No room for Subwoofer, no problem. These all in one sound bar ought to do it. Not only are they compact and take up little space, or even zero footprint if wall mounted, but they sound good too with punchy bass. With their low to mid-range speakers, passive radiators, audio chambers and good amplifiers with loudness and bass boost settings, who needs a separate subwoofer.
Yes, we have in the past insisted that when selecting Sound Bars they ought to have a separate active subwoofer unit. One can never rely on just small speakers to take care of the low range. They can get away with the high and mid-range with small tweeters and full range drivers but to pump out those super low sounds, you need a subwoofer.
Fortunately, not all sound bars are without bass these days. These new generation sound bars come with built-in subwoofer, albeit compact ones. Here are some tricks used to maximise the bass:
- dedicated small built-in subwoofers
- down-ward firing low range speakers
- passive radiators
- sound chambers
- multiple low to mid-range speakers for low to medium range sounds
- powerful amplifiers matched only with powerful speakers
High End Sound Bars with Built-in Subwoofer
Let’s start with these premium all-in-one sound bars.
- Dolby Atmos, Alexa/Google Assistant Built-In, Bluetooth, AirPlay2 Sonos Connect, HDMI eARC, optical in connectivity
Bose Smart Soundbar 900The Base 900 Smart Sound Bar is a premium multi-channel sound bar that supports Dolby Atmos. With its multi directional speaker setup, it can emulate a 5.1.2 surround sound for that all immersive theatre experience. You will hear sound coming from all directions with its 3D simulated effects. For that all important subwoofer or low range sound, it comes with six full range transducers. This includes the two custom upward firing dipole drivers on top of a center tweeter channel. With Bose’s in house tuning and Bose PhaseGuide technologies, it can even turn content with no Dolby Atmos surround encoding to give it a spatial surround. You can also expand the sound bar with their bass module, another name for active subwoofer) and satellite speakers (Bose Surround Speakers 700).
Now for the smart part. The Bose Smart Soundbar 900 comes with all the connectivity that you will need like; WiFi, Bluetooth, ApplePlay 2 and Spotify Connect. Software support and onboard noise cancelling microphones means you can just bark commands to the built-in voice assistants, both Alexa and Google Assistant. But it goes further with Bose Voice4Video technology allowing you to control not only the sound bar but TV and connected consoles. All you need to start using it is to use the HDMI eARC or optical audio connection and power it on. Remember to get the Bose Music App to make the most of your sound bar.
The Sonos Arc is the company’s flagship sound bar. The others sound bars from the company are the Sonos Beam and Sonos Ray. This is the equivalent of the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 above. The Sonos Beam is more a Bose Soundbar 700 while the Sonos Ray is the equivalent of the Bose Soundbar 300. Optional Sonos Sub and Sonos One / One SL are your upgrades for subwoofer and satellite speakers.
Back to the Arc. It supports Dolby Atmos surround sound by bouncing sounds off the ceiling and the side walls, for overhead vertical sound and horizontal 3D sound effects. There are altogether 11 drivers pumping out sound for the various surround channels. This includes the two height elevation speakers and two side firing speakers which a not obvious under the chassis. Even with all 11 drivers, it still manages a slim profile and will tuck nicely under the TV or mounted on the wall. Of those drivers, there are 8 elliptical mid-woofers to cover the low bass and mid-range including vocal frequencies.
And, just like the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 it is voice command enabled with your choice of voice assistants but does not come with its own remote control. Instead, it can synchronise with your existing remote, be it for your TV or streaming console to control its volume. You can then use the Sonos app to control additional settings. The app is also your gateway to all your music streaming services and personalised settings. We recommend using the app on an iOS device to tune the soundbar once it is installed in the room for the best acoustic experience.
- Dolby Atmos, DTS:X with Vertical Surround Engine, A-Force Pro Front Surround, 360 Spatial Sound Mapping, Hi-Res Audio and 360 Reality Audio. Bluetooth, WiFi, Chromecast, Spotify Connect and Apple AirPlay 2, HDMI eARC (in/out) connectivity, 450W power output.
