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 25 soundbars so far, and below you'll find the best small soundbars to buy in 2019. See our recommendations for the best budget soundbars, the best soundbars 5.1, and the best soundbars with a subwoofer.
The best small soundbar we've tested so far is the Sonos Beam. It's a great option if you want a smaller soundbar to start off with but would like to upgrade to a larger setup with a subwoofer or satellite speakers someday. On its own, the bar lacks a bit of bass, but performs fairly well for its size, especially with more dialog-heavy content like TV shows.
While the soundbar alone doesn't deliver the deep thump and rumble you find in an action movie or dubstep track, it has an otherwise well-balanced frequency response. It even sounds a touch bright, which can be helpful if you're watching the news or listening to a podcast.
While this soundbar has lots of neat sound enhancement options, it doesn't have many physical inputs and the room correction features are currently only available on iOS. That said, if you use an iPhone or iPad and want a unique soundbar that sounds decent and doesn't take up too much space, then the Sonos Beam is a solid choice.
The best soundbar for computers we've tested so far is the Bose Solo 5. It's a very simple soundbar with a straightforward design that's relatively easy to set up with most computers. Since it has line-in, you can just plug it into your PC's headphone jack with a regular audio cable. If you have a newer computer that supports Bluetooth, you can use it wirelessly too.
This soundbar is one of the smallest we've tested, which is great if you want to set it up at your desk under your computer monitor. It doesn't produce very much bass, but it still sounds alright, especially for its size.
While its simple design makes it a breeze to get up and running, it also feels rather barebones. It supports Dolby Digital via optical in, but the lack of an HDMI port can be an issue if you want to watch surround sound movies on your computer. That said, if you mostly watch videos online, it's a solid option thanks to its compact design and decent sound.
If you need a soundbar with a full HDMI-in port and have space on your desk for a larger soundbar, then get the Yamaha ATS-1080. It's quite a bit bigger than the Bose Solo 5, but you can plug it into your laptop or desktop computer via HDMI, which is helpful if you watch a lot of movies with Dolby Digital or DTS surround sound. It also has a feature to help make dialog easier to understand at low volumes, which is helpful. On the downside, it's covered with fabric material that collects a lot of dust and feels rather cheap.
Get the Bose if you don't need an HDMI input and want something a lot smaller, but if you have space for a larger bar, the Yamaha is a good choice.
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 soundbar setup has a rather punchy sound and even delivers a fair amount of thump and rumble, which is pretty uncommon for a budget soundbar. Some may find the bass a bit overdone, especially since it tends to distort a bit at louder volumes, but there's a couple of EQ presets you can try out to see which you prefer.
While this soundbar feels surprisingly well-built for the price, the top of the bar has a glossy finish which tends to collect fingerprints. Like the Bose Solo 5, it also only supports Dolby Digital over optical and doesn't have any HDMI options. That said, if you prefer a more bass-heavy sound and are looking for a simple soundbar with a sub that doesn't take up too much space, the Alto 5+ isn't bad.
If you're looking for something with an integrated sub that's even smaller, then get the Sony HT-S200F. Unfortunately, it struggles to reproduce sounds that are deeper in the bass range, which is pretty disappointing considering it has an integrated sub, but some may prefer that it sounds less bass-heavy than the TCL Alto 5+. It also has HDMI ARC, which the Alto 5+ 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 soundbar 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.