12 Major Soundbar Brands Ranked Worst To Best
By Luke Mitchell/Updated: April 18, 2023 8:49 am EST
Flat-screen TVs are, on the whole, a giant leap forward in home entertainment. We no longer have to give up much of our living space to accommodate an unsightly, boxy appliance that commands attention in any room. Yet when it came to space-saving, attractive televisions, a significant compromise had to be made for sound quality, and this is where the soundbar comes in.
Accurate sound reproduction demands the acoustic properties of more prominent speakers, and, for the most part, the slimline cones in flat-screen units don’t cut it. The soundbar is an essential addition to any home theater setup, and it provides better audio clarity across a broader frequency spectrum, especially when combined with an accompanying subwoofer.
Here, we take a deep dive into the biggest soundbar brands and how they compare according to their products’ sound quality, value for money, features, and functionality. In this instance, it is necessary to consider a wide range of models to suit different consumer budgets, requirements, and technical elements, such as frequency responses, audio processing, mobile connectivity, and the materials used in their construction. Let’s jump right in.
South Korea is famous for many things, including its fried chicken, soju liquor, pop music, and consumer electronics companies. LG is one such company that produces affordable yet high-quality soundbars. While its systems couldn’t be described as audiophile-quality, they significantly upgrade any flat-panel TV for those who don’t wish to spend a small fortune.
Its soundbar products include Google Assistant functionality, wireless subwoofers, HDMI ARC connectivity, and various audio channels such as 3.1, 5.1, and 7.1 surround sound. They are also compatible with the excellent LG Magic Remote line of control units, some of the most intuitive and versatile with their voice recognition technology and gesture commands.
In short, while it is by no means the best soundbar manufacturer, the fact that it made this ranking places LG among the top brands, and with models such as the LG P9YA offering 5.1 surround-sound, and Dolby Atmos compatibility for under $300, it is one of the best budget options going.
First and foremost, it is worth mentioning that Yamaha invented the “digital sound projector,” the YSP-1 soundbar, which brought us the first authentic 5.1 surround sound. So it’s with little surprise that the Japanese giant known for its wide variety of products, encompassing the musical instrument, automotive, and pro audio sectors, gets a nod here.
Yamaha soundbars are recognizable for their unique curvy styling. They are also among the most affordable in this ranking, with their modestly-priced YAS-209 costing as little as $230, including a subwoofer and Alexa voice control functionality. While this unit will not provide a fully-immersive sound like more expensive units, it is a small price to pay for a vast improvement on your television’s built-in audio.
Yet for a few dollars more at $250, you can opt for the versatile and compact SR-C30A with Bluetooth connectivity, Yamaha’s Adaptive Low Volume and Clear Voice sound enhancement features, and a wireless subwoofer. While it won’t be getting much love from audiophile publications this year, Yamaha is still a key player within the soundbar category. This brand demands some attention from buyers shopping on a budget.
This ubiquitous South Korean brand needs no introduction, and its extensive catalog of soundbars ranges from a few hundred dollars to almost two thousand for its flagship Q990C unit. When synced with a Samsung TV, they can provide an immersive experience, thanks to front, side, and up-firing speakers, which blend with the TV’s sound using the new Q Symphony feature.
Key features that many Samsung soundbars offer include advanced audio technologies, such as DTS:X and Dolby Atmos spatial audio processing, as well as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. They can be configured via the Samsung SmartThings app for convenience. It’s worth remembering that soundbars can be used as standalone Bluetooth speakers for mobile devices, so connectivity is undoubtedly something that should be a consideration, especially if you like to stream music and podcasts around the house without going into your TV’s menu or signing into your accounts there.
Unfortunately, some features of Samsung soundbars, such as the “Tap Sound” activation function, only work if you have a Samsung phone, but this is more of a novelty than a requirement. All in all, Samsung delivers a quality line of products, including slimline soundbars, all-in-one soundbars, and premium soundbars. If you have a Samsung TV, it might be the best option for compatibility alone.
As another brand that offers a wide range of models to suit all budgets, Sony soundbars represent excellent value for money. Its flagship products deliver crisp audio across a broad frequency spectrum with exceptional clarity. Still, it also has basic offerings that are perfectly acceptable to boost your TV’s existing sound quality. As with Samsung, you can expect a reassuring build quality from Sony as it designs its gear to last and offers many features and functions to suit all home entertainment configurations.
