Soundbases don’t often get a lot of respect and audio world. This is a landscape dominated by huge tower speakers, feature-heavy home theater systems and sleek soundbars. Soundbases don’t always look particularly sexy, and as a consequence, they don’t sell as well as other audio equipment. This strikes us a shame: a good soundbase can be just as powerful and wonderful to listen to as any other piece of audio equipment, and is often more diverse thanks to its size. Still, if you’re also known as a sound slab, you probably aren’t going to have as much marketing pull. Let’s see if we can change that, by introducing the best soundbases of twenty sixteen. This is a market that doesn’t seem new additions all that often, so a few of these picks are a couple of years old, but that doesn’t stop them being amazing.
Soundbases require more careful testing than other types of speakers, not just to evaluate the audio quality but also to figure out their load-bearing capabilities. We’ve looked at all the bases available on the market to come up with the list below, taking value for money into account as well, and we think these are the absolute best available.
A word of warning: For some reason, this is a product category where prices tend to fluctuate dramatically. For that reason, do keep an eye on Amazon and other retailers, to see if you can score a bargain.
Dimensions: 21.5" x 11.8"
Weight Rating: Unknown
What We Like: Great bass, great features
What We Don’t: No weight rating
Best For: When you want the best
Our top pick is the Canton DM55: a big, beautiful slab is a full 2.1 system with a massive 200 watts of audio output. Soundbases are often noted for their ability to provide more power and oomph to their audio, thanks to the increased size, and the DM55 really capitalises on that. The down-firing subwoofer does some phenomenal things to the low end, and the rest of the sound is equally good. The highs are crisp and fresh, and the mids are a lot warmer than we would have expected. At this price range, each soundbase comes with a very decent feature set, and the DM55 is no exception: Bluetooth streaming, remote, it’s all here. Interestingly, the soundbase is housed in glass, which makes it one of the best looking models here; despite this, it somehow manages to be only 2.7 inches tall, making it the second-flattest soundbase in our roundup. Quite an achievement. Be warned that while it will certainly support whatever TV you put on top of it, it is one of the few bases without a weight rating.
See the Canton DM55
Dimensions: 16.75" x 35.75"
Weight Rating: 60”
Sub: Sort of…
What We Like: Surround features
What We Don’t: Unusual approach to bass may not be for everyone
Best For: Surround sound
If you’re looking for the best example of a soundbase that delivers surround sound, we strongly suggest taking a look at the Atlantic Technology 3.1 HSB. While it’s certainly not going to trouble the traditional 5.1 and 7.1 systems, it does have that number on it, 3.1, which means that it packs a left, center, and right speaker along with an included woofer, which has a genuine impact on the stereo spread of the sound. Note that we said woofer, not subwoofer. That’s deliberate. A subwoofer is specifically designed to handle bass frequencies, while a straight woofer also dips a toe into the mids. So why does Atlantic Technology not include one, and still managed to put .1 in their product name? Because of their H-PAS (Hybrid Pressure Acceleration System) technology, which turns a woofer into something that can really handle heavy bass frequencies. It’s an interesting approach, and while we still think a traditional sub is the way to go, this unit still has some truly outstanding sound - although its pricetag, despite occasionally fluctuating, makes it an acquired taste.
See the Atlantic Technology 3.1 HSB
Footprint: 28.7" x 16.1"
Weight Rating: Unknown
Sub: Yes - x2
What We Like: Massive sound, superb design
What We Don’t: Massive pricetag
Best For: When money is no object
It’s only the truly staggering price tag that keeps this one off the top spot. In terms of sound quality and sheer, raw power, the Raumfeld model is head and shoulders above its competition. It has a fantastic remote, simple setup, and despite being much more suited to movies and games the music, is quite comfortable in the Raumfeld ecosystem, allowing you to pair it with speakers like the Raumfeld One-S. A terrific base, even if we wish it would have a discount. As we said in our review, “It’s an absolutely phenomenal bit of kit, one we were happy to experience…but one we’re not sure is worth the asking price.”
