The best soundbars under $300 of 2023
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Updated Jun 20, 2023 8:36 PM
Grabbing a soundbar under $300 is a great way to immerse yourself in the sweeping scores of your favorite movies and the punchy dialogue of your comfort-watch sitcoms. Bypassing any built-in speakers your television might have, soundbars can enhance and elevate your viewing experience by enhancing the stereo field or even expanding it substantially. While there are several high-end (read expensive) models out there, you don’t need to spend a fortune to improve your home theater’s audio. Affordable soundbars can still deliver a high-quality listening experience with 5.1 channel systems, multiple connectivity options, and wireless playback capabilities. Beyond any special features, the best soundbars under $300 will be compact and easy to install, providing additional amplification and clarity to any soundtrack, score, or scene.
- Best full system: Vizio M51ax-J6
- Best for movies and music: Polk Audio Signa S3
- Best 3.1 sound: Samsung HW-A650
- Best 2.1 sound: Yamaha ATS-2090
- Best budget: Roku Streambar Pro
How we selected the best soundbars under $300
The PopSci staff has spent a lot of time researching and testing budget-friendly audio products; everyone deserves access to standout sound, so we pride ourselves on knowing what to look for to ensure all personal audio we recommend will suit listeners of various types. We looked for tempting specs and features like you’d find in luxury models but focused most on connectivity options, multi-channel systems, audio codecs, and user impressions, as well as some first-hand experience. We made sure to only recommend products from reputable brands like Vizio and Roku, which have proven they are dedicated to developing and incorporating affordable audio technology.
Best full system soundbar: Vizio M51ax-J6
Why it made the cut: The M51ax-J6 is the only product on our list that offers a complete surround system with two additional satellite speakers, a subwoofer, and Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio at a very reasonable price point.
- Dimensions: 36 x 3.5 x 2.2 inches
- Connectivity: HDMI eARC, Bluetooth, optical
- Audio Channels: 5.1
- Dolby Atmos and DTS:X processing
- Voice Assistant
- 9 speaker drivers
- Satellite speakers are wired
The Vizio M51ax-J6 is a 5.1 channel surround sound system is rife with features typically found in more expensive models. The 36-inch soundbar houses six speakers: two passive radiators, woofers, and tweeters for increased frequency isolation and support resulting in a richer sound. The 5-inch subwoofer is wireless, can be placed anywhere you like, and has a frequency response range that reaches 45Hz. Two smaller satellite speakers, which connect to the subwoofer via wire, can be placed next to the soundbar for broader coverage (also called front surround mode) or behind your seating area for dual stereo mode. Plenty of connectivity options are available, so compatibility with your TV is practically guaranteed. On the right side of the bar you’ll find an HDMI input, HDMI output for eARC connections, a USB port, and an optical audio input port. The included Vizio remote controls power, input, volume, Bluetooth, and more. You can also connect your favorite voice assistant and other smart devices via aux VA port or Bluetooth respectively to create an efficient hub for at-home music, podcast, and audiobook-listening. Finally, this soundbar is fully equipped to take advantage of DTS:X and Dolby Atmos content, a rarity for most soundbars under $300.
Best for movies and music: Polk Audio Signa S3
Why it made the cut: The Signa 3 is not only a great soundbar for watching videos, but also an excellent at-home speaker for rocking out to your favorite tunes.
- Dimensions: 35.4 x 3.2 x 2.15 inches
- Connectivity: HDMI ARC, Bluetooth, optical
- Audio Channels: 2.1
- Dedicated Music Mode
- Powerful audio across highs and lows
- Built-in Chromecast
- LED Mode indicators can be hard to read
The Signa 3 is a great soundbar for listeners who are looking for more when it comes to everyday, at-home listening. Not only will you get great sound for movies and TV shows, but you’ll also experience elevated audio when it comes to music.
Built-in Chromecast makes it easy to connect to apps like Spotify, TIDAL, or Amazon Music, and Wi-Fi connectivity expands those options. Bluetooth 4.0—with AAC, AptX, and SBC codecs—is also supported. There are three different listening modes available: Movie, Music, and Night; you can also use Voice Adjust Technology to tweak the level of dialogue to your liking. Two midrange drivers and two tweeters alongside the wireless 40-watt subwoofer support a frequency range of 45Hz – 20kHz. Users report distortion-free listening even at high volumes with a rich, natural sound across the mids and highs. The included remote control allows you to adjust volume, bass levels (on a 1-8 scale), input, power, listening mode, and Voice Adjust, so you’ll never need to leave the couch.
Best 3.1 sound soundbar: Samsung HW-A650
Why it made the cut: If investing in additional speakers (and wires for that matter) isn’t for you, but you want a little more than just a left and right channel, the Samsung 3.1 HW-A650 should do the trick.
- Dimensions: 38.6 x 2.3 x 4.1 inches
- Connectivity: HDMI ARC, Bluetooth, optical
- Audio Channels: 3.1
- Center channel
- Graphic EQ
- Overall sound quality
- No Dolby Atmos
- No Voice Control
When it comes to sound reinforcement and system design, most, if not all, venues use a center speaker or speaker array to support vocals specifically. A 3.1 soundbar utilizes this design concept to deliver better home theater audio to your living room. Alongside left, right, and center channels, the HW-A650 provides a balanced sound with a tested frequency response range of roughly 42Hz – 20kHz. When you’re ready to upgrade to a 5.1 surround sound experience, you can easily integrate Samsung’s satellite speakers into your system. This soundbar has several enhancement features to keep you happy even without additional units. Graphic EQ gives you total control over your sound and if you’re not sure where to start presets including Bass Boost, Game, Surround Sound, and Adaptive Sound Life will get you going. Connectivity options include HDMI Arc, HDMI output, Full HDMI input, USB, and optical audio, plus Bluetooth—however, there is no Wi-Fi playback option. The remote is simple and straightforward, controlling the soundbar and not the television itself. While the HW-A650 does not include a treasure trove of bells and whistles, it delivers excellent sound quality, giving you customizable control over audio.
