Shopping
Advertiser Disclosure

Best Soundbars for Upgrading Your Home Entertainment System

Soundbar speaker
ronstik / iStock

Our evaluations and opinions are not influenced by our advertising relationships, but we may earn a commission from our partners’ links. This content is created independently from TIME’s editorial staff. Learn more about it.

Updated April 9, 2024

If your TV sounds noticeably weak, the dialogue of your shows feels hushed, and you have to pounce on the remote to mute obnoxiously loud commercials, it’s far past time to upgrade your display with a brand new soundbar. Not only will a quality soundbar enhance the sound profile of your movies, shows, and video games, the best models sport convenient features such as automatic AI audio balancing, voice controls for selecting the music you want to play the instant it pops into your head, and a concert-like surround sound listening experience with the aid of superior sound technologies such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. With so many brands, models, and types of soundbars available today, there is certainly one to match the size of your TV room, listening needs, and budget. After many hours of researching and listening, I’ve put together a list of the best soundbars of the year.

How to choose the best soundbars

Size

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind when shopping for a soundbar is to look for a model that fits your TV and viewing area. Your soundbar needs to fit in the space underneath the TV or be mounted securely above it, and your display should be wider than the soundbar.

Sound quality

Unlike shopping for wireless earbuds, sound quality matters more than ever when choosing a soundbar. While audio-enhancing features such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support are signs of an impressive-sounding soundbar, note that models with a high number of channels tend to produce a fuller and more immersive listening experience. When referring to soundbars, a “channel” notes how many directions the speakers are oriented in.For example, a soundbar with a 5.1 channel will beam audio in five directions, and includes a subwoofer for enhancing low-frequency sounds. Soundbars designed with more channels feature a richer surround sound effect and an all-around superior audio performance.

Features

If you’re having a difficult time choosing between two or more soundbars, try comparing their respective feature lists to see which incorporates more useful qualities. Some particularly handy options to look out for include smart assistant-based voice controls such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, smart home integration with platforms like Apple AirPlay 2 and Chromecast, multiple audio modes that help movies, music, and video games sound even better, an integrated LED display, and a physical remote control.

Connectivity

Although soundbars are almost universally compatible with all modern TVs, it’s worth double-checking to ensure that the soundbar you’re considering will connect to your game consoles, Blu-ray player, streaming platforms, and mobile devicesIf your favorite devices rely on a specific connection type such as HDMI, optical, or 3.5mm audio inputs, take the time to see if your top soundbar picks include all of the matching connections you need. Note that many soundbars also feature connectivity via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. This makes it extremely easy to wirelessly play music from your PC, smartphone, tablet, and other devices.

Price

Since soundbars range from as low as $150 to well over $3,000, with the average costing between $200 and $600, there is absolutely a soundbar for everyone’s budget. A number of factors will influence the price of a soundbar, including size, brand, range of features, and overall quality.

Our top picks for the best soundbars

Best premium soundbar: Sony HT-A7000 7.1.2ch Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Only serious audiophiles will spend $1,400 on a soundbar, but those who do will be blown away by the Sony HT-A7000’s lifelike 3D sound mapping, which provides a truly cinematic listening experience from every direction. This advanced soundbar blast sounds from above, a wider side angle than the average soundbar, and sports an integrated subwoofer for rich low tones, as well as support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. The HT-A7000 is optimized for gorgeous 4K and 8K gaming (PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X owners will benefit the most from this model,) crystal clear Hi-Res Audio for pitch-perfect music, and is easily expanded upon with additional Sony speakers for an enhanced sound system. If money is no object, this feature-packed and beautiful-sounding soundbar is worth every penny.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 51.25 inches x 3.25 inches x 5.62 inches
  • Speaker configuration: 7.1.2
  • Connections: 2 HDMI 2.1 ports, digital optical port, USB, 3.5mm audio port, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Apple AirPlay, Chromecast, Spotify Connect
  • Price on publish: $999.99

What we like:

  • Loaded with connectivity features and ports
  • Rich, balanced, and immersive surround sound
  • Extremely simple setup

What we don’t like:

  • Expensive

The bottom line:

Pricey for a soundbar, but its stunningly immersive, room-filling spatial audio is a must-have for dedicated movie and game lovers who don’t want to fill their space with extra speakers.

