No matter how small, light and sharp TVs develop, there's still a glaring contrast between a new flat screen's spectacular picture and its mediocre sound performance. That's because practically all current sets, regardless of size, have substandard speakers hidden away in increasingly sparse frames. But fortunately, simply adding a soundbar to your set-up is an easy way to achieve a more engaging, clear and delightful viewing experience.
Most soundbars are self-contained audio systems that may be placed in front of or beneath your television. One of the greatest options is a speaker that is capable of playing music on its own, without the aid of any additional surrounds or subwoofers. But there are usually alternatives to expand to a more extensive surround set-up if needed, or there are whole multi-box systems that connect wirelessly, so there are no snaking cables to pose as trip hazards.
Depending on your budget, your soundbar can do much more than simply play TV audio - some high-end versions offer compatibility with AirPlay and Chromecast, while others offer Spotify Connect integration for wireless music listening. There are even some that offer interoperability with virtual assistants like Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, letting you to manage your soundbar with your voice.
2022's Top Soundbars
Ambeo Soundbar By Sennheiser
This Sennheiser speaker is perfect if you want to keep your living environment as clutter-free as possible while still getting the finest possible Atmos sound performance. It's a single unit, without a subwoofer, but it's able to conjure up the most lifelike overhead and true surround-sound effects we've ever heard. It's also controlled totally by remote control. In terms of sound price and performance, it's not as good as a full set of surround speakers, but it Prices less and is still 85 percent as good.
Vizio M Series M512a-H6
The Vizio M Series M512a-H6 is the best soundbar we've tested under $500. Listening to a wide range of audio content is easy with this 5.1.2 arrangement, which provides a neutral, balanced sound profile right out of the box. Its dedicated sub helps recreate a thumpy low-bass, ensuring you can feel the rumble in bass-heavy music and action-packed movies.
This arrangement also comes with two independent satellite speakers that deliver a good surrounds performance. It supports Dolby Atmos content using two up-firing channels incorporated into the bar to bounce sound off the ceiling and back down towards you to create the sensation of height. You may even alter the sound by utilising the EQ presets and the bass and treble controls to your liking.
Denon Soundbar 550 for the Home
The Dolby Atmos soundbar market is wide and varied, with a wide range of large, pricey soundbars and a wide range of inexpensive, smaller soundbars. For those who want the best of both worlds, Denon's Home Sound Bar 550 falls halfway in the middle.
If you're looking for a small, high-quality soundbar, go no further than this one. Providing a wide range of connectivity choices, as well as high-quality audio (including hi-res audio and processing wizardry to create a sense of spatial audio), and a genuine ability as a music speaker.
An immersive and interesting listening experience may be had thanks to the Denon's expansive sound. Any chance you take in terms of volume can rapidly spiral out of control, and at that point the Home 550 starts to show its teeth and become pretty aggressive.Price: $900
Klipsch Cinema 600 Home Theater System
Many of the less expensive versions we evaluate include subwoofers that are really just woofers and are unable to generate the kind of movie theatre thunder most shoppers are looking for. Good soundbars with subwoofers are rarely cheap. Thus, $499 is a rather modest price for a 3.1 system that can really bring the rumble, and the Klipsch Cinema 600 delivers crisp dialogue and superb music performance, as well. For $250 more, it can be enhanced to a genuine 5.1 surround system with cordless back satellites. And it's worth mentioning that we often see the Cinema 600 available for significantly less than the list priceâ€”as of this writing, it can be gotten for more like $300. Even if you can find it for cheaper, this system is a no-brainer for our Editors' Choice award.Price: $549.00
The Yamaha YAS-209 soundbar is a good option if you want a soundbar that includes a subwoofer for no additional Price. This device produces a deeper, rumbling sound that will bring a whole new level to your movie-watching experience.
The soundbar does not have Dolby Atmos capability, however it does offer DTS Virtual: X for a surround sound effect. Although it falls short of true surround sound on this soundbar, it's still fairly impressive. You'll also hear a lot more bass, of course, since the subwoofer amplifies the sound. Youâ€™ll also get a great lot of detail in the high end, and in fact, this is one of the better-sounding alternatives out there.