See the Raumfeld Sounddeck
Dimensions: 39.4" x 13"
Weight Rating: Unknown
What We Like: Affordable example of the Canton brand
What We Don’t: Nothing on its smaller brother
Best For: Large rooms
You might think it strange to see the bigger version of the DM55 this low on the list. While it's still a good system, we much prefer the charms of its smaller brother, which is why we gave at the top spot. The DM100 is good, and very loud, but it's not enough of a leap forward to recommend picking it up over its sibling. That being said, it's still an excellent model, and will stand toe to toe with any on this list.
See the Canton DM100
Dimensions: 28.5" x 13"
Weight Rating: 66lbs
What We Like: Terrific remote, ease of use
What We Don’t: Lack of controls, sound not quite as crisp as other models
Best For: No-hassle
The Cambridge Audio TV5 is the most fully featured sound bar on the list, but we think it’s worth including as a good alternative to the Yamaha. Despite the lack of sound controls on the soundbase, the sound is still good, although lacking the crispness of pricier models. What sets it apart, and justifies its inclusion here, is its remote. It’s beautifully designed, and very easy to use, something which extends to the entire unit. Setting this thing up and getting it to run as a total breeze, making it ideal for anybody who doesn’t want a lot of admin but still wants decent audio. It’s particularly good with movie dialogue, too.
See the Cambridge Audio TV5
Footprint: 14.6” x 30.8”
Weight Rating: 55”
Sub: Yes - x2
What We Like: It’s a major upgrade with great value-for-money
What We Don’t: Not a lot
Best For: All-around value
We previously featured the Yamaha SRT-700 on this list, but after consideration, we are replacing it with the more powerful SRT-1000. Our thinking is that the higher weight rating and the increased sound quality is worth the extra $150, and if you pick this one up, we’re pretty sure you’ll agree. The twin subs, Bluetooth streaming and Yamaha’s Digital Sound Projector, which does a pretty good passing imitation of surround sound, make this a winner. Note that the price fluctuates so watch for bargains.
See the Yamaha SRT-1000
Dimensions: 27.6" x 13"
Weight Rating: 55”
What We Like: Blu-ray player built in, huge sound
What We Don’t: Audio not super-detailed
Best For: When you watch a lot of Blu-rays
The LG LAB540 Soundplate is also in our roundup, for a very specific reason. It might not be the best-sounding base out there - reviewers have noted its sometimes brittle treble - but it sneaks in because it corners a very specific niche. It comes with a built-in Blu-ray player. This alone makes it worth the price of admission for anybody looking to cut costs on their home theater setup. It's easy to install, and while it doesn't have the feature set of dedicated players or TVs, it's still a blast to use. Its sound might not be as refined as other models, but its 4.1 channels and 320W of power make it a worthwhile pick - even it supplies yet another name for a soundbase. We wish manufacturers would make up their minds.
See the LG Lab540 Soundplate
Dimensions: 30" x 14.5"
Weight Rating: 55”
What We Like: Great feature set, superb dialogue reproduction
What We Don’t: Very little
Best For: A mid-range base that gets the job done
One of the most reliable names in soundbases is ZVOX. Their Soundbase 570 is the entry-level model in their product range, and it does itself proud. This is a soundbase that really goes out of its way to offer you as many features as possible: you get Bluetooth, a built in subwoofer, something called the PhaseCue virtual surround sound system which does a passable if not 100% convincing impersonation of a 5.1 setup, and five speakers. One of the biggest draws for this system is its accurate voice reproduction, making it ideal for people who enjoy series and movies. It also has a feature that we think should come as standard on every home theater product ever made, a button on the remote and allows you to automatically level volume, meaning no more super loud commercials. Go ZVOX. If you need an alternative, try the company’s larger models like the 670.
See the ZVOX Soundbase 570
Dimensions: 27.6" x 13"
Weight Rating: 55”
What We Like: Great looks, good sound
What We Don’t: No sub
Best For: When you need something that looks good
If you see the name Andrew Jones on any audio product, you got the winner. Jones is a legendary speaker designer, who was done some seriously good work with manufacturers like Pioneer, and now he’s lent his name to one of their soundbases: the SP-SB03. Each part of the frequency spectrum gets two discrete drivers - there are two woofers, for example and two tweeters - and each one is driven by its own amplifier. The entry level range, a soundbase really shouldn’t be this good, but it is. It has fantastic dynamics, a passable attempt at 3D audio, and although we are not sold on the idea that the elegant wood housing has a noticeable effect on the sound, it’s certainly the best looking base in this price range. The price sometimes fluctuates, but if you do see it here, go for it.
