audio and Disable Your TV Speakers
The sound output should be through the soundbar already, but ideally, there should be no interference from the TV speakers. Do this through the menu key and go to “Audio” on the settings.
Step #7: Change the Analog Audio Out Function
Make the most out of your soundbar — it is capable of a multi-channel audio output. You can have the best viewing experience by changing the Audio Out to Dolby Digital.
Method #3: Connect Vizio Soundbar Using Optical Cable or SPDIF Cable
You have another option: connect Vizio soundbar to the TV through an optical cable.
Holding the SPDIF cable , take one end to insert into the optical port on the TV and the other to the Vizio soundbar.
After ensuring that both devices are connected to the power port, turn on the TV. go to settings, open “Audio,” and then “Sound Out”. Select SPDIF among the options provided.
Method #4: Connect Vizio Soundbar Using Bluetooth
You can also use Bluetooth connection to connect a Vizio soundbar to TV without a remote.
With both devices powered up, find and press the Bluetooth button on your soundbar to enable pairing mode on the device.
Make sure your TV has the Bluetooth feature turned on and is discoverable to connect a Vizio soundbar to your TV.
How to Fix a Broken Remote Control
If you have your Vizio remote but can’t use it for some reason, here are some suggestions on how to fix it:
Try to Install Fresh Batteries
Sometimes, the problem isn’t your remote — it’s the batteries. Whether they’re run out of juice or stopped functioning in any way, it’s worth a shot replacing them with fresh batteries.
Remove Obstructions to the IR Sensor
Are you using the remote too far from the soundbar? Do your devices have a clear line between them? Distance and other obstructions can get in the way of your soundbar IR sensor from working.
Reset the Soundbar
Resetting your device is usually the first step when troubleshooting. Do this by unplugging the soundbar, pressing the power button for 30 seconds, and then plugging the device back in.
Reset the Remote
The same applies to your remote. To reset, take the batteries off them, press every button twice, and then reinsert the batteries to test.
Alternative: Universal Remote Control
If you really can’t locate your remote or it just simply gave up on you, there are always universal remotes. Programming your universal remote manually will depend on the brand and model.
On the plus side, a universal remote is pretty versatile — it will work with all remote-controlled devices.
Where Should I Place My Vizio Soundbar? (Best Locations)
It’s best to keep your soundbar close to the TV, especially if you’re working with optical cables or plan to have an HDMI plugged in.
The most ideal positions are directly below or mounted above the device.
You have multiple options if you want to connect your Vizio soundbar to the TV without a remote and still enjoy the exceptional sound quality.
Thankfully, most methods as such still come with your purchase, so there’s no need to go out and buy new cables. They also won’t take up much of your time.
How to connect a soundbar (soundbar) to a TV, optical cable for soundbar
At present, a steady trend has been outlined in the field of multimedia. With all the versatility of modern TVs and the implementation of the latest technologies in them to improve image quality, such as, for example, OLED screens, support for 4K resolution, HDR, the sound of standard TV acoustic devices leaves much to be desired. Therefore, home theaters with a large number of acoustics and their compact counterparts, the so-called “soundbars” or, as they are sometimes called “surroundbars”, have become widespread. These devices deliver high-quality surround sound and immersive experience for an unparalleled movie and video experience.
The user only needs to purchase such a soundbar, install and connect it correctly. And if the first two steps do not cause any difficulties, there would be the necessary funds and a room where TV viewing would be carried out, then how to connect the soundbar to the TV remains a problem for many users. Therefore, among the frequently asked questions, you can hear, for example, how to connect a Samsung, LG, Denon or other brands soundbar, which connection option is preferable, and others. Even with the right instructions, the many different inputs and outputs on TVs and panels can be confusing, so detailed explanations on these issues will never be superfluous.
A few words about the location of acoustics
Before talking directly about connecting the panel to the TV receiver, you should pay attention to its location. The fact is that if you make a mistake in this matter, then no subsequent options for connections and settings will correct the situation with poor sound.
