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 75 soundbars, 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 Vizio V Series V51-H6 is the best soundbar under $300 that we've tested. This versatile 5.1 setup comes with a subwoofer and two dedicated satellite speakers to help immerse you in your audio. It also gets loud with a lot of compression, so you can use it in a large room or at a crowded party.
Overall, it has a balanced, neutral sound profile that's suitable for listening to lots of different audio content. It comes with four EQ presets, so you have some ability to customize its sound, and there's also a dialogue enhancement feature. You can also stream podcasts or audiobooks wirelessly from your phone to the bar using a Bluetooth connection.
Unfortunately, this soundbar doesn't support Dolby Atmos content, and since it doesn't have a Full HDMI In port, you can't use it for 4k passthrough. Also, some listeners may find that the four EQ presets don't give you enough control over the bar's sound. However, if you're shopping on a budget, this 5.1 setup is a solid choice.
If you want to be able to customize your bar's sound to your exact needs, consider the Samsung HW-R650 instead. While this 3.1 setup doesn't come with dedicated satellite speakers like the Vizio V Series V51-H6, it has a 7-band graphic EQ that gives you a lot more control over its sound. Out-of-the-box, it still has a very neutral sound profile, but it lacks a bit of low-bass compared to the Vizio. It can get pretty loud without a lot of compression, which is nice, and it's also Bluetooth-compatible. You can even use its dialogue enhancement mode or its auto-volume mode to improve your TV-watching experience.
If you want a 5.1 setup with dedicated surround speakers, check out the Vizio. However, if you like to customize the sound of the bar, consider the 3.1 Samsung.
The Bose TV Speaker is the best small soundbar under $300 that we've tested. Thanks to its compact design, it doesn't take up a lot of space in your existing setup, and it comes with Optical and HDMI ARC ports so you can connect it to your TV. Overall, it has an impressive build quality, and its materials feel solid and durable.
It has a neutral, balanced sound profile that's suitable for listening to lots of different audio content. Though it's lacking a touch of low-bass, there's a bass adjustment feature to help improve its sound. You can even use its dialogue enhancement feature to help make voices sound more clear and crisp.
Unfortunately, this small soundbar struggles to get loud, and there's also a bit of compression when you play it at max volume. It doesn't support Dolby Atmos content, either, and it lacks an EQ to help you customize its sound. However, if you don't have a lot of space, this can be a solid upgrade over your existing TV speakers.
If you're looking for a small soundbar on a very tight budget, consider the Sony HT-S200F. While this 2.1 setup isn't as well-built as the Bose TV Speaker, it still has a fairly versatile overall performance. Its compact design should easily fit between the legs of a 55" TV stand, and it even has a subwoofer integrated into the bar to help you save space. Out-of-the-box, it has a somewhat dark and muddy sound profile that's lacking low-bass. Fortunately, there are a few EQ presets available to help you customize its sound. It can also get a bit louder than the Bose, and with fewer compression artifacts at max volume.
If you want a better-built soundbar with a neutral sound out-of-the-box, check out the Bose, but if you're on a tight budget, consider the Sony instead.
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.
11/19/2020: Replaced the Yamaha YAS-209 with the Vizio V Series V51-H6 as 'Best Soundbar'. Replaced the Bose Solo 5 with the Bose TV Speaker as 'Best Small Soundbar'. Updated Notable Mentions.
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 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.