Instantly improve your home theater setup with the best soundbars
The best soundbars have come a long way in the last few years. While full-sized speakers will still sound better — sound needs space, after all — soundbars are great for their size. That size also requires a smaller footprint in your living room, so it’s great for people who want to save space. With something like the Sonos Beam, you’ll get great sound without a head-scratching installation process, and more. Plus, if it’s paired up with one of the best Android TVs, then this creates the ultimate home theater setup so you can grab some popcorn and enjoy your favorite movies. There are other great soundbars available, and we have detailed some of the best soundbar options for your home.
Best Soundbar Overall: Sonos Beam Smart TV Sound Bar
With the Sonos Beam, you get the best soundbar with some basic smarts. The Sonos Beam connects to your TV with HDMI-ARC or with the included HDMI-to-Optical adapter. A recent update has brought the ability for integration between Sonos products and Google Assistant. You can control your TV with your voice if your TV supports HDMI-CEC, which most modern sets do. Controlling your TV with your voice isn’t a replacement for a remote, but it’s an excellent option.
Sonos’ ecosystem is attractive because of how easy it is to add more of its speakers to create a surround system. And as for connections, you’ll get a single HDMI port, a single Ethernet port, and the standard AC power input. You can start with the Sonos Beam and have a great soundbar. A few months later, you can pick up a couple of Sonos One speakers to add more channels. Or, you can buy a Sonos 5.1 kit with everything you need and create one of the best soundbar systems you can find.
However, if you want to experience better “lows” in your movies and video games, you’ll want to pick up a subwoofer after-the-fact. This adds more of a punch to intense scenes and helps to immerse you in whatever you’re watching or playing. Until then, the Beam creates a wide soundstage with effective low-end sound all on its own, as we discovered during our Sonos Beam review.
- Amazon Alexa built-in
- Compatible with Google Assistant
- Integration with other Sonos speakers
- Great sound
- No subwoofer included
- Optical cable needed if HDMI-ARC not available
- Voice commands won’t work with Optical cable
Best Soundbar Overall
Sonos Beam Smart TV Sound Bar
All of the smarts
With Alexa support and the ability to pair with other Sonos speakers, the Beam should be the go-to soundbar for almost everyone.
Best Soundbar for Sonos Enthusiasts: Sonos Arc
The best Sonos speakers used to be limited to portable Bluetooth speakers that paired to your phone; now, you can get them all over the house. Sonos has become a household name for TV audio after diving into the soundbar industry, with the Sonos Arc coming in as its flagship model. It offers the homeowner eight woofers, three tweeters, and a total of 11 amplifiers for incredible, immersive sound. This is paired with a far-field microphone to work alongside your voice assistant of choice.
The Arc requires only two cables to plug in before being ready to experience this soundbar’s greatness, which is incredible if you don’t want a complicated setup. As for connections, the Playbar offers one Ethernet port, an HDMI ARC port (with included cable), and an Optical Audio port. Plus, as part of the Sonos family, you can connect the Arc to other Sonos speakers for a surround-sound experience.
It’s a fantastic option, and we had almost nothing but praise for it in our Sonos Arc review. But the Arc isn’t without a couple of downfalls that may have you looking elsewhere. First is the size and weight — it measures in at more than 13 pounds and is 45 inches wide, so you’ll need to have plenty of space and heavy-duty wall anchors. The other pitfall is that there is no subwoofer included, so you may not get as much “punch” during your movies as you might want.
- Wall mountable
- Integrates with other Sonos speakers
- Only two cables to hook-up
- Works with Google Assistant, Alexa, and Apple Airplay 2
- May be too large for TVs under 49 inches
- Subwoofer not included
Best Soundbar for Sonos Enthusiasts
Great sound with the smarts to boot
Sonos knocked it out of the park with the Playbar, as this is compatible with Amazon Alexa and is perfect for most setups.
