Do you wish there was a better way to enjoy movies at home? Then, if you don’t already have one, you should definitely invest in a soundbar.
Our extensive testing has shown that compared to the TV’s built-in speakers—which are usually quite small because of the TV’s flat shape—a competent soundbar offers a considerably greater listening experience.
A high-end soundbar that supports Dolby Atmos can make you feel as though you’re sitting in the midst of the stadium while watching the game. If you play online multiplayer games like Call of Duty on a PlayStation 5 or Xbox One Series X/S, they will also enhance your ability to discern the direction of incoming fire.
There have been many recent releases of high-quality versions with smart multi-room wireless connectivity, letting you to effortlessly integrate them into your home’s existing sound system by linking them to speakers that are also compatible with this technology.
Choosing the correct hardware, however, can be difficult. After conducting extensive study and analysis, we have concluded that not all soundbars are made equal. The sound quality of various models varies widely; therefore, shelling out more cash is not always the best option. Our field research demonstrates, however, that the best price-to-performance ratio is typically found in the middle to upper range of the price spectrum.
Therefore, we have developed this shopping guide to assist you select the finest soundbar for your home theatre based on our testing and research.
If you want a luxury bar but have a smaller budget, the Samsung HW-Q930B is an excellent option. It provides a flexible performance at a lower cost than the similarly featured Samsung HW-Q990B. Although the design of its subwoofer isn’t as sleek as that of the most expensive model, it nevertheless produces a satisfyingly deep bass, and the two satellites help to disperse the sound effects throughout the room. The bar provides an excellent listening experience for Dolby Atmos content, with sound reproduction that is on par with that of the Q990B in terms of clarity and realism. It’s like being in the centre of the action while watching movies at home.
There aren’t as many bells and whistles on this set-up. Changing the volume of the subwoofer isn’t as simple as using the auto EQ option. SpaceFit Sound is another room correction tool that helps the bar reproduce sound the way you want it to rely on the acoustics of your specific space. In addition, you may modify the bass and treble to compensate for any discrepancies in the sound quality caused by your room’s acoustics, and there is a 7-band visual EQ. It works well as both a customisable pick and a plug-and-play configuration.
The Sony HT-G700, in our opinion, is the best wireless speaker for the money since it offers a good mix of useful features and high-quality sound at a reasonable price. The soundbar’s wireless subwoofer makes it a good fit for TVs with screen diagonals of 48 inches and higher.
This soundbar lives up to Sony’s reputation for making high-quality electronics. Sony uses its outstanding sound processing and acoustic trickery to produce a genuine wall of sound that goes well beyond the confines of your TV screen, while also maintaining convincing location and direction of specific sounds (something not guaranteed by even the most costly soundbars). It isn’t quite on par with Sonos, but it comes close.
Sony, however, has not forgotten the basics. The subwoofer offers it bass depth that something like the Sonos Arc can’t match on its own, allowing for crystal-clear dialogue even in busy action soundtracks without the need for speech-boosting mode.
Downsides? Despite having a Sony AV amplifier and dedicated Atmos speakers, the Atmos performance was not nearly on pace because of the lack of upfiring channels. Compared to the Sonos Arc and the Samsung HW-Q800A, it’s a lot cheaper, but if we had to be picky, we’d say it’s also a touch less dramatic, meaning it won’t shock you as much with sudden explosions or fill you with as much emotion during soaring musical passages. That’s because it’s the closest thing to a real movie that money can buy.
Sonos Arc soundbars are complete surround sound systems. If you like Sonos, you’ll like this soundbar’s surround effect.
The Sonos Arc reproduces modern Blu-ray discs and the best streaming services’ lossless sound using the latest Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus sound codecs. Dolby Atmos object tracks enhance the 3D soundscape by making some sounds seem to come from all directions. We found the effect to be realistic and easier to put up than ceiling speakers.
The smartphone app made it easy to set up and pair with our other Sonos speakers. The best single-unit Dolby Atmos soundbar uses few cable connections and an all-in-one system architecture.
Sonos Arc sounds great. The eight elliptical woofers give a strong bass response, while the middle is warm and clear.
Three silk dome tweeters deliver regulated, crystal-clear highs that match the system’s precision. The unit’s ability to isolate instrument sounds was impressive.
This spatial precision makes sense given that the Sonos Arc was optimised for the Dolby Atmos audio codec, which separates audio into object-based audio tracks. The Arc’s amazing functionality comes from its ability to tune to the space and reflect effects around you.
Sonos’ cheapest soundbar, the Ray, sacrifices some capabilities to fit in a smaller, more room-friendly chassis and cost less than the Beam.
