Finding the best soundbar takes patience, time, and a keen ear. That’s why we exhaustively researched the top models in a real-world setting to determine the top-rated models. We did this by watching movies, listening to a wide variety of music, and playing video games until our thumbs were numb. Enjoy your gaming sessions even more with some of the best computer speakers or leading gaming speakers.
Once in our research environment, we looked at the best speakers for sound accuracy, a range that could satisfy the most discerning of ears, and a feature set (Dolby Digital, Bluetooth, HDMI inputs, etc) that only serves to enhance the home theater experience. When we finished up with research, we were happy to find that the Yamaha YAS-108 performed the best out of all the options. With a super affordable price and excellent audio quality, it wasn’t that hard of a decision to make. Keep reading our soundbar buying guide to learn more about the Yamaha and the other exceptional soundbars on our list. The best home theater systems need quality sound and this delivers.
Top Soundbar Comparison 2024
#1 Yamaha YAS-108 Soundbar
Award: Best Soundbar/Editor’s Choice
Length: 35 inches | Wall Mountable: Yes | Read Full Review: Yamaha Yas-108 Review
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Excellent virtual surround sound for the price.
The Yamaha YAS-108 soundbar boasts excellent sonic capabilities, especially when compared to other models in its price range. Because of this, it easily makes it the best soundbar under $500. Its capabilities are especially noticeable when viewing movies, largely because its audio performance is incredibly clear as is its surround capability. In short, films sound as if they’re being played back on a much larger sound system, which is the ultimate goal of a soundbar. Although, compare a soundbar vs a home theater, and you may find a difference in sound quality you didn’t notice before.
To that end, the YAS-108 easily ranks as the best soundbar with built-in subwoofers, which provide thumping bass without needing to take up space with another box. This way, the YAS-108 has that plug and play convenience for getting great sound with little setup. The inclusion of a quality built-in subwoofer sets the YAS-108 apart from most other soundbars on the market today. We believe this is the best overall soundbar in 2024. If you like additional bass, then check out our guide to the best subwoofers.
The YAS-108 also offers a stellar Bluetooth connection capability that uses more advanced compression versus standard Bluetooth audio to provide clearer sound. More specifically, this audio compression smoothes out the sound by reducing the peaks and improving lower sounds. Another interesting feature with this Yamaha unit is 4K connectivity, which allows you to connect your 4K ultra HD TV to your soundbar without any loss in audio quality.
One drawback for the Yamaha YAS-108 is its lack of app support, even despite its compatibility with Alexa. But this is pretty significant for this Yamaha model, making it one of the best soundbar for the money options. If you prefer a traditional speaker, take a look at the best in-wall speakers instead.
Another option is the Yamaha YAS-209. The YAS-209 is a smart soundbar with built-in Alexa voice control, DTS® Virtual:X™ virtual 3D surround sound, a wireless subwoofer, and Bluetooth music streaming.
Additionally, you can compare two more speakers from this brand, like the Yamaha HS7 vs HS8, to see which one works best for you.
#2 Vizio SB3820-C6 Soundbar
Award: Best Budget Soundbar
Length: 38 inches | Wall Mountable: Yes | Read Full Review: Vizio SB3820-C6 Review
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Simple, affordable with virtual surround sound.
If you’re looking for a super affordable, basic soundbar, the Vizio SB3820-C6 has got you covered. Vizio decided to forgo all the frills and fancy sub-woofers to focus on making a truly great soundbar that anyone on a budget can afford. One of the most interesting aspects of this soundbar is that it works so well with any space and any TV, making it one of the more versatile soundbars on our list. you can place it on your TV stand or mount it directly to the wall. But, does it beat out the top-rated floor standing speakers?
The Vizio soundbar features 2.0 premium audio that can deliver up to 100 decibels of sound, which is more than enough to fill your room with the sounds of your favorite TV shows, movies, and even music (via Bluetooth connectivity). The virtual surround mode performs sufficiently and can create a fun and immersive space, especially with its powerful bass. We were pleasantly surprised at how deep the bass went on this soundbar, even without an external subwoofer to accompany it. That’s another plus for those looking for a product with excellent bass, since you won’t have to splurge on a separate wired subwoofer. This affordable soundbar will be able to transform the overall experience of your sound stage or home audio without making a massive dent in your wallet.