Sonos Beam Gen 2
You donâ€™t have to pay a tonne of cash to obtain a Sonos soundbar, if you donâ€™t want to. The second-generation Sonos Beam delivers many of the same smart capabilities as the Arc, in a smaller and cheaper chassis.
When it comes to getting that beloved Sonos sound on a budget, the Beam is a terrific option. The soundbar has a well-balanced midrange and excellent high-end detail. The bass response on the soundbar is fine, however, it doesnâ€™t come with a subwoofer, which would provide for a deeper bass response. You can buy a subwoofer separately, but, it Prices an extra $699. The second-generation Beam does, however, support Dolby Atmos, which makes it a terrific option to obtain a more immersive sound on a budget.Price: $449
When it comes to multi-speaker playback and music management, Sonos is the clear winner. The software developed by this company is unmatched. Listening to music is more than just putting songs on a playlist and looking for them. So if you're looking for a soundbar that can perform a superb job with sophisticated music playback (in addition to movie and TV audio), we think the Sony HT-A5000 is the speaker to beat.
It all starts with a really well-equipped soundbar with a built-in subwoofer (albeit a bit crudely fashioned). That driver is powerful enough that unless you're seeking to shake your fillings away, you probably don't need a specialised sub. Sony's virtual surround technology does a very good job creating an immersive sound field when listening to Dolby Atmos or DTS: X video, but it does a surprisingly good job upscaling normal two-channel audio too. But the A5000's special sauce lies in its connectivity and audio compatibility.
Soundbar Smart 300 by Bose
Given that the new Sonos Beam (Gen 2) is the same price as the Bose Smart Soundbar 300, and that the two speakers share many of the same capabilities, you might question why both appear on our list instead of just one. For us, it boils down to what you want or need a compact soundbar to do. The Beam (Gen 2) may be the superior product in terms of increasing your sense of immersion, but here's why we still adore the Bose:
To begin with, the sound is brighter and more defined. The Beam's warmth and resonance are wonderful, but it tends to emphasise low frequencies, which isn't perfect for TV conversation. In areas where sound can bounce off the side walls, the Bose performs a fantastic job of producing the immersive experience, despite not being an Atmos-capable speaker.Price: $900.00
JBL Bar 9.1
JBL offers dozens of soundbarsâ€”we've examined many of themâ€”and the Bar 9.1 ranks at the very top, both in terms of performance and price. A subwoofer and two small wireless speakers that charge by attaching to the left and right ends of the bar are included in JBL's first Dolby Atmos soundbar. When not in use, they function as the speakers for the back left and right, respectively, without the need for any additional wiring. It's a creative design, and the audio performance is powerful and thrilling. Watching movies is probably the major reason to invest for the $999.99 JBL Bar 9.1, but music also sounds terrific through its driversâ€”though there are some subwoofer settings that will need to be modified depending on the genre.
While we truly appreciate the Roku Streambar Pro, the Roku Streambar accomplishes essentially the same job for $50 less. An integrated Roku 4K HDR streamer and a single voice remote control make this an all-in-one audio/video device. The Roku soundbar setup is a breeze; just add to a TV with a simple HDMI port connection. This inexpensive soundbar delivers sound quality that's decent for the size and price, and you can add a $129 wireless subwoofer for extra punch
The Zvox SB500 is a wonderful option for consumers who value sound quality over price if you're looking for a single audio bar less than the Sonos Arc. The bass is tighter and the sound quality is superior to most other single-speaker options thanks to this speaker's numerous sound modes. While it may lack the Sonos' Wi-Fi streaming, the Zvox still has Bluetooth connectivity for streaming audio from your phone or tablet.
If your price range is limited, for less than a C-note, the Creative Stage Dolby Atmos soundbar offers a variety of previously unheard-of capabilities, including HDMI connectivity with HDMI ARC connector and a subwoofer. But what's even more astonishing is that this affordable soundbar sounds better than most of its ultrabudget competition, with a connected subwoofer that fills the room with terrific bass. This soundbar speaker is perfect for listening to music, attending concerts, or playing video games, thanks to the numerous audio settings it supports. For gamers and moviegoers alike, the audio quality is superb.
