With a 4K TV in your room, you’re assured of excellent image-quality and near-reality pictures. But to get the maximum home entertainment experience from your 4K TV, you’d need to pair it with a top-notch audio source, since the built-in speakers won’t just cut it.
And that’s where soundbars come in.
Now, since you use a 4K TV, your best bet is a soundbar that works perfectly with your TV without causing any distortion to sound and video. Not all soundbars tick that big checkbox. But thankfully, the market now abounds with “4K soundbars” that come with the 4K Pass-through feature, which allows for the passage of TV video signals without any loss in quality.
Best 4K Soundbars (4K Pass-through Enabled Soundbars): Our Top 6 Picks
We understand that choosing the right 4K soundbar might be a challenge for those who are not really in the know. And that’s why we took our time to scour the market and compared several soundbar models with the video pass-through feature. Then we carefully selected the best ones in terms of performance, features, design, brand reputation, and buyer reviews. Read on to learn more about our top picks.
1. Samsung HW-Q80R
The HW-Q80R is one of the latest releases from Samsung’s California-based audio lab and it offers rich, detailed and immersive sound. Developed in conjunction with its Harman Kardon subsidiary to keep up with the Korean giant’s 2019 QLED TVs, this new model offers eight custom-designed drivers, a dedicated wireless subwoofer and tons of features.
The Samsung HW-Q80R takes its design cues from last year’s HW-N650, sporting a slim and stylish style that’s attractive in a way that doesn’t draw attention. With a low form factor that’s only 59mm high, it is easy to slip it in front of your TV without blocking your screen but you could always wall mount it if you wish.
The main unit features a metal grille that covers the front and the top face, while the usual three-letter scrolling display sits on the far front-right of the soundbar. The LED display lights up when you use the controls, and provides basic information about the modes that are in use. Just beside it is the set of buttons for basic controls such as power, input selection, and volume.
The connections are located in a recessed area on the underside of the soundbar and here you will find an optical digital audio input, an HDMI input, and an HDMI output with ARC that supports HDR, 4K pass-through, HDCP 2.2 and other dynamic range formats.
You will also get a USB port and a connector for the AC power adaptor as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support. It also comes with a remote, which is no different from the ones that Samsung has shipped with other models.
There are four sound modes: Standard, Surround, Game Pro and Adaptive Sound. The Standard mode leaves the audio as it was encoded while the Surround mode delivers a greater sense of engagement to TV dramas and movies.
The Game Pro mode, on the other hand, is designed to immerse you in the game while the Adaptive Sound mode, which is new, analyses the content that is being played and adjusts the balance and the volume of the soundbar to fit accordingly.
Another interesting feature is the bar’s compatibility with Samsung’s SmartThings app, which you can use to easily set up the soundbar. The app works with Amazon’s Alexa while also providing access to Spotify connect. . But the absence of support for Chromecast and Apple’s Airplay as well as the company’s Bixby is disappointing.
Coming to the sound quality department, the HW-Q80R delivers an immersive audio performance that’s excellent, with a big and robust soundstage at the front of the room.
One of the first things you’d likely notice is Harman Kardon’s contribution as it gives the soundbar a more musical nature that delivers crystal clear sounds where the mids are recessed and the highs are more prominent. It also puts up a strong performance for movie playback as the bar does a nice job of putting you in the action, with clattering debris particles sounding distinct but not too harsh, plus a deep bass layered beneath.
The performance isn’t any different for games as it delivers sounds to make you feel like you’re in the world of the game. Overall, the soundbar is ideal for those who want clear, impactful sounds without having to deal with a load of extra cables and wires.
- Big, immersive soundstage
- Great with movies and games
- Solid build
- Simple to set up
- Well-integrated subwoofer
- Limited connections
- Only one HDMI input
- Doesn’t play surround content
- Pricey (worth it, though)
2. Sony HT-X9000F
Sony has always been a key player in the world of consumer electronics and the release of the HT-X9000F further cements their participation and dominance in the sound equipment market. Like every other soundbar, the purpose of this product is to get more sound out of TVs with poor speakers and the HT-X9000F plays this role effortlessly. Among other interesting features, this soundbar supports Dolby Atmos and 4K streaming.
