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 150 soundbars, and below you'll find the best soundbars with a small design 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 soundbar with a small design we've tested is the Sonos Beam (Gen 2). This 5.0 setup has the same compact design as the original Sonos Beam. Unlike its predecessor, it supports Dolby Atmos content, which is handy if you watch lots of movies on Blu-ray and streaming platforms. Despite its small size, the bar has an immersive soundstage. Sound stretches all around you, so you get the impression that the action on screen is taking place all around you, especially with Dolby Atmos content. It supports 5.1 surround sound formats like Dolby Digital and DTS, too. Its representation is fairly clear, but you can always add on separate rears if you want to improve its sound. The manufacturer also offers compatible subwoofers, which are handy if you want more rumble in the bass range.
This bar is versatile enough to appease fans of music and TV shows, too. Like many premium bars on the market, it comes with a room correction feature that automatically optimizes audio reproduction based on your room's unique acoustics—Sonos calls this feature TruePlay. With it on, its sound profile is neutral, and its balanced mids ensure that dialogue and lead instruments are clear in the mix. With its bass and treble adjustments, you can customize its sound more to your liking, which is handy. There's Wi-Fi connectivity, but if you're looking for a Bluetooth-compatible bar, check out the Bose Smart Soundbar 300, which is the best soundbar for computer use we've tested. The Bose doesn't have Atmos support, so it's not as versatile as the Sonos, but it still enhances dialogue in video games you play on your PC.
If you're looking for a more affordable option, consider the Bose TV Speaker. It's a well-built 2.0 bar that's less expensive than the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) and may provide a better value if you mostly listen to stereo content like music and TV shows. Right out of the box, it offers a fairly balanced sound, especially in the mids, where most voices and lead instruments reproduce. As a result, dialogue in your favorite shows is clear and easy to understand, and you can enjoy detailed vocals and instruments when you listen to music. Naturally, since it's a standalone bar, you don't get much rumble in the low-bass—but you can always add on a separate subwoofer to improve bass reproduction, which the manufacturer sells separately.
The bar isn't quite as impressive as our top picks with movies. While it can playback some 5.1 surround sound formats like Dolby Digital, since it's a 2.0 bar, it has to downmix this audio into stereo to play it. The resulting sound isn't very impressive, and it seems like audio is simply coming from a speaker placed in front of you. There's no Dolby Atmos support to take advantage of more immersive object-based formats, either. However, if you aren't a movie fan, this might not make much of a difference. If you already own products in the Sonos ecosystem and want a small bar with a similar performance, you can also check out the Sonos Ray, which is available for roughly the same price. However, the Ray lacks a little low-bass compared to the Bose, so it's not ideal for everyone.
The best compact soundbar in the mid-range that we've tested is the Sony HT-S200F. It's a very simple standalone bar, advertised as a 2.1 setup, thanks to the subwoofer that's integrated into the bar itself to improve its bass reproduction. Still, it comes in at just under 23 inches in width, so it doesn't take up much space beneath your TV. It marks a solid upgrade over your existing TV speakers, especially with stereo content, which includes most music and TV shows. It has to downmix surround sound formats like Dolby Digital, although it offers a built-in virtual surround feature called S-Force Pro Front Surround to bring a slightly more immersive feel.
Overall, this bar sounds relatively balanced right out-of-the-box—though its sound quality isn't quite as impressive as what you find with more premium models like the Bose TV Speaker. The mids are even, and you don't have any issues hearing dialogue clearly, which is great if you watch a lot of vocal-centric television programs like sitcoms. However, there's a dip in the treble range that brings a dark quality to the overall sound. Compared to the Bose, there are limited customization tools on hand, like a bass adjustment feature to adjust its sound as well as a dialogue enhancement mode; however, without a full EQ, you can't get the same sound as with our top picks. It won't matter for everyone, but if you're a more astute audiophile, you'll prefer some of the more premium options on our list.
If you're looking for a basic upgrade over your TV speakers at a low cost, look at the Roku Streambar, which is the best budget small soundbar we've tested. At under 14 inches in width, its compact design is ideal for smaller living spaces at a more affordable price. As a bonus, it gives you access to Roku's media streamer, a handy tool that organizes your streaming services like Netflix and Hulu into one interface so you can easily switch between your favorite programs. It's well-built for its price, with many wireless playback options like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi so you can stream music from your phone to the bar itself.
Like the Sony HT-S200F, this bar is best suited for listening to vocal-centric content like TV shows and podcasts. It has an okay sound quality, with balanced mids that make it easy to follow the dialogue in TV shows and distinguish instruments in your favorite songs. As with the Sony, there's a slight recess in the treble that brings a bit of darkness to the mix. However, you notice a difference between the two bars with bass-centric genres like EDM and hip-hop. Since it lacks an integrated sub, the Roku struggles to bring the thump and rumble in the low-bass. You can always add a separate sub from the manufacturer, but it'll add to the cost. The Sony's a better bet if you want more rumble out-of-the-box—however, if you mostly listen to content without a lot of bass mixed in, like podcasts, the Roku remains a solid bet at a cheaper price.
If you love bass-heavy music genres or want to feel the rumble in action-packed movie scenes, you might be disappointed that most small bars come as standalone setups. While you can upgrade the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) and the Roku Streambar with a subwoofer, you can also check out the TCL Alto 6+, which is a compact bar with a subwoofer included in the price. It's budget-friendly, with a pretty neutral and balanced sound profile, so voices and lead instruments in music and TV shows are clearly and accurately reproduced.
Thanks to its dedicated sub, it offers a more extended low-bass than other standalone models, so there's more rumble in your audio. That said, this soundbar doesn't come with support for Dolby Atmos content commonly found on streaming platforms. If you're looking for a small Dolby Atmos bar with a subwoofer, you can check out the LG Eclair QP5. It won't give you the most impressive Atmos performance, though this is typical for a small bar, and its subwoofer doesn't perform as well as the TCL's, so you miss some of the rumble in action-packed movies. However, it's still a solid pick, and it gives movie fans the versatility to enjoy Atmos content every once in a while.
Sep 27, 2022: No changes in product picks after verifying their accuracy and availability. Minor updates to the text for clarity.
Jul 22, 2022: Updated the category headings to better reflect the market for small soundbars. Added the Bose TV Speaker as 'Best Upper-Mid-Range'.
Jun 03, 2022: Added the Roku Streambar as 'Best Under $100'. Minor updates to the text for clarity.
Apr 05, 2022: Replaced the LG Eclair QP5 with the TCL Alto 6+ since the TCL reproduces a more extended low-bass. Minor updates to the text for clarity.
Feb 04, 2022: Replaced the TCL Alto 6+ with the more versatile LG Eclair QP5 with Dolby Atmos support. Minor updates to the text.
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.