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The 5 Best Budget Soundbars - Fall 2019
Reviews

Best Budget Soundbars
27 Soundbars Tested
  • Store-bought soundbars; no cherry-picked units
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Equipping your home theatre system with speakers can cost a fortune. Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank to find a decent soundbar that can make watching TV or movies more exciting. Even some of the cheapest soundbars perform fairly well, especially if you watch a lot of dialogue-heavy content like TV dramas or like to listen to podcasts or audiobooks at home. Whether you're looking for a soundbar with a subwoofer for watching action movies or a small soundbar that'll fit under your TV, there's something for everyone in the budget range.

We've tested 25 soundbars so far, and below you'll find the best budget soundbars to buy in 2019. See our recommendations for the best soundbars, the best soundbars under $200, and the best soundbars under $300.


  1. Best Cheap Soundbar: Sony HT-S100F

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.0
    6.4
    Mixed Usage
    8.1
    Dialog / TV Shows
    6.1
    Music
    5.5
    Movies
    Channels
    :
    2.0

    The best cheap soundbar we've tested so far is the Sony HT-S100F. This stereo soundbar performs decently, especially considering its price, and is versatile enough for most casual uses at home. It's a good option for those who watch mostly TV shows or some movies from time to time, and has quite a few different connectivity options for compatibility with different home theatre setups.

    This Sony soundbar has a pretty neutral sound profile and can get quite loud without compressing audio very much, which is good for a cheaper product. It also has a dialog enhancement feature so that you can still hear dialog well in action movies without having to turn the volume way up, which is nice if you like to watch your favorite films later in the evening. It also supports Dolby Digital content over HDMI ARC, so even though it downmixes to 2.0, you'll still be able to decode any DD Blu-rays you might have.

    While the soundbar on its own is decent for the price, it doesn't come with a subwoofer. The slightly more expensive Sony HT-S200F has an integrated sub so it can produce deeper bass, but it sounds darker since it doesn't reproduce frequencies in the treble range very well. It's not the flashiest soundbar we've tested, but if you're looking for something cheap that'll do the job, the S100F is the best budget soundbar.

    See our review

  2. Best Budget Soundbar Under $200: TCL Alto 7+

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.0
    6.3
    Mixed Usage
    7.2
    Dialog / TV Shows
    6.2
    Music
    5.8
    Movies
    Channels
    :
    2.1

    The best budget soundbar under $200 we've tested so far is the TCL Alto 7+. This soundbar set up comes with a dedicated subwoofer for deeper bass, so it's a better choice for movies than some of the cheaper models we've reviewed. It feels surprisingly well-built for a budget soundbar, with a durable plastic and metal build. It also comes with lots of cables and accessories, like a wall-mounting kit, which is quite nice at this price point.

    It has a fairly neutral stereo frequency response like the Sony HT-S100F,  but its treble range is further extended, so dialog sounds brighter and more present. It has a couple of EQ presets for movies, music or news, and supports Dolby Digital over HDMI ARC with downmixing to 2.0.

    While this soundbar can get very loud, it doesn't perform as well at max volume. It tends to create pumping and compression artifacts, notably in the bass range, but thankfully doesn't distort too much. Most people also don't tend to listen to music or watch movies at max volume either, so it shouldn't be much of an issue. All things considered, it's one of the best soundbars for the money; it's an alright soundbar for most people thanks to its numerous connectivity options, good build quality, and decent sound.

    See our review

  3. Alternative With DTS Support: Yamaha YAS-108/ATS-1080

    Channels
    :
    2.2

    If you watch a lot of movies on Blu-ray that only have DTS audio, then get the Yamaha ATS1080. It doesn't have a separate subwoofer like the TCL Alto 7+ and feels less well-built, but has a full HDMI-in port on top of HDMI ARC so it can serve as a hub between your gaming consoles or Blu-ray player and your TV. It has an optical port and a standard audio jack for compatibility with even more devices and supports both Dolby Digital and DTS on ARC, HDMI and optical. While the soundbar sounds okay overall, it doesn't have very extended bass, so it'll struggle to recreate the deep thump and rumble of action movies, but should still be alright for TV shows.

    Get the TCL if you want something with a more durable design and slightly more bass, but if you prefer having more connectivity and audio format support options, then go for the Yamaha.

    See our review

  4. More Compact Alternative: Bose Solo 5

    Channels
    :
    2.0

    If you're looking for a smaller soundbar that you can easily fit under your TV, then get the Bose Solo 5. It doesn't have any HDMI ports, so it's quite a bit less versatile than the TCL Alto 7+, but if you only need optical or a standard AUX jack, then it's a solid option for those who want a more compact soundbar. It has well-balanced mid and treble range which makes it decent for most TV shows, but it noticeably lacks bass, especially since it doesn't come with a subwoofer. The Sony HT-S200F has an integrated sub and is around the same size as the Bose, but it doesn't reproduce dialog as well.

    Get the Alto 7+ if you have enough space for a full soundbar with a sub, but if you're looking for something a lot more compact for the same price, then you'll want the Solo 5.

    See our review

  5. Best Soundbar Under $300: Yamaha YAS-207

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.0
    7.3
    Mixed Usage
    8.1
    Dialog / TV Shows
    7.1
    Music
    6.8
    Movies
    Channels
    :
    2.1

    The best soundbar under $300 we've tested so far is the Yamaha YAS-207. It's a versatile soundbar that comes with lots of different connectivity options and even has a companion app you can download if you prefer using your smartphone instead of its remote. It comes with a separate subwoofer, sounds decent and provides pretty good value for the price overall.

    This Yamaha soundbar has a surprisingly well-balanced sound that's bright enough to make dialog present and understandable while still delivering more bass than most of the budget options we've reviewed. It can get pretty loud without too much distortion, but does compress a bit at max volume. This shouldn't be a problem if you're just watching your favorite shows though, and you can even enhance dialog to be clearer at lower volumes, which is nice.

    Although the soundbar feels fairly well-built overall, it's covered with a mesh-like fabric that gets dirty rather easily and is prone to tearing, which could be a problem if you have pets around the house. It also doesn't produce as much bass as some of the more premium soundbar setups we've reviewed, but this is to be expected at this price point. All things considered, it's the best value soundbar and is likely to please those who want a reasonably well-performing soundbar for casual use at home without breaking the bank.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • TCL Alto 5+: A sub-par soundbar for most uses but bass-heavy sound suitable for some movies and music. See our review
  • Sony HT-S350: A disappointing budget soundbar. Comes with a separate subwoofer with its own controllable level, but has a dark, muddy sound. See our review
  • Sony HT-S200F: Budget soundbar setup that includes an integrated subwoofer and performs alright overall, but like the HT-S350, sounds noticeably dark and muddy. See our review

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best budget soundbars for most people to buy. We factor in the price (a cheaper soundbar wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no soundbars that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).

If you would like to choose for yourself, here's the list of all our budget soundbar reviews. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. No soundbar is perfect. Personal taste, preference, and listening habits will matter more in your selection.

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