If Dolby Atmos is foremost on your list of selection criteria, any of these premium sound bars will do. The next sound bar on our high-end list is the Sony HT-A5000. It offers 5.1.2 channels with the optional subwoofer at a price to compete with the smart sound bars from Bose and Sonos. Before you get the separate subwoofer, note that there is already a built-in subwoofer onboard the sound bar and a pretty good one at that. One major difference between this and the smart speakers above is the lack of Built-in Voice Assistant, it will work in conjunction with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa via a separate smart speaker but won’t itself take voice commands.
In total, there are seven drivers, two front x balanced speakers, two side beam tweeters, two up-firing speakers and a single tweeter for the center channel. And, like Sonos Arc, the system will calibrate the drivers to suit the environment for the best surround sound and 360 spatial sound mapping, giving you the illusion of separate speakers surrounding you. Upgrade options for separate active subwoofer are the 200W Sony SW3 Sub or the 300W SW5 Sub. Mirroring these option are two rear speakers, the RS3 or RS5 to expand your surround sound stage.
For even more base, pick the Sony HT-A7000 Dolby Atmos Sound Bar. It comes with two subwoofers built-in. With an optional subwoofer (SW3/SW5), the 500W power output system will push 7.1.2 sound channels to cover all the bases.
Mid Range Sound Bars with Built-in Subwoofer
We gave the Bose Smart Soundbar 700 a miss as it comes with a 799 price tag, just a hundred dollar less than the flagship Bose Smart Soundbar 900 on our list. This, however, has a more palatable price tag but like Bose Smart Soundbar 500, it does not support Dolby Atmos which is a real shame given that the encoding technology is becoming more prevalent.
Nevertheless, it comes with Alexa Voice Control built-in and Bose’s legendary signature sound. You will enjoy rich bass and amazing clarity from a compact 2-inch tall sound bar with its 5 compact full range drivers. Connect to the TV using the included optical audio cable or optional HDMI cable. Download the Bose Music app to configure the sound bar just the way you like it. Wireless connectivity options include WiFi, Apple AirPlay 2, Bluetooth and Spotify Connect.
Just like the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 above, you can add compatible Bose multi-room speaker products such as the sub woofers or surround speakers.
An equivalent to Base Smart Soundbar 300 is the Sonos Beam Gen 2 sound bar with one big difference, it supports Dolby Atmos surround. While there are no upward firing speaker, the Beam relies on its multi speaker setup to create a simulated three dimensional spatial surround. It also supports voice commands with built-in microphones and can hook up to either Amazon Alexa or Google assistant.
There are altogether 5 drivers with two side-firing full range that bounces sound back from the sides, two front speakers and a single tweeter for the center channel. Apart from the center speaker, the other four speakers are mid-woofers taking care of the mid to low sounds. And, to enhance that all important bass, it also comes with three passive radiators. Together, they offer good volume, great dialogue clarity and superb surround. Just be sure to tune the soundbar for your room using the companion app on an iOS device.
Other clever sound settings include Night Sound, Speech Enhancement and manual bass, treble and loudness settings via adjustable EQ. Lastly, for wireless connectivity, it has everything except Bluetooth. There are WiFi, Apple AirPlay 2 and the ability to connect to various streaming services.
Our next entry is the Samsung S61B all-in-one sound bar with Alexa Voice control, Boldy Atmos plus DTS:X support for 3D surround sound and Hi-Res audio. Like the Sonos Beam, it has side firing speakers for that horizontal surround. What it lacks as a compact sound bar are those upward firing speakers. With 2 woofers and 3 tweaters it packs enough punch to cover the entire sound range and if you have a compatible Samsung TV from 2022 and beyond, it will work with the TV speakers using a feature called Q-Symphony.
Other features are pretty standard among sound bars in this segment, the voice enhancement technology albeit powered by an Active Voice Amplifier, compatibility with optional wireless subwoofer SWA-W510, automatic acoustic calibration using SpaceFit and various adaptive sound modes like dialogue, sports, news and movie. Available connectivity options include WiFi and Bluetooth with SmartThings, Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect and the convenient Tap to pair with again, compatible Samsung Galaxy mobile device.