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The 5 Best Budget Soundbars - Fall 2023 Reviews

Best Budget Soundbars

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 well, especially if you watch a lot of dialogue-heavy content like TV dramas or 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 180 soundbars; below, you'll find the best soundbars under $250 to buy. See our recommendations for the best soundbars, the best soundbars under $200, and the best soundbars under $300.

  1. Best Budget Soundbar

    The best budget soundbar we've tested is the Vizio V Series V51-H6. It's one of the only setups available at this price point with discrete satellites designed to improve the quality of 5.1 surround sound formats like Dolby Digital and DTS. It provides an immersive, cinematic feel with surround sound content, making you feel like your couch was dropped right in the middle of the action. The added subwoofer brings plenty of rumble in the bass for action-packed scenes. You'll have to wire the satellites to the subwoofer to get them to work, though, which isn't ideal for all living spaces.

    The bar offers a great price-to-performance ratio, whether you're listening to music, movies, or TV shows. Its sound quality is especially impressive for the price, so voices and lead instruments in your favorite tunes are reproduced with clarity right out of the box. Dialogue is easy to follow, too, and Bluetooth compatibility makes it easy to stream podcasts, audiobooks, and other content from your phone. While it doesn't support Dolby Atmos content, this is common with bars in this price range. Overall, it's a great pick that won't break the bank.

    See our review

  2. Best Budget Soundbar Without Speakers

    If you don't have space for satellite speakers in your living room, check out the Samsung HW-Q60B. It's another versatile bar available at a budget-friendly price, and since it lacks satellites, it's more compact overall. Set up the bar and the subwoofer in your living room to enjoy a balanced sound with a clear and accurate representation of voices and lead instruments in the mix. Thanks to its graphic EQ and presets, this soundbar is super customizable, too, so you can switch up its sound based on your preferences.

    Without satellites, this soundbar isn't quite as impressive with Dolby Atmos and surround sound. The bar has to downmix this content into stereo to play it, which sounds less immersive than what you get with the Vizio V Series V51-H6. Still, you can always add on satellites, sold separately, to improve its performance. For an affordable price, it's a great way to enhance your listening experience without taking up a lot of room.

    See our review

  3. Best Budget Standalone Soundbar

    Living in a studio apartment? Low on space? A standalone soundbar might be the best option since it packs sound into an all-in-one package that's available without a bulky subwoofer to take up extra space in your room. The best we've tested in the budget range is the Vizio M Series M213ad-K8. It has a unique trapezoidal design, and its 2.1 setup means it's ideal for listening to stereo content, including most music and TV shows. You get a clear sound right out of the box, so the dialogue on the screen is clear and easy to follow. Without a sub, you don't get the same rumble in the low-bass. It's not noticeable if you mostly listen to content without much bass mixed in, like dialogue-centric TV shows and sitcoms, but it's not ideal for those who love bass-heavy EDM and hip-hop.

    It's a unique bar, as it's one of the only offerings in its price range to add Dolby Atmos support. However, since it's a 2.1 setup, it has to downmix both Atmos and 5.1 surround sound formats like Dolby Digital into stereo to play them. The resulting sound isn't immersive, and sound effects seem to come from a speaker in front of you rather than from speakers around you, like at a movie theater. It's nice that it offers the flexibility to enjoy Atmos every once in a while—but if you're an avid movie buff, you'll want to stick with a better-performing bar like the Vizio V Series V51-H6 or even the more expensive Vizio M Series M51ax-J6, which offers Atmos support.

    See our review

  4. Best Budget Small Soundbar

    The Samsung HW-S60B is another great option for smaller living rooms. It's a standalone soundbar that's smaller than the Vizio M Series M213ad-K8, at less than 27 inches in width, and can fit beneath your TV or PC without issue. While it's a little pricier than some of the other picks on our list, you may find it worth it since it offers impressive sound quality for only a few extra bucks. You can buy the all-black variant or try out the all-white version, the Samsung HW-S61B. Built-in Alexa offers hands-free control, too.

    This soundbar has great sound quality and has many enhancement features to make the most of its sound. For example, you can access a graphic EQ to customize its sound. It supports many common audio formats, too, including 5.1 surround sound. It also supports Atmos, though it has to downmix this content into surround sound to play it. Without satellites, its sound isn't quite as immersive as what you get with products like the Vizio V Series V51-H6. It also has fewer connections than bars like the Vizio M Series M213ad-K8, so without an HDMI In port, it can't support video passthrough. Still, for the size, this small soundbar packs a punch.

    See our review

  5. Best Cheap Soundbar Under $100

    If you want to spend less on a soundbar, check out the TCL Alto 6+. This 2.1 model is the best cheap soundbar we've tested, and it makes a solid choice for those new to the soundbar space. Though it sometimes retails for over $100, you can often find it at a more affordable price point. With a dedicated subwoofer, it can bring more thump and rumble in the bass than other cheap bars, most of which come as standalone setups. As a result, it's a good pick for bass-heavy music like EDM and hip-hop.

    As a 2.1 bar, it's ideal for listening to stereo content, which includes most music and TV shows. Voices and lead instruments clearly reproduce. Audio sounds a bit dull due to the dip in the treble, especially compared to the Bose TV Speaker, but this is typical for cheap soundbars. It can also playback 5.1 surround sound content like Dolby Digital, though it has to downmix it into stereo to play it. This simple plug-and-play bar is a good way to upgrade your TV's sound without breaking the bank.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Vizio V Series V51x-J6: The Vizio V Series V51x-J6 is the next generation of the Vizio V Series V51-H6. It's a versatile bar with similar performance; however, it doesn't reproduce quite as much low-bass. You might find it a better value if you don't care for the rumble in your audio. See our review
  • Bose TV Speaker: The Bose TV Speaker is a small soundbar that's a good alternative to the Samsung HW-S60B/S61B if you mostly listen to stereo content like music and TV shows. It doesn't support Atmos, though. See our review
  • Sonos Ray: The Sonos Ray is another great small soundbar alternative to the Samsung HW-S60B/S61B. Again, it's a 2.0 device that's ideal for stereo content, but you won't find Atmos support. See our review
  • TCL Alto 8i: The TCL Alto 8i is one of the few bars in this price range that supports Atmos content. Like the Vizio M Series M213ad-K8, it doesn't reproduce a very immersive sound, and its standalone design means there isn't a lot of rumble in the bass. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Sep 13, 2023: The Samsung HW-B650's price rose above our threshold, so we've replaced it with the Samsung HW-Q60B.

  2. Jul 18, 2023: Replaced the Bose TV Speaker with the Samsung HW-S60B/S61B as 'Best Small'. Added the Bose TV Speaker and the Sonos Ray to Notable Mentions.

  3. May 24, 2023: As the Samsung HW-B650's price dropped within the range, it replaces the Samsung HW-B550 as 'Best Without Speakers'.

  4. Mar 28, 2023: Confirmed picks; minor text updates for clarity.

  5. Jan 27, 2023: We've updated the text for clarity, though no changes in product picks were necessary.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best cheap 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 the best value soundbars. 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.