Best All-in-one Soundbar: Roku Streambar
A few different streaming box options are available now, including the NVIDIA Shield TV, which is arguably the best Android TV boxes. While Amazon and Google get a lot of hype, Roku is still kicking around, and that hype could shift with the Roku Streambar. The problem with soundbars and streaming boxes is that these can end up taking up too many HDMI ports on your TV.
With the Roku Streambar, this is the all-in-one solution you may have been looking for. Roku has built-in its streaming services, along with featuring a soundbar with Dolby Audio. With the HDMI ARC port, just connect the Streambar to the best cheap 4K TV you can get, and enjoy 4K HDR content and upgraded audio.
Although the Streambar lacks an included wireless subwoofer, you can spring for one after the fact. Plus, Roku offers wireless satellite speakers that all can be paired with the Streambar for the ultimate home theater system. The biggest problem with the Streambar is that you’ll likely want to grab the Ethernet adapter since this soundbar does not include an Ethernet jack, and Roku doesn’t include the adapter in the box.
- Built-in 4K HDR streaming
- HDMI ARC support
- Compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant
- Can be expanded with subwoofer and wireless speakers
- Dolby Audio
- No wireless subwoofer included
- Ethernet adapter sold separately
Best All-in-one Soundbar
The true all-in-one soundbar has arrived
The Roku Streambar is here to provide the best all-in-one home theater system you never thought you needed.
Best Soundbar for Fire TV: TCL Alto 8+
If it hasn’t been obvious over the past few years, one of the best streaming devices has been the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K. But what if we told you that you could get one built right into your new soundbar? Well, that’s what you’ll get with the TCL Alto 8+. TCL is already known for some of the best soundbars, but the Alto 8+ brings a new focus on combining your streaming TV needs with a great audio experience for that 4K content.
While the Alto 8+ may not look all that impressive, there are a few extra tricks that you’ll find with this soundbar. For one, there’s a built-in subwoofer, so you won’t have to worry about trying to route any extra cables, nor will you need to worry about paying extra for some improved bass. There are also three different sound modes in the software, providing optimized sound for movies, music, or the news.
Not everything is great about the TCL Alto 8+, however, as this soundbar does not feature any support for Dolby Atmos. With more and more soundbars seeing this included, it’s a bit disappointing to see TCL miss the mark here. Another potential frustration is the inclusion of only a single HDMI port on the backside. This may not be a huge deal for some, but if you’re planning on using this with your PS5, you’ll end up a bit disappointed.
- Built-in Fire TV 4K
- Voice Remote with Alexa included
- Built-in subwoofer
- Various Sound Modes to choose from
- No Dolby Atmos support
- Only one HDMI port
- Does not feature Wi-Fi connectivity
Best Soundbar for Fire TV
TCL Alto 8+
Built-in Fire TV
The TCL Alto 8+ is an impressive soundbar with a built-in Fire TV and Alexa smarts with the Voice Remote.
Best Soundbar for Bose Fans: Bose Smart Soundbar 300
Bose has been in the sound game for a long time, but its home theater audio options used to be priced out of budget for many potential owners. Those times have changed, and the Bose Smart Soundbar 300 system couldn’t be better evidence of that. This 2″ x 27″ x 4″ soundbar is priced and designed to compete directly with the Sonos Beam but has the premium Bose features we’re used to from its more expensive models.
On its own merits, the Bose Smart Soundbar 300 has four full-range drivers and a central tweeter for compact, distortion-free sound. It also has a mic for built-in Alexa or Google Assistant, which you can use to control your TV or cable box, or answer phone calls. Plus, it has several connectivity options: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, and Bose SimpleSync to the best Bose headphones.
For dedicated Bose fans, you can pair your 300 to other Bose Bluetooth speakers, or buy a Bose Bass Module or Surround Speakers to build a total home theater system. These can add up in price, but we appreciate that the Smart Soundbar 300 mostly stands on its own as an audio experience until you can afford to augment it with new audio tech.
