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The 7 Best Soundbars For Dialogue - Fall 2023 Reviews

Updated
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 180 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 Samsung HW-Q990C. This premium 11.1.4 soundbar is a versatile pick ideal for listening to all sorts of content with dialogue, from movies to TV shows. It supports immersive audio formats like Dolby Digital and Dolby Atmos, commonly found on both streaming platforms and Blu-rays, providing an all-around sound that makes it feel like you've been dropped right in the middle of the action. With a discrete center channel designed to improve vocal reproduction, you can easily follow along with the action on screen. It's a little much if you just listen to dialogue-centric content like sitcoms, but if you want a bar that can do it all, it's worth a look.

    Plus, this bar stands out from the crowd thanks to all its cool sound enhancement features. You can enhance the dialogue in the mix or use its graphic EQ to customize the output manually. There are some other premium bars worth a look, too, including the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 with Speakers + Bass Module and the Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers, both of which have better stereo soundstages. They're also great if you already own products in their respective ecosystems. However, they aren't as customizable as the Samsung soundbar, so it remains our best pick for dialogue overall.

    See our review

  2. Best Upper Mid-Range Soundbar For Dialogue

    Looking for a more affordable alternative? The Samsung HW-Q930B is another great bar for dialogue. As a more premium setup, it's geared towards enhancing dialogue in everything from movies to TV shows, and it comes with a discrete center channel to improve vocal reproduction. Again, it's probably a little much for anyone who just wants a bar for simple sitcoms and documentaries, but if you want a bar with the versatility to shine with surround sound, it's worth a look. It also comes with many of the same features as the Samsung HW-Q990C, including a dialogue enhancement tool and a graphic EQ for manual adjustment. Whether watching the latest Dolby Atmos flick or a more vocal-centric documentary, you'll have no issue hearing the characters' voices on screen.

    So, what's the difference between these two soundbars? First, the HW-Q930B is a 9.1.4 setup, meaning that it comes with two fewer surround channels than the 11.1.4 HW-Q990C. Its subwoofer has a different design, too, and it looks less premium. While it can bring plenty of thump and rumble to action-packed movie scenes, the bass response isn't quite as controlled on this bar, which means that dialogue is slightly muddier. It's mostly noticeable with more astute audiophiles, and casual listeners aren't likely to find it's a big deal, but it's worth noting. Depending on your listening habits, this bar may still be the better value overall. We'll update this article once we've tested the next-generation Samsung HW-Q930C.

    See our review

  3. Best Mid-Range Soundbar For Dialogue

    The Vizio Elevate is a more wallet-friendly option that also shines with dialogue. It's a 5.1.4 setup with 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 your favorite movies and TV shows. It has some dialogue-focused tools, too, 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 a bit.

    Overall, this soundbar's unique design makes it stand out. 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 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 must 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.

    See our review

  4. Best Lower Mid-Range Soundbar For Dialogue

    The best soundbar for vocal clarity we've tested for under $500 is the Vizio M Series M512a-H6. It's another versatile setup that shines with everything from movies to TV shows, and it's available at an even more budget-friendly price than our top picks. Right out of the box, you enjoy a clear and detailed reproduction of vocals in the mix, largely thanks to its discrete center channel. 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 happening all around you. This 5.1.2 setup offers many of the same sound enhancement features as the more premium Vizio Elevate.

    So, why the price difference? A few differences between this soundbar and the Elevate are worth noting, especially if you're a big fan of surround sound. First, the M Series doesn't have rotating sides, so its soundstage is a little less wide and immersive-sounding. Also, it has no up-firing drivers built into its satellites, so all height sound effects come from the bar itself. This results in less action happening in the space behind your couch, which takes away from the overall life-like feel. These are minor details, especially for more casual listeners, but they're still worth noting. If you don't listen to much Dolby Digital or Dolby Atmos content, you may find this bar a better value overall.

    See our review

  5. Best Budget Soundbar For Dialogue

    Shopping on a budget? The best soundbar for vocal clarity is the Vizio V Series V51-H6. This affordable 5.1 setup is a great choice for listening to everything from movies to music to TV shows, thanks to its clear and accurate reproduction of voices in the mix. Sound enhancement features are more limited, which is typical of bars in this price range, but you can still use its dialogue enhancement feature to make voices more clear and crisp. Plus, its night mode tool enhances vocal clarity when you listen at night and don't want to bother anyone around you, which is a nice touch.

    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 compared 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-B650, 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.

    See our review

  6. Best Standalone Soundbar For Dialogue

    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 to 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 has a room correction feature 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 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-Q990C, and without satellites, you don't get the same immersive feel with surround sound. Still, you can add a separate sub and satellites to improve its performance later if you move to a larger space.

    See our review

  7. Best Small Soundbar For Dialogue

    If you want a standalone soundbar but want something smaller, check out the Sonos Beam (Gen 2). It's a 5.0 setup that's less than 26 inches wide, 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 the 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 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, so you can watch the most premium audio formats with ease, and you can also add a separate sub and satellites as the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) with Sub Mini + One SL Speakers for 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 packs a punch.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Sony HT-A7000 with Speakers + Bass Module: The Sony HT-A7000 with Speakers + Bass Module is a versatile 7.1.2 setup with Dolby Atmos support. Compared to other premium models, it doesn't offer many sound customization features, and its surround and Atmos performances aren't as impressive as the Samsung HW-Q990C. See our review
  • Sonos Beam: If you don't care for Dolby Atmos support, the Sonos Beam is a good alternative to the Sonos Beam (Gen 2). It's another small bar with built-in voice assistant support for hands-free control. See our review
  • Samsung HW-Q900C: The Samsung HW-Q900C is a good alternative to the Vizio Elevate if you don't have room in your living area for satellite speakers. The trade-off is evident with surround sound, though, as the lack of satellites brings a less clear and real feel to your movies. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Sep 08, 2023: Picks remain the same. Replaced the Samsung HW-B450 with the Samsung HW-B650 in the text due to pricing changes.

  2. Jul 14, 2023: Added the Samsung HW-Q900C as a Notable Mention. Minor text updates.

  3. May 18, 2023: Replaced the Samsung HW-Q990B with the next-generation Samsung HW-Q990C.

  4. Apr 18, 2023: Product picks remain accurate and relevant. Minor text updates for clarity.

  5. Feb 17, 2023: Added the Sonos Beam as a Notable Mention.

All Reviews

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.