8 popular soundbars for 2019 compared side-by-side | finder.com
soudbar

Compare the best soundbars

We value our editorial independence, basing our comparison results, content and reviews on objective analysis without bias. But we may receive compensation when you click links on our site. Learn more about how we make money from our partners.

Enhance your home theater experience.

If you want the best sound quality when watching TV and movies at home, a home theater system with multiple speakers will produce the best results. But if you don’t want too much clutter, you might prefer a soundbar.

Compare the most popular soundbars

Name Avg. price
(USD)
Speaker configuration/channel Dimensions (W x H x D) Weight (Kg) Supported play formats Purchase
Sony HT-S100F
Sony HT-S100F
$98.00 2 900 x 64 x 88 mm 2.4 Dolby, LPCM Buy now
Sony HT-CT290
Sony HT-CT290
$199.99 2.1 1029.97 x 52.07 x 125.98 mm 2.3 Dolby, LPCM Buy now
Philips HTL3160B
Philips HTL3160B
$ 3.1 950 x 51 x 69 mm 1.62 Dolby, Dolby pro-logic 2 Buy now
Bose SoundTouch 300
Bose SoundTouch 300
$599.95 5.1 977.9 x 57.15 x 107.95 mm 4.72 Dolby, DTS Buy now
Samsung HW-MS650 Sound+
Samsung HW-MS650 Sound+
$447.99 3 1060 x 78.0 x 130.5 mm 6.2 LPCM, Dolby, DTS Buy now
Sonos Playbar
Sonos Playbar
$699.00 5.1 899.92 x 139.95 x 85.09 mm 5.4 Dolby Buy now
Samsung HW-K850 with Dolby Atmos
Samsung HW-K850 with Dolby Atmos
$409.00 .3.1.2 1210.2 x 81.7 x 131.4 mm 6.7 Dolby, Dolby Atmos, DTS Buy now
Data obtained February 2019. Prices are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.

What is a soundbar?

A soundbar is a compact speaker system designed to provide an alternative to a multi-speaker sound system. These long, narrow boxes sit underneath your TV screen and enhance the TV’s sound quality.

While they can’t produce the same results as a dedicated home theater set-up, they can greatly improve your home viewing experience without the hassle and clutter.

Pros

Why buy a soundbar instead of just relying on the sound from your TV or using a big home theatre system? There are several reasons:

  • TV sound quality is poor. Modern TVs may produce crystal-clear pictures and outstanding image quality, but their streamline design doesn’t leave a lot of room for quality speakers.
  • Home theater systems are inconvenient. While dedicated surround sound systems produce the best results, they have several drawbacks. Not only can they be complicated to set up and use, they can also clutter up a room and require more wires and cables.
  • Soundbars are a simple solution. Soundbars pack several speakers and the electronics that power them into an unobtrusive, streamline box. They’re easy to set up and can mimic the effect of a home theatre system to greatly improve the sound from your TV.
  • Soundbars are more affordable. Soundbars are cheaper than surround sound systems, allowing you to vastly improve your home viewing experience without breaking the bank.

Cons

There are two main reasons why a soundbar might be a waste of money for you:

  • You’re not all that worried about sound quality. For many, the sound produced by TV speakers is more than enough to watch TV and movies without a problem. If you don’t need the full surround sound experience and you’re happy with the noise quality of your TV’s built-in speakers, save your dough and spend it on something else.
  • You’re very worried about sound quality. If you want nothing but the best sound quality for your movies, TV and music, a dedicated home theater system will be the way to go. While these setups cost more than soundbars, they offer superior performance.

What types are available?

One way to distinguish between soundbars is to consider whether or not they have a subwoofer. The subwoofer is designed to boost the bass, providing better quality low-frequency sounds and adding an extra punch to your viewing experience.

There’s also a fourth option to consider: a soundbase. A soundbase is a large, flat base that your TV sits on top of and that has room for bigger speakers. While they can generally produce better sound than soundbars, they’re not widely available.

Soundbar speaker configuration: By the numbers

One of the major points of confusion for anyone unfamiliar with soundbars and speaker systems is the numbers used to describe different products — 2.1, 5.0, 7.1.2 and so on. What do these numbers mean?

They’re used to indicate how many built-in speakers and channels a soundbar has. Speakers are assigned to specific channels, allowing different frequencies to be isolated and directed to different speakers and make it seem like the sound is coming from all around you.

Back to the numbers:

  • The first number in the sequence refers to how many channels a soundbar has. The more channels it has, the better it can mimic the surround sound experience.
  • The second number specifies whether it has a subwoofer to provide better low-frequency sound quality.
  • The third number is used to indicate the number of upward-firing speakers, which are used to bounce sound off the roof and create a sense of height. The inclusion of the third number indicates that a soundbar supports Dolby Atmos.

So, generally speaking, the higher the numbers, the better a soundbar should be able to imitate surround sound.

How to compare soundbars

When choosing a soundbar, you’ll need to consider your budget, the size of your living room and the sound quality you want. This will allow you to buy a soundbar that’s the perfect fit for your needs.

Make sure you consider the following factors when comparing products:

Which soundbar is best for me?

The best soundbar for you depends on several factors, including everything from the size of your room to the amount of money you want to spend. The most important thing to remember is to compare a range of soundbars before deciding which one is right for you.

To help make this easier, we’ve outlined the pros and cons of five popular soundbars in the table below:

The good The bad
Samsung HW-MS650 Sound+
  • Great sound quality
  • Impressive bass performance
  • No external subwoofer
  • Not as compact as some other models
Sony HT-ST5000
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Packed with features
  • Doesn’t come cheap
  • No auto-setup feature
Philips Fidelio B5
  • Powerful sound
  • Long list of features and connections
  • Some negative user reviews
  • Might block TV remote
Sonos Playbar
  • Impressive performance
  • Easy to integrate with other Sonos devices
  • Software update issues
  • No remote control included
Bose SoundTouch 300
  • Beautiful sound
  • Great mobile app
  • Disappointing remote
  • Complicated setup process

Bottom line

If you want better sound quality from your TV but you don’t want the hassle of a full surround sound system, a soundbar could be a wise investment.

How did we choose these products?

We considered overall features, sound quality, device integration and price when choosing are list of the best soundbars. We also conducted our own online research and factored in online reviews.

Frequently asked questions

Image: Shutterstock
Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder.com provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy and Cookies Policy and Terms of Use.

Questions and responses on finder.com are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.
Go to site