A lot of people have asked for it, and after months of work, we are finally testing soundbars. More info here.
Updated

Surround Channels Sound

What it is: How accurately the soundbar reproduces audio with a 6-channel file that has signal only on the 5th and 6th (Left Surround/Right Surround) channels. When possible, soundbars are tested using a direct HDMI connection to the test PC. Otherwise, a direct optical connection or HDMI ARC through a TV is used for testing.
When it matters: When a deep and powerful bass, clear dialog/instruments, a large soundstage, and a loud and artifact-free sound is desired from the surround channels. This only matters when the content is multi-channel (e.g. 5.1), like most movies and video games, but won't matter for stereo content (like most music) since they don't have discrete surround channels.
Score distribution

[Coming Soon]

Test results

Our tests

Localization

What it is: Whether the soundbar has dedicated surround speakers (discrete), or uses side-firing speakers on the soundbar to represent a surround object in the soundstage (phantom). The soundbar may also lack any surround capabilities and play the surround content through the left/right speakers of the soundbar (downmix).
When it matters: When your content is multi-channel (e.g. 5.1), like most movies and video games, and you care about an accurate and clear representation of surround objects in the soundstage. A phantom surround won't sound as clear and real as a discrete surround, and the objects may not feel as if they are located in the surround area. This won't matter for stereo content (most music) since they don't have discrete surround channels.

[Coming Soon]

Rears

What it is: Whether the soundbar comes with additional rear speakers to support a 7.1 speaker configuration.
When it matters: When you want to get the full advantage of the more immersive 7.1 speaker configuration which certain movies and games support. But this doesn't matter very often since most multi-channel content (like movies and video games) is in 5.1.

[Coming Soon]

Slope

What it is: The derivative of the logarithmic fit (regression line) of the frequency response. This value shows the overall tonal balance (tilt) of the sound as opposed to the std. err. value which shows the overall deviation. Negative values translate to a bass-heavy sound and positive values represent a treble-heavy sound. 0 (a flat slope) represents a balanced tone.
When it matters: When the overall balance between bass and treble is important to you.
Good value: -0.7> <0.5
Noticeable difference: 0.2
Score distribution

[Coming Soon]

Std. Err.

What it is: The average deviation of the soundbar's in-room frequency response from the in-room target response. This shows the amount of error in frequency response, as opposed to the slope which shows the tonal balance of the sound. Higher errors represent a less accurate frequency response and lower values represent a more accurate sound.
When it matters: When you care about accurate sound reproduction in a fine-detailed view.
Good value: <2.5 dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1 dB
Score distribution

[Coming Soon]

SPL @ Max Volume

What it is: The SPL (sound pressure level) produced by the soundbar with its volume set to maximum. This value is measured and reported at 2.5 meters.
When it matters: When you want a soundbar for a large, crowded, or noisy environment, so it needs to get loud, but you don't necessarily care about how much the frequency response is degraded in the process.
Good value: >92 dB SPL
Noticeable difference: 1dB SPL
Score distribution

[Coming Soon]

Weighted THD @ 80dB SPL

What it is: The overall amount of harmonic distortion produced by the soundbar at 80dB SPL. To make the score more perceptually relevant, more weight is given to the higher frequencies. This value is measured and reported at 2.5 meters.
When it matters: When a pure and clean sound is desired at moderate listening levels. Harmonic distortion is relatively difficult to hear, so it should only matter to those who really care about the fidelity of sound reproduction.
Good value: <0.7
Noticeable difference: 0.1
Score distribution

[Coming Soon]

Weighted THD @ Max Volume

What it is: The overall amount of harmonic distortion produced by the soundbar at its maximum volume. To make the score more perceptually relevant, more weight is given to the higher frequencies.
When it matters: When a pure and clean sound is desired with the soundbar set to is maximum volume. Harmonic distortion is relatively difficult to hear, so it should only matter to those who care about the fidelity of sound reproduction.
Good value: <1
Noticeable difference: 0.1
Score distribution

[Coming Soon]

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