The Sonos Beam is more concerned with making sure you can hear what people are saying and that soundtracks have enough detail and bass to sound right, which TV speakers can’t do.
No question it succeeds here. It’s small, but it produces a surprising amount of sound, blending hefty bass with speech detail.
It needs an optical connection instead of an HDMI ARC port to access TV sound, which is a drawback. Optical works with most TVs, but the Sonos Ray needs to learn your remote’s controls. The Sonos app leads you through this, making setup practically straightforward, but you’ll need to know how to switch off your TV’s built-in speakers.
The Sonos Ray is the company’s cheapest soundbar, but it’s still expensive compared to soundbars with subwoofers and Dolby Atmos for more dynamic and cinematic sound. If so, consider the Sony HT-G700, HT-S400, and Sonos Beam (Gen 2).
But they’re all bigger—if the Sonos Ray’s compactness is appealing, nothing else offers such terrific sound for the price. It also plays music well and has Sonos’ multi-room streaming capability.
Bose Smart Soundbar 600
The 600 has a smaller speaker array but a basically identical feature set. The 600 competes with the greatest simulated Atmos soundbars in its price category because to its five drivers, two of which are up-firing.
Though small and inexpensive, the 600 sounds bigger and better than expected. The greatest Dolby Atmos soundbars provide overhead Atmos effects above the TV screen and side-firing sounds. The sound balance is natural and appealing, and stereo music imaging is surprisingly wide and crisp for a tiny soundbar.
The Soundbar 600 has many features, including TrueSpace processing for music and stereo and 5.1 soundtracks and Atmos support. Wi-Fi, AirPlay 2, Chromecast built-in, Bluetooth, and Alexa and Works with Google Assistant allow streaming.
Bose offers HDMI eARC and optical digital inputs, unlike some inexpensive bars. The full-featured Bose Music app controls everything, and a basic hardware remote enhances voice control. This soundbar has the company’s elegant industrial design and is well-built for the price. Bose wireless subwoofers and surround speakers can be added at a high cost.
There are several sound settings and app-guided setup. This entry-level Dolby Atmos soundbar is a good choice for adding Atmos sound to your TV without breaking the bank.
Dolby Atmos and DTS:X codec support, along with an HDMI passthrough port, are included in the Samsung HW-Q700B Dolby Atmos soundbar’s 3.1.2 sound system configuration. It’s great for any TV, but when used with a Samsung TV equipped with Q-Symphony technology, the soundstage is expanded by merging the soundbar’s speakers with those of the TV.
The Samsung HW-Q700B can be thought of as a more affordable variant of the Samsung HW-Q800A, which was widely considered to be one of the best soundbars of 2017.
In terms of sound quality, the Samsung HW-Q700B is a significant upgrade over last year’s 700-series version. Samsung has replaced its Acoustic Beam technology, which delivered Dolby Atmos’s height-channel sound, with a pair of wide-range up-firing tweeters. The end result is a significantly more cinematic presentation that can hold its own against some of the greatest Dolby Atmos soundbars on the market today, but at a fraction of the price.
Even though its primary purpose is to enhance cinematic sound, the HW-Q700B may be used as a powerful Bluetooth speaker. The bar can play high-resolution music and has a wideband tweeter for clear, detailed sound. This soundbar is excellent for any television, but it is especially well suited to the greatest Samsung TVs ranging in size from 55 to 75 inches.
Sonos’ Beam (Gen 2) soundbar is tiny and powerful. It has simulated Dolby Atmos, HDMI eARC, and a new design. The new Sonos Beam delivers great value despite being pricier than the previous. Our best soundbar guide recommends it.
It integrates with the Sonos ecosystem, so you can add more speakers. The Beam (Gen 2) sounds great on its own, but adding the Sonos Sub or a pair of Sonos One SL speakers as back right and left channels improves the audio.
The Sonos S2 app makes it easy to connect the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) to your Wi-Fi network and set up your voice assistant. The S2 app also lets you use TruePlay, which uses the soundbar’s microphones to adapt the audio to your room. TruePlay improves sound, therefore it’s a bad it’s only for iOS devices. We recommend borrowing a friend’s iPhone for setup.
The new Beam has eARC compatibility, which fans of the original soundbar have wanted. The soundbar can now play hi-res audio codecs. Dolby Atmos compatibility is the Beam’s Gen 2 highlight. The soundbar uses psychoacoustics to give movie soundtracks height without upfiring drivers.
This should make your films’ sound feel like it’s coming from everywhere, but we weren’t convinced. The Beam (Gen 2) offers a big soundstage and robust audio performance for its size, but it lacks the overhead sound of the Sonos Arc (which has those all-important upfiring drivers). Our Sonos Arc review covers this powerful, pricey soundbar.
