If you have purchased a TV in the past few years, chances are you have seen a soundbar. These thin speakers sit in front of or below a TV, while promising higher fidelity audio than is possible with only the speakers that come on the TV. A soundbar is a wide, typically thin and short speaker with multiple drivers. They range in price from under $100 to over $2000, and connect to your TV or cable box, claiming to expand or improve the sound.

Unfortunately, as televisions have gotten thinner, there’s less and less room to house the speaker drivers. With such limited space, the drivers are often tiny and weak. What’s even worse, on most TVs the speakers either point down or away from you, further deteriorating what sound there is. Small speakers are incapable of producing deep, low bass sounds, and because they’re not pointed directly at you, they don’t do the higher pitched treble sounds any justice. This means most TV sound is at best muffled and tinny.

Now, you may think that your TV sound is just fine, but have you ever had to pause and rewind just so you can play back a portion of what you’re watching because you didn’t understand what was being said the first time? Poor sound quality, more than anything else, means that there are unintelligible dialogues coming from your TV in addition to just limited or bad sound. And because most new TVs are capable of streaming live music, it sounds much better when played through a soundbar.

At the very least, soundbars point their drivers toward you, which is a giant step over the sound you get from your TV. And most decent soundbars have tweeters and woofers, which handle the high and low sounds very well.

There are two types of soundbars: active and passive. Active soundbars have built in amplifiers, so all you need to do is plug in your device or TV. Some even feature advanced surround processing which means they can create a sense of surround sound, and all from one soundbar.