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 many options available at a decent price point.
We've tested over 165 soundbars. Below, you'll find our recommendations for the top soundbars under $500 to buy. Also, check out our picks 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 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.
Depending on the setup of your living room, you might not have enough space for a soundbar with dedicated satellite speakers. In that case, you'll want to look at the LG SP8YA. It's a great Dolby Atmos soundbar available without speakers, and it still does a great job with everything from music to movies to TV shows. You get a bar as well as a subwoofer, which is capable of reproducing all the low frequencies that are common in bass-centric music and action-packed movies. Since it's a 3.1.2 setup, there's a discrete center channel, too, which ensures that vocal reproduction is clean and clear.
This soundbar supports many audio formats commonly found on streaming platforms and Blu-rays, including Dolby Atmos and Dolby Digital. However, its performance with 5.1 surround sound isn't as impressive as the Vizio M Series M512a-H6. This bar 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 can add separate speakers from the manufacturer down the line to improve its surround sound performance, though, which is nice.
If you don't have a lot of room in your setup, you can always opt for a small standalone bar like the Sonos Beam (Gen 2). Since it doesn't come with a subwoofer like the LG SP8YA, it takes up even less space in your living room. Plus, the bar is less than 25 inches wide, so it easily fits underneath your TV stand or monitor. With a wide and immersive soundstage, the bar offers a performance that rivals some home theater speakers. Audio formats like Dolby Atmos and Dolby Digital bring sound effects to the space around the bar, so you feel more immersed in your audio.
Plus, this soundbar comes with many of the same features as Sonos's more premium offerings. For example, it's compatible with the Sonos S2 app, which you can use to connect the bar with other Sonos products to spread audio throughout your room. Also, the TruePlay room correction tool is designed to automatically calibrate the bar's output based on your room's unique acoustics. It's only available with iOS devices at this time, but Android users can still manually adjust the bar's sound with its bass and treble adjustments. Of course, without a sub, you don't get as much rumble in the bass. But if you're low on space and mostly listen to content without a lot of bass mixed in, it's a solid choice.
Lots of soundbars on the market come with sound customization tools so you can switch up their sound to your liking—and the best we've tested under $500 is the Samsung HW-Q60B. For a wallet-friendly price, this soundbar offers access to Samsung's premium customization tools, including a 7-band graphic EQ. Compared to regular bass and treble adjustments, it lets you EQ other frequencies across the range, like the mids. If you prefer, there are also some preset modes, like Adaptive Sound, which the manufacturer advertises to switch up the bar's output based on the content you're listening to.
As a simple 3.1 setup, this bar shines with stereo audio, which includes most music and TV shows. Dialogue is clear in the mix, and voices and other instruments reproduce with fidelity. Plus, the sub brings lots of rumble in the low-bass for genres like EDM and hip-hop. That said, unlike the Vizio M Series M512a-H6, the bar has to downmix Dolby Digital and Dolby Atmos content into stereo to play it. The resulting sound isn't quite as cinematic, but if you want, you can add separate satellites from the manufacturer to improve its performance.
Dolby Atmos is a popular object-based audio format found on many different streaming platforms, especially with newer releases. However, not everyone needs a soundbar that can decode this format. If you prefer to watch stereo content, like most music and TV shows, or 5.1 surround formats like Dolby Digital, you can save a lot on a bar without Atmos support. The best we've tested under $500 is the Vizio V Series V51-H6. For a budget-friendly price, you get a bar with a subwoofer and two satellites that are great for 5.1 content.
From the jump, this bar offers a great sound quality that makes it suitable for listening to many different audio formats—besides Atmos, of course. The sub brings the rumble in action-packed movie scenes while the satellites spread sound effects into the space around your couch for a more immersive feel. Naturally, though, 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 and control the bar's sound to get it more to your liking. Overall, this bar is a solid value pick.
Apr 21, 2023: Confirmed the accuracy of product picks. Minor text updates for clarity.
Feb 20, 2023: Confirmed that picks remain relevant; minor updates to the text for clarity.
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.
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.