Best 2.1 sound: Yamaha ATS-2090
Why it made the cut: The Yamaha ATS-2090 is a straightforward 2.1 unit with balanced audio designed with WiFi connectivity, voice control, and easy installation.
- Dimensions: 36 x 2.5 x 4.25 inches
- Connectivity: HDMI ARC, Bluetooth, optical
- Audio Channels: 2.1
- Built-in Alexa
- EQ Presents
- No control display
- 3D mode can be overwhelming
The ATS-2090 is a solid option for those who want the added power of a wireless subwoofer without a bunch of extra elements. It features well-balanced stereo sound, dialogue enhancement, subwoofer level control, EQ presets designed for different content, and virtual surround sound. Connectivity options include HDMI ARC, Full HDMI input, HDMI output, optical audio input, USB, and Ethernet. There is also a 4K pass-through that can support Blu-ray players, gaming consoles, and additional PC monitors. The ATS-2090 features built-in Alexa control, as well as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to support playback from your phone or other smart devices. A universal remote is included for control over soundbar and subwoofer volume, EQ presets, listening modes, input settings, and child lock. An entry-level soundbar, this unit is an excellent option for enhancing the stereo image of any film or television program.
Best budget: Roku Streambar Pro
Why it made the cut: The Streambar Pro is an inexpensive way to get solid sound quality with multiple options for control and connectivity.
- Dimensions: 32.2 x 3.9 x 2.8 inches
- Connectivity: HDMI ARC, Bluetooth, optical
- Audio Channels: 2.0
- Private Listening option
- Voice Contol
- AirPlay and HomeKit compatible
- Bass could be better
You don’t need to have a Roku TV to take advantage of all this powerful, compact soundbar has to offer. The Streambar Pro features four 2.5-inch full-range drivers that support powerful 2-channel stereo sound, gracefully enhancing movies and TV shows, but it might not pack a huge punch for music listening. Speech Clarity helps with clear dialogue, though. Luckily, Roku makes it easy to expand with the option to incorporate additional wireless speakers or a wireless subwoofer down the road if you want to round out your listening experience. The included remote contains typical features like control over volume and playback and provides unique additions like programmable command buttons and a headphone jack for private listening wirelessly, allowing you to experience big-screen visuals without waking up your roommates. A Night Mode also helps not disturb the neighbors. The Wi-Fi-enabled Streambar Pro works with Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant and is also compatible with AirPlay, so you can share photos, videos, and music from your Apple device. While this soundbar supports Dolby Audio, it will mix down to virtual without any speaker expansions. This soundbar also acts as a 4K HDR Roku media streamer, providing access to apps including Hulu, Netflix, Spotify, YouTube, Amazon Prime, as well as Roku Channel exclusives, assuming you have a compatible UHD TV with an HDMI input that supports HDCP 2.2.
Things to consider before buying one of the best soundbars under $300
As televisions became slimmer and flat screens took over our homes, the need for additional amplification grew. Without extra room inside the TV, it became harder to incorporate suitably sized speakers, resulting in the degradation of audio quality. Enter the soundbar, which is practically guaranteed to enhance the viewing experience because they have one job: to make your content sound better. Whether you’re just looking for a bit of a bass boost or a revelatory home theatre experience, you’ll want to consider a few key features before purchasing.
One of the most common questions asked by folks setting out to find the right soundbar for their television is, “What size should I get?” While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer, rest assured that soundbars are designed to be a compact, aesthetically pleasing way to improve audio, meaning you don’t need to worry about some monstrously sized speaker taking up half the living room. The common rule is don’t pick a model that is longer than your television. You want your soundbar to sit sleekly underneath the screen to maintain proper directionality and discrete connectivity. A unit that pokes out beyond the corners of your tv or hangs over the edge of your console is at best an eyesore and at worst a hazard. Try to stick to the screen size as a guiding ruler even if you have a smaller television. Soundbar size doesn’t necessarily indicate sound quality, so larger isn’t inherently better. And, with the right model, you can expand your unit to include a subwoofer, or additional speaker fills if you feel like you need more from your slim soundbar.
Most soundbars currently on the market have multiple options for connectivity—the most popular being HDMI cables. Before buying a new soundbar, it’s important to understand your television’s connectivity capabilities, so you can ensure easy setup upon arrival.
HDMI, or High Definition Multimedia Interface, ports are a readily available way to transmit audio and visual information between a television and an external unit, like an A/V receiver or soundbar. When HDMI transmission first hit the scene, you needed one HDMI port and cable to send video and another to support audio so any pre-2009 TV will likely need a soundbar with an optical digital audio port too.
Post-2009, HDMI-ARC connections were made available; ARC stands for Audio Return Channel and enables high audio bandwidth, as well as compatibility with remote controls via Consumer Electronics Control (CEC). Essentially, HDMI-ARC eliminated the need for a secondary cable, creating a more efficient connection. HDMI-ARC transmission is what most affordable soundbars rely on and is suitable for many TVs. Note that HDMI-ARC can support Dolby Atmos, but an eARC connection is strongly preferred and you will need that eARC support for Atmos audio encoded with uncompressed Dolby TrueHD audio. You will also need a cable that delivers HDMI with Ethernet, High-Speed HDMI with Ethernet, or Ultra High-Speed HDMI.
Many soundbars will not only have an HDMI-ARC or eARC port, but also an HDMI output port as well. This allows you to connnect gaming consoles and Blu-ray players to your soundbar and pass the signal through to the TV. Some models will also list Full HDMI in their list of available ports; this slot allows you to connect an additional sound source and can enable higher quality sound but can make it more difficult to play audio from the apps on your TV.
Many soundbars on the market will also offer Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity so you can link to other devices, like your smartphone or laptop, and stream podcasts, audiobooks, or music. Some even offer AirPlay 2, built-in Chromecast, or Alexa for enhanced connectivity and voice control.
