Soundbars can be a decent option when you don’t have the room for a full home theater setup. You also don’t have to spend thousands to get a good-performing product that'll do a better job than most TV speakers. Whether you need a full Atmos setup or a good 2.1 system, there’s a lot of options available at a decent price point.
We’ve tested over 100 soundbars. Below, you'll find our recommendations for the best soundbars under $500 to buy. Also, check out our recommendations for the overall best soundbars, the best Dolby Atmos soundbars if you watch a lot of movies, and the best budget soundbars if you’re on an even tighter budget.
The Vizio M Series M51a-H6 is the best soundbar under $500 that we've tested. This 5.1 setup comes with a dedicated subwoofer for two satellite speakers, and it offers a very versatile overall performance. It has a good surrounds performance, and it also supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X content, so it's a great choice for movie fans.
Out-of-the-box, it has a very neutral, balanced sound profile suitable for listening to lots of different types of audio content, and its sub adds a little extra punch in the bass range that can please fans of bass-heavy genres like EDM. It even comes with bass and treble adjustments, as well as a few EQ presets to help you customize its sound more to your liking. It gets loud enough to use in large rooms or at crowded parties, too.
Unfortunately, it lacks some more premium sound enhancement features like a graphic EQ for greater sound customization or a room correction feature to help adjust its audio reproduction based on the room you're listening in. It also has a mediocre selection of wireless playback options, so you can't stream audio to the bar wirelessly over Wi-Fi, Apple AirPlay, or Chromecast built-in. That said, it's Bluetooth-compatible, so you can pair Bluetooth devices like your smartphone or tablet to the bar wirelessly to play your music.
If you're looking for a more customizable soundbar under $500, consider the Samsung HW-Q600A instead. While this 3.1.2 setup lacks satellite speakers and doesn't offer as impressive of a surrounds performance as the Vizio M Series M51a-H6, it comes with a graphic EQ and presets as well as bass and treble adjustments so you can adjust its sound more to your liking. It's well-built, and it offers a neutral sound profile out-of-the-box that makes it suitable for listening to lots of different types of audio content. It even supports Dolby Atmos content thanks to its two up-firing speakers in the bar, though it doesn't offer the most immersive listening experience.
If you want a 5.1 setup with satellite speakers that offers a better surround performance, check out the Vizio. However, if you want to be able to really customize your bar's sound using a graphic EQ, consider the Samsung instead.
The Klipsch Cinema 600 is the best soundbar under $500 for dialogue that we've tested. Thanks to its dedicated center channel, this 3.1 setup helps to more clearly and accurately reproduce voices in dialogue-centric content like TV shows, podcasts, and audiobooks. You can also use its dialogue enhancement feature to help voices sound more crisp and clear or its auto-volume mode to help balance the volume level between different programs.
Out-of-the-box, it has a very neutral, though slightly bright sound profile that's suitable for listening to lots of different types of audio content. There's also a subwoofer level adjustment to help you customize its sound more to your liking. It's Bluetooth-compatible, so you can wirelessly stream podcasts and audiobooks from your smartphone or tablet to the bar.
Unfortunately, while it supports surround content, it has to downmix it into stereo to play it, which doesn't sound as immersive. It also doesn't support Dolby Atmos content, and it doesn't have a Full HDMI In port, so you can't really use it as a hub between different devices. However, if you're looking for a more simple setup for listening to vocal-centric content, it's a solid choice.
If you're looking for a soundbar under $500 with dedicated satellite speakers to enhance its surrounds performance, consider the Vizio V Series V51-H6. While it doesn't get as loud as the Klipsch Cinema 600, this 5.1 setup comes with dedicated satellite speakers, so it's a better choice for watching movies. Thanks to its dedicated center channel, it can also reproduce dialogue clearly and more accurately. It also has a pretty neutral, balanced sound profile out-of-the-box, so voices are present, detailed, and clear in the mix. You can even use its dialogue enhancement feature to make voices more clear and crisp or its auto-volume mode to create a more consistent volume level across programs. However, it doesn't support Dolby Atmos content, and it also lacks a Full HDMI In port.
