Best Passive Soundbars for your TV

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Stereo sound is getting better and better these days. But if you want to go beyond two speakers, it can be difficult to figure out what to get.

A soundbar, which is basically a single audio box that usually attaches to your TV, is a popular option, and for good reason. They’re simple, clean, and affordable.

While they don’t have the same fidelity as a dedicated home theater system, a good soundbar can nicely complement your existing system or serve as a one-and-done solution if you’re a casual listener.

Look below for our reviews of the three best passive soundbar options you can find on the market today.

KEF HTF7003 SoundbarBest OverallKEF HTF7003 Soundbar
Dayton Audio BS36 36" LCR Speaker BarBudget PickDayton Audio BS36 36" LCR Speaker Bar

1. KEF HTF7003 Soundbar

Our rating: 9 / 10

KEF HTF7003 Soundbar

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  • Can connect to home theater systems
  • It's a powerful passive soundbar
  • Ideal to replace your front speakers


  • Bass is less powerful than a soundbar with a separate subwoofer
  • Depending on adjusted settings, can be very loud
  • Pricey

The soundbar has two woofer drivers that work along with a pair of soft dome tweeters for a full-range system. This type of system gives you a high level of audio fidelity. On top of that, the color and design of the system also enhance a room’s decor, and the bar itself can be mounted on the wall, or it can be placed on a shelf or TV stand.

One problem though, is that this soundbar doesn’t have a separate subwoofer, so its bass is missing. This bass response can be fixed if you add another surround sound speaker.

2. Definitive Technology XTR-SSA5 Ultra Slim Surround Speaker Bar

Our rating: 7 / 10

Definitive Technology XTR-SSA5 Ultra Slim Surround Speaker Bar

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  • Great bass response
  • It has an interesting design
  • Handles very well clear, un-muddied sound


  • Previous buyers rated it as being a bit too pricey for the quality

This slim speaker bar is designed to sit on your wall and offer surround sound. It can work with any TV and it has an interesting design. It certainly stands out through its ultra-thin proportions.

Installation is a matter of plugging a wire into an outlet and putting the Definitive Technology on the two mounts provided. It creates high-quality sounds and is certain to enhance your movie-watching experience.

3. Dayton Audio BS36 36" LCR Speaker Bar

Our rating: 7 / 10

Dayton Audio BS36 36" LCR Speaker Bar

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  • The speaker bar is designed for both flat surface and wall hanging
  • Price is inexpensive
  • Durable grills


  • The speaker bar is not made for ceiling mounting

This Dayton Audio 36” 3-Way LCR Speaker Bar is a passive or non-powered audiophile and home theater speaker system that combines three individual speakers into a single, elegant unit. It has an affordable price tag, and it can easily fit anywhere.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is a passive sound bar?

Passive soundbars are soundbars that don’t include a built-in amplifier.

Unlike active (powered) soundbars, passive soundbars aren't able to generate sound. They must draw it from an external source. This means the passive soundbar will only generate sound when it's hooked up to a system that produces sound.

What is the advantage of a soundbar for TV?

Soundbars are a great option for getting good sound from your TV. They are a very easy and simple way to get sound in your house without the need for a full-blown surround system. Most of them today have multiple connections, so you can use them with a TV, satellite box, cable box, blu-ray player, or game system.

The advantage of a soundbar is that they're really easy to set up. Simply find a spot for the soundbar and plug it in. You need no other cables and wires running to an amplifier.

Soundbars generally handle the sound better than a TV. The main drivers in a soundbar are designed to handle all the range of sound from high screeching notes to low thumping bass. The TV simply isn't designed to handle all that sound range and leaves it up to the speakers in your TV to handle most of it.

Do passive speakers sound better?

Yes, for two main reasons:

  1. Active speakers require amplification to work. The amp or built-in amp of the speaker may add a subtle amount of distortion. Since passive speakers do not rely on amplification, they have no built-in distortion.
  2. Beyond the possible distortion of amps, the fact that active speakers operate at a higher powerpoint than a passive speaker in the same space, makes them act in a way that is not entirely linear. That is to say that the actual power curve is such that the speaker has less output than would be expected when you are operating it near the top end of the power curve. Also, if the amplifier is placing any form of anti-feedback via companding, then the speaker may respond quite well to high frequency, but poorly to low frequency.

What is better, a soundbar or surround sound system?

Both options have their own advantages. Soundbars are usually a single bar of speakers that hangs down in front of your TV. Most of these bars have built-in subwoofers that are fantastic for creating low-sound effects in your movies and for public places.

Soundbars have some advantages over traditional surround sound systems. These advantages are that they are usually cheaper than a surround sound system and often less complicated to install.

Passive soundbars are the most popular type of soundbar on the market. This is largely due to their price. The only setback with these soundbars is that they require a bit more work if you want to have a surround sound experience. However, with the help of a few inexpensive accessories, you can turn any of the systems into a fabulous surround sound system.


Your home theater experience is not complete without high-quality sound. We have reviewed the best soundbars that you can choose for your TV, so every movie you watch, or every game you play will be an experience in itself.

Our Recommendation

KEF HTF7003 SoundbarBest OverallKEF HTF7003 Soundbar
Dayton Audio BS36 36" LCR Speaker BarBudget PickDayton Audio BS36 36" LCR Speaker Bar