The 5 Best Budget Soundbars - Summer 2021 Reviews

Updated
Best Budget Soundbars
107 Soundbars Tested
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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 100 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

    6.3
    Mixed Usage
    7.2
    Dialogue/TV Shows
    6.4
    Music
    5.6
    Movies
    Channels
    2.0

    The best cheap soundbar that we've tested is the Sony HT-S100F. This 2.0 setup comes with an S-Force Front Surround feature advertised to help create a more immersive sound. It's also Bluetooth-compatible, making it easy to wirelessly stream audio from your mobile devices to the bar.

    Out-of-the-box, this soundbar has a neutral sound profile, though it lacks some low-bass and can sound a bit dark. It should still be suitable for listening to dialogue-centric content like podcasts and TV shows, and there's even a dialogue enhancement feature to help make voices clear and crisp. It also gets pretty loud, making it ideal for listening to music in large rooms and at crowded parties.

    Unfortunately, you can't turn off the S-Force Front Surround mode, which could be a bit disappointing for some users. Also, this soundbar doesn't support Dolby Atmos content, and it lacks a Full HDMI In port, so you can't use it as a hub between different devices. If you're on a tight budget, it's still a solid upgrade over your existing TV speakers.

    See our review

  2. Best Budget Soundbar Under $200: Samsung HW-A450

    7.0
    Mixed Usage
    7.7
    Dialogue/TV Shows
    7.7
    Music
    6.1
    Movies
    Channels
    2.1

    The Samsung HW-A450 is the best budget soundbar under $200 that we've tested. This 2.1 setup comes with a dedicated subwoofer that helps deliver a little extra boom in the bass range. It's also Bluetooth-compatible, so you can wirelessly stream audio from your mobile devices to the bar.

    This soundbar offers a pretty neutral sound profile out-of-the-box, so it's suitable for listening to many different types of audio content. It also comes with many sound customization features, including a graphic EQ and presets and bass and treble adjustments. It gets pretty loud, too, and there's even a dialogue enhancement feature to make voices more clear.

    Unfortunately, this soundbar struggles to reproduce low-bass, even with calibration, so you don't feel the deep thump and rumble in action-packed movies. It doesn't support Dolby Atmos, either, and it lacks a Full HDMI In port for high-quality passthrough. That said, it still offers a very customizable listening experience at an affordable price.

    See our review

  3. Alternative With A Full HDMI In Port: TCL Alto 8i

    Channels
    2.1

    If you're looking for a soundbar under $200 with a Full HDMI In port, consider the TCL Alto 8i instead. While its default sound profile isn't as neutral as the Samsung HW-A450 and it lacks a graphic EQ for sound customization, its Full HDMI In port supports high-quality passthrough. This means you can use it as a hub between different devices, and text on the screen appears clear and crisp. Out-of-the-box, this soundbar has a bass-heavy, and slightly dark sound profile, though its balanced mid-range can still reproduce vocal-centric content clearly. There are also some EQ presets and bass and treble adjustments to customize its sound. Also, it supports Dolby Atmos content, though its performance isn't very immersive-sounding.

    If you want a more customizable soundbar with a more neutral sound out-of-the-box, check out the Samsung, but if you want a bar that supports Atmos and comes with a Full HDMI In port, consider the TCL instead.

    See our review

  4. Best Soundbar Under $300: Vizio V Series V51-H6

    7.6
    Mixed Usage
    8.3
    Dialogue/TV Shows
    7.8
    Music
    7.0
    Movies
    Channels
    5.1

    The Vizio V Series V51-H6 is the best budget soundbar under $300 that we've tested. This decently well-built 5.1 setup comes with a dedicated subwoofer and two satellite speakers that can help immerse you in your favorite audio. It also has a 3.5mm AUX port, so you can connect your smartphone to the bar using a wired connection.

