The Best Soundbars

Votes 6 6
Rating 4.2 4.2

Choosing among the best soundbars, one can easily get dizzy. There is a huge variety of models represented in the soundbar review that have different specs, compatibility, additional options. They also vary in price highly.

However, the most expensive model isn’t always the best sounding soundbar for your place. For a small living room used for occasional TV watching, the large and expensive best rated soundbar firing into the distance of 60 feet is overkill. Meanwhile, the small soundbar with wireless subwoofer can create a next-to-authentic cinema effect, provided it is correctly positioned and tweaked properly.

The soundbar ratings are usually higher for the brand-new model lines featuring lots of additional options like voice control, HDMI ARC connection, etc. Still, depending on the user’s preference, the older model can be on the list of best soundbars because of its quality sound and fitting design. The soundbar reviews presented on this page show both the time-proven soundbars recognized for their reliable performance and comfort of operation, and the most recent entries featuring a vast range of hi-tech options.

The purpose is the main criterion for picking the optimal soundbar for the money. A home theater would require the soundbar with subwoofer or the one able to disperse the sound over the room. The professional setup would require one of the hi-res soundbars for music, having the sturdy drivers’ build. The small gaming set can go with the best budget soundbar producing enough thrill and sound effect during the play.

For soundbar comparison below is based on several soundbar specs and features, clearly showing the pros of cons of each best rated soundbar. Find your perfect one among them!

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Best Soundbar under 100

Yamaha ATS-1070 — Best Soundbar with Subwoofer in the Budget Category

Yamaha ATS-1070

This budget soundbar for TV provides quality sound due to its well-positioned tweeters and woofers. The integrated subwoofers producing growling solid lows additionally stabilized and enriched by the bass reflex port. The built-in processing mechanism provides for yet deeper bass, provoking shivers. The soundbar can get really loud, preserving good audio quality. It doesn’t get muddy or blurred on highs, keeping the main line clear and accentuated.

The soundbar has many connectivity options including the optical port and HDMI. The menu is simple and user-friendly, allowing it to activate the ARC and CEC coordination. In this way, the soundbar can be controlled by the TV remote and synchronize with the TV in starting and shutting off, keeping the volume level, etc.

This soundbar has excellent wireless connectivity. The unit can be controlled through the mobile app, revealing more handling and tweaking opportunities. It also has the enhanced Bluetooth enabling rocket-fast streaming of the hi-res audio. This compact soundbar could be definitely called the best Bluetooth soundbar if a connectivity distance would be a bit larger.

Pros:
  • The integrated “Clear Voice” program enables the dialog being put forward of the background and side effects.
  • Quick pairing with the voice control appliances like Amazon Echo.
  • Slender and functional design allows placing the soundbar on the table or mounting onto the wall.
Cons:
  • The soundbar has fixed “port preference” not letting to swap between the connections two-ways.
  • LED indicators for volume are not visible at the flat soundbar positioning.

TaoTronics TT-SK15 — Four Soundbar Channels for Enveloping Audio Performance

TaoTronics TT-SK15

This relatively small soundbar is notable for its versatility and interesting engineering decisions. The construction includes four speakers capturing the whole range of frequencies from low to high. For stabilizing the bass, adding depth to it and eliminating resonance, two passive radiators are integrated into the soundbar.

The sound is dynamic, preserving the clarity of the mainline throughout the whole volume range. The latter is quite big, filling the space with dense sound.

There are several ways to manage the operation of the soundbar. Its Bluetooth connects to the outer devices within seconds and provides stable quality streaming. The Bluetooth connects within 33 ft from the unit, which is enough for a small home theater rooms.

The remote is simple and minimalist, just as the menu is. It is a no-brainer to navigate. The soundbar allows connecting headphones through the dedicated 3.5 mm output, providing confident detailed sound.

Pros:
  • Wide soundstage with a decent amount of detail and color.
  • Touch-sensitive on-the-bar control is responsive and works consistently.
  • A wall mount hole and rubber stoppers enable placing the soundbar at the user’s convenience.
Cons:
  • The volume upper limit isn’t high: no rocking-the-house rhythms.
  • Too fast switching to the stand-by mode, when inactive.

