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 160 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-Q990B. It's a premium 11.1.4 setup released in 2022 that's great for everything from TV shows to movies. It includes two rear satellites to bring an immersive sound, making it seem like you've been dropped right into the middle of the action onscreen. Sound effects come from all around you, and its dedicated sub makes your seat shake with the rumble in action-packed movie scenes. Since it has a discrete center channel, dialogue remains clear and easy to follow amidst all the action, so you don't have trouble following the plot. Overall, this bar is great for TV shows, but if you mostly watch dialogue-focused TV shows like sitcoms, it's probably a bit much.
The bar stands out from the competition thanks to its wide array of sound enhancement features, which you can also use to customize its dialogue performance. For example, its 'Voice Enhance' mode enhances dialogue, and its 7-band graphic EQ means that you can customize it across the range, including in the mids, where most voices reproduce. If you're looking for another premium bar that's great for movies, you can also check out the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 with Speakers + Bass Module or the Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers. These premium setups have better stereo soundstage performances and fit into existing Bose and Sonos ecosystems with ease. However, you don't get as many sound enhancement features with these bars as you do with the Samsung soundbar.
If you're looking for a premium bar for dialogue at a slightly more affordable price, check out the Samsung HW-Q930B. It's a 9.1.4 setup that offers a similar performance to the Samsung HW-Q990B but with fewer features overall and two fewer surround channels. Still, it's a versatile soundbar, and its performance ensures that dialogue is clear and present in your favorite movies and TV shows. You still get the discrete center channel to improve its vocal reproduction, and the subwoofer and satellites bring an immersive feel to your favorite movies. Whether you're watching the latest Dolby Atmos flick or a more vocal-centric documentary, you'll have no issue hearing the voices of the characters on screen.
That said, for the price, you get fewer features than you do with the Q990B. While there's a SpaceFit Sound room correction feature to automatically optimize audio reproduction of the bar based on the unique acoustics of your space, you don't get the Auto EQ feature, which performs the same correction with the sub. Its sub is a little smaller, so it reproduces a little less bass. However, if you don't need these extra features, it offers pretty similar performance at a cheaper price, and you may find it's a better value overall.
The Vizio Elevate is a more wallet-friendly option that still does a great job 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 from the crowd. 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 really 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. Right out of the box, you get clear and detailed vocal reproduction, 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 taking place all around you. There are two up-firing drivers 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 really good pick for its price, and it ensures you don't have any issues following the dialogue on screen.
The best soundbar for vocal clarity in the budget range that 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 it's still a good choice overall. It's a fairly 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 in comparison 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 so you can 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 even 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-Q990B, and without satellites, you don't get the same immersive feel with surround sound. Still, you can always add on a separate sub and satellites to improve its performance down the line if you move to a larger space.
If you're looking for a standalone soundbar, but you want something smaller, check out the Sonos Beam (Gen 2). It's a 5.0 setup that's less than 26 inches in width, 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 its 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 on a separate sub and satellites as the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) with Sub Mini + One SL Speakers for an 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 really packs a punch.
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.
Sep 02, 2022: Restructured article to include picks aimed at dialogue in movies. Added the Samsung HW-Q990B as 'Best Soundbar', the Samsung HW-Q930B as 'Best Upper Mid-Range', and the Vizio Elevate as 'Best Mid-Range'.
Jul 22, 2022: No changes in product picks. Minor updates to the text for accuracy.
May 24, 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.