3 Top Small Soundbars of 2024 Ranked

Evan Shephard Avatar

Reviewed By

Evan Shephard

(ISF Certified)

True Score Methodology

v1.5

394,661

Reviews Analyzed

Updated Apr 5, 2024 2:43 PM
best small soundbar guide that shows the top best soundbar model

Our streamlined best small soundbars buying guide cuts through the noise of fake reviews and shallow expert analysis by digging deep into data and real-world tests. We scrutinized 130,000+ reviews (customer & expert) from 140+ soundbars, evaluating essential performance aspects like latency, distortion, and frequency response. Our research revealed that 92% of experts fall short in their testing, but we’ve identified the credible few. This meticulous process has allowed us to curate a list of top-performing soundbars, providing you with the confidence to make an informed decision based on reliable test data and genuine insights. Our ultimate goal is to ensure you find the best soundbar that fits your space and meets your audio expectations, enhancing your listening experience.

Check out our list below of the 3 best small soundbars from $139.99-$677.99 for any budget and use.

How Did We Rank the Best Small Soundbars?

We’ve redefined soundbar buying guides, setting us apart from any other site on the planet. Our unique approach leverages a comprehensive dataset from 200+ trusted sites, focusing on key testing metrics (2 required, 2 nice to have) and 1 specification to rank the top-rated small soundbars and ensure our recommendations meet your specific needs. Our commitment to unbiased reviews is powered by our ‘True Score’ system, targeting low quality and fake reviews. When you shop through our links, you’re backing our mission. Dive deeper to see how.

🛠️ Minimum Specifications

  • Less than 63″ wide and no taller than 3″

🧪 Test Criteria

  • Total Harmonic Distortion: A total harmonic distortion (THD) below 1% at 80 decibels to guarantee high-fidelity audio reproduction without unwanted frequencies.
  • Volume Output: The soundbar should be able to deliver a powerful and immersive sound performance, exceeding 85 decibels in volume output.

👍 “Nice To Haves”

  • Latency: With a latency under 100 milliseconds, it ensures minimal delay in data transmission or audio processing.
  • Low-End Roll Off: A low-end roll-off of < 45 Hz to ensure there is some rumble in the bass to enhance your music or movie-watching experience.

Latest Updates

  • 04/05/2024: Published the list of best small soundbars based on our True Score system.

Top Small Soundbars For 2024

Prices accurate at the time of publishing

See how we test the testers

To secure a spot on our list, a small soundbar must meet our stringent criteria for audio performance and quality. If it doesn’t meet these standards, it won’t be featured!

  • Runner Up

    Best Value

    Best Budget

    gr recommended award

    Best Mid-Range

    Samsung HW-Q800C

    For audiophiles and versatile users alike, the Samsung HW-Q800C combines exceptional sound clarity with advanced features, making it perfect for immersive movie, gaming, and music experiences in any room size.

    Samsung HW-Q800C Review →

    True Score

    85
    85
    3

    Experts

    89
    868

    Customers

    $799.00
  • Runner Up

    Best Value

    Best Budget

    gr recommended award

    Best Mid-Range

    Vizio V21X J8

    Offering unbeatable affordability and compactness, the Vizio V21X J8 delivers quality audio in a small package, perfect for enhancing TV, music, and gaming experiences without breaking the bank.

    Vizio V21X J8 Review →

    True Score

    84
    82
    2

    Experts

    89
    9k

    Customers

    SAVE $20
    $159.99
    $139.99
  • Runner Up

    Best Value

    Best Budget

    gr recommended award

    Best Mid-Range

    Bose Smart Soundbar 600

    The Bose Smart Soundbar 600 offers room-filling, powerful audio with minimal distortion and deep bass, ideal for large rooms and users who prioritize sound quality and loudness in a compact design.

    Bose Smart Soundbar 600 Review →

    True Score

    81
    79
    15

    Experts

    86
    2k

    Customers

    $499.00

    Did you know 92% of soundbar reviewers are

    untrustworthy?

    Our research found 10 of 122 soundbar reviewers as of May 2024 can be trusted. To do this, we give every soundbar review site a Trust Score, which measures how trustworthy the site and their testing claims are. We then leverage AI & a machine learning model to combine and calculate the Trust Score with data from experts and consumers to deliver the True Score, the web’s most accurate product quality rating.

