Soundbars are a great and compact way to enhance your music listening experience when you don’t have space for a full home theater setup. You can get great stereo audio reproduction with soundbars and excellent bass performance when your system has a dedicated subwoofer, although one isn’t necessary to enjoy good audio fidelity. Not all soundbars are the same, and you should choose one that suits your needs, whether you prefer using Bluetooth, your home Wi-Fi network, or even AirPlay to stream your favorite tracks.
We’ve tested over 80 soundbars, and below are our recommendations for the best soundbars for music. Also, make sure to check out our recommendations for the best soundbars, the best Dolby Atmos soundbars (if you watch a lot of movies), and the best budget soundbars.
The best soundbar for music that we've tested is the Samsung HW-Q950T. This 9.1.4 setup has an impressive stereo frequency response that's well-suited for a variety of different music genres. Thanks to its dedicated wireless subwoofer, it can reproduce a deep low bass that helps bring out the thump and boom in content like EDM and hip-hop songs. It also includes satellites in its setup that can further immerse you in your favorite albums or tracks.
This premium model has a very well-balanced sound profile that can be tweaked by using its graphic EQ or presets. Its companion app also offers EQ graphic modes such as 'Pop', 'Jazz', and 'Classic' to make it even easier to find a sound that best suits your audio. It can get pretty loud, which is great if you're hosting a host party or if you have a crowded room, and there aren't many compression artifacts at max volume either. You can also wirelessly stream your favorite tracks to the bar using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
Unfortunately, it doesn't have a room correction feature, which is a bit disappointing for a high-end soundbar. It's also quite wide and most likely won't fit between the legs of a 55 inch TV. If you don't need satellite speakers in your setup, try the Samsung HW-Q900T. However, if you're looking for an even more versatile option, it delivers a well-rounded performance for music, and it's even one of the best soundbars we've tested.
If you really want to be immersed in your favorite music, consider the Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers instead. While it doesn't reproduce low bass quite as well as the Samsung HW-Q950T, it offers a much more immersive sound thanks to its dedicated surround speakers. This well-built, premium-looking soundbar has a very neutral sound profile, so it's also suitable for lots of different music genres. While it doesn't have an EQ, you still have some ability to customize its sound using the bass and treble adjustments. There's also a room correction feature, which analyzes the acoustic characteristics of your room and adjusts the bar's audio reproduction accordingly.
If you love the deep thump and punch of low-bass, check out the Samsung, but if you prefer an immersive sound and room correction, consider the Sonos instead.
The best sound bar for music with a 5.1 setup is the JBL Bar 9.1. This well-built 5.1.4 setup is a very good choice for music, and it comes with two detachable satellite speakers so you can really immerse yourself in your favorite music. If you use it during a party, it'll be loud enough to play music.
Overall, it has a neutral sound profile that's suitable for listening to lots of different types of audio content, and the subwoofer adds an extra punch of bass. There are a few EQ presets to help you customize its sound profile, and you can also adjust the subwoofer level. Also, the room correction feature analyzes the acoustic characteristics of your room to improve audio reproduction, which is nice.
Unfortunately, it lacks more premium sound customization features like a graphic EQ, which may be disappointing for some listeners. Also, there are some thumping and compression artifacts present when you play it at max volume. However, it has an impressive overall performance that ranks it among the best 5.1 soundbars we've tested.
If you're looking for a cheaper 5.1 soundbar for music, consider the Vizio SB36512-F6 instead. This 5.1.2 setup isn't as well-built, and its soundstage isn't as impressive as that of the JBL Bar 9.1, but it still offers a very good performance for music lovers at a more affordable price. It comes with a dedicated subwoofer and two satellite speakers, though they don't pair to the bar wirelessly like the JBL. It has a balanced sound profile that packs an extra thump and punch in the bass range, so you can feel the deep thump and rumble in bass-heavy genres like EDM. There are a few EQ presets and bass and treble adjustments to help you customize its sound. It gets pretty loud, too, and there isn't a lot of compression when you play it at max volume. However, it lacks a room correction feature, which can be disappointing for some listeners.
