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 30 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 Yamaha YAS-207 is the best soundbar under $300 we've tested so far. If you're looking for a soundbar to listen to your favorite jams or other stereo content, this 2.1 setup delivers great performance for this price point.
This decently-built soundbar has a well-balanced and fairly neutral sound signature suitable for most audio content, while its wireless subwoofer can pack a punch that fans of EDM or action movies can especially enjoy. There's a good number of inputs, including two HDMI ports so that you can turn this soundbar into a hub for your devices, as well as a 3.5mm analog jack that makes it easy to share music when you're having a house party. You can even cast your favorite tunes via Bluetooth if you prefer a wireless connection.
On the downside, its plain design has a mesh-like fabric coating that gives this soundbar a cheap look and it can be prone to ripping or attracting dust. It also doesn't come with an HDMI cable, which is a little disappointing. You won't be able to get a totally immersive listening experience with this soundbar either as, like other soundbars in this price range, it doesn't have the best surround performance and it lacks height channels. However, it's still a decent choice overall.
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-207 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 in the box, choose the TCL instead.
If you like to tweak your sound profile to the content you're listening to, then you might want to go for the more customizable Samsung HW-R550. Although it isn't as balanced or neutral-sounding by default as the Yamaha YAS-207, the Samsung has a 7-band graphic EQ as well as a subwoofer adjustment level, allowing you to cultivate the right sound signature to your preferences. The Samsung is also better-built and sleeker; its metal grill looks and feels better than the Yamaha's mesh-like fabric cover.
If you're looking for a good sound signature from the moment you take it out of the box, the Yamaha is a better choice. However, if you want to fine-tune your listening experience, choose the Samsung.
The best small soundbar under $300 we've tested so far is the Bose Solo 5. This simple soundbar 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, this soundbar 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, this soundbar 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 so far. Still, if you're space-conscious and you're on a budget, this is a solid and inexpensive soundbar 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. This soundbar 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+. Thanks to its dedicated subwoofer, its bass packs an extra punch that can please fans of EDM or those who enjoy action flicks.
This is a well-designed 2.1 channel soundbar setup that brings the bass and, although its sound profile can be a bit muddy, its mid and treble ranges are still balanced enough to keep vocals from getting too lost in your mixes. It's also a fairly small and short soundbar so you shouldn't have a problem placing it between the legs of most 55" TVs. It also shouldn't obscure the screen, unless your TV is flush to the table. This soundbar includes a lot of cables and accessories in the box too, which is a nice touch.
On the downside, some may also find the bass-heavy sound to be too much. It doesn't really get as loud as other soundbars on this list either and at higher volumes, you may notice a bit of distortion in the bass range. Still, if you're shopping on a budget but still want something that can deliver bass, this soundbar is a decent choice.
05/26/2020: Minor text and structure changes. No change in recommendations.
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 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.