Wed. Jun 7th, 2023

In terms of 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 commonplace {surround} sound by including peak to your music and flicks for a extra dynamic and immersive sound and higher listening expertise. One of the best Dolby Atmos soundbar choices are capable of ship distinctive audio high quality that fills your room. 

Dolby Atmos soundbars are actually extra reasonably priced 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 house theater system, with the trade-off being they cannot present the identical stage of efficiency.

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

Although you possibly can simply cease on the $500 mark, there are advantages available from the dearer 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 gives nice sound, beautiful construct high quality and wonderful multiroom capabilities.

If you need 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 evaluation new merchandise. Remember: A few of these merchandise are presently on backorder, so verify again to see if a selected mannequin is as soon as once more in inventory.

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The Vizio M512a improves on its predecessor in virtually each means: it appears 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. In the event you’re searching for probably the most cost-effective means so as to add Dolby Atmos to your tv that is the one.

Learn our Vizio M512a-H6 evaluation.


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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 worth down. This can be 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 evaluation.


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In the event you like a little bit of “excessive tech” in your tech then look to the Vizio Elevate. This can be 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 all the pieces 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 evaluation.


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Many corporations have tried making a compact, reasonably priced soundbar that may additionally play Atmos, however arguably just one firm has thus far succeeded. The Bose Sensible Soundbar 600 provides devoted peak 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 evaluation.


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If you need one of the 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 benefit from it, and but it nonetheless performs higher than most. The Arc provides a bunch of nice options too, together with a selection of voice assistant and Sonos’ wonderful streaming structure.

Learn our Sonos Arc evaluation.


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Need the final word Atmos audio house 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 provides one of the 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 out a subwoofer and this ought to be particularly enticing to condo dwellers.

Learn our Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar evaluation.


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How I check

At CNET I check audio gear from compact soundbars although to {surround} sound audio system techniques, however whatever the gadget my methodology is essentially the identical. I all the time evaluate merchandise in opposition to a number of reference units which supply one of the best efficiency at an analogous worth. 

In terms of 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 check scenes from 4K Blu-ray or streamed from a 4K streaming service (Vudu, for instance) and consider elements comparable to bass efficiency and dialog readability. I additionally use a variety of check music tracks and consider any streaming options comparable to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. It is techniques that may carry out effectively with each kinds of leisure that inevitably rating the best.

Different soundbars I’ve examined

I’ve examined the next soundbars within the CNET audio lab in opposition to fashions of an analogous worth. Every if these soundbars are worthy in their very own means, however aren’t fairly as recommendable as our primary picks.

Sonos Beam Gen 2 ($499) The Beam could solely supply simulated peak audio system, nevertheless it’s one of the best simulated Atmos I’ve heard but. The Sonos Beam additionally provides lots of options, whereas the Bose Soundbar 600 and Vizio M512a-H6 ship even higher Atmos efficiency for a similar cash. Learn CNET’s evaluation of the Sonos Beam Gen 2.
Bose Sensible Soundbar 900 ($899): This can be 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 Arc. Learn CNET’s evaluation of the Bose Sensible Soundbar 600LG QP5 Eclair ($599): Very cute, minimalist system which gives actual Dolby Atmos from two bins. Nevertheless, I discovered that its efficiency does not match the $500-$600 asking worth with a surprisingly over-bright sound. Learn CNET’s first take.Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 ($999): A superb 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 provides most 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 worth 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.

Try my soundbar shopping for information for extra in regards to the options and issues it’s best to think about when searching for a brand new system.


Do I would like HDMI 2.1 to hearken to Atmos?

Dolby Atmos might be performed over a traditional HDMI ARC reference to streaming providers which use the Dolby Digital Plus codec, and when it really works it is nice. If you need the full-blooded Dolby Atmos expertise then you might must improve to a brand new TV with an HDMI 2.1 port, as it’ll allow greater high quality Atmos streams from Blu-ray gamers and gaming consoles.

Is a Dolby Atmos soundbar value paying further for?

In the event you’re a gamer or get pleasure from watching the newest blockbusters, then sure, a Dolby Atmos soundbar is value paying extra for. However you must just be sure you have a TV with an HDMI ARC port (for Dolby Digital Plus) and a Dolby Atmos-capable supply such because the Xbox Collection X or the newest Roku streamers.

Which connection is greatest for a Dolby Atmos soundbar?

The brief reply is HDMI. The lengthy reply is that there is two methods to get Atmos into one in all 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 data to be fed out of your TV (through both sensible apps or one other related gadget) to an exterior speaker. Regular HDMI ARC will work for some streaming providers that provide Dolby Atmos. 

Then again, if in case you have an older TV and an Atmos supply comparable to a Blu-ray participant, you will want a soundbar that has a couple of HDMI port. The Vizio M512a allows you to join exterior units instantly by HDMI.

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