Best Soundbars

Updated July 2021
Header Image
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

35 Models Considered
26 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
159 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best soundbars

TVs have evolved and improved by leaps and bounds over the last several years, delivering a greater number of pixels and more sophisticated image quality with each new generation. However, one thing hasn’t changed, even in the midst of the 4K revolution: the built-in speaker systems on modern TVs still sound as thin as they always did.

Thankfully, a solution exists for those who are dismayed by the thin sound of regular TV speakers: soundbars. Soundbars are thin rectangular speakers that connect to your TV and your content source, delivering much-improved audio to your space so you feel like you’re relaxing at the cinema. Soundbars easily blend with any home decor, and most can be mounted to the wall for space-saving convenience.

The soundbar market itself is rather diverse. Models range from compact soundbars that would be suitable for a college dorm room all the way to massive speakers that create a virtual surround speaker experience for large halls and gatherings. Selecting the best buy for your situation is a matter of balancing your needs with your preferred feature set. A lot of top-shelf companies make soundboards: RCA, Vizio, LG, JBL, Yamaha, Bose, and Sonos are just a handful of the reputable names. Which offering is right for you? For advice and expert commentary, continue reading this soundbar review.

Get emails you’ll love.
Learn about the products you’re wondering if you should buy and get advice on using your latest purchases.

Key considerations

Before you start looking at specific features, consider how and where you would like to use your soundbar. Start by asking yourself these questions.

How big is your space?

Of course, you will want to make sure the soundbar you select is able to project enough volume for the room where you watch television. Smaller and less-powerful soundbars typically only contain two stereo speakers. Larger, louder soundbars tend to contain more speakers and also include a subwoofer. The number of speakers is usually noted in the product description followed by a “.1” if a subwoofer is also present. For example, a 5.1 or 7.1 soundbar has five or seven speakers inside and includes a subwoofer.

Do you enjoy movies and TV with surround sound?

If you are a home theater aficionado, chances are you dream of owning a soundbar that is compatible with surround formats. If that is the case, make sure the product you buy supports virtual surround sound. Many of these items include up-firing speakers, which have the ability to bounce sound all around your TV room for an extravagant and delectable experience, as if you were in a cinema with strategically placed surround speakers.

Will you get a wired or wireless subwoofer?

Most soundbars include a subwoofer that allows them to produce rich audio with sufficient bass. Some subwoofers require a wired connection to the soundbar for this to happen. Unfortunately, such a requirement can limit your placement options. Therefore, if you can afford it, we recommend opting for a soundbar with a wireless subwoofer.

Are you debating between the purchase of a soundbar and a soundbase? If your entertainment space is small or mid-size, a soundbar would likely serve your purposes. If you require extra-big sound for some reason, however, take a look at the soundbases in your price range while shopping.

STAFF
BestReviews

Soundbar features

As you shop around and compare items, keep your eyes peeled for the following high-demand features. These functionalities set the top performers apart from the rest of the crowd.

  • Bluetooth support: Most people purchase soundbars to make their TV speakers sound better, but a quality soundbar can be a wonderful device for listening to music, too. If you have a lot of music stored on your phone — or if you simply like to stream music through a streaming service like Spotify — select a soundbar that will support the wireless streaming of your music via Bluetooth.
  • Virtual surround sound: The fact that you are investing in a soundbar does not preclude you from enjoying surround sound. A great number of soundbars support TV audio in surround sound, using additional built-in speakers to create it virtually by bouncing audio off walls to make it seem like it is coming from different directions. This arrangement is not quite as immersive as traditional multi-speaker surround, but for most consumers, the functionality is close enough.
  • Satellite speakers: Some soundbars include two additional wireless speakers to use as rear surround channels. If you are enchanted by the surround sound experience and desire a solution that is a little more sophisticated than virtual surround but not as pricey as a full-blown system, choosing a soundbar with satellite speakers may be an ideal compromise.
soundbars 3
Expert Tip
Expensive soundbars tend to focus on a realistic surround sound experience or Dolby Atmos. If a surround sound system isn’t vital to your enjoyment, however, you need not pay a fortune for the best and priciest soundbar on the market.
STAFF
BestReviews

Accessories

HDMI cable: AmazonBasics Braided HDMI Cable
All HDMI cables used in home theater perform essentially the same function: they carry audio and video signals between your components. That said, it is an excellent idea to get braided cable, which is more resistant to fraying and other damage. AmazonBasics’ braided HDMI cables are available in a number of lengths, and the cost is minimal.

