A soundbar can make a big improvement to your TV watching, and they're more convenient and affordable than a surround-sound system. Here are our favorites.
If you want to take your TV viewing experience to the next level, it might be time to consider investing in a soundbar. Soundbars are not only affordable, but they're also a breeze to set up and offer improved sound quality for your home theater over a standard built-in TV speaker. That's why they're considerably more popular than larger home theater speakers, AV receivers and subwoofers.
In general, soundbars offer clear sound, more than one sound mode, and some even work with your existing smart speakers -- so you can talk to them through your Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. There are a lot of soundbars out there, but all are bound to offer better audio quality than what you've already got. With a multitude of choices available, finding the best soundbar can be challenging, but this guide can help you cut through the noise.
To test the quality of each soundbar listed below, we compared them against similarly priced models with a combination of movies and music. We also took into account features such as multiroom capabilities, the number of HDMI ports, high-resolution audio, Bluetooth, surround sound or Dolby Atmos. We have the best soundbar options for wireless aficionados and for people who want to literally plug their soundbar into their existing living room audio system and immediately get to watching their favorite TV shows.
From solid bare-bones bars to smart Alexa-powered, Atmos speakers, this is CNET's lineup of the best soundbars available from $100 and up. This list is updated periodically as new products become available and are tested.
Best soundbar for the money
If you're looking to ditch your TV speaker, this is where we suggest you start. Our long-time favorite, the Vizio SB3621n-E8 has essentially been replaced by the new V21. The subwoofer may be smaller on the newer model but this bar still sounds great, as well as offering HDMI connectivity and a much easier to understand input display. This is the best soundbar value we've tested this year.
Best soundbar under $100
If your price range is limited, for less than a C-note, the Creative Stage soundbar offers a bunch of previously unheard-of features, including HDMI connectivity and a subwoofer. But what's even more remarkable is that it sounds better than most of its ultrabudget competition, with a wired subwoofer that fills the room with great bass. It comes with a variety of modes making this soundbar speaker especially suited to music, concerts (now that we can't see them live) and gaming. Excellent sound quality for gamers and movie fans alike.
Best soundbar under $300
Easily supplanting our previous favorite, the JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass, the Klipsch Cinema 400 adds great design and an even bigger subwoofer. Sound quality is still king though with a real sense of dynamics and excellent music replay. If you want to make your TV the next best thing to a cinema, this is one of the most affordable ways to do it.