Sat. Apr 13th, 2024


Adding the right soundbar to your home is a great way to make TV, movies, and music come to life without getting an entire home theater system. Our recommendations will give you some of the best audio experiences around.


UPDATE: 01/23/2024

We’ve updated our recommendation for the best budget and best soundbar for music.

What to Look For in a Soundbar in 2024

When shopping for a soundbar, almost anything will be an improvement when transitioning from your stock TV speakers. However, getting a suitable soundbar for your needs will be the difference between being just satisfied and being blown away with your purchase.

The best place to start is to think about where you’re going to put your soundbar. If the soundbar is in a small space, you can get away with spending a little less and getting something on the smaller side.

If you are in a bigger space or want something a little more impressive, it is worth spending a few extra bucks on a soundbar or perhaps getting one with a separate subwoofer for added depth. On the flip side, if you’re in an apartment or share a wall with neighbors, skipping the subwoofer is probably for the best.

From there, it’s just thinking about your budget range and what subwoofer has the surround sound technology you’re looking for, such as Dolby Atmos or DTS:X. The differences between these approaches won’t affect the sound much overall, but you may want to pay attention to them depending on where you get your media from.

Our recommendations will have you covered, no matter what you’re looking for.

How-To Geek’s product recommendations come from the same team of experts that have helped people fix their gadgets over one billion times. We only recommend the best products based on our research and expertise. We never accept payment to endorse or review a product. Read More »

Yamaha YAS-109
Yamaha

Pros

Cons

✓ High-quality, balanced sound

✗ No Dolby Atmos

✓ DTS Virtual:X Surround Sound

✓ Amazon Alexa compatible

✓ Clear Voice mode for enhanced dialogue clarity

When you’re searching for a standalone soundbar, the end-of-day goal is to improve upon your current TV watching audio experience. The Yamaha YAS-109 achieves this by providing built-in dual subwoofers, virtual surround sound, Alexa, and more in a minimalistic form factor.

The YAS-109 is simply a well-balanced sounding soundbar. The subwoofers give a lot of life to the sound, especially in action-packed films or films with an intense score. If you’re in a small to medium-sized room with this soundbar, you likely won’t feel a need for a subwoofer at all. If you’re looking to upgrade sound for a home theater, a subwoofer-paired soundbar would be a better option.

If you find voices hard to hear while watching certain movies or shows, the YAS-109 also includes a “Clear Voice” mode to boost the dialogue volume level, making it much easier to understand. Also, in terms of surround sound, Yamaha includes DTS’s popular DTS Virtual:X digital surround sound.

This Yamaha soundbar is also great for music. Given Yamaha has been making affordable, high-quality speakers for decades, this isn’t a shock.

The YAS-109 is a well-rounded soundbar with excellent build quality for only $199. We think this makes it the perfect soundbar for anyone, but especially for someone new to soundbars and at-home surround sound technology. The impressive performance will level up your movie nights, and the price won’t leave you bankrupt.

Yamaha Audio YAS-109

Yamaha YAS-109

Best Soundbar Overall

The Yamaha YAS-109 is a brilliant soundbar with favorable features for a low price. This soundbar easily gives you the best bang for your buck.

Bestisan S9920 (2023 Beef UP Version)

Pros

Cons

✓ Great sound at a low price

✗ No subwoofer makes for somewhat lacking bass

✓ Added HDMI port that was missing from the original

✓ Different DSP-powered sound modes are useful

It wasn’t all that long ago that budget soundbars didn’t stack up well to their higher-priced competition, but fortunately, that isn’t the case these days. The Bestisan S9920 was already a great soundbar for the price, but the new Bestisan S9920 (2023 Beef UP Version) adds a few upgrades that make it an even better buy than the original.

Like the original S9920, this is a 40-inch soundbar that offers 5-channel surround sound, with no included subwoofer. The updated version promises boosted bass to make up for the lack of a subwoofer, as well as more overall power to the sound.

Fortunately, the easy-to-use nature of the original S9920 is unchanged. You still get three different modes: Movie, Music, and Dialog. The first two are relatively self-explanatory, but the dialog version makes voices stand out, which is handy for watching TV shows or movies late at night when you don’t want to wake others.

One of our least favorite aspects of the original Bestisan S9920 was the lack of an HDMI-ARC port. The good news is that this updated model added this feature, taking away our only real misgiving about the soundbar. This makes getting the soundbar integrated with your TV much easier, and generally reduces the number of remotes you’ll need to keep nearby.

If you’re looking for a smaller soundbar, as a companion to a bedroom TV or other secondary TV, the S9920 may be a bit on the large side. You’ll also find 34-inch and 28-inch models available, both of which offer many of the same features, but in a smaller size and at a lower price.

