Slim is in, especially when it comes to TVs. No matter what your budget, you can get a feature-rich, slim, LED TV that suits your whim. Although these sleek TVs come with high-resolution panels and a host of connectivity options, the sound quality leaves a lot to be desired - there is little or no room for a decent speaker to be fitted in. Can't have everything, right? But those of you who take sound quality seriously, this is hardly a worry. Audio equipment manufacturers are offering soundbars, that enhance the audio performance of TVs, are unobtrusive and aesthetically designed. They can be mounted on the wall or be placed on a cabinet below the TV.
The Indian market, which is flooded with affordable LED TVs from brands such as Xiaomi, VU, TCL and Sanyo, is an attractive market for soundbars. Santosh Varghese, General Manager, Toshiba Gulf FZE, says that India's audio market is poised to reach the billion-dollar mark by 2020; a sizeable portion of this will come from soundbars due to the increasing adoption of LED TVs.
We give you a glimpse of some of the finest soundbars in the market.
JBL, a sought-after name in the audio equipment space, offers a range of soundbars starting from Rs 9,999 to Rs 50,000. The JBL Bar Studio 2.0 Channel Soundbar, the most affordable of the lot, is a sleek, all-in-one soundbar with one woofer and two tweeters. It can be paired with the TV over Bluetooth or connected using an HDMI cable. With surround sound, double bass ports and a maximum power of 30W, this offers a pretty immersive experience. You can use the physical controls, the speaker remote or select the TV remote to control the soundbar.
Toshiba's TY-SBX210 soundbar is a 2.0 channel soundbar that offers 50W of clear sound output. It offers wired and wireless connectivity; supports Optical Input, HDMI Input and 3.5-mm Aux-in ports. Priced at `11,799, it comes with three equaliser presets for movies, news and music that adjust and balance the sound frequency to suit your needs. There is also SBX1000, priced at `14,899, which is a 2.1 system featuring powerful speakers and built-in subwoofer, delivering a total power of 60W. This, too, supports the connectivity options mentioned above, and supports Bluetooth 3.0 with upto 10-metre range.
A more affordable option is the Philips HTL1031/94, priced at `10,000. It comes with a 2.1 channel wired subwoofer, offering a sound output of 30W. This isn't a wireless soundbar; it needs to be connected to the TV using the Aux-In port. It also has a fixed FM antenna and USB support (upto 16 GB).
For those looking for an extravagantly immersive sound experience, and willing to spend more, the Yamaha YAS-107 soundbar for `19,500 is an option worth considering. This is an ultra-slim soundbar that can connect to the TV over Bluetooth and comes with a built-in subwoofer offering 120W of sound output. One can also attach a subwoofer using a cable. If the TV it is being plugged into is compatible with HDMI-CEC, the soundbar can be controlled using the TV remote as well. The Home Theater Controller app that allows selecting the input selection, surround mode and sound adjustment, is an added advantage.
Over time, consumers can expect many more offerings in this space. The soundbar market, Zion Market Research states, is growing at a CAGR of 10.6 per cent. "Wireless technologies, such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, have boosted the demand of this segment of audio gadgets," says Sumit Chauhan, VP and General Manager, Lifestyle Consumer Audio, Harman India.