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11 Soundbars For The High-End Consumer

Sony’s flagship HT-ST5000 is a 7.1.2-channel 800-watt soundbar with Dolby Atmos, high-res audio and 12 speakers. Specs include three HDMI inputs, one HDMI ARC output, a USB input, Bluetooth, NFC, and digital optical and analog connections. It offers support for 4K and high dynamic range via HDMI with HDCP 2.2 support, and also works with Google Home. Suggested retail is $1,499.

The Dimension five-channel soundbar from Focal has 4-inch speakers housed in an enclosure measuring 45.25 by 4.5 by 4.25 inches. Features include Bluetooth with AptX, HDMI Audio Return Channel (ARC), HDMI Consumer Electronics Control (CEC), adjustable bass and Night Mode. Focal recommends the Dimension be used with TVs 50 inches and larger. It carries a MAP of $799.

Denon’s Wi-Fi-capable Heos Bar boasts support for Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus and DTS Decoding. The three-channel bar comes with Bluetooth, four HDMI 2.0a/HDCP 2.2 inputs, an HDMI output and aux input, and the accompanying app enables consumers to directly stream music from third-party music services and Internet radio stations. Music can also play back locally via a USB thumb drive. Suggested retail is $899.

Definitive Technology’s W Studio Micro is a Wi-Fi-enabled 3.1-channel soundbar with included 8-inch wireless subwoofer. The brushed-aluminum bar, which measures 43.4 by 3.25 by 1.78 inches, features three 1-inch drivers, IR input, Ethernet and 3.5mm input. Suggested retail is $899.

The Reference RSB-14 soundbar from Klipsch with included 8-inch wireless subwoofer boasts built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Dolby Audio and three HDMI 2.0/HDCP 2.2 inputs. A Night Mode optimizes sound for quieter listening environments, according to the company. The two-channel bar measures 33 inches wide and is ideal for use with TVs measuring 50 inches and larger. Suggested retail is $699.

The Panorama 2 from Bowers & Wilkins builds in nine drive units, with five in the center speaker: two bass woofers, two midrange drivers and an aluminum dome tweeter. According to B&W, the majority of movie sound is delivered through the center speaker, and so it engineered the Panorama 2 accordingly. All the drive units are powered by six class D amplifiers, providing a combined power output of 175 watts. The soundbar also has a proximity-sensing control panel, three HDMI inputs, one HDMI output and a $1,499 price tag.

Pioneer’s Elite FS-EB70 ($1,000 MAP) provides 3.1.2-channel sound with its six-channel Class D amps and support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. Its top-mounted drivers are designed to bounce sound off the ceiling, said the company, while a dedicated power supply powers wide-dispersal speakers with angled height-channel speakers enclosed at each end of the soundbar. It includes a wireless subwoofer and supports the following multiroom wireless audio and streaming: FireConnect, DTS Play-Fi, Chromecast, AirPlay, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. It also has four 4K/60p Ultra HD-ready HDMI inputs, HDMI output with ARC and CEC.

House of Marley’s One Foundation includes built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It has 5.25-inch woofers, 1-inch tweeters and a total output power of 200 watts. It also has magnetic speaker grilles; Toslink SPDIF, RCA, 3.5mm and USB inputs; and an output for a subwoofer. An accompanying iOS and Android app enables remote control via a mobile device. As with all of the company’s products, the One Foundation is manufactured using ecofriendly materials and practices. Suggested retail is $1,099.

Yamaha’s YSP-5600 soundbar ($1,699), which features support for both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, combines the company’s Digital Sound Projector technology with 44 small speaker drivers — including 12 for the height channels — to create sound “beams.” The result, said Yamaha, achieves the equivalent of a 7.1.2-channel speaker system. Consumers can also stream via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or the MusicCast app. The HDMI inputs have 4K Ultra HD with 4K 60p and HDCP 2.2 support. Yamaha suggests the YSP-5600 be used with a wireless subwoofer (not included).

Monitor Audio’s SB-4 soundbar is geared for use with TVs measuring 70 inches and larger. Specs include two 4-inch drivers and a 1-inch tweeter in each left, center and right channel, with sound enhanced via compact, flat diaphragm “racetrack” style Auxiliary Bass Radiators (ABRs). The drivers feature concave C-CAM cone technology formed from a continuous uninterrupted dish, said the company, which ensures the center section is as rigid as possible for added strength. The tweeters, meanwhile, vent internally through a special housing and around the outside of the magnet system into a rear-loading chamber for lower resonance and better damping. The result is more accurate, distortion-free sound at low frequencies, according to Monitor. Cabinets are finished in cloth and have brushed-aluminum ends. Suggested retail is $1,050.

For consumers looking for an audio solution that’s a bit more than a one-piece soundbar, the SBT-A500 audio system from Onkyo features Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support and built-in Chromecast, DTS Play-Fi, AirPlay and FireConnect multiroom audio support. The wall-mountable Wi-Fi-enabled soundbar boasts a 2.1-inch profile and connects to a separate network AVR via multichannel audio cable, with power delivered to the drivers (two speakers each for the left, right, and center channels, plus single height speakers) by a discrete digital amplification system. It also ships with a wireless subwoofer. Suggested retail is $999.


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