The 8 Best Soundbars - Summer 2021 Reviews

Updated
Best Soundbars
111 Soundbars Tested
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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 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 often 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.

We've tested over 105 soundbars, and below you'll find the best soundbars to buy. See our recommendations for the best budget soundbars, the best Dolby Atmos soundbars, the best soundbars for music, and the best soundbars 5.1.


  1. Best Soundbar: Samsung HW-Q950A

    8.3
    Mixed Usage
    8.6
    Dialogue/TV Shows
    8.3
    Music
    8.2
    Movies
    Channels
    11.1.4

    The Samsung HW-Q950A is the best soundbar we've tested. This soundbar has a unique 11.1.4 setup that offers an immersive listening experience, and it supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X content. It's the next generation of the Samsung HW-Q950T, and it comes with some new features, including an Auto EQ room correction feature and Apple AirPlay 2 connectivity.

    With its Auto EQ feature turned on, this soundbar has a neutral sound profile that's suitable for listening to lots of different types of audio content. It comes with lots of sound customization features, too, including a graphic EQ and presets as well as bass and treble adjustments to help you customize its sound. Thanks to its dedicated satellite speakers, it offers a great surrounds performance, too, which is ideal for movie fans.

    Unfortunately, while its build quality is good overall, the fabric coverings on the bar, the sub, and the satellites seem like they could rip or collect dust easily. The bar is also fairly wide, so it likely won't fit between the legs of a 55 inch TV stand, which could be inconvenient for some users. That said, thanks to its versatile performance, this soundbar can please lots of different types of listeners.

    See our review

  2. Two-Subwoofer Alternative: Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2Ch

    Channels
    9.2.4

    If you prefer a soundbar setup that comes with two subwoofers, consider the Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2Ch instead. While it doesn't support voice assistants and doesn't come with as many sound enhancement features as the Samsung HW-Q950A, this 9.2.4 setup offers two subwoofers so you can really feel the thump and rumble in your audio. It's better built and gets quite loud. Out-of-the-box, this soundbar offers a fairly neutral sound profile that's suitable for most types of audio content, though it can also sound a bit dark due to the underemphasized treble. There are a few EQ presets and bass and treble adjustments to help you customize its sound, though. It also supports Dolby Atmos content and offers a great surrounds performance with its dedicated satellite speakers.

    If you want an 11.1.4 setup with more sound customization features, built-in voice assistant support, and a more neutral sound profile out-of-the-box, check out the Samsung. However, if you prefer a better-built bar with two subwoofers, consider the Nakamichi instead.

    See our review

  3. Best 5.1 Soundbar: Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers

    7.9
    Mixed Usage
    8.2
    Dialogue/TV Shows
    7.9
    Music
    7.7
    Movies
    Channels
    5.1.2

    The best 5.1 soundbar we've tested is the Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers. This well-built 5.1.2 has a premium feel and comes with a dedicated subwoofer and two satellite speakers, which help immerse you in your audio content. It also has an impressive surround performance and supports Dolby Atmos content.

    It comes with a room correction feature that automatically adjusts the sound profile based on the acoustic characteristics of the room. With this feature turned on, it has a very neutral sound profile suitable for listening to lots of audio content. It has a dedicated center channel and a dialogue enhancement feature, which help make voices sound clear and accurate. Its soundstage is perceived as open and spacious, and it can get quite loud, though there are some compression artifacts present at max volume.

    Unfortunately, it lacks a graphic EQ and doesn't have many sound enhancement features, though it does offer bass and treble adjustments. Also, it may be difficult to find the full package in stock at the moment, though you can purchase the bar, sub, and satellites separately and pair them together yourself. That said, this well-built soundbar offers versatile performance and a great surround feel.