At its most basic, a soundbar will offer stereo sound, meaning an independent left and right channel, also called a 2.0 channel system. Soundbar systems can generally incorporate between 1.0 and 7.2 channels. For models under $300, you’ll typically be capped at 5.1 channels and most will be packaged with 2. 1 channels. These 2.1 channel systems add a separate subwoofer to take care of low frequencies. Moving up to 3.1 systems will incorporate a left, right, and center channel alongside the additional sub. And 5.1 systems will utilize one main soundbar, containing the left, right, and center channels, one subwoofer, and two additional speakers that act as surrounds, rears, or front fills for an even more immersive experience. As you can imagine, 5.1 systems take up more space and require more cabling, but for a 3D auditory experience, five channels are certainly better than two.
The deal with Dolby Digital, Dolby Atmos, and DTS:X
Dolby Digital is an audio codec that produces high-quality sound across a 5.1 channel scheme. It helps create immersive surround sound and has been used in film and television since 1992. Many soundbars will list Dolby Digital compatibility in their specs even if they are a 2.1 channel system; this simply means they can process the audio and often end up mixing down the signal, formatting it to fit the soundbar’s channel configuration.
Dolby Atmos is a surround sound technology designed to create a realistic listening experience that puts you inside whatever movie you’re watching or video game you’re playing. To do this, Atmos utilizes overhead or upward-firing speakers and object-based audio, which essentially forgoes channel assignments and creates a 3-D plane that sound can move through, mimicking the object’s spatial organization on screen. For example, a plane may sound like it’s flying directly above you, a shootout will have bullets whizzing past your head, etc. You don’t need to build out a 12-speaker sound system complete with overhead units to take advantage of Dolby Atmos; you just need a soundbar equipped with Dolby Atmos technology. Atmos-equipped soundbars can effectively process the audio and some are designed with front-firing drivers that can virtually simulate projecting sound upwards. In order to experience Dolby Atmos, the content you are watching also has to be mixed with that technology, like select films on Netflix, iTunes, or UHD Blu-ray. Dolby Atmos does come at a higher cost but if you are looking for an incredible listening experience, we believe it’s worth the price.
DTS:X, a multidimensional audio codec, can be considered the primary Dolby Atmos competitor. DTS:X doesn’t require any particular speaker set up, adapting to your system and supporting up to 11.2 channels. Unlike Dolby Atmos, DTS:X lets listeners customize their experience, with the option to manually adjust sound elements, like turning up the volume on just dialogue, lifting it above background music or effects. DTS: X-enabled content is predominantly found on Blu-ray disks, IMAXEnchanced content, or Xbox games.
While DTS:X is completely immersive, DTS Virtual:X attempts to mimic multi-speaker surround sound using digital signal processing to simulate directionality and create a larger more detailed soundstage impacting music, dialogue, and SFX alike.
Finding an inexpensive soundbar that supports well-developed surround sound technologies like Dolby Atmos or DTS:X can be difficult. So, if you are looking for a mind-blowing, 3D experience, consider saving a little bit more so you can invest in the necessary technology.
It’s true that the 4K refers to screen resolution, not audio quality, but if you have a 4K television, you’ll want a soundbar with 4K compatibility or “pass-through.” This essentially means a soundbar with an HDMI input and output so you can create a streamlined, simple connection. This pass-through allows you to direct content from another media device through the soundbar and into the tv, maintaining lossless audio synchronization.
Q: Does a soundbar replace TV speakers?
Yes, a soundbar is designed to replace your television’s built-in speakers. You cannot use both the TV speakers and soundbar to create an enhanced system, it’s likely you will just create an annoying echo. Soundbars are specifically structured to be better than your built-in speakers, which are often crammed into a skinny TV and too small to produce the kind of sound that should accompany film and television. You are sure to notice a difference the next time you watch an episode of Euphoria and feel Labrinth’s score soar around you or finally dig into Dune and fear the sandworms might come through the screen and attack you thanks to immersive, elevated sound.
Q: Is a soundbar better than a surround sound system?
While a soundbar is a great way to improve your home theater’s sound, a full surround sound system might be the best way to create an even more 3D experience. Larger drivers across at least four speakers plus a subwoofer can often provide more detail than the small units found in soundbars. However, while the audio quality may be better, surround systems are typically more expensive, harder to install, and require additional receivers. For a budget-friendly, easier-to-use option, we recommend looking at a package that includes a soundbar with a couple of supplementary speakers and a sub, like the Vizio M51ax-J6.
Q: What is the difference between 2. 1 and 3.1 soundbar?
The difference between a 2.1 and 3.1 soundbar is the additional center channel in the 3.1 system. A 2.1 channel system includes a left and right channel built into the soundbar with an additional subwoofer. A 3.1-channel system will incorporate a left, right, and center channel, as well as the sub. The biggest perceivable difference will be in the clarity of dialogue, which is typically mapped to the center channel.
Final thoughts on picking the best soundbars under $300
If you’ve decided to upgrade your TV’s audio, but you don’t want to break the bank, consider which features are non-negotiable so you can find something that fits your needs and your budget. Do you want to invest in true 5.1 surround sound? Are you satisfied with stereo but need a universal remote? Do you need multiple connectivity options? Or would you rather be able to have complete control over EQ? Once you can answer these questions, you can narrow your search and select one of the best soundbars under $300.
8 Best Soundbars Under $300 in 2023
If you’re on a budget but want better audio for your TV, don’t worry. Quality sound can be affordable. There are numerous soundbars available that cost less than $300 and they perform well above their price range.
In this price category, many soundbars offer features like Bluetooth connectivity, HDMI support, and even a wireless subwoofer for improved bass. Voice enhancement technology is common in these soundbars too, making it easier to follow dialogue in TV shows and movies.
For those who enjoy listening to music, these soundbars are more than just TV accessories. They deliver a superior audio experience compared to standard Bluetooth speakers. And some of them also integrate with voice assistants like Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, or at least offer the option to connect to a smart speaker.
In This Guide
While features don’t actually vary too much from our $200 soundbar recommendations, you can expect improved sound quality and more powerful speakers. You’ll have to increase your budget substantially to access soundbars with the most immersive surround sound and/or integrated smart features, but the $300 budget represents the high-end of basic stereo soundbars with virtualized surround sound capabilities.
