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 90 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 soundbar under $500 with more wireless playback options, consider the Vizio SB36512-F6. While it doesn't get as loud as the Vizio M Series M51a-H6 and its surrounds performance isn't as impressive, you can stream audio to the bar wirelessly over Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or Chromecast built-in, which is handy. This 5.1.2 setup has a pretty neutral, though slightly bass-heavy sound profile out-of-the-box, making it suitable for listening to lots of different types of audio content. There are a few EQ presets as well as bass and treble adjustments to help you customize its sound to your liking, and it gets pretty loud, too. While it supports Dolby Atmos content, its performance is mediocre, and it doesn't offer DTS:X support.
If you want something with a more neutral sound profile out-of-the-box that gets louder and offers a better surrounds performance, check out the M Series. However, if you prefer more wireless playback options, consider the SB36512-F6 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 makes 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. If you don't have much room on your TV stand, this 3.0 channel model manages to have a small footprint while still delivering a fairly well-balanced sound. Its compact size should also fit between the legs of most 55 inch or larger TVs. Still, if you decide you need an even better audio experience down the line, you can expand this setup by purchasing its subwoofer and satellites sold separately.
Although it has a plain-looking design, it has a robust and solid build. Its side-firing speakers help create a wide soundstage for a more immersive listening experience, while features like room correction and dialogue enhancement can further improve audio clarity. You can control all of its settings directly in the Sonos Controller companion app, and you can even set up alarms and link up all of your streaming services in one place so you can quickly search through all of your audio libraries in one go.
Unfortunately, since it doesn't come with a subwoofer, it struggles to produce low-bass. While it has bass and treble adjustment features that can help compensate for it, unfortunately, it lacks a proper EQ. It also doesn't support Atmos and doesn't have Bluetooth connectivity, which is a bit disappointing. That said, this compact soundbar offers an immersive sound experience that can be further upgraded in the future.
The Yahama YAS-408 is the best 2.1 soundbar under $500 that we've tested. It's also known as the Yahama MusicCast BAR 400 as it supports MusicCast, which allows you to stream your favorite audio to different rooms if you have compatible devices, but we don't currently test this feature. It also comes with a wireless subwoofer, which makes this a step up from your TV's built-in speakers.
It has a very neutral sound profile, and while it's similar to the Yamaha YAS-207 in this regard, it feels better built. It can reproduce a boomy bass, which is great for action-packed movies or musical genres like EDM and hip-hop. If you like to listen to vocal-centric content like podcasts or TV shows, it can also reproduce speech well. It can get loud, but there are some compression artifacts at max volume. You can even wirelessly stream your favorite content to the bar using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
Unfortunately, it lacks a lot of sound enhancement features like an EQ or room correction. Its surround performance is also disappointing as it has to downmix this content into stereo to play it. It also doesn't support Atmos, which can be disappointing if you're a big movie fan. That said, if you're looking for a straightforward 2.1 setup, this is a solid choice.
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.
Sep 08, 2020: Minor updates to the text; verification for accuracy.
Jul 08, 2020: Replaced the Samsung HW-Q60R with the Samsung HW-Q60T for More Customizable Alternative category.
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.