Page: 2 of 4
In this report

If performance is more of a concern than price, these sound bars are the best you can buy

If you want the best sound bar experience available and don't mind paying for it, reviewers say the Yamaha YSP-4100 (Est. $1,700) is the cream of the crop. It's big and very expensive, but its integrated amplifier delivers strong, clear audio and an expansive virtual surround-sound field -- after you complete an extensive setup procedure. The sound bar doesn't include a subwoofer; critics say it sounds just fine without one, but sounds magnificent with one, and Yamaha includes a kit in the box that can turn any subwoofer into a wireless model.

The other selling point for the Yamaha YSP-4100 is its features. In addition to the wireless subwoofer link kit, the sound bar sports a bevy of ports (including HDMI 1.4a with 3D pass-through and audio return channel), onboard decoders for digital HD audio, a satellite-ready FM tuner, 1080p video upconversion capabilities, an automatic speaker calibration function and the ability to stream music from iOS devices with an optional adapter.

If you don't need all the bells and whistles, the slightly cheaper MartinLogan Motion Vision (Est. $1,500) is worth a listen. It doesn't come with a subwoofer either, but experts say it produces excellent, decently chest-thumping audio just as well as the Yamaha YSP-4100. The Motion Vision has the ability to decode HD audio, but lacks HDMI ports and has a longer, slightly confusing setup.

The Yamaha YSP-2200 (Est. $800) sits at the cheaper end of the premium sound-bar spectrum. It's much smaller than the soundbars above (just 37 inches wide) and includes a discrete, wired subwoofer that's connected via a 4-foot cord. The audio is great for TV and movie viewing, and the automated audio calibration makes setup a breeze. Connectivity is generous -- including HDMI -- and a full complement of Dolby and DTS surround-sound decoders are on board. However, the Yamaha YSP-2200 isn't the best performer with music.

Products by Sonos -- a well-known manufacturer of wireless home audio solutions -- have an almost cult-like following, so it's little surprise that the Sonos Playbar (Est. $700) receives favorable reviews from both experts and owners. The Playbar's main attraction is that it supports Sonos's signature digital music software, which lets you stream music from virtually anywhere in your house. The Playbar uses lots of sonic trickery to deliver an extremely enveloping soundstage that's comparable to what premium-priced sound bars such as the Yamaha YSP-4100 can deliver. The downside is that the Playbar sounds highly processed, which experts say will not please audio purists.

image
Yamaha YSP-4100BL Digital Sound Projector (Black)
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $1,899.95   
Average Customer Review:  
image
MartinLogan Motion Vision Gloss Black 5-Channel Soundbar
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $1,499.95 $1,149.99   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
image
SONOS PLAYBAR TV Soundbar and Wireless Speaker for Streaming Music
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $699.00 $639.99   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  

Sound Bars Runners Up:

Sonos Playbar Est. $700

8 picks including: Amazon.com, DigitalTrends.com…

Yamaha YAS-101 Est. $250

6 picks including: Amazon.com, DigitalTrends.com…

MartinLogan Motion Vision Est. $1,500

6 picks including: About.com, Wired…

Boston Acoustics TVee Model 30 Est. $400

4 picks including: Amazon.com, DigitalTrends.com…

Polk SurroundBar 6000 IHT Est. $500

4 picks including: Amazon.com, Home Theater Magazine…

Yamaha YSP-2200 Est. $800

3 picks including: About.com, Amazon.com…

Harman Kardon SB 16 Est. $500

2 picks including: Amazon.com, CNET…

image
SONOS PLAYBAR TV Soundbar and Wireless Speaker for Streaming Music
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $699.00 $639.99   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
image
MartinLogan Motion Vision Gloss Black 5-Channel Soundbar
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $1,499.95 $1,149.99   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  

Back to top