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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Stuart Pritchard

Best soundbars 2023: get the best sound, bar-none

Modern TVs are great, aren’t they? Bigger than possibly necessary, flatter than the tastiest panel-based pancake and capable of dominating rooms. With images available up to 4K, refresh rates rapid enough to handle the most hardcore of games, and contrast ratios that can dazzle with colour and help you delve deep into the dark, today’s TVs have it all. Or do they?

You see, the problem with super-slim TVs is that they simply don’t have the capacity for delivering sound that can match the picture; literally. Because they’re so super-slim, there’s no space for large speakers, so while they may come tweaked by audio experts and backed with the very latest digital audio technologies, they simply don’t possess the physical space to offer that much oomph.

But that’s okay because if your TV’s sickly sound is making you sad and you don’t have the room for a full-on surround sound system, you can always amp up the audio with the addition of a slick soundbar.

Available across a vast price spectrum, from under a ton to over an eye-watering amount, size, power and potential connections vary wildly, so for the sake of this review round-up I’ve looked at a colossal cross-section and lent my ear to bars that run from the basic to the brilliant in the hope of happening across something ideal for your home.

So, grab your coat, let’s go grab a pint of sonorous perfection in the soundbar…

Best soundbars at a glance:

Shop the best soundbars below

Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar Mini

Best for: Abounding audio excellence

Jumping straight in with a name synonymous with high-end sound, the stunning AMBEO Mini from Sennheiser may cost the best part of 700 notes, but when it comes to getting some of the most amazing audio out of an option so compact that it can fit almost anywhere, look no further than this Mini marvel.

With the Sennheiser, your ears are treated to 7.1.4 channels, which means 7x main channels, 1x wireless subwoofer and 4x up-firing channels, pumped out at 250W for utterly immersive sound that fills the room and wraps itself around you like the loving embrace of an audio blanket.

Simple to set up via app, just connect over Bluetooth to your phone, select your Wi-Fi network and the clever AMBEO Mini will do the rest for you, reading the acoustics of your room and self-calibrating accordingly, plonking those seven virtual speakers in prime positions to deliver devastatingly excellent audio right at you. And if that doesn’t impress you enough, Adaptive Mode checks the content you’re playing and adjusts that too.

Featuring a wealth of wired and wireless connectivity options, the Mini is compatible with Dolby Atmos, Dolby DTS:X, MPEG-H, and 360 Reality Audio codecs, and also plays nice with all the main audio streaming services, all of which makes this petite powerhouse all you need for brilliantly balanced sound at all volumes, whether watching, listening or gaming.

  • Channel: 7.1.4
  • Soundbar dimensions: 70 x 10 x 6.5cm
  • Subwoofer dimensions: n/a
  • Power: 250W
  • Weight: 3.3kg
  • Connections: 1x HDMI eARC (HDMI 2.1), 1x USB-A, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, Tidal Connect, Alexa and Google Chromecast

Buy now £699.00, Sennheiser

Majority Teton-Plus Soundbar

Best for: A bargain bar with the power to perform

Sometimes you don’t need countless channels. Sometimes you don’t want to spend countless hundreds of pounds either. Sometimes you just want to up the feeble stereo and bass game on your TV to make the most out of movies and the stuff you stream; for those times there is the Teton-Plus from Cambridge’s own Majority.

A piffling £100 gets you 180W of smooth 2.1 channel surround sound, married to a nicely beefy 5.25-inch wireless subwoofer dealing with the deep end of the sound spectrum with considerably aplomb, while USB, HDMI ARC, AUX and Bluetooth connection options make it simple to set-up with your sources of choice. Even the subwoofer connects automatically with the soundbar (if within range, obviously), so you can stick that in the corner of the room and be ready to enjoy the rumbling in no time.

Control-wise, the Teton-Plus comes complete with a remote control, but also features handy buttons on the side to allow for power, pairing, selecting source and adjusting the volume and, speaking as someone with two young children who delight in making remote controls disappear, this is a much-appreciated inclusion.

With EQ options available on the remote control, you can adjust the audio to better suit your delicate shell-likes, and the rest is just a matter of sitting back and enjoying the sonic ride.