- Can be paired with Bose wireless speakers and subwoofers
- Built-in support for Assistant and Alexa
- Bluetooth connectivity enables music streaming
- Affordable compared to previous Bose soundbars
- No subwoofer included
- Might be too small for some
Best Soundbar for Bose Fans
Bose Smart Soundbar 300
Perfect soundbar for most people
The Bose Smart Soundbar 300 shows Bose’s attempt to take on Sonos with a compact soundbar priced below its usual luxury range.
Best Soundbar for 3D Surround Sound: Yamaha YAS-209BL Soundbar
In years past, Yamaha has released some of the best soundbar options that you could find. Now, the Yamaha 209BL soundbar shows that the company has taken its experience and introduced another fantastic option. There is surround sound, and then there is a three-dimensional surround sound, and the Yamaha 209BL Soundbar is a vast improvement over its predecessor. With DTS Virtual:X, the 209BL will fill every inch of your room to entrench you in the action and make you feel like you are part of the movie.
Yamaha also includes the ability to stream music over Bluetooth and use either the included remote or the accompanying smartphone app. Plus, there is a wireless subwoofer packaged in the bundle so you can get just the right amount of bass for your favorite movie, TV show, or music playlist.
Unfortunately, while the 209BL is excellent in many facets, there are a few frustrating omissions. The first frustration is the number of inputs, as there’s a single HDMI for input, one for output, and a single Digital Optical output port. As for smart home assistants, you’ll be limited to Amazon Alexa, which is already built-in. However, Google Assistant and Apple AirPlay 2 users will not be able to take advantage of those benefits. Additionally, Yamaha has not included support for all music streaming services, including the likes of Apple Music, TIDAL, or YouTube Music.
- Wireless subwoofer included
- Virtual 3D surround sound
- Amazon Alexa built-in for voice control
- Use the included remote or application on your phone
- Does not support all music-streaming services
- No support for multi-room systems
- Limited input/output ports
Best Soundbar for 3D Surround Sound
Yamaha YAS-209BL Soundbar
The Yamaha 209BL is a nearly perfect soundbar between the subwoofer and virtual 3D sounds, but there are still some compromises.
Best Soundbar for Google Assistant: Polk Audio Signa S3
Source: Polk Audio
Polk is another one of those companies that prides itself on providing great audio experiences throughout your home. The Signa S3 Sound Bar is no different and has a few tricks up its sleeves that other soundbars simply can’t compete with. Kicking everything off, the Command Bar sports a single ARC-compatible HDMI, along with a standard optical port for your television and an auxiliary cable.
Smart home integration is on board, with Google Assistant built right-in, and you’ll have the added benefit of the built-in Chromecast. The Signa S3 also includes a wireless subwoofer so that you can get that extra bass from your media without the need for any additional wires.
While being able to control your TV and soundbar with a single remote is nifty, we would have liked to see a more robust remote from Polk. The included remote gives you just basic controls, without any shortcuts to Netflix or another streaming app. Those who want to have multiple devices connected directly to the Signa S3 will be disappointed as there’s just a single HDMI port on this soundbar.
- Built-in Chromecast
- Wireless subwoofer included
- Single remote to control your TV and soundbar
- Universal TV compatibility with HDMI ARC
- Pretty basic remote is included
- Only one HDMI port included
Best Soundbar for Google Assistant
Polk Audio Signa S3
Sleek, smart, and powerful
The Signa S3 includes Dolby Digital 5.1, is sleek, includes a subwoofer, and is excellent for those wanting Google Assistant.
Best Soundbar for Truly Wireless Surround Sound: JBL Bar 5.1
Google has done a phenomenal job getting Google Assistant into the hands of millions. What is even better is that more products are launching that integrate Assistant, so it’s even more useful.
The JBL Bar 5.1 is the perfect example of this, as the company worked with Google to integrate not only Google Assistant, but also Google Cast support. Onboard, there are three HDMI ports, along with an HDMI Arc output option. JBL even included a privacy switch for the microphone if you don’t want your soundbar listening. However, one of the most significant advantages is the truly-wireless surround sound speakers that detach from the primary soundbar. You can then mount them in different areas around your room and charge them with the main soundbar.