In cases where the TV is installed on a special stand or cabinet, it is better to install the soundbar right in front of it.
This arrangement is considered ideal because it gives the impression that the surround sound comes directly from the image on the TV screen. There is, however, one limitation here. Before installation, you need to make sure that the acoustic device will not block the screen. Today you can even find acoustic models that are fixed directly on the TV stand.
The same arrangement, under the TV, must be provided with a TV wall mount. Fortunately, the design of modern acoustics and the mounts that come with it or special templates allow you to do this without problems. Sometimes there is the possibility of attaching the surround bar directly to the TV panel.
In cases where the TV is installed on a rack and it is decided to place the soundbar on a shelf inside the rack, then it must be pushed as far forward as possible. This is necessary in order to ensure the unimpeded passage of sound so that the side walls of the furniture do not interfere. Moreover, if it is known that the acoustic device supports Dolby Atmos or DTS:X sound processing technologies that work with sound reflected from the ceiling, then the installation of the sound device on a shelf or in any other niches should be completely abandoned. Another obvious rule when installing acoustics is to provide free space in front of it. Installation in front of the speakers of any objects that prevent the passage of sound is strictly prohibited.
Separately, you should pay attention to sound panels with digital sound projection. Their design is quite complex, which in turn complicates the setup process itself. In order for such acoustics to work with all its efficiency and with coverage of all the possibilities inherent in it, you must first select the necessary configuration in which the driver array is to function, and then connect the microphone. The tuning principle is that the panel plays test sounds, and the microphone picks up both their original version and the signals reflected from the walls, which are sent to the soundbar for analysis. Thus, the soundbar itself adjusts the sound of the speakers to the conditions of a particular room.
The result is a perfect sound setup. However, there is a “pitfall” here as well. All this can be realized only in a room where the walls reflect the sound well. If the room has a large area and the walls are located far from the sound source, or at least one such wall is missing, then purchasing a device with digital tuning is not the best option, because there will be an overpayment for unrealized technology and mediocre sound quality.
Basic independent audio device connections
Modern equipment offers several connection options: HDMI, optical or coaxial input, analog audio channel.
The main conditions for a successful connection, regardless of the option chosen, is to first turn off the standard acoustics of the TV panel. To do this, go to the TV menu, turn off the built-in TV speakers and enable the option for external acoustics. The procedure for turning off standard acoustics is as follows:
TV SETTINGS > SOUND > ADVANCED > TV SPEAKERS > OFF
Most likely, after these steps, the TV itself will offer a list of possible audio outputs, from which you will need to select the one you need. In some “smart” TVs, these manipulations can be omitted, because they themselves determine which audio output to send a signal to.
How do I connect a soundbar to a TV using an HDMI connector?
The best way to connect the soundbar to your TV is HDMI functionality.
Currently, almost all audio and video equipment is equipped with outputs for HDMI cables, which have great capabilities and are able to transmit video and audio signals of the highest quality in different directions. Today, this feature is implemented through ARC technology – which provides audio signal reversal on HDMI devices. This technology also allows you to use just one cable instead of five or six others.
Before connecting using this functionality, you should make sure that both the TV and the panel support Audio Return Channel – HDMI ARC. The principle is that the video signal received from, for example, a DVD player, a TV game console connected to the TV, or any other source, goes to the TV, where the sound is separated and transferred to the soundbar. A similar effect of the interchange of video and audio signals will be realized if the connection is made directly to the soundbar, which “separates” the sound, converts it, and transmits the video to the TV without any changes.
The ARC function in most models of modern equipment is enabled by default. However, there are exceptions. Therefore, if it does not work, you need to make sure that the Control for HDMI parameter is in the on state – “ON”, the TV supports Auto Return Channel, whether the equipment is connected to each other, whether it supports this function and whether it is powered at all. Available when connected via HDMI and their pitfalls. For example, if the purchased soundbar supports 5.1 sound, but the TV does not, then you will not be able to get multi-channel sound at the output of the soundbar, only stereo.
