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The built-in acoustics of modern TVs do not always satisfy users in terms of sound quality, especially low frequencies. At the same time, a full-fledged external audio system of several separate speakers in city apartments can take up too much valuable usable space. The best alternative is monoblock acoustics, that is, a sound bar or, if you use tracing paper from English, a soundbar.

The editors of Expertology magazine analyzed the 2021 soundbar market of the year and selected for you the best options in all popular multi-channel sound standards.

Rating of the best soundbars

Nomination Place Name Price

Best Inexpensive Soundbars 2.1

one

Mystery MSB-119B black

5 320 ₽

2

Ginzzu GM-504 with 2.1 Bluetooth wireless subwoofer 120W black

8 311 ₽

3

Samsung HW-T400 black

6 980 ₽

Best 2.1 Mid-Range Soundbars

one

Sony HT-S350 black

16 490 ₽

2

JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass black

17 343 ₽

3

YAMAHA YAS-209 black

29 990 ₽

Best Top Soundbars 2.1

one

Polk Audio MagniFi MAX black

45 240 ₽

2

Denon DHT-S516H black

69 990 ₽

The best soundbars with 5.1 multi-channel audio

one

JBL Bar 5.1 Surround black

32 780 ₽

2

LG SL10Y black

47 990 ₽

Best Inexpensive Soundbars 2.1

Traditionally, we start the review with the simplest and most inexpensive solutions. In this compilation, we will look at 2.1 standard soundbars. Such models imply the presence of two main speakers that reproduce high and medium frequencies and one subwoofer for low frequencies.

Mystery MSB-119B black

Rating: 4.7

Mystery MSB-119B black

The first in the review will be the most inexpensive Mystery brand soundbar. The trademark was originally registered in the United States, but since 2005 the brand has been owned by the Russian company Delta Electronics. Production is established in China and Russia. The main competitive advantage of Mystery electronics is the lowest prices with a very decent quality. In 2021, the Mystery MSB-119B model costs about 16 thousand rubles in Russia.

This is an active soundbar, which outwardly looks more like something more “studio” – such a visual effect is created by the format, characteristic legs and a compact control panel on the front side. All acoustics are in one case – two universal speakers and a subwoofer. The total system power is 55 watts, of which 25 watts is for the subwoofer.

The sound characteristics are very decent and, according to a subjective assessment, even significantly exceed the cost. The built-in subwoofer delivers soft yet punchy bass. When the volume is increased, there is no resonance that causes rattling and other unwanted artifacts. The built-in equalizer, unfortunately, is ineffective – you can only select a mode from the presets, and as a result, the sound still has little effect. You can also add bass to a very limited extent.

The reaction of buyers to these acoustics is mostly unanimous – most consider the soundbar to be one of the best of the super-budget ones. They note sufficient volume for a room of any standard dimensions, no rattling at high volume, pleasant bass, convenient remote control, a set of interfaces. Criticism of this soundbar is mainly for the almost useless equalizer.

From the review of a Yandex.Market user with the Level 3 Gadget Inspector status: “After comparing prices for different options in my conditions, I decided to purchase. It fit well, the assembly of norms, the connection is convenient (everything is fast and clear via bluetooth). Enough power for an apartment. The only thing that upset the lack of bass control.

Advantages

  • the most affordable price with decent quality;

  • all in one – speakers and subwoofer in one case;

  • high-quality, clear sound;

  • good, expressive basses;

  • convenient control, ergonomic remote control;

  • Bluetooth connection;

  • Dolby Digital decoder.

Flaws

  • low-functional equalizer.

Ginzzu GM-504 with 2.1 Bluetooth wireless subwoofer 120W black

Rating: 4.8

Ginzzu GM-504 with 2.1 Bluetooth wireless subwoofer 120W black

Now let’s look at a budget soundbar from a fairly well-known Taiwanese brand Ginzzu. The model is half the price of the previous one – about 9 thousand rubles, but this is still an extremely low price compared to high-end models. At the same time, the characteristics are noticeably more interesting.

This soundbar is also active, but in most respects it is radically different from the previous one. First of all, the form factor. The subwoofer here is placed in a separate column with dimensions of 170x300x200mm. What is important – the subwoofer is connected via Bluetooth, that is, the limited space will not be a problem, since wires are not needed. the front speakers are enclosed in a compact unit with dimensions of 940x70x100mm. As you can see, such a height and depth of the main front unit (which, in fact, is a soundbar) allow you to place it directly under or above the TV, regardless of how the latter is installed – on a bedside table / table or wall mount.

