• Instantly improve your home theater setup with the best soundbars

    Soundbars have come a long way in the last few years, offering great sound while taking up less space and costing far less. Our criteria for the best soundbars start with: bars that won’t bankrupt you, come with the best streaming devices or smart assistants built-in, and create powerful sound without relying on subwoofers or rear speakers. The Sonos Beam will astonish you with its huge sound in a small, reasonably-priced package, but we have plenty of other great options to consider below.

    Best Soundbar Overall: Sonos Beam Smart TV Sound Bar

    With the Sonos Beam, you get the best soundbar with some basic smarts. The Sonos Beam connects to your TV with HDMI-ARC or with the included HDMI-to-Optical adapter. A recent update has brought the ability for integration between Sonos products and Google Assistant. You can control your TV with your voice if your TV supports HDMI-CEC, which most modern sets do. Controlling your TV with your voice isn’t a replacement for a remote, but it’s an excellent option.

    Sonos’ ecosystem is attractive because of how easy it is to add more of its speakers to create a surround system. And as for connections, you’ll get a single HDMI port, a single Ethernet port, and the standard AC power input. You can start with the Sonos Beam and have a great soundbar. A few months later, you can pick up a couple of Sonos One speakers to add more channels. Or, you can buy a Sonos 5.1 kit with everything you need and create one of the best soundbar systems you can find.

    However, if you want to experience better "lows" in your movies and video games, you’ll want to pick up a subwoofer after-the-fact. This adds more of a punch to intense scenes and helps to immerse you in whatever you’re watching or playing. Until then, the Beam creates a wide soundstage with effective low-end sound all on its own, as we discovered during our Sonos Beam review.

    Pros:

    Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant built-in
    Integration with other Sonos speakers
    Lightweight
    Great sound

    Cons:

    No subwoofer included
    Optical cable needed if HDMI-ARC not available
    Voice commands won’t work with Optical cable

    Best Soundbar Overall
    Sonos Beam Smart TV Sound Bar

    $399 at Microsoft
    $399 at Amazon
    $400 at Best Buy

    All of the smarts

    With Alexa support and the ability to pair with other Sonos speakers, the Beam should be the go-to soundbar for almost everyone.

    Best Soundbar for Sonos Enthusiasts: Sonos Arc

    The best Sonos speakers used to be limited to portable Bluetooth speakers that paired to your phone; now, you can get them all over the house. Sonos has become a household name for TV audio after diving into the soundbar industry, with the Sonos Arc coming in as its flagship model. It offers the homeowner eight woofers, three tweeters, and a total of 11 amplifiers for incredible, immersive sound. This is paired with a far-field microphone to work alongside your voice assistant of choice.

    The Arc requires only two cables to plug in before being ready to experience this soundbar’s greatness, which is incredible if you don’t want a complicated setup. As for connections, the Playbar offers one Ethernet port, an HDMI ARC port (with included cable), and an Optical Audio port. Plus, as part of the Sonos family, you can connect the Arc to other Sonos speakers for a surround-sound experience.

    It’s a fantastic option, and we had almost nothing but praise for it in our Sonos Arc review — particularly whenever it plays Dolby Atmos content, which sounds particularly incredible from a soundbar without rear speakers. But the Arc isn’t without a couple of downfalls that may have you looking elsewhere. First is the size and weight: it measures more than 13 pounds and is 45 inches wide, so you’ll need to have plenty of space and heavy-duty wall anchors. The other pitfall is that there is no subwoofer included, so you may not get as much "punch" during your movies as you might want.

    Pros:

    Wall mountable
    Integrates with other Sonos speakers
    Only two cables to hook-up
    Works with Google Assistant, Alexa, and Apple Airplay 2
    Dolby Atmos-compatible

    Cons:

    May be too large for TVs under 49 inches
    Expensive
    Subwoofer not included

    Best Soundbar for Sonos Enthusiasts
    Sonos Arc

    $800 at Best Buy
    $799 at B&H
    $799 at Sonos

    Great sound with the smarts to boot

    Sonos knocked it out of the park with the Playbar, as this is compatible with Amazon Alexa and is perfect for most setups.

    Best All-in-one Soundbar: Roku Streambar

    A few different streaming box options are available now, including the Chromecast with Google TV, our favorite of all the best Android TV boxes. Whether you prefer Chromecasts, Fire Sticks, or Rokus, however, you’ll end up using two HDMI ports for your streaming box and soundbar — one too many if you have a lot of gaming consoles, cable boxes, or Blu-Ray players to connect as well.

