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The 7 Best Soundbars For Movies - Winter 2024 Reviews

Best Soundbars For Movies

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 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 185 soundbars, and below are our recommendations for the best soundbars for watching movies. See also our recommendations for the best soundbars, the best Dolby Atmos soundbars, and the best budget soundbars.

  1. Best Soundbar For Movies

    The best soundbar for movies that we've tested is the Samsung HW-Q990C. This premium 11.1.4 model is the next generation of the Samsung HW-Q990B, offering even better sound quality for your favorite films. Two satellite speakers come with this soundbar, and you can place them around your living room for a clearer representation of sound effects in the mix. Immersive formats like Dolby Atmos seem to be taking place all around you.

    This soundbar stands out from the pack thanks to its wide array of sound customization features. There's a 7-band graphic EQ in its companion app, so you can change up its sound across the range, as well as a room correction feature if you prefer automatic adjustment to your room's acoustics. If you prefer similar premium bars with better stereo soundstages, you can check out either the Sonos Ultimate Immersive Set with Arc or the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 with Speakers + Bass Module. However, they don't have as many sound enhancement tools as the Samsung soundbar, so it remains our top pick.

    See our review

  2. Best Upper Mid-Range Soundbar For Movies

    The Samsung HW-Q930C is a more affordable alternative that's also great for watching movies. Released in 2023, this premium soundbar offers a stand-out performance with multi-channel content like Dolby Atmos and Dolby Digital, both of which you're likely to come across on streaming platforms and Blu-rays. Though it comes with two fewer surround channels than the Samsung HW-Q990C, this soundbar still provides a clear and real feel with sound effects thanks to its two discrete satellite speakers. Dialogue is clearly reproduced, and its sub brings plenty of rumble in action-packed scenes.

    This soundbar doesn't get quite as loud as its more premium cousin, and there's more compression when you push it to max volume. Still, you may find it's a better value overall since it offers many of the same sound enhancement tools for less. For example, the room correction feature automatically optimizes the sound based on your room's unique acoustics. If you prefer to manually adjust the bar's sound, a graphic EQ and presets are on hand. Built-in Alexa even offers hands-free control. Overall, this versatile setup is a great way to watch movies and so much more.

    See our review

  3. Best Mid-Range Soundbar For Movies

    Another more wallet-friendly option for movies is the Vizio Elevate. It's a 5.1.4 setup, and the sides of the bar automatically rotate upwards when you watch either Dolby Atmos or DTS:X content. This unique tool widens the bar's soundstage, meaning you feel like the action in your favorite films is happening around you. You can even turn it on with other types of audio content if you want a more cinematic feel.

    With movies, the Vizio does a great job bringing the action to the space around you, and sound effects play out to match the action on your screen. As with our top picks, there's a sub to bring the rumble in the bass range, too. Also, you get two rear speakers included—however, you have to wire them to the subwoofer, which adds some extra cables to your living room setup. Out-of-the-box, the bar's sound profile brings a little extra emphasis in the bass range, which helps you feel the excitement in action-packed movie scenes. There are also bass and treble adjustments on hand to help you get a different sound, which is helpful, especially since there isn't a room correction feature or a full graphic EQ.

    See our review

  4. Best Lower Mid-Range Soundbar For Movies

    The best lower mid-range soundbar for movies we've tested is the Vizio M Series M512a-H6. It's a 5.1.2 setup that offers versatile performance for a more affordable price, with a dedicated subwoofer and satellites included right out of the box. There's Dolby Atmos support, and its wide, immersive soundstage does a good job of wrapping you in your audio from all angles. The focus with its rear speakers is very good, so sound effects seem to come from accurate locations in the space around you.

    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—though, unfortunately, since the sides don't rotate upwards and its satellites lack up-firing drivers, it doesn't sound quite as immersive as the Vizio Elevate. The bar's sound quality is impressive compared to other models at this price point. Voices and lead instruments reproduce with clarity, and you don't have any trouble following along with the dialogue in your favorite movies.

    Plus, the Vizio soundbar's subwoofer brings plenty of rumble in the low-bass, so you feel your seat shake underneath you during action-packed scenes. You won't find as many customization tools as with the more premium picks on our list, and without room correction, it sounds different depending on the acoustics of your room. That said, you can always adjust its bass and treble output to your liking, which can help accommodate some of those differences.

    See our review

  5. Best Budget Soundbar For Movies

    The best budget soundbar for movies we've tested is the Vizio V Series V51-H6. It's an affordable option that's one of the only setups with discrete satellite speakers in this price range. As a result, when you watch 5.1 surround sound formats like Dolby Digital and DTS, which are commonly found on streaming platforms, you get a more immersive feel. Sound effects are accurately placed in the space around you, matching the action you see on your screen. Of course, it lacks premium features, and, like most bars in its price range, there's no Dolby Atmos support on hand to take advantage of more immersive audio formats.

