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 120 soundbars, and below are our recommendations for the best soundbars for dialogue. 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 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 many 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 many 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. 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 best soundbar for speech clarity with a standalone design that we've tested is the Bose Smart Soundbar 900. This 5.0.2 setup has a very premium design, and its discrete center channel can anchor voices to a pinpoint location in the soundstage. It also uses PhaseGuide technology to beam sound throughout your room, creating a wide, immersive soundstage that rivals many setups with satellite speakers that we've tested.
This soundbar comes with an ADAPTiQ room correction feature that optimizes audio reproduction based on your room's unique acoustics. With this feature turned on, it has a very neutral, balanced sound profile that ensures voices are reproduced clearly and accurately. You can even use its dialogue enhancement feature to make voices seem more clear and crisp.
Unfortunately, this soundbar doesn't have an auto-volume feature, which can be disappointing for users who want to balance out the volume level between their TV programs and commercials when watching at night. There also isn't an EQ available to help you customize its sound. That said, its bass and treble adjustments may be sufficient for most listeners.
The best soundbar for dialogue with a small design that we've tested is the Sonos Beam (Gen 2). This 5.0 setup has a very small, compact design like the original Sonos Beam, but it adds support for Dolby Atmos content. Despite its small size, its side-firing speakers still create an impressive soundstage performance, so you feel immersed in your audio.
You can use a compatible iOS device to activate its Trueplay room correction feature, which automatically optimizes audio reproduction based on your room's acoustics. With this feature on, voices are reproduced pretty clearly, though they can be slightly muddled at times. However, you can use its Voice Enhancement feature if you want to clarify the dialogue in your audio.
Unfortunately, this small soundbar doesn't get very loud, and there's some compression when you push it to its max volume. It also doesn't offer Bluetooth connectivity, which can be disappointing if you like to stream podcasts to your soundbar. That said, you can still playback audio wirelessly via Wi-Fi and Apple AirPlay 2.
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're looking for a budget-friendly soundbar with a Full HDMI In port, check out the Samsung HW-A650. This 3.1 setup doesn't come with discrete surround speakers like the Vizio V Series V51-H6, but its Full HDMI In port lets you use it as a hub between different devices. This well-built setup offers a very neutral, balanced sound profile out-of-the-box, so dialogue is reproduced clearly and with detail. There are many sound customization features, including a graphic EQ and presets like 'Adaptive Sound Lite', which enhances dialogue. You can also use its auto-volume mode to balance out the volume when you watch TV at night.
If you want a 5.1 setup with discrete satellites and a better surrounds performance, check out the Vizio. However, if you prefer a 3.1 setup with a Full HDMI In port and more sound customization features, consider the Samsung instead.
Nov 26, 2021: Replaced the Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar with the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 as it offers similar performance at a better value. Replaced the Sonos Beam with the next generation Sonos Beam (Gen 2) as Best Small. Replaced the Samsung HW-A550 with the Samsung HW-A650 as 'Alternative With HDMI'. Added the Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar to Notable Mentions.
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.
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.