September 24, 2023

Relating to soundbars, there are many options you will need to search for, however by far the most well-liked and oft-requested by CNET’s readers is Dolby Atmos audio. Like DTS:X, Dolby Atmos differs from normal {surround} sound by including top to your music and flicks for a extra dynamic and immersive sound and higher listening expertise. The perfect Dolby Atmos soundbar choices are capable of ship distinctive audio high quality that fills your room. 

Dolby Atmos soundbars at the moment are extra inexpensive than ever, particularly in contrast with a conventional Atmos receiver and surround-sound audio system. These soundbars are additionally extra compact and simpler to arrange than a residence theater system, with the trade-off being they can not present the identical degree of efficiency.

The Vizio M512a is my favourite Dolby Atmos soundbar for below $500 — it presents each devoted top channels and {surround} audio system, and high quality sound into the cut price. Some opponents on the value — such because the Sonos Beam Gen 2 and Sony HT-G700 — can solely supply simulated top audio system, when you can hear the distinction that the devoted top audio system of the Bose Smart Soundbar 600 make.

Although you may simply cease on the $500 mark, there are advantages available from the costlier fashions: improved sound high quality, music streaming and voice assistants like Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa. For instance, the $900 Sonos Arc is an all-in-one soundbar that provides nice sound, beautiful construct high quality and glorious multiroom capabilities.

In order for you a soundbar with Dolby Atmos audio, learn on. These are my favourite Atmos soundbar choices from $400 and up, periodically up to date as I evaluate new merchandise. Remember: A few of these merchandise are at present on backorder, so examine again to see if a particular mannequin is as soon as once more in inventory.

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The Vizio M512a improves on its predecessor in nearly each method: it appears to be like higher, it sounds higher, and it is simpler to make use of. Whereas it retains Bluetooth functionality it does lose the flexibility to stream over Wi-Fi. When you’re searching for essentially the most cost-effective method so as to add Dolby Atmos to your tv that is the one.

Learn our Vizio M512a-H6 evaluate.


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The Polk Signa S4 is the most affordable soundbar with Dolby Atmos on board but, nevertheless it does not sacrifice efficiency to get that value down. It is a 3.1.2 channel soundbar with a number of helpful sound modes and Bluetooth streaming. The wi-fi soundbar and devoted heights assist it belt out Atmos soundtracks, and it sounds nice with music too.

Learn our Polk Signa S4 evaluate.


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When you like a little bit of “excessive tech” in your tech then look to the Vizio Elevate. It is a 5.1.4 soundbar system that makes use of motorized drivers to modify between Atmos and regular {surround} sound. It isn’t only a gimmick — it additionally sounds good! As well as, the Elevate contains every part else you need from a contemporary soundbar, together with a number of HDMI inputs and Wi-Fi music streaming.

Learn our Vizio Elevate P514A-H6 evaluate.


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Many firms have tried making a compact, inexpensive soundbar that may additionally play Atmos, however arguably just one firm has to date succeeded. The Bose Sensible Soundbar 600 presents devoted top audio system in a compact soundbar, and its sound high quality is high notch. The speaker additionally provides in multiroom music and the Alexa voice assistant as effectively.

Learn our Bose Sensible Soundbar 600 evaluate.


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In order for you the very best Dolby Atmos sound from a single bar however balk at paying $1,000 or extra, the Sonos Arc is for you. This soundbar is a bit quirky, as you will want a 2019 or newer 4K TV to profit from it, and but it nonetheless performs higher than most. The Arc presents a bunch of nice options too, together with a selection of voice assistant and Sonos’ glorious streaming structure.

Learn our Sonos Arc evaluate.


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Need the last word Atmos audio residence theater sound system expertise with only a single field? It might be a grand greater than the Sony however the Sennheiser Ambeo Max standalone soundbar presents the very best immersive sound we have ever heard. It contains each Google Chromecast built-in and Bluetooth for streaming connectivity. The Ambeo is ready to sound full with no subwoofer and this needs to be particularly engaging to condo dwellers.

Learn our Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar evaluate.