Best Soundbar under 200

Samsung HW-M360/ZA — a Versatile Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer

Samsung HW-M360/ZA

This soundbar kit consists of the soundbar itself and the wireless sub. With the total power of 200W, they create a dynamic and vibe-emitting soundstage making a perfect base for the music listening and movie watching.

The subwoofer can be connected via Bluetooth, which is fast and precise. It pairs with both Android and Apple phones seamlessly providing a vast range of options. The soundbar operation can be controlled via the smartphone while streaming apps are also managed via Bluetooth. Tracks are streamed smoothly, in hi-res audio quality. Besides, there is an opportunity of pairing other wireless Samsung speakers and creating the real 5.1 soundbar surround system.

So much benefit leads to crowning this exquisite unit with the title of the “best Bluetooth soundbar”. However, the Bluetooth options for control don’t replace the remote functionality. The TV remote pairing, still, isn’t too comfy. Setting the volume is possible only upon synchronizing the TV remote with the soundbar.

Pros:
  • Clean treble, detailed midrange plenty of warmth and nuance, growling thumpy bass.
  • Quick glitch-free shifting between the inputs; no inputs interference.
  • Clear comprehensive display.
Cons:
  • The subwoofer requires the power of 120V sharp, while the soundbar’s range is wider (100V - 240V).
  • Thin sound at low volume (under 20).

VIZIO SB2821-D6 — Powerful Soundbar for TV with Expansive Performance

VIZIO SB2821-D6

This soundbar delivers the quality hi-fi audio with the sound pressure of 95 dB. It means it can get really loud and keep the details sharply outlined.

Its two built-in speakers work in a minimal frequency of 50Hz and can reach as much as 19 KHz. The solid build of the components enables clean though a bit airy highs, strong mids, and confident lows. The separate subwoofer delivers penetrating grumpy lows and is highly rhythmic and dynamic. Besides, the sub doesn’t need a cable to pair with the soundbar. The audible separation of the instrumentals makes this system a great choice among the soundbars for music.

Though this model represents only 2.1 soundbar channels, it supports several surround sound formats. It gives shivers when played in the DTS TruSurround and can make a small living room into a private cinema with the Dolby Surround.

Pros:
  • Solid and quick Bluetooth connection is perfect for audio and video streaming.
  • DTS TruVolume feature saves the volume settings and applies them to the specific content (movies, games, etc.).
  • Functional and comprehensive on-panel buttons control the most frequent soundbar operations (like volume adjustment, Bluetooth on/off, etc.)/
Cons:
  • Proper setting up takes time and must take into accounts numerous issues (like TV internal speakers shutting off, subwoofer positioning, and so on).
  • The remote is unhandy; volume adjustment is obstructed by the large “play” button.

Yamaha YAS-107 — All-in-One Soundbar for TV, Movies, Gaming, and Music

Yamaha YAS-107

This sleek slim soundbar is a space-saver, as both of its powerful subs are integrated into the bar. Still, in spite of the small size of subwoofers, they emit deep steady bass, with no muddiness or blurs. The lows are further secured from distortion and resonance by the bass reflex port. The Bass Extension inventive tech provides for yet more expansive sub-low audio.

The overall sound performance is of high quality. The audio is clear within the whole frequencies’ range, instruments are heard with precision. The dialogues are distinct at any volume and amount of background effects.

The soundbar is equipped with high-class wireless connectivity. Bluetooth connects to any device within seconds providing a powerful steady connection and multiple controls. The mobile app features a user-friendly interface and enhanced control options, in comparison to remote control opportunities.

Pros:
  • A subwoofer output provides a room for connecting the external sub and upgrading of the sound.
  • Large Bluetooth firing area allows integrating other zones and components.
  • Functional remote enabling bass tweaking and surround setup control.
Cons:
  • Included optical cable doesn’t reveal the whole potential of the soundbar operation.
  • At shelf positioning, the clarity of vocals and sound treble might deteriorate.

Best Soundbar under 300

Bose Solo 5 — Dedicated Soundbar for TV Watching

Bose Solo 5

This model uniformly deals with multiple channels and reacts immediately to the settings of each TV or other media channel. It has a specific technology for making the dialogue stand out and be heard in details, while the background sound doesn’t lose clarity. The connection to the TV is smooth and quick featuring the steady no-lag audio transmission.

