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 160 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). It has the same compact design as the original Sonos Beam, measuring less than 26 inches in width. Thanks to its small footprint, it'll fit easily beneath your computer monitor or TV stand without crowding the space. Also, unlike the first-gen model, this soundbar has Dolby Atmos support, meaning you can enjoy object-based formats on Blu-ray discs and streaming services. If you move to a bigger space down the line, you can even upgrade it with a subwoofer and satellites.
Despite its small size, this premium 5.0 bar uses psychoacoustics principles to widen its soundstage past the edges of the bar itself, providing a wide and cinematic feel that makes it seem like you're right in the middle of the action. Its bass and treble are adjustable, meaning you can customize its sound, and there's even a TruePlay room correction feature to optimize its output based on your room's unique acoustics. 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 simple 2.1 setup with a subwoofer integrated into the bar to improve its bass reproduction. Overall, given its 2.1 design, it's best suited for listening to stereo content, including most music and TV shows. Voices and lead instruments are clear and accurate in their reproduction, which is great, and you even have a dialogue enhancement tool on hand if you want to make them more crisp. That said, compared to the Bose TV Speaker, there's a slight dip in the treble, which makes audio sound rather dull.
This setup also lets you playback 5.1 surround sound formats like Dolby Digital. Like the Bose TV Speaker, it has to downmix them into stereo to play them. Unfortunately, this bar's soundstage performance isn't nearly as impressive as what you get with the Bose, so you don't get a very cinematic feel with this content. There's no support for Dolby Atmos or DTS content, either. Despite the integrated subwoofer, there isn't much rumble in the bass, but it's not a huge deal if you mostly listen to vocal-centric content without a lot of bass mixed in. If you mostly listen to stereo content, it's still a solid choice overall.
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. 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, you'll want a soundbar that can bring plenty of thump and punch in the bass range. Standalone soundbars struggle to accurately reproduce a deep, extended rumble in the bass, even if they have a subwoofer integrated into the bar. That said, the TCL Alto 6+ is a great option for bass lovers who don't have a lot of space in their living room. The bar is small and compact, and the included subwoofer isn't as large as what you get with other models. When paired with the bar, the sub brings a lot more punch to the mix than what you get with the standalone options on our list.
Overall, this 2.1 setup is best suited for stereo content. Dialogue in movies and TV shows is clearly reproduced, and you get a little more rumble to emphasize action-focused scenes. There's even a dialogue enhancement tool on hand if you want to make voices more clear and crisp in the mix. However, there's no Dolby Atmos support, and its performance with movies is just okay. If you love Atmos and 5.1 surround content and want lots of rumble from a small bar, you can check out the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) with a Sonos Sub Mini added. It's more expensive than the TCL, and you have to add on the subwoofer separately, but it's a great Atmos-enabled alternative.
Jan 24, 2023: We've made some small updates to the text for clarity, but there are no changes in the product picks.
Nov 25, 2022: No changes in product picks after verifying their accuracy and availability.
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.
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.