Sony makes soundbar systems with 2.1, 3.1, 5.1, and 7.1 channel options (the .1 refers to a low-frequency channel – usually an external subwoofer). Generally speaking, the more channels you have, the richer the sound. However, certain factors like room size and speaker placement are essential for achieving the optimal sonic experience. 5.1 surround sound is the most commonly used configuration for home cinema setups. For most people, this is more than fit for purpose, with 7.1 systems usually reserved for those looking for detailed depth and clarity that encompasses distances and directions.
Additionally, Sony offers a range of sound technologies within its soundbars, including 360 Reality Audio, 360 Spatial Sound Mapping, Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, Sound Field Optimization, and Vertical/Front Surround. From the options available, we can clearly see that much research and development has gone into how Sony’s soundbars achieve their excellent sound reproduction.
Denon has been a big name among hi-fi enthusiasts for decades, so it makes sense that they branched out into home cinema systems. It currently makes some of the best value-for-money soundbars in various sizes to suit your home theater setup. They are among the most versatile, with some models supporting Dolby Atmos 3D spatial audio and a range of voice commands and input/output options.
With its history rooted in home audio systems, it’s no surprise that Denon focuses on audio streaming for its soundbar range. This is apparent from the inclusion of HEOS Built-In technology on its flagship Sound Bar 550 model, which syncs with smart devices to provide direct high-resolution audio streaming. There is also a HEOS companion app to make life easier for you when configuring and controlling your soundbar. Additionally, much of the range has Alexa voice command functionality to switch volume, EQ levels, and even input sources without lifting a finger.
Denon’s soundbar range is limited, with five options and just two that include wireless subwoofers, but you get a lot of bang for your buck. For example, the compact DHT-S217 has Dolby Atmos and built-in subwoofers for under $250, making it ideal for those looking to streamline their home theater setup without compromising sound quality.
JBL is a pioneering firm that has lately made great waves in the home audio industry, established over 75 years ago. Known for its professional-level products, the company created music production speakers, Cinema systems, DJ gear, PA systems, and in-car audio.
JBL offers an extensive range of soundbars that are well-designed with valuable features. Its top-of-the-range BAR 1300 model boasts impressive 11.1.4 surround capabilities with Dolby Atmos and innovative detachable wireless satellite speakers. These internal batteries charge from the central soundbar unit and can be placed behind the viewer to achieve the system’s fully-immersive potential. It also has multiple connectivity options, with AirPlay, Alexa MRM, and Chromecast built-in. The detachable units can also be used as independent wireless speakers or paired for stereo sound when used independently.
Such innovation and remarkable functionality make JBL stand out among its peers in the soundbar sector. The sheer amount of choice makes it hard not to consider JBL an option when shopping for a soundbar setup. While JBL soundbars are a little more expensive than similar-spec alternatives, you can pick up the entry-level BAR Studio 2.0 for as little as $140.
Bose has long been an innovator in all things audio and is known for its small-scale products that provide big sound. This innovation extends to its soundbar sector, with smart models offering cinema-quality sound without an additional subwoofer. This brand focuses on quality over quantity, with a small but wide-ranging product line that caters to most home theater requirements.
At the entry-level end of the range is its succinctly-named Bose TV Speaker. For $279, this does exactly as you’d expect by boosting your TV’s audio performance with a compact Roku-ready soundbar with its own remote and Bluetooth connectivity. Going further up the ranking are models such as the Smart Soundbar 600, which has Dolby Atmos and Alexa voice command functionality. While these models are known to produce a satisfying bass response, Bose does give you the option to buy its Bass Module woofer and satellite speakers as extras.
Or you can spend $2,347 on the Bose Premium Home Theater system, complete with the nine-speaker Smart Soundbar 900, Bass Module 700, and Surround Speakers 700. While this impressive system has all the voice command functionality, Dolby Atmos 360-degree sound, and connectivity options that you’d expect from a flagship model from a premium brand, its fit and finish capture the eye, with the use of glass and Bose’s OmniJewel surface making this plush bundle stand out from the rather monolithic crowd.
