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 when you want to cast that content wirelessly. Some soundbars will make dialogue clear and easy to understand, while some might sound a bit muddier and more cluttered when it comes to voices. Some even have a dialogue enhancement feature to make voices clearer, even at a lower volume.
We’ve tested over 25 soundbars and below are our recommendations for the best soundbars for dialogue in 2019. See also 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 best soundbar for dialogue we’ve tested so far is the Samsung HW-Q90R. This setup comes with a wireless subwoofer and two dedicated rear speakers. It's very well-built and stylish, feels very high-end, and performs well regardless of what type of content you're listening to.
This soundbar is one of the most versatile ones we’ve tested and ha a great sound quality. For voice-oriented content, it shines thanks to its well-balanced and accurate audio reproduction. It also has a dialogue enhancement feature to make dialogue clearer, even at lower volumes. The subwoofer also packs a lot of bass, but you can manually turn the amount of bass down using the remote so it doesn’t drown out voices.
Unfortunately, the bar doesn’t have a night mode and lacks an audio jack if you want to plug in your phone to play content. On the upside, it supports wireless playback from casting with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Additionally, its speaker configuration has a dedicated center channel for clearer dialogue when listening to surround content like Atmos movies. Overall, this is a great soundbar that can handle anything you throw at it.
If you’re on a tight budget but still want a full setup that recreates accurate dialogue with movies, podcasts, and audiobooks, then get the Vizio SB36512-F6. It’s not as premium and as well-built as the Samsung HW-Q90R, but it still offers good performance at a fraction of the price. It has a great stereo frequency response and a well-balanced sound profile that's suitable for voice content. However, it won’t have as wide a soundstage, but still has a dedicated center channel for accurate reproduction of dialogue in surround content.
If you want the best performing soundbar and style is important for you, get the Samsung, but if you’re limited by your budget and are looking for the best performance to price ratio, then get the Vizio.
The best 3.1 soundbar system for dialogue that we’ve reviewed is the Samsung HW-R650. If you don’t have the room for dedicated rear speakers, a 3.1 system is great for dialogue in movies. It has a good overall performance with a very accurate reproduction of voices in TV shows and movies. The bar can get loud enough for most people and it also has a dialogue enhancement feature to make voices clearer, even at a lower volume.
This Samsung soundbar will be great for listening to audiobooks and podcasts as well, especially since you can easily cast from your smart device to the bar via Bluetooth. It's also a well-built and fairly stylish bar, but won’t feel as premium as the Samsung HW-Q90R.
However, this soundbar doesn’t have a height channel, so although its dedicated channel will be good for dialogue in movies, you won’t get the height illusion that you would get with a more immersive setup. On the upside, it's quite cheap for the great performance that you get out of it and can be a great option if you don’t have room for surround speakers.
The best standalone soundbar for dialogue we’ve tested so far is the Sonos Beam. This soundbar can easily be upgraded with a wireless subwoofer and rear speakers, but performs quite well by itself too. It has a good sound quality and it's quite small, meaning it’s easy to fit in your setup. This 3.0 soundbar has a dedicated center channel for clearer dialogue and has a well-balanced sound profile.
Sonos has a cool room correction feature that applies a small correction to the soundbar audio reproduction according to your room layout, which makes it easier to make the soundbar sound as it was intended. It also has a night mode and a dialogue enhancement feature, which makes voices easier to understand regardless of the volume you’re listening at.
Unfortunately, this soundbar lacks some inputs as it doesn’t have any Full HDMI In ports and doesn’t support DTS. You also can’t stream content via Bluetooth as Sonos believes in better audio quality over Wi-Fi, meaning you’ll have to download the Sonos app. Nevertheless, this is a good sounding soundbar and can be a great option if you prefer a simpler setup without a sub and satellite speakers.
The best budget soundbar for dialogue that we’ve reviewed so far is the Yamaha YAS-207. This 2.1 system comes with a wireless subwoofer and doesn’t have a dedicated center channel for clearer dialogue. However, it performs quite well and has a great stereo performance, which is surprising at its price point.
This soundbar does a good job of creating a phantom center channel, which translates into good and clear voices in movies and TV shows, without a dedicated driver. This soundbar sounds great and even has a dialogue enhancement feature thanks to its ‘Clear Voice’ setting. It has a neutral sound signature and should satisfy most users.
However, this soundbar is covered by fabric, which doesn’t look and feel very high-end. It also only supports wireless playback via Bluetooth, which can be sufficient for some. Its app is quite barebones and doesn’t allow you to do much, meaning you’re better off controlling it with the remote. On the upside, this soundbar is a great bang for your buck, especially if you mainly want a soundbar to listen to stereo music, podcasts, audiobooks, or even the news.
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.