Top Picks Soundbars

Sonos Ray Soundbar: $279
The Ray is latest soundbar from Sonos and, at $279, its least expensive model, coming in almost $200 less than the excellent Atmos-ready Beam (Gen 2) we reviewed last year. Like the Beam, it’s an all-in-one affair but it doesn’t support Atmos surround sound or voice control. Instead, you get a strikingly simple soundbar that sounds good and is small enough to fit on a shelf or under almost any TV, making it ideal for dorms, bedrooms, and other secondary spaces. The moment reviewer Leslie Shapiro fired up the Ray, she was impressed the clarity of the sound — especially on voices — whether she was listening to music or watching a movie. (October/November 2022 Read Full Review)
Polk Audio Signa S4 Atmos Soundbar: $399
Immersive Dolby Atmos sound for 400 hundred bucks is a tall order, yet that’s what Polk is aiming for with its Signa S4 soundbar system, one of the least expensive Atmos-enabled bars money can buy. Though it’s a pretty basic 3.1.2 setup comprising a compact wireless subwoofer and slender, 41-inch soundbar featuring three left/center/right driver complements and two up-firing height speakers, it delivers surprisingly spacious sound — better than what you might expect from a soundbar in this price category — and will transform an ordinary TV and moving viewing into an engaging experience. (June/July 2022 Read Full Review)
Sonos Beam Gen 2 Soundbar: $449
With the Beam Gen 2 soundbar, Sonos added Dolby Atmos surround processing to expand the sense of immersion over the original Beam. Atmos builds upon the proven beamforming technology Sonos employs, which uses advanced signal processing to create an enveloping audio experience from an all-in-one soundbar with no additional speakers. Like its predecessor, the next-gen soundbar is remarkably full-featured, a cinch to set up, and equipped with Sonos’ proven Trueplay automated tuning system. Reviewer Mark Henninger was impressed: The Beam Gen 2 did a “remarkably decent job delivering bass” and played clear with a “fullness one normally wouldn't expect from a standalone soundbar” — especially one costing less than $500. (February/March 2022 Read Full Review)
Denon Home Sound Bar 550: $599
Recording-engineer-turned-reviewer Leslie Shapiro is an audio purist with little patience for audio trickery, which is why she was surprised to experience convincing simulated surround sound from Denon’s all-in-one Home Sound Bar 550. Add to that, excellent overall sound quality, simple setup, wireless multiroom music capability through the brand’s HEOS platform and you have a winning combination from a respected audio brand best known for its stellar AV receivers. At 3 inches tall and just over 2 feet wide, the 550 is designed to tuck neatly beneath the TV screen and equipped with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X processing, Alexa voice control, a 4K-capable HDMI input and output (with eARC), an optical input, and the ability to stream hi-res music. (December/January 2022, Read Full Review)
Roku Streambar Pro 5.1 Soundbar System: $630
The top-of-the-line soundbar system from Roku is full of cool features and gives you a surround-sound listening experience that is better than competing systems of similar cost. But it lacks support for 3D immersive sound like Dolby Atmos or DTS:X, and the Streambar Pro on its own is not nearly as impressive sounding as when it's part of a complete 5.1 system. (December 2022/January 2023, Read Full Review)
Sonos Arc Atmos Soundbar: $799
Is it possible to experience “immersive sound” with a compelling sense of height from a long, slender soundbar? Heck yeah. Sonos accomplishes the trick using 11 drivers strategically placed in a 45-inch Dolby Atmos-enabled TV speaker it calls the Arc. “Height information present in a 5.1.2 Atmos signal was impressively anchored on the ceiling about a third of the way back toward my seating...precisely where it should be,” wrote reviewer Rob Sabin. Factor in Sonos’ excellent multiroom music platform, app control with voice commands and you have a soundbar that stands out among all others. (September 2020, Read Full Review)
Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 Atmos Soundbar: $999
Just as you’d expect from one of the world’s top speaker companies, B&W's all-in-one Atmos-enabled Panorama 3 soundbar was built to deliver audiophile-quality sound with music and movies — and that it does quite ably without a separate subwoofer or extra surround speakers. But if you’re shopping in this price category, you owe it to yourself to also check out the Sonos Arc, which offers some serious competition. (August/September 2022, Read Full Review)
Samsung HW-Q990B Atmos Soundbar: $1,500
Samsung's HW-Q990B is a testament to how far we’ve come since Altec Lansing introduced the first soundbar way back in 1998. Ranking in the top tier of today’s soundbars, the Q990B is designed to deliver a credible home theater experience from a svelte 4-foot-wide soundbar housing 15 (!) drivers, two wireless surround speakers, and a wireless subwoofer. And credible it is. With a total of 22 drivers powered by 400 watts of integrated power, the 11.1.4 setup is remarkable for providing a convenient, space saving path to powerful sound — including object-based Dolby Atmos and DTS:X soundtracks. The Q990B can hold its own against a full-fledged surround-sound speaker setup but it also excels with music. (February/March 2023, Read Full Review)
Samsung HW-Q990D 11.1.4-Channel Atmos Soundbar: $2,000
