How to choose a soundbar for your space

Friends sitting on couch, eating popcorn, and watching scary movie with Smart Soundbar Ultra

Thinking about adding a wireless soundbar to your TV setup? Maybe you bought a fancy new flat screen only to discover its built-in TV speakers deliver subpar sound, or maybe you want to take the first step toward a wireless surround sound system in your home theatre.

No matter the motivation, a high-quality soundbar can truly enhance your entertainment setup. Whether you're watching TV, streaming movies, cheering on your favourite sports team, or just jamming out to your favourite tunes, it’s a game-changer.

But here’s the catch — you need to choose the right soundbar for your space. That means considering factors like room type, size, layout, soundbar features, and mounting options. But before that, you need to get a handle on what a soundbar is and how it works. Here's your guide to answering those important questions and finding the perfect soundbar for your entertainment space.

Match soundbar size to room

One of the biggest decisions you'll need to make when buying a soundbar is the right size for your setup. While it can be tempting to just buy the largest soundbar available, it may overwhelm a small space, creating the opposite of the immersive experience you’re craving. On the flip side, a small soundbar may not be able to provide enough power and projection in a large, open area.

Many buying guides will tell you to simply select a soundbar size based on the width of your TV. While that’s a good start, there’s more to consider. You'll want to look at the size of the room, the surfaces that might reflect sound, the number of speakers and channels in the soundbar, and supported audio formats. These factors will help you choose the perfect fit for your needs.

Go big for large entertainment spaces

If you have a spacious home theatre or a living room that's part of an open floor plan with high ceilings, you're going to need a powerful soundbar for full audio immersion. In rooms that span 500 square feet or more, it's easy for soundwaves to get lost, especially if your soundbar only has a few speakers. There's also the issue of reflective surfaces to take into account. Spaces with large windows, blank stretches of wall, and uncovered floors offer lots of area for sound waves to bounce off, making it harder to achieve crisp, clear audio.

For rooms like this, you need a big soundbar, ideally paired with other speakers to create a full home theatre system. The Smart Ultra Soundbar is the largest Bose model available — and the most powerful. It's just over 41 inches (1 metre) wide, making it roughly the same width as a 50-inch (1.3 metre) TV. With nine speakers and two upward-firing dipole transducers, it effortlessly directs multidirectional sound throughout your space. This makes it seem like audio is coming from places where there are no physical speakers, essentially giving you a surround sound experience.

This 5.0.2-channel soundbar supports Dolby Atmos, and it can easily be paired with subwoofers to add extra bass and immerse you in audio. The Smart Ultra Soundbar also offers ADAPTiQ audio calibration technology, which analyzes the space and fine-tunes the signals to fit it even more precisely.

Guy sitting on couch in living room watching a movie with Smart Soundbar 600 and Bass Module 500

Find balance in mid-sized living spaces

In the US, the average living room size is around 340 square feet (104 square metres) with 9-foot (2.7 metre) ceilings. In a room this size, you likely have a carpet or rug, curtains, and art on the walls to make it feel cozier. With fewer sound-reflecting surfaces, a midsize soundbar can do wonders in delivering high-quality audio in these spaces.

Consider the Bose Smart Soundbar 600. It shares many of the same features with the Smart Ultra Soundbar, but its size and power are dialed back to be better suited for more midsized entertainment areas. At just over 27 inches (69 cm) wide, it’s a compact powerhouse. Five transducers, including two upward-firing speakers, ensure sound is evenly distributed for an immersive listening experience. Plus, it still offers Dolby Atmos® support. And the beauty behind Bose audio equipment is the connectivity, so you can pair your Smart Soundbar 600 with surround sound speakers to up the volume and bring your home theatre to life.

Stay simple for smaller rooms

In a small bedroom or office space where you want better audio but don't necessarily want to splurge on an expensive soundbar, the Bose TV Speaker is just what you’re looking for. It delivers powerful performance at an affordable price. These spaces are usually 200 square feet or less, and they're filled with plush, sound-absorbing materials like bedding and rugs that prevent soundwaves from bouncing around the room. This means a smaller soundbar with a few speakers will work just fine.

The Bose TV Speaker is one of the most compact options, at just 23.4 inches (59.4 cm) wide. It’s straightforward, without high-tech features like Dolby Atmos or built-in smart assistants. The 2.0-channel speaker is designed to enhance TV sound in smaller spaces, providing clear, balanced, and natural audio that's significantly better than what built-in TV speakers can offer. It's simple to set up and can stream content wirelessly via Bluetooth®, but it does require a cable if you want to add a subwoofer to the setup. However, if you're using it in a small room, the speaker's bass should be more than sufficient.

White Smart Soundbar 900 resting in front of TV on center console in living room with Bass Module 700 sitting on floor

Where to place a soundbar

Choosing the perfect wireless soundbar is only part of the equation. Positioning it correctly is equally important for the best audio experience. Whether you’re wall-mounting or placing it on a table or console, consider a few key factors.

  • Keep your soundbar at ear level. When installing your soundbar, it's best to keep the speaker at the same height as your ears when seated. This ensures the audio has a clear path to the listening area for the best sound quality.
  • Leave a gap between the soundbar and TV. While soundbars should be placed underneath your TV screen, you don't want the two devices to be too close together. If there's little to no vertical gap between your soundbar and TV, the speaker cabinet may block the TV's IR sensor, which receives signals from the remote control.

  • Avoid recessing your soundbar. It might be tempting to tuck your soundbar away, but doing so can interfere with its performance. The Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar and 600 both have upward-firing speakers that won’t work as intended if the unit is recessed.

  • Keep the soundbar stable. Whether you're mounting the soundbar to the wall or placing it on a table, it's important that it's secure and won't wiggle around during use. If the speakers are moving while playing audio, it can affect the overall sound quality.

The right soundbar for the right room

Pairing a soundbar with your room is like finding that perfect wine to go with your favourite cheese — they bring out the best in each other. So, when it comes to choosing a soundbar, look beyond the fancy features and focus on the fit. The difference will be clear the moment you switch it on, enveloping you in a new world of audio excellence.