    See our review

  4. More Customizable Alternative: Vizio Elevate

    Channels
    5.1.4

    If you want a 5.1 soundbar that lets you customize its sound profile, consider the Vizio Elevate. Although its surround sound doesn't feel as immersive as the Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers, it has bass and treble adjustments. It also has four EQ presets, including Movie, Music, Direct, and Game. This 5.1.4 setup also has a virtual surround feature, unlike the Sonos, which uses psychoacoustic principles to create a sound that feels more immersive. It also has an excellent center performance, so dialogue reproduces clearly and accurately. It supports a wide range of audio formats, including Dolby Atmos, and it's Bluetooth compatible, unlike the Sonos. However, it has high latency via its Full HDMI In port, so it may not be suitable for watching videos through this connection, though some apps compensate for latency differently.

    If you want a better-built soundbar with a more immersive surround sound, go for the Sonos. If you prefer something with Bluetooth compatibility and EQ presets, consider the Vizio instead.

    See our review

  5. Best Standalone Soundbar: Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar

    8.0
    Mixed Usage
    8.5
    Dialogue/TV Shows
    7.6
    Music
    7.8
    Movies
    Channels
    5.1.4

    The best standalone soundbar that we've tested is the Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar. This 5.1.4 model comes with 13 built-in speakers that help deliver an impressively immersive listening experience for a standalone bar. It can get really loud without a lot of compression, so it's a solid choice for listening to audio at parties.

    Out-of-the-box, it reproduces clear and accurate vocals and lead instruments thanks to its balanced mid and treble ranges. With its AMBEO 3D mode turned on, it delivers a good surround performance, so sound seems to come from all around you. It also has a room correction feature that optimizes audio reproduction based on the unique acoustic characteristics of your room, and there's a parametric EQ to help you customize its sound to your liking.

    Unfortunately, out-of-the-box, it struggles to reproduce low-bass, so you don't feel the deep thump and rumble in action-packed movie scenes. Also, it's tall and very heavy, so it may block the bottom of your TV screen. However, if you don't have the space for satellite speakers or a subwoofer, this standalone bar delivers a decently versatile performance overall.

    See our review

  6. Smaller Alternative: Sonos Beam

    Channels
    3.0

    If you're low on space and want a small standalone soundbar, consider the Sonos Beam instead. While this 3.0 model doesn't support Dolby Atmos content or offer as impressive a surrounds performance as the more customizable Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar, it has a very compact design. You can easily add it to your existing setup without taking up a lot of space or blocking your TV screen. Its sound profile is very neutral and balanced, though it also lacks a touch of low bass. It has a room correction feature to adjust audio reproduction based on the acoustic characteristics of your room. It also has bass and treble adjustments to help you customize its sound. Despite its small size, it has an impressive stereo soundstage performance, and it ranks among the best small soundbars we've tested.

    If you want a larger standalone model that supports Dolby Atmos and offers a better surround performance and more sound customization features, check out the Sennheiser. However, if you prefer a small standalone bar that doesn't take up much space, consider the Sonos instead.

    See our review

  7. Best Soundbar Under $500: Vizio M Series M51a-H6

    8.2
    Mixed Usage
    8.6
    Dialogue/TV Shows
    8.0
    Music
    8.1
    Movies
    Channels
    5.1

    The best soundbar under $500 that we've tested is the Vizio M Series M51a-H6. This 5.1 setup comes with a subwoofer and two dedicated satellite speakers, which helps create an immersive surround sound experience. It supports Dolby Atmos content, and it uses front-firing speakers on the bar to bounce sound off the ceiling and back down to the listener, creating the illusion of height.

    Out-of-the-box, its sound profile is neutral, making it suitable for a variety of audio content. It can produce a very extended low-bass, so you can feel the deep thump and rumble in action-packed movie scenes. There are also a few EQ presets and bass and treble adjustments, so you can tweak the sound profile to your liking. Thanks to its Full HDMI In port, you can use it as a hub between different devices, and it supports Bluetooth, so you can stream audio wirelessly from a paired smartphone.

    However, it doesn't have as wide a soundstage as some other 5.1 setups like the Vizio Elevate, so audio doesn't feel as immersive. Also, while it has a dialogue enhancement feature, it lacks a room correction feature, so its sound profile may vary depending on the room it's in. That said, if you're looking for a versatile 5.1 soundbar at a more affordable price point, it's worth considering.

