The 10 Best Soundbars

Updated December 12, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

10 Best Soundbars
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 41 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. Yes, it's really annoying that none of the new flat screen TVs come with forward-facing speakers, so they sound dreadful. But it is what it is. So fix that audio with one of these sound bars and give your TV shows, music, movies and sports that extra clarity and ooomph they deserve. You can choose models that come with or without a subwoofer, depending on your bass preferences. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best soundbar on Amazon.

10. ZVox SB400

Instead of coming with a separate sub, the ZVox SB400 has one built right into the bar. While this design might not be capable of as deep bass as some of the other models, it is ideal if you are tight on space. Plus, the anodized aluminum cabinet is extremely durable.
  • auto output leveling technology
  • turns on when the tv turns on
  • doesn't look as sleek as most others
Brand ZVOX
Model SB400
Weight 14.1 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

9. Sony HT-CT290

If you like to watch movies at night when everyone else in the house is sleeping, you'll appreciate the night mode of the Sony HT-CT290, which enhances the dialogue at low volumes so you can hear every word. It also has an integrated USB port for music playback.
  • can adjust bass relative to volume
  • power cords are too short
  • compromises sound for a slim design
Brand Sony
Model HTCT290
Weight 23.6 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

8. JBL Bar 3.1

Between the bar and the included 10-inch subwoofer, the JBL Bar 3.1 has a total of 450 watts of power, which is enough to vibrate the couch during your favorite fast-paced action scenes. It features JBL SoundShift for quickly switching between inputs.
  • wall-mounting hardware
  • multiple eq presets
  • remote is laid out well
Brand JBL
Model Bar 3.1
Weight 41 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

7. Samsung HW-M450

The included subwoofer of the Samsung HW-M450 produces more bass than you might expect for a model in its price range. The bar itself has a nice, low-profile design that makes placing it easy, and you can control it from the Samsung Audio Remote App.
  • simple plug and play setup
  • rich and clear audio tones
  • doesn't distort at high volumes
Brand Samsung
Model HW-M450/ZA
Weight 25.5 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

6. LG Electronics SJ7 Flex

The LG Electronics SJ7 Flex is unique in that it comes with two speakers instead of one single, long bar. You can choose to set it up just like a traditional one, or separate the two speakers to produce a surround sound-like effect, even without satellites.
  • included subwoofer is wireless
  • right speaker has a built-in battery
  • adaptive sound technology
Brand LG
Model SJ7
Weight 20.2 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

5. Klipsch Reference RSB-8

The Klipsch Reference RSB-8 features front-facing control buttons and can also be controlled via your smartphone, so even if you lose your remote, it won't be a hassle to adjust the settings. It boasts 4K ultra–HD video pass-through and DTS Play-Fi technology.
  • doesn't require an av receiver unit
  • suitable for any size room
  • feet are detachable for mounting
Brand Klipsch
Model RSB-8
Weight 22.8 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

4. Samsung HW-J8500R

If you have a curved TV, then you will definitely want the curved Samsung HW-J8500R. The unique shape creates a more immersive experience that is sure to impress any who hear it. Plus, it can be paired with Bluetooth speakers for true surround sound.
  • dedicated dialogue channel
  • wonderfully balanced sound
  • wireless subwoofer
Brand Samsung
Model HW-J8500R/ZA
Weight 46.4 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

3. Paradigm Shift SoundScape

The Paradigm Shift SoundScape is best suited to flat screen TVs 50 inches in size or more. It has seven high-performance drivers, each of which is capable of 50 watts for delivering a captivating full sound experience. The sleek design looks great on a shelf.
  • accepts 110 and 220 volts
  • produces a good amount of bass
  • realistic sound reproduction
Brand Paradigm Shift
Model SoundScape
Weight 27.1 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

2. Bose Solo 5

The Bose Solo 5 comes at a reasonable price, yet still provides the premium audio quality you expect from this manufacturer. It features a dialogue mode that really makes words and other sonic details stand out in both movies and music.
  • four connection options
  • includes an optical audio cable
  • can be wall mounted
Brand Bose
Model 732522-1110
Weight 8.3 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

