You’ve just bought a brand-new TV but, for some reason, you’re still struggling to hear everything clearly. The image is amazing, the colors are insanely vivid, but the sound is still crappy, and it’s not loud enough. You’re not the only one with this problem, believe us. But we have a simple solution for you – buy a soundbar. It’s a relatively affordable solution to all of your problems. Our article about the loudest soundbars on the market is here to help you find the best soundbar for your setup.
Are Soundbars Louder Than TV Speakers?
Yes. Unless you buy some cheap crappy soundbar, you will most definitely get a much better overall performance and much louder sound than from your TV speakers. Depending on the soundbar you choose, you will get some additional sound adjustment options, various sound modes, special modes for improving dialog clarity, and for sound balancing.
If you buy a more versatile soundbar, you may also get a few additional HDMI inputs, which will allow you to connect additional video sources. In a way, your new soundbar can do the job of a receiver.
Also, if you opt for a soundbar that can be paired with a wireless subwoofer and with a pair of wireless speakers, you can build a surround sound system around it. And, if the soundbar has multiroom capabilities, it can also become a part of a large multiroom system that you can build and expand over time.
So, buying a soundbar doesn’t only bring improvements when it comes to sound quality and loudness. Those two improvements are probably the most important, but you can also get more connections, more sound adjustment options, and the chance to expand the system and make your listening experience much better than it was before.
Soundbar or Surround Sound?
Well, this one is tricky. Both, soundbar and surround sound system will bring significant improvements compared to your TV speakers. Your decision depends on a few factors
First of all, there’s the price. The soundbar is a more affordable solution and, if you have a limited budget, it’s probably smarter to go for a soundbar. Also, the soundbar is a more compact solution. So, if you have a small room, or if you want the cleanest possible look, buying a soundbar is the best solution for you. Finally, installing a soundbar is much easier than installing a full surround sound system and hiding all the speaker wire.
On top of all that, some soundbars can also be integrated into a surround sound system. So, you can start with a soundbar (or soundbar and wireless subwoofer) and then add a pair of wireless surround speakers. And, you also have soundbars that can simulate surround sound, even without dedicated surround speakers.
So, why would you buy a full surround sound system when soundbars have so many advantages. Well, because of the sound quality and overall surround sound experience. The truth is – even an average surround sound system delivers a much better surround sound experience than a great-sounding soundbar. Truth be told, an average surround sound system will still be significantly pricier than a great-sounding soundbar. And also, regardless of how well a soundbar can simulate surround sound effects, it can never be as good as a true surround sound system.
Our Top Picks
This post contains affiliate links. See the affiliate disclaimer here.
|Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2.4||Check Price on Amazon||4.5||Read Review|
|Samsung HW-Q950T||Check Price on Amazon||4.5||Read Review|
|JBL Bar 5.1||Check Price on Amazon||4.5||Read Review|
|Klipsch Cinema 400||Check Price on Amazon||4.4||Read Review|
|Polk Audio MagniFi 2||Check Price on Amazon||4.3||Read Review|
Buyer’s Guide – Things to Look for When Buying a Soundbar
Finding the right soundbar becomes much easier when you know what to look for. There a few important features to consider – price, size, configuration, inputs/outputs, power output and loudness, wireless connectivity (Bluetooth/wi-fi), and additional features (Airplay, Chromecast, multiroom capabilities, expandability, app support, etc.).
You could get a cheap-looking, plasticky soundbar made by some unknown brand for $50. But don’t do that. If you want a good-sounding, fairly versatile, and durable soundbar, you should probably invest $200 or more. When it comes to soundbars, $200 is considered quite affordable. Numerous soundbars are priced well over $200. In fact, quite a few soundbars are priced well over $1,000.
When we say size, we’re actually talking about matching the soundbar and TV. It doesn’t look, and it doesn’t sound natural when the soundbar is significantly wider or shorter than your TV. So, your soundbar should be no more than 5″ shorter or longer than your TV.
You may also want to think about the thickness (height) of the soundbar, especially if you are going to place it on a TV stand, right in front of your TV. If the soundbar is too tall, it will block the bottom end of your TV.
Some soundbars come as single units. Others come with a wired or wireless subwoofer. More expensive soundbars come with a subwoofer and wireless surround speakers. Furthermore, a soundbar can have multiple drivers inside, and the drivers can be arranged in two, three, five, or even seven channels.
