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The 7 Best Soundbars - Fall 2022 Reviews

Best Soundbars

Soundbars offer a few advantages over more traditional home theater speaker setups: They tend to take up less space, are easier to set up, and are often more affordable. Whether you're looking for a soundbar that supports Dolby Atmos or want something you can plug your older MP3 player into, there's a model out there for you. However, not all soundbars are created equal, and some provide a better listening experience than others. If you watch a lot of TV or listen to music at home, you'll want something that sounds good and is compatible with your existing devices, whether you want to hook it up to your smart TV or prefer streaming directly from your smartphone. The best soundbars for TV reproduce dialogue in your favorite shows with clarity and detail. 

We've tested over 150 soundbars, and below you'll find the top soundbars to buy. See our recommendations for the best budget soundbars, the best Dolby Atmos soundbars, and the best 5.1 soundbars.

  1. Best Soundbar

    The best soundbar that we've tested is the Samsung HW-Q990B. This premium 11.1.4 setup offers versatile performance, making it a standout choice for everything from music to movies to TV shows. It's a Dolby Atmos soundbar with a subwoofer to bring out the rumble in action-packed scenes and two angled rear satellites that help immerse you in your audio from all angles. You can take advantage of multi-channel content like Dolby Digital and Dolby Atmos, both of which are commonly found on streaming platforms, as this bar makes it seem like the action on screen is happening all around you.

    The bar offers lots of customization features, making it easy to switch up the bar's sound based on your preferences. You have a 7-band graphic EQ as well as bass and treble adjustments, along with a dialogue enhancement tool to ensure that voices are always clear and present in the mix. It's a lot more than what you find with other standout premium setups like the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 with Speakers + Bass Module or the Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers. If you're looking for a bar with an even wider soundstage, or if you already own products in these brand's ecosystems, they make for good alternatives; however, the Samsung ultimately gives the most cinematic experience of the bunch.

    See our review

  2. Best Upper Mid-Range Soundbar

    If you're looking for a premium bar that's a bit more affordable, check out the Samsung HW-Q930B. It's another 2022 release from Samsung that comes with both a subwoofer and satellites right out of the box. Its impressively versatile performance mimics the more expensive Samsung HW-Q990B in a lot of regards, and when it comes to Dolby Atmos content, the bars perform pretty similarly. You feel like you're right in the middle of your favorite movies right from the comfort of your couch, and sound effects are clear and detailed in the room around you. The sub brings plenty of rumble and thump in the bass range, so you get a truly cinematic feel with intense movie scores and other action-focused scenes.

    Of course, this bar comes with fewer features than the top-of-the-line offering—there's no Auto EQ feature to adjust the subwoofer's output, for example. Still, it has another room correction feature called SpaceFit Sound, which optimizes the bar's audio reproduction based on your room's unique acoustics. Also, there's a 7-band graphic EQ, bass and treble adjustments, and a dialogue enhancement tool. That said, voices are clear and detailed right out of the box, so you don't have any trouble following the action on screen. Whether you're looking for a plug-and-play option or something more customizable, this bar's a great fit.

    See our review

  3. Best Mid-Range Soundbar

    If you're looking for a more affordable option, check out the Vizio Elevate. It's a 5.1.4 setup with a unique design, as its sides automatically rotate upwards when you watch height content like Dolby Atmos or DTS:X for a more immersive feel. As a result, it has a wide soundstage that rivals some of our top picks, making you feel like you're right in the center of the action from the comfort of your living room. Its subwoofer brings the rumble in action-packed scenes, and its two rear satellites make sound effects more clear and real. However, you have to wire the satellites to the subwoofer to get them to work, which adds some extra annoying cables to your living room. Note that this is the older model of the Elevate. Vizio has recently released the M Series Elevate M512E-K6, which we have purchased. We'll update this article once we've tested it.

    The older Elevate is a great choice for music and TV shows, too. There's a little extra boom in the bass range right out of the box, which is great for listening to bass-heavy genres like hip-hop and EDM, and its balanced mids mean that voices are still clear and present in the mix. Unfortunately, you don't get as many features as our top pick, the Samsung HW-Q990B, and the lack of room correction means that it sounds different depending on the room you're in. You can use its bass and treble adjustments to make up for this a bit, which is nice. If you want a bar with more sound enhancement features, like a graphic EQ, you can check out the Samsung HW-Q900A. It's a versatile alternative that comes without satellites, which is good if you don't have a lot of space. However, the tradeoff is obvious with surround sound, as you don't get the same immersive feel as the Vizio.

    See our review

  4. Best Lower Mid-Range Soundbar

    The Vizio M Series M512a-H6 is an even more wallet-friendly alternative for under $500. It's a 5.1.2 setup with versatile performance, especially compared to other bars in its price range, so it's a great choice for everything from music to movies to TV shows. Thanks to its dedicated subwoofer, you get plenty of rumble in the bass range to bring excitement to action-packed scenes, and its balanced mids mean that vocals and lead instruments are clear and detailed in the mix. Its sound can please many different types of listeners—but if you want something different, you can access similar sound enhancement features to the Vizio Elevate, including bass and treble adjustments.

    There's support for lots of different audio formats, too. The bar plays back 5.1 surround sound formats like Dolby Digital and object-based formats like Dolby Atmos, both of which are commonly on streaming services like Netflix. Its wide soundstage gives an immersive feel, and its two rear speakers offer a clear and real representation of the sound effects mixed into the track. It doesn't feel quite as cinematic as Elevate, though. For starters, there are only two up-firing drivers compared to the Elevate's four, and you can't rotate the sides to widen the soundstage. It does a good job for the price, but it falls just shy of our top picks.