Sonos is one of the original trailblazers in wireless home entertainment. Its smart soundbars are just a part of the Sonos experience. Multiple speakers around the home are connected via the companion app to provide a truly immersive sonic experience wherever you happen to be. Sonos soundbars are available in three models, starting with the entry-level Sonos Ray, then the midrange Sonos Beam (Gen 2), with the top-of-the-range Sonos Arc completing the set.
While each soundbar that Sonos creates represents excellent build quality and exceptional sound, the midrange Beam (Gen 2) is making waves in hi-fi circles as one of the most impressive systems the brand has produced and one of the best-quality soundbars for the money. Retailing at just under $500, this compact Dolby-Atmos-equipped soundbar has five speaker arrays that combine to deliver theater-quality surround sound in a compact chassis that won’t clutter your television stand. As with all Sonos products, it integrates into your wireless multi-room setup, but even as a standalone unit, it is an excellent product. However, it does lack DTS:X, meaning it requires satellite speakers to shine.
Other offerings to augment your sound include the third-generation Sonos Sub subwoofer that bottoms out at 25 Hz and multiple packages, such as the Surround Set, Entertainment Set, and Immersive Set, each with different satellite speakers and subwoofer configurations. If you are keen on a house-wide network of wireless sound systems, then Sonos is likely the solution you are looking for, provided it suits your budget.
While Klipsch soundbars may look similar, with two horns bookending a long mesh grille, they each have different features to suit various audio solutions. This company uses some of the best materials, such as fiber composite woofers and hand-finished exotic woods, to bring you an artisan product that looks as good as it sounds. Yet, many have not even heard of this premium brand founded in Arkansas back in 1946.
The idea behind the Klipsch Cinema 600 was to take the ideology that informed its high-end reference speakers and apply it to its soundbars, which is a good starting point. The result is a 5.1 surround sound system that is intuitive and powerful. You can control its multiple settings via the Klipsch Connect app, which includes six speaker presets, so you are out of the gate straight away.
Klipsch provides few frills in its product line. Their entire range only extends to 5.1 surround with Dolby Atmos on its more premium models, but a more modest product, when made well, can best even the most technical offerings from the best-known brands, and this is where Klipsch has succeeded.
California-based Vizio designs some of the most visually appealing soundbars, provided you are a fan of the color black. It also has one of the most impressive ranges of soundbars available right now; they sound great and are competitively priced, leaving us wondering whether there’s a catch.
One of the latest additions to the Vizio Soundbar Catalog is its M-Series AiO model, which, with its trapezoidal profile and fabric grille, is undoubtedly a thing of beauty, with buttons that are concealed well out of the way at the side and a 2. 13-inch height that will enable it to slide effortlessly under most TV stands. However, despite its advertised DTS:X decoding, the AiO falls a little short in the 3D sound department. It does, however, include onboard “subwoofers” that, while not as effective as the real thing, add enough bottom end to embellish your viewing experience far beyond the capabilities of a regular TV’s speakers.
If you want to go the full distance, Vizio has enough in its range to satisfy the most ardent audiophile, from compact soundbars to complete home theater and immersive bundles that leave little to be desired. In summary, anyone serious about home entertainment should have Vizio on their list of considerations for their ultimate in-house setup.
Sennheiser has long been a significant player in the pro-audio industry. Its soundbars live up to this well-earned reputation, provided you are prepared to pay pro-audio prices. But this ranking is for the best soundbars, not the best-priced, and, as is often the case, German engineering shines as being among the best products within any given category.
One such product that is more than worthy of mention is Sennheiser’s Ambeo Soundbar | Max, which likely produces the biggest sound for a standalone soundbar available today. Most notably, it offers bass frequencies as low as 30Hz from its integrated subwoofer, so if floor space is a point for consideration, this slimline all-in-one solution could be just what you’re looking for.
While it is compatible with Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and MPEG-H audio processing, the Ambeo utilizes its own Upmix Technology to convert any stereo or 5.1 audio into 3D sound. In addition, its Advanced Room Calibration tailors sound to your living space, giving you a bespoke experience that is hard to beat in home theater terms, making Sennheiser among the most innovative and progressive brands currently producing soundbars.