As for the sound, the situation here is better than that of the above model. The front panel does an excellent job with high and medium frequencies. A relatively massive and at the same time free-standing bass-reflex subwoofer provides juicy and deep bass. Its power is more than twice that of the previous model – 60 watts. The total power of a pair of front speakers is 60 watts.

Here we also see much wider possibilities for adjusting the sound. In addition to the volume, you can also manually adjust the high and low frequencies. There is also a built-in equalizer. It, as in the previous case, is designed only for presets (MOVIE, MUSIC, DIALOG), but they have a much more pronounced effect on the final sound.

Finally, with regard to functionality, this model also boasts a relatively rich choice. For example, the system can be used as a standalone player thanks to the built-in audio player and support for flash memory cards. External sources can be connected to the soundbar via HDMI, USB, optical input, 2RCA, DC-jack 3.5mm line input.

Advantages

  • separate phase inverter subwoofer;

  • wireless subwoofer connection via Bluetooth 5.0;

  • extended set of interfaces;

  • built-in USB-flash audio player;

  • support for microSD memory cards;

  • bass, treble adjustment;

  • equalizer with presets.

Flaws

  • no obvious deficiencies were identified.

Also Read: 9 Best Home Theater Systems

Samsung HW-T400 black

Rating: 4.9

Samsung HW-T400 black

Rounding out Expertology’s best budget soundbars list is the much more well-known brand Samsung, with its inexpensive, elegant panel, the HW-T400. In terms of price, it is comparable to the previous version, in terms of functionality it is noticeably more modest, but the cost is fully justified by the quality and the brand itself.

Let’s start not even with the sound characteristics, but with the appearance of the device. The panel is a monoblock of an extremely minimalistic design, black in the form of a regular parallelepiped. Such exquisite simplicity is perceived positively by many as a strict elegant style.

As for the sound. The soundbar reproduces sound vibrations in the range from 40 to 20 thousand Hz. Low frequencies can be additionally adjusted, but getting very deep bass will not work just objectively due to the dimensions of the panel – 641x65x107 mm. However, most users are completely satisfied with the sound and almost no one complains about the lack of bass. Much more valuable is a large margin of volume, when the sound bar can “shout out” other household appliances in the house, and at the same time the noise from the window, and this is without distortion and resonant wheezing.

The functionality of this model is not too wide, but this is not a drawback, given the cost and brand. USB ports, optical S/PDIF, AUX are used for connection. Convenient remote control connects via Bluetooth. There is even NFC, through which you can connect a wearable gadget and play audio. To clarify, data transfer is, of course, not via NFC, since the communication range of this technology is only about 10-20 cm. NFC simply helps speed up and simplify the pairing of devices via Bluetooth.

Most of the users have a high opinion about the consumer characteristics of the soundbar: sound purity, pronounced lows with the ability to adjust, volume reserve, appearance and dimensions. Many lament the lack of an HDMI interface, and especially HDMI ARC, which would eliminate the need for audio wires.

From the review of a Yandex.Market user with the Level 5 Gadget Inspector status: “Ideal for replacing the built-in TV sound. The sound of TV programs has acquired a natural sound. Perhaps one of the best COMPACT systems for the money. I recommend to buy!”

Advantages

  • format “all in one”;

  • sufficient volume reserve;

  • clear sound without distortion at high volumes;

  • you can adjust the tone of low frequencies;

  • there is Bluetooth and NFC;

  • extremely minimalistic, and

  • combination of price, quality and brand.

Flaws

  • no HDMI ARC interface.

Best 2.1 Mid-Range Soundbars

The second selection is dedicated to the conditional middle class soundbar, where the price is an approximate guideline. These models do not necessarily have wide functionality, we consider quality, stability and durability to be more important. Only the most famous brands are represented.

Sony HT-S350 black

Rating: 4.8

Sony HT-S350 black

Let’s take a look at the Sony soundbar first. It is almost budget-friendly, but still twice as expensive as the Samsung HW-T400 described above, and costs about 18 thousand rubles at the end of the summer of 2021. The emphasis of the developers is made to a greater extent not on the richness of the functionality, but on the sound characteristics, it must be admitted, quite successfully.

Almost any high-quality soundbar sounds better than the regular built-in TV speakers. But still, users often lack low frequencies. By creating this inexpensive model, Sony engineers have solved the issue of bass radically, and even with a large margin. For this, a powerful bass reflex stand-alone subwoofer was provided. Only he alone has a power of 150 watts, and the total system power is 320 watts. The effect exceeded all the expectations of potential users – all the scenes in films with explosions, thunder, all sorts of natural disasters Sony HT-S350 works out “for all the money” thanks to the subwoofer.

