The modern TVs deliver great visuals, but the default audio part leaves a lot to be desired. The TV and monitor makers sacrifice the speaker part to make the overall profile sleek and slimmer. That's why the audio output from default speakers is seldom good. With the right soundbar by your side, you'll be able to get powerful and rich audio in your entertainment room. At the same time, HDMI features like ARC (Audio Return Channel) will make your setup clutter-free and clean.
HDMI ARC or HDMI Audio Return Channel enables TVs and computer monitors to pipe sound to a compatible speaker or soundbar without the need for a separate audio cable. Plus, you can control the sound with a single remote.
And if your soundbar supports voice assistants like Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, you get the dual advantage of changing the TV volume with voice commands. Cool, right?
The following are some of our recommendations for the best soundbar with the added feature of HDMI ARC. Let's get going.
If you are looking for a premium soundbar with a powerful and immersive audio experience that justifies the price, the Samsung HW-Q90R makes for a good pick. Samsung's flagship soundbar brings a slew of features to the table. More importantly, it delivers 7.1.4 channel sound. The speakers are divided into 12 channels wherein four are upward-firing speakers that add more height to audio delivery.
Furthermore, it supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio standards. The former will ensure that you will get a wider and bigger soundstage. Overall, you will get rich and refined audio with just the right amount of bass.
While the unit has a fairly simple look, what sets it apart is its dedicated units. Apart from the dedicated sub-woofer, it packs two rear speakers. The build quality is solid and given the price, the odds are that this soundbar will last you a long time.
When it comes to the connections, the options are a tad limited considering the price. Aside from the HDMI ARC output, you just get two HDMI inputs, an audio input, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi.
The power cords are 4.5 feet long and that might make it a bit tough to set up the soundbar. On the upside, the HDMI connections support HDR10+, HDCP 2.2 (see HDCP 2.2-compliant HDMI 2.0 cables), and Dolby Vision.
It's worth noting that using the HDMI ARC option means you will have to trade-off with the losslessformats such as Dolby TrueHD.
The Vizio SB36512-F6 also supports audio standards like Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital, and DTS. However, it's priced far less than its counterpart above. In fact, the SB36512-F6 is often touted to be one of the best bang for a buck soundbars. For one, it delivers an immersive audio experience. The vocals are clear, and the subwoofer produces the bass just right.
Unlike the one above, it's not a 7.1 channel soundbar. Vizio arranges its setup as a 5.1 channel soundbar with three forward-firing drivers and two vertical-firing drivers, and a dedicated sub. The front presence of the Vizio SB36512-F6 is considerably bigger. You'll be able to enjoy its height presence feature as long as your entertainment area's ceiling is not too high. And when listening to vocals, you will get an immersive, large soundstage.
The connection options are pretty decent. Apart from the HDMI ARC connection, there's a USB port, 3.5mm audio input, Wi-Fi, and support for both Bluetooth and Chromecast.
If you are looking for a more cheaper alternative, the Sonos Beam is a worthy option. It packs quite a few interesting features at the price. You can enjoy voice-controlling it using Google Assistant, Siri, and Amazon Alexa. Secondly, this 3.0-channel speaker delivers an impressive audio output, although it doesn't have a dedicated sub-woofer.
The soundbar is light and compact enough to fit almost anywhere. Despite that, it packs ample power and bundles four full-range drivers and three passive radiators. Sonos has positioned them cleverly along the front and the sides to deliver a great quality sound.
However, it doesn't support Dolby Atmos but carries an in-house Trueplay technology. You can use it to tune the speaker's output to match your sitting position and your room. For now, the app only works on the iPhone.
Apart from controlling the speaker with voice commands, you can also stream music from Amazon Music, Apple Music, Deezer, Tidal, among others.
The audio is rich and impressive, and as long as you are not looking for thumping bass (no subwoofer), you are in the safe here. The soundbar can still hear 'Hey Google' or "Alexa' commands even when you're blasting the music at a high volume.
It's priced less than $400 and the chances are that you might find some discounts over the holiday season.
If you want Dolby Atmos' support from the same company, you can check the new and sleek Sonos Arc.
The Sony HTX8500 is one of the good options under the $300 price tag. Like the Sonos Beam, this one is also a compact soundbar and brings the advantage of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. Moreover, it packs a built-in subwoofer. The latter means you will get significantly bass while listening to your favorite songs or movies. At the same time, you are likely to save on your floor space that is usually required for a dedicated sub.
The Sony HT-X8500 soundbar is a 2.1 setup, and there are two forward-facing drivers. Interestingly, there are no upward-facing drivers, even though it supports Dolby Atmos. On the upside, you also get support for HDMI eARC, ensuring that you will get your share of lossless audio formats.
Though it lacks a little from the setup point of view, the HT-X8500 delivers impressive audio for its price. It's loud, clear and the current system ensures that you'll get a wide soundstage. And for less than $300, it quite a feat to pull off.
Did You Know: The ARC It was first introduced along with HDMI 1.4. With HDMI 2.0, we have an improved version of the same, named eARC.
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Sound the Bell!
When it comes to buying a soundbar, the idea is to find the one that addresses your concerns in the best possible way. If you are an audiophile and do not mind spending a few hundred bucks, the good news is that there are ample soundbars out like the Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar with the best features.
However, if you want the best of everything without spending much, I'd say the Sonos Beam and the VIZIO SB36512-F6 makes for good picks.
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