While it may not be the most well-known brand in this ranking, the Polk Audio company is focused purely on speakers. Its product line extends to home speakers, built-in speakers, outdoor speakers, and car and marine speakers, plus they make excellent, reasonably-priced soundbars. From its more affordable Signa range to its premium Magnifi line of soundbars, there is something here to satisfy everyone and every budget.
Polk’s flagship Magnifi Max AX SR bundle features everything that a premium soundbar should, including DTS:X and Dolby Atmos processing and Polk’s patented SDA technology to deliver near-perfect sound reproduction in glorious 7.1 surround. It features an 11-speaker array to ensure that no syllable is clipped and every frequency, from deep bass to the highest registers, is accounted for.
Yet you don’t have to spend a fortune to purchase one of Polk’s top-tier products, with models like the Signa S4D delivering Dolby Atmos 3D sound for as little as $279. Polk Audio’s comprehensive and affordable range allows buyers to own a high-quality home theater setup without having to delve too deep into their pockets or feel obliged to opt for audio quality that is surplus to their requirements. After all, most people will settle for anything notably better than their current TV speakers, and Polk’s soundbar products go far above and beyond this.
JBL Bar 1300X review: a soundbar that does Dolby Atmos right
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Powerful yet refined
(Image: © Future)
The JBL Bar 1300X has an innovative design and delivers maximum immersion with all manner of movie soundtracks and music. It’s a great option for someone who doesn’t want to compromise on the visceral excitement that the best home theater systems effortlessly deliver, but also doesn’t want to burden their living room with an overly complicated setup. Multiple HDMI inputs mean you can connect a stack of sources without worry, and the system’s rechargeable rear speakers can also be used as portable Bluetooth speakers – a design flex that heightens the Bar 1300X’s overall value.
TODAY’S BEST DEALS
Dolby Atmos and DTS:X processing
Rechargeable wireless surround speakers
Four HDMI ports (one with eARC)
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JBL Bar 1300X soundbar: Two-minute review
The JBL Bar 1300X is the company’s flagship Dolby Atmos soundbar system in 2023, and it’s one that delivers a serious wow factor. A big part of this is JBL’s innovative design, which uses truly wireless rechargeable surround speakers that dock into the sides of the main soundbar where they can enhance its sound output while recharging, before you put them back behind you. Beyond that, it’s a 16-channel system powered by 1,170 total watts, and it comes with a 12-inch wireless subwoofer that’s unusually beefy for one packaged with a soundbar.
At $1,699 / £1,299 / around AU$2,570, the JBL 1300X is one of the pricier soundbar systems on the market, though its cost is comparable to other offerings that deliver an equally rich sense of immersion, such as the Samsung HW-Q990B. It’s also feature-packed, offering both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X processing along with Atmos upmixing of stereo sources. Up-firing Atmos speakers on both the soundbar and surround speakers ensure full distribution of height effects in soundtracks throughout the room, and there’s also Wi-Fi, AirPlay 2, Chromecast built-in, and Bluetooth wireless streaming support.
Build quality of the system, which is best suited for 65-inch or larger TVs, is excellent. There are four HDMI ports (one with eARC), which is enough to handle disc player, streaming box, and game console sources, though 4K 120Hz passthrough isn’t supported.
System setup is exceedingly simple and uses JBL’s control app for sound calibration. The app lets you sign-in to the best music streaming apps including Amazon Music Unlimited, Tidal, Qobuz, and Spotify, and it provides a convenient place to stream from multiple services. A remote control is also included.
The sound quality of JBL’s flagship system is very impressive – right up there with the best soundbars. Dolby Atmos soundtracks have a substantial immersive effect and bass is both deep-reaching and powerful. Having up-firing Atmos speakers in both the front and rear of the room makes a notable difference, and is one of the ways this system distinguishes itself from the soundbar pack. Both music and dialogue come across as clear and natural-sounding, and with Dolby upmixing for stereo sources onboard, all manner of content becomes sonically room-filling.
While $1,699 is a lot to pay for a soundbar, the JBL 1300X is nonetheless very good value considering its innovative design and solid performance. You’d really need to step up to a separate AV receiver and speakers-based rig to best it, but then you’d be making your system – and life – more complicated. The JBL’s price is also comparable to flagship systems from other makers, including the Samsung mentioned above, or the LG S95QR – something that should put its cost into perspective when doing comparative shopping.
