For most people, sound bars are the best way to get better sound quality in the living room. They're simple and inexpensive, and don't have all the frustrating wires that come with a true surround-sound system. Sound bars don't sound as good as true separate speakers -- especially with music -- but if you're mostly looking for better sound with movies and TV shows, they're vastly better than your TV's built-in speakers.
LAS VEGAS--One of my long-standing complaints about sound bars is that too many models tend to block a TV's remote sensor when placed on a TV cabinet.
There's little chance of that happening with the Philips HTL5120, which has a sleek, low-profile shape that should comfortably fit under your TV. The HTL5120 also has a subwoofer built into the sound bar, which gives it a smaller footprint, although that design tends to sound a bit thinner than systems with a separate subwoofer. It comes with an orientation sensor capable of telling whether the HTL5120 is wall-mounted or placed … Read more
LAS VEGAS--If you go with a sound bar instead a speaker system, you generally have to give up true surround sound. Unless, of course, your sound bar is a transformer.
The Philips Fidelio Soundbar HTL9100 is billed as the "world's first sound bar with detachable speakers," as the far ends of the sound bar can be removed and used as rear speakers. The detachable, battery-powered speakers operate wirelessly and Philips claims 10 hours of battery life. The speakers then recharge automatically when they're reattached.
The HTL9100 also features two HDMI inputs, in addition to an optical … Read more
LAS VEGAS--You can get Netflix on your TV, gaming console, Blu-ray player, smartphone, laptop, tablet, AV receiver, and now, finally, you can get Netflix in a sound bar, too.
LG is rolling out four new sound bars at CES 2013, including the NB3730A, which has built-in Wi-Fi and a limited suite of streaming-media services including Netflix, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu Plus, Vudu, and Pandora. That's the first sound bar I've seen with streaming-media capabilities, but I'd be surprised if people were willing to pay much extra for the functionality, especially with the superior Roku LT available for just $… Read more
The newly announced Samsung HW-F750 is dubbed the "world's first sound bar with a vacuum tube amp," which is technically true: like last year's models, it has a tube preamplifier paired with a digital amplifier. In any event, the difference is largely academic, as I didn't find that the DA-E750's tubes added a distinctively analog sound, although it was a good-sounding tabletop system.… Read more
CES 2013 is still weeks away, but LG is getting a jump on the show by announcing its full line of home theater products on Christmas Day.
Its home audio offerings are anchored by four new sound bar models, with all but the entry-level NB2030A featuring built-in Bluetooth and a wireless subwoofer. The top two models come in a new, larger size, designed to match 47-inch TVs, which reflects the rising popularity of larger screen HDTVs.
The strangest model may be the NB3730A, which includes built-in Wi-Fi and a basic streaming-media suite including including Netflix, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu Plus, Vudu, … Read more
Pedestal-style sound bars are the latest evolution in the simplification of home audio. Instead of placing a long sound bar in front of your TV, pedestal sound bars are designed to sit under your TV, for a cleaner look with considerably less clutter. It's by far the easiest way to improve on the sound of your TV with the least intrusion on your living room decor.
The trade-off is that these systems generally don't sound quite as good as traditional sound bars, largely because they lack a separate subwoofer to handle the low end. It's yet another … Read more
Confused about what TV to buy? Please allow me to de-confusify you. From technology (LED, LCD, plasma?) to size, to features, there are a lot of choices to make when deciding on the right TV.
Narrowing down the options isn't as hard as it seems, though, and that's what this article is all about. … Read more
Many sound bars offer a shockingly small number of inputs, with often just a single digital and analog audio input on the back to handle your gear. That's hardly enough for a modern home theater packed with a DVR, game console, Blu-ray player, and streaming-media box.
Luckily, you can get around your sound bar's limited selection of inputs by using your TV as a switcher. You'll be able to connect as many devices as your TV supports, and it will even simplify the input selection process.
Here's how to do it:… Read more
Sound bars are an excellent compromise between shelling out for an expensive surround-sound system and settling for the tinny sound from your TV's built-in speakers, but that doesn't mean they're perfect. In fact, sound bars have quite a few real-world problems and limitations that are often glossed over, only to rear their heads after you've got one set up at home.
Here's what you should know before you make the jump to buying a sound bar.… Read more