Which Sound Bar Speaker System Is Right for You?

The new ultra-thin televisions may have remarkable pictures, but their acoustics are as flat as their screens. These high-end speaker systems will change that.

Pictured top to bottom

1. Definitive Technology SoloCinema XTR
Six drivers and three tweeters—usually found in high-end standing speakers—pack high-performance sound into a thin aluminum body, and a patented technology gives the impression of five-speaker surround sound with just one slim wireless subwoofer. $2,000;

2. LG Sound Bar with smart TV
If you don't have a smart TV, this sound bar fills the gap with Web-streaming services like Netflix. A separate wireless subwoofer adds up to a combined 300 watts of sound that's surprisingly rich for a modestly priced, 2.1-channel system. $400;

3. Philips Fidelio soundbar htl7180
Bridging the gap between old and new, battery-powered rear speakers can be detached from either end of the curved black bar to create a true surround system. Plus, an internal sensor optimizes the audio for music or video, and Bluetooth capability means you can stream your tunes from any wireless device. $600;

4. Samsung HW-F750
For retro-stereo lovers, Samsung's latest features a vacuum-tube preamp, visible through a small window on the unit, that creates a natural, analog sound—and adds an intriguing visual accent. There's also a hidden digital amplifier and a separate wireless subwoofer. $800;

5. Sonos PlayBar
The wireless-audio leader took two and a half years to develop a sound bar, and for good reason: The PlayBar produces a very convincing virtual surround sound to complement your TV and integrates with other Sonos units to stream audio from anywhere in your home. $700;

—Tobey Grumet

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Photo by Justin Fantl
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