Despite being a favorite for the best soundbar, some sacrifices had to be made. For one, you can’t currently add this to your Google Home Groups. That likely won’t make or break your purchase, but it’s something to be wary of when you get this soundbar. Additionally, the Bar 5.1’s wireless speakers are equipped with Micro-USB charging and not USB-C, which is just disappointing at this point.
- Wireless surround speakers included
- 10-inch wireless subwoofer
- Three HDMI inputs
- Instantly switch sound between devices
- Micro-USB charging for surround speakers
- Finding the proper configuration can be frustrating
- Plastic design
Best Soundbar for Truly Wireless Surround Sound
JBL Bar 5.1
Get Google Assistant built-in
JBL’s Bar 5.1 is a fantastic option for those who want to get rid of the wires and still have a great surround sound experience.
Best Soundbar for Samsung TVs: Samsung HW-Q800T Soundbar
It can be frustrating when you have to continually switch your EQ levels to match the type of content being viewed. With Samsung’s HW-Q800T Soundbar, you can throw those worries out the window. The soundbar sports Adaptive Sound Mode, which automatically adjusts the EQ levels based on whatever you are watching.
There is a catch: You’ll need to have the Q800T plugged into one of the best Samsung TVs on the market with the new QLED models. Even if you don’t have one of those TVs, the Q800T is intriguing with its passthrough 4K compatibility, along with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support. As for the connections, Samsung provides a single HDMI input, one HDMI output, an Optical input, and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Samsung really knocked it out of the park with the Q800T, but one possible frustration source comes from the included remote. Designed to control all of your Samsung home theater products, it’s not as reliable as previous iterations. However, you can use your smartphone with the Samsung SmartThings app to replace the old remote.
- Dolby Atmos/DTS:X Support
- Built-in Alexa
- Wireless subwoofer
- 4K Passthrough built-in
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Some functions limited to Samsung TVs
- Included remote is not reliable
Best Soundbar for Samsung TVs
Samsung HW-Q800T Soundbar
Perfect if you want a Samsung TV setup
With the Samsung Q800T Soundbar, you get an array of features such as Dolby Atmos, but you need to have the right Samsung TV.
Best Soundbar for Roku Users: Hisense HS218 Home Theater System
Finding a soundbar that not only sounds great but also includes a subwoofer can be tough. Hisense is here with the HS218 Home Theater System, which features four built-in speakers to go along with the LED screen on the front and more. The included subwoofer pairs wirelessly to the main soundbar making it easy to fit any home theater setup while offering up to 200 Watts of audio.
Roku fans can rejoice, knowing that the Hisense HS218 is “Roku TV ready.” This means the setup process has never been easier if you already own a Roku device, and then the Roku remote can be used to control everything. Plus, with HDMI ARC support, just connect your soundbar to your TV via HDMI and forget having to worry about optical audio cables. Throw in the different audio modes and built-in Bluetooth, and the Hisense HS218 is a great option for Roku TV users everywhere.
Although Hisense does include Dolby Digital Audio with the HS218, you may end up being a bit disappointed. Outside of the wireless subwoofer, there is no way for you to pair satellite speakers with the HS218, so what you see is what you get for a home theater system. We also would have liked to see Bluetooth 5.0 included since many products released nowadays feature the latest version, instead of the almost seven-year-old Bluetooth 4.2.
- Wireless subwoofer included
- HDMI ARC support
- LED Screen on front
- Roku TV-ready
- Dolby Digital Audio
- Bluetooth 4.2
- Can’t add more speakers to the soundbar
Best Soundbar for Roku Users
Hisense HS218 Home Theater System
Roku TV users get a solid soundbar and a subwoofer
The Hisense HS218 includes four built-in speakers and a wireless subwoofer for a great soundbar system.
