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 nearly 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 an 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 in directly 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 looking for something a bit more affordable than the Samsung HW-Q90R that'll still offer great audio quality on top of staying versatile for other uses, then get the Vizio SB36512-F6. It doesn’t have as wide a soundstage as the Samsung and isn’t as well-built, but it offers a surprisingly great performance for the price. It has a great audio reproduction and will reproduce your favorite songs with high fidelity. Its wireless subwoofer offers great bass thump and rumble, although some people may hear port noise when pushing the system to its limits. On the upside, it’s very versatile as it has Chromecast built-in and has a 3.5 audio jack to plug in an AUX cable, on top of being Bluetooth and Wi-Fi compatible.
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 you don't have the space for a subwoofer or have thin walls and don't want to disturb your neighbors with thumping bass, the best standalone soundbar for music we've tested so far is the Bose Soundbar 700. It has a well-balanced and neutral sound profile which is great for a wide variety of genres. Unfortunately, fans of bass may be disappointed by its lack of sub-bass, though this is standard for a soundbar without a subwoofer, and you can easily add Bose's wireless subwoofer later on should you choose to.
This is one of the best-built soundbars that we've reviewed so far. It has a sleek design with a metal grill on the front and sides, and a glass top which gives it a very premium look and feel. Due to its side-firing speakers which reflect noise off the walls and back at the listener, the Bose has a very wide-open soundstage, though this may sound slightly overdone and unnatural to some people. This soundbar is great for listening to music from your phone as it supports a wide variety of wireless music playback options, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and even Apple AirPlay, which is great if you're an Apple user.
Unfortunately, like most recent soundbars, it doesn't have a 3.5mm audio jack, meaning it can be a bit more difficult to switch between different people's phones at a party, for example, as you'll have to connect each device wirelessly. Overall, it's a great soundbar, thanks to its well-balanced sound profile, wireless connectivity options, and ability to upgrade with optional rear satellites or a wireless subwoofer should your needs change in the future.
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 a 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 will 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 an 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 which may get ripped or dirty over time, though it looks slightly more premium than some other budget soundbars. Overall, this soundbar provides good price-to-performance ratio for enjoying your movies or music, and its neutral and well-balanced sound profile should please most people.
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.
01/03/2020: Only minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy; no changes in product picks.
11/28/2019: Only minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy; no changes in product picks.