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 2019. 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. 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. The bar by itself lacks a bit of bass since there's no sub, but it performs quite well regardless, especially for its size. Its design looks fairly sleek. It's a great option for voice-oriented content like TV shows or movies with lots of dialogue.
While it might lack the extra thump and rumble fans of bass would want on an EDM track or even in a movie, this soundbar has a fairly well-balanced sound profile, although a bit bright. This can be useful for people who listen to podcasts, audiobooks, or even the news. This soundbar can also get loud enough for all sorts of content but might compress a bit at max volume, so we suggest not pushing the bar to its limits for a better listening experience.
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 a line-in, you can just plug it into your PC's headphone jack with a regular audio cable. Also, if your computer supports Bluetooth, you can use it wirelessly, but might experience some sync issues when watching video content.
Also, this is one of the smallest soundbars we've reviewed so far. Its footprint is very small, making it a good option to place under your PC monitor or if you have limited space on your TV stand. Its performance seems to be a bit limited to its size, especially when it comes to bass, but it's still a decent option if you find yourself limited by available space.
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 or stereo content like music, 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 YAS-108/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 dialogue 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 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 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.
11/05/2019: Only minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy; added the Bose Soundbar 500 to 'Notable Mentions'.