Samsung’s HW-Q990D belongs to the still-emerging elite class of simplified home theater speaker systems: Dolby Atmos-enabled soundbar-based setups that deliver exceptional audio performance. The Q990D builds on the success of its already awesome predecessor and is guaranteed to wow you with an immersive 11.1.4-channel (!) Dolby Atmos/DTS:X surround experience that comes shockingly close to what you expect from an AVR-centric home theater setup with 10 or more speakers. “What constantly stood out to me was the spaciousness of the sound,” observed AV veteran John Sciacca. “It just seemed to open the room up, with a big front presentation that was thoroughly wrapped around the sides and back of the room and a wonderful canopy of sound that spread overhead. What more can you ask? (April/May 2024, Read Full Review)
Devialet Dione Atmos Soundbar: $2,499
It’s rare that a reviewer will proclaim a speaker, let alone a soundbar, the best he’s ever heard, yet such is the case with Dione, an amazing all-in-one system from Paris-based Devialet. The 5.1.2-channel Dolby Atmos system houses 17 drivers (!) in a sleek enclosure almost 4 feet wide but slim enough to fit below the screen of a table-mounted TV. The Orb that houses the center-channel speaker has an internal gyroscope that detects whether the soundbar is sitting on a table or mounted against the wall and automatically reorients the driver. The moment you fire it up Dione makes its presence know, especially in the bass department. Bottom line: Whether you’re listening to music or watching a blockbuster movie, the Devialet Dione will blow your mind. (October/November 2022 Read Full Review)
Soundbars Archive
Vizio V21d-J8 Soundbar: $116
What kind of upgrade can you possibly expect from a soundbar that costs a hundred bucks? Actually, you can expect a sizable bump in sound quality compared with the abysmal speaker systems built into most of today’s TVs. Vizio’s V21d-J8 soundbar is a simple 2.1-channel design that boasts DTS Virtual: X surround processing, Bluetooth streaming, analog and (optical) digital inputs, and an ARC-enabled HDMI port. Leslie Shapiro wasted no time getting right to the point in her review: “For the price, it can't be beat.” (Editor’s note: After our original review, Vizio increased the price from $100 to $116. (August/September 2021, Read Full Review)
Roku Streambar Pro: $180
The new Streambar Pro will run circles around the tin-can speakers built into your TV while offering something you won’t find in other soundbars: a built-in Roku media player that puts a whole host of TV and music streaming options at your fingertips. The bar is a bigger, better version of 2020’s Streambar that supports 4K/HDR10 video and includes a voice-enabled remote control with a headphone jack and dedicated buttons for Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV+, and Hulu. In the words of reviewer Michael Antonoff, “Its expansive cinema-like sound makes you forget you’re sitting at home instead of in a theater.” (August/September 2021, Read Full Review)
Monoprice SB-500 5.1 Soundbar System: $280
The Monoprice SB-500 system mates a three-channel soundbar with a wireless subwoofer and a pair of rear surround speakers to elevate performance to a true Dolby Digital 5.1 surround experience. Not bad for less than 300 bucks. You get a remote control plus a generous selection of inputs and setup is easy: The subwoofer and surround speakers connect automatically to the soundbar when the system is powered up. Putting the system through its paces, reviewer Leslie Shapiro reveled in the “impressive dynamics… and level of ambient detail” she heard while watching Jolt on Amazon Prime. Music was satisfying, though not quite as full-bodied as movies. Even so, Shapiro concluded the SB-500 is a steal for the price. (October/November 2021, Read Full Review)
Polk Audio MagniFi 2 Soundbar System: $499
Polk engineers made headlines in 2019 when they re-introduced a refined version of the SDA (Stereo Dimensional Array) technology Matthew Polk developed 40 years ago in the $6,000/pair Legend L800 speakers. The patented image enhancing technology has landed in the MagniFi 2 and it does a phenomenal job of expanding the soundstage, especially when used in conjunction with Polk’s selectable 3D Mode, which adds virtual height and surround effects to Dolby and DTS soundtracks. Soundbars are routinely criticized for not projecting sound much beyond the edges of the bar itself, but Polk’s MagniFi 2 does just that while delivering an enveloping surround-sound experience. (December/January 2021, Read Full Review)
LG SN8YG 3.1.2 Atmos Soundbar, $800
LG has once again drawn on its partnership with Meridian Technologies, putting the U.K. firm’s audio prowess to work in a super-sleek follow-up to 2019’s Top Pick-designated SL8YG. Like its predecessor, the SN8YG is a two-piece Atmos-enabled system with up-firing drivers and a standalone subwoofer that brings a handful of new features into the fold, including an HDMI output with eARC (enhanced audio return control) and AI-based processing that automates room calibration. (October/November 2020, Read Full Review)
JBL Bar 9.1 Atmos Soundbar System: $999
Designers at the legendary JBL brand have come up with an ingenious way to achieve a truly immersive Dolby Atmos/DTS:X surround sound experience with the new Bar 9.1 system: In addition to the de rigueur wireless subwoofer, they put upfiring drivers in the soundbar and — here’s where it gets interesting — included a pair of battery-powered rear surround speakers to dramatically expand the sound field. Having compact surrounds that will play for up to 10 hours when fully charged is a game changer. Even better, charging is a simple matter of docking the speakers to the main soundbar where they attach magnetically (and remain operational). If you’re looking for immersive sound from a soundbar that can be had for less than a grand, make sure JBL’s Bar 9.1 is on your audition list. (December/January 2021, Read Full Review)
DALI Katch One Soundbar: $999