The question here is what are you looking for and how much you’re willing to pay. Naturally, cheaper soundbars have fewer drivers built inside (and consequently, fewer channels). They sometimes come with a subwoofer, while they almost never come with surround speakers. More expensive bars may have multiple drivers arranged in three channels. Even more advanced bars will, aside from three front channels (FL, C, FR), have two side-firing speakers (5 channels in total) that are supposed to simulate surround sound. Some very expensive soundbars may also have 2 additional upward-firing drivers (7 channels in total). These drivers are supposed to simulate object-based surround sound effects.
If you want the most immersive surround sound experience, you will have to pay more, and you will have to buy a soundbar that comes with a subwoofer and with surround speakers.
Some soundbars have very limited connectivity. For example, they may only have analog audio inputs (RCA and 3.5mm). If you pay a little bit more, you can buy a soundbar with digital audio inputs (digital optical and coaxial). Some bars have only digital audio inputs (SONOS PLAYBAR, for example). More advanced bars may also have HDMI ARC OUT port, which is the best option for connecting your TV. Versatile soundbars will also have HDMI inputs, multiple analog and digital inputs, etc.
Bluetooth connectivity has become quite common these days, and even very cheap soundbars support it. Wi-Fi, on the other hand, is reserved for more expensive soundbars. Wi-Fi connectivity is often accompanied by various additional features.
Additional features (Airplay, Chromecast, multiroom capabilities, app support, FM tuner, etc.)
Most of these additional features are often closely related to wi-fi connectivity. Wi-Fi-enabled soundbars usually support either Airplay/Airplay2 or Chromecast. Also, wi-fi-enabled bars are often compatible with some wireless speakers (usually speakers made by the same manufacturer), allowing you to build a multiroom system and incorporate your soundbar into that system. They also often come with an app that allows you to control various aspects of playback. Older soundbars also have an FM tuner built-in, but this feature is now being replaced by internet radio support.
Finally, you should also consider the power ratings. They can give you partial information on how loud your soundbar can be. However, you won’t get the full picture unless you also consider the sensitivity. Unfortunately, the sensitivity is rarely published in soundbar specs, so you will usually have to rely on the power rating. Some manufacturers also publish the max SPL (max loudness), which gives you much better information about the soundbar’s loudness.
Some manufacturers (Klipsch, JBL, Nakamichi) publish the max SPL in the soundbar specs
After covering the basics, we can finally move onto the reviews. The following models are, in our opinion, the loudest soundbars on the market.
Loudest Soundbar-Based Surround Sound System – Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2.4
Editor’s Rating: (4.8 / 5)
Shockwafe Ultra 9.2.4 is not a single soundbar – it’s an entire surround sound system with a soundbar, 4 satellites, and two 10″ subwoofers. It’s a huge and powerful system (1000W) offering amazing performance and surround sound experience.
The system is advertised as 9.2.4, but it’s more like 7.2.6, or maybe 7.2.2, or maybe just 9.2. It’s really hard to say with these large soundbars. The third number in this configuration refers to the number of Atmos modules and not actual ceiling speakers.
The system comes with a fully-featured backlit remote, mounting equipment for the soundbar, speaker cables for the satellites, all the necessary power cables, and a set of cables for the initial installation (one HDMI, one optical, one AUX).
The soundbar is 45.5″ wide. Most of it is wrapped in a semi-transparent black metal grille. It looks simple yet attractive. Some basic controls (5 basic buttons) are on the top panel, but the included remote is a much more convenient way of controlling the soundbar. Like an AVR, the Nakamichi soundbar is meant to be your hub. It has 3 HDMI inputs, one HDMI ARC output (preferred connection to your TV), optical input, coax input, 3.5mm input, and a USB port. All HDMI ports are HDCP 2.2 compliant and support 4K pass-through, as well as HDR and Dolby Vision.
Besides physical connections, you also have Bluetooth 4.1 with aptX. Wi-Fi, on the other hand, is not supported.
The included surround sound speakers are not wireless – you have to connect two to each subwoofer (all the cables included).
Shockwafe Ultra 9.2.4 supports a wide variety of surround sound formats, including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.
The soundbar has 7 EQ presets. You can also adjust the bass levels or the volume levels for each channel separately. Furthermore, you have dedicated lip-sync buttons.
