For many people the idea of premium sound (meaning upgraded over the tiny, internal speakers built into their ultra-flat HDTVs) is to buy a soundbar. While soundbars today pair nicely with subwoofers and offer faux surround sound – they still lack any kind of real-world, high performance audio. How can I say that? Well, compare the sound of even the most expensive soundbars versus that of even a modest pair of audiophile speakers and you tell me that you can hear the difference.

Here are a few, hand selected options for speakers that you might like better than a soundbar.

Option One: SVS Prime Wireless $599.00 per pair

These sleek, small and sexy loudspeakers can create a more dynamic and realistic sound than any flat soundbar. Yes, you need to power them on their own but even the most modest AV receivers can light up a pair of SVS Prime Bookshelf speakers. They can be heard at a Best Buy shop or sent right to your house for an in-home demo. Try pairing with a small SVS subwoofer for even better low end and more punchy dynamics.


Option Two: Paradigm Monitor SE Atom $599.00 per pair

These Canadian speakers are legendary. The size of the sound that comes from such a small speaker is simply jaw-dropping. Like the SVS listed above, they are very easy to drive on even the most modest AV receivers of audiophile grade integrated amps. The Paradigm stands have a very nice industrial design and the Paradigm Monitor SE Atom speakers also thankfully come in a white gloss finish.

Option Three: Orb Audio Booster Basic $449 (complete)

These round speakers when paired with a small amplifier can wirelessly connect to your Ultra HDTV and present sound from a tiny form factor that matches the grandeur of your video be it streaming in 4K or spinning from a silver UHD Blu-ray disc. This is one of the smallest and least expensive options on our list and what’s nice about it is that you can upgrade and expand your system as you need too including adding a subwoofer and more. People rave about how small the speaker system is yet how “big the sound” is.

Option Four: Apple AirPods Max ($549.00)

Talk about going in a whole other direction, if we are going anti-sound bar then how about using the latest Bluetooth 5 technology to connect your state-of-the-art headphones wirelessly to your TV. The Apple AirPods Max have internal surround sound features that can simulate surround sound. They also have very good internal ANC (noise cancelation) which is useful if you want to tune-out the outside world and external sources of sound so that you can get RIGHT INTO the dialog of your favorite TV shows. Apple offers five really nice colors. The aluminum ear cups make for a more durable headphone. Apples Digital Crown (a knob) allows for easy control of phone calls, music and movies alike. The simplicity of these high end audiophile-grade headphones is excellent and they are a great soundbar replacement option.

Option Five: Nakymatone Echt Invisible Speakers with Gray Sound Subwoofer ($4,500 plus drywall repairs and painting)

What if I told you that you didn’t need to have any visible speakers in your entire system and that it would sound five times better than ANY soundbar? It is possible with Nakymatone speakers. Their $3,000 per pair Echt speakers are true transducers that are designed to work behind any number of materials such as drywall “mud”, think wood veneers, fabric, wallpaper and beyond. The Gray Sound Audiophile Subwoofer is an excellent add on that is also installed (often in the ceiling) and then drywalled around leaving just a “port” for the bass that looks like a lighting fixture. This combination of audiophile sound and custom install genius comes with a lot more installation issues but once you cut your drywall, mud, sand and repaint things – expect FULL audiophile sound without using one square inch of your floor space. Try matching these speakers with a mid-level AV receiver packing room correction and you are in line for even BETTER sound. All soundbars can bow down to the almighty replacement – Invisible speakers are the new way. For more gorgeous looking home theater seating look into Elite HTS.

Have you learned some creative ways to not have to suffer through the crap sound that soundbars offer? We hope so.