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 50 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 so far 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, this soundbar comes with new features such as built-in Alexa capabilities and Wi-Fi wireless playback.
With a neutral and well-balanced sound profile, this soundbar is 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 the soundbar's settings and choose from six different EQ presets through the app. The soundbar also supports 4k passthrough, so it can serve as a hub for gaming consoles and PCs. While this soundbar doesn't get as loud as other soundbars we've tested, it should still satisfy most listeners.
On the downside, 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 change the sound profile of your soundbar based on what you're listening to, consider the Samsung HW-T550 instead. Its bass may not be as deep as the Yamaha YAS-209, but this 2.1 setup comes with more sound enhancement features, including a 7-band EQ for customization options and a night mode feature. It also has a better build quality, with a mix of metal and plastic, though the fabric on the subwoofer can easily become dirty or damaged. The overall sound is well-balanced, and fans of bass-heavy music and movies may appreciate the bit of extra kick in the bass. It doesn't have the best surround sound performance, which might not provide the most immersive listening experience. On the other hand, this can be expected from entry-level soundbars.
If you want better performance for multi-channel content, pick the Yamaha, but if you want more customization options, choose the Samsung instead.
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, which is a nice touch.
On the downside, some may also find the bass-heavy sound to be too much. It doesn't get as loud as other soundbars on this list, 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.
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 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.