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 a great surround sound reproduction from soundbars that will give you an immersive movie-watching experience. However, not all soundbars are equal. 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 130 soundbars, and below are our recommendations for the best soundbars for movies. See also our recommendations for the best soundbars, the best Dolby Atmos soundbars, and the best budget soundbars.
If you're looking for a soundbar that offers an immersive sound right out-of-the-box, check out the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 with Speakers + Bass Module. Like many premium bars on the market, it uses psychoacoustic principles to extend its soundstage past the edges of the bar itself, and the results are amazing. Whether you're listening to Dolby Atmos or surround sound content, audio seems to reach all around you, so you get a really immersive listening experience.
Also, this setup comes with two discrete satellite speakers. As a result, when you listen to movies, sound objects seem to come from accurate locations in the soundstage. For example, a racing car in a chase scene seems to move from one pinpoint location to another, making it seem like the action is happening all around you from the comfort of your couch. Thanks to its dedicated subwoofer, it can accurately reproduce the deep thump and rumble in the low-bass during movie scores and action-packed scenes.
Unfortunately, you won't find a lot of customization features available with this setup. Like most premium models, it has a room correction feature as well as bass and treble adjustments, but there's no EQ available. Still, if you just want a bar that offers a great sound from the moment you plug it into your TV, it's a great choice.
If you're looking for a similar setup with DTS support, consider the Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers instead. While its soundstage isn't quite as impressive as the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 with Speakers + Bass Module, a recent update to the Sonos S2 app added support for DTS content. While DTS isn't common on its own, it's the common fallback for the higher-quality DTS-HD MA format, which you can find on a lot of Blu-rays. Like the Bose, the Sonos is a very premium setup with an immersive sound right out-of-the-box. With both Atmos and surround sound content, the action feels like it's taking place around you, and there's great focus overhead thanks to its satellite speakers.
If you want a better-built bar with a better stereo soundstage, check out the Bose. However, if you watch a lot of Blu-rays and want a bar with DTS support, consider the Sonos instead.
The best customizable soundbar for movies that we've tested is the Samsung HW-Q950A. Unlike the Bose Smart Soundbar 900, this 11.1.4 setup comes with many different EQ presets to help you customize its sound, as well as a 7-band graphic EQ to control different frequencies across the range. It supports both Dolby Atmos and surround sound content, offering an immersive sound that brings your favorite movies to your living room.
Like most premium setups, this bar comes with a room correction feature to automatically optimize its audio reproduction based on your room's unique acoustics - Samsung calls it Auto EQ. With this feature on, its sound profile is quite neutral and balanced which ensures dialogue is clear and present in the mix, but the bass is a bit lacking compared to the Bose. You can easily fix this with its included subwoofer level adjustment feature, though.
While its soundstage is good, there's a noticeable difference when you compare it to the Bose or the Sonos. The focus is good, but it isn't as wide as the competition, so you don't get the same sense of immersion from all angles. Also, its bass and treble adjustments didn't work on the model that we purchased, which is quite disappointing for such a premium bar. Still, if you want a feature-packed setup, it's a solid pick.
Based on the shape and size of your living room, your bar can sound a bit different - and this is especially true for listeners who have a really large and open listening space. Fortunately, models like the Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2Ch can help compensate for this, thanks to the inclusion of a second subwoofer that helps to even out the bass response throughout your entire room. No matter where you sit, you can feel the thump and punch in the bass in action-packed scenes and intense movie scores.
It's a 9.2.4 setup with a unique design, so you get two subwoofers and four satellite speakers in addition to the bar itself. The satellites help to create a very immersive sound, so the action in movies seems to extend all around you. The focus is very good, too, meaning that sound objects like voices and gunfire in a shootout scene seem like they're coming from a pinpoint location that matches the action on your screen.
That said, the bar's sound profile isn't quite as balanced as the other models we've tested. It doesn't reproduce a very extended low-bass, and it sounds dark due to its recessed treble. There aren't a lot of customization features to help account for this, either. Fortunately, you can hear the dialogue clearly in the mix, but higher-pitched sounds are more dull.
