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.
The best soundbar under $100 that we've tested is the TCL Alto 6+. It's one of the few soundbars available at this price point that comes with a dedicated subwoofer, which improves its bass reproduction compared to other models. As a result, you feel more thump and rumble in bass-heavy music genres, which is nice.
This bar's sound profile is pretty neutral in the mids, where most voices are reproduced. Dialogue in TV shows is pretty clear, but it can also seem a little dull due to the recessed treble. You can use its 'TV' preset to enhance voices, though. It also supports surround sound formats like Dolby Digital, which are often found on streaming platforms.
While it's a fairly versatile option for this price point, unfortunately, its price tends to fluctuate. It may retail for a little more than $100 from time to time, so it's best to keep an eye out for price drops to get the most bang for your buck.
The best standalone soundbar under $100 that we've tested is the Sony HT-S100F. Like most setups in this price range, it's an entry-level 2.0 setup ideal for listening to vocal-centric content like TV shows. It lacks the extra bells and whistles that you find with more premium soundbars, but if you're looking for a simple plug-and-play setup without a sub, it's a solid choice.
This soundbar can reproduce dialogue pretty clearly right out of the box, and there's even a dialogue enhancement mode to make voices sound clear and crisp. You won't find many sound enhancement features, which is pretty typical with budget-friendly bars, but there's still an auto-volume mode to help balance out the volume level when you watch TV at night. Like the TCL Alto 6+, it supports surround sound formats like DTS and Dolby Digital.
Unfortunately, without a dedicated subwoofer, it can't reproduce the deep thump and rumble in the low-bass. As a result, you don't feel the punch in action-packed scenes in your favorite shows. However, there usually isn't a lot of bass mixed into TV shows, so you aren't likely to notice the lack of bass unless you listen to bass-heavy music like EDM.
If you don't have a lot of space in your setup, there are some cheap options with more compact designs. At just under 26 inches in length, the LG SK1 is much smaller than the Sony HT-S100F, and it easily fits into your living room setup. You can even place it under most computer monitors, making it a versatile pick for gamers.
With its balanced mids, this soundbar is ideal for vocal-centric content like TV shows and podcasts since it can reproduce voices pretty clearly and accurately. You can choose between the Standard and Bass Blast presets depending on how much boom you want in the mix, and the Dynamic Range Compression balances the volume level between loud and quiet sounds when you watch at night. It even has support for surround sound formats like Dolby Digital and DTS, often found on streaming services.
Its small design means that its soundstage isn't as wide as other models like the Sony HT-S100F or the TCL Alto 6+. You won't find a bar that replicates a truly immersive sound in this price range, but the LG's soundstage is especially small, and sound doesn't really pass the edges of the bar itself. If you're low on space, it's a solid pick, but if you have extra room, you can still get more immersion from other cheap options.
PCM, which stands for Pulse-Code Modulation, is a type of digital audio recording. Simply put, it's a type of two-channel digital stereo track that you can find on many CDs, DVDs, and Blu-rays, as well as most music and TV shows. If you don't watch many movies, a PCM-only soundbar like the Vmai 2.1 Channel Sound Bar is a solid choice.
Out-of-the-box, this soundbar has a pretty neutral sound profile with a touch of extra brightness in the treble. Vocals and lead instruments reproduce accurately, which is great for listening to music, and dialogue in TV shows is clear in the mix. Like most budget-friendly bars, it has a pretty limited range of sound enhancement features, but you can still adjust its bass and treble or enhance the dialogue.
Unfortunately, since it only supports PCM content, you can't use it to listen to multi-channel surround-sound audio formats like Dolby Digital or DTS. Naturally, there's no support for more advanced object-based formats like Dolby Atmos. These formats are commonly found on streaming platforms, especially with movies. But if you prefer music and TV shows over listening to movies, it's still a solid entry-level bar.
May 20, 2022: Replaced the Sony HT-S100F with the TCL Alto 6+ as 'Best Soundbar' since the TCL's price dropped. Replaced the Roku Streambar with the LG SK1 as the Roku's price rose.
Mar 22, 2022: Added the LG SK1 as 'Cheaper Alternative'. Added the TCL Alto 5 and the Vizio SB2020n-J6 to Notable Mentions. Minor updates to the text for clarity.
Jan 21, 2022: Replaced the TCL Alto 6+ with the Sony HT-S100F since the TCL's price rose above $100. Replaced the LG SK1 with the Roku Streambar since the LG's price rose above $100. Added the Vmai 2.1 Channel Sound Bar as 'Best For Music' and the TCL Alto 3 as 'Best Surround'. Added the TCL Alto 6+ to Notable Mentions.
Nov 23, 2021: Added the TCL Alto 6+ as 'Best Soundbar' and the Sony HT-S100F as 'Standalone Alternative,' due to pricing changes. Removed the Vizio SB2020n-G6 as 'Best For Bass' due to pricing changes and added the TCL Alto 3 as 'Cheaper Small Alternative'.
Sep 24, 2021: Removed the Sony HT-S100F and the Roku Streambar since they're currently over $100. Made the Vmai 2.1 Channel Sound Bar the 'Best Soundbar Under $100', added the TCL Alto as an 'Alternative With Surround', and made the LG SK1 the 'Best Small Soundbar Under $100'.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the top 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.