The HT-X9000F was obviously made to be a companion to the premium BRAVIA X900F, which is a 4K HDR Android Smart TV. While it has some differences in terms of design, it’s also apparent that the soundbar draws inspiration from the TV, giving it a similar elegant look and premium feel.
With a width of just over 2.3 inches, this soundbar will sit comfortably under any TV while its low center of gravity gives it a firmness that is crucial so the soundbar won’t be knocked over. The subwoofer is quite bulky since its dimensions are 15 x 7 X 15 inches but this shouldn’t be a problem as you can mount it to a wall if you don’t want it beneath your TV.
As per connectivity, the ports are minimal just like many other soundbars around the price point. For inputs, you will get a single HDMI socket and a matching HDMI output socket for connecting to your TV. There’s also an optical audio input, a 3.5mm stereo analog jack, and a USB port for playing music on memory sticks. You will also get a short HDMI cable in the package, which is 4K:60p rated. Being a complete 2.1 channel, the bar is accompanied by its own separate subwoofer, which uses a forward-firing driver that’s around 130mm in diameter.
Flowing with the trend, the HT-X9000F does ship with a remote even though you can also use the controller app on your Android device or iPhone. The soundbar offers five key pre-set listening modes to produce sounds optimized for your media experiences.
The first mode is the cinema mode which creates an immersive, three-dimensional sound to manage the varying output of a movie effectively. Then, there’s the music mode that’s designed to provide clarity of sound as well as minute details so you can appreciate your music.
The game mode is not built for distinct clarity like other modes; on the contrary, it’s designed to keep you immersed in the game by giving a sense of distance and motion. The news mode gives clarity to the voice over the sound effects while the sports mode also offers an immersive experience by boosting the ambient crowd noise without drowning the voices. In all, the HT-9000F has many modes that will suit the experience of all listeners.
The HT-9000F provides strong bass reproductions that will give you mesmerizing soundscapes. The soundbar easily compares with Sony’s Flagship, the HT-Z9F, due to its excellent sound quality even though their virtual surround sound capabilities are not the same.
But don’t be disappointed if the volume levels are not as high as you’d want since there are only two small oval speakers doing all the work. Nevertheless, the sound is quite loud enough to fill a large living room.
- Decent sound
- Easy setup
- On-screen menu
- Excellent value for money
- Compatibility issues
- Doesn’t support all types of USB devices
- Can’t create a multi-room wireless connection
3. Yamaha YAS-207BL
The YAS-207BL is a five-star soundbar from Yamaha’s impressive stable, packing in solid audio quality at a crazy-low price. It is a compelling, class-leading entertainer, representing Yamaha’s attempt to create an immersive ‘virtual’ sound by using the DTS Virtual:X 3D audio technology. With tons of features including 4K support and the surround-sound mode, you will hardly miss having separate surround-sound speakers.
Soundbars from Yamaha have never made stylish designs a priority, and it’s hard to blame the brand since soundbars are made to be heard and not seen. Things are a little different with the YAS-207 though as it has a sleek and slim design that can sit under your TV away from sight. It has a rounded form factor topped with slick vinyl and wrapped in a taut acoustic mesh which is quite impressive. Easy-access touch controls and a display system of LEDs sit on the front of the panel to show the active input and sound modes.
Also in the package is a pair of power cables, an optical audio cable and a remote with a battery. The remote allows for volume and subwoofer level adjustments, play/pause controls, and so on. The external subwoofer is a lot less noticeable due to its slimness and its positioning is less critical.
On the back, there’re ports for HDMI and optical inputs as well as 3.5mm analog jack and Bluetooth connection for music streaming from your phone. It has only one HDMI input, which means you may need to add an HDMI switcher if you have more than one video source. The HDMI socket enables 4k and HDR pass-through.
The biggest selling point of the YAS-207 is DTS Virtual:X, a technology that analyzes an incoming audio signal and uses the speakers to simulate a 3D sound stage, including creating virtual speakers where none exists.
Furthermore, you can enhance dialogue by pressing the “Clear Voice” button on the remote. The remote is big and has easy-to-use buttons that let you carry out any function you may want. Alternatively, you can also use the free HT controller app to control the bar.