The most immersive soundbar for movies that we've tested is the Sony HT-A9 with Bass Module. Like most premium models, this 4.1.4 setup uses psychoacoustics to help extend its soundstage - Sony calls it 360 Spatial Sound Mapping technology. Combined with its unique design, which replaces the traditional bar with satellite speakers that can be moved anywhere in your room, you get a really fantastic soundstage performance that brings the action to your living room.
It's a really premium setup that creates an immersive sound with surround and Dolby Atmos content. There are quite a few sound enhancement features available, too, including a room correction feature that Sony calls Sound Field Optimization to optimize audio based on your room's unique acoustics. With it on, the sound profile is very neutral and balanced, so you can hear voices in movies clearly and accurately.
That said, even when you add on a Bass Module, the bar doesn't reproduce quite as much low-bass as the top picks on our list. You hear some punch in the bass, but you're missing the deep rumble that's felt in intense movie scores. It performs better than the bar on its own, but still, it's not ideal if you love a thumpy bass.
The best soundbar for movies under $500 that we've tested is the Vizio M Series M512a-H6. It's a 5.1.2 setup that offers a really versatile performance for a more affordable price, with a dedicated subwoofer and satellites included in the price. It accurately reproduces the deep thump in the bass range during action-filled scenes, and dialogue is clear and present in the mix, too.
It also has an impressive soundstage performance that rivals more premium models like the Sonos Arc and the Samsung HW-Q950A. Sound is perceived as coming from all around you, and the focus is very good, so sound objects seem to come from accurate locations. When you listen to surround sound and Dolby Atmos content, you get the sense that you're sitting right in the middle of your favorite movies.
Naturally, the bar doesn't offer as many features as the more premium models on our list. You get the basics, like bass and treble adjustments, but there's no graphic EQ. You won't find a room correction feature, either, so it sounds different depending on the room you're listening in. Still, if you want a simple plug-and-play option with a more affordable price point, it's worth checking out.
The best budget soundbar for movies we've tested is the Vizio V Series V51-H6. It's one of the only setups in this price range that comes with discrete satellite speakers, which help to improve its performance with surround sound movies. Audio seems like it's coming from all around you, and sound objects such as moving vehicles have a clear and real representation in the soundstage.
This setup has a really neutral sound right out-of-the-box, especially in the mid-range where most dialogue is reproduced. Thanks to its dedicated subwoofer, the bass in action-filled scenes is present and thumpy, without overwhelming the voices that come from the mids. Naturally, there aren't as many sound enhancement features compared to more pricey models, but you still get the basics like bass and treble adjustments as well as a dialogue enhancement mode.
Unfortunately, like most budget bars, it doesn't support Dolby Atmos content, which is disappointing if you watch a lot of movies on streaming platforms. Also, its soundstage performance is decent, but it certainly doesn't provide the same immersive feeling as models like the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 or the Sonos Arc. Still, if you're on a tight budget, it's a solid choice for surround sound.
Apr 21, 2022: For clarity, we changed the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 full setup to the 'Best Plug-And-Play' and the Samsung HW-Q950A to the 'Best Customizable'. It gives a better idea of the difference between the two setups, as the Bose offers a better soundstage and a better stereo frequency response, but the Samsung has more customization features.
Jan 24, 2022: Restructured the article for greater clarity and consistency.
Oct 26, 2021: Replaced the Vizio M Series M51a-H6 with the Vizio M Series M512a-H6, which has a better soundstage and two up-firing drivers for Atmos content. Added the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 to Notable Mentions.
Jul 28, 2021: Replaced the Samsung HW-Q950T with the next-generation Samsung HW-Q950A. Replaced the Samsung HW-Q900T with the next-generation Samsung HW-Q900A, and the LG SN11RG with the LG SP11RA.
Apr 29, 2021: Replaced the JBL Bar 9.1 with the Vizio Elevate as 'Best 5.1' since the Vizio has a better soundstage performance. Added the Sonos Arc full setup as 'More Immersive 5.1 Alternative'. Replaced the Vizio SB36512-F6 with the Vizio M Series M51a-H6 as 'More Affordable' since the M Series has a better surrounds performance. Added the Vizio V Series V51-H6 as a 'Cheaper Alternative'. Added the JBL Bar 9.1, the Vizio SB36512-F6, and the Samsung HW-Q800A to Notable Mentions.
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 want to choose for yourself, here's the list of all our soundbar reviews, sorted by their movie performance. 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.