When shopping for a soundbar, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by all the expensive options out there. Thankfully, you don't need to spend a fortune to find something that performs reasonably well. For less than $300, you can find a decent soundbar that meets your needs, whether you're watching the latest blockbusters with your friends and family or just listening to your favorite albums by yourself.
We've tested over 65 soundbars so far, and below you'll find the best budget soundbars to buy. See our recommendations for the best budget soundbars, the best soundbars under $200, and the best small soundbars.
The best soundbar under $300 that we've tested is the Yamaha YAS-209. Even though its current retail price is slightly over that, it's been seen at under that price point recently. This decently well-built 2.1 setup comes with a wireless subwoofer, which can deliver a lot of bass, and its Bluetooth capabilities make it easy to stream audio to the bar. An upgrade over the Yamaha YAS-207, it comes with new features such as built-in Alexa capabilities and Wi-Fi wireless playback.
With a neutral and well-balanced sound profile, it's well-suited for almost any kind of audio content. It does a good job reproducing dialogue and voices, and its dialogue enhancement feature provides extra clarity. You can control its settings and choose from six different EQ presets through the app. It also supports 4k passthrough, so it can serve as a hub for gaming consoles and PCs. While it doesn't get as loud as other soundbars we've tested, it should still satisfy most listeners.
Unfortunately, the bar is covered in a mesh-like fabric that could collect dust or tear over time. It also doesn't have the best surround channel performance, though its virtual surround setting may help with this. However, if you're on a budget, this pick is still a satisfactory entry-level soundbar.
If you're on a tighter budget or don't want the hassle of figuring out which cables you need, consider the TCL Alto 7+, which comes with an HDMI cable, an optical, and a 3.5mm analog audio cable. It has the same 2.1 setup as the Yamaha YAS-209 but doesn't support any virtual surround sound format. Surprisingly, the build quality is superior to the Yamaha, with a mix of metal and plastic, while the subwoofer has a wooden enclosure. The overall sound is passable, but it does lack bass, which makes it sound a lot brighter. When pushed to higher volumes, there are some compression artifacts present in the bass range.
If you want better audio reproduction, go with the Yamaha, but for a cheaper option that has everything included in the box, choose the TCL instead.
If you like to customize the sound profile of your soundbar to your liking, consider the Samsung HW-R650. While the Yamaha YAS-209 has a better-balanced default sound profile that can produce more low-bass, the Samsung comes with a graphic EQ and bass and treble adjustment features that let you adjust its sound profile. Its sound profile is quite neutral and well-balanced in the mid and treble ranges, so vocals and lead instruments are clear and present in the mix. It can also get loud without a lot of compression artifacts, and you can even stream content to the bar wirelessly via Bluetooth.
If you're looking for a soundbar with a more extended bass that supports 4k passthrough, check out the Yamaha, but if you like the customize the sound, consider the Samsung instead.
The best small soundbar under $300 that we've tested is the Bose Solo 5. This simple option is compact enough for travel and small enough to fit between the legs of most TV stands without obstructing your view of the screen.
Although mostly made from solid plastic, it has a good build. Its decently well-balanced frequency response reproduces accurate vocals and instruments, which makes it great for more dialogue-heavy audio like telenovelas or podcasts. If you like to listen to music streaming apps with your phone, you can also use Bluetooth to connect your mobile device to this soundbar, making it easy to share your music with others in the room.
However, it lacks thump and rumble. There's no way to adjust for more bass, either. It also doesn't have any HDMI ports which can be less versatile than the other budget soundbars we've tested. Still, if you're space-conscious and you're on a budget, this is a solid and inexpensive option for small spaces.
If you're looking to upgrade from your TV speakers and would prefer using a soundbar that has an HDMI port, then get the Sony HT-S200F. It might lack a bit of detail compared to the Bose Solo 5, but it does have some neat features to improve the production of dialogue like Voice Mode. It also has an integrated subwoofer instead of having a wireless one like some options on this list, but its performance isn't necessarily better than the Bose. Its sound signature is also noticeably darker as it cuts off rather quickly in the treble range. You can always check out the Sony HT-S100F for a more neutral sound, but it definitely won't be as compact as the other Sony, and there are better options for its size. On the upside, the S200F can also play Dolby Digital files through its HDMI ARC port, which is great if you watch a lot of Blu-rays or content on some streaming platforms.
Get the Bose if you're fine using optical or line-in to plug your soundbar into your TV, but if you need HDMI for Dolby Digital support, get the Sony.
The best soundbar under $300 for bass is the TCL Alto 5+. With a dedicated subwoofer, this 2.1 setup packs an extra boom and punch in the bass range that's well-suited to bass-heavy music genres and action-packed movies. It's well-built, and also small and compact, so it should fit easily between the legs of your TV.
It has a very bass-heavy default sound profile that can be a bit muddy, but it's mid and treble ranges are well-balanced enough to accurately reproduce vocals and dialogue. If you prefer a different sound, there are a few EQ presets available. You can even use the dialogue enhancement feature to help make voices sound more clear and crisp.
Unfortunately, it doesn't come with a lot of inputs or connectivity options, which may be disappointing for some listeners. It also doesn't get as loud as some of the other options we've tested, and there's a bit of compression in the bass range at max volume. That said, if you love a bass-heavy sound and find yourself shopping on a budget, this is a solid choice.
09/21/2020: Replaced the Samsung HW-T550 with the Samsung HW-R650 as 'More Customizable' alternative. Added the Samsung HW-T550, the Samsung HW-T650, and the TCL Alto 8+ as 'Notable Mentions'.
07/23/2020: Changed some of our recommendations based on availability; added the Yamaha YAS-209 as 'Best Soundbar'.
11/01/2019: Added Samsung HW-R550 as 'Customizable Alternative' to the Yamaha YAS-207.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best soundbars under $300 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 reviews of 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.