See the Pioneer SP-SB03
Footprint: 27.6” x 12.2”
Weight Rating: Unknown
What We Like: Netflix button on the remote
What We Don’t: Underpowered
Best For: Netflix watchers
At least Phillips know their target market! They’ve included a Netflix on their remote for this model, as well as one for the less popular VUDU service, allowing you direct access. Outside of that, this is a very solid entry on the list which, despite being a little underpowered, still does a very capable job. It’s got excellent Bluetooth and NFC capabilities, allowing you to easily pair it with your devices. Sound quality is just fine. It’s not going to trouble the top entries on this list, but for the specific purpose of watching Netflix, it gets the job done. Please note that we’ve seen the price fluctuate quite a bit, so don’t be afraid to wait if you think it’s a little too high.
See the Phillips HTB3525B
Dimensions: 23.9" x 14"
Weight Rating: 60 lbs
What We Like: Good bass, good Bluetooth
What We Don’t: Not the classiest sound for movies
Best For: Music
The Denon DHT-T110 isn’t all that different from the Sony (below) on the outside, or even in the price. It has a similar weight rating, similar size, and even looks similar. So why would you go for this over the model above? The sound. Not because it’s better (both models have very solid audio for their price) but because it’s far more suited to music than movies. Don’t get us wrong, explosions and dialogue still sound crisp, but this sound bar really does seem to respond well to your favourite albums. Part of this is down to its superb bass, and it’s seriously good Bluetooth streaming capabilities. The codec, which is the software program that translates the 1s and 0s, really does a good job of making sure that wireless streaming (which can sometimes be a little iffy) sounds solid.
See the Denon DHT-T110
Dimensions: 28.4" x 12.2"
Weight Rating: 66lbs
What We Like: Punchy sound
What We Don’t: A bit basic
Best For: Beginners
The Sony HTXT1 has 2.1 channels with 170 watts of sound, and can take TVs up to 66 pounds: perfect for a basic 55 Inch model. The Bluetooth connection allows you to stream music wirelessly, and although the sound lacks the crisp detail of bigger models, it’s still a vast improvement on many soundbars. The audio is punchy, clean and full, and the three down-firing subwoofers make a real difference to the low-end. Soundbases tend to be more expensive than straight soundbars, and despite its basic nature the HTXT1 still costs a shade under $200, but we think it’s worth it.
See the Sony HTXT1
|Sony HT-XT1||$299||2.9"||28.4" x 12.2"||66 lbs||Yes||170||Yes|
|Denon DHT-T110||$299||2.8"||23.9" x 14"||60 lbs||Yes||Unknown||No|
|LG LAB540 Soundplate||$219||1.4"||27.6" x 13"||55"||Yes||320||No|
|Phillips HTB3525B||$300||3.1"||27.6” x 12.2”||Unknown||Yes||80||Yes|
|Pioneer SP-SB03||$230||7.9"||32.5" x 19.2"||55"||Yes||168||No|
|ZVOX Soundbase 570||$293||3.5"||30" x 14.5"||55"||Yes||Unknown||Yes|
|Yamaha SRT-1000||$350||3"||14.6” x 30.8”||55"||Yes||136||Yes - x2|
|Cambridge Audio TV5||$399||3.9"||28.5" x 13"||66 lbs||Yes||100||Yes|
|Canton DM100||$630||2.7"||39.4" x 13"||Unknown||Yes||200||No|
|Canton DM55||$550||2.7"||21.5" x 11.8"||Unknown||Yes||200||Yes|
|Atlantic Tech. 3.1 HSB||$500||3.75"||16.75" x 35.75"||60"||Yes||150||Sort of...|
|Raumfeld Sounddeck||$1299||4.3"||28.7" x 16.1"||Unknown||No||100||Yes - x2|
*Yes, we know it's in both pounds and inches. We explain below.
- How Is A Soundbase Different To A Soundbar?
- What Is The Advantage In Buying One?
- Why Are They So Expensive?