    It has a great stereo frequency response that delivers extra boom and punch suitable for bass-heavy genres like EDM or action flicks. It's still balanced enough for most audio content and can reproduce voices clearly and accurately, which is great for podcasts. It also has EQ presets so that you can tweak its sound profile to your liking. If you like to listen to audio at high volumes, this soundbar can get loud, making it an excellent choice for large or crowded rooms. It also supports Bluetooth and has low latency over its ARC and Optical In port.

    Unfortunately, it lacks a Full HDMI In port and doesn't support Dolby Atmos content, which can be a little disappointing if you love to watch movies. While the satellite speakers have a fair surrounds performance, they're very bass-heavy, so your audio could sound a bit boomy or muddy. That said, If you're looking for a versatile soundbar on a budget, it's a suitable choice.

    See our review

  5. Better-Built Alternative: Samsung HW-A650

    Channels
    3.1

    If you're looking for a better-built soundbar for under $300, consider the Samsung HW-A650 instead. While this 3.1 soundbar lacks discrete satellite speakers and doesn't offer as impressive of a surrounds performance as the Vizio V Series V51-H6, the metal grilles protecting its drivers offer a more robust, solid build. Out-of-the-box, this soundbar offers a pretty neutral sound profile that's suitable for listening to most types of audio content, though it struggles to reproduce a thumpy low-bass. There are lots of sound customization features available, though, including a graphic EQ and presets. However, it doesn't support Dolby Atmos, and it has to downmix surround content into stereo to play it, which isn't very immersive.

    If you want a 5.1 soundbar with a better surrounds performance, check out the Vizio. However, if you want a better-built soundbar with a graphic EQ, consider the Samsung instead.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Vizio M-Series M21d-H8R: The Vizio M-Series M21d-H8R is a 2.1 soundbar that's very well-built and supports 4k passthrough. However, it has many compression artifacts at max volume, and it struggles to reproduce low-bass. See our review
  • Vmai 2.1 Channel Sound Bar: The Vmai 2.1 Channel Sound Bar is a cheap entry-level soundbar with a balanced sound profile ideal for watching TV. However, it only supports PCM content, and it can't downmix surround content. 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 doesn't have a full graphic EQ for sound customization. It also downmixes surround content into stereo to play it. 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 it sounds noticeably dark and muddy. 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. It also lacks a dedicated subwoofer and satellite speakers. See our review
  • Vizio V Series V21-H8: The Vizio V Series V21-H8 is a well-built, versatile 2.1 soundbar, but its boomy sound profile out-of-the-box may be overwhelming for some listeners, and it doesn't come with a graphic EQ. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Jun 17, 2021: Replaced the TCL Alto 6+ with the Sony HT-S100F as 'Best Cheap' since the TCL is above our price point. Replaced the Vizio V Series V21-H8 with the Samsung HW-A450 as 'Best Under $200' since the Samsung is more customizable. Replaced the Samsung HW-T550 with the better-built 3.1 Samsung HW-A650 as 'Better-Built Alternative'. Added the Vizio V Series V21-H8 to Notable Mentions; removed the Yamaha YAS-209 since it's above our price point.

  2. Apr 20, 2021: Moved the Vizio V51-H6 and HW-T550 to the 'Best Soundbar Under $300' category to better reflect their current pricing and removed the Vizio SB36512-F6 and Samsung HW-T650 as they are currently not available at this price point. Added the Vizio V Series V21-H8 and TCL Alto 8i to the 'Best Soundbar Under $200' category.

  3. Feb 19, 2021: Removed the Vizio SB3220n-F6 from Notable Mentions as it's no longer available. Also verified the accuracy and availability of our picks.

  4. Dec 15, 2020: Replaced the Vizio V Series V21-H8 with the Samsung HW-T550 as 'Best Under $200'. Removed the Samsung HW-R650 due to changing availability and added the Samsung HW-T650 as 'Customizable Alternative Under $300'.

  5. Nov 20, 2020: Replaced the Sony HT-S100F with the TCL Alto 6+ as 'Best Under $100'. Replaced the Yamaha YAS-209 with the Vizio V Series V51-H6 as 'Best Under $300'. Updated Notable Mentions.

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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