The 8 Best Soundbars - Fall 2021 Reviews

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Best Soundbars
120 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 110 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. It has a unique 11.1.4 setup with discrete surround speakers that help to create an immersive listening experience. It supports Dolby Atmos content, and it even has Amazon Alexa built into the bar.

    This soundbar comes with lots of sound enhancement features to help you customize your listening experience, including an Auto EQ feature that automatically adjusts audio reproduction based on the room you're listening in. With this feature turned on, it has a very neutral, balanced sound profile suitable for listening to many different types of audio content. You can even stream audio from your mobile devices to the bar wirelessly, making it the best Bluetooth soundbar we've tested.

    Unfortunately, this soundbar doesn't reproduce as much low-bass out-of-the-box compared to its predecessor, the Samsung HW-Q950T. As a result, you may not feel as much thump and rumble with bass-heavy music and action-packed movies. That said, thanks to its graphic EQ and bass and treble adjustments, you still have a lot of control over its sound, and it's among the best soundbars for TV we've tested.

    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 offer as many sound customization features as the Samsung HW-Q950A, this unique 9.2.4 setup offers two dedicated subwoofers that can help improve bass consistency across different locations. It even comes with four discrete surround speakers, and it offers an impressive surrounds performance overall. It gets pretty loud, and its default sound profile is neutral, though slightly dark. Fortunately, there are some EQ presets available so you can customize its sound.

    If you want an 11.1.4 setup with more sound enhancement features and built-in voice assistant support, check out the Samsung. However, if you prefer a 9.2.4 setup with two subs and four satellites, 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 setup offers an impressive surrounds performance thanks to its two discrete surround speakers that make it seem like audio is coming from all around you. It also supports Dolby Atmos content, and there's even voice assistant support built into the bar.

    This setup comes with a room correction feature that automatically optimizes audio reproduction based on the room you're in. With this feature turned on, it has a treble-heavy sound profile that makes vocals and lead instruments bright and sparkling. If you prefer a more neutral sound, you can use its bass and treble adjustments to customize it.

    Unfortunately, this setup lacks a Full HDMI In port, so you can't use it as a hub between different devices, and it doesn't support high-quality passthrough. Also, it doesn't have a graphic EQ or presets, which may disappoint users who prefer to customize the sound using these features. However, you can still play around with the bass and treble to adjust its sound.

    See our review

  4. More Customizable Alternative: Vizio Elevate

    Channels
    5.1.4

    If you want a 5.1 soundbar with more sound enhancement features, consider the Vizio Elevate. While it isn't as well-built as the Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers, this soundbar comes with some EQ presets in addition to its bass and treble adjustments. This soundbar has a unique design with sides that automatically rotate upwards when you're watching Atmos or DTS:X content, which helps create a more immersive soundstage. Its default sound profile is a bit bass-heavy, so you feel the thump and punch in bass-heavy music and action-packed movies. Unfortunately, it lacks room correction, so it may sound different depending on the room you're listening in.

    If you want a 5.1 setup that's better-built and has a more neutral sound profile, check out the Sonos. However, if you prefer a bass-heavy default sound with 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 M512a-H6

    8.2
    Mixed Usage
    8.4
    Dialogue/TV Shows
    8.1
    Music
    8.1
    Movies
    Channels
    5.1.2

    The best soundbar under $500 that we've tested is the Vizio M Series M512a-H6. This 5.1.2 setup offers a neutral, balanced sound profile out-of-the-box, making it suitable for listening to many different types of audio content. Its dedicated sub helps reproduce a thumpy low-bass, meaning you can feel the rumble in bass-heavy music and action-packed movies.

    This setup also comes with two discrete satellite speakers that offer a good surrounds performance. It supports Dolby Atmos content, too, using two up-firing channels built into the bar to bounce sound off the ceiling and back down towards you to create the illusion of height. You can even customize its sound using its EQ presets as well as its bass and treble adjustments.

    Unfortunately, this soundbar lacks some more premium sound enhancement features like room correction, so it may sound different depending on the room you're in. Also, it doesn't support voice assistants, which can be disappointing for some users. That said, it's still a versatile pick at a more budget-friendly price.

    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. Though it was recently replaced by the Vizio V Series V51x-J6, this 5.1 setup offers better overall performance and reproduces a more extended low-bass. Thanks to its neutral and balanced sound profile, it's suitable for listening to lots of different types of audio content.

    This setup comes with two discrete surround speakers that help to clearly and accurately localize surround objects like voices and footsteps in the sound image. There are sound enhancement features available, too, including EQ presets like 'Movie', 'Music', 'Direct', and 'Game'. You can also use its dialogue enhancement feature to make voices more crisp and clear.

    Unfortunately, this soundbar doesn't support Dolby Atmos content, which can disappoint some movie fans. It also lacks a Full HDMI In port, so you can't use it as a hub between different devices. It doesn't support high-quality passthrough, either. That said, if you're looking for a versatile setup that won't break the bank, it's a solid choice.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Bose Smart 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 have 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 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. Oct 08, 2021: Replaced the Vizio M Series M51a-H6 with the Vizio M Series M512a-H6. Minor updates to the text for accuracy.

  2. Sep 10, 2021: No changes in product picks after verifying their accuracy and availability. Minor updates to the text for clarity.

  3. Aug 13, 2021: No changes in product picks; minor updates to the text for accuracy.

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

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