JBL’s Bar 1300X features up-firing drivers on both the main soundbar and surround speakers. (Image credit: Future)
- JBL Bar 1300X Dolby Atmos Soundbar at Crutchfield for $1,699.95
JBL Bar 1300X soundbar review: Price & release date
- Released in February 2023
- $1,699 / £1,299 / around AU$2,570
The JBL Bar 1300X was released in February 2023 and sells for $1,699 / £1,299 / around AU$2,570. That’s a hefty price for a soundbar, though it’s in the same ballpark as other systems from Samsung and LG that offer high channel counts for maximum sound immersion.
For the cost, you’re getting a system loaded with appealing and useful features, and the design and build quality are excellent. JBL offers similar 7.1.4 and 5.1.2 soundbar systems, also with detachable and rechargeable surround speakers, at lower cost, though the immersive effect may not be as complete as with the Bar 1300X.
After removing the endcaps at either side of the soundbar, the surround speakers can be docked for re-charging. (Image credit: Future)
JBL Bar 1300X soundbar review: Specs
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|Dimensions||39.4 x 2.4 x 5.5 inches (soundbar), 8 x 2.4 x 5.5 inches (surround speakers), 14.4 x 18.9 x 14.4 inches (subwoofer)|
|Connectivity||4 HDMI inputs (1 with eARC), optical digital audio, USB type-A|
|Rear speakers included?||Yes|
|Other features||Re-chargeable surround speakers, DTS:X processing|
JBL Bar 1300X soundbar review: Features
- Dolby Atmos and DTS:X processing
- 16 sound channels
- Wi-Fi, AirPlay 2, Chromecast built-in, and Bluetooth wireless streaming
JBL’s top soundbar system is feature-packed. You get both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support along with the company’s MultiBeam processing, which uses digital processing and beamforming to widen the soundfield and create a more immersive surround effect. This is a 16-channel system powered by 1,170 total watts, with 650 of those dedicated to the 12-inch wireless subwoofer. Four up-firing speakers are located on the soundbar, while the surround speakers each also provide one up-firing speaker. Six upfiring drivers is the most I’ve seen in a soundbar so far.
The most unusual feature of the Bar 1300X is its rechargeable surround speakers, which are a truly wireless solution since they don’t need to be plugged in and will run for up to 10 hours. (JBL does provide the option to power the surround speakers via USB-C connection if you prefer not to have to recharge them on a regular basis.) These can also be used as wireless Bluetooth speakers when not in active duty in the home theater, and you can even pair them wirelessly for stereo playback.
Both AirPlay 2 and Chromecast built-in can be used for wireless streaming to the Bar 1300X, which also supports Bluetooth. Subscriber information for services including Amazon Music Unlimited, Tidal, Qobuz, and Spotify can also be entered in the JBL One app, providing a central location to access music and other streaming audio. The Bar 1300X also works with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri for voice control.
- Features score: 5/5
The system’s re-chargeable surrounds are completely wire-free, and can also be used as portable Bluetooth speakers. (Image credit: Future)
JBL Bar 1300X soundbar review: Sound quality
- Powerful immersion with Dolby Atmos soundtracks
- Full, yet clean bass
- Clear, natural presentation of dialogue and music
The JBL Bar 1300X did not disappoint in the slightest when it came to performance. With 16 channels at the ready, Dolby Atmos soundtracks on TV shows and movies showcased its spatial audio abilities most dramatically, but basically everything I watched and listened to sounded great on the system, which uses Dolby’s upmixer to render stereo and regular surround soundtracks in Atmos.
One good Dolby Atmos example is a scene from 1917 where the two British soldiers are exploring an underground German bunker and a trip-wire triggers an explosion that causes the structure to come tumbling down. The explosion in this scene sounded incredibly vivid on the Bar 1300X system, its potent subwoofer creating a low, thunderous rumble. As debris falls down on the soldiers in the aftermath, the system’s up-firing drivers created a strong sense of being within the space, while the main soundbar’s clear delivery of dialogue let me easily hear their shouts amidst the chaos.
Turning next to Top Gun: Maverick, the Bar 1300X system was well up to the task of rendering the motions of the Tomahawk cruise missiles and Super Hornet fighter jets during the climactic mission. The sound of the jets travelled from the front of my room to the back with pinpoint precision, and there was also a good sense of height when the jets swooped upward from the canyon into the sky.
