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, so the best soundbars for computer use are typically smaller than sets designed for use with your TV. 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 120 soundbars, and below you'll find the best compact soundbars to buy. Also, check out our recommendations for the best budget soundbars, the best soundbars 5.1, and the best soundbars for music.
The best small soundbar that we've tested is the Sonos Beam (Gen 2). This 5.0 setup has a similar design to the original Sonos Beam, but this version supports Dolby Atmos content. Its side-firing speakers work in tandem with its stereo speakers to create a wide, immersive-sounding soundstage that rivals the performance of bigger setups.
Using a compatible iOS device, you can use the Trueplay room correction feature on the Sonos S2 app to optimize audio reproduction based on your room's acoustics. With this feature on, its sound profile is fairly neutral with a touch of extra punch in the bass range, making it suitable for listening to lots of different types of audio content. You can control the bar with your voice thanks to its built-in support for Alexa and Google Assistant.
Unfortunately, this soundbar doesn't come with an EQ, so you can only customize its sound with its bass and treble adjustments. Also, like most small soundbars, it struggles to reproduce the deep thump and rumble in the bass range found in bass-heavy music and action-packed movies. That said, you can always upgrade it with a separate sub and satellites down the line if you want.
The best mini soundbar for customization that we've tested is the Samsung HW-S60A. This 5.0 setup comes with Samsung's full offering of sound enhancement features, including a 7-band graphic EQ and presets to help you customize its sound. The Samsung SmartThings app also gives you access to 'Voice Enhancement' and 'Night Mode' features, handy for watching TV.
Out-of-the-box, this setup has a pretty neutral sound profile suitable for listening to lots of different types of audio content. It's well-built, and its unique Side Horn Speakers are advertised to help create a more immersive sound with surround content. There's also built-in support for Alexa if you want to control the bar with your voice.
Unfortunately, this setup can't reproduce the deep thump and rumble in the low bass, so it's not ideal for listening to bass-heavy music or action-packed movies. Also, it doesn't support Dolby Atmos content, which is disappointing for movie fans. That said, if you want a customizable small soundbar for music and watching TV, it's still a solid choice.
The Bose Smart Soundbar 300 is the best soundbar for computer use with a small design that we've tested. This well-built 3.0 setup has a compact design that you can easily add to your existing computer setup, and it shouldn't block your computer screen. It gets pretty loud for its small size, and it also offers Bluetooth connectivity, making it easy to wirelessly stream audio from your phone.
Out-of-the-box, this soundbar offers a slightly v-shaped sound profile that adds a little extra thump and punch in the bass range while making vocals and lead instruments sparkling and bright. If you prefer a different sound, there are also bass and treble adjustment features available. It also has a good soundstage performance, which helps you feel immersed in your audio from many angles.
Unfortunately, this soundbar doesn't support Dolby Atmos content, and its surrounds performance isn't very impressive. Also, it struggles to reproduce a rumbling low-bass, which can be disappointing if you like to feel the thumping sound effects in your games. That said, you can upgrade the setup with a dedicated subwoofer, sold separately.
The TCL Alto 6+ is the best compact soundbar with a subwoofer that we've tested. This budget-friendly 2.1 setup should easily fit into your existing setup, and its subwoofer isn't much bigger than a desktop PC. Despite its small size, it still gets loud enough to use in large rooms and at crowded parties without a lot of compression.
Out-of-the-box, this soundbar has a balanced mid-range that can reproduce vocals and lead instruments clearly, though they can also sound a bit dull due to its recessed treble range. There are EQ presets to help customize its sound, including a 'TV' preset that enhances dialogue. It's also advertised to work seamlessly with your Roku TV, meaning you can control it with your TV remote.
Unfortunately, this soundbar has a poor selection of sound enhancement features. It doesn't have bass and treble adjustments or more premium features like room correction, meaning it may sound different depending on your space. However, thanks to its subwoofer, it can still reproduce a punchier bass than many other small bars we've tested.
If you're on a budget, the best small soundbar that we've tested is the Sony HT-S200F. It's a bit more expensive than the TCL Alto 6+, but its standalone design may be preferable for users who don't want a dedicated subwoofer in their space. This compact 2.1 setup has its subwoofer integrated into the bar to help with bass reproduction.
Out-of-the-box, this soundbar has a dark and muddy sound due to the lack of bass and treble. That said, its balanced mid-range can still reproduce voices fairly clearly, making it suitable for listening to vocal-centric content like TV shows. There are a few EQ presets and a bass adjustment feature to help you customize its sound, as well as a Voice Mode to make it easier to hear the dialogue in TV shows.
Unfortunately, this soundbar has a mediocre soundstage performance, so your audio doesn't seem to be much wider than the bar itself. It also doesn't get very loud. That said, there isn't a lot of compression when you push it to max volume, which is good.
Dec 07, 2021: Replaced the Sonos Beam with the next generation Sonos Beam (Gen 2). Moved the Sony HT-S200F from 'Alternative With Integrated Sub' to 'Best Budget' for greater clarity.
Oct 08, 2021: Minor updates to the text for accuracy. No changes to product picks.
Aug 10, 2021: Minor updates to the text for accuracy; no changes in product picks.
Jun 11, 2021: Added the Samsung HW-S60A as 'More Customizable Alternative'. Removed the Bose Solo 5 and the Bose Soundbar 500 as they're no longer widely available. Added the Denon Home Sound Bar 550 and the JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam to Notable Mentions.
Apr 13, 2021: No changes in product picks after verifying their accuracy and availability.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best small soundbars, the best mini 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.