The best soundbars to elevate your gaming experience
Don’t feel like wearing a headset every time you game? It’s time for a soundbar.
If you picked up one of the next-gen consoles amid the supply issues, good for you! Now you’re equipped to dive into hours of gaming goodness, which researchers have shown is similar to having taken an actual vacation for the effects on your mental health.
To get the best gaming experience, to hear every footstep sneaking up on you, every hair-raising note from the soundtrack, and every bit of the atmosphere that the developers have intended, you really want a good soundbar to accompany your console. We all know that TV speakers are terrible, and headphone surround sound isn’t quite as immersive as multiple speakers.
We’ve rounded up some of the best soundbars on the market, so you can get the best configuration for your living room.
Here are the best soundbars to elevate your console playing experience
Both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X can output surround sound in 5.1 or 7.1 flavors, so you’re going to get better, more immersive sound from a soundbar with at least an additional subwoofer. The Xbox Series X|S range also adds Dolby Atmos in both streaming video and games. The PlayStation 5 can only do Dolby Atmos if you’re watching a Blu-ray, so you can save some cash on your soundbar.
Oh, and measure the space in front of your TV before you go shopping – it’ll save time and frustration later as you’ll be able to buy a soundbar that will fit on your TV console.
Enclave CineHome II 5.1 wireless theater surround system ($1,000)
Is it still a soundbar when some of the satellite speakers are larger than the soundbar that goes in front of your TV? Whatever your thoughts on that question, there’s no denying the sound that the Enclave Audio CineHome II or the $500-more-expensive CineHome Pro brings to your TV.
The best part isn’t even the sound, it’s that every speaker is (mostly) wireless, thanks to WiSA, which is a nifty new wireless sound protocol. The only wires you need are the ones to plug each speaker into a socket for power, and one for the streaming box-sized control unit. Nifty.
Sonos Arc ($1,195)
The larger of Sonos’ soundbars, this behemoth of sound comes with Dolby Atmos and Alexa and Google Assistant integration (as well as Siri via AirPlay), and has an optional subwoofer if you prefer more kick to your bass.
You’ll want a larger TV for this one, as it’s 45-inches long, almost as long as the bottom edge of a 55-inch TV. It’s packed with speakers in every inch of that length too, with three tweeters for the higher range, and eight woofers to pump up that bass. The real star of the show is being able to custom-tune it to your room, using an iPhone with the Sonos app installed.
Oh, and a word to the wise – it’s $800 if you buy from Sonos directly.
Bose SoundTouch 300 ($399)
The five drivers in this soundbar from Bose fill your room with clear sound, with easy connection to your TV or other Bose devices, like headphones so you can get your game on without waking up the rest of the house.
Enjoy wireless streaming via WiFI or Bluetooth, with AirPlay, Spotify Connect, and even Alexa or Google Assistant voice control.
Bluesound Pulse Soundbar+ ($899 in black, $999 in white)
Want Dolby Atmos from one single soundbar? The Pulse Soundbar+ brings 24-bit sound processing, eight audiophile-quality drivers, and 120W of total power to the party. Want more bass? Add the Pulse Sub+ to wirelessly add seat-thumping bass, or connect two Pulse Flex 2i speakers (also wirelessly) to add full surround sound.
Speakers aren’t all you can connect wirelessly here, with two-way aptX Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay 2, Toslink, RCA, USB, and Bluesound’s own BluOS music streaming system that works with all other Bluesound devices. Oh, and it’s got Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa, so you don’t need to hunt for the remote.
Razer Leviathan ($200)
The 5.1 surround from the Razer Leviathan has Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic II, and Dolby Virtual Speaker tech, but no Dolby Atmos if you want that for your Xbox. You still get deep bass from the subwoofer, Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX for wireless streaming, and preset EQs for gaming, movies, and music.
The Leviathan is also smaller than most of the soundbars on the market, so you can use it with your TV or even on your desk under your computer monitor.
LG SN8YG 3.1.2 channel soundbar ($597)
This soundbar and sub combo from LG has Dolby Atmos, and a whole host of sound tech that’ll make your games sound great. AI calibrates the sound to your room, and also analyzes your content to tweak the EQ on the fly for the best mix.
You also get Hi-Res Audio, advanced signal processing in partnership with Meridian Audio, and 440W of power. Oh, did I forget to mention it’s designed to match LG OLED or Nano TVs?
Sony HT-ST5000 ($1,498)
This soundbar comes with Dolby Atmos, 4K HDR pass-through, Hi-Res Audio, and enough ports to connect everything in your entertainment console. That’s four HDMI ports (one ARC), optical, 3.5mm, USB, WiFi, Bluetooth, and Ethernet.
It’s also got Sony’s LDAC codec for high-quality audio streaming, so you can enjoy every note. If you have other Sony speakers, you can use multi-room streaming, it’s got Chromecast built-in, and support for Spotify Connect.
Samsung HW-Q70T ($598)
If you own a Samsung QLED TV, why not pair it with one of Samsung’s soundbars for perfect synchronicity in your audio. You can actually leave your TV’s speakers on with this soundbar, and Samsung’s tech will sync them together in perfect harmony.
The Q70T also has Dolby Atmos, but Samsung didn’t stop there, with the soundbar analyzing the content shown to give you “optimized sound based on each scene” so you don’t miss any important dialog.
Sennheiser Ambeo ($2,500)
The Ambeo is the soundbar that you buy if cash isn’t a worry. It uses multiple speakers to give you full Dolby Atmos immersion, throwing sound around your room like Cy Young on a good day.
You also get Google Chromecast built in, 3 HDMI inputs (one ARC), optical, RCA, Bluetooth, Ethernet, and WiFi, because you’re going to want to connect everything in your house to this beauty once you hear it in action.
Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra ($1,400)
Do you know how most surround setups come with one subwoofer? Well, the Shockwafe comes with two, to serve teeth-rattling bass no matter which side of the couch you sit on.
Those subs are wireless as well and serve up the audio to the surround speakers via wires, so you don’t have to figure out complicated wiring from your TV to the back of your room while enjoying Dolby Atmos goodness.
Vizio TV sound system with Dolby Atmos ($300)
Dolby Atmos in a 5.1 surround system for under $500? That’s what you get from the wallet-friendly Vizio system, with a multi-channel soundbar, 6-inch wireless subwoofer, and two rear surround speakers.
You also get two HDMI ports (one with ARC), 3.5mm, optical, USB, Bluetooth, WiFi, and even built-in Chromecast so you can connect almost anything to this system.
For most TVs, you’re going to want to use HDMI to connect the soundbar to it. If your TV has an HDMI ARC or eARC port, use that so you can use your TV remote for volume control. You’ll want to check that CEC is also enabled on your TV (check the manual), and use a decent quality HDMI cable.
Only use optical as a last resort, as it doesn’t support some of the fancier Dolby Audio features. Oh, and make sure your TV speakers are disabled because the last thing you want is those disturbing the sound from your new soundbar.
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- How to set up a soundbar to work with your Xbox Series X
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