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The 5 Best Soundbars For Dialogue - Summer 2022 Reviews

Best Soundbars For Dialogue

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 130 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.

  1. Best Soundbar For Dialogue

    The best soundbar for dialogue that we've tested is the Klipsch Cinema 800. It's a simple 3.1 setup that's suitable if you listen to a lot of stereo content like TV shows and podcasts. This content isn't designed for use with satellite speakers, so a 3.1 setup helps you save space and money compared to more movie-centric models. Right out of the box, its sound profile is neutral, with a balanced mid-range that ensures voices reproduce with clarity and detail.

    Unfortunately, it's not as versatile as other setups on the market. It has to downmix surround sound content like Dolby Digital and DTS into stereo to play it, which doesn't sound as immersive. If you watch a lot of movies on streaming platforms and Blu-rays, you'll want to check out other setups like the Samsung HW-Q950A, but if you mostly watch TV shows, Cinema 800 is a solid pick.

    See our review

  2. Best Soundbar Under $500 For Dialogue

    If you're shopping on a budget, the best soundbar for vocal clarity that we've tested 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. 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. 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.

    You won't find as many features when you compare the bar to more premium options on the market, like the Samsung HW-Q950A or the Klipsch Cinema 800. There's no graphic EQ to help you adjust its sound, and there isn't a room correction feature, meaning it can sound a bit different depending on the room you're in. Its Atmos and surround performances aren't quite as great, either. If you're on a budget, it's still a versatile setup.

    See our review

  3. Best Budget Soundbar For Dialogue

    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 an even more affordable option 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. 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. When watching movies, its surround speakers help immerse you in sound.

    Of course, it's not quite as versatile as the top picks. Notably, this bar doesn't support Dolby Atmos content, which is pretty typical for soundbars in this price range. Its soundstage isn't as wide and immersive-sounding, either. If you're on a tight budget, it's a good bar for vocal clarity in both surround sound and TV shows.

    See our review

  4. Best Standalone Soundbar For Dialogue

    If you don't have a lot of space for your setup, a standalone bar like the Sonos Arc is a good option since it doesn't come with a subwoofer that takes up more room. It's a really premium bar with a wide and immersive soundstage that makes it seem like your favorite movies are happening all around you, and it's a great choice for everything from TV shows to Dolby Atmos movies found on lots of streaming services. The bar's sound profile is slightly bright, with balanced mids that ensure dialogue is clear and present, and higher-pitched voices sparkle in the mix. You can use its bass and treble adjustments to get a more neutral sound.

    Naturally, without a dedicated subwoofer, the bar really struggles to reproduce the deep thump and rumble in the low-bass found during action-packed movies. If you change your mind down the line, you can always add a subwoofer and satellites that you can buy separately. Or, if you have the space, you can look at the larger, heavier Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar with an integrated subwoofer.

    See our review

  5. Best Small Soundbar For Dialogue

    Compact soundbars like the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) are a solid option for those in small apartments. It has a very small design like the original Sonos Beam, so it easily fits your existing setup without taking up a lot of space. The next generation also adds support for Dolby Atmos content, which is great if you like to watch lots of movies. You can enhance the dialogue, too, and use the night mode to reduce the dynamic range, so you hear voices clearly at night without bothering those around you.

    Compared to the Sonos Arc, the smaller Beam's Atmos performance isn't quite as impressive. It doesn't get as loud, either, meaning it's not suitable if you want to fill up a large room with sound. If you're low on space, it's still a versatile soundbar that you can upgrade with a sub and satellites down the line.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Samsung HW-Q900A: The Samsung HW-Q900A is a premium 7.1.2 setup that can reproduce dialogue clearly and accurately. It comes with an Active Voice Amplifier and a Voice Enhancement feature to help make voices more clear and crisp. However, it doesn't support Chromecast built-in. See our review
  • Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers: The Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers is a versatile 5.1.2 setup with a balanced mid-range suitable for dialogue-centric content. Ier, it doesn't support Bluetooth, and its out-of-the-box sound profile is a bit bright. See our review
  • Bose Smart Soundbar 900 with Speakers + Bass Module: The Bose Smart Soundbar 900 with Speakers + Bass Module is a 5.1.2 setup with a very wide and immersive soundstage for movies. It doesn't have an auto-volume mode, though. See our review
  • Vizio Elevate: The Vizio Elevate is a 5.1.4 soundbar with a unique design that automatically rotates its sides upwards when watching Atmos and DTS:X content to help create a more immersive soundstage. It offers many wireless playback options, but its bass-heavy default sound profile may not be ideal for all listeners. See our review
  • Vizio M Series M512a-H6: The Vizio M Series M512a-H6 offers a pretty versatile performance at a more affordable price than some of the other 5.1 setups we've tested. It only supports Bluetooth, though. See our review
  • Vizio V Series V51x-J6: The Vizio V Series V51x-J6 is a budget-friendly setup that's the next generation of the Vizio V Series V51-H6. They perform similarly, but the V51x-J6 doesn't get as loud and doesn't reproduce as much low-bass. See our review
  • Samsung HW-Q800A: The Samsung HW-Q800A is a 3.1.2 soundbar that can reproduce dialogue clearly and accurately thanks to its discrete center channel and balanced mid-range. It offers many wireless playback options, but it isn't as versatile as some of the other bars we've tested. See our review
  • Bose TV Speaker: The Bose TV Speaker is a very compact 2.0 channel bar with a balanced yet detailed sound for voices and some sound enhancement features. See our review
  • Yamaha YAS-209: The Yamaha YAS-209 is a 2.1 soundbar that's well-suited for vocal-centric content and even supports wireless playback over Wi-Fi but isn't as versatile as the Vizio V Series V51-H6. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. May 24, 2022: No changes in product picks after verifying their accuracy and availability.

  2. Mar 25, 2022: Minor updates to the text. The Vizio M Series M51a-H6 is no longer widely available, so we replaced it with the Vizio M Series M512a-H6.

  3. Jan 25, 2022: Restructured the article for greater clarity and consistency.

  4. 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.

  5. Sep 28, 2021: No changes in product picks after verifying their accuracy and availability.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best soundbars 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.