A soundbar is a great purchase to go with your TV. Why? Because the speakers that are built into TVs are generally not that great. On some of the more expensive TVs, they are at least passable, but the good news is you can spend only a couple hundred of bucks to get a great soundbar for your TV. Whether it’s new or old.
When picking out a new soundbar, there are a few things you want to look for. Firstly is Dolby Atmos and eARC. Dolby Atmos is really important because it is going to give you a huge upgrade in the sound department. It’ll make your living room feel more like a movie theater. And with eARC, you’ll be able to control the sound of the soundbar, using your TVs remote. Making things a whole lot easier.
Here’s our list of the best soundbars you can buy this holiday season.
Best overall: Sony HT-A7000
With the Sony HT-A7000 you can get a cinema-like experience in your living room
The Sony HT-A7000 is our pick as the best overall soundbar right now for a few reasons. But the deciding factor was the price. This is a $999 soundbar that does also offer Dolby Atmos, and the ability to fill a whole room with sound, from a single soundbar. Instead of needing a wireless sub somewhere in the room. That’s a big deal, and not many soundbars can do that, at this price.
Sony’s HT-A7000 does feature 7.1.2 channels of sound, along with Dolby Atmos, and it sounds incredible. If I wasn’t so invested in the Sonos ecosystem, this would definitely be the soundbar I use on my TV in the living room. How does Sony get such great sound out of such a small package? Well, it’s a combination of driver placement and psychoacoustic techniques. This allows the HT-A7000 to offer a broad and high soundstage. So whether you’re watching a movie and want to be immersed, or just watching the news and have it on the background, it’s going to sound great.
What makes the Sony HT-A7000 unique is perhaps the array of HDMI ports available. It does have HDMI eARC for connecting to your TV. There’s also two more HDMI 2.1 ports that are capable of pass-through. These can handle 8K60 and 4K120, in addition to Dolby Vision HDR. Sony hasn’t forgotten those with older audio inputs, as there is optical available here and a USB-A port. Sony really didn’t forget anything with this soundbar, and it’s quite impressive.
These days, we all use our soundbar for far more than just sound from the TV. And Sony has included loads of smarts in this soundbar. That includes adding in Spotify Connect, Apple AirPlay 2 and Google Chromecast. Being able to go into your Spotify app on any platform and start playing on Sony’s HT-A7000 is chef’s kiss. Not many soundbars support both Apple AirPlay 2 and Google Chromecast, so this is a huge win, no matter which mobile platform you use.
Sony HT-A7000 – Crutchfield
Honorable mention: Samsung Q990C
One could argue that the Samsung Q990C is a better soundbar than the Sony HT-A7000, and we can’t dispute that. It is the better soundbar, but what gave the Sony HT-A7000 the best overall moniker is the price. This Samsung Q990C soundbar comes with a subwoofer and two rear speakers, with a regular price of $1,897 (we’ve seen it on sale for $1,397 quite often though).
Samsung’s Q990C is a 11.1.4 channel soundbar with Dolby Atmos included. It’s one of the best sounding soundbars that we’ve listened to. Which is saying a lot, since there are some really great soundbars out there right now. Samsung has included Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa with the Q990C, in addition to Bixby. So you can quickly ask your favorite assistant to play music on YouTube Music.
Samsung Q990C – Amazon
Best Dolby Atmos soundbar: Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar
With the new Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar, you can get that Dolby Atmos goodness, in your own home
Dolby Atmos is a fantastic sound standard, and it’s one that I absolutely swear by. I won’t buy any speaker or soundbar that doesn’t have Dolby Atmos included. The Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar is not only a Dolby Atmos soundbar, but it’s also one of the best sounding soundbars for the money. With an MSRP of $899, the Bose Smart Ultra soundbar has a lot going for it, including the design.
This is a pretty understated soundbar, which is what you want. Whether you’re putting this on the console in front of the TV or on the wall below the TV, you really don’t want something standing out. And that’s the Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar. It’s a dark gray and black colored soundbar, using metal and a glass top.