  • Channel: 2.1
  • Soundbar dimensions: 10.2 x 81.2 x 9.6cm
  • Subwoofer dimensions: 15.0 x 28.0 x 38.2cm
  • Power output: 180W
  • Weight: 5.9kg
  • Connections: 1x USB, 1x HDMI ARC, 1x AUX, Bluetooth

Buy now £100.00, Majority

Majority Everest Bluetooth 5.1

Best for: Sweeping surround soundscapes

Like the mighty mountain from which it takes its name, the Everest challenges you to elevate your home audio option to dizzying new heights, while keeping the Sherpa Tensing purse strings tight.

Okay, beyond a simple soundbar, powered by Dolby Audio, what we have here is a complete 5.1 surround sound set-up consisting of a powerful 300W soundbar, bass-bringing wireless subwoofer and two wireless satellite speakers to bring incredible audio life afresh to pretty much any device you want to treat to it, thanks to an excellent assortment of wired and wireless connectivity types.

With a 10m range on the sub and satellites, the Everest can truly cocoon you in a blanket of surround sound bliss, thus taking movies and gaming to the summit of sound across the whole range; and, yes, that is another poor mountain-based pun, but you take my meaning.

Simple to set-up, to boot, as soundbar, sub and satellites all come together over Bluetooth, all you need to do is position the satellites properly and keep them charged using the soundbar. All that done, you’re ready to roll.

Coming with its own remote control, through which you can easily pair your Bluetooth-toting smart devices, the Majority Everest is a one-box solution for stunning surround sound that, at this price, is the, ahem, peak of performance perfection.

  • Channel: 5.1
  • Soundbar dimensions: 90 x 9.83 x 6.56cm
  • Subwoofer dimensions: 20 x 20 x 25cm
  • Satellite dimensions: 6.56 x 9.83 x 16.8cm
  • Power: 300W
  • Weight: 5.4kg
  • Connections: AUX, optical, RCA, HDMI ARC, Bluetooth

Buy now £225.00, Amazon

Sony HT-S2000

Best for: Three-dimensional dynamics

The very latest model from Sony, the HT-S2000 is everything we’ve come to expect from Sony since, well, forever. A tech leader that never puts a foot wrong, save for Betamax and the MiniDisc, obviously, Sony has long stood, legs akimbo, straddling the camps of ‘innovation’ and ‘affordability’ like some benevolent colossus, and the 3.1 channel, Dolby Atmos and Dolby DTS:X-armed new example is testament to that.

Nicely compact and as easy on the eye as these things get, set-up is a bit of a breeze and simply involves downloading the Sony Home Entertainment Connect app to your smartphone and following the on-screen info. That sorted, a wealth of connection options is open before you, letting you switch sources with ease and launching access to some truly superlative sound. Featuring three central speakers, the very centre dedicated to speech, and a dual subwoofer, here you can feast upon 250W of clearly defined dialogue, crystal clear mids and highs, and kick-bottom bass.

Add into this heady mix Sony’s ‘Vertical Surround Engine’, ‘S-Force PRO Front Surround’ and the natty new up mixer, and you can have the HT-S2000 tear apart tracks in real-time, slicing the sound into its individual sections and then weaving them back together around you in creamily delicious 3D sound.

Being a Sony, the HT-S2000 also features BRAVIA Sync to keep the Sony faithful happy and, okay, at just under £550, the price may seem a little steep, but if you’re serious about your sound…

  • Channel: 3.1
  • Soundbar dimensions: 80 x 12.4 x 6.4cm
  • Subwoofer dimensions: n/a
  • Power: 250W
  • Weight: 3.7kg
  • Connections: Optical, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.2, HDMI eARC/ARC, BRAVIA Sync

Buy now £449.00, Sony

Groov-e SoundBar 160

Best for: Bargain-banging tunes 

Back in the realms of the eminently affordable, if you’re looking for something that offers a spot-on sound upgrade for a precious few of your pounds, then open your ears up to the SoundBar 160 from Middlesex’s 14-year-old Groov-e. Compact, light and packing 2.2 channels of TV-uplifting audio, the SoundBar 160 may not come with all the bells and whistles of other models I’ve assembled here, but for a fantastically frugal £67.99 you’re going to get far more than your money’s worth.

And that is, namely, 2x mid-to-high frequency drivers with 160W peak power, and a single subwoofer built into the end to handle the low-end of audio life, so sound is crisper than a Peking duck and packing a reasonable amount of punch. On top of this comes a friendly front-facing LED panel, controls on the top but also a nice bundled remote that helps to make set-up easier than falling off a bike, plus an EQ, of sorts, that offers ‘Voice’, ‘Music’ and ‘Movie’ modes to keep things simple.