    The Roku Streambar is the all-in-one soundbar solution you’ve been looking for. Connect it to an HDMI ARC-compatible port on your 4K TV, and you’ll be able to enjoy 4K HDR content and upgraded audio thanks to its four 1.9" full-range drivers, plus the streaming capabilities of a Roku Streaming Stick+. It’s compact enough to easily slide under any TV, with side-firing drivers to fill a room with decent sound. You can also invest in a subwoofer and wireless speakers to upgrade to true surround sound.

    The best competitor for this slot is another Roku device, the more expensive Roku Smart Soundbar. We compared the Roku Smart Soundbar vs. Streambar and ruled in favor of the Streambar. The Smart Soundbar’s four front-facing drivers are larger at 2.5", and the soundbar itself is over twice as long, but otherwise it doesn’t have any other advantages over its bargain-priced sibling. Plus, only the Roku Streambar has an optional ethernet adapter for more consistent streaming speeds.

    Pros:

    Built-in 4K HDR streaming
    HDMI ARC support
    Compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant
    Can be expanded with subwoofer and wireless speakers
    Dolby Audio

    Cons:

    No wireless subwoofer included
    Ethernet adapter sold separately

    Best All-in-one Soundbar
    Roku Streambar

    $109 at Amazon
    $110 at Best Buy
    $109 at Walmart

    The true all-in-one soundbar has arrived

    The Roku Streambar is here to provide the best all-in-one home theater system you never thought you needed.

    Best Soundbar for Fire TV: TCL Alto 8+

    If it hasn’t been obvious over the past few years, one of the best streaming devices has been the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K. But what if we told you that you could get one built right into your new soundbar? Well, that’s what you’ll get with the TCL Alto 8+. TCL is already known for some of the best soundbars, but the Alto 8+ brings a new focus on combining your streaming TV needs with a great audio experience for that 4K content.

    While the Alto 8+ may not look all that impressive, there are a few extra tricks that you’ll find with this soundbar. For one, there’s a built-in subwoofer, so you won’t have to worry about trying to route any extra cables, nor will you need to worry about paying extra for some improved bass. There are also three different sound modes in the software, providing optimized sound for movies, music, or the news.

    Not everything is great about the TCL Alto 8+, however, as this soundbar does not feature any support for Dolby Atmos. With more and more soundbars seeing this included, it’s a bit disappointing to see TCL miss the mark here. Another potential frustration is the inclusion of only a single HDMI port on the backside. This may not be a huge deal for some, but if you’re planning on using this with your PS5, you’ll end up a bit disappointed.

    Pros:

    Built-in Fire TV 4K
    Voice Remote with Alexa included
    Built-in subwoofer
    Various Sound Modes to choose from

    Cons:

    No Dolby Atmos support
    Only one HDMI port
    Does not feature Wi-Fi connectivity

    Best Soundbar for Fire TV
    TCL Alto 8+

    $183 at Amazon

    Built-in Fire TV

    The TCL Alto 8+ is an impressive soundbar with a built-in Fire TV and Alexa smarts with the Voice Remote.

    Best Soundbar for Bose Fans: Bose Smart Soundbar 300

    Bose has been in the sound game for a long time, but its home theater audio options used to be priced out of many potential owners’ budgets. Those times have changed, and the Bose Smart Soundbar 300 system couldn’t be better evidence of that. This 2" x 27" x 4" soundbar is priced and designed to compete directly with the Sonos Beam but has the premium Bose features we’re used to from its more expensive models.

    On its own merits, the Bose Smart Soundbar 300 has four full-range drivers and a central tweeter for compact, distortion-free sound. It also has a mic for built-in Alexa or Google Assistant, which you can use to control your TV or cable box, or answer phone calls. Plus, it has several connectivity options: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, and Bose SimpleSync to the best Bose headphones.

    For dedicated Bose fans, you can pair your 300 to other Bose Bluetooth speakers, or buy a Bose Bass Module or Surround Speakers to build a total home theater system. These can add up in price, but we appreciate that the Smart Soundbar 300 mostly stands on its own as an audio experience until you can afford to augment it with new audio tech.

    Pros:

    Can be paired with Bose wireless speakers and subwoofers
    Built-in support for Assistant and Alexa
    Bluetooth connectivity enables music streaming
    Affordable compared to previous Bose soundbars

    Cons:

    No subwoofer included
    Might be too small for some

    Best Soundbar for Bose Fans
    Bose Smart Soundbar 300

    $399 at Amazon
    $400 at Best Buy
    $399 at Walmart

    Perfect soundbar for most people

    The Bose Smart Soundbar 300 shows Bose’s attempt to take on Sonos with a compact soundbar priced below its usual luxury range.

