Which brand of sound bar is better?

Sound bars transmit sound from a TV or computer via multiple speakers in a single enclosure. Like most of the company’s audio equipment, Bose sound bars deliver good performance, premium construction and user-friendly operation. They’re also pretty expensive for the sound quality. By contrast, Vizio makes a wide range of models, from the ultra-affordable to the high-end.

Both brands get high marks for reliability and general audio quality, but one is considerably more cost-effective.

Bose sound bars

One big selling point of Bose speakers and headphones is their dependable connectivity and ease of setup. They also tend to offer wide-ranging customization. While expensive, Bose audio equipment is widely regarded as some of the best for premium setups. However, at least some of that praise is based on name recognition.

Bose sound bar pros

  • Premium design: If you want a sound bar that looks and feels like a high-end piece of equipment to match your top-of-the-line TV, a Bose will fit the bill.
  • High maximum volume: Most Bose sound bars can reach high enough levels to deliver an immersive home theater experience.
  • Powerful wireless subwoofers: Bass performance on Bose speakers, and particularly its wireless subs, is second to none.
  • Powerful sound control app: The Bose Music app lets you customize the sound coming from almost any Bose smart speaker or sound bar you have in your home.
  • Impressive Dolby Atmos performance: At the high end, Bose sound bars offer plenty of up-firing drivers that provide surprisingly realistic three-dimensional sound.

Bose sound bar cons

  • Boomy low-end sound profile: While a high bass output is good for some things, such as action movies, Bose speakers (and headphones) generally don’t have a very neutral sound profile. In other words, you won’t quite get the exact experience the movie studio or musician intended when mastering their content.
  • Somewhat overpriced: If money is no object, Bose sound bars can deliver excellent performance. However, they’re not as economical as most of the competition.

Best Bose sound bars

Bose Soundbar 900

Bose Soundbar 900

Plenty of up-firing drivers and a high volume output make this great if you’re willing to make the investment. It works especially well with the Bose 700 subwoofer.

Sold by Amazon

Bose Soundbar 300

Bose Sound Bar 300

Integrated Alexa voice control makes this one of the best midrange combination smart speakers and sound bars on the market.

Sold by Amazon

Bose TV Speaker

Bose TV Speaker

While it’s not wide enough for a truly cinematic audio experience, it’s well-made and provides a huge upgrade over integrated TV speakers.

Sold by Amazon

Vizio sound bars

Vizio doesn’t enjoy the same brand recognition as Bose, but makes products that are just as good in many ways. It offers a wide lineup of both affordable and high-end sound bars, with a variety of driver configurations and wireless subwoofers.

Vizio sound bar pros

  • Great price-to-performance ratio: Whether you’re on a tight budget or outfitting a premium home theater, you can trust you’re getting your money’s worth with a Vizio sound bar.
  • Convincing real-world test results: Expert hands-on testing reveals that most Vizio sound bars deliver high-resolution audio suitable for the most demanding viewers. Rather than riding on their reputation, Vizio sound bars actually deliver.
  • Relatively neutral sound profile: Unlike Bose, Vizio doesn’t overdo it with bass. This means that its sound bars reproduce the creator’s intended audio faithfully, for the most part.

Vizio sound bar cons

  • They lack some high-end features: Some of Vizio’s best offerings require you to wire their satellite speakers or don’t automatically optimize themselves based on the interior of the room they’re in.

Best Vizio sound bars

Vizio Elevate

Vizio Elevate

Although it’s costly, it boasts 18 speaker drivers, including automatically rotating up-firing drivers that adapt to your room and provide possibly the best Dolby Atmos performance available.

Sold by Amazon

Vizio M512a-H6

Vizio M512a-H6

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better midrange option for three-dimensional movie audio.

Sold by Amazon

Vizio V21-H8R

Vizio V21-H8R

The Vizio V-Series is the perfect choice if you want powerful stereo 2.1-channel audio but don’t want to spend much.

Sold by Amazon

Vizio SB3620n-H6

Vizio SB3620n-H6

It lacks a matching subwoofer and up-firing drivers, but it’s as affordable as a brand-name sound bar gets.

Sold by Amazon

Vizio V51x-J6

Vizio V51x-J6

It pairs an entry-level price with midrange performance, but can’t produce real Dolby Atmos audio.

Sold by Amazon

Should you get a Bose or Vizio sound bar?

Unless you’re a diehard fan of the Bose brand, you’ll get a more consistent sound profile and better performance for the dollar with a Vizio sound bar.

Sound bar FAQ

Do sound bars need wireless subwoofers?

A. They’re not necessarily required, but a subwoofer goes a long way in fighting sound bars’ biggest drawback: subpar low-end output. Consumers will appreciate that both Bose and Vizio offer a number of wireless subwoofers that work perfectly with their sound bars.

What do numbers like 5.1.4 mean?

A. They refer to the number of speakers in a surround-sound setup. The first number represents the stereo, center and satellite channels. The second digit refers to the subwoofer. The third tells you how many up-firing drivers the setup offers.

What do up-firing drivers do?

A. Up-firing drivers point in other directions besides at the viewers. Driven by advanced algorithms, they produce sounds using object-based audio streams and attempt to recreate the sensation of true 3D audio. Note that they’re only really effective alongside advanced technologies such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.

What is Dolby Atmos?

A. Dolby Atmos is an advanced technique for simulating 3D audio. To take full advantage of it, you need a sound bar or surround-sound setup with either up-firing or down-firing drivers, depending on your home theater’s layout. By pointing audio in novel directions and working with the Atmos algorithm, a sound system can deliver audio nearly as immersive as an actual movie theater.

 

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Chris Thomas writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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