For theaterphiles who also appreciate simplicity, the LG S95QR is the best way to get performance close to that of a real surround-sound speaker system without the complicated setup and confusing operation of a typical AV receiver. The package includes the large soundbar, a subwoofer, and two wireless surround speakers. The system has a total of five upward-firing immersive speakers: three in the soundbar, and one in each of the surround speakers. This setup allows it to produce exciting, enveloping sound with any good surround-sound movie, but especially with movies encoded in Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. The powerful subwoofer can easily shake the couch, providing a realistic sense of impacts and explosions in games and action movies. The S95QR is also packed with more features than our other picks, including Google Home and Amazon Alexa compatibility; Apple AirPlay 2 and Google Chromecast Wi-Fi streaming; two HDMI inputs plus an HDMI eARC port; and Bluetooth.
And there are other, less expensive options found on our list of the best soundbars like the $600 Sony HT-G700 and $450 Sonos Beam (Gen 2). Both of those models also offer virtual Dolby Atmos processing (plus DTS:X on the Sony), and the Sony comes with a wireless subwoofer for extended bass.
Ben has been writing about technology and consumer electronics for more than 20 years. A PCWorld contributor since 2014, Ben joined TechHive in 2019, where he covers smart speakers, soundbars, and other smart and home-theater devices. You can follow Ben on Twitter.
Soundbars offer a few advantages over more traditional home theater speaker setups: they tend to take up less space, are easier to set up, and are often more affordable. Whether you're looking for a soundbar that supports Dolby Atmos or want something you can plug your older MP3 player into, there's a model out there for you. However, not all soundbars are created equal, and some provide a better listening experience than others. If you watch a lot of TV or listen to music at home, you'll want something that sounds good and is compatible with your existing devices, whether you want to hook it up to your smart TV or prefer streaming directly from your smartphone. The best soundbars for TV reproduce dialogue in your favorite shows with clarity and detail.
The best soundbar we've tested is the Samsung HW-Q990B. It's the upgraded version of the Samsung HW-Q950A, and it offers more features and better out-of-the-box bass reproduction for outstanding overall performance. Whether you're listening to music, movies, or TV shows, this 11.1.4 setup offers a standout performance with a wide and immersive sound that brings the action right to your living room. With a dedicated subwoofer, you feel plenty of rumble in the bass during action-packed scenes, and its discrete satellites accurately position sound effects all around your space. Support for audio formats like Dolby Atmos and Dolby Digital makes the bar a solid pick for watching content from streaming platforms as well as more traditional Blu-rays.
The Vizio V Series V51-H6 is the best budget soundbar we've tested. This 5.1 setup is an even more affordable alternative to the Vizio M Series M512a-H6 with a great price-to-performance ratio. Like the M Series, it comes with a dedicated subwoofer as well as two satellite speakers to improve its surround sound with formats like Dolby Digital. Right out of the box, you get a clear and accurate sound, so you hear the dialogue in action-packed movies along with a deep rumble in the low-bass to bring those intense scenes to life. The sound enhancement features are similar to what you get with the M Series, meaning you can adjust its bass and treble according to your preferences.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best soundbars for most people to buy. We factor in the price (a cheaper soundbar wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no soundbars that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
If you would like to choose for yourself, here's the list of all our soundbar reviews, including the best soundbars for TV and the best Bluetooth soundbars. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. No soundbar is perfect. Personal taste, preference, and listening habits will matter more in your selection. 59ce067264