I was eager to listen to some Spatial Audio tracks from Apple Music on the JBL system, and here again I was impressed. Streaming Beck’s Thinking About You via an Apple TV 4K (2022), the vocals came across as if they were floating in 3D space and there was no sibilance or edginess to the sound – something I’ve encountered on many other soundbars when listening to music. The bass guitar sounded very full, yet clean and well-defined, while the acoustic guitar and mandolin had a finely layered presence. A harmonica solo that closes out the track floated in space in a similar manner to the vocals, yet the mix positioned it equally in the rear channels, creating a strong sense of envelopment.
Streaming Max Richter’s Tranquility II and III from SLEEP: Tranquility Base, the pipe organ and keyboards had a smooth and natural presentation that was easy on the ears, and the system’s subwoofer did an excellent job of reproducing the lowest organ notes. The vocals soared above all of this in an impressive way, with the JBL soundbar creating an almost cathedral-like sense of space.
- Sound quality score: 5/5
With a 12-inch driver powered by 650 watts, the JBL system’s subwoofer is a true bass beast. (Image credit: Future)
JBL Bar 1300X soundbar review: Design
- Rechargeable, truly wireless surround speakers
- Excellent build quality
- Comes with brackets for surround speakers
Given the Bar 1300X’s elevated price tag, you’re paying not just for sound quality but also design, and here JBL does not disappoint. The rear speakers can be “docked” at either side of the main soundbar for recharging, and when in that position they contribute to the bar’s output by widening the soundstage and supporting height effects. Once charged up, you simply remove them and replace the included end caps on the soundbar.
The main soundbar is 39.4 x 2.4 x 5.5 inches (W x H x D), making it a good match for 65-inch and larger TVs. It uses six 1.8 x 3. 5-inch racetrack drivers and five 0.75-inch tweeters for the left, center, and right-channel output, and has four 2.75-inch full-range up-firing drivers. With a 12-inch driver, the system’s wireless subwoofer is fairly large and features a rear port to enhance output.
At 8 x 2.4 x 5.5 inches (W x H x D), JBL’s surround speakers are compact and can easily be placed on speaker stands. Another option is to wall-mount them using the included brackets for a more permanent installation, in which case you would use the speaker’s USB-C port for a power connection. Each surround speaker uses a 1.8 x 3.5-inch racetrack driver and 0.75-inch tweeter, along with a 2.75-inch full-range up-firing driver and two passive radiators.
- Design score: 5/5
Four HDMI ports are provided, including one with eARC. (Image credit: Future)
JBL Bar 1300X soundbar review: Usability and setup
- Four HDMI ports
- App-based setup and sound calibration
- No 4K 120Hz passthrough
With four HDMI inputs, including one with eARC for connecting to a TV, the Bar 1300X is well-suited to take on complicated setups. For my purposes, I connected a 4K Blu-ray player and an Apple TV 4K box, and there was still a port left over for a game console, though the Bar 1300X’s HDMI 2.0b connections don’t support 4K 120Hz passthrough. Beyond HDMI, there’s also an optical digital audio input, a USB type-A port that can be used to play music files (US version-only), and an Ethernet jack for a hardwired network connection.
Setting up the system was almost disarmingly simple. The soundbar automatically made a wireless connection with the subwoofer and surround speakers, and the only other thing left to do was hit the calibration button in the JBL app. This triggered a series of noise bursts from each speaker that the system measured and used to automatically adjust for levels and timing delays on the surround and subwoofer channels.
JBL’s long, slim remote control has large and well-labeled buttons that are easy to see in dim lighting. You can use it to switch inputs on the soundbar and adjust volume, bass level, surround level, and the output of the system’s up-firing drivers. When switching inputs or making adjustments, an alphanumeric LED display provides feedback on the soundbar’s front, which is a feature I’d expect to see in a soundbar at this price. The display also alerts you when the battery power in the surround speakers is running down – a very useful thing.
The JBL One app that’s used for setup and initial calibration has controls for adjusting EQ and lip-sync, and it offers Moment presets that can store custom settings. It’s also used for signing in to streaming services you subscribe to, with the app offering a central place to access music.
