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 170 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.
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, and it offers even better sound quality with your favorite films. Two satellite speakers come with this soundbar, and you can place them around your living room to create a more clear and real representation of sound effects in the mix. Immersive formats like Dolby Atmos seem to be taking place all around you as a result. Dialogue is easy to follow, and the dedicated sub brings lots of thump and rumble in the bass during action-packed scenes.
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 Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers or the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 with Speakers + Bass Module. They're also great picks if you already own products in these manufacturers' ecosystems since you can easily integrate them. However, they don't have as many sound enhancement tools as the Samsung.
The Samsung HW-Q930B is a more affordable alternative that's also great for watching movies. While this 9.1.4 bar has two fewer surround channels than the 11.1.4 Samsung HW-Q990C, it offers a similar performance overall. Formats like Dolby Atmos are clear and immersive, and the satellites accurately reproduce sound effects in the space around you, so you feel like cars are racing right past you in a chase scene, for example. Plus, you get access to many of the same sound enhancement tools, including a 7-band graphic EQ as well as a room correction feature.
That said, for the price difference, there are some dissimilarities between this model and the more premium Q990C. Noticeably, the sub is a little smaller than the more premium model. It still brings all the punch in the bass range for action-heavy scenes, but it's a bit less controlled. More astute audiophiles notice the bass carrying into the mids, resulting in a muddier sound. It's not a huge deal if you're a more casual listener, though, especially with all the customization tools. If you want the best of the best, check out the Q990C. Otherwise, you may find that the Q930B is a better value overall.
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, 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 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 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.
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 some of those differences.
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 to be 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 as 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.
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-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.
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 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.
May 17, 2023: Replaced the Samsung HW-Q990B with the next generation Samsung HW-Q990C.
Feb 28, 2023: No changes in product picks after verifying their accuracy, but some minor updates to the text for clarity.
Nov 30, 2022: No changes in product picks after verifying their accuracy and availability.
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'.
Jul 20, 2022: Restructured the article for greater clarity and to include a wider range of picks that meet users' needs.
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.