The thoroughly enhanced sound quality would definitely make this unit the best soundbar for TV, if only boosting the treble wouldn’t result in a less profound bass. Still, the option can be disabled with one button pressure.

The soundbar has different connectors including digital (optical & coaxial) and analog ports. It can connect to the TV via a single cable or through Bluetooth connectivity (if supported by the TV). The latter works flawlessly enabling also music streaming directly from the smartphone or tablet.

Pros:
  • Setup is minimized by the automatic source detection — just plug-n-go.
  • LED lights on the soundbar reflect the state of current operation by the color and number.
  • Versatile positioning: the soundbar works equally well at on-shelf, on-table, and wall-mounted position.
Cons:
  • Included optical cable is rather short and is of middle quality – for enhanced audio, an upgrade is needed.
  • The remote, though functional, is overloaded with buttons positioned in the same-looking rows.

VIZIO SB3651-E6 — Low-Priced 5.1 Soundbar, Chromecast Compatible

VIZIO SB3651-E6

This middle-class soundbar offers a whole audio setup for a home theater. The set includes a soundbar with two speakers, a separate subwoofer, and two satellite speakers.

The soundbar performance is of premium quality, with the detailed and rich soundstage, clean highs and vast low frequency reaching 50Hz. The subwoofer produces bottom-low penetrating sound creating the vibration (in a small room). The Bluetooth connection between components is seamless and immediate.

The soundbar can be controlled via smartphone app, remote control, or connected Chromecast device. The voice control perception is very sensitive and includes TV control as well.

The soundbar and stand-alone speakers have a modern appealing black & metal design. The dimensions allow installing the set in the smallest rooms. This model would certainly be the first nominee for the best 5.1 soundbar, would the software updates be more frequent (particularly, for Chromecast operation).

Pros:
  • User-friendly setup (just plugging in the HDMI cable into the TV jack) and perfect ARC tech performance synchronizing the TV and the soundbar.
  • Equalizer options can be tweaked on a run.
  • The supplied cables are long and sturdy enough.
Cons:
  • The satellite speakers plugs are quite big and might be an obstacle for some stands and shelves.
  • The smartphone app tends to not remembering the system and requiring a full initial setup each time.

Best Soundbar under 500

Sony HT-X9000F — High-Class Dolby Atmos Soundbar with Authentic Cinema Effect

Sony HT-X9000F

The 2.1 acoustic set features two built-in front speakers and a separate subwoofer speaker that together create a full presence surround effect. The soundbar speakers have vertical orientation firing the sound into the air and imitating the effect of the cross-firing audio signal. The model definitely deserves the title of the best Dolby Atmos soundbar; however, it is valid only for small-to-mid living rooms. For a vast hall, the shooting distance of the soundbar speakers isn’t enough.

The soundbar has the setting modes preset for better operation. The Sports is set for sound effects, while the TV mode outlines the dialogues making them clearer against the background. The Gaming settings provide for highly dynamic sound with emphatic special effects.

Pros:
  • The surround upscale function lets turning any audio into the immersive sound atmosphere.
  • eARC connectivity brings hi-res surround sound directly from the TV, enabling the least interference and zero blurs.
  • Supports hi-res 4K video format and HDR color tech for complete home theater effect.
Cons:
  • The menu isn’t easy to navigate and search.
  • The wattage isn’t enough for confident handling of 7.1.1 soundbar channels (advertisntial upged as a poterade).

Sonos Beam — Smart Soundbar for TV & Music, with Alexa

This soundbar has developed wireless connectivity, which lets it become a hub for different electronic devices. It supports Alexa, and when integrated with the TV via HDMI ARC, transmits the voice command immediately.

The soundbar can be connected to the iPhone and interact with it through Airplay. It is particularly good for streaming music and video content in high quality.

The soundbar reproduces the sound exactly and with much detail throughout the frequency range. The nuances are heard distinctly even at the low volume.

There are several modes of work of this soundbar, and it excels in surround sound and TV watching. Still, the best treat is its handling of the music transmission. Accurate, carefully outline midline and treble, rocky, and steady bass make this unit a top nominee among best soundbars for music.

