Soundbars are often seen as a more convenient alternative to traditional home theatre 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 factor makes them easier to travel with or set up wherever you'd like.
We've tested over 25 soundbars so far, and below you'll find the best small soundbars to buy in 2020. 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. This is a standalone soundbar that can be upgraded to a full surround soundbar setup, which includes a subwoofer and two satellite speakers. The soundbar itself is well-built, which is a quality we've come to expect from Sonos, and it's small enough to fit comfortably between the legs of any 55 inch TV. It's fairly easy to set up, but don't expect a full range of connectivity options. There's an HDMI ARC, an ethernet port, and an adapter for optical input if your TV doesn't support audio return channel. That's because Sonos expects most people to use their mobile app, Sonos Controller, to access all the features. Voice control is available as well, and you can choose between Amazon's Alexa or the Google Assistant as your preferred digital assistant.
Without a dedicated subwoofer, it's expected that the sound will be light on the bass. It may not be able to produce deep rumbles and thumps, but the overall sound signature is well-balanced and flat. There are quite a few sound enhancement features available, such as dialogue enhancement, bass and treble adjustments, and room correction. Unfortunately, the room correction feature is only available on iOS at the moment.
If you're on the market for a small soundbar that fits into your setup, the Sonos Beam is highly recommended.
The best soundbar for computers we've tested so far is the Bose Solo 5. It's a fairly simple, no-fuss soundbar that you can just plug in through the analog audio or optical input. There's Bluetooth support as well if you want to connect wirelessly or stream from a mobile device; however, there may be some latency, which is less ideal for watching videos or for gaming. The design is clean and the overall size is small, so it should easily fit on most desks. And though it's mostly made out of plastic, the build quality is decent and the soundbar feels solid.
As this is a standalone soundbar without a subwoofer, it's somewhat expected that the sub-bass is on the lighter side. That said, the overall sound profile is pleasing, especially for stereo content. Also, it doesn't support any virtual surround sound formats, so all content gets downmixed to a stereo configuration.
If you're looking for a good sounding soundbar but don't necessarily have the space for a dedicated subwoofer, the Bose is a good option.
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 the wireless subwoofer which is surprisingly compact. 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 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 preference.
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, the Alto 5+ can be an option for you.
If you don't have the spare room for a wireless subwoofer and would prefer a bar with an integrated one, then get the Sony HT-S200F. Unfortunately, it struggles to reproduce sounds that are deeper in the bass range, which is pretty disappointing, but some may prefer that it sounds less bass-heavy than the TCL Alto 5+. It also has HDMI ARC, which the TCL is lacking. Unfortunately, this soundbar sounds considerably dark and muddy since it also lacks presence in the treble range, but will be fine for casual use at home, like while watching TV.
Get the TCL if you prefer more bass and would rather have a separate subwoofer, but if you want something smaller and don't mind the lack of bass, then go for the Sony.
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.
01/06/2020: Minor text and structure changes, no change in recommendations.
12/05/2019: 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'.