Stay with us as we guide you through our recommendations for this price bracket.
As a 5.1-channel system the M51ax-J6 can create a natural sense of envelopment that belies its budget price.
HDMI ARC: Yes (eARC)
Surround Sound Technology: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X
- Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support
- Good stereo and surround imaging
- Plenty of bass
- eARC support
- Wired surround speakers
- No Wi-Fi connectivity
The Vizio M51ax-J6 Soundbar stands out in the market for providing an affordable 5.1-channel home theater experience with a separate subwoofer and rear satellites. It’s also one of the few soundbars in this budget to support Dolby Atmos for more immersive audio experiences.
The M51ax-J6 features a minimalistic design with a slim, rectangular speaker wrapped in a black grille cloth, housing three front-firing drivers and three tweeters. It sports a simple control interface with five buttons, including power, input, Bluetooth pairing, and volume controls.
Its back accommodates several ports including an HDMI input/output, optical audio input, and a USB port, among others. Unfortunately, a visual control panel is notably absent, placing reliance on a small display on the provided remote.
Performance-wise, the M51ax-J6 delivers impressive bass and good surround imaging, but its treble response could be better. The soundbar and subwoofer effectively handle bass-heavy tracks without distortion.
While the out-of-box sound balance leans towards the lower frequencies, some adjustments to the bass and treble levels can achieve a more balanced output. Despite its front imaging being a tad limited compared to wider soundbars like the Sonos Arc, its rear satellites make up for it, offering a richer surround experience at half the Arc’s price.
The M51ax-J6 has limitations – it lacks the high-frequency finesse of pricier alternatives and a better visual control panel. Yet, its powerful bass, strong vocal presentation, and support for Dolby Atmos make it a value-for-money 5.1 system that’s hard to beat at this price.
Best 3.1 soundbar
The Samsung HW-B650 delivers a neutral sound and has a dedicated center channel for clear dialog.
HDMI ARC: Yes
Surround Sound Technology: Dolby Digital, DTS:X
- Dedicated Center Channel
- Wide soundstage
- Good build quality
- No Dolby Atmos
- Bass lacks oomph
The new Samsung HW-B650 is a 3.1-channel soundbar that builds upon the previous HW-A650 model. It features a center channel for improved vocal reproduction and offers DTS Virtual:X support for object-based audio, though it doesn’t support the more widespread Dolby Atmos format.
The soundbar measures 40.6 x 2.3 x 4.1 inches and maintains Samsung’s design elements with a metal grille and angled edges. It comes with a subwoofer made of wood and covered with fabric.
The soundbar delivers a neutral sound profile, with customization options for bass, treble, and sound modes like Bass Boost and Surround Sound Expansion. It also features Adaptive Sound Lite technology for optimized audio based on the content. The external subwoofer makes it capable of producing lows, but do note the bass isn’t as potent as some of the other bundled subwoofers.
While its sonic delivery and features can’t match the Vizio M51ax-J6’s, it’s a great soundbar for the price that comes from a manufacturer with a slightly higher reliability reputation than the more budget-oriented Vizio brand.
Best Compact Soundbar
Small, straightforward, and offering Bose’s trademark acoustics with vibrant highs and punchy mids.
HDMI ARC: Yes
Surround Sound Technology: Dolby Digital
- Compact, elegant design
- Easy to use
- Clear dialog with dialog mode
- Optional Bose Bass Module subwoofer
- HDMI and optical cables not included
- No support for object-based formats like Atmos or DTS:X
The Bose TV Speaker is a minimalist soundbar for those looking to enhance their TV audio without the hassle of complicated setups or clutter of wires.
The speaker sports a low-profile, premium design that is in line with the aesthetics of other Bose products. Despite being compact enough to fit in front of a 32-inch TV without obscuring the screen, it delivers sound quality that belies its size.
It might not support advanced audio formats or virtual surround sound modes, but it delivers excellent 2-channel stereo sound. Bose products tend to have a signature sound that is colored and strays from a flat sound signature. It’s a favorite among many listeners, but those seeking more natural sound might prefer other options.
Its dialog mode effectively enhances speech clarity, while two full-range drivers provide a sense of width and depth that can fill even big rooms without distortion.
Convenience and ease of use are at the heart of this soundbar. It has HDMI ARC input, a dedicated subwoofer output, and Bluetooth connectivity. However, it doesn’t support high-bandwidth audio formats like Dolby Atmos. The inclusion of Bluetooth allows for music streaming from other devices or pairing with a Bose smart speaker. It’s a shame though that Bose didn’t include the ability to pair with Bose wireless headphones.
The speaker is controlled via an included remote or your TV’s remote if you’re using an HDMI ARC connection. It’s Roku TV-ready, offering additional on-screen control options for Roku TV owners. The lack of physical controls on the soundbar, coupled with the intuitive remote design, ensures a hands-off experience.
While it might be more expensive than some soundbars offering more features, the Bose TV Speaker is an excellent choice for those who value simplicity, compactness, and solid sound quality over advanced technology and features. The cheaper Bose Solo 5 TV sound system or the more feature-rich (and expensive) Bose Smart Soundbar 300 are other Bose soundbars to consider.
Runner-Up Compact Soundbar
The entry-level soundbar from premium brand Sonos is light on features but integrates nicely into Sonos Multi-Room setups.
HDMI ARC: No
Surround Sound Technology: Dolby Digital, DTS
- Compact and attractive design
- Nicely balanced sound
- Sonos multi-room support
- No Bluetooth
- Optical only, no HDMI connections
- Underwhelming bass performance
The Sonos Ray soundbar, a product from the brand with a reputation for high-quality, albeit high-priced, audio gear, continues the trend toward more affordable mass-market audio devices.
Deceptively simple in design and somewhat pared down in terms of features, the Sonos Ray still manages to compete against its more expensive counterpart, the Sonos Beam. The Ray has no HDMI port or built-in voice assistant, which the Beam includes. However, the Sonos Ray’s sound is tighter than the Beam’s, making it a better value given its lower price.