#3 Sony HT-ST5000 Soundbar
Award: Best Atmos Soundbar
Length: 46.9 inches | Wall Mountable: Yes | Read Full Review: Sony HT-ST5000 Review
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Highly versatile thanks to wireless connectivity.
The Sony HT-ST5000 is the most expensive unit on our list at nearly $1300, but it is the only one on our list that offers the best Dolby Atmos experience. Atmos offers a more immersive experience than standard surround sound, because of its 3-dimensional approach to sound. With this soundbar, you get 7.1.2 channel surround sound.
Moreover, it maintains 4K quality whenever it’s connected to ultra HD televisions, offering you superb signal pass-through with exceptional contrast, detail, and color. You also get a wireless subwoofer with this soundbar, so your audio experience is taken to a deeper level. With this multi-channel soundbar presenting its high-quality audio in an immersive audio format of surround channels and height channels and also coming with a subwoofer, this impressive soundbar set is an excellent value for the price you pay.
The Sony HT-ST5000 is designed impeccably with multiple tweeters and mid-range speakers inside. The sound experience is truly revolutionary, which is why I can recommend this speaker despite its high price tag. Lastly, the ST5000 works with Spotify and has Chromecast built directly into its internal software, which allows you to stream music, listen to podcasts, or access online radio directly from smartphones or tablets connected to the Dolby Atmos soundbar. The convenience that the user experience gets through accessing Internet radio from a phone and playing great sounds through this soundbar help the ST5000 stand out from the rest of the competition.
#4 Sonos Playbar Soundbar
Award: Best Wireless Soundbar
Length: 35.43 inches | Wall Mountable: Yes | Read Full Review: Sonos Playbar Soundbar Review
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Highly versatile thanks to wireless connectivity.
The Sonos Playbar is an expensive unit at nearly $700 (almost double the price of the Sonos Beam), but it is fully compatible with other Sonos products, allowing you to stream music from a variety of music sources (Spotify, Rhapsody, Pandora, etc).
Moreover, this Sonos speaker connects to your home’s WiFi allowing you to control its volume and features with your smartphone or tablet. And while it offers simulated surround sound, you can also wirelessly connect any of Sonos’ other wireless speakers, such as the Play:3 or Play:1, to add complete 5.1 surround sound.
And if that isn’t enough, inside the Playbar are 9 Class-D digital amplifiers, nine amplified speaker drivers, six midrange, and three tweeters. This means you’ll get decent bass, provided you’re not willing to invest in the company’s awe-inspiring Sonos subwoofer, which I can recommend despite its high price tag. Lastly, the Playbar will work with most TVs’ infrared receiver, allowing it to pass commands to the set despite blocking it.
#5 Bluesound Pulse 2i Soundbar
Award: Best Soundbar for Music
Length: 42.25 inches | Wall Mountable: Yes | Read Full Review: Bluesound Pulse 2i Soundbar Review
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Hi-resolution audio playback and the ability to play MQA files.
As the first soundbar to actually support playing MQA (master quality authenticated) files and hi-res playback, the Bluesound Pulse 2i is perfect for music and audio junkies alike. There’s nothing on this list that sounds quite like the Pulse 2i and once you hear it, you’ll be thinking the same thing.
The soundbar plays music so well due in part to the two pairs of 3-way speaker arrays it features, each consisting of a cone woofer, cone mid-range, and soft-dome tweeter. You can also add a wireless sub for an extra cost, if you so choose. But the best part is that each driver has its own amp channel which blends high and low frequencies for the best sound you’ll ever experience on a soundbar.
Yes, the Pulse soundbar is expensive – one of the most expensive soundbars on our list – but the premium audio quality is absolutely worth it. In this $800 price tag, you’ll also get AirPlay compatibility and support for Amazon Alexa. Getting to connect the soundbar to your home network will transform your space, give you more convenient control, and will be sure to impress your guests. This is cutting-edge audio technology and your living room and home theater system will be all the better for it. Getting to watch all your shows and movies with stellar home audio and a surround effect will let you immerse yourself in all the sound effects and clear voices for an enhanced viewing experience.
Beginner’s Guide To Soundbars
What Exactly Is A Soundbar, Anyway?
A soundbar is a long, slim speaker that sits in front of your TV (on a stand or shelf, or even mounted to the wall) and pumps out serious sound. Most soundbars have multiple drivers (the things that actually create the sound) built into them, which means they can reproduce left and right stereo audio (which gives you directionality and helps create a sense of space), as well as deep bass notes that you might not expect from such a small speaker. Many soundbars use HDMI arc, which allows them to receive audio from your connected device.
