What Is Smart Soundbar?

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Watching your favorite movies and shows just isn’t the same without powerful, room-filling audio to draw you into the action.

A smart soundbar delivers an immersive cinematic experience right in your living room, with theater-quality surround sound in a slim and wireless package.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about smart soundbars – how they work, top features, popular models, setup tips, and why they’re a worthwhile upgrade for your home entertainment.

Connectivity Options Like WiFi, Bluetooth, AirPlay 2 Etc

Image showcasing the array of connectivity options like WiFi, Bluetooth, and AirPlay 2 offered by smart soundbars

Smart sound bars include various wireless connection options to stream audio from different media sources conveniently:

WiFi – Sound bars with WiFi can connect directly to your home wireless network. This allows you to play audio from online streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music etc.

WiFi also enables integration with smart home platforms, allowing voice control and wireless multi-room streaming throughout your home. You can group the sound bar with other compatible speakers in different rooms.

Bluetooth – Bluetooth connectivity on a sound bar lets you directly pair your smartphone, tablet or laptop to stream audio wirelessly.

This is useful for playing music, podcasts or audio from video streaming apps. Bluetooth pairing is quick and easy without needing a WiFi network. The range is usually 30+ feet.

AirPlay 2 – AirPlay 2 comes built-in on many higher-end sound bars. It allows one-touch streaming from Apple devices like iPhone, iPad and Mac.

You can effortlessly send audio from your iOS apps, Siri voice requests or Apple TV 4K to the sound bar in perfect sync.

Chromecast – Chromecast support enables casting from hundreds of Android apps to the sound bar. Just tap the Cast button in compatible apps on your Android phone or Google Nest devices.

This streams music, radio, podcasts and more directly from the internet to the soundbar.

Having multiple wireless protocol options provides great flexibility no matter which devices or streaming platforms you prefer.

Modern sound bars aim to cover all the popular standards for seamless whole-home audio.

Voice Assistants Built-In – Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri

Image depicting a smart soundbar setup with built-in voice assistants like Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri

One of the key features that makes a sound bar “smart” is the integration of voice assistants. Leading sound bar models include either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant built-in, allowing for convenient hands-free voice control.

With Alexa, you can use spoken commands to adjust volume, skip to the next track, switch inputs, turn the sound bar on or off, and much more.

Alexa also provides access to thousands of skills and services through your sound bar. Just speak to request music, get news updates, control smart home devices and more.

Google Assistant offers similar hands-free voice control and smart features. Change sound settings, queue up playlists, ask questions, control TV channel or source, and operate compatible smarthome devices completely hands-free.

Some higher-end sound bars also support Siri for owners of Apple devices. Using an iPhone or iPad, you can make Siri requests like changing the music or volume and have them seamlessly carried out by the sound bar.

Having an integrated voice assistant makes using and controlling your sound bar super convenient. Just use your voice to get movie theater quality sound from your smart sound bar system.

How To Control Smart Sound Bars With Apps

Image illustrating the use of a mobile app to control a smart soundbar effortlessly

In addition to touch controls on the sound bar itself or the included remote, most smart sound bars can also be controlled and customized using a companion app on your smartphone.

Brands like Bose, Sonos, Sony, Yamaha and others have iOS and Android apps that allow you to manage your sound bar from your phone.

These apps provide features like:

– Easy setup guidance for connecting and configuring your sound bar

– Detailed equalizer controls to tweak sound profile and bass/treble

– Preset modes for optimizing sound for movies, music, voice, night listening

– Volume limiting and normalization

– Add music services like Spotify Premium, Pandora, Deezer

– Group with other wireless speakers for multi-room audio

– Adjust individual speaker levels, crossover frequency when adding a subwoofer

– Enable Speech Enhancement and Night Mode

– Check for firmware updates and install them

The app often unlocks extra customization and audio tweaking that you can’t access directly through the sound bar itself.

It serves as a handy remote control while also letting you personalize your listening experience. Brands like Sonos have robust apps that allow operating a full home audio ecosystem from your phone.

Having mobile app control makes it simple to get the most out of your investment in a smart sound bar system.

Popular Models From Sonos, Bose, Polk, Yamaha, Etc

Image featuring a lineup of popular smart soundbar models from reputable brands like Sonos, Bose, Polk, and Yamaha

Many premium audio brands now offer their own take on the smart sound bar, catering to different needs and budgets. Here are some of the most popular and best-reviewed models:

Sonos Arc – The Sonos Arc is one of the top-rated premium smart sound bars available. It creates an immersive listening environment with support for Dolby Atmos 3D spatial audio

The sleek, minimalist design mounts cleanly on the wall below your TV. It includes built-in microphones for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa voice control.

As part of the Sonos system, it integrates seamlessly with other Sonos speakers throughout your home for flawless whole-home audio.