Optical cable: AmazonBasics Digital Optical Audio Toslink Sound Bar TV Cable
If your soundbar has no HDMI port, you will need to acquire an optical cable instead. Optical cables are easy to use, but the quality of these cables can vary. We like the cables from AmazonBasics cables, which are built with high quality and last for years to come.

Cable management kit: Bestfy Cord Organizer System
After you have finished assembling your soundbar, TV, and video source setup, you will probably be left with lots of messy wires on your hands. A cord organizer is a great solution. We like this one from Bestfy because it has four sleeves, each with a zipper so you don’t have to struggle to thread your cables through.

Once you have narrowed your search down to a few models, compare the warranties that are offered with your top choices. Most soundbars include a standard one-year warranty, but some only offer 90 days of support. A shorter warranty can sometimes be indicative of a low end or inferior product.

STAFF
BestReviews

Soundbar prices

Soundbars often go on sale during shopping events such as Prime Day, Black Friday, and the winter holiday and gift-giving season. However, you can certainly find good deals at other times of the year as well. Generally speaking, expect to pay between $50 for an entry-level budget soundbar and over $800 for a top-shelf item.

Inexpensive: On the low end, in the $50 to $100 entry-level price range, you will find basic, often compact soundbars that are suitable for small spaces, such as a studio apartment or dormitory room. However, these smaller items will not necessarily have the oomph to power a space much larger than that. Notably, budget soundbars tend to cut a lot of corners. They often omit the inclusion of a subwoofer, or they simply do not have the volume output necessary to fill the average TV room with sound. If you need a soundbar for a temporary living situation like college or a small-scale area like a waiting room, you do not have to spend very much. However, if you are serious about elevating your TV’s audio output to the next level, we recommend you look to the next pricing tier.

Mid-range: In the $100 to $200 price range, you will find what we consider to be the best values in soundbars. Soundbars in this mid-range have wireless subwoofers, include key connectivity options like Bluetooth, and have enough power to fill a room with great sound without rattling the windows. If you are on a quest for a soundbar to be used in a shared space, or if you simply want a soundbar that has longevity on its side, this middle range is the price range to focus on. If you are looking for the absolute best audio quality in soundbars, however, you will need to climb one more step on the pricing ladder.

Expensive: Between $200 and $800+, you will encounter high-end soundbars from trusted and reputable brand names. Soundbars in this price range undoubtedly put out great sound, but for many consumers, they can be a tough sell because you can obtain a traditional surround sound system for roughly the same amount of money. That said, the priciest soundbars are also the most impressive soundbars: they can get incredibly loud, they support high-end audio formats, and they come in slick finishes. If you are an audiophile, or if you’re searching for a soundbar that looks good enough to be a conversation piece on its own, expect to spend accordingly.

soundbars 2
DID YOU KNOW?
You do not need to buy a receiver to use a soundbar. Receivers are designed to amplify sound signals for passive speakers. Soundbars are based on an all-in-one design, so they contain both the speaker and built-in amplification.
STAFF
BestReviews

Tips

  • When mounting a soundbar to the wall, take care to locate at least one wall stud to keep it secure.
  • If you buy a soundbar from the company that made your TV, you are more likely to get away with using just one remote.
  • If you think a soundbar wouldn’t be strong enough to meet your requirements, consider investing in a soundbase instead. Soundbars are absolutely wonderful for making TV audio sound better, but if you need something that is significantly louder, a soundbase may be the better option.