    Best Soundbar for 3D Surround Sound: Yamaha YAS-209BL Soundbar

    In years past, Yamaha has released some of the best soundbar options that you could find. Now, the Yamaha YAS-209BL soundbar shows that the company has taken its experience and introduced another fantastic option. There is surround sound, and then there is a three-dimensional surround sound, and the Yamaha 209BL Soundbar is a vast improvement over its predecessor. With DTS Virtual:X, the 209BL will fill every inch of your room to entrench you in the action and make you feel like you are part of the movie.

    Yamaha also includes the ability to stream music over Bluetooth and use either the included remote or the accompanying smartphone app. Plus, there is a wireless subwoofer packaged in the bundle so you can get just the right amount of bass for your favorite movie, TV show, or music playlist.

    Unfortunately, while the 209BL is excellent in many facets, there are a few frustrating omissions. The first frustration is the number of inputs, as there’s a single HDMI for input, one for output, and a single Digital Optical output port. As for smart home assistants, you’ll be limited to Amazon Alexa, which is already built-in. However, Google Assistant and Apple AirPlay 2 users will not be able to take advantage of those benefits. Additionally, Yamaha has not included support for all music streaming services, including the likes of Apple Music, TIDAL, or YouTube Music.

    Pros:

    Wireless subwoofer included
    Virtual 3D surround sound
    Amazon Alexa built-in for voice control
    Use the included remote or application on your phone

    Cons:

    Does not support all music-streaming services
    No support for multi-room systems
    Limited input/output ports

    Best Soundbar for 3D Surround Sound
    Yamaha YAS-209BL Soundbar

    $350 at Dell
    $350 at Amazon
    $350 at Best Buy

    Almost perfect

    The Yamaha 209BL is a nearly perfect soundbar between the subwoofer and virtual 3D sounds, but there are still some compromises.

    Best Soundbar for Google Assistant: Polk Audio Signa S3

    Polk is another one of those companies that prides itself on providing great audio experiences throughout your home. The Signa S3 Sound Bar is no different and has a few tricks up its sleeves that other soundbars simply can’t compete with. Kicking everything off, the Command Bar sports a single ARC-compatible HDMI, along with a standard optical port for your television and an auxiliary cable.

    Smart home integration is on board, with Google Assistant built right-in, and you’ll have the added benefit of the built-in Chromecast (keep in mind this only lets you stream music over Wi-Fi, not stream video). The Signa S3 also includes a wireless subwoofer so that you can get that extra bass from your media without the need for any additional wires.

    While being able to control your TV and soundbar with a single remote is nifty, we would have liked to see a more robust remote from Polk. The included remote gives you just basic controls, without any shortcuts to Netflix or another streaming app. Those who want to have multiple devices connected directly to the Signa S3 will be disappointed as there’s just a single HDMI port on this soundbar.

    Pros:

    Built-in Chromecast
    Wireless subwoofer included
    Single remote to control your TV and soundbar
    Universal TV compatibility with HDMI ARC

    Cons:

    Pretty basic remote is included
    Only one HDMI port included

    Best Soundbar for Google Assistant
    Polk Audio Signa S3

    $212 at Amazon
    $250 at Walmart
    $212 at B&H Photo

    Sleek, smart, and powerful

    The Signa S3 includes Dolby Digital 5.1, is sleek, includes a subwoofer, and is excellent for those wanting Google Assistant.

    Best Soundbar for Truly Wireless Surround Sound: JBL Bar 5.1

    Google has done a phenomenal job getting Google Assistant into the hands of millions. What is even better is that more products are launching that integrate Assistant, so it’s even more useful.

    The JBL Bar 5.1 is the perfect example of this, as the company worked with Google to integrate not only Google Assistant, but also Google Cast support. Onboard, there are three HDMI ports, along with an HDMI Arc output option. JBL even included a privacy switch for the microphone if you don’t want your soundbar listening. However, one of the most significant advantages is the truly-wireless surround sound speakers that detach from the primary soundbar. You can then mount them in different areas around your room and charge them with the main soundbar.

    Despite being a favorite for the best soundbar, some sacrifices had to be made. For one, you can’t currently add this to your Google Home Groups. That likely won’t make or break your purchase, but it’s something to be wary of when you get this soundbar. Additionally, the Bar 5.1’s wireless speakers are equipped with Micro-USB charging and not USB-C, which is just disappointing at this point.