Bose Smart Soundbar 900 – From acclaimed audio brand Bose, this high-end sound bar delivers cinematic 3D sound with Dolby Atmos and HDMI eARC connectivity.

It features Bose’s proprietary PhaseGuide and PhaseReflector technology for stunning audio performance from a single bar.

Voice4Video technology keeps audio in sync with on-screen action. The Bose Smart Soundbar 900 has Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa built-in for voice commands.

Chromecast support allows streaming from phones and tablets.

Polk Command Bar – The Polk Command Bar provides a more budget-friendly smart sound bar option without sacrificing great audio quality.

The included wireless subwoofer delivers thunderous bass, while the sound bar itself offers clear vocal reproduction.

Both Alexa and Google Assistant are built-in for expansive voice control capabilities. It’s also compatible with 4K and HDR video sources.

Overall, the Polk Command Bar is a versatile Alexa/Google Assistant sound bar great for both movies and music.

Yamaha YAS-209 – Yamaha’s YAS-209 smart sound bar features dedicated tweeters for clear dialogue and high frequencies. The DTS Virtual:X technology creates immersive 3D audio with just the single bar.

For easy voice control, it works with Amazon Alexa devices using the advanced Clear Voice technology. The Yamaha YAS-209 is an affordable smart sound bar that still provides premium sound.

Sony HT-ST5000 – As Sony’s flagship Dolby Atmos sound bar, the HT-ST5000 delivers 7.1.2 channel surround sound for fully immersive movies and music.

The vertical surround engine and S-Force PRO give audio incredible height and presence. It has Chromecast built-in for tap and stream audio from a phone.

Google Assistant is also on-board for hands-free voice commands. This premium Sony sound bar turns your living room into a home theater.

These are just a few stand-out models from the most popular smart sound bar brands.

With integrated voice control, wireless streaming, companion apps and virtualized surround sound, today’s smart sound bars provide premium audio in a simple, compact design.

Tips For Setup And Getting The Most Out Of Smart Soundbars

Image demonstrating the step-by-step setup and optimization of a smart soundbar in a living room

To get the full benefit of a new smart soundbar system, here are some helpful tips for proper setup and configuration:

Positioning – Place the soundbar centered right below your TV and close to ear level when seated. Angle it slightly towards the main seating area.

Allow at least 2-3 inches of clearance from the wall for best acoustic performance. For a sound bar and subwoofer, position the sub at the front corner of the room for optimal bass.

TV Connection – Use the best audio connection available from your TV – HDMI ARC, optical, analog RCA, etc. HDMI ARC allows uncompressed audio pass-through for the highest quality sound.

Make sure CEC is enabled on both TV and soundbar so you can control volume directly with the soundbar remote.

Surround Speakers – To create true surround sound, add compatible wireless rear speakers and subwoofer.

Position surround speakers to the sides or rear of seating at ear level. Follow manufacturer instructions to wirelessly pair the speakers with the sound bar.

Calibration – Run automatic audio calibration and tuning to optimize the sound for your room. Manually adjust settings like bass, treble, EQ presets and volume levels based on your preferences.

Enable night mode or volume leveling for late night TV viewing.

Streaming Setup – Connect the sound bar to your WiFi home network. Link streaming music services like Spotify or Apple Music through the mobile app for wireless music playback.

For Alexa/Google Assistant, complete device setup in the app to enable all voice control features.

CEC and ARC – Ensure HDMI-CEC is enabled on both soundbar and TV. Use HDMI ARC connection between them for best quality audio from TV apps and sources. This avoids needing an optical audio cable for TV audio.

Updates – Check for firmware updates in the sound bar’s app periodically. Keeping it updated ensures compatibility and allows new features and services.

Following proper setup guidance optimizes the sound bar for your space. Adjust audio settings and streaming options for the content types you most often watch and listen to.

With some personalization, a smart sound bar massively upgrades both your TV show and music listening experiences.

Conclusion

Investing in a smart soundbar can truly enhance your home entertainment experience.

With their slim profiles and ingenious wireless connectivity, smart soundbars deliver theater-quality audio in an accessible and user-friendly package.

Whether you opt for a premium model with 3D surround sound, or a more affordable option for clear vocals, a soundbar makes watching TV and movies far more immersive.

Paired with a compatible subwoofer, you can enjoy floor-shaking bass without massive speakers. And built-in voice assistants afford unmatched hands-free convenience.

Following proper setup best practices enables you to customize a smart soundbar to perfectly suit your space and needs.

Once tuned to your listening preferences, a smart soundbar fills your living room with phenomenal cinematic sound.

Dominic

Dominic is the chief editor of the Burton Acoustix blog which writes about acoustics and soundproofing to help readers with their queries and questions they might have with regard to improving any sound or noise issues that they faced in their life.