It can be a little tricky to find the right soundbar for your needs, especially if you're shopping on a tight budget. Fortunately, there are some more affordable options on the market, so you can stay within your budget without sacrificing too much. Most models in this price range might lack more premium features and connectivity options, but they can still be a decent upgrade over your existing TV speakers. Whether you're watching your favorite shows or listening to music, these soundbars can offer a good overall value for their price.
We've tested over 75 soundbars, and here are our recommendations for the best soundbars under $100. See our recommendations for the best soundbars, the best soundbars under $200, and the best small soundbars.
The best soundbar under $100 that we've tested is the Sony HT-S100F. This well-built 2.0 setup can get loud without a lot of compression, making it suitable for use in large rooms or crowded parties. It's also Bluetooth-compatible, so you can wirelessly stream audio from your smartphone to the bar.
Overall, it has a neutral, well-balanced sound profile that's suitable for a wide range of audio content. It can reproduce vocal-heavy content like TV shows and podcasts with clarity and accuracy, and there's even a Voice Mode that works as a dialogue enhancement feature. You can also use the auto-volume feature to balance out the volume between different programs. Also, it has an always-on surround sound mode called S-Front Front Surround, which helps simulate a more immersive sound with only two speakers.
Unfortunately, it lacks a bit of low-bass, so it can't reproduce the deep rumbling sounds in bass-heavy music genres or action-packed movie scenes. Also, while it has an HDMI ARC port, it downmixes content played over this connection into PCM 2.0, which may not sound as immersive. That said, if you're looking for a soundbar that offers a good value for its price point, this is a solid choice.
If you're looking for a soundbar for listening to music, consider the Vmai 2.1 Channel Sound Bar instead. While it only supports PCM content and can't decode surround content like the Sony HT-S100F, it has a better-balanced sound profile that's more suited for neutral listening. It has a decent stereo frequency response with a more extended bass, which does a better job reproducing low thumps and rumbles found in bass-heavy genres like hip-hop and EDM. There's also four different EQ presets and bass and treble adjustments to help you customize its sound. This bar can get loud without a lot of compression, so you can blast your favorite tunes in a large room or at a crowded party. However, it doesn't have a Full HDMI In port, which may be disappointing for users who want to use the bar as a hub between their devices.
If you're looking for a more versatile soundbar with more connectivity options, check out the Sony, but if you want something for mostly listening to music, consider the Vmai instead.
The LG SK1 is the best small soundbar under $100 that we've tested. This straightforward 2.0 model can easily fit between the legs of most 55" TV stands, and it's also a great addition to any existing computer setup. It's also Bluetooth-compatible, so you can use it to stream audio wirelessly from your phone or tablet to the bar.
Overall, while it's lacking a bit of low bass, it has a very neutral and balanced mid-range that makes it suitable for listening to dialogue-heavy content like podcasts and TV shows. Thanks to its two EQ presets, you also have some ability to customize its sound to your liking. It doesn't get as loud as some of the other bars we've tested, but it doesn't have a lot of compression at max volume, which is nice.
Unfortunately, you can't use this soundbar to listen to Atmos or DTS content, which can be disappointing for some movie fans. Also, it lacks a lot of low bass, so action-packed scenes and bass-heavy music genres are lacking deep thumps and rumbles. However, if you're looking for a simple upgrade over your existing computer speakers, it's a solid choice.
If you're looking for a small soundbar with a thumpier bass, consider the Vizio SB2020n-G6 instead. While it only supports PCM-format content, unlike the LG SK1, it has a more extended bass that can better reproduce deep thumps and rumbles. Like the LG, it's very compact and can easily be added to your existing setup. Its sound profile is fairly well-balanced, especially in the mid-range where vocals and lead instruments are reproduced, but it can also sound a bit dark. It comes with two EQ presets and bass and treble adjustments to help you customize its sound, and there's even an auto-volume mode to balance the volume level between different programs.
If you're a movie fan who wants to watch Dolby Digital and surround content, consider the LG. However, if you want a boomier, punchier bass for your PCM-format content, consider the Vizio instead.
The best soundbar under $100 with a dedicated subwoofer is the TCL Alto 5+. While this well-built 2.1 setup often retails for a little more than $100, it comes with a wireless sub that reproduces a boomy, muddy bass. It gets pretty loud, too, and you can listen to your music at loud volumes without a lot of compression.
It has a dark, bass-heavy sound profile that's suitable for listening to bass-heavy music genres like hip-hop and EDM. It's Bluetooth-compatible, too, which makes it easy to stream music from your phone wirelessly to the bar. If you like to watch movies, it can play surround content, although it has to downmix it into stereo.
Unfortunately, it doesn't come with a lot of physical inputs or sound customization features, which may be disappointing if you like to customize the sound. Also, its dark sound profile may be a bit overwhelming for fans of neutral sound. However, if you want something for listening to thumpy, punchy music and don't mind spending a bit more than $100, it's a solid choice.
11/18/2020: Minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy; no changes in product picks.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best soundbars under $100 for most people. 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 do the work of choosing yourself, here is the list of all our reviews of soundbars under $100. Be careful not to get too caught up in the details. While no soundbar is perfect, most soundbars are great enough to please almost everyone, and the differences are often not noticeable unless you look for them.