    That said, if you don't watch Atmos movies, it's a great value for the price. This setup has a neutral sound right out of the box, especially in the mid-range, where most dialogue reproduces. Thanks to its dedicated subwoofer, the bass in action-filled scenes is present and thumpy without overwhelming the voices from the mids. Naturally, there are fewer sound enhancement features than more pricey models, but you still get the basics like bass and treble adjustments and a dialogue enhancement mode. It's also versatile enough to be suitable for music and TV shows.

    See our review

  6. Best Soundbar For Soundstage In Movies

    If you want a bar that replicates a cinematic experience from the comfort of your own home, check out the Sony HT-A9 with Bass Module. It's a unique setup that looks nothing like the other bars on our list—instead of a traditional soundbar, you get left and right stereo speakers paired to a small control box, as well as left and right surround speakers. Since the surround sound units don't need to connect to the control box, you can place them anywhere in your living room, which lets you adjust and customize the soundstage to meet your needs. As a result, you get a cinematic feel with your favorite movies, with sound effects stretching all around you for a clear and real feel.

    As with the other premium options on our list, there's a room correction feature on hand called Sound Field Optimization that adjusts the setup's output based on the acoustics of your space. Otherwise, the customization options are limited, aside from a bass adjustment tool and a few presets, which is disappointing for such a premium setup. If you add on a subwoofer, you can also control its volume, which is nice. However, the sub's low-frequency extension is less impressive than setups like the Samsung HW-Q990C, so you're missing a touch of rumble in action-packed movie scenes. If you love its unique design and want to feel immersed in your movies, it's still a great choice.

    See our review

  7. Best Small Soundbar For Movies

    If your setup has limited space, a small soundbar like the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) is a great option. At under 26 inches in width, this compact soundbar fits easily into your living room, and despite its small size, it packs a punch with your favorite movies. The bar uses psychoacoustic principles to make its soundstage seem wider than the bar itself, so sound effects seem to stretch to the space around your couch. With Dolby Atmos and Dolby Digital support, you can enjoy movies from different sources, including streaming platforms and Blu-ray discs.

    Like the standalone Sonos Arc, this bar has a room correction feature called TruePlay that adjusts the bar's output to meet the unique acoustics of your space. It's only available on iOS devices now, but Android users can adjust its bass and treble to make up for differences in the sound. Given its smaller size, though, it's not much of a surprise that it doesn't get quite as loud as the Arc, and its Atmos performance isn't quite as impressive since it can't mimic as much height in the soundstage. Still, it's a great choice for its size, and you can always upgrade it to the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) with Sub Mini + One SL Speakers if you want to improve its performance.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Sony HT-A7000 with Speakers + Bass Module: The Sony HT-A7000 with Speakers + Bass Module is a premium setup with DTS support. Its Atmos performance isn't as impressive as other models in its premium price range, like the Samsung HW-Q990C. See our review
  • JBL Bar 9.1: The JBL Bar 9.1 is a 5.1.4 setup with a room correction feature and two unique, detachable, truly wireless satellites you can place anywhere in your room. However, its sound profile isn't as well-balanced out-of-the-box, and its soundstage performance isn't as impressive as the Samsung HW-Q990C. See our review
  • Vizio SB36512-F6: The Vizio SB36512-F6 is a more affordable 5.1.2 soundbar that's very good for movies. Its default sound profile isn't as well-balanced as the Vizio M Series M512a-H6, and its surround performance isn't as impressive. See our review
  • Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar MAX: The Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar MAX is a solid choice for listeners who want a standalone soundbar with a good movie performance. That said, its large, bulky design isn't ideal if you don't have a lot of space, especially compared to standalone models like the Sonos Beam (Gen 2). See our review
  • Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2Ch: The Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2Ch is a unique 9.2.4 soundbar with two subwoofers and four satellites, making it ideal for those with large living spaces. However, its default sound isn't quite as balanced as the Samsung HW-Q990C. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Jan 10, 2024: Product picks confirmed. Some text edits for clarity.

  2. Oct 10, 2023: Replaced the Samsung HW-Q930B with the next-generation Samsung HW-Q930C due to its better sound quality.

  3. Aug 14, 2023: Confirmed accuracy of picks. Minor text updates for clarity.

  4. May 17, 2023: Replaced the Samsung HW-Q990B with the next generation Samsung HW-Q990C.

  5. Feb 28, 2023: No changes in product picks after verifying their accuracy, but some minor updates to the text for clarity.

All Reviews

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.