The soundbar houses 8 drivers, arranged in 5 channels. There’re six 2.5″ full-range woofers arranged in three channels (left/center/right), and two side-firing 1″ tweeters.
Each wireless subwoofer houses one 10″ down-firing woofer. The satellites have a two-way design – each has a 3″ woofer and a 1″ tweeter.
The combined output is 1000W (330W soundbar, 470W subwoofers, 400W satellites). The advertised max SPL is 110dB.
Shockwafe Ultra delivers amazing surround sound performance and insane immersion. It’s very loud, and it delivers an enjoyable performance.
- Reasonably priced (considering the size and overall performance)
- Great match for 50″+ TVs
- Comes with a great backlit remote
- Large true surround sound system with two subwoofers (soundbar, 4 satellites, 2 subwoofers)
- Great versatility – HDMI x3, HDMI eARC OUT, optical, coaxial, AUX, USB
- HDMI ports support 4K UHD pass-through, HDCP 2.2, HDR, and Dolby Vision
- Bluetooth connectivity (BT 4.1 with aptX)
- Extremely powerful (1000W) and loud (110dB)
- Adjustable bass and volume levels for each channel
- 7 EQ modes
- Great overall performance
- Lacks wi-fi connectivity and other related features (Airplay, multiroom capabilities, app support)
- The height effects are not on par with the rest of the performance
Loudest Wi-Fi-Enabled Soundbar – Samsung HW-Q950T
Editor’s Rating: (4.9 / 5)
HW-Q950T is one of the latest Samsung soundbar-based home theater systems. Like the previous Nakamichi soundbar, HW-Q950T is not a single unit – it comes with a wireless subwoofer and two wireless surround speakers. You will also get a simple plastic remote, all the necessary power cables, and wall-mounting equipment.
The soundbar is quite wide (48.4″) and super-slim (2.8″), so even if you choose to place it on a TV stand, in front of your TV, it won’t block the TV.
HW-Q950T is classified as a 9.1.4 system. The third number refers to the Atmos modules (not actual ceiling speakers). In total, the system contains 20 speakers. The soundbar itself has 7 channels (left, center, right, surround left/right, Atmos left/right).
All the components are made of plastic, and the grilles are made of fabric. The system looks great, but it’s not the most premium thing we’ve ever seen.
Some basic controls are located on the bar’s top panel. For more control, you can use the included remote. The soundbar is not extremely versatile. You have two HDMI inputs, one HDMI eARC output, and one optical input. There’re no analog inputs. All HDMI ports support 4K UHD pass-through, along with HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. Naturally, all HDMI ports are also HDCP 2.2 compliant.
The soundbar also features Bluetooth and wi-fi connectivity. You can control it with the SmartThings app. Furthermore, the soundbar has Alexa built-in, so you can control it with your voice.
The bar features several EQ presets (sound modes) – standard, game pro, surround-sound expansion, adaptive, and dialog enhancement. Adaptive sound will analyze the content and adjust the sound output for that specific content. Dialog enhancement will improve the dialog clarity. You can also play with manual EQ adjustments.
The total output of the system is rated at 546W. The sound is almost perfectly balanced with a nice punch, clear mids, and consistent treble. The surround sound experience is quite immersive. Height effects are not great, but that’s pretty much expected considering that the system only simulates height effects.
- Simple yet attractive design
- Best choice for Samsung QLED TVs
- Dedicated wireless surround speakers and wireless subwoofer
- Two HDMI inputs and one HDMI eARC output (all HDMI ports support 4K UHD pass-through)
- Optical input
- Bluetooth and wi-fi connectivity
- SmartThings app
- Alexa built-in
- Various sound modes, including Adaptive Sound and Dialog Enhancement mode
- Well-balanced and loud sound output
- Immersive surround sound experience
- The build quality is not very premium
- Lacks analog inputs
- Lacks room correction (auto-calibration)
- Lacks Airplay and Chromecast
Loudest Soundbar-Based Surround Sound System Under $500 – JBL Bar 5.1
Editor’s Rating: (4.8 / 5)
JBL Bar 5.1 is a much more affordable system than the previous two. So, if your limit is set around $500, this is your go-to soundbar.
