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The 5 Best Soundbars Under $500 - Summer 2022 Reviews

Best Soundbars Under $500

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 are a lot of options available at a decent price point.

We’ve tested over 130 soundbars. Below, you'll find our recommendations for the top 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.

  1. Best Under $500

    The Vizio M Series M512a-H6 is the best soundbar under $500 that we've tested. It's a great choice for mixed usage, offering a versatile overall performance at a more affordable price point than some more premium models. There's support for Dolby Atmos content, and its discrete surround speakers make it a solid option for watching movies.

    Right out of the box, this soundbar has a neutral sound profile suitable for listening to most types of audio content. Vocals and lead instruments are clear and present in the mix, and its extended low-bass can reproduce the deep thump and rumble in bass-heavy music and action-packed movies. There are also some bass and treble adjustments to help you customize its sound.

    However, it doesn't offer as many sound enhancement features as premium setups. There's no room correction feature, so it sounds a bit different depending on the room you're in, and there isn't a graphic EQ to help you adjust its sound across the range. If you like a more neutral sound, its out-of-the-box performance means that you don't need these extra features.

    See our review

  2. Best 3.1 Under $500

    If you don't have enough space in your living room for dedicated satellite speakers, consider a 3.1 soundbar such as the LG SP8YA. Like a 5.1 setup, it comes with left and right stereo channels for content like music and TV shows, as well as a discrete center to optimize dialogue reproduction. While its surround performance isn't as impressive due to its lack of discrete satellites, it can still playback surround sound by downmixing this content into stereo.

    Out-of-the-box, this soundbar offers a slightly bass-heavy sound profile that adds extra thump and punch in the bass range. Its balanced mids ensure that vocals and lead instruments are still clear and present in the mix. Like other premium setups on the market, it comes with Dolby Atmos support as well as a room correction feature to automatically adjust audio reproduction based on your room's unique acoustics.

    That said, if you watch a lot of movies, you'll notice that the performance with surround sound isn't as impressive as 5.1 setups like the Vizio M Series M512a-H6. Surround objects like voices and gunfire aren't as clear and seem like they're coming from a speaker placed in front of you. However, if you don't watch a lot of movies and have a smaller living room, it's still a solid option.

    See our review

  3. Best Customizable Under $500

    The best customizable soundbar under $500 that we've tested is the Samsung HW-Q600A. While most setups under $500 come with basic sound enhancement features like bass and treble adjustments, this 3.1.2 setup has a full graphic EQ that gives you more control over the bar's sound across the entire range. Along with its bass and treble adjustments, you can create whatever sound profile suits your needs the best.

    On its default settings, this bar has a pretty neutral sound profile, with a balanced response across the range that ensures detailed vocals and instruments in the mids. There's a touch of extra boom in the bass, too, so you really feel the excitement in bass-heavy genres like EDM. There's also support for Dolby Atmos content, and it can playback surround sound formats like Dolby Digital that are commonly found on streaming platforms.

    However, unlike the LG SP8YA, this setup doesn't have a room correction feature, meaning that its sound varies a bit depending on the room you're listening in. It has to downmix surround sound into stereo to play it, so you don't get the same immersive experience as with a traditional 5.1 setup. You can get a Wireless Surround Kit from the manufacturer separately if you want to update your setup.

    See our review

  4. Best Small Under $500

    The Sonos Beam (Gen 2) is the best small soundbar under $500 that we've tested. Its compact design is less than 25 inches in width, so it can easily fit underneath your TV stand without blocking the screen. It may be small, but it still packs a punch; its wide soundstage extends audio well past the edges of the bar itself, resulting in a performance that rivals that of home theater speaker towers.

    This soundbar is ideal for listening to dialogue-heavy content like podcasts and TV shows. Its neutral mids reproduce voices and dialogue clearly and accurately, especially when you use its included room correction feature. Room correction uses a microphone built into the bar to analyze the acoustic characteristics of your room and optimizes audio reproduction accordingly. On Sonos bars, this feature is called TruePlay, but it's only available with compatible iOS devices.

