Best sound bars for TV UK 2022: improve your home cinema with sound bars from Polk Sigma, Sonos, JBL, Sony
Turn lacklustre sound from your TV into a sonic triumph with one of these, the best sound bars available in 2022
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Is it worth buying a sound bar?
In a world - yes!
Chances are, if you have an ultra-slim 4K TV, you may find yourself a tad disappointed. Not by the picture – which is likely better than any TV you’ve ever owned before – but by the very poor sound quality. This is hardly surprising given the slimness of all modern TVs.
Since your new TV is about 4cm in depth, what possible chance has it of producing audio with any semblance of presence, depth or bottom-end grunt? In many cases it’s even difficult to hear dialogue properly because the actors’ voices sound like they’re bouncing off the wall behind the TV instead projecting to the front.
What is a sound bar?
Thankfully, a sound bar fixes this issue in a trice and for not too much extra outlay. A sound bar is a long, slim speaker module that sits under or in front of any standard flatscreen TV. Depending on the length – usually about 10cm shorter than the width of a 49-inch TV – a typical sound bar has between three and five small speakers with two of the speakers placed towards the end of the unit for spacial effect.
How to connect a sound bar to my TV (aka the techy bit)
Sound bars can be connected to a TV using two main methods: HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel) and optical cable. HDMI ARC was created to reduce the amount of cabling to and from a TV and, in most instances, it works straight out of the box without the need to delve into the TV’s settings menu.
However HDMI ARC cables are much thicker and therefore less supple than our preferred method, optical cable, which does the job just as well despite the need for some tweaking in the TV’s settings menu.
If your TV and sound bar supports HDMI eARC (enhanced Audio Return Channel), then perhaps use that method because the sound quality is invariably a little better and, more importantly, it supports a range of high-end audio formats, including Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Atmos and DTS-HD.
That being said, the extra sound improvement that eARC provides is more suitable for a fully-fledged home theatre system with surround-sound speakers than a budget- to mid-priced sound bar, so don’t feel you’re losing out a lot by using optical cable instead.
Should I go for a Bluetooth option?
Some sound bars can also be connected via Bluetooth but this isn’t advised because there’s a very good chance the actors’ lips won’t sync perfectly with the audio and that would defeat the whole point of having a sound bar in the first place, especially since the bar is right underneath the TV well within cable reach.
That said, sound bars equipped with Bluetooth can easily be used for music streaming from a mobile device.