    394,661

    Soundbar Reviews Analyzed

    149

    Total Products Analyzed

Our Approach to Evaluating Small Soundbars

We’ve redefined soundbar buying guides, setting us apart from any other site on the planet. Our unique approach uses a comprehensive dataset from trusted sites, focusing on key testing metrics like volume output, total harmonic distortion, latency, and low end roll off.

We aggregate and analyze data to ensure our recommendations align with specific needs. Particularly concerning small soundbars, this entails selecting models that offer exceptional audio quality for watching movies, TV shows or playing video games. Explore our data-driven approach for accurate and dependable soundbar recommendations.

Which Criteria Matters for Testing Best Small Soundbars?

By focusing on these criteria (2 required, 2 nice to have), anyone can quickly and easily compare these soundbars and how they’ll perform. This helps you make an informed decision and purchase a soundbar that will sound great.

CRITERIARANGEREQUIREDDEFINITION
Total Harmonic Distortion< 1YesThe amount of distortion introduced by the soundbar when it processes an audio signal at a given volume (typically 80, 85 or maximum dB output.)
Max Volume> 85 dBYesThe maximum volume that a soundbar reaches when it’s output it turned up to 100%.
Latency< 100 msNo (nice to have)The time it takes for a soundbar to process audio signal from a source and output it through the speakers.
Low End Roll Off< 45 HzNo (nice to have)The point at which bass begins to sharply fall below the target response point on a frequency response graph, making harder to hear.

Our Trusted Data Sources

We looked at 120+ soundbar reviewers and while 10 are trustworthy (60%+ Trust Score), we only use data from the testers that are “very trusted” which means a Trust Score above 70%. The three we have listed below are our most trusted for soundbars.

  1. Becca Fischer – Rtings, MuckRack
  2. Matt Bento- Techgear Lab, MuckRack
  3. Sam Moore – Sound Guys, MuckRack

Interested in a comprehensive analysis of our data sources? We’ve got you covered. Below, you’ll find a detailed list of every soundbar review website we’ve identified, organized by their respective Trust Scores from highest to lowest. But we didn’t stop there. We’ve meticulously reviewed each publication and verified the data by checking whether the authors have bio links to MuckRack or LinkedIn. We’re committed to not only checking the facts but ensuring their veracity.

Soundbars Test Data & Results

1. total harmonic distortion test result

Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) measures the fidelity of soundbars by indicating the percentage of unwanted harmonics added to the original audio. A THD under 1 ensures minimal distortion, critical for preserving audio quality across music, movies and games. This low distortion level enhances clarity, maintains detail, and ensures a high-fidelity listening experience, crucial for understanding dialogues, appreciating music nuances, and immersing in game sounds.

We believe soundbars should have less than 1% THD because this helps confirm their ability to accurately reproduce a wide range of audio without perceptible distortion. We say “perceptible” because it’s impossible to remove all distortion, but you can reduce it to the point it’s impossible to notice. Low THD also helps improve your comfort by preventing fatigue during extended use, making it an essential for anyone that marathons movies, games or music.

Total Harmonic Distortion (lower is better)

2. max volume test result

Maximum volume is the easiest aspect of a soundbar to understand: it’s just how loud the soundbar itself will actually get. What’s less clear is why a soundbar getting loud is so important. While higher max volumes give you the ability the fill rooms with sound or use a soundbar as makeshift party speakers, they’re also responsible for helping ensure that audio stays clear when listening at normal listening levels.

This is commonly referred to as “headroom”, and having enough headroom on a soundbar means that the soundbar is able to play back sounds at a high enough level (and with good enough clarity) that the volume level you’ll normally listen to music, movies or games with will sound perfectly clear and distortion free. We recommend your soundbar have no less than 85 dB of maximum volume and the higher you go, the better your soundbar is at filling larger and larger rooms.