Best premium soundbar
Sony HT-A7000 7.1.2ch Dolby Atmos® Soundbar

Sony HT-A7000 7.1.2ch Dolby Atmos® Soundbar

Best budget soundbar: Roku Streambar Pro

At just under $180, budget-conscious shoppers will appreciate the capable surround sound, smart home compatibility, and convenience of Roku’s streaming device and soundbar combo,the Streambar Pro. The Streambar Pro supports the 4K HDR visuals and gigantic collection of streaming channels you’d expect from a Roku device, and it pairs well with the soundbar’s solid bass, automatic sound adjustments for dampening excessively loud noises and magnifying whispers, and versatile remote control. I also really appreciated its 3.5mm port, allowing me to enjoy the TV with my favorite headphones (you can read more about the best headphones here). If you have an older TV or need to upgrade from an outdated streaming device, the Roku Streambar Pro is easy to recommend.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 2.8 inches x 32.2 inches x 3.9 inches
  • Speaker configuration: Four speakers (stereo)
  • Connections: HDMI, USB, Optical, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Apple AirPlay, Alexa, Google Home
  • Price on publish: $179.99

What we like:

  • Crisp, above-average surround sound
  • Simple to set up
  • Especially affordable

What we don’t like:

  • While it supports Dolby Audio, it’s not the superior sound Dolby Atmos provides

The bottom line:

While it’s not the most impressive soundbar out there, the Roku Streambar Pro’s great audio, attractive 4K HDR streaming, and array of connectivity features is worth the inexpensive upgrade.

Best budget soundbar
Roku® Streambar® Pro

Roku® Streambar® Pro

Best soundbar under $500: Sonos Beam (Gen 2)

Not only is the Sonos Beam proof that you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg for a high-quality soundbar, its Dolby Atmos spatial audio is far more impressive than you’d expect at this price point. Perfectly sized for mid to small TVs and viewing areas, this compact soundbar is simple to set up, sports a handy range of connectivity options, and automatically balances its audio to best suit the acoustics of your space. The Sonos Beam packs a powerful, yet balanced sound system and a variety of genuinely useful control options within its tiny frame, making it the best sub-$500 soundbar out there.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 2.68 inches x 3.94 inches x 25.63 inches
  • Speaker configuration: Four drivers and one tweeter
  • Connections: HDMI eARC, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Apple AirPlay 2, Alexa, Google Assistant
  • Price on publish: $499

What we like:

  • Immersive Dolby Atmos surround sound
  • Small footprint and compact design
  • Reliably crisp and balanced audio

What we don’t like:

  • Companion subwoofer sold separately

The bottom line:

You’d be hard-pressed to find another soundbar that sounds this nice, is this simple to install, and works with all of your favorite devices, for under $500.

Best soundbar under $500
Sonos Beam (Gen 2)

Best soundbar for small rooms: JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam

The JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam proves once and for all that you don’t have to sacrifice sound quality or features for a smaller soundbar. This fairly priced soundbar excels at beaming immersive 3D Dolby Atmos surround sound evenly throughout small to medium-sized rooms without the need of additional speakers or a subwoofer, making this a great choice for anyone short on space. Other standout aspects of the 5.0 MultiBeam include a variety of connectivity options, voice control, and multi-room support for pumping music wherever you need it.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 27.9 inches x 2.3 inches x 3.9 inches
  • Speaker configuration: 5.0
  • Connections: HDMI, HDMI eARC, Optical, USB, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ethernet, Apple AirPlay, Alexa, Google Home
  • Price on publish: $399.95

What we like:

  • Big Dolby Atmos sound for a small soundbar
  • Simple setup and an array of connectivity options
  • Perfect for small to medium-sized spaces

What we don’t like:

  • You’ll have to experiment with its five bass levels to find what sounds best for you

The bottom line:

With its surprisingly powerful Dolby Atmos-powered 3D surround sound, JBL’s Bar 5.0 Multibeam sports the best design for covering smaller viewing spaces.

Best soundbar for small rooms
JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam - Sound bar - 5.0-channel - wireless - Fast Ethernet Wi-Fi Bluetooth - 250 Watt - black

JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam - Sound bar - 5.0-channel - wireless - Fast Ethernet Wi-Fi Bluetooth - 250 Watt - black

Best soundbar for large rooms: Samsung S-series 3.1.2 ch. Wireless Dolby Atmos Soundbar S801B

There’s nothing like the disappointment of setting up a new soundbar that doesn’t quite cover the entire room, but despite the slim profile of Samsung’s wireless S-series S801B, it’s your best pick for blanketing large spaces with balanced panoramic audio. Not only will this soundbar effortlessly flood wide and tall rooms with rich and immersive Dolby Atmos surround sound, its handy voice controls, convenient “tap-to-play” feature for automatically syncing with Android devices, and stylish optional bezel options give this wide soundbar even more value.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 45.7 inches x 1.5 inches x 1.6 inches; 9.4 inches x 9.5 inches x 9.4 inches (subwoofer)
  • Speaker configuration: 3.1.2
  • Connections: HDMI, HDMI ARC, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Spotify Connect, Apple AirPlay, Alexa
  • Price on publish: $749.99

What we like:

  • Automatically measures your room for the best possible sound profile
  • Dynamic concert-like 3D Dolby Atmos sound
  • Surprisingly slim and unobtrusive wireless design

What we don’t like:

  • Any complaints would be nit-picking

The bottom line:

Perfect for extra-large, tall, and wide viewing spaces, the Samsung S-series S801B is without a doubt the best soundbar for enveloping any room with stunning Dolby Atmos surround sound.