Dolby Atmos sounds great and all, and that’s awesome. But Bose has also included ADAPTiQ, which is a way to calibrate your room to get the best sound from this soundbar. And honestly, this does work incredibly well, normally these room calibration features are just gimmicks but that’s not the case with Bose. It works incredibly well, and is something you should definitely do when you first pick up your new soundbar.
However, Dolby Atmos isn’t all that this soundbar has going for it. It’s also a well-connected soundbar. Not only does it have WiFi and Bluetooth like basically every other soundbar, but it also has support for Apple AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect. Unfortunately, there’s no support for Google Cast here, and that likely comes down to licensing with Google. However, there are other ways to play music from your Android device onto the Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar, including using your TV if it has Google Cast. Bose makes it easy to play music right from your phone onto this soundbar, it’s as easy as tapping a single button on Spotify.
Bose does give users a way to expand their sound system, if this single soundbar isn’t enough for you. There are options for a wireless subwoofer and rear speakers. But they aren’t required for the Smart Ultra Soundbar.
Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar – Amazon
Honorable mention: Sony HT-A3000
Sony’s HT-A3000 is a fantastic soundbar with Dolby Atmos, hence why it is here as our honorable mention. It’s a 3.1-channel soundbar, so it’s not quite as good sounding as some of the other soundbars out there. It’s also worth mentioning that the subwoofer and satellites are sold separately. So here at this MSRP of $699 you’re getting just the soundbar.
Sony has included all of the connectivity features you could want. This includes WiFi, Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay 2, and Chromecast. So no matter what platform you’re using, you can connect to the HT-A3000 and play audio. And it’s great that Sony makes it so easy to connect.
Sony HT-A3000 – Amazon
Best mid-range soundbar: Sonos Arc
Sonos’ Arc is a fantastic Dolby Atmos soundbar, that works well with its multi-room audio features
The Sonos Arc is one of my favorite soundbars. It’s a pretty cool looking soundbar, and if you are already invested in the Sonos ecosystem, then this is a no-brainer purchase. That’s because the Arc is going to work with your other Sonos speakers, and work with multi-room audio. For example, I have it paired with the Sub Mini, and a couple of Era 300 speakers which makes for an insanely powerful surround sound setup.
Arc was the first soundbar from Sonos to feature Dolby Atmos, and it’s a pretty special one. The Dolby Atmos sound out of this speaker sounds better than a lot of other Dolby Atmos soundbars at this price. It sounds more like a Dolby Atmos soundbar that is priced at over $1,000. You will have no complaints about this soundbar’s audio quality, at all.
The only downside with this soundbar is that there’s no Bluetooth or DTS:X support. Honestly, you likely won’t even notice. I never thought that my Sonos Arc needed Bluetooth, because Sonos already connects to everything over WiFi, which allows you to get more bandwidth for streaming music. Sonos does also support Apple AirPlay 2, making it super simple to connect to your phone to play music. There’s also an ethernet port available in case your WiFi is slower. Sonos also has support for both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. If you’re not a fan of digital assistants, there is a physical microphone button you can use to turn it off.
Inside the Arc, Sonos has included 11 drivers which are used to create your soundfield. And many of them are upfiring and angled into your room. This is to allow the sound to bounce off the walls and ceiling. This adds to the Dolby Atmos experience making it feel very immersive, in just a single soundbar, no sub needed. But if you pick up the Sonos Sub or Sub Mini, it can make a big difference.
Sonos Arc – Crutchfield
Honorable mention: Samsung HW-Q700C
If you’re not invested in the Sonos ecosystem, then the Samsung HW-Q700C is a great mid-range Dolby Atmos soundbar that you can grab. And it has an MSRP of $699, making it a tad cheaper than the Sonos Arc too.
Samsung’s HW-Q700C is very impressive for its price. When we tried it out, we really liked how dynamic the audio performance is with this soundbar. It really makes it feel like you’re in a theater, but you’re just in your living room. Samsung does have support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X (basically the open source version of Dolby Atmos).
