The Best Soundbar With 4k Passthrough For 2023

Harlan Ellison By, Harlan Ellison
Updated
Polk Audio Signa S2 Ultra-Slim TV Sound Bar
Image credit: Amazon.com

Soundbars are all-in-one speaker systems that deliver high-quality sound without imposing excessive space or complexity requirements. A soundbar also eliminates the requirement for a home theater and a complex surround sound speaker system. 

It can be difficult to determine which soundbar is ideal for you. There's a soundbar for everyone, whether you want to build the home theater system of your dreams or just want a more reliable audio source to go with your TV at a reasonable price. 

Soundbars are, for the most part, necessary additions to modern televisions. Because the bulk of today's newest and greatest TVs are extremely small, there is less area for built-in speakers. If you're looking for a soundbar alternative, take a look at our pick of the best soundbar with 4k passthrough for a truly cinematic audio experience.

Our Top Picks

TOP Choice #1 Polk Audio Signa S2 Ultra-Slim TV Sound Bar
Our Score:
9.8
Polk Audio

WIRELESSLY STREAM MUSIC from your favorite streaming apps like Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn, and others directly from your smartphone, tablet or other compatible device through the built-in Bluetooth technology

EXCELLENT SOUND AND VALUE on par with any mid- to high-range sound bars available in the market. At just over 2" tall, it fits most spaces — easily wall-mount it or place in front of your TV. It won’t block your TV’s bottom edge or IR remote sensor

A PREMIUM ULTRA-SLIM SOUND BAR WITH INCLUDED WIRELESS SUBWOOFER – 5 powerful full-range drivers deliver BEAUTFUL RICH SOUND WITH DEEP BASS. POLK’S EXCLUSIVE VOICE ADJUST TECHNOLOGY & Dolby Digital Decoding maximizes sound clarity & reduces voice delays

UPGRADE YOUR HOME THEATER EXPERIENCE – Watch your favorite shows on your 4K HD Smart TV with exceptional picture quality & crystal clear sound. With numerous connection possibilities, plug in any audio source via HDMI ARC, optical input & AUX

SET UP YOUR SOUND BAR IN MINUTES — With the included subwoofer, HDMI and optical cables quickly connect your TV to the sound bar. Get set up and listening in minutes

TOP Choice #2 Hisense HS312 3.1ch Sound Bar
Our Score:
9.7
Hisense

Dolby Atmos: Dolby Atmos sound is cinema technology for your home. It provides amazing realism you can hear in every scene.

Quick Touch EQ Modes: Get the best audio performance from music, movie, news, night, and sport with a simple touch of the remote with multiple preset EQ settings.

4K Pass-Through: With 4K Pass-Through built in and a HDR signal, Hisense soundbar HS312 will deliver a seamless 4K experience for you.

Wireless Subwoofer: A dedicated, wireless subwoofer delivers the robust low-end frequencies that punctuate your favorite movies, music, and games, without any messy wires. You'll feel the "boom" while the two front-facing speakers project bright, clear high- and mid-range frequencies.

Enjoy Better TV Sound: Easy to place and connect to your television, the Hisense H312 soundbar significantly improves your TV entertainment experience and is perfect for TVs. Instead of just hearing the scene, you're transported into it.

Accessories included: Everything you need to get started. We’ve included an HDMI cable, optical cable, and a wall mounting kit to make sure that you have what you need to make the most of your Hisense audio experience right out of the box.

Easy Connectivity: With HDMI (eARC), the Hisense HS312 can connect to your TV through a single HDMI cable (included), connect wirelessly via Bluetooth, and control both with one remote. You'll be enjoying better TV sound in minutes.

Roku TV Ready: As Roku TV Ready device, the Hisense HS312 Soundbar is fully compatible with any Roku Tv through the HDMI (ARC) connection. You can even use the Roku Tv remote to control both the Tv and soundbar for easier setup and better navigation experience.

TOP Choice #3 Samsung Harman Kardon 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos Soundbar
Our Score:
9.6
SAMSUNG

Adaptive sound: adaptive sound technology analyzes the sound signal and delivers optimized sound and clear voices even on low volumes

Includes: Remote Control, Battery, Wall Mount Kit and HDMI Cable

Product Dimensions: 48.26" W x 3.26" H x 5.35" D | Spk (sub woofer) Net Dimension: 8.07" W x 15.86" H x 15.86" D

5. 1. 2 channels: 13 built-in speakers, including four that fire upward and two that fire from the side, Surround you in multidimensional cinematic audio that rivals even the very best movie theater experience

Dolby Atmos and DTS: x technologies: with Dolby Atmos and DTS: x, sounds move independently around you from All directions, even above, just like in real life

WIRELESS SUBWOOFER: Feel the intensity of the action and the rhythm of the music with the rich, powerful bass of the wireless subwoofer that boasts a frequency response (amp) of 34Hz~17kHz