DALI has come up with a simple soundbar designed to enhance TV viewing with robust stereo sound that goes far beyond the capabilities of the tiny speakers built into today’s thin TVs. And it does so with unmistakable style while accommodating any hookup scenario, including those requiring an optical digital connection or HDMI with ARC (audio return channel). The Katch One can’t deliver a true surround sound experience (what soundbar can?) but it does have a Wide mode that in the words of reviewer Leslie Shapiro produces a “luxurious soundstage” with imaging that extends well beyond the edges of the soundbar. (April/May 2020, Read Full Review)
Klipsch Cinema 1200 Atmos Soundbar System: $1,899
Klipsch to the rescue for anyone who wants to get in on a little 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos action without the complexity of a receiver-based theater setup with seven or more speakers. The Cinema 1200 is a 5.1.4 system comprising a 54-inch-wide soundbar with discrete left/center/right driver complements and an up-firing driver at either end, a pair of Atmos-enabled wireless surround speakers, and a wireless subwoofer rated down to 22 Hz. This system rocks in more ways than one. Reviewer Rob Sabin described its music chops as excellent but was really taken with its ability to reproduce movie soundtracks, which he described as a “total treat.” (Editor’s note: After our original review, Klipsch increased the system price from $1,699 to $1,899.) (August/September 2021, Read Full Review)
Soundbars: Active LCR/LR
An active LCR soundbar is an all-in-one, single-cabinet speaker that includes signal processing, amplification, and drivers for the left, right, and center channels of a home theater system. A variation is the active LR system, wherein the dedicated center-channel drivers are omitted. Sometimes these systems contain technology to artificially widen the soundstage to create an illusion of spaciousness or surround sound, though it’s generally understood that the end goal with such a system is to simply provide a more robust two-channel stereo alternative to a TV’s built-in speakers. Soundbars usually benefit from or require an additional subwoofer to reproduce low frequencies, and a sub is often included with active soundbar systems.
Vizio 36-inch 2.1-Channel Soundbar System: $150
Vizio’s SB3621n-G8 soundbar has a solitary mission: Replace the awful speakers built into most TVs with an elegant, two-piece system that’s inexpensive and easy to set up. The low-profile subwoofer connects wirelessly to the soundbar so all you have to do is run an audio cable to the TV, select the appropriate input, and sink into the couch. For $150, you get the ability to stream music from your phone or tablet/laptop and a serious boost in TV sound quality, making the system ideal for a small bedroom or den. (Posted 11/19/19,, Read Full Review)
Yamaha YAS-106: $199
Yamaha’s entry-level YAS-106 is an outstanding value and sounds way better with movies and music than you would expect for the price. Reviewer Rob Sabin wrote: “The YAS-106 is an essentially honest and musical soundbar that never offended and which, given its price, made fair and appropriate compromises in bass reproduction, dynamics, and soundstaging.” If you’re on a budget and looking for an easy-to-install solution with integrity, this is it. (December 2016, Read Full Review)
Vizio S4221w-C4 System: $250
The S4221w-C4 delivers enormous bang for the buck and is one of the best soundbars you can buy for $250, offering performance that matched or beat four other systems reviewed in a roundup of five 2.1 soundbars. “We can’t think of any soundbar that’s a safer recommendation than the S4221w-C4,” wrote reviewer Brent Butterworth. “It has a big, enveloping, yet natural sound, it plays loud, it has a nice feature set, and it’s priced really, really low. What more can you ask?” (December 2013, Read Full Review)
Polk MagniFi Mini Soundbar System: $300
Perfect for secondary TVs in smaller rooms, Polk’s MagniFi Mini may be only 14 inches wide but it will put any TV speaker to shame, playing louder and cleaner than you have the right to expect with solid bass delivered by its companion subwoofer. “Throughout my listening, I had to keep reminding myself that the MagniFi Mini costs just $300,” concluded reviewer Michael Trei. “A small price to pay for such an important part of the TV-watching experience. As a bonus, you also get a good sounding, network-capable wireless music system.” (May 2017,, Read Full Review)
Vizio S5430w-C2: $300
Vizio does it again, this time with a simple, three-channel soundbar that delivers an impressive soundstage and satisfying home theater experience at a price that’s hard to believe. Summing up his impressions, reviewer Steve Guttenberg wrote: “For a $300, one-piece, subwooferless soundbar system, the S5430w-C2 is as good as it gets. And that’s not meant as a knock. It wasn’t that long ago that you’d have to spend far more to get any soundbar that performs as well as this one does.” (, posted January 17, 2014, Read Full Review)
Zvox SoundBase 570 Soundbase: $300 (updated 1/20/16)
Soundbase pioneer Zvox has packed a lot of value into the budget-priced 570. It sounds good with movies and music, supports TVs with screens up to 60 inches, and plays down to an impressive 42 Hz—not too shabby for an all-in-one system. (December 2015, Read Full Review)
Q Acoustics M2 Soundbase: $350
The M2 from England’s Q Acoustics is a solidly-built soundbase that uses cleverly constructed flat-diaphragm drivers to deliver wide dispersion and excellent overall sound. Unlike the typical soundbar, the M2 is built to function as a base for TVs weighing up to 55 pounds and calls on a good-size dual-voice-coil woofer to shore up the bass. Reviewer Mark Fleischmann summed up his impressions this way: “If you want to rest your TV on something that sounds great, the Q Acoustics M2 soundbase is an excellent choice, with performance that is remarkably fine-tuned for its price.” (, Read Full Review)
Pioneer SP-SB03 Speaker Base: $350
