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 150 soundbars, and below are our recommendations. 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-Q990B. It's a top-of-the-line bar with versatile overall performance and shines when it comes to reproducing your favorite songs. There are lots of customization tools on hand, including a room correction feature that automatically optimizes audio reproduction based on your room's unique acoustics. With it on, its frequency response is quite balanced, especially in the mids. Voices and lead instruments are clear and detailed in the mix, and its dedicated sub brings the rumble in bass-heavy genres like EDM. Whether you're listening to vocal-centric folk tunes, punchy hip-hop songs, or classical tracks, the bar does a great job.
If you prefer a different sound, you're also in luck. The bar has standard bass and treble adjustments as well as a 7-band graphic EQ, which lets you control its frequency response across the range. You can add more bass or brighten up the treble, for example. Since it's incredibly versatile, it's a solid choice for movies. There's Dolby Atmos support, meaning you can take advantage of movies mixed in this format, as well as Dolby Atmos Music found with certain streaming services. If you want bars with even more immersive soundstages, you can check out two other premium options, the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 with Speakers + Bass Module and the Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers. They're both great alternatives, especially if you already own audio products in these manufacturers' ecosystems—however, they aren't as customizable as the Samsung soundbar.
If you're looking for a premium soundbar for music at a more affordable price, check out the Samsung HW-Q930B. It's similar to the Samsung HW-Q990B in a lot of respects, and while it doesn't come with as many features, some will find that it's a better value overall. As soon as you plug it in, you get a neutral, balanced response, meaning that voices and instruments are clearly and accurately reproduced. The sub brings plenty of thump in the bass, meaning you can enjoy everything from bass-heavy hip-hop to more classical music. It's versatile, so you can even use it to enjoy movies and concert DVDs. Its Atmos performance is pretty similar to the Q990B overall.
Of course, this bar doesn't have as many options as Samsung's top-of-the-line model. For example, you don't find the Auto EQ feature that optimizes the subwoofer's output based on your room's acoustics. Still, you get access to SpaceFit Sound, which is a similar room correction tool that's designed to customize the bar's audio reproduction. Also, there are bass and treble adjustments as well as a graphic EQ, allowing you to control the bar's sound across the range. It's not the most premium option on the market. However, it's still a really good value that's suitable for listening to many different music genres, as well as other audio content like movies.
More budget-conscious listeners will want to look at the LG SP9YA, which is the best mid-range bar for music we've tested. This 5.1.2 setup is a bit more simple than the top-of-the-line models, but it's still great for listening to music. You get a room correction feature, which LG calls AI Room Correction, and it's an easy way to optimize the bar's sound to your room's acoustics. Right out of the box, you get a neutral, balanced sound, with clear and detailed voices and lead instruments that make the bar suitable for different genres. Its sub packs a punch in the bass range, which is great for fans of hip-hop and EDM.
You don't get as many features as the top picks, though. There's no graphic EQ, so you can only customize the bar's bass and treble levels. It doesn't come with satellites, either. While that's ideal if you don't have a lot of space in your setup, the tradeoff is evident when you listen to multi-channel content like movies. Surround sound formats aren't as wide and immersive-sounding, and sound effects don't seem as clear and real in the space around you. It's fine if you just want to listen to music, most of which is mixed into stereo. However, if you want a more versatile bar for movies, you might want to stick with the more premium options.
The Vizio M Series M512a-H6 is another, even more wallet-friendly option that's great for music. It's a 5.1.2 setup with a dedicated subwoofer that packs a little extra punch in the bass range, ensuring you feel the excitement in bass-centric genres like hip-hop. Its mids are balanced and neutral, too, right out-of-the-box. That means that voices and lead instruments are present and detailed in the mix, making it suitable for listening to lots of different music genres. Unlike our top picks, you won't find a room correction feature available with this soundbar. That means that it sounds a little different depending on the room you're in. Fortunately, there are still bass and treble adjustments on hand to help you set its sound to your liking, as well as a couple of EQ presets.
This soundbar is versatile enough for movie lovers, too. It supports Dolby Atmos content, and the included satellites help to create a more clear and real experience when you listen to multichannel content like Dolby Atmos Music found on streaming services. If you don't watch a lot of movies, you can also check out the similarly-priced Klipsch Cinema 700. It's a good alternative without satellites, so it's better suited for smaller rooms. Of course, its surround sound isn't as good as the Vizio, so it's not quite as versatile.
The Vizio V Series V51-H6 is a solid pick if you're shopping on a tight budget. It's a 5.1 setup that's quite simple but still does a very good job with music. Thanks to its balanced mids, it reproduces clear and accurate vocals and lead instruments, and its dedicated subwoofer ensures that you feel the punch and rumble in the bass. Its neutral sound makes it suitable for listening to everything from classical music to rock to hip-hop. You get a pretty standard selection of sound enhancement features for its budget price point. You won't find a graphic EQ or a room correction feature, but there are bass and treble adjustments that give you some control over its sound.
If you want a versatile bar, you're in luck. Despite its budget-friendly price, you still get satellites with the bar. If you watch concerts mixed in Dolby Digital, you get a pretty immersive sound for the price, so instruments seem to come from pinpoint locations in the space around you. There's no Dolby Atmos support, though, which is disappointing if you want to take advantage of Dolby Atmos Music or movies mixed in this format. Overall, it's not as versatile as our top picks, but it's still suitable if you want a plug-and-play bar to enjoy music at a budget-friendly price. For a similar price, you can even check out the Samsung HW-B550, a great choice for music that comes without satellites for those who don't watch a lot of movies.
If you don't have a lot of space in your living room for a bar with a separate subwoofer, you can still get a solid listening experience thanks to the best small soundbar for music we've tested, the Sonos Beam (Gen 2). This well-built 5.0 setup has a premium design, and its small size makes it easy to add to your existing setup. Despite its compact design, it has a wide soundstage thanks to its side-firing speakers that beam sound throughout your room, immersing you in your favorite music from all angles. Using a compatible iOS device, you can use the room correction feature to optimize audio based on your room's unique acoustics.
Its default sound profile is pretty neutral, especially in the mids, where most instruments reproduce, making it suitable for most music genres. You can always use its bass and treble adjustments to customize its sound. However, compared to setups with a dedicated subwoofer, like the similarly-priced Vizio M Series M512a-H6, you don't get the thump and rumble in the low-bass. It's especially disappointing if you love listening to bass-heavy music genres like EDM and hip-hop. That said, if you move to a larger place down the road, you can always add a separate sub, which is nice.
Aug 19, 2022: Replaced the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 with the new Samsung HW-Q990B as 'Best Soundbar'. Added the Samsung HW-Q930B as 'Best Upper Mid-Range'. Replaced the Samsung HW-Q900A with the LG SP9YA as 'Best Mid-Range' since the Samsung's price rose.
Jun 21, 2022: Restructured the article for greater clarity and consistency.
Apr 22, 2022: For clarity, we changed the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 full setup to the 'Best Plug-And-Play' and the Samsung HW-Q950A to the 'Best Customizable'. It gives a better idea of the difference between the two setups, as the Bose offers a better soundstage and a better stereo frequency response, but the Samsung has more customization features. Updated Notable Mentions.
Feb 21, 2022: Added the Klipsch Cinema 1200 as 'Best For Bass'. Minor updates to the text.
Dec 23, 2021: Replaced the Bose Smart Soundbar 700 with Speakers + Bass Module with the next generation Bose Smart Soundbar 900 with Speakers + Bass Module. Replaced the Sonos Beam with the next generation Sonos Beam (Gen 2). Added the Bose Smart Soundbar 700 to 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, 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.