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 what's 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 110 soundbars, and below are our recommendations for the best soundbars for dialogue. Also, make sure to check out our recommendations 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 Samsung HW-Q950A is the best soundbar for dialogue clarity that we've tested. This premium 11.1.4 setup offers a very versatile overall performance, and its discrete center channel accurately localizes voices to a pinpoint location in the sound image. It also has a very balanced and neutral sound profile out-of-the-box, so voices are reproduced clearly and with detail.
This setup comes with lots of sound enhancement features to help improve your listening experience, including an Auto EQ room correction feature and a graphic EQ for sound customization. You can also use its Active Voice Amplifier to make voices in your TV shows sound more clear and crisp, and its auto-volume mode helps balance the volume level across different programs. It also supports lots of wireless playback options, so you can wirelessly stream podcasts and audiobooks to the bar.
Unfortunately, though it has a good build quality overall, the fabric covering the bar and the satellites seem like they could rip or get dirty easily. Also, you can't wirelessly stream audio to the bar via Chromecast built-in, which could be disappointing for some users. That said, this versatile setup is a solid choice for listeners who want to hear dialogue clearly in music, movies, and TV shows.
If you prefer a 5.1 setup, consider the Vizio M Series M51a-H6. While it isn't as well-built as the Samsung HW-Q950A, and its soundstage performance isn't as impressive, it's still an excellent choice for dialogue-centric content like TV shows and podcasts. Like the Samsung, it has a discrete center channel to help accurately localize voices, and its balanced mid-range ensures that dialogue is reproduced clearly and accurately. It also comes with a dialogue enhancement feature, and its TruVolume mode can balance the volume level across different programs. That said, it only supports Bluetooth connectivity, which can be a bit limiting for some users.
If you want a better-built, more versatile soundbar, check out the Samsung, but if you want a 5.1 setup that's cheaper overall, consider the Vizio instead.
The Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar is the best standalone soundbar for dialogue that we've tested. This 5.1.4 setup has a unique design with 13 speakers that help create a more immersive listening experience without satellite speakers. It has a discrete center channel, too, so voices are reproduced clearly and with detail.
Out-of-the-box, it offers a neutral, balanced mid-range that's suitable for dialogue-centric content like podcasts and TV shows. There's also a graphic EQ and presets available to help you customize its sound, as well as a room correction feature to optimize audio reproduction based on your room. If you want to make voices clear and crisp, you can also use its dialogue enhancement feature.
Unfortunately, it's pretty big and tall, so it may not fit very easily into your existing setup. Also, it lacks some bass out-of-the-box, so you don't feel the deep thump and rumble in action-packed movies. However, this shouldn't be too noticeable since there usually isn't much bass reproduced with dialogue-heavy content. You can also use its bass adjustment feature to add more punch to your audio.
The Sonos Beam is the best soundbar for speech that we've tested if you prefer a small bar. This well-built 3.0 soundbar comes with a room correction feature that automatically optimizes audio reproduction based on the unique acoustic characteristics of your room. With this feature turned on, it has a very neutral sound profile that can reproduce dialogue clearly and accurately.
Despite its small size, this soundbar can still get loud, and it uses its side-firing speakers along with its center channel to help create a wide-sounding soundstage. There are bass and treble adjustments available to help you customize its sound and a dialogue enhancement mode for clearer speech. It also has built-in support for both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, which is handy.
Unfortunately, this small soundbar struggles to reproduce a thumpy, punchy low-bass, which can be disappointing for fans of bass-heavy audio. It doesn't support Dolby Atmos content, either, so it may not be ideal for some movie fans. That said, if you like to watch TV shows and don't have a lot of space in your setup, it's a solid choice.
The best soundbar for dialogue in the budget range we tested is the Vizio V Series V51-H6. This 5.1 setup has a very balanced sound profile out-of-the-box, especially in the mid-range where most voices are reproduced. As a result, the dialogue in vocal-centric content like TV shows and podcasts is clear and detailed. You can even use the dialogue enhancement mode to make them more crisp.
This setup comes with a dedicated subwoofer as well as two discrete satellite speakers. It supports surround content, and its satellites help to more accurately localize surround objects within the sound image. There are also a couple of EQ presets as well as bass and treble adjustments available to help you customize its sound based on your preferences.
Unfortunately, this soundbar doesn't support Dolby Atmos content, which can be disappointing if you like to watch movies. Also, it lacks a Full HDMI In port, so you can't use it as a hub between different devices like your PC and your TV. That said, you can still connect it to your TV via ARC or Optical In.
If you prefer a soundbar with a Full HDMI In port, consider the Samsung HW-A550 instead. While it doesn't come with discrete satellite speakers like the Vizio V Series V51-H6, you can use it as a hub between different devices thanks to its Full HDMI In port. This 2.1 soundbar has a pretty neutral mid-range out-of-the-box, so voices reproduce clearly and accurately. It also comes with many sound customization features, including a graphic EQ and presets and bass and treble adjustments. Unfortunately, due to its 2.1 design, it has to simulate a phantom center channel using its left and right channels, which doesn't sound as clear or real as a discrete setup.
If you want a 5.1 setup with a discrete center that offers a better surrounds performance, check out the Vizio, but if you prefer a 2.1 setup with a Full HDMI In port and more sound customization options, consider the Samsung instead.
Sep 28, 2021: No changes in product picks after verifying their accuracy and availability.
Jul 30, 2021: Replaced the Vizio M Series M51a-H6 with the Samsung HW-Q950A as 'Best For Dialogue' since the Samsung has a more versatile overall performance. Replaced the Samsung HW-Q900T with the next-generation Samsung HW-Q900A. Added the Vizio M Series M51ax-J6 and the Vizio V Series V51x-J6 to Notable Mentions.
Jun 01, 2021: Replaced the Klipsch Cinema 600 with the Vizio M Series M51a-H6 since the Vizio has a better center channel performance. Added the Klipsch as '3.1 Alternative'. Replaced the Sonos Beam with the Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar as 'Best Standalone' since it gets louder and offers more wireless playback support. Added the Sonos Beam as 'Best Small'. Replaced the Samsung HW-T550 with its next generation, the Samsung HW-A550, as 'Alternative With HDMI'. Added the Vizio Elevate and the Samsung HW-Q800A to Notable Mentions.
Apr 02, 2021: Replaced the Sony HT-Z9F with the Klipsch Cinema 600, as the Klipsch gets louder and has a more neutral sound profile out-of-the-box. Replaced the Samsung HW-Q950T with the Vizio Elevate as 'Alternative For Movies' since the Vizio has an auto-volume mode. Added the Vizio M Series M51a-H6, the Samsung HW-Q950T, the Sonos Arc full setup, and the Bose Soundbar 700 full setup to Notable Mentions.
Feb 02, 2021: Removed the Samsung HW-R650 from Notable Mentions, as it's no longer available. No changes to product picks after verifying their accuracy and availability.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best soundbars for dialogue 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.