If you’re starting the new year with a brand new TV, you might be impressed by the picture but discover the sound is nothing short of disappointing. That’s because the slim bezels that are popular on newer TVs leave little room for beefy speakers, so they can sound tinny and quiet. Fortunately, there is an easy solution to this problem: Treat your new TV to a companion soundbar. These low-profile bars sit under your TV and provide a real boost in sound, and many even come with subwoofers for an even more immersive cinematic experience. To save some money on your next sound system purchase, we’ve rounded up some of the best soundbar deals to be found on the internet.
TCL Alto 6 — $70, was $80
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It’s not often you find good quality and budget soundbars, and while the TCL Alto 6 won’t win any awards for best soundbar, it’s still a great option if you’re on a shoestring budget. It’s easy to set up, especially if you already have a Roku TV since it integrates easily and is compatible with the Roku remote, which is a big plus. As for streaming, you can do that wirelessly using Spotify, Pandora, and a few others so that you can use it as a standalone music player as well. The audio does well with voices, and you will need to change the mode to get more out of playing music. You will also likely have to pair it with a subwoofer to get the most sound out of it, but as a standalone device, it’s still excellent for the price.
Sonos Ray Soundbar — $223, was $280
If you’re looking for a great soundbar to pair with your TV but on a budget, the Sonos Ray Soundbar is a great option. Not only does it have two tweeters and two woofers that are engineered to not interfere with each other and cause distortion, but it’s also balanced to provide the best voice quality so you can hear any dialogue better. It’s also very compact, so it can fit under almost any TV while also having a booming sound that would surprise you, given its size. Even better, you can expand it with additional speakers to bring it up to 5.1 channels, which is a big plus, and when you aren’t using it for the TV, you can stream pretty much any audio you want to it using apps like Spotify Connect and Apple AirPlay 2.
Sonos Beam (Gen 2) — $399, was $499
The Sonos Beam is a great upgrade to the Sonos Ray if you want a little bit more oomph in your speaker than the Sonos Ray. It has room-filling sound, which we love, and a sleek design that will fit with most furniture and styles. Even more impressively, the Sonos Beam manages to do a relatively good job at delivering Dolby Atmos as a single device, especially since it uses upward-facing speakers to create a larger soundscape. Granted, it won’t compete with standalone speakers, but it gets surprisingly close, especially with the option to expand the channels using other Sonos speakers. As for audio, it’s very punchy with a lot of clarity in the vocal ranges, which makes sense, given it’s made for use with a TV.
VIZIO M-Series Elevate 5.1.2 Immersive Sound Bar — $600, was $800
The VIZIO M-Series Elevate isn’t only a great surround sound system; it also looks gorgeous, so you won’t feel the need to hide it or make it less obvious. Audio fidelity is sublime overall, with the typical emphasis on the vocal ranges that soundbars have, although when including all the other speakers, it manages some incredible surround sound. The switching between speakers is seamless, and while the Dolby Atmos isn’t perfect, it’s convincing enough for most, and unlikely, something you’ll notice unless you’ve used higher-end systems that typically cost thousands of dollars. The Elevate also has some integrations, so you can use it with digital assistants and music streaming apps.
Samsung HW-Q750B/ZA 5.1.2ch Soundbar with Wireless Dolby Atmos — $650, was $800
While Samsung has often struggled to come up with device names that aren’t just a string of unintelligible numbers that don’t roll off the tongue, the Samsung HW-Q750B/ZA is still an excellent surround sound system. Much like the VIZIO M-Series Elevate, the HW-Q750B/ZA is a 5.1.2 channel surround sound experience with one of the best soundbars on the market. It’s also an excellent choice if you already own a Samsung TV since you can do synchronized audio across all your devices, at least with most Samsung TVs that came out in 2021 and 2022. You get some excellent features, too, such as auto-calibration for your room, Adaptive Sound, and Game mode; plus, there’s Chromecast and Airplay 2 integration, so you can use it as a standalone system without turning the TV on.
Bose Smart Soundbar 900 — $700, was $900
Fans of Bose that are familiar with its specific brand of beautification will likely love the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 for its high fidelity and audio chops for both voice and music, with some great clarity in the higher ranges. With a wider soundstage, it’s also generally better for music than most of its competitors, and while it doesn’t come with a subwoofer, it still produces deep and loud audio, which is great for those who don’t want to be bogged down with multiple speakers. The only real downside is that it’s behind the times in terms of integration, with a very basic remote that won’t let you access most customization options and only one eARC HDMI. Still, if you’re ok with dealing with basic integration and customization that works through the Bose app, this is a genuinely excellent soundbar.
Sonos Arc Soundbar with Dolby Atmos — $719, was $900
If you want one of the best soundbars on the market and are willing to pay the price for it, the Sonos Arc is not only excellent but features at the top of our list of best soundbars for 2023. It has excellent surround sound, so you won’t necessarily need to pair it up with other speakers, except the subwoofer, and it’s easy to set up in minutes. There’s also excellent Dolby Atmos capability, which is rather rare for single speakers, but something that Sonos manages to do surprisingly well. While the Sonos Arc is primarily geared toward TV audio, it is a standalone speaker in its own right, so you can certainly stream music and other audio to it, although it does suffer a bit in the mid-ranges with things like jazz standards and classical music. Even so, it’s a great overall speaker and works great for TV and vocal-heavy music and audio.
How to choose a soundbar
There are a few main features you’re going to want to keep an eye out for when searching for the soundbar of your dreams, and you’re in luck because we’ve done all the hard work for you, making sure all of the bars we’ve selected have all the tools you need to create an immersive home viewing experience.
Having said that, there are some soundbars that bundle features that aren’t necessarily required but could be a welcome addition to your entertainment setup. For example, Vizio’s SmartCast bars have Chromecast Audio built-in, opening up the door to a Sonos-like multi-room music-streaming experience with support for both Google Play Music and Spotify right out of the box.
It’s also worth checking if the soundbar you’re eyeing up has an HDMI slot on board (all of the ones we’ve featured do) since it supports far more audio formats than a standard optical cable, including Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital Plus, and DTS:X. You’re going to want at least one of these if you’re hoping to create the home theater to rule all home theaters — or something close.
|Dolby Digital Plus
|Dolby True HD
And if you’re only just starting to spruce up your home entertainment setup and haven’t invested in one already, you will probably benefit from a soundbar that comes with a subwoofer in the box. Fortunately, almost all bars on the market can be purchased as part of a bundle that includes a wireless subwoofer, so you shouldn’t have to search far and wide for this.
Whatever the case, for anyone looking for a soundbar, the core features are HDMI with support for either a Dolby or DTS format (or both) and a subwoofer if you want to add some floor-shaking kick to the experience.