- Weight Rating Explained
- Do I Get A Subwoofer Too?
- Any Other Terms I Need To Know?
There's a full, in-depth explanation here. Meantime, here's a TL;DR version:
A soundbar is a thin bar, designed to sit in front of your TV. A soundbase, however, is a large, flat boxes designed to function as both a speaker and as a stand for your TV. They pull double duty as both music streamers (via Bluetooth) and as home theater speakers. What they really do well is bridge the gap between soundbars and more traditional speakers. They are larger and deeper than a soundbar, and so are able to pack more and better speaker drivers inside them, but they don’t always have the raw power or detail that the larger speakers do. What they are, in essence, is an excellent mid range option, and one that is criminally overlooked.
An unfairly maligned and underrated member of the audio equipment family. Over the years, soundbases have fallen down the pecking order, eclipsed by soundbars and floorstanding speakers and full surround systems. That’s tremendously unfair, because soundbases are great.
Because they’re so underrated, it’s actually quite rare to get new sound base entries into the market, and there are comparatively fewer numbers of them out there then, say, soundbars. But if you have a medium-size room, and you’re looking to fill it with sound with a smaller soundbar might not be able to pull off, then they are worth a second look.
One of the big advantages that soundbases have is that they pack more speakers inside them. This means that they often integrate subwoofers, and can have larger overall drivers. Larger drivers don’t guarantee better sound quality, but they do guarantee more powerful sound. Obviously, the more you pay, the more this will come into play.
They’re also a viable alternative to full surround systems. If you’re looking to upgrade from a soundbar, but aren’t ready to shell out for a full 5.1 or 7.1 system, then a base could be the way to go.
It’s actually quite rare to find a soundbase for under $150. Because of their size and nature, they lend themselves to slightly more expensive construction. If you’re on a budget, that’s a downside, but if you have a little bit of cash to spend it means you could score yourself a very, very good system for a fraction of the price of a home theater set.
You’ll notice that, with no exceptions, all the models on our list come with Bluetooth. This is a great development, and one we’d like to see more of in other types of equipment. Really, what you’re paying for the more expensive models is both increased sound quality and increased weight rating. We’ll deal with the sound quality first, as the weight rating is slightly complicated.
This is, quite simply, the weight given soundbase can take from a TV on top of it. As you might have gathered if you looked at our table above, sometimes extracting this from manufacturers can be a giant pain. Some, like Sony, Denon, and Cambridge Audio, will happily give you a weight rating in pounds. Others, like ZVOX and Yamaha, specify only a maximum TV size for what you can place on top.
This is extremely annoying. The TV market is huge and varied, different TVs have different weights, and puzzles us why manufacturers don’t have a standard rating system. The easiest way to do this, quite honestly, is just to weigh your TV using a kitchen scale (or look online for the weight of your chosen) and double-check its size before you buy. Remember: it’s diagonal corner-to-corner, not straight across.
It’s not as if your soundbase is immediately going to crack and splinter down the middle if you put a TV that is slightly too heavily on top of it, but it may bend, and it’s not going to be good over time. Know how much your TV weighs what size it is, do your research, and buy a base that can actually take the weight.
In some cases, yes.
You may have come across the term woofer, which is used to refer to a speaker designed to put out low end frequencies. A subwoofer, on the other hand, is only designed to handle the extreme low end. When you hear a bass that rattles your stomach, chances are it’s a subwoofer that doing it. A base may or may not be able to do this, but for safety, many manufacturers include a subwoofer. It may be worth thinking about whether you need one - if not, you could save some cash by not ordering a base with one.
Wattage: Not actually a measure of sound. It’s a measure of electrical power, in terms of how much the speaker puts out and how loud it can go. It’s possible to get quite technical with wattage, but to give you a general idea, 120 watts is roughly 110dB in power - or the volume of someone shouting right in your ear. In other words, you may not want to push it that far, but it’s nice to know that it can go that loud.
Bluetooth: A method of wirelessly streaming audio. One of the big debates at the moment is whether it’s better at doing it than things like Wi-Fi, but for now, it’s certainly the more dominant method. What you have to do to make this work is ‘pair’ your sound device, like your phone, with your output device (your speaker). This is usually fairly simple.