What Do The Channels Mean On A Soundbar?
The channels on a soundbar refer to the number of audio channels that the soundbar can output. The most common soundbars are 2.0, meaning they have two channels (left and right). Some soundbars are 3.0, meaning they have three channels (left, right, and center). Other soundbars are 5.1, meaning they have five channels (left, right, center, left surround, and right surround), and some soundbars are even 7.1 (left, right, center, left surround, right surround, left back, and right back). These various soundbars have their differences in other features as well, such as sound quality, setup and space requirement.
The number before the decimal point refers to the number of channels, and the number after the decimal point refers to the subwoofer channel.
What Is The Purpose Of A Soundbar?
Many people wonder what a soundbar does. A soundbar is designed to improve the sound quality of your TV. If you have ever watched a movie or TV show and felt that the dialogue was hard to hear or that the action scenes lacked impact, then a soundbar can help. A soundbar will make dialogue clearer and action scenes more dynamic. In addition, a soundbar can also improve the sound of music you listen to.
What Are Subwoofers Used For With Soundbars?
Subwoofers are used with soundbars to enhance the sound. Most soundbars come with a subwoofer. A subwoofer is a speaker that reproduces low-frequency sounds (such as bass). The bass from a soundbar subwoofer can add impact to action scenes and make music sound more lifelike.
What Wattage Is Good For A Soundbar?
There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on the size of your room and how loud you want your soundbar to be. However, a good rule of thumb is to choose a soundbar with at least 100 watts of power.
How Long Does A Soundbar Last? Surprisingly, a soundbar typically lasts quite a while. On average, models on the lower end of the spectrum have a lifespan of around 6 years. Higher-quality models can last up to 16 years. However, many factors can impact a soundbar’s longevity, including maintenance and usage habits, though many soundbars will need some kind of repair after about 7 years.
Choosing A Soundbar
When deciding how to choose a soundbar, think about how you’re going to use it, what kind of content you’re watching, how much space you have, what extra features you might want, and how much you want to spend.
Step 1. Where Are You Using This Soundbar?
If you’re using your soundbar with a TV in your living room, then you’ll want to make sure that it’s compatible with your TV. Most soundbars use HDMI arc, which allows them to receive audio from your connected device. If you don’t have HDMI ARC, then you’ll need to check that the soundbar you’re considering has the right input for your TV.
Step 2. What Kind Of Content Are You Watching?
The kind of content you’re watching will have a big impact on the kind of soundbar you need. If you’re mostly watching movies and TV shows, then you’ll want a soundbar that can reproduce left and right stereo audio. Compare 2.1 and 3.1 soundbars or 2.0 and 2.1 soundbars for these purposes. If you’re mostly listening to music, then you might want a soundbar with a subwoofer. Compare 2.1 and 5.1 soundbars in this case. If you want to fill the room with more sound, compare 3.1 and 5.1 soundbars.
Step 3. How Much Room Do You Have?
If you have a small room, then you might not need a soundbar with a subwoofer. A 2.0 or 2.1 soundbar will take up less space and still provide good sound quality. If you have a large room, then you might want to consider a 3.1 or 5.1 soundbar so that you can fill the room with sound.
Step 4. What Features Do You Need?
Many soundbars come with plenty of extra features. Comparing soundbar optical and HDMI connections will help you decide which type of connection is best for you. You may also want to compare HDMI and Bluetooth soundbars for easier music streaming. Subwoofers paired with soundbars also help enhance your audio.
Step 5. Do You Have a Receiver Or Amplifier Already?
If you have a receiver or amplifier that you’re using with your soundbar, then you’ll want to make sure that the soundbar you’re considering is compatible. Some soundbars come with their own receivers or amplifiers, while others need to be connected to one in order to work.
Step 6. How Much Should You Expect To Spend On A Soundbar?
Soundbars range in price from around $100 to $1,000. The price will depend on the size, features, and brand of the soundbar. You can find good quality soundbars at all price points, so it’s important to decide what features are most important to you and how much you’re willing to spend.
Step 7. Are You Looking For Alternatives To Soundbars?