    See our review

  5. Best Budget Soundbar

    The Vizio V Series V51-H6 is the best budget soundbar we've tested. This 5.1 setup is an even more affordable alternative to the Vizio M Series M512a-H6 with a great price-to-performance ratio. Right out of the box, the bar has a neutral sound profile, and its balanced mid-range means that dialogue in your favorite movies and TV shows is clear and detailed in the mix. Its dedicated subwoofer reproduces a deep and powerful bass, so there's a little extra boom. It has a decent selection of sound enhancement features on hand, especially for its price, including bass and treble adjustments, as well as a dialogue enhancement feature so you can change its sound as you wish. Of course, there's no graphic EQ, and you won't find a room correction feature, but that's quite typical for bars at such a wallet-friendly price point.

    If you're a movie lover, you'll appreciate the included satellite speakers, which are a pretty unique feature for the price. The speakers enhance the bar's performance with surround sound, as they position sound effects to more accurate locations in the soundstage that match the action on your screen. Its soundstage isn't quite as wide and immersive-sounding as our top picks, though it still extends a little past the edges of the bar itself. However, like most bars in this price range, you can't take advantage of object-based formats like Dolby Atmos. If you watch lots of movies on streaming platforms, you'll want to spend a little more on a bar with Atmos support—but for fans of surround sound, music, and TV shows, it's still a solid pick.

    See our review

  6. Best Small Soundbar

    If you have a small living room, you'll want to find a soundbar setup that fits easily into your space without crowding your living room. There are many compact options on the market, and the best one we've tested is the Sonos Beam (Gen 2). It's the upgraded version of the original Sonos Beam with the same small design. However, it comes with new features, including support for Dolby Atmos content often found on Blu-rays and streaming platforms. While its bass reproduction and surround sound performance naturally aren't as good as the top-of-the-line models, you can add a subwoofer and satellites down the line if you want.

    While the bar is small, it still has a really impressive soundstage performance. Like many bars on the market, it uses psychoacoustic principles to widen its perceived soundstage, resulting in an immersive sound that stands out compared to other small bars we've tested. There's a room correction feature called TruePlay available to optimize audio reproduction based on the unique acoustics of your living room. With it turned on, you'll find that dialogue is clear and present in the mix. That said, it's only available with iOS devices, which is disappointing if you plan to use an Android device instead.

    See our review

  7. Best Soundbar For Large Rooms

    Since the acoustic characteristics of your listening space can impact how you perceive sound, it can be hard to find a soundbar setup suitable for larger, more open living rooms. Fortunately, some options on the market are designed to ensure that sound is evenly spread throughout more expansive spaces. The best we've tested is the Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2Ch, which has an impressive two subwoofers and four satellite speakers. The additional subwoofer helps even out the bass response throughout larger spaces, filling any possible holes in your soundstage with clear and present bass.

    Additionally, the four satellites help create an impressive sound with surround sound and Dolby Atmos content, so you feel like you're in the center of the action with your favorite movies. Dialogue reproduces fairly clearly and accurately, and its deep, rumbling bass helps you feel the action in intense scenes. Unfortunately, the bar's sound profile lacks some treble, resulting in a dark sound overall that can make it hard to hear higher-frequency voices from characters in your movies. Although there's a treble adjustment feature, it's still hard to improve its response in this range.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Klipsch Cinema 1200: The Klipsch Cinema 1200 is a premium setup with Dolby Atmos support. It has a bass-heavy sound right out of the box that helps you feel the punch and rumble in your audio. However, you don't get a neutral out-of-the-box sound like the Samsung HW-Q990B. See our review
  • Sony HT-A7000 with Speakers + Bass Module: The Sony HT-A7000 with Speakers + Bass Module is a versatile 7.1.2 setup with Dolby Atmos support. Compared to other premium models, it doesn't offer many sound customization features, and its surround and Atmos performances aren't as impressive as the Samsung HW-Q990B. See our review
  • Sony HT-A9 with Bass Module: The Sony HT-A9 with Bass Module is a premium setup with a unique design that lets you place its four speakers anywhere you want. It has a fantastic soundstage with an impressive Atmos performance, though it lacks a discrete center channel like the Samsung HW-Q990B. See our review
  • Vizio SB36512-F6: The Vizio SB36512-F6 is a versatile 5.1.2 soundbar with a neutral sound profile and support for Dolby Atmos content. It's more budget-friendly than the Samsung HW-Q990B, but it doesn't have as many features, and its sound isn't quite as immersive. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Sep 16, 2022: No changes to product picks after verifying their accuracy and availability. Added mention of the newly released Vizio M Series Elevate M512E-K6.

  2. Aug 18, 2022: Replaced the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 with Speakers + Bass Module with the new Samsung HW-Q990B as 'Best Soundbar'. Added the new Samsung HW-Q930B as 'Best Upper Mid-Range'.

  3. Jul 21, 2022: Restructured category titles to better meet user needs. No changes in product picks.

  4. Jul 08, 2022: No changes in product picks after verifying their accuracy and availability.

  5. Jun 10, 2022: Restructured article for clarity. No changes in product picks.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the top soundbars 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, including the best soundbars for TV and the best Bluetooth soundbars. 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.