Soundbars can be a good upgrade from your TV speakers, especially if you have trouble understanding voices in TV shows and movies. It’s also a great way to enhance your listening experience when listening to podcasts or audiobooks, especially when you want to cast that content wirelessly. Some soundbars make dialogue clearer and easier to understand, while others can make voices sound more muddy and cluttered. So how do you know which is the best soundbar for voice clarity? You'll need something with a well-balanced stereo frequency response, and having a dialogue enhancement feature can help.
We’ve tested over 170 soundbars, and below are our recommendations for the best soundbars for speech. Also, make sure to check out our picks for the best soundbars, the best Dolby Atmos soundbars if you watch a lot of movies, and the best budget soundbars if you’re on an even tighter budget.
The best soundbar for dialogue that we've tested is the Samsung HW-Q990C. This premium 11.1.4 soundbar is a versatile pick that's ideal for listening to all sorts of content with dialogue, from movies to TV shows. It supports immersive audio formats like Dolby Digital and Dolby Atmos, commonly found on both streaming platforms and Blu-rays, providing an all-around-you sound that makes it feel like you've been dropped right in the middle of the action. With a discrete center channel designed to improve vocal reproduction, you can easily follow along with the action on screen. It's a little much if you just listen to dialogue-centric content like sitcoms, but if you want a bar that can do it all, it's worth a look.
Plus, this bar stands out from the crowd thanks to all its cool sound enhancement features. You can enhance the dialogue in the mix or use its graphic EQ to customize the output manually. There are some other premium bars worth a look, too, including the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 with Speakers + Bass Module and the Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers, both of which have better stereo soundstages. They're also great if you already own products in their respective ecosystems. However, they aren't as customizable as the Samsung, so it's our best pick overall.
Looking for a more affordable alternative? The Samsung HW-Q930B is another great bar with versatile performance, so it's ideal for users who want to enjoy clear dialogue in everything from TV shows to movies. Again, it has a discrete center channel to improve vocal reproduction, and dialogue is clear and detailed right from the jump. With a similar selection of sound enhancement features as the Samsung HW-Q990C, you have many options for switching up its sound, too. The dialogue enhancement tool even makes voices more clear and crisp in the mix, which is handy. Whether watching the latest Dolby Atmos flick or a more vocal-centric documentary, you'll have no issue hearing the characters' voices on screen.
So, what's the difference between these two soundbars? First, the Samsung HW-Q930B is a 9.1.4 setup, meaning that it comes with two fewer surround channels than the 11.1.4 Samsung HW-Q990C. Its subwoofer has a different design, too, and it looks a bit less premium. While it can bring plenty of thump and rumble to action-packed movie scenes, the bass response isn't quite as controlled on this bar, which means that dialogue is slightly muddier in the mix. It's mostly noticeable with more astute audiophiles, and casual listeners aren't likely to find it's a big deal, but it's worth noting. Depending on your listening habits, this bar may still be the better value overall.
The Vizio Elevate is a more wallet-friendly option that still does great with dialogue-centric content, including movies and TV shows. It's a 5.1.4 setup, so it has fewer surround channels than our top options. However, with its discrete center, dialogue doesn't get lost in the action, and you have no problem making out voices in the mix. It has some dialogue-focused tools, like a voice enhancement feature and a night mode to balance its volume level between different programs. Unlike the Samsung HW-Q930B, there's no room correction tool, meaning it can sound a little different depending on your room's layout, but at least there are bass and treble adjustments to make up for this.
Overall, this soundbar's unique design makes it stand out. Its sides rotate upwards when you watch Dolby Atmos or DTS:X content, and you can program it to perform the same with other formats. As a result, it offers a wide, immersive-sounding soundstage that makes it feel like you're sitting right in the middle of your favorite flicks. Its subwoofer brings plenty of rumble in the bass, and its rear speakers stretch sound effects to the space around your living room. With its balanced mids, voices remain clear and present in the mix, making it a solid pick for lovers of more intense movies. Unfortunately, you have to wire the satellites to the sub, which isn't ideal for every layout. Still, it's a versatile bar for its price, and you have no trouble with dialogue.