Connection via optical input
You can often hear the question, how to connect a soundbar to an LG or other brand TV using an optical input? Everything is simple. Surroundbars have a digital optical interface – Toslink, and a special optical cable is used for connection. In terms of quality, such a connection is in no way inferior to HDMI and can be safely used.
As a clear example, you can give the order of how to connect an LG soundbar to a TV of the same brand. First you need to make sure that the TV itself has the LG soundsyng function. Then you need to go to the menu section and find the audio output item – “Sound Out”. The appearance of “LG OPT” on the screen of the surround bar after pressing this position means that the connection has been successfully completed. The undoubted advantages of this connection is the support for 5.1 multi-channel sound of the Dolby Digital standard or DTS technology. The principle is simple – the sources of audio information and video signals feed them to the TV, and then the audio information is fed through an optical cable to the surround bar.
Some models of television receivers have connectors for digital coaxial cables, which can be used as an alternative to optics. The connection is made in the same way, but selecting digital signals as a source – Digital/COAX. The sound quality with this type of connection is also on top.
If it is not possible to use an HDMI ARC panel or other digital connection options to connect, then you can try using the analog interface with the familiar red and white RCA connectors.
The main thing is that both the TV and the soundbar have these connectors. Of course, this is not the best solution, because with this option, multi-channel sound cannot be obtained. There is only one advantage of this type of connection – in some cases, good stereo sound is still better than the standard acoustics of the TV receiver.
In critical cases, when a digital connection cannot be made, and there are no audio inputs, you can try connecting via a mini-jack – 3.5 mm through the headphone jack on the TV. In some cases, adapters may be required.
With this option for connecting the soundbar, please note that only analog sound is available through this connector. This type of audio signal is transmitted much slower than a digital signal, so there may be problems with the synchronization of the image and sound.
Via Ethernet port
Many users ask questions about how to connect a Samsung soundbar or models from other manufacturers without cables at all. Indeed, models of modern soundbars are equipped with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless interfaces, which allows you to make connections without physically connecting the equipment to each other. You just need to decide on the network connection option.
Soundbars with these features allow you to connect to your home network, and through it to various streaming services, and even integrate them into multi-room systems.
Now that you know the options for connecting a soundbar to a TV, we can compare modern soundbars by the interfaces they implement. For comparison, seven most popular models from the budget segment according to PULT.ru were taken.
|Denon Heos Home Cinema
|Harman Kardon Enchant 800
|Wharfedale Vista 200S
|Yamaha MusicCast BAR400
|Polk Audio Signa S2
It should be noted that all these models also have HDMI connectors. At the same time, having information about the functionality of your TV receiver and seeing the set of interfaces of a particular soundbar, you can always predict what exactly the options for combining TV and acoustics will be, and choose the most optimal one from them.
Of course, the presented table does not give a complete picture, but even this comparison demonstrates the fact that knowing the connection principle and having information about the set of interfaces, you can always choose the most successful model for a particular TV and connect it.
Many buyers of full-fledged home theaters today look at soundbars in confusion and longingly, because this type of audio equipment is much more compact than full-size and often bulky audio systems in the form of home theaters. There can be only one advice here – either buy such a compact soundbar instead of a full-fledged home theater, or use it to sound another room.
The conclusions are simple. The popularity of compact audio devices is due to the large connectivity that allows you to get high-quality sound. Moreover, this applies to all models, without exception, both budget and premium, which have such wide functionality that, perhaps, only they cannot brew coffee.
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The best soundbar for your home media center or computer
Fact: Built-in TV speakers tend to offer weak sound. Often television speakers face backwards. Also, standard TV audio remains notoriously weak. That’s why you need a soundbar.
Soundbars offer improved sound quality without complicated wiring and configuration. Instead, soundbars provide a clean, compact speaker array. Find out which soundbar is best for your home media center or computer.