- Usability and setup score: 4.5/5
A large LED display on the soundbar’s front provides feedback for remote control commands and also alerts you when the surround speakers need re-charging. (Image credit: Future)
JBL Bar 1300X soundbar review: Value
- Pricey, but very good overall value
- Wireless rear speakers can be used as portable Bluetooth speakers
- Compares well to other high-end soundbar systems
At $1,699 / £1,299 / around AU$2,570, the JBL Bar 1300X is one of the more expensive soundbar systems you can buy. But it’s also one of the most capable and full-featured, which is something that needs to be taken into consideration when assessing its overall value. Competitors in its price range include flagship soundbar systems from Samsung and LG, both of which match, or nearly match, the JBL’s 11.1.4 speaker configuration.
Adding to the Bar 1300X’s value is the ability to use its wireless rear speakers as portable Bluetooth speakers, and high-quality ones at that. This lets you get good sound wherever you’re at, whether that’s watching Netflix shows on an iPad in your bedroom, or playing music while cooking in the kitchen.
The one thing that would detract from the Bar 1300X’s value is the fact that, at this price level, buying one of the best AV receivers and pairing it with an Atmos-ready speaker system becomes another option to consider, and one that could result in even better and more dynamic sound. But then again, the JBL Bar 1300X’s wireless subwoofer and surround speakers provide a more elegant and easy to set up option than a receiver and speakers, and for many users its sound quality will be more than good enough.
- Value score: 4.5/5
(Image credit: Future)
Should I buy the JBL Bar 1300X soundbar?
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|Features||Full-featured, with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X processing and multiple streaming options.||5/5|
|Sound quality||Overall excellent sound. Room filling with movies and also great with music.||5/5|
|Design||Innovative design uses wireless rechargeable surround speakers and front and rear up-firing drivers.||5/5|
|Usability and setup||Easy, app-based setup and auto calibration. Four HDMI ports to support multiple sources.||4.5/5|
|Value||Pricey, but a very good overall value considering features and performance.||4.5/5|
Buy it if…
You want both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X
Not all soundbars support both immersive soundtrack formats, but this one does, and it can also upmix regular stereo tracks for Atmos presentation.
You want uncompromised sound quality
The Bar 1300X is the best performing soundbar system I’ve yet reviewed. Its natural sound and immersive capabilities leave most other soundbars in the dust.
You want multiple HDMI inputs
With four HDMI ports onboard, you’ll be able to run multiple sources through the Bar 1300X, including disc players, streaming boxes, and game consoles.
Don’t buy it if…
You have limited space
While the Bar 1300X system itself doesn’t take up too much room, it’s designed to fill large spaces with immersive sound. JBL and other companies offer less expensive options that will better suit your needs.
You’re a serious gamer
JBL’s soundbar provides multiple HDMI ports, but none of them have 4K 120Hz pass-through to support that resolution and frame rate when playing games on PS5 or Xbox Series X. The Sony HT-A7000 does.
JBL Bar 1300X soundbar review: Also consider
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|JBL Bar 1300X||Samsung HW-Q990B||LG S95QR||Sonos Arc|
|Price||$1,699||$1,899 / £1,599 / AU$2,199||£1,699 / $1,499.99 / AU$1,749||$899 / £899 / AU$1,499|
|Dimensions||39. 4 x 2.4 x 5.5 inches (soundbar)||48.5 x 2.75 x 5.5 inches (soundbar)||47.2 x 2.5 x 5.3 inches (soundbar)||1141.7 x 87 x 115.7mm|
|Connectivity||4 HDMI inputs (1 with eARC), optical digital audio, USB type-A||3x HDMI (1 w/I eARC), optical digital audio input, USB port||3x HDMI (1 w/I eARC), optical digital audio input, USB port||HDMI (1 w/ ARC)|
|Rear speakers included?||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Other features||Re-chargeable surround speakers, DTS:X processing||DTS:X processing||DTS:X processing||Multiroom control|
Samsung’s flagship soundbar system matches the JBL’s 11. 1.4-channel count, and sits at a similar high price tier. It’s not particularly adept with music playback, but if you’re looking for another soundbar system that offers full-throttle Dolby Atmos immersion, this one ticks the right boxes. Read our full Samsung HW-Q990B review.