The Ray, with its stereo-only model that includes a pair of mid-woofers and two tweeters, provides a surprisingly full soundstage, creating the illusion of a much larger speaker system. While it may seem a little smaller at 22 inches wide and has a trapezoidal shape compared to the Beam, it boasts the same aesthetic and high-quality touch controls.
The Ray’s lack of microphones might disappoint some, but voice commands can still be issued via paired smart speakers such as Amazon Echo or another Sonos smart speaker.
Lacking HDMI might seem a strange omission, yet it’s mitigated by the prevalence of digital optical outputs on most TVs, which the Ray is compatible with. The soundbar lacks sophisticated surround sound codecs like DTS Virtual:X and Dolby Atmos, but it does at least include other audio functions such as speech enhancement and TruePlay tuning.
In terms of audio comparisons, the Ray excelled at music performance, exhibiting an impressive soundstage with a surprisingly full bass. However, when it comes to cinematic experiences, the Ray can’t compete with the Beam’s pseudo-Dolby Atmos effects, but it still provides respectable dialogue reproduction and wide-sounding output.
On a brighter note, the Sonos Ray shines in the integration of multiroom music and streaming features, showcasing the brand’s renowned multiroom system that features dozens of streaming services, as well as compatibility with Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, and Tidal Connect. These exclusive features make it worth considering alongside the Bose TV Speaker, which is slightly ahead when it comes to more typical considerations like HDMI input and better bass delivery.
Best 2.1-channel soundbar
Exceptional sonic performance but lacking in features against similarly priced contenders.
HDMI ARC: Yes
Surround Sound Technology: Dolby Digital
- Neutral, balanced sound
- Plenty of power
- No Dolby Atmos or DTS
- Light on features for the price
The Klipsch Cinema 400 soundbar is a relatively new offering from a brand with a history in loudspeakers. Unlike its predecessors, which fell short in the soundbar arena, the latest generation marks a significant improvement.
In terms of design, the Klipsch Cinema 400 stands out with its distinctive horn-loaded speaker technology and a structure crafted from actual wood. The black fabric grille and brushed metal finish create a unique aesthetic, setting it apart from the typical black rectangular soundbars found in this price range. However, it’s important to note that its taller profile may obstruct TV remote functionality.
While the Cinema 400 lacks smart features and Wi-Fi connectivity, it delivers excellent soundbar performance for both movies and music. The horn-loaded tweeters deliver a spacious sound that surpasses competitors like the JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass. Meanwhile, the wireless subwoofer is impressively large, contributing to deep bass response which was lacking in the previous iteration.
The soundbar offers various connectivity options, including HDMI ARC, USB, digital optical, and analog inputs, with Bluetooth for streaming from mobile devices. However, there’s no support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. This is slightly surprising since most soundbars in this $300 price range do support virtualized DTS:X. But keep in mind that since most streaming platforms like Netflix do not offer the codec (yet), you probably won’t miss out on much.
Though lacking some features, the Klipsch Cinema 400’s exceptional sound quality and robust build make it a worthy contender in its price range.
Runner-Up 2. 1-channel soundbar
The Polk Audio Signa S3 offers numerous features but lacks object-based surround sound format compatibility.
HDMI ARC: Yes
Surround Sound Technology: Dolby Digital
- Great stereo sound
- Wi-Fi connectivity
- Chromecast and Google Assistant Voice Commands
- Limited low end
- Limited to Dolby Digital
Like Klipsch, Polk Audio is another American audio brand with a heritage in speakers. Their Signa series has always been generous with features and has been a favorite among consumers, although since its debut newer models from brands like Vizio have given it some tough competition.
The Signa S3’s sleek design houses dual front-firing midrange drivers and tweeters, offering a frequency range of 45Hz to 20kHz. The 40-watt subwoofer adds to the overall sound depth, pairing effortlessly with the soundbar. Notably, the subwoofer seems to function more as a potent woofer than a sub capable of hitting truly deep lows. The aforementioned Klipsch 400 Cinema’s soundbar has the Signa S3 beat in this respect.
Where the Signa S3 excels is in reproducing stereo music with delightful clarity. While it still offers a noticeable improvement over standard TV speakers for watching movies or TV shows, its 2.1-channel configuration limits its ability to deliver an immersive surround sound experience compared to models which add satellite speakers into the mix.
The Signa S3 also supports a variety of connections, including HDMI ARC, Optical, Bluetooth 4.0, AAC, AptX, SBC Bluetooth codecs, and has built-in Chromecast audio and Google Assistant support.
Best standalone with Atmos
One of the few affordable standalone soundbars to offer Atmos support, but keep your expectations realistic for a standalone soundbar.
HDMI ARC: Yes
Surround Sound Technology: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X
- Virtualized 7.1.2ch surround with Vertical Sound Engine
- Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support
- Decent bass for integrated subwoofers
- Downmixed surround sound doesn’t match true 5. 1/7.1 setups
Although not a top pick in this guide, the HT-X8500 still holds its ground as a solid recommendation due to its discounted price and ability to enhance TV audio without breaking the bank. Originally launched in 2019, it’s a notable 2.1 setup with integrated dual subwoofers, designed to save space while delivering immersive sound.
One standout feature of the HT-X8500 is its support for Atmos and DTS:X content, which is uncommon for a 2.1-channel setup. This soundbar employs Vertical Surround Engine technology to deliver a convincing wraparound sound, though it struggles to deliver deep low-bass rumble and exhibits a slightly boxy and dark sound profile.
While the HT-X8500 falls short of replicating the overhead audio of a true Atmos 7.1.2 system, it creates an immersive soundstage with impressive width. The Vertical Sound processor enhances both 3D movie mixes and advanced channel codecs, showcasing the prowess of Sony’s expertise in DSP technology.