The sound characteristics can be adjusted in various ways. In addition to the banal setting of the overall volume, there is also a separate subwoofer volume control. And plus a fairly simple, but quite effective equalizer with ready-made presets. Management is carried out from a convenient and even stylish remote control.

In the reviews on the trading floors, it is clear that the efforts of engineers in terms of sound quality hit the mark. Users are unanimous in a high assessment of the purity of sound, including at high volumes, and especially in terms of bass. The low power is certainly impressive – dynamic scenes with explosions, thunder and other effects sometimes cause an enthusiastic reaction from the viewer.

Advantages

  • high power;

  • clear sound;

  • powerful free-standing subwoofer with separate volume control;

  • especially pronounced, thunderous bottoms (where necessary);

  • wireless subwoofer connection;

  • compact dimensions of the front panel;

  • equalizer with presets;

  • convenient remote control.

Flaws

  • no significant objective deficiencies were identified.

JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass black

Rating: 4.8

JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass black

The selection will continue with the less well-known, but more narrowly specialized and more than reputable American brand JBL. The company specializes specifically in audio equipment, and this model is a vivid example of a combination of reasonable price and high quality. It costs about 20 thousand rubles in Russian stores at the end of summer 2021.

Using the example of the previous model, we found out that for a very reasonable price, you can get amazing TV sound with high-quality deep bass. JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass already hints by its name that this model is at least as good with bass.

Indeed, the scheme here is typical for this format – the actual soundbar with front speakers and a separate bass-reflex subwoofer. Its power is one third more than that of the previous set – 200 W, and the total system power is 300 W.

Special thanks to the developers for the set of interfaces. Here we have USB, and an optical digital input, and linear stereo, and HDMI, both for input and output, and one of the HDMI ports with HDMI ARC functionality. You can connect a wearable gadget via Bluetooth to listen to the audio library.

Users in the reviews most often give high marks to the most noticeable characteristic of the system – excellent bass and superbly realistic sound when watching movies. And in this regard, the JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass can really give odds to many competitors. However, this system is optimal in a narrow spectrum – for watching movies. When listening to music or, even more so, in video games, the effect is far from being so perfect.

Advantages

  • reputable American brand;

  • deep, juicy and powerful bass;

  • powerful wireless subwoofer;

  • HDMI input and output, one of them is HDMI ARC;

  • playback of audio from other external media;

  • connection of wearable gadgets via Bluetooth;

  • certification and safety data sheet.

Flaws

  • It performs best when watching movies, in games and music it is noticeably weaker.

See also: 11 best music centers with karaoke

YAMAHA YAS-209 black

Rating: 4.9

YAMAHA YAS-209 black

The third and final audio system is a fairly high-tech package from the legendary YAMAHA brand. There are no such exorbitant capacities as in the previous two options, and the emphasis is more on additional high-tech features. The price is already closer to the top solutions – about 30 thousand rubles.

First about the main thing. YAMAHA YAS-209 is an active speaker system consisting of a soundbar and a separate bass-reflex subwoofer. Subwoofer power – 100 W, total system power – 200 W. Front speakers reproduce sound in the range from 190 to 22 thousand Hz. For ultra-high frequencies, a tweeter-“tweeter” with a radiator diameter of 25 mm is separately provided. The dimensions of the two mid-range speakers are 46 mm each. The size of the subwoofer radiator is 160 mm, it reproduces frequencies from 34 to 190 Hz.

Behind these dry numbers is a number of non-obvious things that make this system so attractive. To a greater extent, experts and advanced users highlight a balanced sound that is rare for such a form factor. So, if in the previous two models there was a clear bias towards bass (which, however, completely suits most users), then here it is the organic balance that is deeply worked out. That is why the power of the subwoofer in this model is lower than in cheaper systems, and this is more of a plus than a minus.

Another noteworthy point is the presence of additional functionality and equipment with interfaces. So, here, in addition to standard connections, we also have HDMI input and output, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless radio modules, and even a network card with an Ethernet port (RJ-45).

You can control the system with a remote control or even through the Alexa voice assistant. True, only in English, but still it is a nice and quite practical addition.

From the review of a Yandex.Market user with the Level 4 Gadget Inspector status: “The subwoofer completes the overall picture, without booming bass, as they like it now on cheap soundbars. There is no dip in the mids, the dialogue in the films is clearly audible.