Sony HT-A9 Audio System Includes Two Speakers
Ok, so itâ€™s not a soundbar, but we think that anyone contemplating a soundbar should also consider this. There are many advantages to the HT-A9, such as its portability, ease of use and high-quality sound, but it lacks the soundbar and integration of a traditional surround sound system.
Consisting of four identical-looking grey wireless speakers and a hub that connects to your TV, the Sony HT-A9 is a flexible, complete Dolby Atmos cinema in one box. Each of the four speakers features a 19mm front-facing tweeter and full range X-balanced driver, as well as an upward-firing X-balanced driver that bounces sound off the ceiling.
Soundfield uniformity and immersion aren't dependent on speaker placement, and Sony encourages customers to do it anyway they see fit. The company promises an even and uniform audio experience regardless of how your set-up looks.Price: $1398.00
The Samsung HW-Q850A is a 5.1.2 configuration introduced in 2021. The Samsung HW-Q850T has been upgraded to include Apple AirPlay 2, which is a new function. It also comes with other sound improvement capabilities that we don't test, including Q-Symphony and SpaceFit Sound, which sync the bar with compatible Samsung TVs to provide a more immersive sound. Out-of-the-box, it has a very balanced sound profile, however it lacks a touch of thump and punch in the bass area. Fortunately, there are loads of sound customizing capabilities available, including a graphic EQ and presets.
Dali Katch One
A soundbar with five distinct audio inputs, three mounting options, and ten drivers working together to create an immersive audio experience, the Dali Katch One has enough to speak about. It is fairly tall, so you actually have to install it on a wall, but that will only enhance bass performance from the rear-firing drivers.
The Katch One is also a fantastic looking bar and comes in three different finishes: Iron Black, Ivory White and Mountain White. There's an ARC-enabled HDMI connector for obtaining the audio from your TV, plus a pair of optical ports for connecting to older TVs and Bluetooth for convenient music streaming from a mobile device.
The Danish business has jammed in four mid/bass drivers, four passive radiators and two tweeters within the soundbar, and it serves a terrific dynamic performance with a large, clear soundstage that works well for movies. It can also make a good time with music.Price: $999.00
JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam
The closest you'll get to a big-screen sound experience without cramming your living room with separate speakers is with JBL's soundbar, of course.
The 5.0 MultiBeam is economical without feeling cheap, which is quite a feat. It's small enough to fit under practically any TV yet feels strong and well built. There are five 48 x 80mm racetrack drivers, four 75mm passive radiators, and a grille that goes from ear to ear with two more drivers on the hood to create height effects packed into its tiny proportions. And it packs a lot into its modest size.
It uses Dolby Virtual Atmos rather than the full-fledged real deal but nevertheless manages to fill a room with sound. The sound quality is fantastic, with no rough edges at all, even when you turn it right the way up. We could ask for a bit more clarity and detail, notably in the significant bass frequencies and a more open treble response, but this is a full-bodied presentation thatâ€™s unlikely to exhaust you, even when listening at high volume.
Wharfedale Vista 200S
The Vista 200S is a 2.1-channel soundbar designed for TVs 65-inches and bigger. An HDMI ARC, optical and coaxial digital inputs and a 3.5mm port are accessible in terms of physical connections, with Bluetooth there for wireless connectivity.
Its straightforward to set-up and use, with the Vista 200S putting in a superb performance throughout movies and TV shows. Dialogue is conveyed with clarity and it can cope well with hectic soundtracks by sorting through the detail offered by the wireless subwoofer in our testing location. Itâ€™s undoubtedly one of the greatest value soundbars currently available, and a good bargain if youâ€™re looking performance on a budget.
Polk React Soundbar
Polk's React soundbar doesn't have Dolby Atmos support like some of the most expensive soundbars on the market, but it sounds better than any other $250-plus soundbars we've heard. On top of that, the React has Alexa built-in, making it easy to play music via voice commands, and the soundbar can be used in Alexa speaker groups. Finally, Polk Audio's optional wireless subwoofer and surround speaker kit can enhance the Polk React's sound.