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 80 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 that we’ve tested is the Klipsch Cinema 600. This 3.1 setup offers a dedicated center channel that helps reproduce dialogue more clearly, and it even has an adjustable dialogue enhancement feature so you can control how loud the voices are on your favorite TV shows. If you're watching TV at night, you may also appreciate its auto-volume feature, which helps reduce the overall volume level.
Out-of-the-box, it has a pretty neutral, though slightly bright sound profile that's suitable for listening to lots of different types of audio content. Its dedicated subwoofer also helps to reproduce an extended low-bass. It also gets pretty loud, so it's a solid choice for listening to podcasts and audiobooks in a large room, though there's a lot of compression when you play it at max volume.
Unfortunately, it has to downmix surround content into stereo to play it, which doesn't sound as immersive. It also doesn't support Dolby Atmos content, so it isn't the best choice for movie fans. That said, if you're looking for a simple soundbar that can improve the quality of dialogue in TV shows and podcasts, it's a solid choice.
If you prefer watching Dolby Atmos movies, consider the Vizio Elevate instead. While this 5.1.4 setup doesn't get as loud as the Klipsch Cinema 600 and takes up a bit more space in your setup due to its dedicated satellite speakers, it supports Dolby Atmos content, and it offers a better surrounds performance. This well-built soundbar has a unique design, as the sides of the bar rotate upwards when you play Atmos content to help create a wide soundstage for an immersive listening experience. It also offers a dedicated center channel that helps reproduce dialogue clearly and more accurately. Out-of-the-box, it has a slightly bass-heavy sound profile that adds an extra thump and punch to your audio, though vocals and dialogue are still clear and present in the mix. It also comes with bass and treble adjustments as well as four EQ presets to help you customize its sound.
If you want a simple 3.1 setup that gets louder and has lower latency, consider the Klipsch, but if you prefer a 5.1.4 setup that supports Atmos and offers dedicated surround speakers, consider the Vizio instead.
If you prefer a standalone bar, the Sonos Beam is the best soundbar for dialogue that we've tested. 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 so that it can reproduce audio that sounds more accurate. There's also a night mode and a dialogue enhancement feature that can help make voices clearer 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. If an HDMI input is a necessity, the JBL Link Bar has three HDMI inputs as well as an HDMI ARC port. It can also support Bluetooth as well as Chromecast built-in, and it can play DTS files. However, it's much bigger than the Sonos, and its reproduction of voices isn't as clear.
The best soundbar for dialogue in the budget range that we've 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 also comes with a dialogue enhancement feature to help make voices more clear and crisp, as well as a TruVolume feature to help provide a consistent volume level 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, this soundbar 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. However, if you're on a budget, this soundbar is still an impressive choice for vocal-centric content.
If you're looking for a soundbar with an HDMI In port for your vocal-centric content, consider the Samsung HW-T550. While its sound profile isn't as balanced as the Vizio V Series V51-H6 and it doesn't come with satellite speakers, the Samsung has an HDMI In port. Using this connection, you can play Dolby Digital and DTS content, which are commonly found on Blu-ray discs as well as on streaming platforms. This soundbar also has a good build quality and offers a graphic EQ as well as presets so that you can tweak its sound to your liking. Unfortunately, it doesn't get as loud as the Vizio, and it's can often retail for a little more than our budget price point. Its center channel performance isn't as good either as it uses phantom localization, which doesn't sound as clear as a discrete center channel.
Try the Vizio if you're looking for a budget-friendly soundbar that offers a more well-balanced sound profile and versatile overall performance. However, check out the Samsung if you prefer your soundbar to feel better-built and have an HDMI port.
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'.
Jul 31, 2020: Changed some of our recommendations based on 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.