Okay, there is no HDMI, but Optical, AUX, USB and Bluetooth provide commodious connectivity, so you’re not going to struggle with effective audio for your TV, laptop, computer or smart things.

A more than capable model for a modicum of cash, for movies and music and the sweet sound of simple life, get into the Groov-e.

  • Channel: 2.1
  • Soundbar dimensions: 78.2 x 11 x 7.5cm 
  • Subwoofer dimensions: n/a
  • Power: 160W
  • Weight: 2.8kg
  • Connections: Optical, Bluetooth, AUX, USB

Buy now £67.99, Amazon

Sonos Ray

Best for: Solid stereo sound

I love a bit of Sonos kit; in fact, the Sonos One has been sitting in my study, at my right side, filling my ears with streamed sounds for some years now and I’ve never once had cause to complain. So having a proper gander at the Ray soundbar for this round-up was high up on my list of things I must listen to. So, to that end…

So, compact you could almost call it cute, if you were that way inclined, the Ray still manages a mighty audio output through 2 x mid-woofers and 2x tweeters. No, as the sharper of you will have just noticed, there is no subwoofer as the word here was ‘mid-woofers’, and if that worries you and your DNB-loving ways, relax, Sonos has this.

Indeed, the performance is beautifully balanced, the dialogue delivered crisply, even if you’re watching a mumbling BBC bodice-ripper, and the bass is ready to rock your thunderous underworld.

Minutes to set up with the Sonos app, Trueplay tuning tech automatically reads the room and adapts audio to suit the acoustics of your space (iOS phone/pad required), so just let it do its thing and sit back and revel in a purchase wisely made.

Okay, unless you’re planning on going optical all the way, connectivity here will involve Wi-Fi, which is generally fine for most uses, but for those seeking more flexibility by way of AUX, USB or HDMI may want to take a moment to ponder.

Petite and powerful, the Ray delivers big sound from a baby-sized bundle, so if you seek strong sound but lack suitable space, you’ve found your perfect palindromic playmate.

  • Channel: Stereo
  • Soundbar dimensions: 56 x 7.0 x 10cm
  • Subwoofer dimensions: n/a
  • Power output: 250W
  • Weight: 2.8kg
  • Connections: Optical, Wi-Fi, Apple AirPlay 2

Buy now £249.00, AO

Edifier MG300

Best for: Go anywhere budget gaming

Small but perfectly formed, say hello to my little friend, the MG300 from Edifier. Ludicrously light and crazily compact, this pint-sized aide de gaming has been designed with the sole intention of letting laptop, tablet or smartphone players’ ears rejoice in audio excellence wherever they do wander (as long as there’s power).

Offering two channels of audio with 5W power, the connection is firmly via Bluetooth (5.3 flavour) which fits its remit completely, and the 52mm drivers deliver combined with its bass reflex port pump out a sterling performance for such a diminutive computer tabletop.

So that’s the sound seen too, but what really gives the ickle Edifier that extra edge is the cool RGB light effects that add a touch of visual va-va-voom to the sound show.

With a built-in microphone to further enhance the gaming experience and easily accessible silicon buttons up top, the Edifier MG300 is a slick-looking gaming sound solution that’s small and sleek enough to slip in a reasonably sized bag to take with you on your playtime travels.

  • Channel: 2.0
  • Soundbar dimensions: 39.8 x 8.5 x 7.3cm
  • Subwoofer dimensions: n/a
  • Power: 5W
  • Weight: 1.17kg
  • Connections: Bluetooth 5.3

Buy now £60.00, Amazon

Philips Fidelio FB1

Best for: One box to rule them all

Heading into the upper echelons of the standalone soundbar now, there may be those amongst you baulking at the price tag, but when I walk you through just what the Fidelio FB1 is capable of, I reckon Philips’ fine filly will win you over.

First up, it’s a 7.1.2 channel system, meaning it comes armed with 2x full-range a 1x tweeter for the centre drivers, 2x full-range and 1x tweeter for the front drivers, 2x full-range up-firing drivers, 2x full-range side-firing drivers and a meaty integrated subwoofer. And it is capable of putting out a peak power of an enormous 620W. It features Dolby Atmos, Dolby DTS:X and IMAX Enhanced, so all that grunt and room-ramming speaker set-up comes enhanced to the nth degree, resulting in an experience so immersive that you’ll believe that you yourself have been broken down into pure waves of sublime sound and utterly absorbed.