4K pass-through with HDR10: built-in 4K pass-through for connecting to UHD 4K and HDR10 sources for a seamless audio experience that matches your video

SMALL SIZE, BIG SOUND - Packed in its compact design is a collection of powerful drivers and tweeters, which produce exceptionally clear sound. At only a little over a foot long, these sound bars are a must-have if you have space limitations for your home theater system

Polk's exclusive Voice Adjust Technology even lets you INDEPENDENTLY CONTROL VOICE LEVELS maximizing sound clarity and minimizing voice delays and muzzled sounds. Equipped with INDEPENDENT MODES FOR MOVIES, MUSIC, AND SPORTS, it delivers balanced sound clarity so that you hear every word, making your movie, sports and music experience absolutely exquisite

QUICKLY AND EASILY SETUP THE SOUNDBAR SYSTEM IN MINUTES using the included HDMI and optical cables, the Google Home app on your Android or iOS devices

WIRELESSLY STREAM MUSIC with GOOGLE CAST from your smartphone, tablet or other compatible Android devices for a multi-room system. Cast your favorite music tracks to your sound bar via streaming services like Pandora, Spotify and others

EXPERIENCE IMMERSIVE SURROUND SOUND WITH POLK's PATENTED SDA AUDIO TECHNOLOGY and 5.1 Dolby Digital coding. The INCLUDED WIRELESS SUBWOOFER fills your living room, bedroom, or media room with multi-dimensional surround sound

4k pass-through with hdr 10 and dolby vision provides the best resolution

Now with alexa multi-room audio

Connector type: HDMI

10"" wireless subwoofer delivers deep, thrilling sound

An impressive 550w of total system power

Built-in chromecast, airplay2 and bluetooth

Jbl surround sound brings an immersive virtual 5.1 sound experience for your tv without any extra wires or speakers

Customized Sound Modes: Choose from Movie, Music, or Voice mode to enhance Infini Pro Dolby Atmos soundbar for TV’s sound for the media you’re watching or listening to.

Slim Design: Infini Pro Dolby Atmos soundbar for TV’s low profile, streamlined body is 36 inches in length, and is wrapped in a discreet black fabric to allow it to blend in effortlessly with your interior.

Versatile Input Options: Choose from HDMI, HDMI ARC, optical, or Bluetooth 5.0 connections. Also supports 4K HDR and Dolby Vision pass-through to 4K TVs.

Built-In Subwoofers: Infini Pro’s integrated 2.1 channel design pairs two front-facing 2.5-inch mid-range drivers and 1-inch tweeters with dual, up-facing 3-inch built-in subwoofers, symmetrical bass reflex ports, and exclusive BassUp technology for intense low frequencies and 105dB of room-filling sound.

Dolby Atmos Soundbar for TV: The world’s leading surround sound technology reproduces breathtaking, moving audio from all around you—even overhead.

7 Denon DHT-S216 Home Theater Soundbar
Our Score:
9.1
Denon

TRANSFORM YOUR TV INTO A HOME ENTERTAINMENT CENTER with DHT-S216 soundbar's (2) 3" down-firing subwoofers, dual 1.75" x 3.5" mid-range drivers and (2) 1” tweeters pumping DYNAMIC THEATER-QUALITY AUDIO into your movies, TV and music listening experience

EASY SET UP & USER EXPERIENCE - Quickly connect the system to your TV or other devices with the included HDMI cable or via the optical input

WIRELESSLY STREAM your favorite tracks, podcasts and other audio content by pairing your smartphone, tablet or laptop via Bluetooth

HEAR EVERY WORD with the Dialogue Enhancer that SHARPENS DIALOGUE CLARITY making them sound crystal clear without the need to adjust overall volume. Select from 3 pre-set EQ modes - movies, music and night - for a custom listening experience at any time

4K AND HD COMPATIBILITY – Connect your TV to gaming consoles, Blu-Ray player or any audio source via HDCP 2.2 HDMI in & out ports with Audio Return Channel, optical or aux inputs. Plus control the soundbar via your TV remote through HDMI ARC connection

SLIM PROFILE IN WALL-MOUNTABLE OPTION - At 2" tall, the sleek bar fits in most spaces and can be placed in front of your TV without blocking your TV’s bottom edge. Easy to wall mount using the included mounting template

EXPERIENCE VIRTUAL SURROUND SOUND, multi-dimensional audio detail and enhanced bass from your TV’s streaming apps, Blu-ray movies and gaming systems with DTS Virtual:X, Dolby Digital and DTS, WITHOUT THE NEED FOR ADDITIONAL SPEAKERS

Product Images, Product Titles, Product Highlights from Amazon Product Advertising API

What to Look For in a best soundbar with 4k passthrough?