Andrew Jones, Pioneer’s renowned designer, has delivered an impressive string of musically truthful speaker and soundbar systems at budget prices. This all-in-one soundbase-style product features both solid construction to support TV’s weighing up to 150 pounds and excellent sound for both movies and music. Comparing the SP-SB03 with two competitive models, reviewer Mark Fleischmann wrote: “There was a greater sense of clarity and coherence that made listening to the Pioneer the least fatiguing and most enjoyable of the three soundbases.” (January 2015, Read Full Review)
Zvox SoundBase.670 System: $370 (updated 1/20/16)
Zvox, inventor of the soundbase category, introduced significant revisions with its new premium Platinum series, which offers notable upgrades in sonics, features, and aesthetics. We tested the Soundbase.670, which is suitable for screens up to 70-inches, but you’ll get similar sound character from the Soundbase.570 ($350, for sets up to 60 inches) and Soundbase.770 ($600, for sets up to 80 inches). All are great sounding, easy-to-use, subwooferless systems from the outfit that started it all. (January 2014, Read Full Review)
Acoustic Energy Aego Sound3ar System: $400
If music figures prominently into your soundbar plans, the compact and stylish Aego two-piece system is worth a look. Its “serious audiophile chops” will remind you time and time again that this is a speaker made by a company that does more than just dabble in audio. “With Acoustic Energy’s compact Aego Sound3ar, you’ll sacrifice some soundstaging, spaciousness, and special effects, things you might genuinely miss on soundtracks,” reviewer Rob Sabin concluded. “But what it delivers, it does so with an honesty and musicality uncommon among soundbars.” (December 2016, Read Full Review)
Pioneer SP-SB23W System: $400
Pioneer caused quite a stir when it introduced the SP-BS41-LR speaker system a couple years ago. Reviewers were stunned by the performance it delivered for $528 but they shouldn’t have been: The system was designed by Andrew Jones, the same guy who designed the $78,000/pair TAD Reference One. Here Jones brings his mojo to the soundbar. Reviewer Brent Butterworth wrote: “I loved the clean voice reproduction in music and movies; to me, it sounded more like a good desktop audio system than like a soundbar…Audiophiles who value clarity and natural reproduction will love the SP-SB23W.” (December 2013, Read Full Review)
Zvox SB500: $500
The SB500 is extremely capable with music and even better with movies, delivering surprisingly powerful, deep bass and dynamic headroom that will have you looking around the room for a subwoofer. As reviewer Rob Sabin put it, “It’s a remarkable standalone solution and, given the performance of the integrated subwoofer system and the superb build quality, an excellent value.” (December 2016, Read Full Review)
JBL Cinema SB400 System: $550
In a nod to JBL’s pro pedigree, the SB400’s wireless subwoofer packs a 200-watt amplifier and an 8-inch driver, which is considerably beefier than your typical soundbar sub. The system also excels in terms of connections, offering three HDMI. “Harman’s seemingly simple surround mode delivered exactly what I hoped,” wrote reviewer Brent Butterworth. “It expanded the sound beyond the edges of the soundbar and created a nice, subtle sense of envelopment without introducing artificial-sounding artifacts.” (December 2013, Read Full Review)
PSB Alpha VS21 VisionSound Soundbase: $599 (price as tested with SubSeries 150 subwoofer: $1,098)
It should come as no surprise that a company known for excellent stereo and home theater speakers has also carved out a name for itself in the soundbase category. What’s the difference between a soundbase and soundbar? A soundbase is much deeper and, therefore, able to actually support the TV. Educational bit aside, all you need to know is that the VS21 does an outstanding job with movies and music. In fact, it will likely change your mind about whether soundbases and compact subs are suitable for music. (January 2016, Read Full Review)
Klipsch R-10B System: $600
The R-10B is super simple to set up, plays surprisingly loud, and includes a good wireless subwoofer. It also delivers what reviewer Mark Fleischmann called “beautifully voiced” sound with movies and music: “Without a doubt, the R-10B was at its best with Return to Forever’s Live at Montreux 2008 (BD, Dolby Digital 5.1 converted to 2.1). Chick Corea’s electric keyboards can sound uncomfortably bright through the wrong playback equipment—but this was the right equipment, and they sparkled.” (November 2014, Read Full Review)
Atlantic Technology PB-235 H-PAS Powerbar: $899
Atlantic Technology just introduced its first powered left/right 2-channel soundbar and included its patented H-PAS cabinet design that delivers substantially lower bass out of a small cabinet/small woofer speaker system. Although the cabinet is slightly larger than most soundbars, it provides unusually full sound on music without the need for a separate subwoofer. (January 2013, Read Full Review)
Bluesound Pulse Soundbar and Pulse Sub: $1,598
It’s hard to go wrong with a soundbar system designed by the sister company of audio stalwarts NAD and PSB. Bluesound takes a music first approach with the Pulse, which supports high-resolution audio up to 192 kHz/24 bits as well as files encoded in the new MQA format—all of which translates into dynamic sound, lifelike stereo imaging, and remarkable bass extension. Add to that multiroom streaming abilities and you have a well-rounded compact audio system. (June 2017, Read Full Review)
Soundbars: Active Multichannel
An active multichannel soundbar is an all-in-one solution that contains its own processing and includes drivers and/or technology to create “virtual” surround sound. Most soundbars benefit from an additional subwoofer to reproduce low frequencies.