Bestisan S9920 (2023 Beef UP Version)

BESTISAN S9920 (2023 Beef UP Version)

Best Budget Soundbar

The Bestisan S9920 was already a great soundbar for its price, but the 2023 Beef UP version boosts the bass and adds a much-needed HDMI port, making it an even better buy.

Best Premium Soundbar: Sonos Arc

Sonos Arc
Sonos

Pros

Cons

✓ Premium-quality everything

✗ Expensive

✓ Acoustic-tuning adjusts to your room

✓ Deep, rich bass

✓ Dolby Atmos surround sound

The Sonos Arc has a reputation for being one of the best soundbars you can buy for under $1,000. It is known mainly for its impressive surround sound and overall sound quality. There’s a lot that has gone into the Sonos Arc, so let’s unpack it all.

The Arc includes Dolby Atmos surround sound. Dolby Atmos systems often require ceiling-mounted speakers, but soundbars achieve a similar effect by including upward-firing speakers to bounce sound off your ceiling.

Acoustically, the Sonos Arc delivers an incredible performance due to its Trueplay tuning technology. Trueplay means the Arc can calibrate to any room you put it in through the Sonos app, giving you a completely customized experience for your space.

This Sonos soundbar is great for customization. On top of Trueplay, you can also customize the EQ levels to your liking. If you need to clarify dialogue, Sonos includes Speech Enhancement in the Arc. There’s also a Night Sound mode to reduce the volume of the loudest sound effects, so you don’t disturb housemates or neighbors.

The Arc includes voice assistance through Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, and it is also Apple Airplay 2 compatible. This soundbar will work with anything you throw at it.

You may experience a bit of sticker shock with this soundbar, especially since there are great options on this list for half the price. The difference is with the Sonos Arc is that it achieves the most convincing surround sound for a standalone soundbar. The bass holds up very well without a separate subwoofer as there are eight subwoofers built-in.

If you need a top-notch cinematic experience in your living room, the Sonos Arc is the way to go.

Sonos Arc

Sonos Arc

Best Premium Soundbar

$824 $899 Save $75

The Sonos Arc is one of the best all-in-one soundbars you can buy. Spending the extra cash will get you a high-quality, cinematic experience through and through.

Best Dolby Atmos Soundbar: JBL Bar 5.0

JBL Bar 5.0
JBL

Pros

Cons

✓ Wide variety of connectivity options

✗ Some lower-priced soundbars on this list offer similar performance

✓ Great signature JBL sound

✓ Dolby Atmos surround sound

If you know about JBL, then you know that they are consistently putting out great audio products. The JBL Bar 5.0 soundbar is no exception, and it would serve as a great addition to your TV setup.

In terms of connectivity, the JBL supports Apple Airplay, Alexa Multi-Room Music and has Chromecast built-in. The Bar 5.0 also supports Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections for supported devices. To utilize the surround sound, you need to connect via the HDMI eARC port.

We picked the JBL Bar 5.0 for its impressive sound performance, and Dolby Atmos surround sound. As previously mentioned, Dolby Atmos is supported by Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. So, if you stream on those services, it’s vital to get an Atmos-supported bar for surround, not DTS.

Incorporating JBL’s Multibeam technology to provide a vast soundstage in your chosen room, you won’t be disappointed by the surround sound performance. This soundbar won’t disappoint with regular audio either, though. JBL is known for having rich, punchy bass and crystal clear highs throughout all of its products, and the Bar 5.0 is no different.

If you’re looking for all-around impressive performance, premium build quality, Dolby Atmos surround sound, and plenty of connectivity options, the JBL Bar 5.0 is an excellent soundbar for you.

JBL BAR5.0

JBL Bar 5.0

Best Dolby Atmos Soundbar

The JBL Bar 5.0 is one of the smartest soundbars you can get, and it sounds amazing too with Dolby Atmos compatibility.

Best Surround Sound Soundbar: Sony HT-X8500

Sony HT-X8500
Amazon

Pros

Cons

✓ Supports both Dolby Atmos and DTS Virtual:X

✗ Not great for customizing equalization

✓ Wide soundstage

✓ Simple to use

For an incredible surround sound experience in a standalone soundbar, the Sony HT-X8500 is a great option. It has a sleek, low-profile design and delivers a convincing surround sound experience. This soundbar also comes with both Dolby Atmos and DTS Virtual: X, so you can try both leading versions of surround sound.

The sound quality from the Sony is excellent, but it has a bit less equalization wiggle room than some of the other soundbars on this list. However, it is well balanced for TV and movies right out of the box.

This soundbar tends to have mixed reviews on music sound quality and dialogue clarity, however. This is likely because this soundbar is best in small to medium-sized spaces and may not perform well in a larger-open area.

Therefore, if you’re in a smaller apartment or want a soundbar for your bedroom, the HT-X8500 is a good soundbar for you. If you’re in a bigger space, this is still a decent option if you’re sitting within 10 feet from the soundbar.