Pros:
  • Connects via Wi-Fi to other Sonos speakers to create a home theater set or a separate audio zone.
  • Night sound mode allows decreasing bumpiness and enjoying a quality sound at a decent volume without disturbing other people.
  • Appealing unusual rounded design.
Cons:
  • Limited audio codec support (Dolby Digital only).
  • No analog port, Bluetooth, USB inputs limit the compatibility area of the soundbar.

Best Bluetooth Soundbar

Samsung HW-J355 — Dynamic Sound and Enhanced Wireless Connectivity

This soundbar has many ways to accept and transmit the audio data and be controlled by the user commands. The specific app Media Remote allows adjusting the soundbard’s performance, turn it on and off, rewind, group the files and so on.

So does the Bluetooth. Any paired Bluetooth device can serve as the soundbar control, powering it on and streaming the high-quality content.

The soundbar creates a highly balanced detailed soundstage. It produces pleasant fluid sound with clean highs and warm & wide mid range. The bass is handled by the separate wired subwoofer creating the enveloping vibrating effect by means of 60W output of the bottom-low sound signal.

The soundbar is versatile letting hook it up through different ports. It has an optical jack, the AUX in, and USB inputs. Connection ports are situated widely, the plugs don’t interfere with each other.

Pros:
  • Support of the most popular hi-res audio formats: FLAC, OGG, WAV.
  • TV Sound Connect tech offers fast and reliable wireless connection to a TV.
  • The sub is connected via high-quality long cable ensuring no data / signal is lost on the way.
Cons:
  • No “clear dialogue” function working for Blu-ray discs’ content.

Buyers Guide

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How does 5.1 Soundbar Differ from 2.1 One?

The 2.1 soundbar holds two speakers (left and right) and a subwoofer. The latter can be integrated or separate, wired, or Bluetooth-compatible. This system is considered the “minimal surround” or a stereo system since most stereo audio files are recorded within two signal tracks. In such a setup, a sub usually undertakes the low frequencies of both tracks, making the bass more voluminous.

The 5.1 soundbar consists of the same left and right speakers and a subwoofer. There are other speakers added: a central speaker and left and right surround speakers. Such a set enables sound coming from different directions at the intended frequency range and creating a presence effect.

However, not all audio formats support 5.1 speaker set. For example, Stereo format contains only two tracks but can be successfully run through the 5.1 soundbar. The latter can have Dolby Digital, which has six tracks separation, and Dolby True HD with eight tracks, and other formats.

Another point in the difference between 2.1 and 5.1 soundbar is the price. Usually, the 5.1 models are more expensive. At the same time, the quality of the components of 2.1 soundbar might be higher. In general, the 2.1 soundbars are used for music listening and TV watching, while 5.1 units make a base of the home theater surround sound system.

How to Pick a Soundbar Matching My TV?

Most soundbars are compatible with modern LED TVs. However, before buying a soundbar, several issues must be considered:

  • Connection ports. Make sure the soundbar has the connection jacks (HDMI is preferred connection) to pair it with the TV. Otherwise, you might need an adaptor. Think of the cables, too. If they are not included, acquire the needed ones.
  • Wireless compatibility. Having a TV and a soundbar that connect through Bluetooth is handy. However, check that the devices connect without interruptions. Make sure to install the most recent updates to all software both on TV and soundbar.
  • Positioning. If your TV fills the place or there is a little place even for a small sound device, consider the soundbars with wall-mountable appliances.
  • Control. Having one remote or a mobile app controlling and setting both devices simultaneously is a good bonus. So is the voice control. Make sure both the TV and the chosen soundbar support Alexa or other voice control apps.
  • Audio and video definition. Make sure to pick the soundbar with the specs equal or superior to those of your TV.4K / HDR or Dolby Atmos don’t make sense if they are not supported by one of the home media system components.

Does Soundbar Size Matter?

Modern soundbars come in all shapes and may be of different length. There are models that contain all the drivers in one box and the ones having external components (like wired satellite speakers or wireless subwoofer). Placing these components (especially the hardwired ones) might need additional space and / or stands.

The soundbars vary in length and height. They can be two feet long but quite tall and seem obtrusive in front of your TV. The flat models are usually longer requiring certain space to place them on.