    Unfortunately, this 5.0 soundbar doesn't come with discrete surround speakers, so it has to use a phantom localization. As a result, sound objects in surround content don't seem as clear or as real: for example, cars in a chase scene seem like they're coming from speakers placed in front of you. It can't reproduce the deep thump and rumble in the bass range, either. You can always upgrade the bar with a dedicated subwoofer and satellites if you want.

    See our review

  5. Best Budget

    If you're looking for an even more affordable option, the best budget soundbar we've tested is the Vizio V Series V51-H6. It may not come with as many features as the more premium bars on the market, but it still offers a pretty versatile performance overall. It even comes with discrete surround speakers, so surround sound is immersive.

    Out-of-the-box, this soundbar's neutral sound profile means that vocals and lead instruments are represented clearly and accurately. Its dedicated subwoofer reproduces an extended low-bass that's ideal for bass-heavy genres like EDM, and there's a little extra boom in the bass range to help you feel the punch in your audio. Want a different sound? There are bass and treble adjustments available.

    You won't find a room correction feature or a graphic EQ with this soundbar, and it only offers a few EQ presets. It also doesn't support Dolby Atmos content, typical for soundbars available at its price point. If you watch lots of movies, especially on streaming platforms, it's worth spending a little extra for better performance. But if you're a TV and music fan on a budget, the Vizio is still a solid pick.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Vizio M Series M51ax-J6: The Vizio M Series M51ax-J6 is a 5.1 setup with a decent surround sound performance that supports Atmos content. However, its soundstage performance isn't as impressive as some of the other models we've tested. See our review
  • Vizio SB36512-F6: The Vizio SB36512-F6 is a versatile Dolby Atmos soundbar with a 5.1.2 setup. Its soundstage is decent, but it doesn't offer the same immersive experience as the Vizio M Series M512a-H6. See our review
  • Samsung HW-Q65T: The Samsung HW-Q65T is a solid option if you want a customizable soundbar, thanks to its graphic EQ and presets. It's a 5.1 setup, but it doesn't support Dolby Atmos content. See our review
  • Vizio V Series V51x-J6: The Vizio V Series V51x-J6 is an affordable pick that's the next generation of the Vizio V Series V51-H6. Unfortunately, it can't reproduce as extended of a low-bass as its predecessor, so you don't feel as much thump and punch in your audio. See our review
  • Bose Smart Soundbar 300: The Bose Smart Soundbar 300 is a small soundbar that offers more wireless playback options than the Sonos Beam (Gen 2). However, it lacks a room correction feature, so it sounds different depending on the room you use it in. See our review
  • JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam: The JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam is a small 5.0 soundbar that can easily fit into your existing setup. It has a pretty immersive sound with Atmos and surround content, but its soundstage performance isn't as impressive. See our review
  • Vizio V Series V21-H8: The Vizio V Series V21-H8 is a pretty versatile 2.1 soundbar that offers a bass-heavy sound profile out-of-the-box. However, it lacks a Full HDMI In port, and it isn't as customizable as some of the other soundbars we've tested. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. May 03, 2022: Replaced the Klipsch Cinema 700 with the LG SP8YA as 'Best 3.1' after the LG's price dropped into the range. Added the Samsung HW-Q600A as 'Best Customizable'.

  2. Mar 04, 2022: Replaced the LG SP8YA with the Klipsch Cinema 700 as 'Best 3.1'. Added the Vizio SB365120F6 as Best Atmos.

  3. Jan 04, 2022: Restructured article for greater clarity.

  4. Nov 05, 2021: Replaced the Vizio M Series M51a-H6 with the next-generation Vizio M Series M512a-H6 and added the LG SP8YA as an alternative. Added the Samsung HW-Q700A as 'Best Customizable'. Replaced the Sonos Beam with the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) as 'Best Small'. Added the Vizio V Series V51-H6 as 'Best Budget'. Added the Vizio SB46514-F6 to Notable Mentions.

  5. Sep 07, 2021: Replaced the Samsung HW-T650 with the Samsung HW-A650 in Notable Mentions.

All Reviews

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.