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The 7 Best Soundbars For Movies - Winter 2023 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 160 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.

  1. Best Soundbar For Movies

    The best soundbar for movies that we've tested is the Samsung HW-Q990B. It's a premium 11.1.4 setup that supports many different audio formats, so you get an immersive feel with everything from 5.1 surround sound formats like Dolby Digital and object-based formats like Dolby Atmos. Its two angled satellite speakers help to represent sound effects with clarity and detail, and it feels like they come from the space all around you, meaning cars seem to race past your couch during chase scenes, and helicopters seem to fly overhead during military flicks. Its sub brings plenty of rumble in the bass, so your seat shakes during intense, action-packed scenes, just like it would at a movie theater. Its discrete center channel ensures that you don't have any difficulty following dialogue, either.

    This soundbar stands out from the crowd thanks to its wide array of sound enhancement features. As with most premium models on the market, its room correction feature optimizes its sound based on the unique acoustics of your living room. There's one on hand to adjust the bar's output and another for the subwoofer, which is handy. You have standard bass and treble adjustments as well as a 7-band graphic EQ to customize its sound, so you have even more control across the range than with other premium models like the Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers and the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 with Speakers + Bass Module. Both the Bose and the Sonos are solid alternatives for movie lovers, though, especially if you want a bar with a wide soundstage, or if you already own products in these brands' ecosystems. However, for the most customizable, versatile pick, check out the Samsung soundbar.

    See our review

  2. Best Upper Mid-Range Soundbar For Movies

    If you're looking for a more affordable setup in the premium range, consider the Samsung HW-Q930B. It's a 9.1.4 bar from Samsung's 2022 lineup and supports many different audio formats, including Dolby Digital and Dolby Atmos. Overall, the performance with movies is pretty similar to the Samsung HW-Q990B—you get a wide, immersive soundstage that stretches sound to the space around you, and it provides a solid representation of height with Atmos movies. Its angled satellite speakers represent sound effects with clarity and detail, and your seat shakes from the rumble in the bass during intense movie scores and other action-packed scenes, too. Also, you have a similar selection of customization tools compared to what you get with the Q990B, including the 7-band graphic EQ.

    Of course, for the price, there aren't quite as many features as what you get with the Q990B. The Q930B has two fewer surround channels, and its sub has a slightly different design, so it reproduces a touch less in the lower bass range. Also, while the Q990B offers two room correction features, the Q930B only has one. Its SpaceFit Sound tool adjusts the bar's audio reproduction to your room's acoustics, which is nice. However, you don't get the Auto EQ feature to adjust the subwoofer, like with the Q990B. That said, if you don't need these features, it's still a great bar. With its versatile performance, it's suitable for everything from music to movies to TV shows, and it does a great job bringing your favorite movies to life.

    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 all around you. You can even turn it on with other types of audio content, too, if you want a more cinematic feel. With movies, it does a great job bringing the action to the space around you, and sound effects play out in a way that matches 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 wires 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. Dialogue is still quite clear, thanks to its balanced mids, even if higher frequencies are a little dull due to the recessed treble compared to our top picks. There are 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. Overall, if you don't need those extra sound enhancement tools, it's a great pick, and its versatile performance makes it suitable for listening to a wide range of audio content.

    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, its 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 a bit 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 for 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 in this price range with discrete satellite speakers. 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 seem like they're 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 aren't as many sound enhancement features compared to more pricey models, but you still get the basics like bass and treble adjustments and a dialogue enhancement mode. It's versatile enough to be suitable for music and TV shows, too.

    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 surrounds don't need to connect to the control box, you can place them anywhere you want 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 pretty 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 isn't nearly as impressive as setups like the Samsung HW-Q990B, 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 you don't have a lot of space in your setup, 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 many 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 at this time, but Android users can always 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-Q990B. See our review
  • JBL Bar 9.1: The JBL Bar 9.1 is a 5.1.4 setup with a room correction feature that comes with two unique, detachable, truly wireless satellites that 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-Q990B. 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 surrounds 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 really large living spaces. However, its default sound isn't quite as balanced as the Samsung HW-Q990B. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Nov 30, 2022: No changes in product picks after verifying their accuracy and availability.

  2. Sep 01, 2022: Replaced the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 with Speakers + Bass Module with the Samsung HW-Q990B as 'Best Soundbar'. Added the Samsung HW-Q930B as 'Best Upper Mid-Range'.

  3. Jul 20, 2022: Restructured the article for greater clarity and to include a wider range of picks that meet users' needs.

  4. 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.

  5. Jan 24, 2022: Restructured the article for greater clarity and consistency.

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.