Your TV speakers are terrible. Bass is often lacking, and dialogue may be muffled. Despite the best efforts of TV makers — premium Sony TVs, for example, can vibrate the entire screen to generate sound — manufacturers are ultimately constrained by our demand for slim and svelte flatscreen televisions. Of course, a good AV receiver with speakers and a subwoofer will make for a great home theatre experience. But even a cheap soundbar will probably be an improvement over your TV speakers. Here are five audio upgrades that aren't overly complicated — they are basically plug-and-play.
Apple HomePod (2nd Gen)
Apple's HomePod (S$429) is versatile — it's a smart speaker with Siri, plays spatial audio, and as a pair, can work as a soundbar alternative (with an Apple TV 4K). As a pair, you can space them out at the sides of your TV (depending on your room size, of course) for a wider stereo separation than most soundbars. And its spatial audio support means you can enjoy Dolby Atmos movies as they are meant to be enjoyed. Pity you can't add a subwoofer to the mix, but who knows what lies in the future?
The Prism+ Ripple (S$499) is affordable for a 3.1.2 Dolby Atmos soundbar. The bass is strong, dialogue is clear, and as a whole, the sound is good for the price. However, the bargain price also means you lose out on smart features. There's only Bluetooth, but no Wi-Fi so Google Chromecast and Spotify Connect are unavailable. No voice assistant either. Still, you get plenty of input options, and a remote control with EQ adjustment.
Sony HT-A7000 Soundbar
At around S$2,300 when discounted, the Sony HT-A7000 is one of the more expensive soundbars you can buy now. But this 7.1.2 soundbar comes with a built-in subwoofer, along with two upward-firing drivers for Dolby Atmos, and Sony's 360 Spatial Sound. There's also support for Chromecast, AirPlay 2, and Spotify Connect. In short, you get plenty of sound, and power in one convenient package. And if you're still unsatisfied (and have the budget), Sony lets you add wireless speakers and subwoofers to the mix.
Creative Sound Blaster Katana V2
The Creative Sound Blaster Katana V2 (S$479) is a great soundbar for any PC. But it also works well for TVs, thanks to its HDMI ARC port. Its compact size makes it a good fit for smaller TVs (under 50 inches), but don't underestimate the sound, which is aided by the accompanying subwoofer. It also supports Creative's Super X-Fi holographic audio feature (via headphones), but there's no Dolby Atmos.
Sonos Sub Mini
The Sonos ecosystem is somewhat like Apple's. Once you've gotten yourself a Sonos smart speaker or a soundbar, you may soon feel the urge to expand your Sonos audio collection. If you already have a Sonos soundbar or a pair of Sonos speakers, I would suggest the Sonos Sub Mini (S$869) as your next upgrade. This relatively compact subwoofer will add depth to the sound, making it seem fuller, and better. The Sub Mini is also surprisingly punchy and powerful when you turn it up.
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