We’ve tested the best speakers and soundbars – here’s our take

We've tested the best speakers and soundbars and this is our opinion

Enter the next sound wave (Image: Metro.co.uk)

We all want to hear our favorite artists (Kate Bush, anyone?) in the highest quality possible.

But with such a range of audio players available now, picking the best one can be difficult.

I tested a few well-known speaker, soundbar, and vinyl player brands to see how they perform.

And if you want to listen to music on the go, check out the best headphones, earbuds and portable players below.

speaker

My pair of trusty Sonos Ones (£199 each) offer happy sound quality. My only gripe is that I have to take the extra step of doing everything through the Sonos app over Wi-Fi since I can’t stream music directly over Bluetooth.

However, the newer Sonos Move (£349) now offers this possibility and much more. This chunkier and more powerful speaker is a portable device that sits atop a discreet charging ring.

In this mode, it’s like a larger version of its mains-connected Sonos One cousins. But it’s a different animal.

Sonos Move (£399) https://www.sonos.com/en-gb/shop/move

Sonos Move (Image: Sonos)

With a rechargeable 18Wh battery and 10 hours of playback time on a full charge, it’s easy to take to other rooms or outdoors and operate like a portable speaker. As it may not always be within Wi-Fi range, music can also be connected directly via Bluetooth.

It has a nice design with a hidden carry handle on the back and an IP56 rating, meaning it offers dust and reasonable water protection.

It’s got some serious punch on the bass front, too, and its automatic Trueplay feature means the onboard software adjusts sound output to suit the environment.

Amazon Echo Studio Smart Speaker (£190) https://www.amazon.co.uk/amazon-echo-studio-high-fidelity-smart-speaker-with-3d-audio-and-alexa

Amazon Echo Studio Smart Speaker (Image:

A more recent entry into the Amazon ecosystem might question my love for Sonos. About the size of a five-litre can of paint, the Echo Studio smart speaker (£189.99) has five multi-directional speakers hidden beneath its fabric outer skin.

Dolby Atmos-enabled, it throws different sounds into different areas in a 3D space for immersive listening.

It features auto-adaptive technology, so it analyzes the acoustics of the room it’s placed in to ensure it delivers optimal sound. It’s Alexa-enabled, and you can also pull Bluetooth content from your phone.

The luxury option

If you’re on a slightly bigger budget, the Ruark R5 Wireless Music System (£1,099) is wonderful. I’ve been looking for equipment from this British company for a long time.

Their noble and discreet products are aesthetically beautiful objects of desire. It’s no wonder they often make the transition from the tech and music press to the pages of high-end interiors magazines.

Ruark R5 Wireless Music System (£1099) https://premiumsound.co.uk/product/speakers/wireless-speakers/ruark-audio-r5-high-fidelity-music-system

Ruark R5 Wireless Music System (Image: Included)

The R5 offers all the features of most wireless speakers with support for music streaming services like Spotify, Amazon, Tidal and Deezer.

Its AptX-HD receiver also reduces the signal-to-noise ratio, meaning there’s less distortion and clearer sound when using Bluetooth connectivity.

It also offers internet radio and for old-school music fans who remember such things, a multi-format CD player. Do you remember CDs? Yes. It’s ridiculous that these are now dated.

The R5 is easy to use, looks beautiful and the sound quality, balance and texture are superb.

It’s probably the best I’ve experienced. Unfortunately, such excellence does not come cheap. But I would spend the money.

sound bars

I’m a fan of the second-gen Sonos Beam (£449). Connectivity is easy via the included HDMI cable, the Sonos app and the TV itself. It took me a full ten minutes to set it up.

For a fairly compact device that can sit comfortably in front of most TVs without interfering with the picture, it throws out an impressive 3D soundscape thanks to its Dolby Atmos capabilities.

Sonos Beam Gen 2 compact with premium sound and rich, detailed audio and featuring Sonos' acclaimed wireless multi-room system, Apple AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect so you can stream to Beam from any handheld device. £449, Sonos.com https://www.sonos.com/en-gb/shop/beam

Sonos Beam Gen 2 is easy to set up (Image: Sonos)

A cheaper option to add some extra sonic amazingness to your TV is the Polk Audio Signa S4 soundbar (£249).

A slimmer and longer offering than the Sonos Beam, this unobtrusive unit also comes with a separate wirelessly connected subwoofer.

Polk Audio Signa S4 Soundbar - (£329) https://www.polkaudio.com/en-us/product/sound-bars/signa-s4

The chic Polk Audio Signa S4 soundbar (Image: Polk)

To set up, both devices must be connected to the mains power supply and the bar connected to the TV using an HDMI cable, then ensuring that the TV is delivering the sound through the appropriate output. It’s easy.