There is no correlation between the soundbar length and its acoustic specifications, though bigger boxes might have better isolation and vibration dampening properties. Considering the aesthetic aspect, there is a correlation between the diameter of the TV and the length of the soundbar. For example, a 40-inch soundbar looks good in front of 45-inch TV.

best soundbars

About Soundbar Channels

The soundbar channels can be several, starting from two ones (left and right). Often, they are more. The number of channels needed for the particular setup depends on the user’s purpose and preference. There is no need for installing the 5.1 soundbar for streaming music through Spotify or another app. Meanwhile, for movie-watching and gaming, the multichannel soundbar is a must have.

To determine how many channels the soundbar has, look at its specifications. The numbers like 2.0, 7.1 indicate the number of channels (before the dot) and the subwoofer connections (after the dot). Three channels stand for two usual right and left speakers and a center speaker.

Some soundbars can create Dolby Atmos surround sound. For that, they must be compatible with the upwards directed speakers. This would be marked by the third number in the channels’ designation (like 5.1.2).

Considering the position for the audio components, prefer the soundbar in the “soundbar vs speaker” opposition. The soundbar always controls the primary channel separation and the operation of other channels. Put it in the center, and arrange other speakers with regard to the room landscape.

An Amplifier for the Soundbar?

The signal produced by the speakers is quite weak to be heard by the human ear. To make it audible, an amplifier is used. The speakers requiring an external amplifier are called “passive”, while the ones having an amp integrated are called “active”.

In our review, all of the soundbars are of an active type. It means they have sound drivers, amplifiers and the processing firmware included in a single casing.

Still, passive soundbar sets are also represented in the market. They usually do not differ from active soundbars in size but require an external amplifier hook up to produce the sound.

A passive soundbar is usually the choice of an audiophile as it lets out more detail and less interference and coloring. It emits crystal clear sound throughout the whole range of frequency and volume. At the same time, the passive soundbar requires additional components (such as cables, plugs, etc.) and more user’s attention during setup. Matching the soundbar with an amplifier might take time; yet, the benefit is the profoundly enhanced audio.

The active soundbar is simpler in setup and doesn’t require additional wires and place for positioning the amplifier. In most cases, it’s plug-and-play. The built-in amplifier is already balanced to provide the best of the audio the speakers can produce.

What are Floor-Standing Soundbars?

Soundbars are usually preferred over AV receivers or speaker sets due to their compact size. For a small room, the presence of the bulky sound gear might result in poor acoustics and cluttered passages.

Usually, the soundbars are located under the TV or right in front of it. The optimal position for the soundbar is on the wall, beneath the also wall-mounted TV. If placing the soundbar on the table in front of the TV-set, make sure it doesn’t touch the TV base and has at least some clearance in between.

Sometimes, a need might arise to put the soundbar on the floor. Technically, such positioning doesn’t differ much from tabletop installation. Still, floor-standing soundbar might become an issue:

  • vibration. The floor might convey the vibration that can cause the soundbar working worse. The sound might be distorted.
  • poor audibility. Placing the soundbar on the floor, we limit the distance at which the audio is heard. Besides, only a few soundbars feature up-firing speakers.
  • damage exposure. Small and flat soundbar can be easily kicked or stepped onto.

How High should the Soundbar be?

When installing the soundbar, consider the purpose of its use. If you need to enhance the audio of your LED TV, the best place would be wall-mounted right under the TV. For table-standing TVs, the soundbar can be installed in front and a little lower than the TV or placed above it. For music listening, the soundbar can be installed in a different location to ensure the most of the sound comes to the listener.

When choosing the place for the soundbar, try to put it at the nose-level of the listener. This will provide the best sound perception. If the soundbar features the upward-tilted drivers (used for creating the Atmos / DTS surround effect), make sure the soundbar itself is positioned straight, without tilts, and that it is not limited by a cabinet. The speakers will fire the powerful sound that must mirror from the ceiling. Placing the soundbar too low or enclosing it in a cabinet will muffle the sound and the effect will be lost.

While positioning the soundbar, also consider the availability of the power outlets and the length of the power cord. If using a battery-charged soundbar, make sure the wall or cabinet installation doesn’t stand in the way of battery charging.

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