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Sound Bars for 2016 - Upgrade the Sound on your TV


Soundbars have grown in popularity over the years peaking in 2014 and holding steady in popularity in 2016 according to google trends. They offer an easy to set up addition to your flat screen TV as a usually much needed sound upgrade.

Even the best TV sets have only mediocre sound quality. If you're going to watch a 55-60" TV you might as well get the big sound to go with it and a sound bar is a low effort way to get there.

One of the annoyances to me was the necessity of a second remote to control the soundbar in addition to the TV or cable box. One really easy way around this problem is to purchase the sound bar from your TV manufacturer. The good news is the top TV brands, Vizio, Samsung, Sony and LG all have great sound bars to go with their TV's. Usually they seamlessly hook up to the TV in a way that allows relatively seamless connectivity between the soundbar and the TV or cable remote.

Below is a list of some favorite 3.1 soundbars found on Amazon with Prime shipping. All around $300 at this writing. Note, Sony does not make a 3.1 soundbar so we did not include one here.

The Vizio SB4031 D5 is a 40" soundbar with no subwoofer. I like that the TV sits on the base speaker so there is no need to locate a sub somewhere in your room.

Besides being a true 3.1 (has a center channel for voices) it works with Vizio's app for easy control

 The Samsung HW-K550 3.1 Channel 340 Watt Wireless Audio Soundbar is another true 3.1 system. It does have a separate sub that can be placed in a corner or almost anywhere out of the way. The sub is wireless so all you'll need is a plug.

The LG 320W 4.1 is a weird duck. The reviews are great but it's neither a 3.1 in the true sense of the word or a 4.1 as it claims. It does have 4 speakers in the bar itself and a sub (the .1 part) but they consist of left, right and two surrounds that are in the bar itself. This makes for an awkward situation. The extra speakers being IN the bar don't make for the ultimate surround experience but hey, like I said, the reviews are good. Have this one? Leave a comment.

Thanks for reading and if you want to support our efforts by purchasing a product you saw on this site we get a small commission, so thanks. If not no worries, we love writing about this stuff.  TSG.

What Type of Material is Best for Speaker Cabinets?


Speaker cabinets can be made out of many different types of materials.

Wood, MDF, HDF, Plastic, Composites and even metal speakers. Most speaker cabinets are made out of MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) or wood. You might think that wood cabinets would be superior to MDF cabinets but it is often not the case.


MDF if made correctly is often stronger and more stable than wood and can be more inexpensively finished with beautiful wood veneers. This means you have a greater choice of looks and finishes since a cherry veneer is far cheaper than a solid cherry speaker.

Because MDF is easier for manufacturers to work with and more cost effective, it allows speaker companies to deliver a more affordable product to your average consumer. This is not to say that solid wood cabinets are a bad thing, just that there is often no advantage to using it in speaker design.

Sound differences

Solid wood will also color the sound. Just like you can purchase acoustic guitars with different types of wood tops that offer varying colorations, wood will change the sound of the speaker.

MDF will also be more resistant to changes in temperature and moisture, offering a more stable sound over time.

As for other materials, plastic and metal, I'd personally shy away from these outside of small blutetooth speakers.

4 Good Bookshelf Speaker Values in 2016

Considerations in purchasing a bookshelf speaker 

Here is a list of common sense things to keep in mind when purchasing a bookshelf speaker.

  1. Where am I putting it? Will it fit? Too many times I've eyeballed something and thought, yeah that will fit. Then, ah, no. Make sure it will fit.
  2. Front port, back port, no port. No matter where the port is on your bookshelf speaker, or even if there is none you'll want to leave at least an inch behind it free. Don't put a speaker flush against a wall or back of a bookshelf.
  3. What type of music do you listen too? If it's bass heavy, then consider a 6" woofer. If not you can get a 5 1/4" or even 4". Yes, the 3/4 of an inch can make a difference as well as where you place your speaker to get more bass.

OK those are just the basics. For more on choosing a good bookshelf see the link at the end of the article.

Enough already, here are my choices for best value bookshelf speakers in 2016.

Polk Audio RTI A1 Bookshelf Speakers

I've always been partial to Polk and Boston Acoustics speakers. They offer a smooth, evenly balanced sound without any harsh highs and reasonable amounts of even, non-boomy bass. There is a reason these get 5 Stars on Amazon. They really do rock. Sold as a Pair. $199

NHT SuperOne 2.1 Bookshelf Speaker

Full disclosure. A friend of mine was once involved with NHT but that does not color my recommendation. These speakers are wonderful. With a kick-ass 6.5-inch long throw pulp cone woofer and a 1" silk dome tweeter housed in a tight, nicely fashioned cabinet that screams quality. Oh, and they sound sweet. Another 5 Star choice but with a slightly higher price at $350 per pair.

Fluance SX6-BK High Definition

Fluance Bookshelf Speaker
This is my "value" pick. If you don't have a lot of cash, the Fluance is a great choice. Despite what the name might suggest, these are really 5" woofers. Not that this stops these speakers from an online only retailer from sounding great. They are easily worth 3X what you're paying. We purchased these to test against TSC speakers and they really sounded great. Only 4.5 starts (only!) but you can't go wrong at $129.00 a pair

Pioneer SP-BS22A-LR Andrew Jones Designed 

Even without the fancy Dolby Atmos top facing drivers these bookshelf speakers sport, they may be the cream of this crop. They allow fit nicely in afull surround sound system or will sound spectacular all on their own. Honestly, you could pay more for an Atmos bookshelf speaker but 4.5 star reviews will tell it all. $299 a pairSee them here.

That's all for these four but other considerations for top selling bookshelf speakers would be Boston Acoustics, Klipsch and JBL. Also read How to Choose a Bookshelf Speaker.

Note: Buy clicking on the links in this article you we may receive a small commission which will help me buy coffee to get us out of bed to write more articles like this. Thanks and happy listening. 

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