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 160 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.
The Vizio M Series M512a-H6 is the best soundbar under $500 we've tested. It's a great choice for everything from music to movies to TV shows, offering a versatile overall performance at a more affordable price point than more premium models. With its immersive soundstage, the action on screen seems like it's happening all around you, and its sub brings the rumble in the bass for a real cinematic feel. Its rear speakers help position sound effects to pinpoint locations in the soundstage, so whether you're watching 5.1 surround sound formats like Dolby Digital or object-based formats like Dolby Atmos, you get a clear and real listening experience.
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, thanks to their neutral, balanced mids. Also, its extended low-bass reproduces the deep thump and rumble in everything from bass-heavy music and action-packed movies. Of course, it doesn't offer as many sound enhancement features as premium setups, so you won't find a room correction feature, meaning that it sounds a bit different depending on your room's acoustics. There's no graphic EQ either to control its response across the range. That said, its bass and treble adjustments still give you some ability to control its sound, which is nice. Overall, it offers great value for the price.
If you want an immersive-sounding Dolby Atmos soundbar, but don't have the space for dedicated satellite speakers, consider the LG SP8YA. It's a 3.1.2 setup with a dedicated subwoofer and a discrete center channel built into the bar itself to deliver more clear and more detailed dialogue in the mix. 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, too, so it's a versatile choice for many different types of audio content.
If you watch a lot of content on streaming platforms, you'll be happy to know that this soundbar supports Dolby Atmos content, too. However, you'll notice that the performance with surround sound isn't as impressive as 5.1 setups like the Vizio M Series M512a-H6. It can still playback surround sound like Dolby Digital, but it has to downmix this content into stereo. As a result, surround objects like voices and gunfire aren't as clear and real, and they seem like they're coming from a speaker placed in front of you. You do have the option to add separate speakers from the manufacturer down the line to improve its surround sound performance, which is nice.
The Sonos Beam (Gen 2) is the best small soundbar under $500 we've tested. Its compact design is less than 25 inches in width, so it can easily fit underneath your TV stand or monitor without blocking the screen. It may be small, but this bar 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. Whether you're listening to music or watching movies, you get the sense that sound effects take place in the space around you, as if your living room couch was dropped into the center of the action. Without a sub and satellites, it doesn't perform as well as the Vizio M Series M512a-H6. However, if you move to a bigger place down the line, the manufacturer lets you add these features for a separate fee, which is handy.
Like other premium Sonos setups, the Sonos S2 app pairs with the bar to enhance your listening experience. In the app, you find the room correction feature, which uses a microphone built into the bar to analyze the acoustic characteristics of your room and optimizes audio reproduction accordingly. This feature is called TruePlay, but it's only available with compatible iOS devices at this time. Turn it on, and you get a balanced sound that ensures voices and instruments are clear and detailed in the mix. If you own other Sonos audio devices, you can control them in tandem with the bar to create a whole sound ecosystem across your living space, which is a nice touch.
Lots of soundbars on the market come with sound customization tools so you can switch up their sound to your liking— and the best that we've tested under $500 is the Samsung HW-Q60B. Like Samsung's top-of-the-line models, this bar comes with a 7-band graphic EQ so you can customize its output across the range, adding more boom in the bass or sparkle in the treble based on your preferences. There are also some preset modes on hand, too, including Standard, Surround Sound, and Adaptive Sound. Whether you're an astute audiophile or a more casual listener, you can find a sound that meets your needs.
This soundbar is a simple 3.1 setup that comes with a dedicated subwoofer to bring a little more rumble in the bass. It's suitable for lots of different types of audio content, but it really shines with stereo audio, including most music and TV shows. Dialogue is clear in the mix, and voices and other instruments are reproduced with fidelity. That said, unlike the Vizio M Series M512a-H6, the bar has to downmix Dolby Digital and Dolby Atmos content into stereo in order to play it. The resulting sound isn't quite as cinematic, but if you want, you can add on separate satellites from the manufacturer to improve its performance.
Dolby Atmos is a popular object-based audio format that's found on lots of different streaming platforms, especially when it comes to newer releases. If you're just looking for a bar to playback stereo content, which includes most music and TV shows, as well as 5.1 surround sound formats like Dolby Digital, there are options on the market that come at an even more affordable price than our top picks. The Vizio V Series V51-H6 is the best of the bunch, and it's a 5.1 bar with a subwoofer and two satellite speakers. These speakers are a great value—they enhance the bar's surround sound performance by representing sound effects in a clear and real way in the space around you. Of course, unlike the Vizio M Series M512a-H6, you don't get Atmos support, but if you don't watch this type of content, you won't notice a difference.
Right out of the box, the bar's sound is balanced, so voices and lead instruments are clear and accurate in the mix. Thanks to its sub, you get plenty of thump and rumble in the low-bass, even with your favorite bass-heavy genres like EDM and hip-hop. Naturally, you don't find as many features as with the top-of-the-line offerings—there's no room correction, for example, so the bar sounds a little different depending on your room's acoustics. Thanks to its bass and treble adjustments, you can still make up for this a bit and can control the bar's sound to get it more to your liking. Overall, this bar is a solid value pick.
Dec 22, 2022: No changes in product picks after verifying their accuracy and availability.
Oct 28, 2022: Replaced the 2021 Samsung HW-Q700A with the 2022 Samsung HW-Q60B, as the 2021 model is no longer widely available.
Aug 29, 2022: Replaced the Samsung HW-Q600A with the Samsung HW-Q700A is 'Best Customizable' since the 700's price dropped into the range.
Jun 30, 2022: No changes in product picks after verifying their accuracy and availability.
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'.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the top 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 soundbars for 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.