Soundbars are often seen as a more convenient alternative to traditional home theater speaker systems. As more speakers and sound-enhancing technologies are packed into a soundbar setup, they can get really big. Some soundbars are too wide to keep on your desk underneath your computer monitor or below your TV stand. Smaller soundbars generally don't sound as spacious as their wider counterparts, but their more compact form makes them easier to travel with or set up wherever you'd like.
We've tested over 30 soundbars so far, and below you'll find the best small soundbars to buy. See our recommendations for the best budget soundbars, the best soundbars 5.1, and the best soundbars for music.
The best small soundbar we've tested so far is the Sonos Beam. Well-suited for small spaces thanks to its slim design, this soundbar is also easily upgradable to a full surround setup if you've got the room for an additional subwoofer and two satellite speakers.
This soundbar has a great build quality and it's small enough to fit between the legs of most 55 inch TVs. Since it's also a standalone soundbar, setup is very easy. Its balanced sound profile should please most listeners. While the dedicated center channel is excellent for more dialogue-centric content like podcasts or TV shows, its wide array of sound enhancement features like bass and treble adjustments, room correction, and dialogue enhancement can help you get the best sound to match your preferences.
Unfortunately, this soundbar really falls short in connectivity options. It only has an HDMI ARC, an ethernet port, and an adapter for optical input, which some can find limiting. It doesn't connect via Bluetooth, either; however, its mobile app, Sonos Controller, allows you to use Wi-Fi to play audio. Without a dedicated subwoofer, some may also find the bass lacking. Still, if you're looking for a compact soundbar that you can eventually upgrade into a bigger setup, this one is a solid choice.
The Bose Solo 5 is the best small soundbar for computers we've tested so far. Its short, compact design can easily fit underneath large computer screens.
Although this soundbar is simple in design, it's well-built and solid. It's not very tall, so you shouldn't have a problem placing it beneath your monitor unless it sits more flush to your table. Its sound profile is fairly well-balanced. While it might not be able to get as loud as other soundbars, its volume is more than enough for most users when you're listening to audio at your desk. This soundbar also supports Bluetooth so you can wirelessly stream music from your smartphone or Bluetooth-enabled computer.
On the downside, it has a limited number of inputs. While you can use an optical or coaxial connection, it doesn't have newer connectivity options like HDMI. It also struggles to produce thumpy, rumbling bass. Still, if you're looking for something to go along with your desktop, this is the best soundbar for computer use.
If you prefer a soundbar with an HDMI port, check out the Yamaha YAS 108/ATS-1080. Unlike the Bose Solo 5, this 2.2 channel soundbar has built-in subwoofers to give the bass a boost. Although it's convenient for small spaces, it simply doesn't sound as good as a dedicated subwoofer. The overall sound is decent, but it's much more suited to dialogue-heavy content. The HDMI port lets you plug in another device such as a Blu-ray player or a gaming console; additionally, it can send a 4k signal at 60Hz and supports HDR10 passthrough. You can also stream content wirelessly through Bluetooth, but sadly, not through Wi-Fi. Lastly, though it doesn't have an EQ, it does have a dialogue enhancement feature and allows for adjustments to the subwoofers.
Overall, the Bose is a simple soundbar that's easy to set up and sounds good, but if an extra HDMI port is important to you, then you should consider the Yamaha.
The best small soundbar with subwoofer we've tested so far is the TCL Alto 5+. It's a bit bigger than some of the other options on this list but can deliver a lot more bass thanks to its surprisingly compact wireless subwoofer.
Unlike some of the more premium soundbars we've tested, it comes with all the cables you'll need in the box and even provides a wall-mounting kit, which is generous at this price point. This setup has a surprising bass performance as the compact sub delivers quite a lot of punch, thump, and rumble, which might be a tad much. Some may feel like this is overdone, and you can easily hear it when pushing the bar to its max volume. On the upside, there are a few settings that you can play around with, making it easier to find a preset that suits your preferences.
Unfortunately, even though the overall build quality of this product is good, especially for the price, some people might not like the glossy finish of the bar, which is very fingerprint-prone. Also, it doesn't have any HDMI ports and doesn't support some audio formats like DTS. Nevertheless, if you like bass and are looking for a compact soundbar that packs a good punch thanks to a wireless subwoofer, this might be the one for you.
If you're limited on room and like the design of a soundbar with an integrated subwoofer, then get the Sony HT-S200F. While its bass range falls a bit short, some may prefer its underemphasized sound to the more thumpy and rumbly TCL Alto 5+. On the downside, as the Sony is also lacking in the treble range, this soundbar sounds dark and muddy. Still, it's great for watching TV or listening to podcasts as its dialogue enhancement feature reproduces clear and accurate voices. Unlike the TCL, the Sony also has an HDMI ARC, which is good for a TV-oriented setup.
Get the TCL if you like to have more bass, especially coming from a separate subwoofer, but if you need a soundbar with a smaller footprint and don't mind the underemphasized bass, go for the Sony.
04/24/2020: Minor text and structure changes, no change in recommendations.
11/05/2019: Only minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy; added the Bose Soundbar 500 to 'Notable Mentions'.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best small soundbars and the best soundbars for computers 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 reviews, sorted by bar width. 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.