There are three factors to consider when choosing a soundbar. Namely, the size of the room, the number of “speakers” and the sound source. A less powerful soundbar is sufficient if you are using the soundbar with a computer or in a small room. Where is your audio coming from?
Are you using optical, coaxial, HDMI or stereo RCA? Most soundbars have multiple inputs. However, you want to make sure you’re getting the best possible sound quality. If you’re using RCA, you’re missing out on true surround sound. We looked at the differences between Dolby Digital, THX and DTS.
The number of speakers is critical to true surround sound. Especially with soundbars, 2.0 or 2.1 speakers are common. Thus, when connected via an optical signal, 5.1 or 7.1 is mixed. Even some soundbars marketed as 5.1 rely on emulated rather than real 5.1. They use virtual environment . You may want to consider these aspects, as putting together a home theater system requires a lot of components and therefore a lot of planning.
Best Budget Soundbars
Vizio 2.0 Soundbar
Vizio dominates budget electronics. Despite the low cost, the electronics consistently rake in solid reviews. The home theater guru creates a 2. 0 soundbar in two configurations: 29″ and 38″ form factor. As 2.0 suggests, this soundbar only has two audio channels. So there is no built-in subwoofer. However, Vizio does provide a subwoofer output. You can easily add a subwoofer later.
Despite the lack of a standard subwoofer, Amazon reviewers noted adequate bass. Vizio’s deep bass modules enhance low frequencies without a subwoofer. The 29″ speaker fills small rooms, while the 38″ is suitable for medium to large rooms. Includes Dolby Digital and DTS TruSurround compatibility. Please note that Dolby Digital is limited to optical audio. DTS TruVolume evens out the sound for an even sound. In addition, Bluetooth is standard for wireless streaming and there is a remote. In terms of inputs, there is one stereo RCA, 3.5mm stereo mini-jack, optical TOSLINK and coaxial. You will also find a USB input for music playback.
If you’re willing to shell out about $200 more, you can get a 5.1 soundbar from Vizio. In their review, CNET praised the SB4051’s true five-channel audio with wireless subwoofers and surround speakers. However, CNET found the bass to be overwhelming. However, the 2.0 soundbar balances budget and affordability – and bass even without a dedicated subwoofer. As a 2.0 soundbar, it’s almost guaranteed to outperform standard TV speakers.
- Integrated Bluetooth.
- Dolby Digital, DTS TruSurround, DTS TruVolume.
- Deep Bass technology compensates for the absence of a subwoofer.
- Output for adding a sub.
- Remote standard.
- Analog and digital inputs (optical and stereo).
- No sub.
- No HDMI input.
Razer has honed its niche in the gaming space. Specifically, Razer specializes in gaming accessories such as mice like the Naga and keyboards. But given the proliferation of Razer headsets, its entry into the soundbar market is not surprising. The Razer Leviathan boasts 5.1 audio. Approximately $200 is a phenomenal value. Plus, the tiny package produces enough sound to fill a medium sized room. However, the Leviathan is compact enough to fit under a computer monitor.
PC Mag praised Leviathan for his powerful sound coming from his small stature. Reviewers also noted a lot of low quality hits from the sub. Standard Bluetooth as well as analog and optical inputs provide plenty of connectivity options. However, although Leviathan is branded 5.1, it is not true 5.1. Rather, it is virtual 5.1-channel surround sound. But the main limitation is the lack of a remote control. While Leviathan is suitable for a home media center, its built-in controls match the sound of a computer. There’s no IR sensor or HDMI input for using your own remote or controlling audio levels via a TV connection.
Ultimately, the Razer Leviathan is an amazing soundbar for the price. Due to the Leviathan’s lack of a remote and compact size, it is better suited for computer use rather than a home media center.
- 5. 1.
- Dolby Digital, Dolby virtual speakers, Dolby Pro Logic II.
- Compact design.
- Digital and analog inputs (optical and stereo).