Max Volume (in dB; higher is better)

3. latency test result

Large amounts of latency create problems when trying to sync up audio and video. While you’ve got a bit of wiggle room with how much of a delay can exist between the audio that comes out of your soundbar and the images on your TV, it’s not a ton. If there’s too much latency the mismatch starts to become obvious, and people start looking like they stopped talking while dialogue is still playing. This is especially concerning for gamers, who rely on audio and video to sync up well enough that the footprints you hear around the corner are accurately getting closer.

It’s for these reasons we recommend a latency less than 100 ms. For most content, this is a low enough delay that any mismatch is going to be largely unnoticed. If you’re a highly competitive gamer and don’t want to do calibration out of the box to line up the A/V, the lowest latency you can find is going to work best. For music and moves, though, 100 ms or less will work great.

Latency (in milliseconds; lower is better)

4. Low end roll off test result

When it comes to getting the most bass you can out of your soundbar, low-end roll off is a great indicator of just how deep the bass on it can get. If a soundbar doesn’t have a roll off that starts deep enough into the bass part of the audio spectrum, then it’ll result in quiet or even absent bass, which removes most of the punch and impact of not only music, but also movies and video games. the longer it takes bass to roll off, the better.

When it comes to most soundbars for most use cases, we recommend a roll off that doesn’t start until at least 45 Hz, but it only gets better the further you go down. It’s worth noting that the roll off will only get so low, so don’t expect to find soundbars hitting the teens for roll off, but it isn’t uncommon for very bass-forward options to hit 30 Hz before roll off starts. By aiming for at least 45 Hz, you have a much better chance of getting the deep, rumbling bass you’re looking for out of your music, movies or games.

Low end roll off (in Hz; lower is better)

Best Small Soundbars: Mistakes To Avoid

  1. Ignoring Size and Space Constraints: One of the main reasons for choosing a small soundbar is to save space. Make sure to measure the space where you plan to install the soundbar and ensure it fits appropriately. Ignoring this could lead to an ill-fitting soundbar that doesn’t look or sound right in your space. Sometimes, choosing the best soundbar without a subwoofer offers a sleek, compact design without sacrificing audio quality, making it an ideal choice for small rooms or setups where space is at a premium.

  2. Overlooking Audio Quality: Don’t sacrifice audio quality for the sake of size. While small soundbars may not have the same power as larger ones, they can still produce impressive sound. Look for soundbars with good audio quality reviews and consider factors like frequency range, wattage, and audio enhancement technologies. When deciding between a soundbar vs surround sound system, remember that a high-quality soundbar can rival the immersive experience of a surround system while occupying less space. For those seeking an optimal balance between simplicity and immersive audio, the best 5.1 soundbar systems provide a rich surround sound experience without the complexity of traditional home theater setups.

  3. Not Considering Connectivity Options: Make sure the soundbar you choose has the connectivity options you need. Whether you plan to connect via Bluetooth, HDMI, optical, or auxiliary cables, ensure the soundbar supports your preferred connection method. To see which connection is right for you, learn more about their differences with out comparisons of HDMI vs Bluetooth or HDMI ARC vs optical. Also, check for compatibility with your TV or other devices. Gamers should consider the best gaming soundbar, which offers specialized sound modes and features like low latency to ensure the audio is as responsive and immersive as the gameplay.

  4. Ignoring Soundbar Placement: Proper soundbar placement can significantly impact its performance. Avoid placing it too close to walls or corners, as this can affect sound quality. Additionally, consider whether you’ll mount the soundbar on the wall or on a shelf and choose accordingly. Don’t forget about the subwoofer placement as well. A top soundbar with a subwoofer can enhance your audio experience, adding depth and richness to music, movies, and TV shows.

The Best Small Soundbars Tests Compared

Product
True Score
Low End Roll Off
High End Roll Off
Max Volume Test
Latency
THD @ 80dB

Samsung HW-Q800C

  • Best for 5.1

85
  • 35.13 Hz

  • 16,974.66 Hz

  • 97.2 db

  • 49 ms

  • 0.23 dB

$799.00

Vizio V21X J8

  • Best for Small

84
  • 35.13 Hz

  • 12,901.59 Hz

  • 94.5 db

  • 45 ms

  • 0.53 dB

$139.99
$160
$20
81
  • 34.62 Hz

  • 12,534.31 Hz

  • 101.8 db

  • 50 ms

  • 0.2 dB

$499.00

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