Best soundbar for large rooms
HW-S801B/ZA

Best Samsung soundbar: Q-series 9.1.2 ch. Wireless Dolby ATMOS Soundbar Q910C

Samsung has always been a top pick for anyone searching for a high-end soundbar, and their Q910C’s layered and immersive Dolby Atmos surround sound system is especially impressive due to its wireless design. Besides the ability to connect your devices without needing HDMI cables, it’s excellent to see this model include a pair of rear speakers and a quality subwoofer without poking buyers to invest more for “the full experience.” Its other high points include a premium 3D surround sound mode for enhanced gaming, multiple voice assistant options, and an array of optimized modes to hear movies, music, and other entertainment at its best.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 43.7 inches x 2.4 inches x 4.7 inches
  • Speaker configuration: 9.1.2
  • Connections: HDMI, HDMI eARC, Optical, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Alexa, Apple AirPlay
  • Price on publish: $989

What we like:

  • Convenient wireless design
  • Premium Dolby Atmos surround sound
  • Includes subwoofer, dual rear speakers, and remote

What we don’t like:

  • The soundbar is wireless, but its rear speakers aren’t

The bottom line:

Samsung knocked it out of the park with the Q-Series Q910C’s bold wireless design, collection of handy features, and powerful, room-filling audio.

Best Samsung soundbar
Q-series 9.1.2 ch. Wireless Dolby ATMOS Soundbar Q910C

Q-series 9.1.2 ch. Wireless Dolby ATMOS Soundbar Q910C

Best Dolby Atmos soundbar: VIZIO Elevate 5.1.4 Home Theater Sound Bar

Soundbars that utilize Dolby Atmos deliver clearer, richer, and more realistic audio experience, and the VIZIO Elevate’s truly immersive multi-directional surround sound system takes full advantage of this technology. Dolby Atmos and the Elevate’s innovative rotating speakers beam lifelike sound from above, below, and every direction in between, and it’s absolutely wild to be hit with waves of pristine sound as the speaker rolls up and down. I also give this soundbar high marks for its 18 speakers, booming bass, and how it gives your favorite music and movies a fresh layer of audio depth that must be heard to be believed.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 48 inches x 2.64 inches x 6.5 inches
  • Speaker configuration: 5.1.4
  • Connections: 2 HDMI, HDMI eARC, Optical, USB, Chromecast, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
  • Price on publish: $699

What we like:

  • Brilliant rotating design makes full use of Dolby Atmos
  • Powerful, yet balanced sound
  • Beautiful spatial sound

What we don’t like:

  • Not compatible with Apple AirPlay 2

The bottom line:

If you love the idea of thunderous, yet balanced Dolby Atmos special audio washing over you as you enjoy movies, music, and gaming, but hate the idea of setting up multiple speakers, this soundbar was made for you.

Best Dolby Atmos soundbar
VIZIO M-Series 2.1 Sound Bar with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, Wireless Subwoofer, M215a-J6 (HDMI)-Black

VIZIO M-Series 2.1 Sound Bar with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, Wireless Subwoofer, M215a-J6 (HDMI)-Black

Best smart soundbar: Polk MagniFi Max AX

If you’re in the market for a soundbar that will effortlessly sync with your current smart home setup, the Polk MagniFi Max AX and its range of connectivity options is your best bet. This versatile soundbar works perfectly with Amazon Alexa, Google Chromecast, and Apple AirPlay for intuitive voice controls, switching inputs, and convenient multi-room audio. The MagniFi Max AX also supports Spotify, Roku TV, and has a Bluetooth connection for streaming from your favorite mobile device, but it’s this soundbar’s immersive Dolby Atmos surround sound, deep booming bass, and collection of ports that makes it an all-around excellent option.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 4.6 inches x 45 inches x 2.8 inches
  • Speaker configuration: 5.1.2
  • Connections: 3 HDMI 4K, HDMI eARC 4K, Toslink Optical, USB, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay 2, Chromecast, Spotify Connect, Alexa
  • Price on publish: $799

What we like:

  • Optimized for most smart home systems
  • Impressive Dolby Atmos sound
  • Excellent value

What we don’t like:

  • The subwoofer is bulky, but an invaluable addition

The bottom line:

Considering how user-friendly and simple it is to incorporate into the average smart home, and its dazzling sound for streaming and gaming, the Polk MagniFi Max AX is a steal at this price.

