Soundbars offer a few advantages over more traditional home theatre 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 just want something you can plug your MP3 player into, there's a model out there that'll do what you need. Not all soundbars are created equal, though, and some provide a better listening experience than others. If you watch a lot of TV or listen to music often 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 27 soundbars so far, and below you'll find the best soundbars to buy in 2019. See our recommendations for the best budget soundbars, the best Dolby Atmos soundbars, and the best soundbars 5.1.
The best soundbar we've tested so far is the Samsung HW-Q90R. It comes with a wireless subwoofer and two dedicated satellite speakers to help immerse you in your favorite surround sound movies or video games. It has lots of connectivity options, including 2 full HDMI-in and 1 HDMI ARC port, so you can set it up as a hub between your smart TV, gaming console, and cable box. It feels very well-built, too, so you shouldn't have to worry too much about it getting damaged if you have pets or young children at home.
This soundbar has one of the best-balanced sound profiles we've seen to date, which makes it great for not only movies and TV shows but listening to music as well. It packs lots of thump and rumble without compromising dialog or vocals, so it's well-suited to everything from podcasts to action movies. It supports most surround sound formats and is one of the best Dolby Atmos soundbars we've tested thanks to the side and up-firing speakers on its bar and satellites.
This soundbar is one of the better-performing ones when it comes to Atmos content like movies, but it still won't sound as natural and wide as a home theatre setup with tower speakers and down-firing speakers attached to the ceiling. Also, it lacks a 3.5mm audio jack for you to connect to a phone, older TV, or even a turntable, which is disappointing. Nevertheless, this high-end setup is very versatile and performs well regardless of the type of content you want to listen to, so if it isn't over your budget, go for it.
If you're looking for a great complete setup but would like something more affordable, then get the Vizio SB36512-F6. It's not as sleek-looking and well-built as the Samsung HW-Q90R, but it provides great performance for the price. It comes with a wireless subwoofer that offers great bass performance with deep thump and rumble, which is great for movies, games, and bass-heavy music. The surround speakers need to be wired to the sub, though. Unfortunately, its soundstage doesn't sound wider than the bar itself, but it does offer built-in Chromecast, which can be useful for some people. It also won't be as loud as the Samsung, but it'll get loud enough for most uses, without compression or distortion, though you might hear sub-bass port noise when pushing the bar to its limits, which shouldn't happen too often.
Go with the Samsung if you want the best performing setup and your budget allows it, but if you want a better performance to price ratio and care for Chromecast built-in, grab the Vizio instead.
The best 5.1 soundbar setup we've tested so far is the Samsung HW-Q80R. It's very similar to the Samsung HW-Q90R, except it doesn't come with satellite speakers. It shares the same great design, with a sturdy build and lots of connectivity options, at a lower price. It also supports Dolby Atmos and has side and up-firing speakers on the soundbar, but no rear speakers.
This soundbar shares the same, balanced sound profile of the other Samsung, which is great. It can get very loud without compressing or distorting and even has a built-in EQ so you can tweak the way it sounds to better match your preferences. Fans of bass will love the deep thump and rumble its wireless subwoofer can deliver without overwhelming the clarity and presence of dialog in your favorite TV shows.
While its side-firing speakers help create a fairly wide soundstage, the lack of discreet rear speakers results in a slightly less immersive experience than what the other Samsung provides. That said, it takes up less space in your living room and is a bit less expensive as well. Overall, if you're looking for a great 5.1 soundbar setup with a subwoofer, this is a solid choice.
If you don't have room for a separate subwoofer and would have rather have all channels built directly into one standalone bar, then get the Sennheiser AMBEO soundbar. Its integrated subwoofer struggles with bass compared to the discreet wireless sub of the Samsung HW-Q80R, but it has a unique 3D mode that helps it sound surprisingly immersive. It supports virtually every audio format available and is one of the best standalone soundbars for Dolby Atmos content that we've tested. While you won't have to worry about where to place a subwoofer with this soundbar, it's very big so you'll need to plan out where to set it up ahead of time, especially since it's very expensive.