Polk Audio Command Bar Soundbar: $300
You’ll be hard pressed to find a $300 soundbar that looks and sounds as good as Polk’s Command Bar, the second product to receive our new Top Value designation. The svelte Bar is brimming with features — from Bluetooth streaming and built-in Dolby Digital and DTS surround processing to four preset listening modes, 4K/HDR-compliant HDMI 2.0a inputs, and Alexa voice control. Calling the Command Bar “surprisingly authoritative,” reviewer Rob Sabin said it boasts “serious chops and…over delivers on features and performance. I don’t hesitate to recommend it.” (Posted 9/27/18, Read Full Review)
Yamaha YAS-207: $300
Yamaha’s YAS-207 is one of the first soundbars to use DTS Virtual:X processing to simulate an immersive experience with height and surround effects — and it does a pretty convincing job. Better yet, it costs only $300 and comes with a stand-alone wireless subwoofer. “Simply as a speaker/amp combo, this bar-and-sub system is excellent for the price,” concluded reviewer Mark Fleischmann. (, Read Full Review)
Vizio SB3851-D0 System: $300
In the ever-expanding world of soundbars, Vizio’s SB3851-D0 is different than most: It’s actually a full-featured 5.1-channel system with a pair of compact surround speakers that attach to a wireless subwoofer—a scheme that greatly simplifies wiring and setup. The system’s strong suit is movies. As reviewer Rob Sabin put it, “The SB3851-D0 punches out an impactful, engaging experience with television and movies on a short budget and brings something to the mix that the comparably priced competition does not.” (December 2016, Read Full Review)
Vizio S4251W-B4 System: $330
Ideal for home theater newbies on a budget or enthusiasts looking for an inexpensive and acceptable TV audio solution for a bedroom, the S4251W-B4 is the one of the few soundbar systems that have a wireless subwoofer and discrete surround speakers. The system is easy to set up and even includes all the cables you’ll need to get it up and running. As reviewer Mark Fleishmann concluded: “This system does far more for movies than I’d have expected in a $330 product....And in this time of holiday, its affordability makes a good case for giving the gift of home theater.” (, posted November 25, 2014, Read Full Review)
Sonos Beam Wireless Soundbar: $399
It may not be much to look at but the Sonos Beam delivers impressive sound quality and can be easily integrated into a Sonos multiroom music system for a very reasonable price. At its best in moderate-sized rooms, the soundbar is also remarkably compact and equipped with the company’s proven Trueplay auto-room-correction processing and Alexa voice control. All in all, a smart value. (Posted 7/5/18, Read Full Review)
Yamaha MusicCast BAR 400 Soundbar System: $499
Yamaha’s ultra-sleek BAR 400 system is a deft performer when it comes to bringing movie soundtracks to life. Throw in a MusicCast 50 wireless speaker ($499) and, in the words of reviewer Leslie Shapiro, you have a “stellar wireless 5.1 system that creates an immersive experience.” But the BAR 400 is much more than just a streamlined movie sound system: It can be pressed into action as a multiroom music system, thanks to Yamaha’s excellent app-based MusicCast platform. (June/July 2019, Read Full Review)
Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.1 System: $500
Nakamichi, the brand that made a name for itself building some of the best cassette decks on the planet, is back with a product you couldn’t have imagined when you were making mix tapes in the ’70s. The Shockwafe Pro 7.1 accommodates 7.1 channels and draws on a standalone subwoofer and separate surround speakers to expand sound from the soundbar’s 11 drivers. Calling it an intelligently designed system, reviewer Mark Fleischmann said Shockwafe delivers “more than the sum of its parts, especially with movies.” (September 2017, Read Full Review)
Vizio S5451w-C2 System: $500
Vizio might well be the last company you’d expect good sound from. But over the past couple of years the TV company has been working hard at perfecting the craft of building soundbars and its diligence has been rewarded with yet another Top Pick designation. Veteran audio reviewer Dan Kumin was impressed: “The Vizio throws a startlingly big image…Whether delivering a movie, a sitcom, or the evening news, it always sounded properly scaled and appropriate, and rarely drew attention to itself.” All that from a system that costs 500 bucks and is a cinch to set up. (November 2014, Read Full Review)
LG SL8YG 3.1.2 Atmos Soundbar: $600
LG teamed with the audio gurus at Meridian to produce its best sounding soundbar yet. The two-piece system supports voice controllable wireless streaming and is ready for 3.1.2 Dolby Atmos/DTS:X surround action out of the box but can be expanded to 5.1.2 playback with optional wireless speakers. “If you're seeking extended dynamics and thorough immersion from a soundbar, you may want to look elsewhere,” wrote reviewer Al Griffin. “But if your expectations — and budget — are more limited, this new, upscale offering from LG is well worth consideration.” (October/November 2019, Read Full Review)
Sonos Playbase: $699
For the folks who don’t mount their TV on a wall, the Sonos Playbase is an elegant way of creating an excellent-sounding home theater system that’s nearly invisible, super-easy to set up, and simple to use. Unlike a soundbar that sits in front of the TV, the acoustically inert Playbase supports the TV while delivering solid bass and an impressively big soundstage from 10 drivers strategically positioned in a sleek enclosure that’s only 2.3 inches tall. What’s more, it can be easily integrated into a Sonos multiroom music system. (June 2017,, Read Full Review)
Sonos Playbar: $699
The Sonos wireless music system has won accolades since it hit the scene in 2005. With Playbar, the company tackles the tinny sound coming from your TV. Put this slender bar with its nine powered drivers and Dolby Digital processing beneath your TV screen and prepare to be amazed. Setup is easy and you get a huge bonus: the bar doubles as a wireless audio system that streams music from your home network—Pandora, your iTunes library, you name it. If you want deep, pulsating bass you can add the companion Sonos SUB ($699, also a Top Pick). Wanna take the system to its surround sound pinnacle? Put a pair of Play:3 powered speakers ($299 each) in the back of the room and you’ll have an impressive yet seriously simple surround setup. (, posted April 12, 2013, Read Full Review)
Sony HT-ST5 System: $800 (updated 12/10/14)
Looking for a versatile soundbar that excels with music and movies? Sony’s 7.1-channel HT-ST5 may be just the ticket with a wireless subwoofer that integrates perfectly with the soundbar and multiple modes to help dial in the best possible sound. Commenting on his experience watching Inside Llewyn Davis, reviewer Mark Fleischmann wrote, “Especially in musical scenes set in folk clubs, the surround processing was satisfyingly rich, nuanced, and yes, even realistic, making the movie that much more affecting. This bar is a truly accomplished movie machine.” (, Read Full Review)
Definitive Technology W Studio Micro Soundbar System: $899
An ultra-slim form factor, Play-Fi wireless streaming, and excellent sound make the W and its companion subwoofer a great choice for anyone who wants to minimize their AV box count without totally compromising on sound quality. Reviewer Mark Fleischmann summed it up this way: “Couple the Micro’s sonic performance with all of its Play-Fi features, as well as the clear growth path for incorporating it as part of a housewide audio system, and you have a product that comes highly recommended.” (February/March 2016, Read Full Review)
Vizio SB46514-F6 5.1.4 Atmos Soundbar: $999
For many of us, a full-blown Dolby Atmos speaker system is simply out of the question due to concerns over complexity, space, budget, or some combination of the three. Enter what may be the ultimate compromise: Vizio’s 5.1.4 soundbar system, which delivers a shockingly good immersive surround-sound experience from a four-piece setup comprising a 46-inch-wide bar with eight drivers (two up-firing), two rear satellite speakers (also with up-firing drivers), and a subwoofer. (April/May 2019, Read Full Review)
Definitive Technology SoloCinema Studio System: $1,199
The super-svelte SoloCinema soundbar system, which includes a companion wireless subwoofer, produces respectable bass, relaxed but present treble, and plays loud without any of the unnatural midrange or “phasey” colorations you get with a good many other soundbars. With big action movies like Oblivion, there was “just enough bass impact and extension to outline a true cinematic experience,” wrote veteran audio reviewer Daniel Kumin. All in all, the SoloCinema is a fine performer, delivering natural tonal balance and unusually good integration between soundbar and subwoofer. (June 2014, Read Full Review)
Sony HT-ST7 System: $1,299
The HT-ST7 is far from the cheapest soundbar but if you’re looking for home theater-worthy performance from a simple bar-plus-wireless-subwoofer system that is not only versatile but superbly crafted, it comes closer than most. Audiophiles will appreciate its DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD processing, three HDMI inputs, and HDMI output/Audio Return Channel. Reviewer Mark Fleischmann put it like this: “The soundbar provided its most memorable moments during Netflix binge-viewing of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, as the Movie mode deftly juggled apocalyptic space battle scenes with intrigue and comedy on the space station.” Highly recommended. (, posted on 12/10/13, Read Full Review)
Samsung HW-K950 Dolby Atmos Soundbar System: $1,500
We know what you’re thinking: A soundbar with Dolby Atmos—how is that possible? But Samsung has done a masterful job of pulling it off. The HW-K950 delivers a surprisingly robust surround-sound experience from a four-piece setup comprising a 4-foot-wide soundbar, two rear speakers, and a subwoofer. The soundbar, alone, has 11 drivers, including two aimed toward the ceiling for Atmos effects. Another pair of up-firing drivers sit atop the rear speakers. (November 2016, Read Full Review)
Paradigm Soundscape: $1,500
Paradigm upholds its storied reputation as a top-notch Canadian speaker company with Soundscape, which is aimed at movie fans who want to come as close as possible to a legitimate surround-sound experience without having to go through the hassle of installing a full-blown five-speaker-plus-subwoofer system. Mission accomplished. Seven carefully positioned drivers living inside its slim, rounded cabinet are more than capable of delivering “some genuine home theater wow factor,” in the words of reviewer Daniel Kumin. And you get all that without a separate subwoofer, which makes setup as simple as it gets. (September 2014, Read Full Review)
MartinLogan Motion Vision: $1,500
Few, if any, soundbars can match the sonic finesse of MartinLogan’s Motion Vision, whose sound is largely defined by its trio of Folded Motion tweeters, which excel at conveying nuances in timbre and delivering what reviewer Mark Fleischmann described as “outstandingly clear and communicative sound.” What’s more, dispersion is “world class,” which means you get revealing sound with a warm and gentle midrange no matter where you sit. And the bass? Surprisingly big for a slender 40-inch-wide cabinet—even without the optional wireless subwoofer. (April 2013, Read Full Review)