1. Sonos Playbar

The Sonos Playbar produces crisp and powerful sound at low and high volume levels. It can sync wirelessly with your smart devices to stream music or be hardwired into your TV for an enhanced movie watching experience. Setup is simple with just two cables to worry about.
  • can control it from your tv remote
  • enhances speech for better clarity
  • subwoofer bundles are available
Brand Sonos
Weight 19.7 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

Surround Sound Without Being Surrounded By Cables

Not everyone has an entertainent room the size of a palace for accommodating huge volumes of equipment, plugs, and multiple speakers to emulate the experience of being in a movie theater or nightclub. The limitations of available space, combined with the consideration of an extremely tight budget, can easily create a niche for audio technology that is designed to deliver excellent sound without resorting to complex surround sound setups or multiple bulky speakers. This is where a soundbar's unobtrusive design and practicality come into play.

A soundbar is an audio device that consists of seven uniquely-positioned internal speakers within one cabinet assembly. Each speaker within a soundbar is specially fitted to simulate surround sound in the same way as a conventional audio system setup. A soundbar uses a psycho-acoustic effect to allow sound to literally bounce of the walls of your entertainment room. This effect can trick your senses into thinking that there are speakers behind you when there aren't.

These devices can be defined as either active or passive. Active soundbars feature the all-in-one setup, meaning that their speakers and amplifiers are all housed together within a single unit. By contrast, passive soundbars do not come equipped with built-in amplifiers, so they'll require some additional wiring, separate amplifiers, and a receiver. However, passive soundbars can also provide crisp sound quality, while also giving you additional choices for connecting other audio sources.

One of the major benefits to owning a soundbar is that the device is usually compact, thin, and very easy to install. Soundbars are typically paired with flat screen televisions and are designed to sit either underneath or in front of the television itself. If your television is wall mountable, many soundbars also come with their own mounting kits so they can also attach themselves to a wall directly below the television for an optimal audio experience.

The soundbar is also useful for anchoring movie dialogue. What does this mean exactly? Because of its acoustic design, the soundbar can disperse movie audio equally throughout a small entertainment room so that any listener, regardless of their location, will experience the same audio quality as though they were centrally-positioned right in front of the television and its stereo speakers.

Soundbars also come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they generally work well in small entertainment rooms. While you may think that you're sacrificing audio quality by investing in a soundbar, the fact is that a small apartment doesn't command such an elaborate audio setup to carry sound over long distances. For that reason, a soundbar is also a more cost-effective audio solution for your apartment than a conventional speaker system.

Setting The Bar High

The first thing one must consider when investing in a soundbar is the space in which it is to be installed. The size of your entertainment room will help you decide what type of soundbar configuration works best. For a large space, consider purchasing a soundbar that also includes a subwoofer component so that the audio is carried throughout the entire room.

If you have a lot of music stored on your mobile device, computer, or laptop and plan to use your soundbar to project music as well as film dialogue, then you definitely want the soundbar to have built-in Bluetooth connectivity for accessing your favorite tunes wirelessly.

Consider how and where you plan to place your soundbar. If your dresser already accommodates a large flat screen television, then you may want to shop for a soundbar that can be used as a pedestal for the television, while also keeping the sound centralized as you watch.

Pay attention to the input and output ports available on the soundbar so that you have ample freedom to connect HDMI cables and USB devices.

Finally, determine whether an active or passive soundbar setup is right for you. If easy installation and lack of wire clutter are what you're after, then an active soundbar would be the logical choice. However, if you prefer additional pairing options and don't mind a few wires, then a passive soundbar may work best.

Soundbar Technology Over Time

The very first soundbar and subwoofer system was developed by Altec-Lansing in 1998 called the Voice Of The Digital Theatre (also known as the ADA 106). This device used the company's side-firing technology to simulate surround sound from almost any direction. This invention served to eliminate the need for excessive wiring of multiple speakers to achieve the same result.

In 2002, Pioneer Electronics released the first digital sound projector that used a single-source speaker to deliver 5.1 channel surround sound audio.

The Yamaha YSP-1 digital sound projector won a Best of Show award in January 2005 at the Consumer Electronics Show. This device featured 40 small center drivers that were designed to control sound being reflected from walls of a room.

In June 2015, Denon released their HEOS HomeCinema system that came complete with a wireless subwoofer for producing crystal clear upper bass sound.

Today, soundbar development is also branching into the phased array technology space.

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Last updated on December 12, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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