    Pros:

    Wireless surround speakers included
    10-inch wireless subwoofer
    Three HDMI inputs
    Instantly switch sound between devices

    Cons:

    Micro-USB charging for surround speakers
    Finding the proper configuration can be frustrating
    Plastic design

    Best Soundbar for Truly Wireless Surround Sound
    JBL Bar 5.1

    $500 at Amazon
    $500 at Best Buy
    $500 at Walmart

    Get Google Assistant built-in

    JBL’s Bar 5.1 is a fantastic option for those who want to get rid of the wires and still have a great surround sound experience.

    Best Soundbar for Samsung TVs: Samsung HW-Q800T Soundbar

    It can be frustrating when you have to continually switch your EQ levels to match the type of content being viewed. With Samsung’s HW-Q800T Soundbar, you can throw those worries out the window. The soundbar sports Adaptive Sound Mode, which automatically adjusts the EQ levels based on whatever you are watching.

    There is a catch: You’ll need to have the Q800T plugged into one of the best Samsung TVs on the market with the new QLED models. Even if you don’t have one of those TVs, the Q800T is intriguing with its passthrough 4K compatibility, along with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support. As for the connections, Samsung provides a single HDMI input, one HDMI output, an Optical input, and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity.

    Samsung really knocked it out of the park with the Q800T, but one possible frustration source comes from the included remote. Designed to control all of your Samsung home theater products, it’s not as reliable as previous iterations. However, you can use your smartphone with the Samsung SmartThings app to replace the old remote.

    Definitely keep in mind that wealthier shoppers have some better options available, including the excellent Samsung HW-Q900T annual follow-up that upgraded from a 3.1.2ch to a 7.1.2ch setup for enhanced sound, or the HW-Q950T 9.1.4ch soundbar with actual upfiring rear speakers for the ultimate Atmos experience. They’re some of the best soundbars available, but also cost about 1.5X and 2.5X that of the HW-Q800T, which already stretches above what some shoppers will want to pay. Rest assured that non-audiophiles will be perfectly happy with the HW-Q800T.

    Pros:

    Dolby Atmos/DTS:X Support
    Built-in Alexa
    Wireless subwoofer
    4K Passthrough built-in
    Bluetooth connectivity

    Cons:

    Some functions limited to Samsung TVs
    Included remote is not reliable

    Best Soundbar for Samsung TVs
    Samsung HW-Q800T Soundbar

    $680 at Dell
    $678 at Amazon
    $678 at B&H Photo

    Perfect if you want a Samsung TV setup

    With the Samsung Q800T Soundbar, you get an array of features such as Dolby Atmos, but you need to have the right Samsung TV.

    Best Gaming Soundbar: Panasonic SoundSlayer

    Any of our soundbar picks will play your console games without issue, but for a compact, powerful soundbar that’ll easily fit on your desk and blast out PC or Android gaming soundtracks, try the Panasonic SoundSlayer. It’s a 17", 2.1.1ch Dolby Atmos-compatible soundbar that’ll slot under your gaming monitor, and it was specifically designed with different gaming modes for RPGs, FPSs, or dialogue, as well as movie and music modes. Its upward-firing Atmos driver and compact size make it a great fit for a gaming den or office.

    In our Panasonic SoundSlayer review, we praised the device for its genuinely rich sound, especially when using the 3D surround sound mode. It won’t be as effective as gaming headsets for directional audio, but dialogue is crisp, the audio sounds excellent even at the highest volume, and it supports 4K HDR passthrough from your graphics card. You can also connect your phone to it for Bluetooth streaming or Android game audio.

    While it’s a nifty little device, keep in mind that it’s a bit expensive for a gaming soundbar, most likely due to the addition of Atmos. And while we were satisfied with the bass levels and prefer the small footprint of an all-in-one device, gamers that love their explosions won’t appreciate the lack of subwoofer or sub-out port. Consider the Razer Leviathan or Sound BlasterX Katana if you’d prefer more bass and a lower price.

    Pros:

    FPS / 3D mode greatly enhances performance
    Compact size fits great on desk
    4K HDR passthrough
    Affordable price for Dolby Atmos

    Cons:

    Expensive for a gaming soundbar
    No dedicated subwoofer

    Best Gaming Soundbar
    Panasonic SoundSlayer

    $300 at Amazon
    $300 at Best Buy
    $300 at B&H

    Ditch your gaming headphones

    With the SoundSlayer, you’ll get rich, decently loud audio, Dolby Atmos support, 4K passthrough, and Bluetooth support.