If you want a better-built soundbar with a room correction feature, check out the JBL. However, if you're on a tighter budget, consider the Vizio instead.
If all you're looking for is a soundbar because you don't have space for a wireless subwoofer, the best standalone soundbar for music that we've tested is the Bose Soundbar 700. It has a very well-balanced sound signature and is suitable for a very wide variety of music genres. Even without a dedicated wireless subwoofer, the bar still manages to reproduce good overall bass, although some may feel like it's a bit light on deep rumble. On the upside, this bar is easily upgradable with a wireless sub and dedicated rear speakers.
The bar also features side-firing speakers, which greatly helps to widen up the stereo soundstage. The speakers project the noise at the walls, which then reflect the listeners, giving you the impression of a wider soundstage than even typical home theater speakers. On the other hand, it might feel a bit unnatural to some.
Also, if you're looking for something that lets you plug in your phone via a 3.5mm audio cable, look elsewhere as this one doesn't have any audio jack. If you're having a party and people want to show you their latest favorite song, they won't be able to connect via an AUX cable and will have to go through the Bluetooth pairing procedure. Nevertheless, this is one of the best soundbars for music, especially if you don't have the extra room for a sub, and it's one of the better-built models that we've tested.
If you want a standalone but need something even smaller than the Bose Soundbar 700, get the Sonos Beam. It doesn't support Bluetooth playback like the Bose, and it compresses a bit more when playing at max volume, but it's substantially smaller and offers an easy-to-use and seamless Wi-Fi music playback experience, with voice assistant support. Its sound profile is neutral and well-balanced, and you can easily add a Sonos wireless subwoofer or rear speakers if you want to create a more immersive listening experience. It's fully compatible with the rest of Sonos' line-up to easily create a multi-room speaker setup, and even has both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant support, so you can simply ask the bar to play a song or playlist, and it'll play it from your preferred streaming service.
If you listen to music at very high volumes and care about having clean sound with no compression, get the Bose, but if you need something smaller or want an easy-to-use multi-room speaker solution, get the Sonos.
The best soundbar for music in the budget category that we've tested is the Samsung HW-T550. This well-built 2.1 configuration gets loud enough to use in large rooms, and there isn't a lot of compression when you play it at max volume. It's also Bluetooth-compatible, making it easy to stream your favorite music from your tablet or phone to the bar wirelessly.
Its overall sound profile is well-balanced, making it suitable for listening to lots of different music genres. The dedicated subwoofer adds an extra kick to the bass range that can please fans of bass-heavy genres like EDM, too. You can even customize its sound profile using the 7-band graphic EQ and presets as well as the bass and treble adjustments, which is nice.
Unfortunately, its soundstage isn't as wide as some of the more premium bars we've tested, so you may not feel as immersed in your music. Also, it doesn't support Atmos content, and it downmixes surround content into stereo, so it may not be the best choice for watching movies of your favorite concerts. However, if you want a customizable soundbar for listening to music, it's a solid choice that won't break the bank.
01/07/2021: Removed the Samsung HW-Q70R from Notable Mentions to reflect changing availability.
11/03/2020: Replaced the Samsung HW-Q90R with the Samsung HW-Q950T in the Best Soundbar For Music category. Added the Vizio V Series V51-H6 and the Samsung HW-Q900T as Notable Mentions.
09/04/2020: Added the JBL 9.1 Bar as Best 5.1 Soundbar for Music and Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers as More Immersive Alt. Added Samsung HW-Q800T and LG SN11RG as Notable Mentions.
07/08/2020: Replaced Yamaha YAS-207 with the Samsung HW-T550 in the Best Budget Soundbar For Music category.
05/01/2020: Verification for accuracy, slight changes to the text.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best soundbars for music 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, sorted by their music 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.