Among most reviews, it’s clear that this soundbar has a wide soundstage, meaning that it sounds impressively three-dimensional. The bigger the soundstage, the more realistic your surround sound will be. This soundbar simulates a 7.1.2ch surround sound system, which is impressive for something under $500. The HT-X8500 also has a Vertical Surround Engine to improve the already great surround sound options.

The connectivity of the HT-X8500 is up to par with most other modern soundbars. It comes equipped with an HDMI in, HDMI out (ARC/eARC), optical port, and USB. If your TV is capable of sending Bluetooth, you can also connect this soundbar wirelessly.

The Sony HT-X8500 includes several different sound modes to choose from for basically any situation. These modes have dedicated buttons on the remote, giving you the same simplicity that the BYL Bestisan soundbar provides.

The delivery of features on this soundbar is quite as glorious as the Sonos Arc, but it still packs a lot of features that you can often only get in soundbars that are double the price.

Sony HTX8500

Sony HT-X8500

Best Surround Sound Soundbar

$198 $400 Save $202

Can’t decide whether you want a Dolby Atmos bar or DTS Virtual:X? This Sony soundbar does both.

Best Soundbar with Subwoofer: JBL Bar 2.1

JBL Bar 2.1 in living room
JBL

Pros

Cons

✓ Subwoofer adds a layer of deep bass

✗ No Dolby or DTS surround sound (JBL uses it’s own surround sound here)

✓ Impressive sound for a cinematic experience

✗ Less smart than the 5.0

The JBL Bar 2.1 is another excellent example as to why JBL has the reputation that it does. For even less than the price of the JBL Bar 5.0, you can have that same great JBL signature sound with a dedicated, wireless subwoofer and more wattage to push the sound to your ears.

This sound system can seriously pack a punch by flaunting 300 watts of power between the bar and the subwoofer. The audio is top-notch, and whether you’re in a bedroom or a large living room, you’ll be satisfied with how full this 2.1 setup sounds.

So, what’s the catch? Well, the JBL Bar 2.1 is simply less smart than the Bar 5.0. If you go with the 2.1, you will be skipping out on Alexa, Airplay, and Chromecast options. You also won’t get Dolby Atmos surround sound, but JBL provides its own surround sound technology to take its place.

The bass on this unit is a serious upgrade from the 5.0 and most all-in-one soundbars. This JBL soundbar is best for someone more of an audio purist who doesn’t need the extras with the 5.0. If you’re looking for something just to set up and not pay it much mind while enjoying a theater-like cinematic experience, this is a solid, simple option.

JBL Bar 2.1

JBL Bar 2.1

Best Soundbar with Subwoofer

Having a dedicated subwoofer along with your soundbar is a great way to add a layer of deep, rich bass. The JBL Bar 2.1 setup is perfect for just that.

Vizio M-Series M512a-H6

Pros

Cons

✓ Separate woofers and tweeters for better clarity

✗ No Airplay or Chromecast support

✓ Two upward-firing speakers for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X

✓ Included subwoofer and surround speakers

✓ Frequency range of 45Hz to 20kHz

While soundbars are often far superior to a TV’s built-in speakers, they don’t excel everywhere. Specifically, most soundbars offer a pretty lackluster experience if you want to use them for listening to music. Fortunately, this doesn’t apply to every soundbar, and the Vizio M-Series M512a-H6 is a perfect example.

This is a 5.1.2-channel soundbar with a total of 11 speakers, two of which are upward-firing for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support. That might be great, for movies, but what does it have to do with music? Not much, but the use of separate woofers and tweeters instead of all-in-one full-range drivers does. They allow for better clarity and a wider frequency range, which is much more important in music than in movies.

In addition to the main soundbar, the M512a-H6 features a separate six-inch subwoofer to fill out the low end, giving the soundbar a frequency range of 45Hz to 20kHz. You also get a pair of low-profile surround speakers to add to the immersion when you’re watching movies or TV shows. These are volume-adjustable, so you don’t need to worry about the surround speakers overpowering the other speakers if you’re sitting too close to them.

Many soundbars come with either a barebones remote or even no remote at all, relying exclusively on HDMI-ARC. This soundbar does support ARC but also comes with a feature-packed remote that even includes a backlit display, making it easy to control every aspect of the soundbar. You also get a full suite of voice assistants, with support for Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant.

This is a 40-inch soundbar, making it suitable for most TVs, but if it’s too large, or you simply don’t want Atmos or DTS:X support, lower channel-count models are available. You’ll find both 5.1-channel and 2.1-channel models that share many of the same features, but at a lower price.

Vizio M-Series M512a-H6

Vizio M-Series M512a-H6

Best Soundbar for Music

$100 $110 Save $10

The Vizio M-Series M512a-H6 is packed with 11 total speakers for immersive sound including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support, but the separate woofers and tweeters improve clarity, making it a great pick for music.



Source link

By John P.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *