The 10 Best Soundbars to Buy Right Now

Home theater enthusiasts know that when it comes to performance there is no real substitute for an AV receiver connected to discrete speakers spread around the room. But soundbars, those popular standalone TV speaker systems, have been getting better and better with each passing year, and some very respectable options have been turning up in the premium category. At Sound & Vision, we’re constantly on the hunt for soundbars (and now, soundbases on which you plant your TV) that perform better than the competition at various prices.

Here’s our current list of the best you can buy, with recommendations under $500, from $500 to $1,000, and above $1,000. For the full review (where available), click on the title of each product.—Rob Sabin


Vizio S5430w-C2 Soundbar System: $300 (currently selling for $250 on


Summary: Although its recent Sound Stand was a disappointment, Vizio has consistently delivered surprisingly good soundbars at budget prices. The 3-channel S5430w-C2 comes highly recommended for the budget shopper. At 54 inches wide, it’s intended for sets with screens 60-inches or larger and has the advantage of being self-contained—given its size, it can produce decent bass without a subwoofer. Vizio’s 2.1-channel S4221w-C4 (not shown) looks almost identical to the S5430, but comes in a shorter 42-inch width and includes a stand-alone subwoofer.

Plus: Three-channel soundbar • Impressive soundstage width • Excellent price/performance ratio
Minus: May block your TV’s remote sensor • No supplied subwoofer

sturner43's picture

Great article and it helped me with my purchase of the Sony HT-ST5. One serious issue in my opinion however is the fact that every time you turn the system on the input automatically defaults back to TV. It will not hold the last input used. I have the bar set up using HDMI ARC and a FIOS HD box connected to the bar in HDMI 1. I always have to manually change the input to HDMI 1 when the system is turned on and all we want to do is watch television. From what I can gather this is how the system is designed. Unfortunately I didn't find this out until after I had everything unpackaged and set up. A bit of a pain for the family and a design flaw in my opinion.

Rob Sabin's picture
I'd be checking in a situation like this to see if HDMI-CEC is active in both the TV and bar. If it's required for ARC, this may be an inherent issue but not one that's isolated to this unit.
brit.buresh's picture

I seriously question the value of anything Vizio. I find it very hard to believe a sound bar from the likes of Yamaha(yas-103), Klipsch(R-10B), Boston(Tvee26), JBL(SB400), Energy(CS30), etc do not offer better value in the under 500 or under 1000 categories. Every demo I have ever listened to has always shown this to be true no matter what "TV" brand the "audio" brand is compared to. My advice is when buying audio is seek out a brand with long history/heritage of making it. Also good luck getting a decent demo on any Vizio product, you can only find them at Box stores where they are typically not hooked up and if they are they are probably broken.

SQCraving's picture

First off, I do not think that Soundbars are really meant to be a home theater experience. TV speakers are horrible. I wanted something for my bedroom that was far better than TV speakers but was not expecting brilliantly clear sound either. I simply wanted good sound far better than the TV speakers and that could broadcast audio from my home automation system. I actually auditioned many of the top brands. yes,, some sounded much better, but cost 4 to 5 times more. For the price,, the Vizio actually sound really good and are fairly efficient. You can typically demo them at Walmart or BestBuy. Go check it out. As I said for the price, it sounds fairly good. I was impressed for the price. I have about a $10,000 stereo in my theater and about a $5,000 stereo in my listening room. I would not consider myself an audiophile or a novice, but I do take sound fairly seriously.