Overall, the Sony HT-X8500 soundbar offers a solid audio experience with its integrated dual subwoofers and support for Atmos and DTS content. It’s a good standalone option but lacks its own identity, missing the connectivity options and smart features found in slightly more expensive standalone bars such as the Sonos Beam Gen 2 or JBL BAR5.0 Multibeam, while its standalone nature also means it outputs less power than external subwoofer setups included in this guide.
Best PC Soundbar
A soundbar for desktop PC users that matches visual appeal with high quality sound.
HDMI ARC: No
Surround Sound Technology: THX Spatial Audio
- Great stereo imaging
- Plenty of bass
- Customizable RGB
- Lack of ports and no optical
- Unreliable Bluetooth
While we typically associate soundbars with TVs, the Razer Leviathan V2 is a soundbar designed for use with PCs. This soundbar is a refined iteration of its V1 predecessor, presenting improvements like support for RGB Chroma, improved audio quality, and a more streamlined design. However, these advancements come at the expense of diverse connectivity options, which might pose an issue for some users and especially those who want to use it with a TV.
The Leviathan V2 is sleek and lightweight, making it easy to reposition within a workspace. It measures 19.7 x 3.6 x 3.30 inches and is accompanied by a more cube-like subwoofer, an aesthetic departure from the original Leviathan’s angular subwoofer. Adding to its gamer appeal, the soundbar now supports Chroma RGB, allowing users to customize its color according to their preference or desktop setup. A minor qualm though, the front grill’s paint quality and the plastic wrap around the Leviathan V2 seemed lacking, prone to chipping and smudging respectively.
In terms of audio quality, the Leviathan V2 does not disappoint. Despite its small size, it offers a solid audio output, especially when paired with its optional subwoofer. It delivers rich mids and lows, managing to render fine details in sound that go missed by stock laptop speakers. It also boasts THX Spatial Audio integration, offering an impressive virtualized surround sound experience. However, it’s worth noting that its highs are slightly lacking, a nuance that will probably not matter to most users.
Usability is its strong point, allowing for smooth interaction with buttons, quick Bluetooth connection with smartphones, and plug-and-play compatibility with both Mac and PC. Users can easily customize the RGB Chroma via Razer’s PC software or smartphone app.
However, the Leviathan V2 falls short in terms of connectivity. It provides only two connection options – Bluetooth and USB-C, a significant setback compared to modern soundbars. The absence of options like HDMI 2.1 and a 3.5mm headphone jack limits its versatility, making it suitable only for a narrow set of use cases.
If your goal is to cultivate an unrivaled home theater audio experience without stretching your budget, the Vizio M51ax-J6 is our top recommendation. Its unique value proposition lies in its inclusion of dedicated satellite speakers – a rare find at this price point – complemented by its support for Dolby Atmos. This object-oriented audio format is favored by a plethora of popular streaming services, including Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video, adding another layer of appeal.
However, in spatially constrained environments or scenarios where a minimalist design is preferred, the Vizio M51ax-J6 might not be suitable. Where space is especially constrained, the Bose TV Speaker and the Sonos Ray are recommended. These compact soundbars prioritize ease of use and simplicity without compromising everyday TV viewing quality.
For those seeking a balance between cinematic audio and usability, the Samsung HW-B650 and Klipsch Cinema 400 offer a happy medium. Equipped with dedicated subwoofers, these 2.1ch or 3.1ch soundbars can serve up superior cinematic audio, without the hassle of dealing with extra speakers.
BEST SOUNDBAR – TOP 9 soundbar rating
Amplified sound is one of the most important aspects for watching TV and movies on TV. It creates the effect of presence in the events taking place on the screen.
It is common to use speakers or buy a home theater to improve sound quality. In fact, you can get by with a simpler device – a soundbar. Read more about it below.
Read: Which is better: soundbar, music center or speaker system – an overview of 3 options
What is a soundbar and why is it needed?
The soundbar is an acoustic monoblock for sound amplification. The design contains a different number of speakers, which varies from two to fifty pieces. Therefore, the device gives the purest sound in an area of up to 50 square meters. m.
Soundbars are divided into two types.
These models are equipped with TV sound amplification. Minimalism in everything, functionality only on the case.
Capable of producing incredible multi-channel sound. They are connected using gadgets via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. This detail is useful when you want to get the maximum of emotions from a new track downloaded, for example, to a smartphone. Some models may have an optical drive – a device for reading and writing data from / to a plastic disk.
Stereo systems are also divided according to the type of sound.
- Active (autonomous)
This device is easy to install due to the intuitive system.
- Passive (requires connection to amplifier)
An expensive alternative to active soundbars with improved sound. In order to tune, you need a tuner. Installing such a device will require professional help and will cost extra money.
An interesting article: Which acoustics to choose for your home: a comparison of different types and 5 best manufacturers
Advantages of a soundbar for a TV
The feature of soundbars is the ability to choose the placement option. They are hung on the wall, above or below the TV, mounted in a rack. After installation, you should make sure that the equalizer is working, which is present in the soundbar, so that the amplitudes of the sound frequencies are regulated in a balanced way.
How to choose the right soundbar? What to look out for
There are four factors to consider when choosing the best soundbar.
More precisely, the components of the sound are divided into important points. They are in front of you.
1. Sound clarity
This factor is evident when listening to music or watching videos. If noises are heard, the soundbar needs to be replaced.
Deep sound can evoke tactile sensations as well as auditory ones. It will be like being in a real cinema.
3. Sound Density
Depends on the power of the soundbar and is clearly felt.
4. Karaoke speaker
A good reverberation is conducive to singing.
It is important that there are practically no deviations from the rule “what is more expensive, it is better” in this situation. They can be safely guided when buying.
For review: Proper setup of the speaker system on a PC – instructions in 2 sections
External subwoofer – a segment that reproduces low-frequency sounds and serves as an amplifier for low-power soundbars.
Sub cannot be used alone. It requires a stereo system to be included. The main property of a subwoofer is to give a clear sound. That is why it is not worth saving on it.
Functions can be adjusted using the remote control or panel. If you take the first option, you can adjust the sound and control its properties without even going to the TV. It is convenient and very popular.