    See our review

  8. Best Budget Soundbar: Vizio V Series V51-H6

    7.6
    Mixed Usage
    8.3
    Dialogue/TV Shows
    7.8
    Music
    7.0
    Movies
    Channels
    5.1

    The Vizio V Series V51-H6 is the best budget soundbar that we've tested. This 5.1 setup offers a decent build and comes with a dedicated subwoofer as well as two satellite speakers to help immerse you in your audio. It gets pretty loud, too, so you can crank up the volume to fill up a large room or a crowded party.

    Out-of-the-box, this soundbar has a neutral sound profile that's suitable for lots of different types of audio content, and it can reproduce the deep thump in the bass range accurately. There are a couple of EQ presets as well as bass and treble adjustments so you can customize its sound, too. It also supports surround content, though it can make surround content sound a bit boomy and muddy.

    Unfortunately, this soundbar doesn't support Dolby Atmos content, and it doesn't offer built-in voice assistant support. Also, it lacks a Full HDMI In port, so you can't use it for high-quality passthrough. However, if you're on a tight budget, it still offers a pretty versatile performance overall.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Bose Soundbar 700 with Speakers + Bass Module: The Bose Soundbar 700 with Speakers + Bass Module is a 5.1 setup with a neutral sound profile out-of-the-box and an immersive soundstage performance. However, its surrounds and Atmos performances aren't as impressive as some of the other bars we've tested. See our review
  • Sonos Playbar: The Sonos Playbar is older than the Beam. It doesn't support Bluetooth, DTS, or have a full HDMI-In port, but it sounds well-balanced with a great stereo soundstage. See our review
  • JBL Bar 9.1: The JBL Bar 9.1 is a well-built, versatile 5.1 setup that offers a balanced, neutral sound profile out-of-the-box. It doesn't come with as many sound enhancement features as the Sonos Arc full setup, and its height performance isn't as impressive. 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 only has an okay surrounds performance and doesn't come with many sound enhancement features. See our review
  • LG SN11RG: The LG SN11RG is a good overall model, but it sounds a little bass-heavy compared to better-balanced soundbars like the Samsung HW-Q950A. See our review
  • Samsung HW-Q900A: The Samsung HW-Q900A is a versatile soundbar that comes with a graphic EQ and a room correction feature, but it doesn't come with discrete satellite speakers. You can still purchase these separately, though. See our review
  • Samsung HW-Q850A: The Samsung HW-Q850A is a well-built 5.1.2 setup with a graphic EQ for sound customization. Its default sound profile lacks some bass, and its soundstage performance isn't as impressive as other 5.1 soundbars we've tested. See our review
  • LG SP9YA: The LG SP9YA is a 5.1.2 soundbar with a pretty versatile overall performance, but it doesn't come with discrete satellite speakers, so its surround performance isn't very immersive. See our review
  • Samsung HW-A550: The Samsung HW-A550 is a budget-friendly 2.1 setup with a neutral sound out-of-the-box and lots of customization features. It doesn't come with discrete satellite speakers, and its center, surround, and Atmos performances aren't impressive. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Jul 16, 2021: Replaced the Samsung HW-Q950T with the next-generation Samsung HW-Q950A. Minor updates to the text for accuracy.

  2. Jun 16, 2021: Minor updates to the text. Added the Samsung HW-Q850A, the LG SP9YA, and the Samsung HW-A550 to Notable Mentions.

  3. May 20, 2021: Minor updates to the text for accuracy. Added the Bose Soundbar 700 with Speakers + Bass Module to Notable Mentions.

  4. Apr 23, 2021: Confirmed all picks are in stock and still the best recommendations for our users.

  5. Mar 26, 2021: Replaced the Vizio SB36512-F6 with the Vizio Elevate as the alternative in the 'Best 5.1' category, and changed the category name to 'More Customizable Alternative'. Moved the Vizio SB36512-F6 to Notable Mentions.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best 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. 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.

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