Advantages

  • legendary brand;

  • technological level close to premium;

  • dedicated mini-speaker tweeter in the front panel;

  • Dolby Digital and Dolby Pro Logic II decoders;

  • support for DTS Digital Surround and PCM;

  • HDMI input and output;

  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth;

  • built-in network card and Ethernet port (RJ-45);

  • Alexa voice control.

Flaws

  • no fundamental flaws were found.

Best Top Soundbars 2.1

The third selection of the review of the best soundbars according to Expertology magazine will be devoted to the most advanced and expensive models of the most popular 2.1 format. All three presented models are different brands, which are far from the mainstream and may be unfamiliar to most of our readers. But all these are specialized companies that produce premium audio equipment.

Polk Audio MagniFi MAX black

Rating: 4.8

Polk Audio MagniFi MAX black

Polk Audio is an American manufacturer of top audio equipment. Based in Baltimore, Maryland. It is part of a large holding DEI Holdings, which also includes such famous brands as Definitive Technology (acoustics) and Directed (automotive electronics). Such a background already commands respect, and for good reason. The 2.1 MagniFi MAX system costs about 55 thousand rubles in the Russian Federation in mid-2021, but prices can vary greatly at different points of sale.

The form factor of this system is exactly the same as the previous ones, where a separate subwoofer is used. However, there are noticeable differences that clearly indicate the premium level of this model. This can already be seen from the design of the front sound bar. It includes as many as seven drivers, and each is equipped with its own separate class D amplification.

The phase inverter principle is used not only in the subwoofer, but also in the front panel – a pair of phase inverters are located at the edges on the right and left. They provide an impressive width and depth of the sound stage. The sound literally fills and envelops the whole room.

As for the “coverage” capabilities, this system is designed for an ordinary room in a conditional city apartment – an area of ​​​​20 to 30 square meters. meters. Of course, no one forbids installing a soundbar with a subwoofer in a larger room, but the effect will vary. However, if you look at the power – 180 W front panel and 160 W subwoofer, it seems that the stated calculation for the optimal area of ​​​​the room is made with a margin, and in a large room the system will sound just as high quality.

The set of interfaces is completely sufficient for almost all consumer requests and even more. There are standard USB and optical input, Ethernet (RJ-45), wireless Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, supported by Google Chromecast. But the most remarkable thing is as many as four HDMI interfaces. Of these, one exit and three entrances. They are all the latest generation, have high bandwidth, cope with dense data streams, including 4K 3840×2160 video and extended Dolby Vision range.

And one more remarkable detail. This system can be easily turned into 5.1 by purchasing speakers from the same company. And, importantly, this model is certainly ready for such a transformation – even on the remote control there are corresponding buttons for additional control, which are activated after the upgrade.

Advantages

  • reputable American brand;

  • impeccable quality of materials and assembly;

  • power;

  • front panel of seven drivers, each with its own amplification;

  • separate volume control for the subwoofer and the system as a whole;

  • four high-bandwidth HDMI inputs;

  • convenient management;

  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, Ethernet (RJ-45);

  • the possibility of a simple upgrade to 5.1.

Flaws

  • no obvious flaws were found.

Denon DHT-S516H black

Rating: 4.9

Denon DHT-S516H black

And one more premium system 2.1 of the legendary Japanese brand Denon with more than a century of history. This is already a rather expensive solution – in 2021 it costs about 70 thousand rubles in the Russian Federation. Considering that even 4K TVs are on sale for even half the price, the system is designed to equip a high-end TV. This is logical and natural, since even the top models of TVs have built-in sound that is often frankly “lame”.

Here we are dealing with a similar form factor, implying a separate subwoofer. The scheme for organizing sound sources is similar, based on four mid and low frequency speakers, and two tweeters. Ultra-low frequencies are already taken over by the subwoofer. An active type system, there are two digital amplifiers for, in fact, a soundbar and a subwoofer.

The top sound quality is largely determined by the narrow-profile and relatively powerful DSP processor in this class. It is 32-bit with a frequency of 400 MHz, and if this does not mean much to an ordinary user, then we add that these are the processors that are installed on the most expensive Denon premium receivers.

As for connections and work with content, everything here is also at the highest level. There are HDMI inputs/outputs, including ARC audio return channel. Next-generation interfaces, bandwidth allows you to process streams in enhanced quality 4K Ultra HD, HDCP 2.2 and high dynamic range HDR10 and Dolby Vision.

Another plus is the system’s ability to wirelessly connect AirPlay 2, Bluetooth and the HEOS app for wearable gadgets to play music directly from the Internet, directly connecting to services such as Spotify and the like.