Yamaha YSP-5600 Soundbar: $1,700
If you’re going to go the soundbar route, you might as well spend a little more and do it right. Yamaha has a proven track record with soundbars that began more than a decade ago with the innovative YSP-1 Digital Sound Projector—a 40-inch-wide bar that used 40 tiny drivers (and two woofers) to create a vivid surround-sound experience. The legacy continues with the YSP-5600, which brings Wi-Fi/Bluetooth streaming and Dolby Atmos into the fold—from a single speaker! Outstanding sonic performance and an impressive list of features make this one of the best overall soundbar values on the market today. (September 2016, Read Full Review)
Yamaha YSP-4300 System: $1,900
The YSP-4300 is not your average soundbar—not even close. Based on the Sound Projector technology Yamaha has been perfecting for years, the two-piece system is perhaps the most sophisticated soundbar on the market with its 24 drivers, 10 surround modes, built-in calibration routine, adjustable tone and surround sound, 55-button remote, and 80-page manual. If you don’t mind a little complexity and like the idea of being able to tweak the sound in a way that’s simply not possible with other soundbars, the YSP-4300 is one of the best TV sound systems you can buy. (, posted Read Full Review)
Definitive Technology SoloCinema XTR System: $1,599 (updated 12/3/14)
Soundbars promise to deliver a full home theater experience with less complication and confusion—and usually at a much lower price—than a traditional system. Problem is, but many fail. Miserably. The svelte SoloCinema with it’s sidekick wireless subwoofer not only rises to the challenge but excels at extending the soundfield to the sides and even behind your head. As reviewer Darryl Wilkinson put it, “I have yet to experience another soundbar that’s capable of creating such a wonderfully enveloping and thoroughly convincing soundfield for movies.” (February/March 2013, Read Full Review)
B&W Panorama 2 System: $2,200 ($3,900 with PV1D subwoofer)
The moment you lay eyes on the Panorama 2—the second iteration of B&W’s first soundbar—you know it’s not your typical TV sound enhancer. The curvaceous design screams “special.” Hook up this plug-and-play puppy and lush sound from its nine drivers immediately confirms its elite status. Add the spherical PV1D subwoofer and the sonic picture jumps to another level entirely. Gushing with enthusiasm, reviewer Darryl Wilkinson’s wrote: “It’s the most seamless, most thoroughly impressive active soundbar package…with the most spectacular, utterly believable virtual surround I’ve ever heard.” (SoundandVision, posted August 2, 2013, Read Full Review)
Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar: $2,500
At $2,500, the Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar is not cheap but it is fully capable of delivering clean, natural sound with a solid low end and convincing surround sound from a 50-inch-wide enclosure. The German company known for killer headphones has put its Ambeo 3D processing technology to work in a one-box system with 13 drivers that performs superbly with music and movie soundtracks. As reviewer Leslie Shapiro put it: “With its own calibration algorithm in a proper room, it can deliver all the benefits of Dolby Atmos or DTS:X without the hassles of a true surround system.” (October/November 2019, Read Full Review)
Niles Cynema Soundfield CSF55A In-Wall Soundbar System: $2,547 (including SW8 wireless subwoofer)
The CSF55A is the world’s first soundbar designed to be mounted flush in the wall without having to modify the wall studs. The cleverly designed system comprises three speaker modules, an amplifier module, a power supply, and an optional wireless subwoofer (included in our test). Impressed with the system’s overall performance, reviewer Darryl Wilkinson wrote: “The front soundstage was incredibly wide, and there were times when the faux surround effects were stunningly organic and engaging." If you want a soundbar that “disappears,” the CSF55A is the ticket. (May 2014, Read Full Review)
Savant Smart Audio WiSA Soundbar System: $3,000
Savant’s Smart Audio Wireless Soundbar system is endowed with capabilities that go far beyond your everyday soundbar. The system can be controlled via a smartphone app, doubles as a gateway to the company’s home automation platform, and employs the high-resolution WiSA wireless protocol to link Savant’s wall-mountable Soundbar 55 with WiSA Surround Speakers and the super-compact WiSA Nano Subwoofer. Characterizing music playback (without the surrounds) as “effortlessly smooth,” reviewer Rob Sabin described what he heard while watching the surround-sound masterpiece Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol “as immersive and natural as I've ever heard it (short of full Dolby Atmos rendering)” with an impactful bottom end courtesy of the physics-defying Nano. (October/November 2020, Read Full Review)
Soundbars: Passive LCR
A passive LCR soundbar accepts the left, center, and right channel signals from an AV receiver, with the intent of replacing the separate front three speakers of a typical theater system with a convenient, single-cabinet speaker positioned directly below or sometimes above the display. Sometimes they contain technology to artificially widen the soundstage to create an illusion of spaciousness or surround sound. Soundbars usually benefit from or require an additional subwoofer to reproduce low frequencies.