- Bluetooth with aptX.
- No remote.
- Missing IR sensor.
- No HDMI.
- Not true 5.1.
Best mid-range soundbars
Polk MagniFi Mini
Polk specializes in audio and its MagniFi Mini really shines. Small in size but big in sound CNET awarded the MagniFi Mini 8.2/10 in their review. Superior features such as Wi-Fi and phone connectivity complement the Polk MagniFi Mini’s excellent sound quality. This 2.1 channel soundbar is one of the smallest you’ll find. With two 12m tweeters and four 2.25″ drivers, Polk offers a wide range of highs and lows. For a $300 soundbar, the Polk MagniFi Mini is well stocked. You’ll find Bluetooth, analog, optical, and HDMI inputs, as well as Audio Return Channel (ARC). There is even Google Cast.
In addition, there is also Ethernet. But, unfortunately, the HDMI input is only for ARC. This prevents a potential connection. You are prohibited from connecting non-ARC compatible devices such as a game console or Blu-ray player. So you will have to use an optical cable. But many TVs come with an optical output, so you can connect your devices to your TV via HDMI and run the optical output on the soundbar. The Boston Acoustics Twee Model 30 is a solid replacement.
Overall, the Polk MagniFi Mini/a> offers high quality features at a mid-range price. This removes quirks like unreliable Wi-Fi and an ARC-only HDMI input.
- Compact design.
- HDMI with ARC.
- Google Cast.
- Analog and digital inputs (optical and stereo).
- Built-in Wi-Fi.
- Ethernet port.
- HDMI for ARC only.
- Spotted Wi-Fi.
The Yamaha YAS-203 combines high sound quality with moderate affordability. For the price, it’s hard to find a soundbar that hits a combination of highs and lows. It is this sound range that makes the 2.1 Yamaha one of the best soundbars for your home media center or computer. Low and high frequencies remain perfectly balanced. Inside the panel you will find a pair of 1/8″ drivers and a 6.5″ driver in the included subwoofer.
Higher level features such as Bluetooth and DTS decoding allow Yamaha to compete with soundbars well above its price point. CNET notes that the sound quality is impressive for both music and movies. However, their reviewers noted that Bluetooth sounds a bit shrill or annoying when used with devices that lack aptX. Despite its extensive capabilities, Yamaha did not use an HDMI port. There is also a built-in IR repeater. Due to its taller shape, the TAS-203 sometimes blocks IR on many TVs. However, this IR blaster eliminates that problem.
In general, the Yamaha YAS-203 is well suited for film, TV and music applications. It’s louder and showcases the full dynamics of sounds, setting it apart from budget soundbars while keeping the price reasonable.
- Bluetooth with aptX.
- Analog and digital inputs (optical and stereo).
- DTS and Dolby Digital decoding.
- Rear IR blaster.
- Dynamic sound.
- The remote is on.
- No HDMI.
- Bluetooth array with non-aptX devices.
- Can block IR on TVs (but IR blaster compensates for this).
Since the publication of this article, Yamaha has released a new version of the Yamaha YAS-207BL soundbar.
Pioneer is synonymous with superior sound quality. As such, the Pioneer SP-SB23W ranks as one of the best soundbars you can find. CNET reviewers acknowledged that the SP-SB23W sounds better than most other soundbars at any budget. The high quality of a 2.1 soundbar starts with the assembly materials. Instead of the usual plastic body, Pioneer opts for wood composite. While this creates a high-end feel and enhances the acoustics, it makes for a bulky soundbar. Like the Yamaha YAS-203, this may block your TV IR receiver. However, unlike the YAS-203 or the Sony HT-CT260, the SP-SB23W lacks an IR sensor. You may need to raise your TV a little.
Since the Pioneer SP-SB23W is a 2.1 system, there is a subwoofer. Not only that, but the subwoofer is wireless. Sounds great with deep bass while remaining compact. The remote is a bit cheap – it’s thin, and the fuzzy shape and buttons mean the buttons aren’t distinguishable. But at least it includes a remote control, unlike the Razer Leviathan. In addition, you can program a cable or remote control to control the SP-SB23W.
