I test soundbars — and this blows everything else away for the Super Bowl

Sonos Beam
(Image credit: Sonos)

With Super Bowl 2023 just around the corner, it's time to start thinking about how to bring your living room to life so that you can experience all the atmosphere of the playoff as a new NFL champion is crowned. 

Making it feel like you're actually a part of the 73,000-strong mega event capacity crowd at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona while actually being sat in your favorite armchair at home, may sound like a costly endeavor, but it doesn't have to be. One of my favorite soundbars could be all you need to bring the event to life. 

Read on to discover how to make Super Bowl 2023 sound extra special.

First decide if your TV can handle the responsibility of Super Bowl Sunday

If you've already bought a new TV especially for the face-off, such as one of the discounted models in the best Super Bowl TV deals right now, or even if you're watching it on an older set, you'll probably already know that it's stacked with picture settings to make the onscreen images pop. That said, there are plenty of sound presets, too, and perhaps even some special sound virtualizer modes tailored for sports, and stadium events. 

These audio presets are always worth exploring to see if the set can produce the kind of expansive sound you're after from the TV's built-in speakers before shelling out on add-on speaker solutions. But as TV features differ considerably from model to model, you'll need to experiment with the settings to see if any are capable of achieving the immersive sound experience you're after.

As TV speakers have gotten smaller due to thinner and lighter screens, it can be tricky for the speaker drivers fitted inside to produce a balanced sound that'll carry all the impact of sporting events, or convey the power of half-time live music performance. In such a confined space, this restricts the size and amount of travel a speaker driver has available to push out the air to generate soundwaves with sufficient energy across the full range of frequencies.

As such, the market for add-on speaker systems has become something that we almost take for granted, and even the best TVs don't always match the sound quality produced by a decent soundbar. (There are, of course, some exceptions.)

If you decide that there's something to be gained by adding a soundbar speaker system to your setup, our best cheap soundbars roundup has plenty of low-cost speaker solutions to boost your TV sound for a small outlay. But if you want your sports games to sound as realistic as possible, then you're going to need to look for a speaker system a bit more powerful and immersive such as one of the best Dolby Atmos soundbars.

Sonos Beam

(Image credit: Sonos)

Sonos Beam soundbar: Perfect for Super Bowl LVII

There are plenty of great home theater speaker solutions at all kinds of price points in our best soundbars guide to consider. One that doesn't make me break out into a sweat when I see the price tag, though, is the Sonos Beam priced at $449 / $449 / AU$699. It's one of my favorites soundbars, and even better news is that this second generation model can currently be found discounted to $399 at Amazon, making the case for integrating it with a 55-inch (or smaller) Super Bowl TV screen even stronger. 

As the multi-room speaker specialist's most affordable Dolby Atmos model, the second-gen Sonos Beam brings tweaked profiles, more audio formats, and HDMI eARC support into the mix. It features one central tweeter, three passive radiators and four elliptical mid-woofers, two of those forward-firing and the other two angled to either side to achieve a crisp central channel that emphasizes dialog clarity of the commentary throughout the game.  

Dolby Atmos and other home-theater sound formats grant you numerous ways to experience wide 3D sound in your living room, bringing an immersive scale of the stadium's crowd noise to life with an expansive soundstage that stretches right out in front of you. The second-gen Beam has an upgraded CPU to improve the soundbar's height and surround abilities, and in our Sonos Beam review it worked tremendously well.  

Trueplay tunes the sound to your space and optimal couch position, and brings even more value to this small speaker system. As with all other Sonos speakers, it's easily expandable with matching wireless surround speakers such as a pair of Sonos One speakers, and/or the Sonos Sub Mini subwoofer. 

Sonos Beam

(Image credit: Sonos)

Ultimately, whether you go for the TV's built-in speakers, decide to add on a Sonos Beam soundbar, or one of my alternative suggestions, it's a good idea to make sure you've got any speech or dialog clarity modes switched off. This will enable the speakers to deliver their most balanced and expansive sound without being overly focussed on dialog clarity. After all, it's the sound of the crowd from the stadium and immersive atmosphere of the game that you're most likely to be after, not hanging on to every word of the commentary.

Top tip: make sure to test everything out before the game starts and ahead of any guests arriving to watch the game with you. As someone who struggles not to jump in and make fine adjustments to the sound settings in the middle of family viewing, trust me when I say the last thing anyone wants while watching a major sporting event is you tweaking the settings to improve the immersive experience. Your fellow game watchers really won't appreciate it. Once you're all dialed in, pour the drinks, grab some snacks and sit back and relax.   

Next: Check out the 5 best TV sound upgrades I've tested

Lee Dunkley
Audio Editor

As a former editor of the U.K.'s Hi-Fi Choice magazine, Lee is passionate about all kinds of audio tech and has been providing sound advice to enable consumers to make informed buying decisions since he joined Which? magazine as a product tester in the 1990s. Lee covers all things audio for Tom's Guide, including headphones, wireless speakers and soundbars and loves to connect and share the mindfulness benefits that listening to music in the very best quality can bring.