Best Cheap Soundbar for Dolby Atmos: VIZIO 36″ 5.1.2-Channel Soundbar (SB36512-F6)
Source: Android Central
Most of the best Dolby Atmos soundbars will cost you well over a grand, while the cheaper Atmos-compatible soundbars are standalone devices that can only produce a pale imitation of 3D audio. This Vizio soundbar actually comes with the subwoofer and rear speakers necessary to bounce sound artfully around your living room, but without the premium price that usually demands.
In our Vizio SB-36512-F6 review, we praised its Atmos performance for adding “completely new depth” to movie soundtracks, and filling a room with distinct objects that a standalone 3.0ch soundbar can’t hope to match. It had some issues with the remote control and Vizio SmartCast app, but no complaints with the sound performance itself.
If you truly want the best Atmos experience, the Samsung HW-Q90R or LG SN11RG will absolutely outperform the Vizio SB36512-F6; they’ll just add an extra thousand dollars to your bill. Considering Atmos content is still relatively niche, we’re hesitant to recommend dropping that kind of cash unless you really can afford it. Vizio’s soundbar will still outperform many of the other best soundbars on this list in producing a wide, rich soundstage.
- Easy to set up
- Subwoofer and rear speakers for cheap
- Dolby Atmos-compatible
- Google Assistant, Bluetooth, and Chromecast support
- Only one HDMI input
- No DTS:X, Alexa, or AirPlay support
- Unimpressive remote control
Best Cheap Soundbar for Dolby Atmos
VIZIO 36″ 5.1.2-Channel Soundbar (SB36512-F6)
Blow up your soundstage, not your price
Vizio’s Atmos-compatible soundbar will make regular surround sound feel boring and static by comparison.
Best Soundbar on a Budget: TCL Alto 3
Some folks either don’t want to or don’t need to dive into the deep end when it comes to finding the best soundbars. If you have a smaller TV and just want a better audio experience, the TCL Alto 3 is here to fit the bill. The Alto 3 measures in at just 23.6-inches, making it the perfect option for those with limited space.
There are several different sound modes to pair with the content that you’re enjoying, along with five hardware buttons on the soundbar to make adjustments. While you won’t find a built-in subwoofer or add-on satellite speakers, the Alto 3 does support Dolby Digital processing. The Alto 3 can also double as your Bluetooth speaker if you want to take advantage of the versatility of this soundbar.
For most, installing a soundbar is as simple as plugging it into the wall, setting it on your TV stand, and plugging in the HDMI cable. However, that last step may be a bit difficult for Alto 3 owners, as there is no HDMI port built-in. Instead, you’ll need to rely on the Optical port for your television’s audio needs. Another downside for the Alto 3 is that you are unable to mount this on a wall, short of installing some type of shelf. There is no hardware included, nor are there any holes in the back of the soundbar to mount this on the wall by itself.
- Compact design
- Features Optical, 3.5mm jack, Bluetooth
- Various Sound Modes to choose from
- No HDMI port
- Cannot be wall-mounted
- No Dolby Atmos support
Best Soundbar on a Budget
TCL Alto 3
Getting started with soundbars
With the TCL Alto 6, you’re getting a barebones soundbar experience, which should be fine for beginners.
What’s the best Soundbar?
Soundbars come in all shapes and sizes, and there are many different considerations to be taken when selecting the best one. The Sonos Beam is pick for the best soundbar with its combination of superb sound quality and ability to be paired with other Sonos speakers. This will allow you to create a genuinely immersive, surround audio experience for your home, providing the ultimate movie night.
There are some downfalls, as there is no wireless subwoofer available, so the sound may not “punch” as hard as you would like. Although there is a smart assistant available with Amazon’s Alexa, you may run into problems if you have to use the Optical connection, as voice commands are not accessible.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Andrew Myrick is a regular freelancer at Android Central and iMore. He has been a tech enthusiast ever since the original iPhone was released and continues to flip-flop between devices. You might as well hook him up to an IV filled with coffee to get him through the day. If you have any questions, you can find him on Twitter, and he’ll get back to you.
We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.