Which TCL sound bar is best?

You’d be hard-pressed to find a TV that has adequate speakers and audio quality for movies and music. The default speakers usually favor one over the other, and that can lead to disappointment and frustration.

If you don’t want to splurge on a new home theater audio system, an affordable, quick solution is to get a sound bar. These audio gadgets are specifically tuned to give you big sound in a small package, perfect for when space is a luxury.

TCL has been in the consumer technology industry for over 40 years and knows a thing or two about sound — it manufactures TVs, mobile phones and home audio setups. If you want to upgrade your film streaming experience, the TCL Alto 8 Plus 3.1.2 Channel Dolby Atmos Smart Sound Bar is an excellent choice.

What to know before you buy a TCL sound bar

Power output

You naturally want to hear all the sounds when watching a movie and don’t want to strain during dialogue. The best way to prevent incomprehensible audio is to consider the sound bar’s power output relevant to your viewing environment. The power output determines how loud the sound bar will be before distorting. 

Bigger isn’t always better

It’s natural to assume that a larger speaker will produce a loud sound. While that is true sometimes, it’s not always the case for sound bars. These elongated audio players are made to be as small as possible while still producing excellent sound quality. Together with the power output, you might find a smaller sound bar that is just as clear and loud as a full home theater system. It will cost a fraction of the price too.

Active sound bars are better than passive ones

While passive sound bars have better speakers than active ones, they do require a receiver or an amplifier to work. This takes up more space in your living room and requires additional cables. On the other hand, active sound bars have an amplifier built into them that also separates the right, left and center channels. They are easier to set up and get going but aren’t as loud or clear as passive sound bars. 

What to look for in a quality TCL sound bar

Multiple connections

Most sound bars provide additional audio for your TV, but you don’t want to be limited to just that. A good-quality TCL sound bar has multiple connections that include Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and USB. This lets you easily pair a mobile device to stream audio from your favorite music sources.

Remote control

Getting up off the couch to change the volume is so last century. You want the comfort of being able to change the input source and volume without having to walk over to the sound bar. That is why a good-quality TCL model comes with a remote controller. In fact, several of them are compatible with TCL’s Roku TV remote.  

Mounting the sound bar

You’ll usually find a sound bar in front of the TV, but placing it just above can improve the audio clarity. You can only do that, though, if the sound bar is mountable on a wall. Consider a TCL sound bar that lets you do this. Several include a wall mounting kit.

How much you can expect to spend on a TCL sound bar

The average cost of a TCL sound bar largely depends on the model, the number of speaker channels and additional functions. An affordable sound bar costs $60-$80, while a surround-sound model costs $150-$200.

TCL sound bar FAQ

What do the channel numbers mean?

A. Sound bars and home theater systems use several speakers to produce the audio, and the channels indicate the corresponding amount. For example, a 2.1-channel sound bar has a left and right audio channel and a subwoofer. A setup with more speakers is a 7.1-channel system. 

Can you add more speakers?

A. That isn’t possible with TCL sound bars. 

What’s the best TCL sound bar to buy?

Top TCL sound bar

TCL Alto 8 Plus 3.1.2 Channel Dolby Atmos Smart Sound Bar

TCL Alto 8 Plus 3.1.2 Channel Dolby Atmos Smart Sound Bar

What you need to know: This 3.1.2-channel sound bar comes with a wireless subwoofer for added bass.

What you’ll love: In addition to the wireless subwoofer, it has eight small speakers to create surround sound through Dolby Atmos. The center channel is specifically for dialogue, letting you hear every word clearly. It’s compatible with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant.

What you should consider: There was a rare complaint that lips didn’t sync with sound. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top TCL sound bar for the money

TCL Alto 6 2.0 Channel Home Theater Sound Bar

TCL Alto 6 2.0 Channel Home Theater Sound Bar

What you need to know: An affordable option to upgrade your TV’s audio, it has a two-channel system with an active speaker amplifier.

What you’ll love: Through  Dolby technology, this sound bar creates virtual surround sound. The Bluetooth connection lets you pair it with mobile devices and connects to others through HDMI and USB.

What you should consider: You can’t pair this sound bar with other speakers.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

TCL Alto 8i 2.1 Channel Dolby Atmos Sound Bar with Built-in Subwoofers

TCL Alto 8i 2.1 Channel Dolby Atmos Sound Bar with Built-in Subwoofers

What you need to know: This TCL sound bar has a built-in subwoofer with rich bass, letting you feel the onscreen action.

What you’ll love: Measuring almost 40 inches long, it’s easily mounted on a wall. It is compatible with the TCL Roku TV remote and supports Dolby Atmos technology for great surround sound.

What you should consider: As it has a built-in subwoofer, you can’t add an additional woofer if you want more thumping bass.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Charlie Fripp writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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