Phase Technology Teatro TSB3.0: $738
Make no mistake about it. As soundbars go, the TSB3.0 is expensive. Factor in its lack of onboard amplification and it starts looking very expensive. So, yes, you’ll need to power it with an AV receiver but what you get in return is setup flexibility and three thoughtfully engineered speakers that deliver sound from a wall-hugging cabinet that’s only 2.25 inches deep—sound that will surprise you. As reviewer Mark Fleischmann concluded, “Phase Technology’s Teatro TSB3.0 is the kind of soundbar that ennobles its product category with great performance and even, dare I say it, audiophile voicing.” (July/August 2015, Read Full Review)
Atlantic Technology 3.1 HSB Soundbase: $799
The 3.1 HSB is not your everyday soundbar. For starters, it’s a soundbase—designed to support TVs with screens up to 65 inches—that combines a passive left/center/right main section with a powered bass section that puts out an honest-to-God 35 Hz (we measured it). No separate subwoofer required. (February/March 2016, Read Full Review)
GoldenEar SuperCinema 3D Array System: $2,000
We reviewed the 3-channel SuperCinema 3D Array ($1,000) with a matching powered subwoofer and a pair of surround satellites to fill out a $2,000 system. A true breakthrough product, it uses an advanced design to cancel crosstalk between the left and right channel to vastly improve imaging over conventional soundbars and provide an unusually spacious soundfield that borders on providing virtual surround channels even without satellites. Reviewer Darryl Wilkinson called it “a stunningly ear-catching accomplishment that redefines the very notion of what an LCR soundbar can achieve.” (December 2012, Read Full Review)
Phase Technology Teatro PC-3.0 System: $2,400
For our review, we mated the Teatro PC3.0 ($1,696 as of 12/3/14) with matching Phase Technology satellite speakers for surround duties and an 8-inch subwoofer for a full system price of $2,400. Reviewer Mark Fleischmann was impressed, noting the soundbar’s spacious imaging and vocal clarity. “It impressed me that the Teatro can produce a front soundstage as refined, intelligible, and just plain great-sounding as any other bar out there, and it even competes effectively with high-quality conventional speaker packages in that respect,” he said, adding “this is one bar a guy could like walking into.” (May 2009, Read Full Review)
PSB Imagine W3 On-Wall Soundbar System: $3,046
The Imagine W3 system is no ordinary soundbar. Apart from being a four-piece system—with a wall-mountable soundbar, two on-wall surround speakers, and a subwoofer—you need an A/V receiver for power and surround processing and it costs about 10 times more than a typical soundbar. But it is money well spent for a low-profile, on-wall speaker setup that sounds amazing. Wrote reviewer Darryl Wilkinson, “When the system is installed and fired up, there’s something just short of miraculous that occurs…There’s an intangible, impossible-to-measure seamless whole created…and it’s what makes the W3/W1/SubSeries 200 theater speaker package such a standout.” (, posted July 19, 2013, Read Full Review)
Morel SoundWall LCR4 SW In-Wall Modular Soundbar System: $3,497 (as reviewed)
Morel is a speaker company through and through—it even makes and sells raw drivers to other OEM companies—but it is not your typical speaker company. The SoundWall LCR is a modular soundbar with three speaker elements designed to be mounted in the wall, not on the wall. Assessing the performance of the complete in-wall speaker system he installed around the soundbar, reviewer Darryl Wilkinson wrote: “With the SoundWall LCR4 SW and the SoundWall Surface SH17C, Morel has created a series of speakers that can be used in a variety of configurations and locations. What’s more, they’re unobtrusive and embarrassingly easy to install, and they sound great.” (October 2016, Read Full Review)
Soundbars: Passive Multichannel
A passive multichannel soundbar accepts signals from all five of an A/V receiver’s main channels, and includes drivers and/or technology to create “virtual” surround sound. Most soundbars benefit from an additional subwoofer to reproduce low frequencies.
Definitive Technology Mythos SSA-50: $1,099
Eight of the 12 drivers in this soundbar directly reproduce the five channels of a typical surround system, with the rest dedicated to cancelling aural crosstalk to enhance the soundstage and spatial effects. Reviewing it with the 8-inch ProSub 800 subwoofer, Darryl Wilkinson noted that “this is by far the best-sounding single-cabinet system I’ve heard to date, not only when it comes to watching action-packed Hollywood multichannel blockbusters, but also with more intimate two-channel music.” Since our review in 2008, DefTech has also introduced a slimmer version, the Mythos XTR-SSA5 ($999). (August 2008, Read Full Review)