The entrances are rather modest. There is one optical input and one analog input. Especially with a wooden case, it’s surprising that Pioneer has disabled HDMI or even some of the digital inputs. As with other soundbars with minimal inputs, your best bet is to connect all your wires to your TV and connect your TV to the soundbar with an optical cable. There’s also Bluetooth for wireless streaming. Also, although the SP-SB23W decodes Dolby Digital, there is no DTS decoding.
Despite its shortcomings, the SP-SB23W’s balanced sound and superb build quality more than make up for its shortcomings.
- Dolby Digital decoding.
- Bluetooth with aptX.
- Analog and digital inputs (optical and stereo).
- Wooden cabinet.
- Compact yet powerful subwoofer.
- Includes remote control.
- Lackluster remote.
- Tendency to block TV IR port.
- No DTS decoding.
- Not enough HDMI.
Best Elite Soundbars
The Sony HT-NT5 packs exceptional sound and features into a well-designed soundbar. Sony’s HT-NT5 boasts fantastic quality for both music and video. The slim form factor and wireless subwoofer make this 2.1 soundbar sound exquisite. In addition, you have the option to add wireless rear speakers. This transforms the 2.1 soundbar into a full 5.1 surround sound system. While many soundbars don’t even have one HDMI input, the Sony HT-NT5 offers a whopping three. In addition, they boast HDCP 2.2 and HDR support with 4K video sources.
Difficult to find error with Sony HT-NT5. At around $500, the commendable array of features, connections, and sound quality makes the HT-NT5 an amazing soundbar. In addition, the aesthetics of the HT-NT5 match the sound quality. CNET noted that adding wireless rear speakers was a tedious process. However, the addition of rear speakers kept up the sound, especially for movies.
- Google Cast.
- 3 HDMI inputs.
- 4K and HDR support.
- Expandable to 5.1.
- Dolby TruHD and DTS-HD support.
- Analog and digital inputs (optical and stereo).
- USB input.
- Wireless rear speakers are a pain in the ass.
If you’re looking for rich sound, the Samsung HW-K950 is considered one of the best. This top-tier soundbar is ideal for movies and music. The Samsung HW-K950 includes rear speakers for true 5.1 channel sound. In addition, the HW-K950 sports support for Dolby Atmos. There’s a 5.1.4 setting for that: five surround speakers, a subwoofer and four headers. Dolby Atmos compatible, the Samsung HW-K950 is an incredible value.
However, Dolby Atmos sources are limited. In addition, DTS support remains partially limited. HW-K950 can decode all Dolby tracks except DTS:X. Also, DTS streams are decoded in stereo. There is wireless streaming as well as HDMI and analog and digital inputs.
Despite these limitations, however, the Samsung HW-K950 boasts Dolby Atmos decoding, multiple HDMI inputs, and rear speakers for immersive surround sound.
- Support Dolby Atmos, Dolby decoding.
- HDMI inputs.
- HDMI output.
- Analog and digital inputs (stereo and optical).
- Multiroom streaming.
- Rear speakers.
- No DTS support: X
- DTS stream decoding is limited to stereo.
Elevate (Sound) Bar
While home theater systems with dedicated speakers still dominate audio and moviegoers, soundbars have evolved. Now, many soundbars offer an experience on par with budget to mid-range home theater settings. Even a low-end soundbar is sure to outperform TV audio quality. On a high level, consider soundbar offerings from Sony, Yamaha and Samsung. In the budget range, the Vizio is hard to beat. Notably, the Vizio S5451W-C2 and SB3851-C0C soundbars are stellar choices. Each offers true 5.1 with dedicated rear speakers. Both also feature Dolby Digital and DTS decoding.
Ultimately, if you still rely on your TV’s speakers, it’s worth switching to a soundbar.