Soundbar surround sound is generally better with an eARC (enhanced audio return channel) than it is with a regular ARC. Because eARC has greater bandwidth, you get more data and therefore enjoy more cinematic sound quality.  Note: you will need a high-speed cable with Ethernet to make the most of a soundbar with eARC.

STAFF
BestReviews

Other products we considered

If you are willing to invest a decent amount of money in your soundbar, consider the Yamaha YAS-209. It’s one of our favorite options. Why? For starters, it is one of the few soundbars that support DTS Virtual:X, an audio format that competes with Dolby Atmos. The YAS-209 supports Bluetooth, as well, and it has a wireless subwoofer. If you choose, you can even use Yamaha’s smartphone app as a remote or to customize the sound of this Yamaha offering. At almost 37 inches long, the YAS-209 is definitely not for small spaces, but if you want a product that doesn’t compromise on high-quality sound, it is an excellent choice.

We’re also big fans of Sonos brand speakers, and the new Sonos Beam condenses everything we like about the company into one ultra-compact soundbar. The Sonos Beam supports multi-room audio, so you can connect it to your other Sonos speakers to play music throughout your home, which is great for parties and other times when you want to set a festive or fun mood. However, the real selling point is that the Sonos Beam has the digital voice assistant Amazon Alexa inside, so you can control it with voice commands or use Alexa to stream music to it. The Sonos Beam is a solid option for anyone who needs a soundbar for a smaller TV — or anyone who simply wants to own the smartest soundbar on the block.

We’d be remiss not to mention the Roku Streambar in our list of other favorites. If you’re looking for an all-in-one solution to upgrade your content streaming and your sound quality, the Roku Streambar is an affordable solution. It has four speakers inside with Dolby Audio, and you can use the device to stream in HDR, HD, and 4K. What’s more, you can do all of this with one remote control instead of several different gadgets.

If you’re fond of Roku and also fond of the idea of a soundbar system, you can upgrade the above-mentioned Roku purchase to the Roku Streambar Surround Set. This set includes wireless speakers and the immersive sound quality you’d expect from a full speaker system. And, for just a little more money than that, you can get Roku’s Streambar Surround Set with a subwoofer.

FAQ

Q. Can I connect a soundbar to more than one device?

A. Yes, you can do this as long as it has enough inputs. Most soundbars have multiple physical inputs, allowing you to connect to different devices. For example, most purchases include an HDMI port for connecting to a video source (like a streaming box or cable set top box) as well as a 3.5mm standard audio input jack for connecting to an Android, iPhone, or tablet. Keep in mind that some soundbars have wireless connectivity options as well, such as Bluetooth and WiFi.

Q. Is it feasible (and practical) to get a soundbar that’s wider than my TV?

A. Yes, you can do this if you want to. While many experts advise getting a soundbar that’s the same approximate width as your TV, that’s a cosmetic choice. Get a soundbar that fits under your TV, but focus more on finding one that has the right features rather than trying to find one that matches your TV.

Q. The term “soundstage” keeps popping up. What does this word mean in soundbar terminology?

A. Here, the term “soundstage” reflects the immersive sound quality of a soundbar. For example, if you were to close your eyes while enjoying an action film, would the high caliber of your soundbar help you discern where certain sound effects were coming from? Would you realize, say, that the footsteps of the primary antagonist were coming up behind you on your right? Of course, this would just be your perception of the film, but a quality soundbar has the width and depth to make you feel like you are actually there on the “soundstage” with the other players, living out an adventure.

Similar terms to understand are DTS Virtual:X and Dolby Atmos. DTS Virtual:X technology is designed to make the sound in your environment feel multi-dimensional even though you are listening to it through a finite set of speakers. Dolby Atmos does much the same thing, but it focuses more on the height of the sound. In fact, if you purchase a soundbar with Dolby Atmos, some experts recommend that you install ceiling speakers for maximized effect.

 

Other Products We Considered
The BestReviews editorial team researches hundreds of products based on consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. We then choose a shorter list for in-depth research and testing before finalizing our top picks. These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5.
See more
Our Top Picks