Wi-Fi And Bluetooth

Bluetooth is an important soundbar feature that allows you stream music from compatible phones, tablets and computers to your soundbar. Wi-Fi connectivity allows you to stream music from your Spotify account or access cloud music libraries.

Connectivity

Soundbars typically only require one cable to connect with your TV. HDMI is the best choice. Make sure that your soundbar is equipped with all necessary ports for connecting to Blu-ray players and USB storage. You should check if your soundbar has a pass-through function that transmits 4K HDR video from your 4K HDR TV.

Additional Features

You might also want these features in your soundbar:
There are special sound modes for various audio types, such as watching movies, listening to music, or gaming. You can adjust the treble and bass settings depending on what you are watching/listening too.
Compatible with Google Assistant and Alexa for voice-controlled music.
Front-panel displays that display important information, such as volume levels. Make sure to check if this display is able to be switched off when it's not in use so that it does not become distracting.

Wired/wireless Speakers

Some soundbars allow for wired and wireless connection to other speakers. Some soundbars only support a subwoofer. However, a few models offer "surround sound" connectivity, which allows you to connect other speakers to the rear of the room to replicate 5.1. You can purchase these speakers separately or as a bundle at an extra cost.

Ease Of Set-up And Use

It is easy to hook up the soundbar with your TV or other device and get started using it immediately. This can be gauged by looking at the manual or reading some user reviews.

Size

To ensure that the unit will not block the screen, or interfere with the remote control or display of your TV's remote, check its dimensions. You should also check that the design of the unit matches your TV.

Subwoofer

In large rooms, a soundbar with an external subwoofer (or dedicated soundbar) can be more effective than one without it. A subwoofer that is well made will enhance low-end sound quality and add a cinematic vibe to your system. A sub that is poorly designed can cause a drop in sound quality. A soundbase is a great option if you need bass, but aren't able to fit an external sub. They include an integrated subwoofer.

Number Of Channels And Speakers

A soundbar with just 2.1 channels may be enough to enhance the audio quality of your TV. A 5.1 and 7.1 models might offer better sound quality when you watch TV/movies or listen to audio. Dolby Atmos is available on 5.1.2 and 7.1.2 models. This technology allows for a richer experience. It involves placing speakers higher than the roof, to create sound from above.

FAQs

Can A Sound Bar Be Used As A Center Speaker?

There are some that can and others that can't, but it's not something we recommend. Although a passive soundbar could technically be used to provide center channel speakers, this is not what it was designed for. This is like asking a pitcher to play both catch and second base instead of the only position that he excels at.

Where Do I Place My Soundbar?

The soundbars can be placed directly in front of your TV using a stand, or any other type of furniture. They are usually less than 2 inches high so they won't interfere with the infrared remote port of your TV or block it. Some soundbars are also wall-mountable and include brackets. There are third-party kits that can be used to mount soundbars on the wall.

Can You Use A Soundbar To Play Music?

A soundbar can make music play through your TV much more enjoyable. Bluetooth is a feature that many soundbars offer, so you won't have to turn on the TV to hear your music. A soundbar that has a wireless subwoofer will work best to reproduce deep bass and dynamics.

Can You Add Speakers To A Sound Bar?

There are both yes and no. Some sound bars have additional speakers that can be added to the system, which brings you closer to home theatre sound. If the soundbar is multi-room compatible, then wireless rear speakers can be added. This is a good option for those who have or want to install a multi-room sound system in their home.

Are Soundbars Really Worth It?

They are well worth the investment when compared to how loud your TV sounds. A soundbar costs only $100 and can make your TV viewing experience 10x better. A soundbar can make it easier to understand speech by allowing TV speakers to face down.

Will A Soundbar Improve Sound Quality?

Modern TVs have very tiny speakers which bounce sound off of your TV. As a result, they can be distant and harsh. A soundbar can be added to most TVs to improve their sound quality, particularly when it comes down to reproducing spoken words. It will also allow you to listen to music.

Can You Add A Subwoofer To A Sound Bar?

Wireless sound bars often come with a subwoofer. You can also add your own wireless subwoofer to the sound bars that do not have one. If you desire an immersive experience, you'll want it.

Can You Use Any Soundbar With Any TV?

There are very few exceptions to this rule. However, you can still use your soundbar with any TV. It is helpful sometimes to match soundbar and TV brands. New soundbars often use HDMI ARC to transmit the audio from the TV's speakers through the soundbar. If both of your devices have this port, you are good. An optical connection is available on some older soundbars, and almost all TVs have them.

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About Harlan Ellison

Harlan Ellison

Harlan Ellison is a writer and audio equipment enthusiast. He's particularly interested in home theater HiFi audio, and he has been the editor of The Audio Critic since its inception. Harlan is known for his sharp wit and scathing critiques, but he also has a great love of music and audio gear. When he's not writing or editing, Harlan can be found listening to music or watching movies with his wife.

Read Harlan's full bio