    Best Cheap Soundbar for Dolby Atmos: VIZIO 36" 5.1.2-Channel Soundbar (SB36512-F6)

    Most of the best Dolby Atmos soundbars will cost you well over a grand, while the cheaper Atmos-compatible soundbars are standalone devices that can only produce a pale imitation of 3D audio. This Vizio soundbar actually comes with the subwoofer and rear speakers necessary to bounce sound artfully around your living room, but without the premium price that usually demands.

    In our Vizio SB-36512-F6 review, we praised its Atmos performance for adding "completely new depth" to movie soundtracks, and filling a room with distinct objects that a standalone 3.0ch soundbar can’t hope to match. It had some issues with the remote control and Vizio SmartCast app, but no complaints with the sound performance itself.

    If you truly want the best Atmos experience, the Samsung HW-Q90R or LG SN11RG will absolutely outperform the Vizio SB36512-F6; they’ll just add an extra thousand dollars to your bill. Considering Atmos content is still relatively niche, we’re hesitant to recommend dropping that kind of cash unless you really can afford it. Vizio’s soundbar will still outperform many of the other best soundbars on this list in producing a wide, rich soundstage.

    Pros:

    Easy to set up
    Subwoofer and rear speakers for cheap
    Dolby Atmos-compatible
    Google Assistant, Bluetooth, and Chromecast support

    Cons:

    Only one HDMI input
    No DTS:X, Alexa, or AirPlay support
    Unimpressive remote control

    Best Cheap Soundbar for Dolby Atmos
    VIZIO 36" 5.1.2-Channel Soundbar (SB36512-F6)

    $300 at Best Buy

    Blow up your soundstage, not your price

    Vizio’s Atmos-compatible soundbar will make regular surround sound feel boring and static by comparison.

    Best Soundbar on a Budget: TCL Alto 3

    Some folks either don’t want to or don’t need to dive into the deep end when it comes to finding the best cheap soundbars. If you have a smaller TV and just want a better audio experience, the TCL Alto 3 is here to fit the bill. The Alto 3 measures in at just 23.6-inches, making it the perfect option for those with limited space.

    There are several different sound modes to pair with the content that you’re enjoying, along with five hardware buttons on the soundbar to make adjustments. While you won’t find a built-in subwoofer or add-on satellite speakers, the Alto 3 does support Dolby Digital processing. The Alto 3 can also double as your Bluetooth speaker if you want to take advantage of the versatility of this soundbar.

    For most, installing a soundbar is as simple as plugging it into the wall, setting it on your TV stand, and plugging in the HDMI cable. However, that last step may be a bit difficult for Alto 3 owners, as there is no HDMI port built-in. Instead, you’ll need to rely on the Optical port for your television’s audio needs. Another downside for the Alto 3 is that you are unable to mount this on a wall, short of installing some type of shelf. There is no hardware included, nor are there any holes in the back of the soundbar to mount this on the wall by itself.

    Pros:

    Compact design
    Features Optical, 3.5mm jack, Bluetooth
    Various Sound Modes to choose from

    Cons:

    No HDMI port
    Cannot be wall-mounted
    No Dolby Atmos support

    Best Soundbar on a Budget
    TCL Alto 3

    $49 at Amazon
    $50 at Best Buy
    $49 at Walmart

    Getting started with soundbars

    With the TCL Alto 6, you’re getting a barebones soundbar experience, which should be fine for beginners.

    The best soundbars come in small packages
    Soundbars come in all shapes and sizes. Larger soundbars have more room for bigger drivers and built-in subwoofers, but can get expensive for what they offer. Smaller soundbars may not have the same punch, but they often do a better job of side-firing audio to spread rich sound across an entire room. You can’t go wrong either way, but the petite-yet-powerful Sonos Beam is our pick for the best soundbar. It gives you superb audio quality for an immersive surround sound experience, with the option to augment it with other Sonos speakers for even better sound down the line.

    There are some downsides. The bass isn’t particularly strong unless you invest in the separate Sonos Sub. It only supports voice commands if connected via HDMI-ARC, not via optical cable. And it doesn’t play Dolby Atmos soundtracks. If that’s not a deal-breaker, it’s still the best affordable soundbar you can find today.

    Credits — The team that worked on this guide

    Andrew Myrick is a regular freelancer at Android Central and iMore. He has been a tech enthusiast ever since the original iPhone was released and continues to flip-flop between devices. You might as well hook him up to an IV filled with coffee to get him through the day. If you have any questions, you can find him on Twitter, and he’ll get back to you.

    Michael Hicks is Senior Editor and resident jack-of-all-trades at Android Central, covering everything from soundbars to virtual reality to home security systems. He personally relies on a Vizio soundbar for his TV and the Panasonic gaming soundbar for his PC.

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