This is a guest post by David.
Over recent years, the television has evolved into a sleek and very slim flat panel device that can sit very neatly on the wall when mounted with brackets. This slim design also created a problem in that there simply isn’t room for any decent audio speakers. If you have unboxed and fired up your new flat screen TV only to discover that the sound is woefully inadequate, you will probably by now have become aware of the soundbar.
The soundbar is a slim bank of discreet speakers housed within one bar shaped unit that can sit just underneath your TV. Once connected to your TV it can augment the sound and overcome any audio shortcomings. Soundbars range from 2.1 devices that are nothing more than audio extenders, through to 7.1 and beyond sound projection devices that can serve quite well within a home cinema system by giving you virtual surround sound. After a few teething problems in the early years, soundbars have come a long way. Here is a roundup of some of the best units that come under £300 price range; starting with two to come out of the UK:
Roth Bar 1
This is an elegant looking soundbar that backs up its looks with some pretty high spec equipment inside. The bar has a separate wireless subwoofer that can be placed anywhere within a 9 metre range. Housed within the bar itself are eight mid-range drivers and two high frequency tweeters. If you have wall mounted your TV and you want to mount the soundbar underneath you can do it with the supplied brackets. However the unit is slim enough at780 x 57 x 96mm to sit unobtrusively under your TV if not wall mounted. This bar represents good performance for the price bracket.
Orbitsound soundbars are another British offering in the same price-range as the Roth Bar 1. The Soundbars use a system that they call spatial stereo that provides an authentic, immersive surround sound experience and near perfect audio reproduction. This makes the “sweet spot” wherever you happen to be sitting and opens up the possibility of inserting this unit into your home cinema system and effectively clearing out those speakers that currently clutter up your living space. The units are also very versatile, coming with an iPod docking station as standard and the ports for digital TVs, CD, MP3/MP4, computers and games consoles. This model also comes with a remote control to manage the menu functions and playback from docked devices such as the iPod or iPhone as well as volume, audio source and tone.
Philips CSS2113 / 12 Sound BarAt under £200, this soundbar from Philips represents the best value for money around. Super-slim and only 70cm-wide it sits very nicely under your TV, but don’t be fooled by its size, because it really does pack a punch. The spec is good too and includes a separate wireless subwoofer (with Double BASS mode), virtual surround sound technology that seeks to replicate a 5.1 home cinema and Music iLink technology that improves the audio quality from docked devices like the iPod. Connectivity works well too with digital coaxial or digital optical jacks for connecting devices like the Blu-ray player or a games console.
For great value that does not compromise on performance, you can't go wrong with any one of these three soundbars. The recommendation for value has to go to the Philips model, whilst all round performance is taken by the Orbitsound Soundbar. For powerful output you may well opt for the Roth Bar 1.
About the Author
David is technology enthusiast who reviews the very latest in home technology and everyday gadgets.