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.
We've tested over 175 soundbars; below, you'll find our top picks. See our recommendations for the best budget soundbars, the best Dolby Atmos soundbars, and the best 5.1 soundbars.
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 your room's unique acoustics. 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, making it seem like you've been dropped in the middle of your favorite films. Its soundstage performance isn't as impressive as comparable premium models like the Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers 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.
The Samsung HW-Q930B is a great alternative if you're looking for a premium bar that's a bit more affordable. For less money, it offers a versatile performance that mimics the more expensive Samsung HW-Q990C, especially with Dolby Atmos content. When you watch your favorite movies, sound expands into the space around your living room, making you feel like your couch was dropped right into the middle of the action. Dialogue is clear, and the sub brings plenty of rumble in the bass, even if it isn't as stylish-looking as its more premium counterpart. Plus, with two rear satellites, sound effects are accurately placed in the space around you for a clear and real feel.
Overall, this soundbar looks similar to the 990C, making it a premium setup for your living room. It also has many of the same features, like room correction and a graphic EQ to customize its sound. Given the price difference, though, there is some exchange in sound quality. Out-of-the-box, the 930B has a slightly muddier sound, slightly obscuring detail in the mid-range. You can fix this a bit with the graphic EQ, but if you want an even sound out-of-the-box, the 990C is the better bet.
For a more affordable option, check out the Vizio Elevate. This Dolby Atmos soundbar is a standout choice for everything from music to movies to TV shows, and it's available at a more wallet-friendly price. Plus, it boasts a unique design—the sides of the bar rotate when you watch height content like Dolby Atmos or DTS:X. As a result, sound is fired toward your ceiling for a more immersive listening experience overall. You'll also find up-firing drivers built into the bar's two satellite speakers, so sound effects spread around your living room for a real-world feel. Given the popularity of Atmos content on both streaming platforms and Blu-rays, this bar is a great choice for taking advantage of these immersive audio formats.
This 5.1.4 setup is versatile enough for other types of audio content. Thanks to its discrete center channel, dialogue is clearly reproduced, and it's easy to follow along with the action on screen. Plus, its sub brings all the thump and rumble in the low-bass, which is great for action movies and chase scenes. You have to wire its satellites to the subwoofer to get them to work, adding pesky wires to your living space. Plus, without a room correction tool, you'll have to use the bar's bass and treble adjustments to accommodate the acoustics of your room. There's no graphic EQ like with the Samsung HW-Q930B, either. Still, given its balanced sound out-of-the-box, you may not need these extra tools.
Budget-conscious buyers can also 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. However, its sides don't rotate with height content, and its satellites don't have any up-firing drivers to improve the sound. As a result, it's a touch less immersive than the Elevate—you notice less height with Atmos content especially, so helicopters flying overhead seem like they're just coming from the space in front of you.
Still, you may find that this Dolby Atmos soundbar is a better value overall. It performs well with most types of audio content. Since it's a 5.1.2 setup, you get a discrete center channel to improve the quality of dialogue in the mix. Also, its subwoofer brings all the thump and rumble you need to shake the floor during action-packed movie scenes. Of course, you'll still have to wire the satellites to the subwoofer to get them to work, which isn't ideal for everyone. If you want a more affordable soundbar that still brings great sound, it's worth a look.
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 the dialogue in action-packed movies and a deep rumble in the low-bass to bring those intense scenes to life. 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.
That said, it doesn't support height content like Dolby Atmos. It's disappointing, especially if you watch a lot of content from streaming platforms, where you'll likely find Atmos movies and TV shows alike. That said, if you don't watch much Atmos content, this bar provides a better value overall. It's a great pick for surround sound, and it's one of the only options in its price range to offer rear speakers included with the bar. Stereo content, including most music and vocal-centric TV, like sitcoms, is accurately reproduced with this soundbar.
Low on space? 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's still a standout performance for such a small bar.
This setup has many of the same sound enhancement features as the Arc. There's a room correction feature designed to optimize the bar's sound to your room's unique acoustics, called TruePlay. Also, you can manually adjust the bar's output with its bass and treble adjustments, which is a nice touch. For the best possible performance, you can add on a sub and satellites for the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) with Sub Mini + One SL Speakers, too. That said, the standalone bar still offers a really solid performance, and it's worth a look if you don't have much room for a full setup.
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 infusing wider areas with sound, 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. 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.
You won't find 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 won't need the extra sub and satellites if you have a more traditional living room.
Jun 01, 2023: Confirmed picks. Minor text updates for clarity.
May 12, 2023: Replaced the Samsung HW-Q990B with the next generation Samsung HW-Q990C.
Apr 28, 2023: Confirmed product picks. Minor text updates in anticipation of 2023 releases.
Mar 30, 2023: No changes in product picks after verifying that they're still available on the market.
Mar 03, 2023: We've verified that our picks are relevant and made minor updates to the text for clarity.
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.