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 30 soundbars and below are our recommendations for the best soundbars for music in 2020. See also our recommendations for the best soundbars, the best Dolby Atmos soundbars (if you watch a lot of movies), and the best budget soundbars.
The Samsung HW-Q90R is the best soundbar for music that we've tested to date. It's a 7.1.4 setup with wireless rear satellites and a wireless subwoofer. This soundbar has a great stereo frequency response with great bass performance and a very well-balanced sound profile, making it a good option for a wide variety of genres. You can also adjust the subwoofer level to get the right amount of kick for your music, excellent for fans of heavy bass.
While you can't plug your phone directly in using a 3.5mm audio jack, this premium soundbar has Bluetooth capabilities to connect to your phone if you're nearby, though you'll likely want to use its wireless playback option for much better range and sound quality. This allows you to use your Wi-Fi network to cast music from your phone to the soundbar, without being interrupted by phone calls or app sounds from your phone. Unfortunately, it doesn't have Chromecast or Apple AirPlay built-in, so you'll have to rely on Samsung's own SmartThings app, or cast directly from within an app, like Spotify. On the upside, it supports Amazon Alexa, meaning you can control your soundbar with your voice, provided you have an Amazon Echo device nearby.
This is Samsung's top-of-the-line soundbar and is the best soundbar that we've tested so far. If you only want your soundbar for music, however, and don't want to spend quite as much, you may want to take a look at the Samsung HW-Q80R or Samsung HW-Q60R, both of which are cheaper and equally great for music, though they aren't as versatile for movies due to their lack of rear satellites and Atmos support.
If you're on a tighter budget, but still want great performance for music while still having a full surround setup, then go for the Vizio SB36512-F6. It might not feel as high-end and premium as the Samsung HW-Q60R, and it doesn't have as wide a stereo soundstage, but its performance will satisfy most users, especially at such an affordable price point. It has a very well-balanced sound signature and its wireless subwoofer reproduces a good amount of thump and rumble, which is great for fans of bass-heavy genres. The bar gets very loud and will be suitable for large rooms and crowded environments if you're having people over. Also, you can easily stream music via Bluetooth to the bar, which is very useful. If you want a bigger bar and also plan on watching Atmos content like movies, then also check out the larger Vizio SB46514-F6, which is more expensive but features more up-firing speakers.
Get the Samsung if you want the better audio quality for music and care for a more premium setup, but if you want a good performance to price ratio, then get the Vizio.
If all you're looking for is a bar because you don't have space for a wireless subwoofer, the best standalone soundbar for music that we've reviewed so far 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 its a bit light on deep rumble. On the upside, this bar is easily upgradable with a wireless sub and dedicated rear speakers if you want.
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 reflects back to 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 a soundbar 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 ones we've reviewed yet.
If you want a standalone soundbar 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 so far is the Yamaha YAS-207. This 2.1 soundbar setup has a dedicated wireless subwoofer that helps provide some extra thump to music, but its overall sound profile is neutral and well-balanced, making it a good choice for a wide range of genres. It supports Bluetooth and also has a 3.5mm aux port to plug your phone in, making it easier for multiple people to share their music.
While the out-of-the-box sound profile is flat and accurate, it also has a few sound enhancement features to let you somewhat fine-tune the sound. Unfortunately, it doesn't have a full dedicated EQ, but you can adjust the subwoofer level in case you're worried about bothering your neighbors. While you can use Bluetooth to connect to your phone or other mobile devices, unfortunately, this soundbar doesn't support music playback over Wi-Fi, so your range may be somewhat limited.
The bar feels decently well-made but is covered in a fabric mesh that may get ripped or dirty over time, though it looks slightly more premium than some other budget soundbars. Overall, this soundbar provides a good price-to-performance ratio for enjoying your movies or music, and its neutral and well-balanced sound profile should please most people. On the other hand, if you'd like a bit of a better bass performance and don't mind paying a little extra for it, check out the more recent 2019 Yamaha YAS-209, which also now features Alexa built-in and Wi-Fi compatibility.
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. 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.
03/03/2020: Added Notable Mentions, minor text updates.
01/03/2020: Only minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy; no changes in product picks.