If we talk about the panel, you will have to study all the functions available for use, and then configure it manually. This is not suitable for many, because they want simplicity and clarity. But true connoisseurs of music will appreciate the quality of the subwoofer on their own experience.
Optical players are built into expensive models. They support Blu-Ray optical discs of any kind. You can easily read and write data from it.
Since the sound intensity varies, it must be adjusted according to the size of the room. If the device is weak, the sound effect will fill the space and bounce off the walls in a way that is not intended by the soundbar manufacturer. And vice versa. When a device is too powerful for a small space, it can be a waste of money. After all, for a small room you can find a cheaper option.
However, even if the power is too high, the sound can be reduced. For a better understanding of the size and power ratios, the following table is presented:
Rating of the best soundbars for TV
Based on the cost of stereo systems, sound depth, functionality, and take into account user reviews, you get a small list of the best soundbar options. Below is the TOP soundbars – where you can learn about the advantages and disadvantages of each of them.
Useful article: What to do if there is no sound on the TV – 5 actual causes and troubleshooting tips
Smart soundbar from Samsung. A great option for high-tech apartments or houses.
- Wireless subwoofer and streaming
No wires means less clutter. Bluetooth-connection is carried out habitually and quickly, does not require additional efforts.
- Controllable with remote control
One remote control replaces several and contains the necessary functions for switching. Sound effects can be adjusted manually while listening to tracks.
- Rear speaker option
This soundbar can be purchased with a wireless speaker kit and connected with a power cable.
- App on phone or tablet
Samsung’s signature Samremote gadget add-on, available from the App Store or Google Play, lets you turn your mobile device into a remote control.
The only drawback is the bass. Some users complain that they do not have enough power. Although the bass boost function is present in the audio system.
From inexpensive. But good quality.
Looks stylish. Top panel in black faux leather. Equipped with several touch buttons, thanks to which you can control the stereo system. The front panel is covered with a grill to hide the speakers.
Easily tuned for weak and strong basses. You can set the sound to Cinema mode. It will sound like it’s real.
The Achilles’ heel of the Sony HT-S350 stereo is in the mix. There are only two physical connections here: optical and HDMI ARC port. There is no analog output, so it will be impossible to connect a TV without an adapter. There is also no Wi-Fi support. The Blu-ray player will also fail to connect due to the problem described above.
PHILIPS HTL 1508
The HTL 1508 soundbar can be connected with just one cable. High-quality music is played after a wireless connection. Has 2.0 channel and HDMI ARC.
Full range main unit drivers present. Suitable for any TV, supports Dolby Digital and Virtual Surround. Can be wall and shelf mounted.
There is only one drawback – there is no opportunity to sing in karaoke.
This is a budget option. It is not a serious sound amplifier for the TV. The soundbar is a great idea for a nightly get-together with a movie or series. Nevertheless, the audio system performs the function of high-quality sound excellently. The clear sound sometimes lacking on a TV can be achieved with this inexpensive tool.
The external subwoofer provides really good bass. This is a significant advantage. However, keep in mind that the sound here is not very loud. Not suitable for listening to rhythmic music. For viewing detective stories and melodramas – norms.
If we talk about karaoke, LG SJ3 is rather weak, lacking power. Sometimes it happens that setting up the wireless data transfer function is a problem.
In general, the positive aspects of this audio system include:
- external subwoofer,
- quite a nice price.
The list of shortcomings is as follows:
- relatively few opportunities,
- there are problems with wireless connection,
- is not a very loud sound.
Being one of the best devices of its kind.
This soundbar has several advantages:
- MERIDIAN: digital processing gives the sound a wide range.
- Dolby Atmos and DTS:X: Bringing the cinema experience closer with new technologies.
- 4K HDR and Dolby Vision: Enjoy 4K content right in your home.
- Chromecast: Famous apps let you play music on your soundbar via Spotify.
- Connections: three types of inputs make it possible to connect different devices.
- Additional items: universal audio system format allows you to connect two more audio channels of the same brand.
LG SL8Y is positioned as one of the most optimal for purchase. She has one drawback – a relatively high price.
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m. The sound is powerful, does not contain noise. The upper frequencies are handled beautifully. The only dubious detail regarding the sound is the lack of expressive bass compared to more expensive solutions. Such an audio system appeals to film lovers and gamers who want to experience the game even more real.
Acoustic beams are the strong point of this soundbar. Thanks to them, a feeling of a second reality is effectively created. When action takes place in a movie, the sound not only matches exactly in time, but also in placement. That is, when, for example, the fire on the TV screen is on the right, it seems that the crackling comes from the right side. Thus, the film acquires a surround sound and, along with a home theater, does not leave any movie fan indifferent.
Of the negative qualities, the length should be noted. If the TV to which the soundbar is connected is larger than 55 inches, for some scenes, the audio system will be short and will not transmit sound quite as intended. The lack of USB ports can also seem inconvenient for users.
The table shows the pros and cons of the Samsung HW-Q60R:
Acceptable, but expensive – this is about the Sony HT-XF9000. He is a great idea for computer games, those that play on the console, as well as for TV shows. The model connects wirelessly to any gadget, which is the main “plus”. The sound here is so clear and crisp that it is a pleasure to listen to it at any volume.
The device takes up minimal space due to its size. This means that the device can be freely moved and paired with different gadgets. Bass is not strong enough, but present.
Among the shortcomings is the low audibility of voices against the background of music in films. Mids are weak.
Active subwoofer has no wires because it supports Bluetooth. Excellent acoustics and sound saturation cannot be compared with primitive TV speakers.
Among the shortcomings of the LG SL9Y is the lack of additional features, such as karaoke, although not everyone needs this function. Also, for some, it may seem too overpriced.
This device will help you create a pleasant atmosphere of a movie party right at home. The central speaker is responsible for speech, it is made with high quality. Generates clear sound.
The bass in this unit is reinforced and powerful. The virtual sound volume is rated excellent by users. The subwoofer, however, is rather weak here, and the equalizer has a small number of settings – this is the “cons” of this model.