Far from shy on the connection front either, you can connect pretty much any digital device you like, be it a Blu-ray player, computer, console, smartphone, tablet, etc. etc., so options for improving your audio to ‘god-tier’ are wide open.

Multiple speaker connection also allows owners to expand the system, should they deem that necessary, and comes compatible with the vast bulk of main-stream streaming options, plus both Alexa and Google Assistant to snuggle nicely in with any smart home stuff you may have, the Philips Fidelio FB1 is, I think you’ll now agree, worth every last penny of its asking price.

  • Channel: 7.1.2
  • Soundbar dimensions: 120 x 12.5 x 7.3cm
  • Subwoofer dimensions: n/a
  • Power: 620W
  • Weight: 7.2kg
  • Connections: 1x HDMI, 1x HDMI eARC/ARC, Optical, USB, Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi, Chromecast, Spotify Connect, Alexa, Apple AirPlay 2, Google Assistant

Buy now £499.00, Amazon


Best for: LG owners 

Lucky enough to be the proud owner of an LG OLED, QNED or NANO TV? Then meet the perfect audio partner to bring the ultimate audio party to a screen near you. Yep, created to play extremely well with LG goggle boxes, currently reduced by a smidge over 200 nicker, the USC9S is a thing of beauty that can bring 3.1.3 channels of incredible audio, and has the honour of being the world’s 1st Dolby Atmos Soundbar with triple up-firing surround sound speakers, amongst six other drivers, so you know you’re going to be in for a treat.

Packed with audio processing tech, such as Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Digital, DTS:X and so on and so forth, the LG features seven sound mode presets that set it up in perfect stead for whatever you’re watching, and connections for all comers making it more flexible than a Hi-Res audio hypermobile gymnast.

Backing this up is deep bass courtesy of the partnered wireless subwoofer, so the dream soundscape is complete.

Harking back to LG TVs, thanks to keep-it-in-the-family LG WOWCAST tech, the soundbar can wirelessly connect with that TV, creating convenience and a cleaner-on-the-eye AV setup that’s bound to please minimalist purists. That said, the USC9S will also work perfectly well with TV brothers from other mothers, so you don’t have to be all in with LG to enjoy its ample audio charms.

  • Channel: 3.1.3
  • Soundbar dimensions: 97.5 x 6.3 x 12.5cm
  • Subwoofer dimensions: 22.1 x 39 x 31.3cm
  • Soundbar power: 180W
  • Subwoofer power: 220W
  • Weight: 4.1kg
  • Connections: 2x HDMI (1x eARC), 1x USB, Optical, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi

Buy now £799.99, John Lewis

Creative Sound Blaster Katana SE

Best for: Getting your game on

Sometimes it’s all in the name. Sound Blaster – statement of intent. Katana – the precision weapon of the samurai. Put them both together and you have a veritable audio weapon that will slice through mediocre-sounding media, dicing it into virtual 5.1 channel surround sound to then blast at you in 180W (peak), making your ears smile in awe.

Drivers come to the tune of four, each individually powered by dual DSP-controlled stereo amplifiers to eliminate distortion all round and caress your concha with pure clarity and power.

With connections galore, covering USB, HDMI ARC, Optical, AUX and Bluetooth, you’re good to go for TV, streaming and gaming, the latter being where the Sound Blaster Katana SE really excels itself, thanks to SXFI Battle mode which is the only sound mode option currently in existence that lets you hear both the direction and distance of gunshots, helping you pinpoint enemies with unerring accuracy, and Scout Mode, which listens like a virtual hawk to every rustle around you to give you the deadly drop on others up to no good within striking distance. Yep, this is gaming audio immersion on another level.

On top of this delightful array of delicacies comes dual array beamforming microphones for quick calls mid-battle and, as there should be, customisable RGB lighting to complete the awesome effect.

A lovely bit of kit that adds proper audio edge however you employ it, the Sound Blaster Katana SE is both cool and, ahem, cutting-edge.

  • Channel: Virtual 5.1
  • Soundbar dimensions: 65.0 x 10.9 x 78.0cm
  • Subwoofer dimensions: n/a
  • Power: 180W
  • Weight: 3.3kg
  • Connections: USB-C, HDMI ARC, Optical, AUX, Bluetooth 5.0

Buy now £299.99, Creative

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