As our tech gets slimmer and smarter, there are naturally some tradeoffs. Remember the days when you only had to charge your flip phone about once a week? A similar problem plagues modern TVs. When we kicked our boxy behemoths to the curb to make way for slim TVs with picture quality that could do justice to the Hubble Space Telescope, one major sacrifice was made: sound. The audio quality on even the best flat-screen TVs is lacking, which is why a wireless soundbar is a great investment.
Unlike a true surround sound speaker system, a soundbar requires less setup and typically costs less, making soundbars a great way to upgrade your TV audio without going full audiophile. That’s not to say soundbars don’t deliver great sound — with multiple drivers, subwoofer bundles and unique technology like speech enhancement, action movie explosions will boom without blowing out your eardrums and quiet conversations will finally be clear and audible. The audio isn’t the only part of a soundbar that’s designed with movies in mind; the actual shape is, too. The slender profile of soundbars allows them to easily fit under your TV on a media stand or be mounted to the wall. That means that no matter how small your apartment is or how crowded your media stand, you can make room for a soundbar.
One feature to look out for in a soundbar is wireless connectivity. Some of our favorite soundbars boast Bluetooth, WiFi, and even voice-controls, allowing your soundbar to do double duty for wireless music streaming or as a smart speaker. Some options also include a subwoofer, which can be placed behind the couch to create a more immersive experience.
It’s worth noting that using the term “wireless” when discussing soundbars is not quite the same as the Bluetooth speaker you take to the beach. You’ll still need to plug the soundbar into the TV and the subwoofer or rear speakers into a power source. The feature that makes these wireless is the ability to pair a subwoofer or rear speakers without plugging them into the soundbar, in addition to features like WiFi and Bluetooth. Wireless subwoofers and speakers allow you to get that surround-sound experience without needing to run a bunch of speaker wires all over your living room.
We’ve picked out some of our favorite wireless soundbars, including options from top audio brands like Sonos and Sony.
1. Sonos Beam Smart TV Sound Bar
Sonos Beam combines built-in Alexa and WiFi with Sonos’ legendary home audio reputation for a system that’s smart and sounds great. It can be wirelessly paired with other Sonos speakers, such as the subwoofer, allowing you to create an immersive surround sound experience. And if you’d rather not listen too loudly, speech enhancement software makes movies audible without having to turn the knob to 100.
Pros: Can be wirelessly paired with other Sonos speakers for a surround sound experience. Built-in voice control.
Cons: Expensive, considering this model does not include the subwoofer.
2. Sony Z9F Sound bar
This system from Sony includes a soundbar and wireless subwoofer. That, combined with Dolby Atmos, will make you feel like you’re watching your favorite movies in the theater. Plus, you can stream music through the built-in WiFi and Bluetooth. There are also seven different sound modes, including “Cinema,” “Music” and “News”, meaning that late-night hip hop heads and early morning news junkies alike will find something to love in this speaker.
Pros: Includes subwoofer. Built-in WiFi and Bluetooth. 4K HDR compatible. Features voice enhancement for clearer audio without raising the volume.
Cons: Besides the built-in sound modes, there’s no way to finetune the soundbar to your audio preferences.
3. Polk Audio Signa S2 Ultra-Slim TV Sound Bar
Budget-conscious audio enthusiasts have a friend in Polk, which offers this soundbar and subwoofer for about half the price of some soundbars. The subwoofer pairs with the soundbar wirelessly, allowing you to set it up anywhere in the house. The soundbar is also only two inches tall, so it can be set under a TV on a media stand without blocking your view. Plus, built-in Bluetooth allows you to stream from your favorite music services. You can also use the remote to adjust bass, volume, as well as audio and voice settings.
Pros: Affordable option. Includes soundbar and wireless subwoofer. Connects to Bluetooth.
Cons: The Signa S2 does not include WiFi, only Bluetooth, although you can get the S3 instead which does have WiFi.
4. Yamaha Sound Bar with Built-in Subwoofers
Rather than a separate subwoofer, this soundbar features two built-in subwoofers to capture lows. That makes the Yamaha soundbar a great option for space-constrained living spaces or anyone who doesn’t want to have to find an extra outlet for a subwoofer. Built-in Bluetooth also allows you to stream music, and you can pair this speaker with an Amazon Alexa device.
Pros: Sleek rounded design. Affordable option with built-in subwoofers. Enhanced voice feature.
Cons: No WiFi.