There are a lot of alternatives to soundbars for those who are looking for different ways to improve their TV’s sound quality. Comparing soundbars and surround sound will give you a better idea of which might be better for a home theater setup. If you want your audio components to be discrete, you may want to compare soundbars and bookshelf speakers. Comparing soundbars and speakers also gives you more flexibility for speaker placement.
For even more advanced sound, compare soundbars and home theater systems. Home theater systems give you the most control over your audio, but they’re also the most expensive option. You may find some value in comparing soundbars and receivers as well.
Types Of Soundbars
Soundbars For TV Brands
- Soundbar For Samsung TVs
- Soundbars For LG TVs
- Soundbar For Roku TV
- Soundbars For Sony TVs
Soundbars By Size
- Small Soundbars
- Soundbars For Large Rooms
Soundbars For Specific Uses
- Soundbars For Dialogue
- Computer Soundbars
- UTV Soundbars
- Soundbars For Projectors
- Outdoor Soundbars
- Soundbars For The Hearing Impaired
- Gaming Soundbars
Soundbars With Specific Features
- Soundbar With Subwoofer
- Dolby Atmos Soundbars
- Soundbars For Music
- 5.1 Soundbars
- Wireless Soundbars
- Soundbars Without Subwoofers
- Passive Soundbars
Top Soundbar Brands
- Samsung Soundbar
- LG Soundbars
- Bose Soundbars
- Sony Soundbars
- Sonos Soundbars
Owning A Soundbar
Connecting A Soundbar To A TV
Connecting your soundbar to your TV isn’t difficult, especially if it comes with a variety of connection types. You’ll just need an HDMI cable to connect your soundbar to a TV with HDMI ports. For soundbars that don’t have an HDMI connection, you’ll need to use an optical or RCA connection. If you don’t have a Bluetooth connection, you’ll want to hide the wires from your soundbar to avoid cord clutter.
How Far Below Your TV Should Your Soundbar Be? If you’re placing your soundbar beneath your TV, the soundbar itself should be at ear level when you’re sitting down. You’ll want the TV to be roughly 1 foot (30 cm) above the soundbar.
Connecting A Soundbar To Various Devices
There are plenty of devices compatible with soundbars, so if you have any of these, you’ll need to know how to connect them. You can connect a subwoofer to your soundbar for enhanced sound or connect your soundbar to a projector for a home theater setup.
Most soundbars have a variety of connection options, so connecting your soundbar to your TV without ARC isn’t difficult. You can connect a soundbar to a TV with an optical cable. If you have a Bluetooth soundbar, you can connect your Bluetooth soundbar to the TV.
Placing A Paired Subwoofer And Soundbar In A Room
Subwoofer placement with a soundbar can be tricky. You’ll want to place the subwoofer close to the soundbar, but not too close. The ideal placement for a subwoofer is usually in the front corner of the room. When placing a soundbar in a room, you’ll also want to make sure that your subwoofer isn’t blocking any of the TV’s speakers.
Mounting A Soundbar On Your TV
Sometimes it offers a more seamless aesthetic if you mount your soundbar directly to the TV, so you’ll need to know how to mount a soundbar to a TV to achieve this effect. It’s not difficult, but you need to make sure it’s secure.
What Does “No Signal” Mean On My Soundbar? If you’re receiving this error message on your soundbar, it usually means that it’s not receiving a signal from the TV or other connected source device. Make sure your source device is turned on, and then check its audio settings to make sure the soundbar is selected as the audio output device. If you’ve done this and are still not getting any sound, turn up the volume to see if that helps. If not, reset the soundbar.
Cleaning A Soundbar
Cleaning your soundbar is important to keep it sounding its best. You should clean your soundbar every few months or as needed. You’ll need a microfiber cloth and some mild soap to do this, but avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials, as these can damage the soundbar.
Troubleshooting Problems With Your Soundbar
If you’re having problems with your soundbar, there are a few things you can try to troubleshoot the issue. First, check all of the connections to make sure they’re secure. If that doesn’t work, try resetting the soundbar. If neither of those solutions work, you may need to contact customer support for your particular soundbar. If there’s no sound coming from your soundbar, there are a few things you can try. If your soundbar keeps cutting out, check the connections to make sure they’re secure. When your soundbar is too quiet, you may need to clean it. When a soundbar keeps powering off, it’s usually because it’s overheating. Try aiming a fan at the soundbar to cool it off or reposition it so that it gets more air.