To choose a soundbar, the best idea is to visit an offline store. There you can listen to tracks on working TVs with soundbars and evaluate their quality from the outside. If the product was bought online, but it did not fit, you can return it within 14 days from the date of purchase.
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Should you buy a Bose soundbar? They are good?
Author Verbitsky Andrey Reading 7 min Views 20 Published
Bose has been a stalwart of the hi-fi scene for nearly 60 years. Recently, its audio capability has expanded somewhat to include smart speakers and Bose soundbars.
We are dealing with the latter. The soundbar is a speaker that is located under the TV and is designed to create a surround sound effect. Not only are they cheaper than full-fledged 5.1 systems, but they’re also more compact because they don’t have individual speakers to place all over the room (and no cables to trip over).
Partial thanks Thanks to the Bose brand, Bose soundbars are becoming increasingly popular due to their reputation for quality, but perhaps at a price. So is it fair? Should You Buy a Bose Soundbar? What else should be considered before making a decision? We are here to answer all of these questions and possibly more.
- Best Budget Soundbars & Sound Bases
- Best Dolby Atmos Soundbars
- Should I buy a Bose soundbar? What are the best Bose soundbars?
- What about the latest Bose soundbars?
- Should I buy a Bose soundbar?
- Our Verdict
Should You Buy a Bose Soundbar? What are the best Bose soundbars?
The last Bose soundbar to pass through our test labs was the Bose SoundTouch 300. This £600 soundbar (69$9/AU$699) earned a solid, if unremarkable, three stars. We liked its style, streaming features, app-friendliness, and comprehensive specs, but the overall audio quality fell short when compared to alternatives like the Dali Katch One and Sonos Beam.
Still, the SoundTouch 300 may appeal to many. In addition to acting as a separate speaker from your TV, it can become the heart of your surround sound system when you add a Bose wireless subwoofer and wireless surround speakers. It will still be more compact than most surround sound systems, and since the devices are wireless, the risk of tripping will be minimal.
Multi-room functionality. also included as standard. This means that when you sync it with a compatible speaker in another room, you can play the same music from both. Or let everyone play something different, but control both of them from one phone. Comfortable.
It has Bluetooth for offline streaming from your phone, tablet, or computer, and NFC means you can wirelessly connect your device to it with a tap.
The application is also designed for music lovers. It allows you to stream music directly from Amazon Music, Spotify and Deezer. Or you can access locally stored music files from your device.
So he has decent music. But first of all, this is a device for watching movies and TV shows. Bose’s PhaseGuide array technology separates the soundtrack’s audio channels to spread them wider than the physical size of the panel.
QuietPort technology aims to deliver deep, distortion-free bass at any volume, and ADAPTiQ calibration helps optimize sound for your specific living room environment.
While the SoundTouch 300 was by no means the best soundbar, it had great specs and some nice sound elements that bodes well for later Bose designs.
What about the latest Bose soundbars?
The SoundTouch 300 has since been followed by four models.
The best deal is the Bose Soundbar 700 (pictured above). It looks premium-worthy and has some features that help it stand out from the crowd, like the ability to pair it with wireless headphones and control them both independently – so you can turn off the soundbar and turn up the volume on your cans. So you can enjoy the clicks of the action as loudly as you like without disturbing anyone in the room.
Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa personal assistants are built in so you can simply speak your commands without lifting a finger. The discreet light lets you know at a glance if your personal assistant is listening, thinking or talking, so you have no doubt what’s going on.
It supports Apple Music, Spotify, Deezer and Amazon Music as well as Apple AirPlay 2, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi wireless technologies. The bundled remote is also pretty cool – it only lights up the buttons you need for the selected action, making it a lot easier to operate. Soundbar 700 costs 79£9 ($699, AU$999).
If your budget isn’t quite up to the Soundbar 700, the Bose Soundbar 500 might be right for you. This £499 ($499, AU$799) model also comes with Alexa and Google Assistant, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Apple AirPlay 2. There’s also the same Adaptiq Audio Calibration technology to fine-tune the sound to match the layout of your rooms.
It has a thinner profile than the Soundbar 700 but is slightly less attractive. But it can also send audio to a pair of wireless headphones that can be controlled independently, so you can tuck into the box while your other half naps on the couch.
Next comes the Bose TV speaker. It’s a lot more basic than the Bose Soundbar models – no Wi-Fi, no Apple AirPlay 2, and some of the more advanced features are missing. Fortunately, this is reflected in the price. In the UK it will set you back £239 (not available elsewhere).
Finally, there’s Bose’s cheapest soundbar, the Bose Solo 5 TV sound system. Again, it lacks more advanced features like Wi-Fi and voice assistants, but then it’s a lot cheaper. It costs 209pounds sterling ($199, AU$299).
Should I buy a Bose soundbar?
Bose’s latest soundbars cover a wide range of budgets, from fairly expensive to bargain baskets. Depending on your needs, there might be something here for you.
The top-of-the-range Bose Soundbar 700 has all the features you could ever need, including voice assistant support and music streaming services built right into the Bose app.
The cheaper models, meanwhile, are more compact and less intrusive and may be a good option for those on a tight budget.
We haven’t tested these models yet, so we can’t make a final decision. But Bose products usually deliver decent sound, so there’s every reason to expect the same from these soundbars.
Will they be the best sound-per-pound performers? In truth, judging by all the soundbars we’ve reviewed over the years, there’s a good chance an alternative brand will offer a better deal.
If you see a Bose soundbar deal, it might be a smart investment. But don’t waste money as soon as you see a discount: check the feature set first, as cheaper models have much lower specs than their more expensive siblings.
Check out the Bose Adaptiq. Audio Calibration technology (which calibrates the audio output to suit your room), wireless technologies like Wi-Fi, NFC and Apple AirPlay 2, and voice assistant support if you want to control it with your voice. This will also come in handy if you have other smart home appliances scattered around the house (like lights and thermostats) since you can control them from your soundbar.