Soundbars – they’re not just for home theater enthusiasts. But where should you look if you’re trying to find one that does music well? Try five of our picks for “best soundbars for music lovers,” which cover all the bases in terms of usability and price point.
1. Editor’s Pick: Sonos Beam
The Sonos Beam is perfect for anyone who wants a soundbar that sounds great and offers a lot of streaming options. The Beam offers WiFi connectivity and Apple AirPlay compatibility, as well as supports major streaming services like Apple Music, Pandora, Spotify, Amazon Music, Google Play, Soundcloud, Tidal and Bandcamp. The Beam also features built-in Amazon Alexa.
While the Sonos Beam earned its marks on Engadget for its home theater performance, the site didn’t forget about its musical qualities. In their review, Engadget states the “central tweeter really helps vocals punch through and feel more natural than on a non-music-focused soundbar,” and that the Sonos Beam handles most genres well with just a few EQ tweaks. Amazon reviewer Teddy agrees, saying the “audio fills the entire space and even at half the volume, the music is incredibly good”, while NYC Guy praises its ability to handle live shows, saying “the room filling ‘surround sound’ fully immerses you.”
To sum up the Sonos Beam’s performance, one needs not look further than What HiFi, who says the Beam is “musical as a dispersive soundbar can be” and “makes for a solid music system, with good tonal balance, bass weight, rhythm and punch.”
The Sonos Beam features an HDMI input that connects to your TV’s HDMI ARC input, and an optical adapter for your TV. Adjust the Sonos Beam’s EQ for desired playback through its one tweeter, four full-range woofers, and three passive bass radiators.
The Sonos Playbar gives you a sense of soundstage through its three tweeters and six full-range woofers, all actively working to bring you the best sound possible. Much like the Beam, the Playbar features tons of streaming music connectivity, is WiFi enabled for wireless listening or chaining devices together, and is compatible with both Amazon Echo or Dot. If you’re looking for a bigger, fuller sound from a physically larger soundbar, the Playbar is the way to go.
Based on audio quality alone, TechRadar says they’re “a little bit in love” with the Sonos Playbar – “it’s one of the best straight speakers you can put your music through.” What HiFi calls the Sonos Playbar “a very nice sounding unit” that “does a heck of a lot more than most soundbars,” and Trusted Reviews succinctly says the Sonos Playbar has a “real finesse in its delivery of music and dialogue alike.” To make matters even better for potential Sonos Playbar owners, AVS Forum user Ellebob mentions in a post the bar is “easy to set up and operate and integrates nicely into a whole house music system.”
The Sonos Playbar features an optical adapter for your TV and two ethernet ports. Adjust the Sonos Beam’s EQ for desired playback through its three tweeters and six full-range woofers, all actively working to bring you the best sound possible.
Clocking in at the most expensive soundbar on the list, the Samsung HW-N950 is a collaboration with speaker manufacturer Harman Kardon. The Samsung HW-N950 features 17 total speakers and drivers, including two wireless rear speakers with upward firing drivers and a wireless subwoofer to truly surround you with your music. The Samsung HW-N950 supports all music file formats and can be streamed through Bluetooth and Amazon Alexa.
It’s a little unsurprising that given the price, the Samsung HW-N950 sounds great. Digital Trends says when listening to music through the HW-N950, “we found ourselves remarking aloud at how sweet and smooth instruments sounded at times, especially brass and strings.” Home Theater Review gave their positive take on music via the film Chicago, adding at the end of their review that “soon after returning the HW-N950 test unit to Samsung, I found myself missing its truly enveloping and dynamic 360-degree audio.” From an owner’s perspective, Best Buy customer JakeNH said in his review the music “is clear and rich with deep bass. I cranked it pretty loud to where I thought I might be filling the neighborhood with my playlists. I was really blown away with the quality.
As an added bonus, the Samsung HW-N950 can be controlled via Samsung’s SmartThings app for maximum ease of use.
The Denon HEOS Bar features nine high-performance drivers, with the option to add in two rear speakers and a wireless subwoofer (that aren’t included). The HEOS Bar supports Bluetooth streaming, lossy and lossless audio files, as well as major services like Rhapsody, Pandora, Spotify and TuneIn, iHeartRadio, SiriusXM, MOOD:MIX. Denon notes more will be added soon. Even better, connectivity between Denon devices across your home means nonstop music.
TechRadar’s review of the Denon HEOS Bar praises its sound as superb and detailed, saying “the HEOS Bar proved immediately adept with music, and has a consistently warm yet refined sound quality that’s all its own.” Much like their other soundbar reviews, Home Theater Review took a moment to touch on the Denon HEOS Bar’s music capabilities, mentioning “how wonderfully tonally balanced the HEOS Bar is, especially in the midrange frequencies.” Trusted Reviews does the same as they tested the bar with Pink Floyd’s 1973 track “Money”, saying its “timing is tight enough to get your foot tapping, and there’s plenty of dynamism to get your blood pumping. This is an insightful, entertaining listen,” and later adding if “you need your soundbar to double up for music duties, this will do very nicely indeed.”
The Denon HEOS Bar can be connected to your TV via the HDMI ARC input, and can be controlled by both your TV remote or the HEOS app.
The Pulse Soundbar 2i bills itself as one featuring “crystal clear, 24-bit resolution sound and audiophile-grade bass response—without a subwoofer,” and the reviews seem to agree. The Pulse Soundbar 2i allows users to stream music right to it via your smartphone, tablet, laptop thanks to its capabilities with Bluetooth, Amazon Alexa, and AirPlay 2.
Pulse notes its “three-way, tri-amplified speaker design,” which allows frequencies to be blended and output in the most ear-pleasing fashion thanks to its DSP-powered crossover filters.
Look no further than the opinion Reference Home Theater, who says the bar’s “sound quality continues to be best in class, and while expensive, remains a competitive option for an audiophile focused platform. Additionally, Trusted Reviews notes the soundbar integrates all frequencies evenly and quite well, ”delivering a convincingly deep soundstage with a reasonable impression of three-dimensionality.”
The Pulse Soundbar 2i supports lossy and lossless formats, as well as major streaming services such as Spotify, Amazon Music, TIDAL, Deezer, Qobuz, HighResAudio, Murfie, and Napster. The Pulse Soundbar 2i features optical, RCA line in, and HDMI inputs, type-A and type-B USB inputs, and has a subwoofer out.
Cover image from Shutterstock.com
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