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. 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 best soundbar for music that we've tested so far is the Samsung HW-Q90R. This multi-channel soundbar set-up has a remarkably well-balanced stereo frequency response, which results in a versatile, neutral sound profile. Thanks to its powerful subwoofer, focused soundstage, and great dynamics, it's an impressive choice whether you're blasting EDM at a party or listening to classical music around dinner.
While a 7.1.4 channel set-up can seem like overkill just for listening to music, if you have albums mixed in surround sound, then it's well worth the investment. That said, there are substantially cheaper, yet similarly performing options for stereo content, like the Samsung HW-Q70R, that are also worth considering. However, the Q90R provides the added versatility of being great for movies as well.
Unfortunately, this soundbar doesn't have any analog inputs, like an audio jack or RCA connector, so you won't be able to directly plug in a turntable. This can be quite disappointing if you have a collection of vinyl records you want to listen to but don't have a compatible turntable setup or receiver. That said, if you prefer streaming your music wirelessly, then this soundbar is a great option.
If you love listening to music in surround sound but can't justify the cost of the Samsung HW-Q90R, then get the Vizio SB36512-F6. Its bass delivery isn't quite as deep, and its soundstage is narrower, but it still has a very balanced, neutral sound profile and is a lot more affordable. It can get very loud without compressing, and also has a regular analog audio jack, so you can easily plug in a turntable or even an older MP3 player. It feels a bit cheaply made, though, and is covered in a grey fabric that tends to collect dust quite easily. That said, it still provides great value for the price.
Get the Samsung if you prefer a higher-end, premium quality product; however, if you don't mind sacrificing a bit on build quality for something more affordable, then go for 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 it's 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 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.
05/01/2020: Verification for accuracy, slight changes to the text.
03/03/2020: Added Notable Mentions.
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.