It’s Dolby Atmos-enabled for great, immersive sound, and the subwoofer delivers rich bass. It also comes with a controller that allows users to increase either volume or bass levels and switch between different sound modes.

Polk’s VoiceAdjust also means users can expect true dialogue clarity, while Night Mode lowers the bass for late-night TV sessions. It’s a classic product.

vinyl junkies

For a man with a penchant for nostalgia, I should be a perfect candidate to become a dedicated member of the Church of the Vinyl Revival.

However, the immediacy of music transmission through wireless technology means I have no real nostalgia for such antiques, just as I don’t look back fondly on whooping cough.

However, the House Of Marley Stir It Up Turntable and Get Together Duo Speaker Set Bundle (£322.48) might take me back in time.

With a solid bamboo base and aluminum hardware, the turntable is a snazzy looking piece of kit.

House of Marley Stir it Up Turntable and Get Together Speaker Set Bundle (£230) https://www.thehouseofmarley.co.uk/stir-it-up-wireless-turntable-get-together-duo-speaker-bundle/

Vinyl sounds with a modern aesthetic (Image: House of Marley)

The arm might be a bit fiddly to balance and the anti-skating is a bit fiddly, but that’s about the only time-consuming thing to set up.

The Get Together speakers, one of which is mains powered and one rechargeable, connect easily via Bluetooth.

The turntable’s built-in preamp means users avoid the added expense of buying an amplifier, as well as the extra wiring. The turntable’s USB port also offers the ability to convert vinyl to digital files.

The sound is pretty solid and the products are made with a strong sustainability ethic.


Music to our ears: more first-class audio technology

Ultimate Ears Mega Boom 3

Ultimate Ears Mega Boom 3

Ultimate Ears Mega Boom 3 (Image: Ultimate Ears)

This cylindrical speaker with 360-degree sound is IP67 rated, so it can survive in up to one meter of water for 30 minutes and still work. Rechargeable, it can sing for up to 20 hours and has powerful bass.

Buy for £169.99 from Ultimate Ears.

Sony WH-CH510 Wireless Bluetooth Headphones

Sony WH-CH510 Wireless Bluetooth Headphones https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sony-Wh-CH510-Headphones-Hands-Free-Assistant-black

Sony WH-CH510 Wireless Bluetooth Headphones (Image: Included)

Sony’s on-ear phones don’t have the audio wow factor or the other key innovations of their pricier cousins. But with a 35-hour battery life and decent build quality, they’re a budget choice.

Buy from Amazon for £33.52.

Powerbeats Pro

dr Dre Powerbeats Pro https://www.beatsbydre.com/uk/earphones/powerbeats-pro

dr Dre Powerbeats Pro (Image: Included)

A superb pair of phones with great sound quality, rich bass, ultra-reliable Bluetooth connectivity and easy controls. Their over-ear loop design ensures they stay in place during workouts and are also sweat resistant.

Buy for £179 from Amazon.

Sonos Roam

Sonos Roam £179, sonos.com Tubular, triangular and portable, it's IP67 rated and produces big and balanced sound. It also connects directly via Bluetooth when out of Wi-Fi range. Sonos Roam (£179) https://www.sonos.com/en-gb/shop/roam

Sonos Roam (Image: Sonos)

Shaped like a Toblerone, this tubular and triangular delight is eminently portable.

It also carries an IP67 rating and produces a big, balanced sound for something as dinky. It also connects directly via Bluetooth when out of Wi-Fi range.

Buy for £179 from Sonos.

HoM Redemption ANC 2 True Wireless Earbuds

House of Marley Redemption ANC 2 True Wireless Earbuds £150 comfortable to wear with excellent sound reproduction and active noise cancellation. https://www.thehouseofmarley.co.uk/redemption-anc-2-true-wireless-earbuds/

House of Marley Redemption ANC 2 True Wireless Earbuds (Image: House of Marley)

House Of Marley’s buds are comfortable to wear and offer excellent sound reproduction and active noise cancellation. The programmable touch controls are also sleek and stylish.

Buy for £149.99 from The House Of Marley.

ThiThe article contains affiliate links. We receive a small commission for purchases made through any of these links, but this never influences our experts’ opinions. Products are tested and verified independently from commercial initiatives.

https://metro.co.uk/2022/07/16/we-tested-out-the-best-speakers-and-soundbars-heres-what-we-thought-17000794/ We've tested the best speakers and soundbars - here's our take

Justin Scacco

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