Soundbars are a great way to enhance your movie-watching experience when you don't have space for a full home theater setup. You can get great surround sound reproduction from soundbars that will give you an immersive experience and pull you into the movies that you're watching. Not all soundbars are equal, however, and while some are only capable of recreating stereo content, many have Dolby Atmos support that can help bring a cinema-like experience home, whether you're watching from a dedicated home theater room or the comfort of your bed.
We’ve tested over 30 soundbars and below are our recommendations for the best soundbars for movies in 2020. See also our recommendations for the best soundbars, the best Dolby Atmos soundbars, and the best budget soundbars.
The best soundbar for movies that we've tested so far is the Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2Ch. This 9.2.4 soundbar easily rivals the traditional home theater setup and makes it a solid choice for those serious about movies.
This soundbar has great surround sound performance. While it has two wireless subwoofers and four satellite speakers that can be placed horizontally or vertically, this soundbar is also Dolby Atmos-supported, allowing you to get decent immersion into your audio without a dedicated home theater setup. The center channel creates clear and easy to understand dialogue, which is a great option for those who enjoy dialogue-heavy movies. With three HDMI-in ports, you can also connect all your components and use it as an HDMI hub.
On the downside, this soundbar has a dark sound profile: the bass tends to overpower the treble range. However, you can customize this sound profile with the EQ presets and treble adjustment. This soundbar also has a problem hitting low frequencies but you can get an even-toned bass from this soundbar setup as it has dual subwoofers. This soundbar's unique setup gives you an immersive listening experience fit for any film, turning your home into a personal movie theater.
If you're short on space and can't have two subwoofers and four satellites taking up valuable real estate in your living room, you might want to consider the Samsung HW-Q90R. While its surround performance isn't quite as rich and immersive as the Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2CH, its default sound signature is more balanced. Consisting of a large soundbar, two wireless satellites, and a wireless subwoofer, this 7.1.4 soundbar setup is versatile enough for whatever kind of audio you like to play. It has multiple connections options so you can easily make it a hub for your TV and other devices. Its ports also support most common audio formats and you can use Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to wirelessly play audio.
If you're looking for an immersive experience that will rival any full home theater setup, get the Nakamichi, but if you're looking to simplify a little bit without sacrificing too much of your surround sound experience, get the Samsung.
The Vizio SB36512-F6 is the best affordable soundbar for watching movies we've tested so far. If you're watching your wallet while trying to create your perfect home movie theater, this 5.1.2 soundbar offers the best bang for your buck.
It includes a soundbar, wireless subwoofer, and two rear satellite speakers that are powered and connected by the subwoofer. It's got a good neutral sound profile with a bit of extra bass, making it ideal for all content including movies and audiobooks. You'll be able to get a decently immersive experience thanks to its Dolby Atmos performance, which surrounds you in sound. This soundbar also supports Wi-Fi and Chromecast so that you can easily cast audio to your soundbar, making anyone with a connection a DJ in your home.
On the downside, this soundbar doesn't look premium as its fabric-clad components can easily collect dust. The satellites also produce dark, bass-heavy sound but this sound can be tweaked: it offers EQ presets as well as adjustable bass and treble, making it easier to find your best sound. If you're using the companion phone app, its controls can suffer from connection issues and be buggy or slow. Despite these flaws, its price-to-performance ratio still make it an affordable soundbar option.
If you want something affordable but don't care about having surround sound, consider the Yamaha YAS-207. It doesn't create nearly as immersive an experience as the Vizio SB36512-F6 due to its lack of satellites or side-firing speakers, but it takes up less space and still does an impressive job at making dialogue clear and easy to hear. This soundbar is among the best budget soundbars we've tested and it offers a good price-to-performance ratio. Its stereo frequency response is very good and results in a neutral and accurate sound profile while still being able to produce a fair amount of thump. Unfortunately, since this soundbar is a few years old, it's getting harder to find and you may want to consider the Yamaha YAS-408, which is similar but adds Wi-Fi and AirPlay support, though it's quite a bit more expensive.
Overall, if you want an impressively well-rounded and immersive soundbar setup without breaking the bank, get the Vizio, but if you don't care about having surround sound and want to make dialogue easier to hear, go for the Yamaha.
The best standalone soundbar for movies that we've tested so far is the Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar. This soundbar is great if you want to keep things simple in the audio department.
Thanks to its side-firing speakers, you'll get a surprisingly immersive experience from just a single soundbar. Although the default sound profile might not be the best for everyone, you'll be able to tweak it with its fully parametric EQ. This soundbar also comes with a room correction and a dialogue enhancement feature, which makes it great for getting the right setting for your movie-watching needs. Those who like to connect everything from their TVs and consoles to their soundbars will additionally appreciate its full set of physical inputs.
On the downside, its bass performance is disappointing. Action-lovers may find that explosions in their movies have less rumble or thump. If you need to relocate it somewhere else, it's also heavy and its footprint can take up a lot of room. While it can be hard to find this soundbar, its high cost may further put it out of reach for some listeners. However, if you're looking to keep your setup to a minimum, it's a good choice.
04/01/2020: Only minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy; no changes in product picks.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best soundbars for movies 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.