A sound bar is exactly what the doctor ordered for that new 65-inch TV. Why? Unfortunately, as TVs get slimmer and sleeker, it comes at the expense of the audio components. There simply isn’t enough room for speakers, or components to properly power them to create a good audio experience. But audio quality is every bit as important to your TV watching experience. So, if you’re sick of reaching for your remote and turning your TV to its max volume, you should consider adding a sound bar to your setup.
Sound bars are a great way to instantly raise the audio quality of your home entertainment system without adding a ton of extra equipment, tricky installations, and emptying your wallet. Sound bars simulate a surround sound system by dispersing sound at different times and towards different parts of the room. This creates the illusion of a full surround sound system without having to buy multiple speakers, or an AV receiver. It’s a simple, and effective solution for your lackluster TV speakers.
Here are our picks for the best sound bars for your home.
1. Yamaha YAS-207
This sound bar sounds great playing both movies and music. The six-speaker sound bar includes an additional 6.25-inch subwoofer that creates deep, precise bass. The sound bar comes with DTS Virtual:X sound technology that disperses a wide soundscape and encapsulates the viewer with sound. It’s a truly convincing surround-sound experience. The clear voice sound mode also projects dialogue to the center of the soundscape to cut straight through to the viewer. It comes with a remote, but you can also download the Yamaha Theater Controller app to handle remote control duties. For clear audio and easy setup, this sound bar is a solid choice.
2. Sonos Arc
Everything from the shape of the sound bar, to the directional firing of the speakers, was well thought out and well-executed. Even without a subwoofer, the Sonos Arc projects great bass and fills up a room with a wide soundscape that resembles a full out home entertainment system. Connect it with the Sonos S2 app for easy control, as well as support from all the major music streaming services. It sounds and looks great, as it should for a sound bar priced around $800.
3. Roku Smart Sound Bar
BEST SOUND BAR UNDER $200
One part sound bar, one part media streamer, the Roku Smart Sound Bar brings all the benefits of the Roku media interface to your TV. It connects to any TV, and brings along apps like Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Netflix and Spotify, just to name a few. Beyond the interface benefits, for a sound bar under $200, the two-channel design surprisingly creates a wide soundscape that’s great for smaller living spaces or apartments. It’s an affordable and smart choice, especially when you add up all the benefits.
Roku Smart Sound Bar
4. Samsung HW-LST70T The Terrace Sound Bar
BEST FOR OUTDOORS
Think about your deck or backyard setup right now — are you using a Bluetooth speaker for your tunes? The Samsung Terrace Sound Bar gives you a chance to beef up your sound with a sound bar that is specifically optimized and designed for outdoor use. It’s resistant to extreme changes in temperature as well as water and dust. And the built-in subwoofer really gets the bass to travel, even outdoors. Sure, it’s expensive, but getting top-shelf sound quality just in time for summer BBQs is hard to pass up.
Samsung HW-LST70T The Terrace Sound Bar
5. Vizio SB2920-C6
Enjoy upgraded audio in your home entertainment center without having to empty your savings account with the Vizio SB2920-C6. It’s not as flashy, or feature-driven as others in our recommendations, but it is incredibly easy to set up, and has Bluetooth. For less than $80, what more do you really need? Don’t let the small size and the price fool you, this sound bar can ramp up the volume all the way up to 95 dB (about the same as a motorcycle engine).
6. JBL Bar 5.1
5.1 CHANNEL OPTION
We really should be calling this one the “transformer pick,” since it goes from a single sound bar and subwoofer combo to full 5.1 home-entertainment system. The two additional speakers break away from the ends of the sound bar and connect wirelessly for 10 hours before they need to be recharged. With the full system setup, you get Dolby Pro Logic and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound quality that will make you wonder how you went this long with upgraded sound in the first place.
JBL Bar 5.1
7. Sennheiser Ambeo Sound Bar
This is an expensive one, but along with the price comes exceptional audio quality, wireless connection and the latest digital surround sound technology. With multiple speakers uniquely positioned within the sound bar, you’ll think that you have speakers all throughout your living-room. The Dolby Atmos technology blankets your room with high-quality surround sound without having to run wires to and from multiple speakers. If you’ve got the money, you won’t be disappointed.
Sennheiser Ambeo Sound Bar
8. Sony HT-S350
Affordability and several different sound modes to tailor the sound quality are the reasons why this earns sound bar earned 4.5 star ratings from 686 Amazon users. If the news is your jam, use the voice enhancement to eliminate background noise and up vocal clarity. Watching an NBA game (it’s finally back)? The sports mode brings the arena atmosphere into your home. And the included subwoofer enhances bass response to bring the low-end that you crave as you watch your favorite movies.
9. TCL Alto 7+
You can enhance your home entertainment audio with the TCL Alto 7+ for under $200. That’s a great deal for the sound bar when you consider the clarity and bass enhancement it brings. It’s easy to set up, and also comes with a handful of useful cables including a HDMI Arc, optical, 3.5mm and IR pass-through. When you look at the price, your dollar goes a long way with the TCL Alto 7+.
TCL Alto 7+
10. Sonos Beam
The Sonos beam impresses everyone who listens to it. It’s a lightweight, and relatively small sound bar that produces big and clear audio. The speech enhancement feature ensures that dialogue cuts right through all the noise to deliver crystal clear audio. This sound bar doesn’t come with a subwoofer like others, so the bass isn’t as powerful, but the four speaker setup, and the three passive bass radiator setup, comes together to create great surround sound simulation that brings movies to life. All of the audio that comes out of the Sonos Beam is crystal clear. One of the biggest knocks is the sound bar doesn’t feature bluetooth connectivity — instead it connects to your home WiFi, so you can still stream music to the sound bar. And while that may be a negative to some, those already living in a Sonos speaker ecosystem can connect other speakers to this sound bar, delivering a true surround sound experience. It’s no wonder 63% of Amazon reviewers gave the Beam a perfect 5 out of 5 stars.
11. Sony ZF9
The Sony ZF9 simulates what Sony calls “vertical” surround sound. The directional firing of sound not only comes at you from the right and left, but also from above. This simulates encompassing surround sound, creating a soundscape that comes from all directions. The cinema mode really activates the vertical surround sound, while the news mode puts dialogue front and center. It also comes with a handful of features including 4K and Dolby vision compatibility, so you can connect your game console with no problem. It has built-in Chromecast to easily stream music, as well as Bluetooth and WiFi compatibility. It’s a comprehensive sound bar, but it also has a price tag to match.