When shopping for a soundbar, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by all the expensive options. 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 170 soundbars, and below you'll find the top soundbars under $300 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 we've tested is the Vizio M Series M51ax-J6. It's a versatile soundbar that's great for everything from movies to music to TV shows, and it's one of the only models we've tested that supports Dolby Atmos at this price. Dolby Atmos is an immersive audio format that's commonly found on streaming platforms like Hulu and Netflix, as well as Blu-ray discs. It's designed to bring a cinematic feel to your home audio, using front-firing channels on the satellites to ricochet sound all around you. As a result, it feels like you've been dropped right into the middle of the action on your screen.
Plus, this 5.1 setup has a discrete center channel that's designed to improve vocal reproduction in the mix. Therefore, you don't have any trouble following the action on screen. With a dedicated sub, you feel the rumble in action-packed scenes. If you want a different sound, there are many options on hand, including bass and treble adjustments. Music lovers can stream right from their phones to the bar via Bluetooth, which is handy. For its price, this bar offers great value.
If you don't watch a lot of height content like Dolby Atmos, you may find it's a better value to opt for a bar without built-in Atmos support. The best we've tested under $300 is the Vizio V Series V51-H6. It's another 5.1 bar, and just like the Vizio M Series M51ax-J6, it comes with a built-in center channel for dialogue clarity, a subwoofer to help you feel the rumble in the bass, and two satellites to beam sound throughout your living room. Those satellites are great for surround sound formats like Dolby Digital, which you'll come across on different streaming platforms.
Plus, when it comes to music and more vocal-focused TV shows like sitcoms, the bar does a great job. Dialogue is clearly reproduced, and the sub brings the energy in bass-centric genres like EDM and hip-hop. If you prefer a different sound, you get a similar selection of sound enhancement features as the M Series, like bass and treble adjustments. It's Bluetooth-compatible, too. The only major difference between these bars is their Atmos support, so if you don't watch a lot of it, the V Series is a more affordable pick.
Depending on the size and shape of your living room, you may not have space for a setup with rear satellites. In that case, you'll want to check out the Samsung HW-B650. It's a 3.1 setup with a dedicated subwoofer, but its satellites are sold separately, meaning you can add them now or later. It's a customizable option, too—in addition to traditional bass and treble adjustments, it has a graphic EQ so you can control its sound across the range.
The bar reproduces a clear and accurate sound with everything from music to movies to TV shows. Voices and lead instruments are detailed and present in the mix, and dialogue is easy-to-follow. Thanks to its subwoofer, you feel the excitement in bass-heavy genres like EDM and hip-hop. For surround sound, the bar doesn't perform as well. Without satellites, it has to downmix 5.1 formats like Dolby Digital into stereo to play them. Unfortunately, this doesn't sound as immersive, meaning sound effects are restricted to the space in front of you rather than stretching all around you for a life-like feel. It's fine if you mostly listen to stereo content, but movie lovers will likely want to spring for something with satellites.
No space for a subwoofer? No problem. Standalone soundbars are a great alternative to our top picks, and the best we've tested is the Samsung HW-S60B. This 5.0 model has a sleek design with lots of the manufacturer's premium sound enhancement tools built in, including Amazon Alexa voice assistant support. From the comfort of your couch, you can adjust the bar's volume, switch its preset modes, and more. This bar is also available in white as the Samsung HW-S61B, so you have some options based on your interior design.
Thanks to Samsung's SpaceFit Sound room correction tool, the bar's sound is automatically optimized based on the unique acoustic characteristics of your room. With a pretty balanced sound out-of-the-box, this bar is suitable for listening to many different types of audio content, and there's even Dolby Atmos support, though it has to downmix this content into surround sound to play it. Those who prefer to switch up the bar's sound manually also have access to a full 7-band graphic EQ as well as some EQ presets. Of course, without a dedicated sub, you notice much less thump and rumble in the bass, especially with genres like EDM and hip-hop. But if you're low on space, it's a great option.
There are even smaller standalone soundbars on the market, ideal for smaller-sized TVs and computer screens. The Bose TV Speaker is the best of the bunch, and at less than 24 inches in width, it can easily fit under your TV stand without blocking the screen. It may be small, but this premium setup can still get loud enough to fill the average living room. It's ideal for listening to vocal-centric TV shows and music, with balanced mids ensuring voices and lead instruments are clear and detailed in the mix.
Of course, without a sub, you notice a lack of bass in the mix, and the 2.0 setup doesn't provide a very immersive sound with surround sound formats like the 5.0 Samsung HW-S60B/S61B. While there's a bass adjustment feature on hand, this bar doesn't offer as many sound enhancement features as the similarly-performing Sonos Ray, which is another solid, small pick. The Sonos' room correction feature automatically optimizes audio reproduction based on your room's unique acoustics, which is a premium feature for its price. It doesn't reproduce as much bass as the Bose, but if you want more customization tools, it's worth a look.
May 05, 2023: Replaced the Samsung HW-S60A with the Samsung HW-S60B/S61B as 'Best Standalone'.
Mar 07, 2023: Confirmed the accuracy of picks; minor changes to the text for clarity.
Jan 06, 2023: The Vizio M Series M51a-J6 is no longer widely available, so it was replaced with the next-generation Vizio M Series M51ax-J6. The Samsung HW-Q60B's price rose above $300, so it was replaced with the Samsung HW-B650.
Nov 08, 2022: Replaced the Samsung HW-B650 with the Dolby Atmos-compatible Samsung HW-Q60B.
Sep 09, 2022: Replaced the Vizio V Series V51-H6 with the Vizio M Series M51a-H6 as 'Best Soundbar' now that the M Series' price dropped into the range. Retained the V Series as the 'Best Without Atmos'.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the top 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 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.