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The 5 Best Budget Soundbars - Fall 2020

Best Budget Soundbars
73 Soundbars Tested
  • Store-bought soundbars; no cherry-picked units
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Equipping your home theater 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 over 70 soundbars, and below you'll find the best budget soundbars to buy. 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

    Mixed Usage
    Dialogue/TV Shows

    The best budget soundbar we've tested is the Sony HT-S100F. This entry-level model from Sony can be a viable option if you're looking to upgrade the sound from your TV's integrated speakers without spending a fortune. The overall build quality is decent, and it has a simple, straightforward design that's easy to set up.

    While it sounds a bit muddy, this standalone model still performs alright overall, especially compared to other cheap soundbars we've tested. It's not a top-of-the-line product, but it's an affordable option for streaming music over Bluetooth or watching some TV shows here and there. It can even downmix Dolby Digital surround content to stereo, which some cheap models can't do at all.

    Unfortunately, it's quite large for a standalone bar. It might not fit directly under your TV, which can be an issue if you're tight on space. Still, if you don't mind it taking up a bit of room, it provides decent overall value for the price, making it the best cheap soundbar we've tested.

    See our review

  2. Best Budget Soundbar Under $200: Vizio V Series V21-H8

    Mixed Usage
    Dialogue/TV Shows

    The best budget soundbar that we've tested is the Vizio V Series V21-H8. This 2.1 soundbar has a dedicated subwoofer that produces deep and boomy bass. It's decently well-built, and it's Bluetooth-compatible, so you can stream content from your phone to the bar.

    Overall, this soundbar has a boomy, bass-heavy sound profile that adds an extra thump and punch to bass-heavy music genres and action-packed shows. If you prefer a different sound, a few EQ presets are available, including a dialogue enhancement feature that helps make voices sound clearer and crisper. There's also an auto-volume mode to help balance the volume level between different programs.

    Unfortunately, while this soundbar gets pretty loud, there's a bit of compression when it's played at max volume. Also, it doesn't support Atmos content, and it downmixes surround content into stereo, so it may not be the best choice for an immersive movie-watching experience. That said, if you're on a budget, this soundbar is a solid upgrade over your TV speakers.

    See our review

  3. Compact Alternative: Bose Solo 5


    If you have limited space and want a soundbar that's slightly more compact, try the Bose Solo 5. While the Vizio V Series V21-H8 has a wireless subwoofer that can produce deep, thumpy bass, the Bose is a standalone soundbar, which makes it easier to set up and start using right away. It also has a slightly more neutral sound profile, and its center channel offers a better performance for decently clear and neutral dialogue reproduction. Unfortunately, it doesn't have HDMI ARC support, so it can't support Dolby Digital content through this input. It also doesn't have any sound enhancement features, which can be very limiting if you like to tweak your audio.

    If you're looking for something that packs in the bass but can support audio formats over its HDMI ARC port, get the Vizio. However, if you're short on space and you prefer something that sounds decent right out-of-the-box, go with the Bose.

    See our review

  4. Best Soundbar Under $300: Yamaha YAS-209

    Mixed Usage
    Dialogue/TV Shows

    The best value soundbar under $300 that we've tested is the Yamaha YAS-209. Even though its current retail price is slightly above that price point, it's been seen at under $300 recently. Overall, this 2.1 setup has a decently versatile performance that should please many listeners.

    It has a neutral, well-balanced sound profile that suits most music and movie genres. Thanks to its dedicated subwoofer, its bass extends low, so it can reproduce the low thumps and rumbles in bass-heavy content better than the Yamaha YAS-207. It also comes with six EQ presets to help you customize your sound, which is a decent selection for its price point.

    Unfortunately, it doesn't support Atmos content. Like many budget bars, it downmixes surround content into stereo, which doesn't provide the most immersive listening experience. That being said, it supports 4k passthrough, so it can be used as a hub for your PC or your gaming console.

    See our review

  5. Customizable Alternative: Samsung HW-R650


    If you like to customize the sound of your soundbar, consider the Samsung HW-R650 instead. While it lacks a bit of sub-bass compared to the Yamaha YAS-209, this 3.1 soundbar has a neutral, well-balanced sound profile that's suited to lots of different types of audio content. If you prefer a different sound, it has bass and treble adjustments and a 7-band graphic EQ available. It's well-built, and it can get loud without a lot of compression. Thanks to its dedicated center channel, it can reproduce voices and dialogue clearly and accurately, so it's great for watching TV. Unfortunately, it doesn't support 4k passthrough, which may be disappointing for some users.

    If you want a soundbar with deep bass and 4k passthrough, check out the Yamaha, but if you want to adjust the sound of your bar, consider the Samsung instead.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • TCL Alto 5+: The TCL Alto 5+ is a sub-par soundbar for most uses, but its bass-heavy sound can be suitable for some movies and music. See our review
  • Sony HT-S350: The Sony HT-S350 is 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: The Sony HT-S200F is a budget soundbar setup that includes an integrated subwoofer and performs alright overall, but like the HT-S350, it sounds noticeably dark and muddy. See our review
  • JBL Link Bar: The JBL Link Bar is a good 2.0 soundbar but lacks sub-bass due to not having a dedicated subwoofer. See our review
  • Vizio SB3220n-F6: The Vizio SB3220n-F6 is a surprisingly decent standalone bar that's quite an impressive option for TV shows but is getting very difficult to find in stock. See our review
  • Polk Audio SIGNA S2: The Polk Audio SIGNA S2 is a 2.1 soundbar with an excited, v-shaped sound profile, but it isn't as customizable as the Vizio V Series V21-H8. See our review
  • Samsung HW-T550: The Samsung HW-T550 is a 2.1 soundbar that's a good alternative to the HW-R650, but it doesn't have a dedicated center channel. See our review
  • TCL Alto 7+: The TCL Alto 7+ is a well-built 2.1 soundbar with a better performing center channel, but its sound profile isn't as balanced as the Polk Audio SIGNA S2. See our review
  • Sony HT-X8500: The Sony HT-X8500 is a 2.1 setup with an integrated subwoofer that can play Atmos and DTS content, but it has trouble reproducing low-bass and sounds a bit boxy. See our review
  • Samsung HW-S60T: The Samsung HW-S60T is a 4.0 setup with a fairly neutral sound profile and a lot of sound customization options; however, it doesn't support Atmos content. See our review

Recent Updates

10/20/2020: Replaced the Samsung HW-T550 with the Samsung HW-R650 to reflect pricing changes. Replaced the Polk Audio SIGNA S2 with the Vizio V Series V21-H8. Added the Samsung HW-T550 and the Polk Audio SIGNA S2 to Notable Mentions.

08/21/2020: Replaced the Yamaha YAS-207 with the Yamaha YAS-209. Added the Sony HT-X8500 and the Samsung HW-S60T as Notable Mentions.

06/22/2020: Added Samsung HW-T550 as 'Customizable Alternative' to the Yamaha YAS-207, and moved the Samsung HW-R550 to 'Notable Mentions'. Replaced the TCL Alto 7+ with the Polk Audio SIGNA S2.

01/22/2020: Added the JBL Link Bar to 'Notable Mentions'.

11/01/2019: Added Samsung HW-R550 as 'Customizable Alternative' to the Yamaha YAS-207.

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 soundbar reviews under $300. 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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