However, we don’t want to be too hard on the Beam (Gen 2). It’s still more immersive than a non-Atmos bar and has some vertical information, but it’s not as convincing as other virtual Atmos bars. Example: Sony HT-X8500 review. See our top Dolby Atmos speakers and soundbars. The Sonos Beam (Gen 2) is a good mid-range soundbar that can be upgraded with a subwoofer or rear speakers, but don’t expect a Dolby Atmos experience.
The LG S95QR broadens the definition of a soundbar with its four individual speaker units and a channel count that puts most separates-based systems to shame.
The LG S95QR will be the company’s top of the line soundbar in 2022, and its unusual 9.1.5 channel layout heralds a new development: an upward-firing centre speaker. The goal is to make on-screen dialogue feel more like it’s coming from the characters themselves, rather than a single front-firing speaker on a soundbar.
LG is pushing the boundaries further with the inclusion of a new middle height speaker on the LG S80QY, although even the best soundbars to date have only had four upfiring channels. The development of LG has advanced.
LG worked with premium speaker maker Meridian to create a one-of-a-kind music mode for the LG S95QR that makes the most of the device’s numerous channels.
The S95QR is a soundbar that can compete with the highest-quality Dolby Atmos options currently available. It has a vast dynamic range and an incredibly full soundstage that places the music from your favourite films all around you, even in the ceiling.
Sony has made it a practise, beginning with the HT-A7000 and continuing with the HT-G700 and HT-X8500, to produce soundbars of a high quality that would typically cost far more. This is what makes the Sony HT-S400 so remarkable: not only does the soundbar/subwoofer combination pump out an incredible 330W of total audio output.
The subwoofer is totally wireless, and the 2.1ch front surround sound speaker has both S-Force PRO Front Surround and Dolby Digital. Owners of Sony TVs have the ability to connect their speaker set wirelessly, in addition to employing Bluetooth A2DP, HDMI ARC, and compatibility for optical cables. In addition, integrated controls are provided.
On the soundbar itself, however, there is neither a 3.5mm input nor a USB input, so if you want to play music from a USB stick, you won’t be able to do so. These are two very minor flaws in an otherwise rock-solid piece of audio equipment.
Having said that, the essence of the listening experience is what matters. The HT-S400 performs an excellent job in its own right with regard to cinema and television, general music, and gaming across a variety of different platforms. There is no need for prospective purchasers to explore any further if they are interested in getting their feet wet in the world of premium soundbars at an affordable price.
There is an abundance of large, high-priced Dolby Atmos soundbars fighting for your attention and money. And if your TV’s audio isn’t up to par, there are many of compact soundbars available for a low price. But what if you don’t want to hear anyone recommend a Sonos Beam (Gen 2) but still want a compact speaker that can simulate the immersive audio experience of Dolby Atmos?
Denon claims that the Home Sound Bar 550 will fulfil all your wishes, and it can. The sound is everything but subtle on this small, well-equipped soundbar. There are a lot of ways to connect to it and it has a detailed specification (including the ability to play high-resolution audio and some processing wizardry to provide a feeling of spatial audio), so it seems like it may be a nice music speaker. And when put into practise, it certainly has a pleasing aural effect. At least up to a certain point.
There isn’t much to gripe about so long as you don’t expect too much in the way of object-based music or loudness settings. While the Denon Home 550 isn’t any more faithful to Dolby Atmos than the aforementioned Sonos (which is to say, not at all), it still manages to deliver a captivating and exciting listening experience because to its height and width of sound. If you take a chance with the volume, though, the Home 550 rapidly shows its teeth and can get rather aggressive.
Even if you’re not a cinephile, the finest soundbars improve your TV watching experience—even the best TVs’ built-in speakers don’t do your favourite movies, TV shows, and games justice.
Finding the best soundbar involves various factors.
Size first. Your soundbar should fit under or adjacent to your TV, depending on your setup. The tall Sonos Arc soundbar, meant for large screens, won’t look good with a 50-inch TV. You’ll need to measure your TV and the space you have to fit it and compare those measurements to the soundbar’s specifications.
Consider whether you need a Dolby Atmos speaker. Dolby Atmos is surround sound technology that surrounds you with noises and speech. Dolby Atmos soundbars cost extra. Dolby Atmos may be worth it for you. Otherwise, consider the Sony HT-S400.
Check your connection type too. Most new soundbars include HDMI and optical connectivity—the what’s difference? HDMI passes Dolby Atmos and high-resolution audio from your TV to your speaker. For a premium, immersive listening experience, your soundbar must have an HDMI connection and your TV must have an HDMI ARC connector.
There’s more to consider, but determining size, audio features, and connection early on should make picking the right soundbar easier.