If you want a soundbar that gets louder and has a more extended low-bass, check out the Klipsch. However, if you prefer a more versatile 5.1 setup with satellites for an improved surrounds performance, consider the Vizio instead.
The Sonos Beam is the best small soundbar under $500 that we've tested. This premium-looking 3.0 model has a very compact design, so it shouldn't take up too much space in your existing setup. Thanks to its dedicated center channel, it can reproduce dialogue in movies clearly and accurately.
Out-of-the-box, it has a pretty neutral sound profile that makes it suitable for listening to lots of different types of audio content. You can customize its sound more to your liking using its bass and treble adjustments, and there's even a room correction feature that can automatically optimize audio reproduction based on the unique acoustic characteristics of the room you're listening in. While it doesn't support Bluetooth, it's still compatible with Wi-Fi and Apple AirPlay, making it easy to wirelessly stream content from your phone to the bar.
Unfortunately, it doesn't support Dolby Atmos content, and it has to downmix surround content into stereo to play it, which isn't very immersive-sounding. Also, like many small soundbars, it struggles to reproduce a thumpy low-bass, which can be disappointing if you like to feel the deep thump and rumble in action-packed scenes. You can purchase a subwoofer separately, but we haven't tested it in this configuration.
If you're looking for a 2.1 setup, the best soundbar under $500 that we've tested is the Samsung HW-A550. This setup is well-built, and it comes with lots of sound customization features, including a graphic EQ and preset modes like 'Bass Boost' and 'Adaptive Sound'. In fact, the 'Adaptive Sound' mode doubles as a dialogue enhancement feature, so you can make voices in your audio more clear and crisp.
Out-of-the-box, this soundbar has a pretty neutral, balanced sound profile that's suitable for listening to lots of different types of audio content, though it lacks a bit of low-bass. It also gets pretty loud, which is handy if you like to crank up the volume to fill up large rooms and crowded parties. It's even Bluetooth-compatible, so you can wirelessly stream audio from your mobile devices to the bar.
Unfortunately, this 2.1 soundbar doesn't support Dolby Atmos content, which can be disappointing for some movie fans. Also, unlike some of Samsung's more premium models like the Samsung HW-Q600A, it lacks Acoustic Beam technology and Q-Symphony, which are features that are advertised to help create a more immersive sound. That said, we don't test for those features, and this bar still offers a pretty versatile overall performance.
Jul 09, 2021: Removed the Vizio SB36512-F6 as its price rose above $500. Added the Samsung HW-Q600A as 'Customizable Alternative'. Replaced the Yamaha YAS-408 with the Samsung HW-A550 as 'Best 2.1' since the Yamaha's price rose above $500. Added the Samsung HW-S60A, the Vizio V Series V21-H8, and the JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam to Notable Mentions.
May 11, 2021: No changes in product picks after verifying their accuracy and availability.
Mar 12, 2021: Replaced the Samsung HW-Q70T with the Samsung HW-Q60T as 'Customizable Alternative' as the Q70T is above our $500 price limit.
Jan 12, 2021: Replaced the Samsung HW-Q60T with the Samsung HW-Q70T as 'More Customizable Alt', as the Q70T supports Dolby Atmos content and has more connectivity options than the Q60T. Replaced the Samsung HW-R650 with the Vizio V Series V51-H6 as 'Best for Dialogue Under $500' since the Samsung is no longer widely available. Added the Klipsch Cinema 600, the Samsung HW-T650, the Roku Smart Soundbar, the Sony HT-S200F, the Bose Smart Soundbar 300, the Samsung HW-S60T, and the Samsung HW-T550 to 'Notable Mentions'. Removed the Yamaha YAS-207 from Notable Mentions due to changing availability.
Nov 06, 2020: Added the Vizio V Series V51-H6 to Notable Mentions.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best soundbars under $500 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 soundbar under $500 reviews. 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.