Samsung HW-Q700C – Samsung
Best entry-level Dolby Atmos soundbar: Sonos Beam Gen 2
The perfect soundbar for smaller TVs
The Sonos Beam Gen 2 is a rather impressive speaker for the price. It has an MSRP of $499, which makes it Sonos’ cheapest soundbar. But don’t let that make you think it is a bad soundbar – because it is anything but. In fact, this is the soundbar I’ve been using with my Amazon Omni QLED TV for the past year, and I absolutely love it. It’s small but mighty.
The Sonos Beam does come in two colors: white or black. That’s the same as the rest of Sonos’ portfolio, that way you can color-match them throughout your home, and so they don’t stick out. What’s really great about the Sonos Beam Gen 2 is that it uses soft-touch plastic on the outside, with a metal grille. This is great because it’s easier to clean and doesn’t attract as much dust, compared to some others on this list. It also looks rather unique.
Sonos includes a few buttons on the top, like play/pause, and volume buttons on either side. There’s also a microphone button and LED light behind those buttons. Since this soundbar does include Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, there are microphones inside. But you can turn them off fairly easily. I have the microphone turned off on mine – and neither assistant is set up anymore – because there were a lot of false-positives. Have a commercial from Amazon come on, and the Beam Gen 2 thinks I said “Alexa” which was not the case. And since my TV already has Alexa built-in, it wasn’t worth the hassle.
Sonos Beam was built for smaller TVs, around 40- to 55-inches. But you can easily use this with a larger TV, I am personally using it with a 65-inch TV and paired with a Sub Mini, and it still sounds incredible.
Sonos Beam Gen 2 – Crutchfield
Honorable mention: JBL Bar 500
The JBL Bar 500 is a good entry-level Dolby Atmos soundbar, which also comes with a wireless subwoofer for only $599. Sure it’s more expensive than the Sonos Beam Gen 2, but it doesn’t sound as great, even with the wireless subwoofer. It sounds good, but Sonos still takes the crown here.
In our experience with the JBL Bar 500, we found that it was able to provide cinematic sound, in a pretty slim profile. JBL also has a slew of smart features included, like Bluetooth and WiFi for connecting to your TV and wireless devices. As well as Apple AirPlay 2 and Google Chromecast. That’s actually pretty rare to have both at this price point.
JBL Bar 500 – Crutchfield
Best entry-level soundbar: VIZIO V-series Soundbar w/ Wireless Sub
While the VIZIO V-Series is inexpensive, it’s also a really good sounding soundbar and wireless sub that’s a sure upgrade over your TV’s speakers
The VIZIO V-series is an excellent option for those that want a soundbar, but aren’t quite sure it’s worth buying just yet. It’s a cheap soundbar, coming in at under $200, and it even includes a wireless sub. This does not include Dolby Atmos, but does surprisingly have DTS:X, so you’re still getting great sound, just not the best sound.
When we tried out the VIZIO V-series we found it to be quite adequate for smaller rooms, like a dorm, or a small apartment. It won’t give you that home theater experience that some of you might be looking for. But with that included wireless sub, you do get a good amount of bass. And that is always great to see.
There’s HDMI eARC support here, which lets you plug this directly into your TV and then control your soundbar with the TV remote. Now the other downside here is that there’s no Apple AirPlay 2 or Google Chromecast, but you can still connect with your phone via Bluetooth.
VIZIO V-Series Soundbar – Best Buy
Honorable mention: Sony S100F
The Sony S100F is one of those soundbars that we’ve had on our gift guides for quite a few years. It’s an older soundbar, but still rock solid. It now has an MSRP of just $99. So if you want a soundbar for your TV, but don’t want to spend a lot of money, this honorable mention is a great option.
It’s a 2-channel speaker, so it’ll fill the room with sound, but it’s not going to win any awards here. It does also have HDMI eARC available, allowing for you to use one cable to plug this into your TV. And also use your TV remote to control the volume. There’s Bluetooth support here, for streaming. Unfortunately, no Apple AirPlay 2 or Google Cast, but given the price here, that would be a surprise for it to be included. It’s not the end of the world, it just means you’ll need to do a bit more to stream your music.
Sony S100F – Best Buy