Advantages

  • a legendary manufacturer with a century of history;

  • premium quality;

  • deep study of the optimal ratio of the number of front panel speakers and the power of each of them;

  • high bandwidth HDMI ports;

  • support for Google Assistant;

  • voice control via Amazon Alexa and Siri;

  • wireless data transfer via AirPlay 2;

  • effective design with angular forms.

Flaws

  • No major disadvantages have been identified.

The best soundbars with 5.1 multi-channel audio

Further in our review, we will consider a mini-selection of the best soundbars in terms of price and quality that support 5.1 multi-channel sound – the best format for watching movies. We took into account models not of the highest price segment, but more or less affordable for the mass consumer.

See also: 6 most powerful music centers

JBL Bar 5.1 Surround black

Rating: 4.8

JBL Bar 5.1 Surround black

The first to consider is one of the most popular 5.1 soundbars on the Runet trading floors, which has already appeared in the review of the JBL trademark. The price of the kit in 2021 is about 40 thousand rubles.

This is an audio system similar to previous models of the form factor – with a separate subwoofer. And here one inevitably has to be impressed long before turning it on, since the subwoofer of this model is the size of a hotel refrigerator – 305x440x305 mm and weighs more than 10 kg. The corresponding power is 300 W, another 250 W of power falls on the front panel itself. It is easy to understand that such power is easily enough for a large living room.

This system is in great demand, as it successfully solves the problem of equipping the TV with a normal “cinema” 5.1 sound. And this “success” primarily consists in the minimum of space occupied with the same minimum of wires. The dimensions of modern city apartments force residents to save every square centimeter of usable space.

The main advantage of this speaker system is that, despite its relative compactness and the nature of its placement, it really provides high-quality surround sound, like in a movie theater. In many ways, this is the merit of the proprietary development of JBL MultiBeam ™. The functionality of the system allows you to use it as flexibly and efficiently as possible – connect to the Internet, listen to music from mobile gadgets, etc.

In conclusion, it is worth adding that immediately after installing the system, you should connect it to the Internet and update the software. This must be done, as there may be various problems associated with incompatibility and other aspects of the normal operation of the device. After the update, all known issues should automatically be resolved.

From the review of a Yandex.Market user with the Level 7 Gadget Inspector status: “Great bass and balanced settings for listening to movies. If you do not take the classics, then listening to music is also quite suitable. In smart mode, a balanced spatial picture. Night mode works as it should.”

Advantages

  • prestigious specialized trade mark;

  • the power of the subwoofer and the front panel itself;

  • JBL MultiBeam™ technology for maximum surround sound;

  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless interfaces;

  • support for Airplay 2 and Chromecast;

  • high bandwidth HDMI input and output;

  • attractive modern design;

  • exceptional quality of materials and workmanship.

Flaws

  • no obvious flaws were found.

LG SL10Y black

Rating: 4.9

LG SL10Y black

The second and final in the selection, consider the model of the flagship series of 2019 produced by LG. At the time of the start of sales, it cost about 900 US dollars, and in 2021 its average price is not much lower – about 60 thousand rubles.

The form factor of this kit is the same – a soundbar and a subwoofer. But it differs significantly in size. First of all, the soundbar itself. In width (length), it has 1443 mm, that is, almost one and a half meters. This is good for sound, but inconvenient to install under a TV in most cases. For example, between the legs of a 55-inch TV, the panel will definitely not fit. This is by no means a defect, but only a feature that we consider it our duty to warn you about.

The power of the system fully matches the dimensions. Front panel – 350 W, reproduces ultra-high, medium and even low. But most of the low, right down to the deepest bass, of course, falls on the subwoofer. The size of its emitter is 173 mm in diameter, a phase inverter and a power of 220 watts.

All the necessary interfaces are available for connection, including Wi-Fi. There are two HDMI ports – input and output. To play content in electronics, all the necessary high-resolution audio decoders are flashed: DTS-HD High Resolution Audio, Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio and others.

In conclusion, we note that you should not try to get full immersion and surround sound from this soundbar for listening to music from ordinary mp3 files. This device has a certain specialization, and in all its considerable power and strength, acoustics are revealed precisely when paired with a TV as part of a home theater.

Advantages

  • flagship of the series;

  • front panel extended to almost 1.5 m (there may be difficulties with installation);

  • high-quality surround sound;

  • exceptional panel and subwoofer power;

  • a set of interfaces, including HDMI input and high bandwidth output;

  • a wide range of high-resolution audio decoders;

  • nice appearance.

Flaws

  • no major downsides were found.