The system is rated as 5.1. It includes the soundbar, two fully wireless surround speakers (battery-powered), and a large 10″ wireless subwoofer. You will also get a nice remote and all the necessary power and audio cables.
The JBL bar is, like the previous two, quite wide (45″). It is also one of the slimmest (2.3″), so placing it on a TV stand should not be an issue.
The whole system looks very premium. A large portion of the soundbar, as well as speakers, are wrapped in a protective aluminum grille. Some basic controls are on the top panel of the soundbar, and the display showing the settings and input is on the front panel.
The bar has three HDMI inputs, one HDMI ARC output, one optical input, one 3.5mm input, and a USB port. All HDMI ports allow 4K pass-through. Furthermore, the system features Bluetooth connectivity (BT 4.2).
The bar houses six 2.5″ woofers and three 1.25″ tweeters. The subwoofer has one 10″ downward-firing woofer and a rear-firing bass reflex port.
The included surround speakers are fully wireless. They have built-in rechargeable batteries and can deliver 10h of playtime. To recharge the batteries, you just have to connect the speakers to the soundbar.
You have several EQ sound modes available. That includes special modes for improved voice clarity and night mode.
The combined power output of the system is rated at 510W (peak power). The bass is really strong and tends to overpower the mids and highs, but you can easily adjust the sound signature and make it more balanced. The surround sound experience is quite enjoyable.
- Affordable (for a 5.1 surround sound system)
- Attractive design and premium build
- Comes with a wireless soundbar and fully wireless battery-operated surround speakers
- Fairly versatile – HDMI IN (3), HDMI ARC OUT (1), optical, 3.5mm, USB
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Several EQ modes, including dialog enhancement and night mode
- Adjustable bass and treble
- Enjoyable surround sound performance
- Lacks wi-fi connectivity
- A bit too bassy (but you can easily adjust the bass levels)
- Doesn’t support Dolby Atmos and DTS:X
Klipsch Cinema 400
Editor’s Rating: (4.7 / 5)
Klipsch Cinema 400 is one of those smaller and more affordable soundbar/subwoofer combo systems. This is one of the most sophisticated-looking and best-sounding systems in its price range (under $300).
Besides the soundbar and wireless subwoofer, you will get a simple remote, mounting equipment, and a single HDMI cable.
The system is rated as 2.1. So, it’s not designed to simulate surround sound (even though it has surround sound mode). The bar is 40″ wide and 3″ tall. For basic settings (input select, volume), you can use the buttons on the top panel of the bar and, for advanced settings (bass levels, sound modes), you have to use the remote.
All the physical connections are on the rear panel of the soundbar. You have one HDMI ARC output, optical IN, 3.5mm audio input, USB port, and SUB output (for connecting additional wired subwoofer). Besides physical connections, the soundbar also supports Bluetooth connectivity allowing you to stream music wirelessly from your phone.
The soundbar houses four drivers – two 1″ tweeters with a Tractrix horn, and two racetrack-style 3″ composite woofers. The subwoofer has one down-firing 8″ woofer and a down-firing bass-reflex port.
Cinema 400 has three special sound modes – dialog enhancement, night mode, and virtual surround sound.
The sound is well-balanced, loud, and quite enjoyable. Surround sound simulation doesn’t really bring significant improvements.
- Affordable (priced under $300)
- Premium design and build
- 8″ wireless subwoofer (+ SUB OUT port for connecting another wired subwoofer)
- HDMI ARC OUT, optical input, 3.5mm audio input
- Bluetooth connectivity (BT 4.0)
- 3 sound modes – dialog enhancement, night mode, virtual surround sound
- Enjoyable overall performance – well-balanced sound and powerful bass
- Lacks HDMI inputs
- Lacks wi-fi connectivity
- Poor surround sound simulation
Polk Audio MagniFi 2
Editor’s Rating: (4.7 / 5)
Like the previous Cinema 400, MagniFi 2 is a soundbar/subwoofer combo system. Besides the soundbar and wireless subwoofer, you will also get a remote, power cables, AUX cable, and optical cable. The soundbar is 37.5″ wide and only 2″ tall.
MagniFi 2 looks quite attractive, but it’s mostly made of plastic. The build quality is not so premium. Cinema 400 is definitely more refined-looking. MagniFi 2, on the other hand, is much more versatile and has a great dialog enhancement mode (aka VOICE ADJUST).