Get the Samsung if you want better bass, but if you prefer a brighter sound and would rather have a standalone bar, the Sennheiser is a decent option.
The best small soundbar we've tested so far is the Sonos Beam. It's more versatile than most of the other small soundbars we've tested since you can purchase a separate wireless subwoofer or satellite speakers, which is nice if you ever want to expand your setup. It has tons of sound enhancement features, including room correction, and feels like a premium product overall.
Sonos has a great room correction feature that makes adjustments to your soundbar audio delivery depending on your room. Unfortunately, it's only available on iOS for now. While the soundbar by itself might lack a bit of bass, it has a great overall audio quality and shines thanks to a well-balanced sound profile, which is great for various voice-oriented content like TV shows. It's also quite easy to improve its performance if you upgrade your setup.
Unfortunately, the Beam can be a bit of a hassle to set up. You need to download the Sonos app on your phone for it to work, but it doesn't support Bluetooth, so you have to either connect it to your home's WiFi network or plug in a wired Internet connection. It also only has an HDMI ARC port, so if your TV only supports optical audio you'll need to use the provided adapter. If the limited connectivity options aren't a problem for you, though, it's a well-rounded, upgradeable choice.
If you're looking for a small soundbar with a more straightforward plug-and-play design, then get the Bose Solo 5. It doesn't really have any modern inputs like HDMI ports and lacks any type of features to enhance your listening experience like the Sonos Beam has. On the upside, it supports Bluetooth and has an AUX port, so setting up your device with this soundbar is noticeably easier. However, its performance is quite disappointing as it even lacks more bass than the Sonos, and you don't have access to an EQ or a room correction feature to help with its sound quality. Nevertheless, it still has decent performance in its mid and treble ranges, making it a decent option for vocal-oriented content such as podcasts, audiobooks, or TV shows with lots of dialog.
Get the Sonos if you want a small soundbar that you can eventually upgrade into a bigger setup, but if you want something less expensive with a simpler design, you'll want to go for the Bose.
The best budget soundbar we've reviewed so far is the Yamaha YAS-207. It has a pretty good audio reproduction for a budget soundbar, has a few settings to help improve its overall performance, and has plenty of connection options, whether you want to plug the soundbar to your TV or stream content wirelessly via a smart device. Overall, it provides surprising performance for its price, providing great value to users.
This soundbar has a very well-balanced frequency response that's well-suited to not only TV shows, but music too. Its bass doesn't get quite as deep as some of the more premium soundbars we've tested, but it still packs a solid punch. Like most soundbars in this price range, it doesn't support Atmos, but you can enjoy Dolby Digital or DTS content over an HDMI or optical connection.
While this soundbar can get pretty loud, it tends to compress and distort at higher volumes, especially in the bass range. This shouldn't be a problem for most people, though, unless you're watching a movie at full blast. The soundbar doesn't feel too cheaply made, but it's covered in a mesh-like fabric that collects a lot of dust and is prone to tearing, so if you have pets you might need to keep an eye on it. Otherwise, it's a steal for the price and is very easy to recommend overall.
If you're looking for something even cheaper, then get the Sony HT-S100F. It sounds less balanced than the Yamaha YAS-207, but costs even less and is a solid choice if you're looking for something to enhance your TV's sound without spending lots of money. Since it doesn't come with a subwoofer, it lacks quite a bit of bass. It sounds fairly neutral in the mid and treble ranges, though, so it's well-suited to TV shows, especially since it has a dialog enhancing feature. Its connectivity options are pretty limited and it only supports Dolby Digital, but if all you need is HDMI ARC or optical and you don't watch lots of surround sound content, then you shouldn't have a problem.
Get the Yamaha if you want a more versatile soundbar with a dedicated subwoofer and more connection options, but if you're looking to spend as little as possible while still getting something decent, then go for the Sony.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best soundbars for TV 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.
10/31/2019: Changed the Yamaha YAS-408 for the Vizio SB36512-F6 as 'More Affordable Alternative' to the Samsung HW-Q90R.