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 45 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 Samsung HW-Q90R is the best soundbar for music that we've tested to date. Right out-of-the-box, this 7.1.4 channel setup has an accurate and neutral sound profile that delivers a great sound without too much hassle, making it very versatile for all different kinds of music genres. Its powerful subwoofer brings deep thump and rumble to your favorite tunes, and if you prefer less bass or even a different sound altogether, you can adjust its bass and treble. It also has a graphic EQ so you have even more control over your audio experience.
Although some may find this setup a little overwhelming or overkill if you're just using it to listen to music, it can really bring to life music mixed in surround sound, and it's versatile enough for watching movies. It gets outstandingly loud, making it well-suited for large rooms or for use in crowded environments like a house party. It also has enough inputs so that you can use it as a hub between your TV and other devices, and it supports all common audio formats. If you have music stored on your mobile devices or if you get your music from a streaming service, you can also use Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to play it on the bar.
On the downside, it doesn't have any analog inputs such as an AUX jack or an RCA connector, so you won't be able to directly connect it to devices like a turntable. It also lacks a room correction feature, so it may sound a bit differently depending on the room. That being said, it has a versatile sound for any kind of audio, and it's even one of the best soundbars we've tested to date overall, making it a great addition to any home.
If you like the immersiveness of surround sound when you listen to music, but the high price of the Samsung HW-Q90R is a bit out of your league, consider the Vizio SB36512-F6. It has a bit more trouble delivering a deep low-bass, and its stereo soundstage is slightly narrower, but its balanced sound profile can still deliver a good music experience at a more affordable price. The Vizio can also get pretty loud with even less compression than the Samsung, and it has a regular analog audio jack so you can play music from your turntable or an old MP3 if you want. On the downside, it has a cheaper feel to it, and it only has EQ presets available, which may not be enough if you really like to tweak its sound.
Go for the Samsung if you're looking for a high-end soundbar with a bit more customizability. If you don't mind the less-than-premium build and want something a bit easier on the wallet, 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 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.
For those looking to upgrade their laptop or TV speakers at a more affordable price point, the Samsung HW-T550 is the best budget soundbar for music that we've tested so far. It has a well-balanced sound profile right out-of-the-box, and thanks to its wireless subwoofer, you get a deep, punchy bass suitable for most kinds of music genres. It also has a 7-band EQ plus presets so you can really customize and tweak the sound to better suit your favorite music.
This decently-built soundbar can get pretty loud, making it well-suited for large rooms or if you're having a house party. It has a decent stereo soundstage that sounds slightly wider than the bar itself, and it's very focused too, so it can help to immerse you in each riff and kick of your favorite jams. If you're using a streaming platform to listening to music, you can also play it wirelessly from your bar by using Bluetooth, which is nice. Even better still, you can pair it with up to two different devices at a time, so you can easily and quickly switch playlists on your laptop to your mobile phone.
Just like the Samsung HW-Q90R, it lacks a room correction feature, so it could sound differently depending on how your room is acoustically shaped. Its surround performance is pretty bad too, and as it downmixes this content into stereo, it doesn't do an accurate job of representing surround objects in the soundstage. Still, if you're operating on a tighter budget, the Samsung HW-T550 is the best soundbar for music at a lower price point than others on this list.
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.
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.