Best smart soundbar
Polk MagniFi Max AX

Best soundbar for the hearing impaired: Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar

Despite its slim and compact design, the Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar delivers balanced, rich, and crisp easy-to-perceive speech via its brilliantly utilized A.I. Dialogue Mode. This flat soundbar is especially easy to set up, sports a range of wireless streaming options, and delivers a movie theater-like soundscape via its detailed, multi-directional Dolby Atmos-powered audio. A layered surround sound and voice controls are great, but its AI speech-enhancing feature is a must-have for hearing impaired listeners who would otherwise be forced to crank up the volume to 11 to effectively hear dialogue.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 41.14 inches x 2.29 inches x 4.21 inches
  • Speaker configuration: 5.1.2
  • Connections: HDMI eARC, optical audio, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay 2, Chromecast, Spotify, Subwoofer, WLAN, LAN
  • Price on publish: $899

What we like:

  • Reliably sharp-sounding dialogue
  • Immersive 3D spatial sound
  • Stylish design

What we don’t like:

  • Some may not appreciate their TV reflecting off of its otherwise pretty glass top surface

The bottom line:

While many soundbars sound great, the Bose Smart Ultra stands apart from the pack thanks to its skillfully AI-balanced sound effects, music, and crystal-clear speech.

Best soundbar for the hearing impaired
Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar (Black) 882963-1100

Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar (Black) 882963-1100

How we selected the best soundbars

I considered many factors as I researched, compared, and listened to a wide selection of soundbars from well-known and niche audio brands to find the best models on the market today. The most important features I noted were their respective sound experiences, technologies and feature lists, range of connectivity options, and cost.

What is a soundbar?

In a nutshell, a soundbar is a collection of little speakers placed within a thin, narrow case that is easy to set up alongside your TV. A quality soundbar will enhance your current television with advanced audio features such as Dolby Atmos, 3D spatial sound, DTS:X, and speech-clarifying AI for a more powerful, clearer, and immersive listening experience.

How do soundbars work?

The average soundbar sports a number of internal speakers, angled in different directions to create an immersive surround sound effect throughout the room. Some soundbars include a companion subwoofer speaker for deeper bass and enhancing low-frequency noises. The speakers send sound waves in all directions to fill the room with sound for a theater-like listening experience.Soundbars work with an array of entertainment devices, including TVs, video game consoles, PCs, and even smartphones via a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

How do soundbars connect to a TV?

There are many ways to connect a soundbar to a TV, but the best method for your setup depends on which ports your display has. The best and most common option is an HDMI cable, for transmitting extremely high-quality audio from your TV to the soundbar for the best sound possible.Simply connect one end of the HDMI cable to the ARC or eARC port of your TV, and insert the other into the soundbar’s OUT HDMI port.

Alternate options include using an optical cable, or in rare cases, an analog connection. The analog ports on your TV and soundbar may be noted as 3.5mm or AUX.

Although a wired connection will always provide a superior sound, a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi option may be your best choice if you want to avoid the annoyances of cable management.

Where do I place my soundbar?

Generally speaking, the two best locations to set up your soundbar are either above or below your TV.

It is effortless to set a soundbar underneath your TV, and most were designed for this position, as it’s easier to connect to your display and effectively beam sound both directly at the viewer and all over the room. Just be sure not to place the device directly in front of the screen itself or its remote control sensor, and your soundbar will be good to go.

If your TV is mounted on the wall, it may be a good idea to mount its companion soundbar above the display. This setup will allow the soundbar to project audio upwards and around the area, giving your entertainment an additional layer of depth as you look up at the TV. This layout works well if you angle the front of the soundbar towards the viewers instead of the ceiling and avoid covering your TV’s ventilation holes.

Why do I need a soundbar?

There are many reasons to pair a quality soundbar with your TV. For example, if your current TV’s audio is underwhelming, but you don’t want to invest in either a new display or an expensive home theater setup, a soundbar is a thrifty way to upgrade your movies, shows, and video games with impressively rich, crisp, and detailed sound.

In addition to being relatively affordable, a soundbar is a snap to set up right out of the box, effortlessly pairs with most TVs, andtakes up much less room than traditional bulky surround sound speakers.

How long do soundbars last?

The average soundbar should last anywhere from five to over 15 years, depending on the quality of the device and how well it’s cared for over time. A premium name-brand soundbar will be constructed with quality materials and components to endure for many years to come, so buyers should consider investing in a nicer model that is likely to outlive a cheaper and less impressive alternative. Please also note that a soundbar that is protected by a surge protector, cleaned regularly, and placed in a climate-controlled environment is much more likely to last longer than an unmaintained soundbar.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

1.1115.5460+1.63.40