The soundbar also has several sound modes including 3D surround, movie, music, and stereo while there are other features like Clear Voice to boost dialogue and Bass Extension to accentuate the low end.
If you’ve used a soundbar from Yamaha before, you will agree that they deliver high performance at a crazy low price. The YAS-207 gives off rich, powerful bass that defies its physical proportions, proving to be immersive and enveloping.
When it comes to movies, the soundbar produces distinct sounds that clearly capture the background details and dialogue in spite of the noise. The performance is also sweet during music playback as the rich, powerful bass can be heard. It has a precision that unearths the finest details of minute effects and makes it crystal clear, drawing you deeper in. In all, the sonic performance is stellar.
- Sleek and slim design
- Rich, powerful bass
- Clear, detailed highs
- Lots of features
- 4K support
- Fair price point
- Only HDMI input
- Weak music playback
4. Vizio SB3821-C6
Vizio has been at the forefront of making affordable audio equipment and the SB3821-C6 joins the company’s line of soundbars. Likes its predecessors, it offers great value for money and can help turn your TV set into a home theatre entertainment system.
Vizio soundbars have always adopted a minimalist design and the SB3821-C6 doesn’t deviate from that tradition. The entire soundbar is rapped on all sides in black fabric, with the exception of the edges that are made of brushed, aluminum panels with the logo of the brand on them, which gives some contrast. The same applies to the wireless subwoofer as well.
Because of its compact design and reserved looks, the soundbar can fit underneath your TV without drawing attention away from the screen. Its body dimensions of 38 x 3 x 3 inches, makes it possible for it to fit in any spot you place it.
On the back of the main unit, you will find the following connectivity options: USB, 3.5mm, stereo RCA, subwoofer output, digital optical, and coaxial inputs. You will find the RAC-to-3.5mm, digital optical, and digital coaxial cables in the package.
The soundbar also comes with Bluetooth so you can wirelessly stream audio from your mobile devices with a tap of your finger from anywhere in the room. Also in the package is the wireless subwoofer and remote, which has a range of approximately 60 feet – a line of sight from the soundbar.
Audiophiles will love this soundbar as it comes with deep bass technology that enhances the delivery of room-filling sound with added bass even without a separate subwoofer. It also comes with Dolby Digital surround sound which is the audio standard for cinema, broadcast, DVD, and Blu-ray, providing dramatic spatial dimension to soundtracks. With DTS TruVolume, you just have to set the volume once and then sit back to enjoy a consistent and comfortable volume level for a more enjoyable multimedia experience.
Any soundbar can have a great design but the performance is what counts most. The SB3820-C6 delivers great sound but what it does great the most is the midrange response, which is where a lot of dialogues in movies are found. What this means is that you will get clear and lively voice reproduction even with the background noise.
When used for movie playback, the quality is also decent; you can expect to enjoy 100dB of room-filling, crystal clear sound with less than 1% total harmonic distortion. Overall, the sound quality might not wow you but it does perform well based on its price point.
- Rich, bass system
- Small and compact build
- Good sound for the money
- Not the best quality control
- Wireless subwoofer connection range is too short
5. SoundCore Infiniti Pro
Made by Amazon-native brand, Anker, SoundCore Infiniti Pro is the latest addition to the Infiniti series and it boasts all the features you want from a budget soundbar including a straightforward setup and great bass response.
The Infiniti Pro comes in a minimalist style, with no defining characteristics to break up its matte black body except for the inputs on the recessed area of the bar. At a little over three feet wide and 4.55 inches deep, the bar is bigger than many in its price range and fits well with 45 – 55 inches TVs, though it might get dwarfed by larger ones.
The controls are positioned on top of the unit and the buttons are for power, volume, and input selection. It also comes with LED indicators for the status of the bar when it’s in use.
In terms of connectivity, the Infiniti Pro features one HDMI input, one HDMI ARC output, digital optical, 3.5mm audio jack and Bluetooth. The soundbar supports 4K HDR and Dolby Vision pass-through. It is all-in-one sound equipment without the need for a subwoofer. What you’d get alongside the equipment is its bundled remote, which offers controls but you can use also use the free app for iOS and Android to interact with the unit.
