Soundbars offer a few advantages over 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 for you. However, not all soundbars are created equal; 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.
The Samsung HW-Q990C is the best soundbar we've tested. This premium 11.1.4 setup is the next generation of the Samsung HW-Q990B and offers even better sound quality than its predecessor. Like most high-end soundbars, it has a room correction feature designed to improve audio reproduction based on the unique acoustics of your space. With it on, the bar has a clean and clear sound, with a detailed reproduction of voices and other instruments in the mix. It's suitable for everything from music to movies to TV shows, and its sub brings all the thump and rumble to take action-packed scenes to the next level.
This Dolby Atmos soundbar offers an immersive sound with advanced audio formats commonly found on streaming platforms and Blu-rays. You can set up the satellites around your couch to send sound effects all around your room. Its stereo soundstage performance isn't as impressive as comparable premium models like the Sonos Ultimate Immersive Set with Arc or the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 with Speakers + Bass Module. Still, thanks to its bonus customization tools, it gives you more control over its sound than those models, making it a stand-out pick that can please many different kinds of listeners.
The Samsung HW-Q930C is a great alternative if you're looking for a premium soundbar at a more affordable price. Released in 2023, this 9.1.4 setup offers many of the same features as the Samsung HW-Q990C, including room correction and a graphic EQ to customize its sound. It has two discrete satellites and a dedicated subwoofer for a deep, extended low-bass. You enjoy a clear and detailed sound with all your favorite audio content right out of the box.
This soundbar also supports many common audio formats, like Dolby Atmos and Dolby Digital. With its two discrete satellites, it brings a wide and immersive sound right into the comfort of your living room, with plenty of rumble in the bass to bring those intense scenes to life. That said, compared to its more premium cousin, this soundbar comes with two fewer surround channels, so its sound is a touch less accurate. Also, it doesn't get quite as loud and brings more compression when you push it to max volume. You may still find that it's worth the value, though.
The Vizio Elevate is the best mid-range soundbar we've tested. It's another versatile Dolby Atmos soundbar that's great for everything from music to movies to TV shows. Dialogue is clearly reproduced right out of the box, and the dedicated sub brings plenty of thump and rumble in the bass for more intense scenes. When you watch height content like Dolby Atmos or DTS:X, the bar's sides rotate upwards to create a more life-like impression of height. The resulting sound is immersive, so you feel like your favorite films are taking place around you.
Like our top picks, this soundbar comes with two satellite speakers to bring a more clear and real feel to your audio. However, you'll have to wire these satellites to the subwoofer to get them to work, which isn't ideal for every living space. Compared to our top picks, this soundbar also lacks a room correction tool, so it sounds slightly different depending on your space. Thanks to its bass and treble adjustments, you can accommodate this a bit, though it lacks a full graphic EQ. Still, this bar shines for the price, and it's worth a look if you want an affordable alternative.
Budget-conscious buyers can check out the Vizio M Series M512a-H6, the best bar in the mid-range we've tested. Overall, this soundbar has a lot of similarities with the pricier Vizio Elevate. You'll find similar sound enhancement features, including bass and treble adjustments to customize its sound. It also comes with a subwoofer and two satellites designed to bring a more immersive feel to your listening experience. It performs well with most types of audio content and reproduces dialogue and instruments with great clarity. Plus, the sub brings all the thump and rumble you need to shake the floor with bass-heavy movie scores.
How does this setup compare with the Elevate? Well, there are two key differences. First, the M Series doesn't have sides that rotate upwards with height content. Also, its satellites lack up-firing drivers. The result is a slightly less immersive sound, especially with higher-end audio formats like Dolby Atmos. Most users will still find that it provides an enjoyable listening experience, but if you want the most clear and real sound possible, you'll want to spring for the more advanced Elevate. If you're more budget-conscious, though, you may find that this setup is the better value overall.
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. Like the M Series, it has a dedicated subwoofer and two satellite speakers to improve its surround sound with formats like Dolby Digital. Right out of the box, you get a clear and accurate sound, so you hear dialogue clearly, and the deep rumble in the low-bass is present without overpowering details in the mix. The sound enhancement features are similar to what you get with the M Series, meaning you can adjust its bass and treble according to your preferences.
However, compared to the M Series model, this bar doesn't support height content like Dolby Atmos, which is increasingly common on different streaming platforms and Blu-rays. Instead, the bar is meant for listening to stereo content and surround sound formats like Dolby Digital. It shines with this type of content, so it's a great pick for those who don't watch a lot of Atmos content in the first place. Overall, it's one of the only options in its price range to offer rear speakers, and it's worth a look if you're on a budget.
Low on space? Don't want to clutter your living room? Check out the Sonos Beam (Gen 2). This next-generation soundbar retains the same compact design of the original Sonos Beam at less than 26 inches in width but with one key difference. This model supports Dolby Atmos content, which is increasingly common on both streaming platforms and Blu-rays. You enjoy a wide, immersive sound with multi-channel content, as the bar can widen its soundstage well past its small frame. It's not quite as stellar a performance as the more premium Sonos Arc, but it stands out compared to other smaller soundbars.
This setup has many of the same sound enhancement features as the Arc. First, you can access a room correction feature designed to optimize the bar's sound for your unique room. It's only available with iOS devices, but Android users can always manually adjust the bar's sound with its bass and treble adjustments. For the best possible performance, you can add a sub and satellites for the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) with Sub Mini + One SL Speakers. That said, the standalone bar still offers a solid performance, and it's worth a look for those without a lot of space.
For those with larger, more open living spaces, finding a soundbar that can fill your room with sound is important. The Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2 eARC is ideal for this use case thanks to its unique 9.2.4 setup. Unlike most soundbars, it has two subwoofers to even out the bass reproduction and four satellite speakers, which you can position horizontally or vertically for the best sound. Also, you can move these components around the room to fill any gaps in the soundstage, so no space goes without. As the upgraded version of the Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2Ch, it has some additional features, including eARC support, meaning you can stream more premium formats like DTS:X.
This soundbar won't have a traditional room correction feature since it lacks a microphone to analyze your room's unique acoustics. Still, its Spatial Surround Elevation feature lets you choose between three different presets based on the size of your room, and it's a handy way to adjust the bar's sound to your space. This well-built setup is versatile since it supports everything from 5.1 surround sound Dolby Digital to object-based Dolby Atmos formats. You can also customize it for better performance, which is nice. It's a solid pick for those with more unique living spaces, but you likely won't need the extra sub and satellites if you have a more traditional living room.
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.