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 100 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 best soundbar for dialogue clarity we tested is the Vizio M Series M51a-H6. Thanks to its discrete center channel, it can reproduce voices clearly and accurately. It has a dialogue enhancement feature to help make voices clear and crisp and a TruVolume mode to help balance the volume level across different programs.
Out-of-the-box, this soundbar offers a very neutral, balanced sound profile, especially in the mid-range, where most voices are reproduced. A few EQ presets are available to help you customize its sound, and it also gets pretty loud, which is nice. It's also Bluetooth-compatible, making it easy to stream podcasts and audiobooks from your mobile devices to the bar.
Unfortunately, it doesn't offer as much wireless playback support as some of the other soundbars we've tested, like the Vizio Elevate, which also supports Wi-Fi and Chromecast built-in. Also, while it's decently well-built overall, the fabric covering the bar seems like it could rip or get dirty easily. That said, if you're looking for a versatile soundbar that also reproduces dialogue clearly, it's a solid choice.
If you prefer a 3.1 setup, consider the Klipsch Cinema 600 instead. While it doesn't support Dolby Atmos content and doesn't offer as immersive of a surrounds performance as the Vizio M Series M51a-H6, it's still a solid choice for listeners who like dialogue-centric content like TV shows. It comes with a discrete center channel, and its balanced mid-range helps to reproduce voices clearly and accurately, though higher-frequency sounds may be a bit piercing. It also comes with a unique adjustable dialogue enhancement feature, which gives you more control over how crisp voices sound in your TV shows.
If you want a better-built soundbar that supports Dolby Atmos and comes with discrete surround speakers, consider the Vizio. However, if you prefer a simple 3.1 setup, consider the Klipsch 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 dialogue that we've tested if you prefer a small bar. This compact 3.0 channel model packs a punch for its small size. It has a well-balanced sound profile, and its dedicated center channel helps to provide clear dialogue for your favorite TV shows or podcasts.
It has a lot of sound enhancement features that can help immerse you in your audio. Its room correction feature allows it to adapt to your room setup, reproducing audio that sounds more accurate. There's also a night mode and a dialogue enhancement feature that can help make voices clear and easier to understand at any volume. If you want to upgrade this setup down the line, it's easy as Sonos also sells wireless subwoofers or rear speakers separately.
Unfortunately, it lacks connectivity options like a full HDMI In port. You can't stream podcasts from your mobile device using Bluetooth, and there's no DTS support. That said, it's still a solid choice for listeners who want to improve their TV experience without taking up a lot of space.
The best soundbar for dialogue in the budget range we tested is the Vizio V Series V51-H6. Thanks to its dedicated center channel, this 5.1 soundbar can reproduce dialogue clearly and more accurately. It comes with a dialogue enhancement feature to help make voices clear and crisp and a TruVolume feature to help provide a consistent volume across different programs.
Out-of-the-box, it has a very neutral, balanced sound profile that makes it suitable for listening to lots of different types of audio content, and its balanced mid-range reproduces clear and accurate dialogue. There are also a few EQ presets available to help you customize its sound more to your liking. Also, this bar gets loud enough for use at parties or in large rooms, which is handy.
Unfortunately, it doesn't support Dolby Atmos content, which can be disappointing for movie fans. Also, it lacks a Full HDMI In port, so you can't use it as a hub between your different devices. If you're on a budget, this soundbar is still an impressive choice for vocal-centric content.
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.
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.
Nov 27, 2020: Replaced the Yamaha YAS-209 with the Vizio V Series V51-H6 for 'Best Budget Soundbar for Dialogue' and moved the Yamaha to 'Notable Mentions'.
Sep 29, 2020: Added the Samsung HW-Q950T, the Roku Smart Soundbar, the Bose TV Speaker, and the Sony HT-S200F as '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.