If you're shopping on a budget, the best soundbar for vocal clarity we've tested for under $500 is the Vizio M Series M512a-H6. It's a 5.1.2 setup with versatile performance, meaning you can enjoy clear and detailed dialogue in both movies and TV shows. You get clear and detailed vocal reproduction right out of the box, and its center channel improves the clarity in the mix. Even at its more affordable price point, you still get the standard selection of enhancement tools, including a night mode and a dialogue enhancement feature, though there's no graphic EQ.
If you like to watch movies, you'll appreciate the included satellite speakers, which enhance surround sound by making it seem like the action is happening all around you. Two up-firing drivers are built into the bar, which ricochet sound off the ceiling to create the illusion of height with Dolby Atmos movies. That said, compared to the Vizio Elevate, the bar lacks additional up-firing drivers on its rears, and its sides can't rotate for a more immersive sound. As a result, it doesn't sound quite as cinematic with multi-channel content like Dolby Atmos and Dolby Digital. Still, it remains a good pick for its price and ensures you don't have any issues following the dialogue on screen.
The best soundbar for vocal clarity in the budget range we tested is the Vizio V Series V51-H6. This 5.1 setup is even more affordable than the Vizio M Series M512a-H6 and is still a good choice overall. It's a simple setup with a dedicated subwoofer and two discrete satellite speakers. With its neutral sound, voices are clear and present in the mix. You can use its dialogue enhancement feature to make voices more clear and crisp, as well as its night mode to enhance vocal clarity when you're listening at night and don't want to bother anyone around you.
Like most bars in its price range, there's no Dolby Atmos support to help you take advantage of more immersive object-based formats. That said, its discrete surround speakers help it stand out compared to other budget-friendly picks, especially if you watch a lot of 5.1 surround sound content like Dolby Digital. If you don't have room for satellites, or if you don't watch a lot of movies, consider the Samsung HW-B450, which doesn't come with satellites. However, its surround sound isn't as good as the Vizio, which remains the most versatile pick in the budget range.
If you want quality vocal reproduction but don't have a lot of space in your living room, consider a standalone soundbar like the Sonos Arc. Compared to some of the other picks on our list, this soundbar is available on its own, so you don't have to worry about finding space for a subwoofer or satellites in your living room. Like most Sonos products, this soundbar boasts a sleek and premium design, with built-in voice assistant support to control it with your voice. Whether you're listening to TV shows, movies, or podcasts, you get a clear and even sound that ensures dialogue is easy to follow in the mix.
Like most premium setups on the market, this soundbar comes with a room correction feature that's designed to optimize the bar's output based on your room's unique acoustics— Sonos calls it TruePlay. It's only available with iOS devices, but it ensures that voices are as clear as can be. You can use its dialogue enhancement tool for a more crisp vocal sound. Without a sub, of course, it brings less rumble in the bass than top picks like the Samsung HW-Q990C, and without satellites, you don't get the same immersive feel with surround sound. Still, you can add a separate sub and satellites to improve its performance later if you move to a larger space.
If you want a standalone soundbar but want something smaller, check out the Sonos Beam (Gen 2). It's a 5.0 setup less than 26 inches wide, with a sleek design that blends in easily with your existing home decor. Despite its small size, it's a great choice for listening to dialogue-centric content, as voices are clearly and accurately reproduced right out of the box. Like the Sonos Arc, there's even a room correction feature called TruePlay on hand to optimize the audio reproduction based on your room's unique acoustics. You can also use the dialogue enhancement tool to make voices more clear and crisp in the mix.
This soundbar is also a great choice for watching movies. Dialogue is easy to follow, and its wide and immersive-sounding soundstage stretches other sound effects into the space around you for a cinematic feel. Compared to the original Sonos Beam, this bar adds Dolby Atmos support, too, so you can watch the most premium audio formats with ease, and you can also add a separate sub and satellites as the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) with Sub Mini + One SL Speakers for improved performance. Of course, compared to the larger Sonos Arc, it doesn't get quite as loud, and you don't get as much height with Atmos content. Still, for such a small bar, it packs a punch.
May 18, 2023: Replaced the Samsung HW-Q990B with the next-generation Samsung HW-Q990C.
Apr 18, 2023: Product picks remain accurate and relevant. Minor text updates for clarity.
Dec 20, 2022: No changes in product picks after verifying their accuracy and availability.
Nov 01, 2022: No changes in product picks after verifying their accuracy and availability.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best soundbars for voice clarity 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. 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.