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How I take a look at

At CNET I take a look at audio tools from compact soundbars although to {surround} sound audio system programs, however whatever the machine my methodology is basically the identical. I all the time examine merchandise in opposition to a number of reference gadgets which supply the very best efficiency at the same value. 

Relating to soundbars I need to see how effectively a system performs with music in addition to with motion pictures, as most individuals will need to do each. I watch from a handful of take a look at scenes from 4K Blu-ray or streamed from a 4K streaming service (Vudu, for instance) and consider elements akin to bass efficiency and dialog readability. I additionally use a variety of take a look at music tracks and consider any streaming options akin to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. It is programs that may carry out effectively with each kinds of leisure that inevitably rating the very best.

Different soundbars I’ve examined

I’ve examined the next soundbars within the CNET audio lab in opposition to fashions of the same value. Every if these soundbars are worthy in their very own method, however aren’t fairly as recommendable as our most important picks.

  • Sonos Beam Gen 2 ($499) The Beam could solely supply simulated top audio system, nevertheless it’s the very best simulated Atmos I’ve heard but. The Sonos Beam additionally presents a whole lot of options, whereas the Bose Soundbar 600 and Vizio M512a-H6 ship even higher Atmos efficiency for a similar cash. Learn CNET’s evaluate of the Sonos Beam Gen 2.
  • Bose Smart Soundbar 900 ($899): It is a nice Bose soundbar, and it pairs effectively with the corporate’s QuietComfort headphones for late-night listening, nevertheless it’s merely not as strong because the Sonos ArcLearn CNET’s evaluate of the Bose Sensible Soundbar 600
  • LG QP5 Eclair ($599): Very cute, minimalist system which supplies actual Dolby Atmos from two packing containers. Nevertheless, I discovered that its efficiency does not match the $500-$600 asking value with a surprisingly over-bright sound. Learn CNET’s first take.
  • Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 ($999): A wonderful soundbar with HDMI connectivity and multiroom music streaming. Whereas music is the place this soundbar shines, the system does value greater than the Arc and the peripherals are costly.
  • Sennheiser Ambeo Plus ($1,500): A cut-down model of the $2,500 Sennheiser Ambeo Max which presents lots of the identical options together with Chromecast built-in and voice help. I discovered the sound was enveloping and music to be extra nuanced than among the cheaper ‘bars. But, at its retail value of $1,500 it isn’t fairly $600 higher than the Sonos Arc, neither is {surround} sound as convincing because the Max. Learn CNET’s first take of the Sennheiser Ambeo Plus.

Take a look at my soundbar shopping for information for extra concerning the options and issues you must take into account when searching for a brand new system.


Do I would like HDMI 2.1 to hearken to Atmos?

Dolby Atmos will be performed over a traditional HDMI ARC reference to streaming companies which use the Dolby Digital Plus codec, and when it really works it is nice. In order for you the full-blooded Dolby Atmos expertise then chances are you’ll have to improve to a brand new TV with an HDMI 2.1 port, as it’ll allow increased high quality Atmos streams from Blu-ray gamers and gaming consoles.

Is a Dolby Atmos soundbar price paying additional for?

When you’re a gamer or take pleasure in watching the newest blockbusters, then sure, a Dolby Atmos soundbar is price paying extra for. However it is advisable to just remember to have a TV with an HDMI ARC port (for Dolby Digital Plus) and a Dolby Atmos-capable supply such because the Xbox Sequence X or the newest Roku streamers.

Which connection is greatest for a Dolby Atmos soundbar?

The quick reply is HDMI. The lengthy reply is that there is two methods to get Atmos into certainly one of these audio system — the primary, and greatest, is to have a TV with an eARC port (HDMI 2.1). This port is a function of many new TVs and allows Atmos info to be fed out of your TV (through both good apps or one other related machine) to an exterior speaker. Regular HDMI ARC will work for some streaming companies that supply Dolby Atmos. 

However, when you’ve got an older TV and an Atmos supply akin to a Blu-ray participant, you will want a soundbar that has a couple of HDMI port. The Vizio M512a lets you join exterior gadgets immediately by HDMI.

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