The entire bar is wrapped in a nice protective fabric. To select the input, adjust volume, and initiate pairing, you can use the buttons on the top panel of the bar. For advanced sound adjustments and other settings, you have to use the remote.
MagniFi 2 is quite versatile, maybe even one of the most versatile in its price range – it has 3 HDMI inputs, one HDMI ARC output, optical input, and a 3.5mm audio input. Besides physical inputs, you can also use a Bluetooth connection to stream music wirelessly. Or, you can use Google Chromecast.
The soundbar houses four full-range woofers (3″x1″) and two .75″ tweeters. The subwoofer has one 8″ bass driver.
When it comes to special EQ modes, you have Polk’s VOICE ADJUST for clearer dialogs, night mode, 3D AUDIO (surround sound simulation), music, movie, and sports.
The overall performance is very good. The midrange is particularly detailed and clear. The bass is punchy, fast, and effective.
- Priced under $400
- Attractive, elegant design
- Comes with a wireless 8″ subwoofer
- Great versatility – HDMI IN (3), HDMI ARC OUT (1), optical (1), 3.5mm audio IN (1)
- All HDMI ports support 4K pass-through
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Google Chromecast built-in
- Polk’s VOICE ADJUST mode for improved dialog clarity
- Several sound modes – music, movie, sports, 3D AUDIO
- Great overall performance
- Plastic build
- Lacks Airplay
- Unimpressive surround sound simulation
This was our selection of the loudest soundbars on the market. Hopefully, our suggestions helped you find the perfect soundbar for your setup. If you want to learn more about soundbars, read the following text. As always, we encourage you to share your experience in the comments below.
What is the most powerful soundbar?
Our top-three recommendations when it comes to total power output are Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2.4, Samsung HW-Q950T, and JBL Bar 5.1. For more suggestions, check out our selection of the loudest soundbars on the market.
How do I make my soundbar louder?
Even if you don’t want to buy a new soundbar for your TV, there’re a few things that could improve the overall sound quality and maybe even make the sound louder in the process.
You could try to adjust the room acoustics. Maybe, you could even think about buying acoustic panels (diffusers and absorbers). Furthermore, play with the sound settings – try different sound modes or try to adjust bass, midrange, and treble levels manually.
How much should I spend on a soundbar?
Even though there are many cheap soundbars, our recommendation is to set the lower limit at $200. Cheaper soundbars lack a lot of features, and their performance is often underwhelming. They may be better than your TV speakers (in most cases, they are), but you can get a much better performance if you spend just a little bit more.
Does a soundbar replace TV speakers?
Yes. When you have a soundbar connected to your TV, it replaces those tiny speakers inside your TV.
Why does my soundbar sound muffled?
In most cases, the main cause of muffled sound is damaged wiring or faulty connection. So, the first thing to do is check the connections and see if the plugs are pushed all the way in. If the problem persists, try a brand-new cable. If that doesn’t work, then maybe there’s an issue with the soundbar’s hardware or software.
Which connection is best for the soundbar?
Ideally, you will use the HDMI ARC OUT port to connect your soundbar and your TV. However, not all soundbars (and TVs) have HDMI ARC ports. If they don’t, the second-best option is either optical or coaxial. If your soundbar doesn’t have digital audio inputs, you will have to go with the good-old analog connection (either 3.5mm or RCA).
Is HDMI louder than optical?
There’s no noticeable difference in loudness between HDMI and optical. The advantages of HDMI are that it can transmit more audio channels than optical and that it supports higher audio quality. HDMI connection supports lossless audio formats, while optical doesn’t.
Are soundbars worth it?
Yes. They absolutely are. Just don’t settle for some really cheap no-name brand. Spend a little bit more and get a great-sounding soundbar.
What is the difference between a 2.1 and 5.1 soundbar?
The difference is in the number of channels (and maybe even in the number of dedicated speakers). A 2.1 soundbar has drivers arranged in two channels (front left and front right), and it comes with one external subwoofer. A 5.1 soundbar either has drivers arranged in 5 channels (left, center, right, and two side-firing speakers), or it has drivers arranged in three channels and comes with two dedicated surround speakers.
Can you use any soundbar with any TV?
As long as they have matching connection ports, you can use pretty much any soundbar with any TV.