The soundbar supports Dolby Atmos, the surround sound technology that makes the sounds seem like it’s coming from all around you. It also comes with three modes: music, movies and voice modes, each of which delivers a unique sound output.
The movie mode enhances dialogue so you can hear every word while boosting low-end frequencies. In the music mode, the soundbar gives a greater sense of depth and provides a more immersive soundstage. Activating the voice mode will make voices clearer so you can enjoy TV shows, news and more.
For a mid-range soundbar, the Infiniti Pro had no issues reproducing the convincing cinema sound; a feat that outclasses other competing soundbars. It delivers a punchy audio output, especially in surround-sound settings so you can get into the world of the movie you’re watching.
While the bar struggles to deliver a fully immersive experience, you will still get deep bass and a great overall sound. Its delivery for music playback also has a noticeable flaw as the sound gets cranky when too high and this happens only for a few seconds before everything returns to normal. In all, the Infiniti Pro is loud and has a great bass response but its performance isn’t entirely flawless.
- Sleek, intuitive design
- Super-simple setup
- Great, powerful sound
- Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity
- Limited Dolby Atmos
- No digital assistant integration
6. JBL Bar 5.1
The JBL Bar5.1 is an incredible choice for those who want to upgrade their TV’s sound quality without parting with a fortune. Sporting an attractive design and an impressive set of features, the soundbar is particularly suitable for movie lovers who have a shortage of space as it knocks out powerful sounds to make your movie nights perfect.
Much like its predecessors, the JBL Bar 5.1 is simply elegant as it takes on a style similar to its predecessors. From its curved edges rounding off a sleek, low profile to its drilled black, gray metal body, the bar is almost decorative yet non-distracting. The bar itself is 58mm tall and can comfortably sit beneath most TVs without blocking the lower part of the screen.
The body of the soundbar is wrapped in a perforated mesh and disguises a small display that sits underneath, which is situated close to the brand’s logo that’s on the right side. Basic controls can be found on the top of the soundbar and they include power, volume, and source selection.
On the rear, there are a number of inputs for connectivity including three HDMI ports, one USB, one UAS, and one optical port. The soundbar also has separate tweeters, which you can remove from the main body of the soundbar.
The subwoofer that accompanies the main unit is reassuringly large and heavy with a black matte finish. As for the remote, it feels light, plasticky and – frankly – cheap. Nevertheless, it works fine and has very few buttons that still offers everything you could want.
The JBL has many attractive selling points but one of the biggest of them is all its 4K connectivity. With 3 HDMI inputs, you can easily connect all your 4K devices and upgrade your home’s entertainment to Ultra HD. Even more, the bar can transform between a 2.1 and 5.1 sound system while getting up to 510W of power so you can enjoy a room-shaking experience at your fingertips. It also has two detachable battery-powered speakers that can churn out 10 hours of playtime.
Going further, the speakers can go into a 5.1 mode when you connect to Bluetooth – you don’t have to do anything because the system reacts quickly and automatically. You can also pair the bar to a device using the remote so you can swap backward and forward between a wired and Bluetooth connection. This feature is called SoundShift. Overall, the soundbar is easy to set up and you can even control it using many of today’s top remotes.
When it comes to pumping your room full of sounds, the JBL Bar 5.1 doesn’t hold back, thanks to the 510W of power available to you. While the soundbar is great for music, it is particularly designed for one specific audience: movie fans.
The bass capabilities and sharp trebles mean you get dramatic sounds that are crystal clear and room-shaking. The seeming weakness is that you might face some difficulty getting balance at lower levels, but you can fix this by switching to the voice mode during use. Nonetheless, the bar also puts up a decent performance for music playback as it delivers loud, clear and bassy musical production even though it lacks depth. Overall, this sound system is capable of producing immersive sounds that make action movies more intense and dramatic.
- Easy to set up and use
- Attractive design
- Strong powerful bass
- Multi-beam audio
- Wireless battery-powered speakers
- Lack of EQ settings
- Quiet listening performance lacking
- The intelligent switching isn’t swift
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