LG’s flagship soundbar system sports a 9.1.5-channel Dolby Atmos configuration, with an extra speaker tossed in to elevate dialogue in movies and TV shows to screen height. It’s priced about the same as the JBL system and Samsung flagship HW-Q990B, offers similarly immersive performance, and is a good option for larger rooms. Read our full LG S95QR review.
This flagship soundbar from Sonos packs a lot of drivers into a single soundbar, letting you get both overhead Atmos effects and a semblance of surround. There’s no subwoofer or wireless rear speakers included, but those options are available from Sonos and can be added at extra cost. Read our full Sonos Arc review.
(Image credit: Future)
How I tested the JBL Bar 1300X soundbar
- Evaluated using both 4K Blu-ray discs and streamed sources
- Extensive break-in time allowed before critical listening
- Tested using reference movie scenes and music tracks
I tested the JBL Bar 1300X soundbar in a 12 x 16 x 9-foot room using a 4K Blu-ray player, Apple TV 4K, and music streamed from Apple Music and Tidal as sources.
After positioning the speakers and running the system through its auto-calibration process, I allowed it to break in by watching movies and TV shows for a number of weeks before settling in for more critical listening using reference movie clips and music tracks.
The key things I listened for with movies were dialogue clarity, bass definition, continuity between the front and surround speakers, and the viscerality of overhead effects in Atmos soundtracks. For music, I paid attention to the naturalness of the sound with acoustic instruments and voices, as well as the dynamics in louder tracks.
Having reviewed many speaker systems in the same room over the years, I have a reference standard that the JBL Bar 1300X was compared to.
Read more about how we test
- First reviewed: March 2023
JBL Bar 1300X Dolby Atmos Soundbar: Price Comparison
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Al Griffin has been writing about and reviewing A/V tech since the days LaserDiscs roamed the earth, and was previously the editor of Sound & Vision magazine.
When not reviewing the latest and greatest gear or watching movies at home, he can usually be found out and about on a bike.
Soundbars • Stereo.ru
Soundbars • Stereo.ru
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Company press releases
24. 04.2023 14:48
courtesy of TCL press office
Hearing is believing with immersive soundbar surround sound , which is a perfect fit for TCL Mini LED QLED TVs
TCL, the world’s second TV brand and the world’s first brand in the 98-inch TV segment, is proud to announce the victory of its new TCL S6 Series home theater soundbar at the prestigious Design Red Dot Award in 2023. This award is further proof of TCL’s expertise in delivering outstanding home entertainment solutions to consumers around the world.
Founded over 60 years ago, Red Dot is a globally recognized international design award and benchmark. TCL’s S6 series of home theater soundbars are made up of three models designed to fit any living space, combining superior design with innovative technology.
Award-winning TCL S6 Series Home Theater Soundbar Sound
The powerful 5.1″ TCL S645W with five surround channels, two satellites and an earth-shaking subwoofer delivers rich sound that will immerse you in the action taking place on screen. The presence of a large number of channels provides a more powerful surround sound, and a 5.5-inch 70W subwoofer adds depth to it, making the sound more impressive. Users can position the satellite speakers however they want, such as on the back side, and enjoy live sound while experimenting with different speaker placements while gaming or watching action movies.
Compact yet powerful, the TCL S643W 3.1-inch soundbar delivers impressive sound with a 70W subwoofer for depth of sound. Three full-range speakers produce a richer sound, and center speakers provide a better perception of dialogue. Likewise, in the sleek 2.1″ TCL S642W, two surround channels and a 60W subwoofer allow listeners to enjoy powerful bass and excellent sound quality far superior to soundbars without a subwoofer.
All TCL S6 Max Audio soundbars for home cinema are amazing. As a result of the combination of the soundbar, subwoofer and satellite speakers, you get sound with minimal distortion. High power delivers rich sound structure and an immersive experience for the user. The maximum output of the S645W, S643W and S642W soundbars is 300W, 240W and 200W respectively, making them ideal for large rooms.
Impressive sound performance meets smart connectivity
All TCL S6 Series home theater models are Dolby Audio certified and deliver superior multi-channel sound quality. With crystal clarity, easy-to-understand dialogue, high-definition detail and realistic surround sound, these soundbars are the perfect complement to any TV, ensuring users get the most enjoyment out of them.
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