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.
The best soundbar we've tested is the Samsung HW-Q990B. Thanks to its versatile performance, this standout 11.1.4 setup is a solid pick for listening to everything from music to movies to TV shows. It's the upgraded version of last year's Samsung HW-Q950A, with better bass reproduction and more features to adjust its sound. With a subwoofer to bring out the rumble in action-packed scenes and two angled rear satellites to expand the soundstage, you're immersed in audio from all angles, as if your sofa was dropped right into the middle of the action. Support for audio formats like Dolby Atmos and Dolby Digital makes the bar a solid pick for watching content from streaming platforms as well as more traditional Blu-rays.
This setup stands out from the crowd thanks to its wide array of sound customization tools. You have standard bass and treble adjustments, as well as a 7-band EQ to switch up its sound across the range. 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.
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-Q990B in a lot of regards. Its sub isn't quite as stylish-looking as the top-of-the-line model, but it still brings plenty of rumble in the bass, and its two satellites spread sound effects throughout your room. Dolby Atmos content sounds great on the bar, with a clear and detailed reproduction of sound effects that rivals the Q990B. You feel like you're right in the middle of your favorite movies right from the comfort of your couch.
This setup doesn't come with as many features. 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 as well as bass and treble adjustments to make up for any differences in the audio output based on your room's unique acoustics. Whether you want a customizable pick or a plug-and-play setup, it's a solid choice.
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.
This soundbar is also a great choice for music and TV shows. 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.
The Vizio M Series M512a-H6 is a more affordable alternative that's great for everything from music to movies to TV shows. It supports many different audio formats, so you can watch multi-channel and object-based content like Dolby Digital and Dolby Atmos, both of which are available on most streaming platforms. With its two discrete satellites, you get a wide and immersive-sounding soundstage, so sound stretches all around your living room, and effects are accurately placed in the space around you. Its dedicated subwoofer brings plenty of rumble in the bass to bring action-packed scenes to life.
The soundbar offers a similar selection of sound enhancement features compared to the Vizio Elevate. You can adjust its bass and treble, and there are a few EQ preset modes to help you adjust its sound to accommodate the lack of a room correction feature. Unlike the Elevate, you don't have any control over its sides, and there aren't any up-firing speakers on its satellites. As a result, it's a touch less immersive—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. It still does well for the price, though, especially compared to other models.
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 that offers a great price-to-performance ratio. Like the M Series, it comes with a dedicated subwoofer as well as 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 along with 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, unlike the M Series, the V Series doesn't support height content like Dolby Atmos. It's disappointing, especially if you watch a lot of content from streaming platforms, where you're likely to find Atmos movies and TV shows alike. That said, if you don't watch a lot of Atmos content, you may find that 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.
If you have a smaller living room, or if you live in a compact apartment, consider a soundbar like the Sonos Beam (Gen 2). Like the original Sonos Beam, it's less than 26 inches in width, so it'll fit easily beneath your TV stand or computer monitor without crowding up your space. The second-generation model adds support for Dolby Atmos content, so you can enjoy object-based content that's more and more commonly found on streaming platforms and Blu-ray discs. The Sonos Beam (Gen 2) with Sub Mini + One SL Speakers lets you add on a sub and satellites.
This premium 5.0 soundbar uses psychoacoustic principles to help widen the soundstage past the edges of the bar itself, so sound stretches around you like with the larger options on our list. It comes with many of the same sound enhancement features as the bigger Sonos Arc, including the room correction feature called TruePlay to adjust audio based on your room's unique acoustics. That said, it doesn't get as loud as the Arc, and you notice less detail in object-based Atmos content—the larger Arc can reproduce more height, which adds to the overall cinematic feel. Still, if you're low on space, the Beam is a versatile pick.
For those with larger, more open living spaces, it's important to find a soundbar that can fill your room with sound. 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 comes with a whopping two subwoofers to even out the bass reproduction, as well as four satellite speakers, which you can position either 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 comes with some additional features, including eARC support, meaning you can stream more premium formats like DTS:X.
Unlike the Samsung HW-Q990B, you won't find a traditional room correction feature with this soundbar 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. Overall, this well-built setup is quite 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. In the end, it's a solid pick for those with more unique living spaces, but if you have a more traditional living room, you won't need the extra sub and satellites.
Jan 05, 2023: No changes in product picks after verifying their accuracy and availability.
Dec 09, 2022: No changes in product picks after verifying their accuracy and availability.
Nov 11, 2022: No changes in product picks after verifying their accuracy and availability.
Oct 14, 2022: Replaced the Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2Ch with the upgraded Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2 eARC.
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.
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.