As TV displays get slimmer and slimmer, their built-in speakers tend to be lacking. Let's face it, even the best Samsung TV can use an external speaker system - and that's why we're rounding up the best soundbars on the market in one handy guide.
If you admire the subtle aesthetics of your new 4K TV over everything else, then a good soundbar is your best bet. Top soundbars available for purchase right now, don't hang around your shiny new thin screen like a regular stereo system. Instead, they are built to be as pleasing to the eye as they are to the ear. They are also a good solution for small homes and rooms with limited space that can't squeeze a 7.1 speaker system into a channel.
Most of the soundbars on this list are made to sit in front of the screen, but they can also be wall-mounted above or to the side of the screen, giving you the best choice of how your home entertainment set looks.
Despite everything, with only front speakers, many of the soundbars are capable of confidently transmitting sound in a way that makes it seem as if there is booming sound coming from all directions.
- After some real surround sound? Check out the best Dolby Atmos speakers
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The main problem with soundbars? There are so many to choose from. If you can't find the right one for you, you may end up with a soundbar that doesn't match your home theater setup or barely sounds any better than your TV's built-in speakers. Which, unfortunately, is what gives soundbars a bad name and is exactly the kind of thing we want to help you avoid.
So, without further ado, read on below for the best soundbars you can buy in 2019 if you're after. Dolby Atmos support, multi-room audio, stylish design, or any other advanced features along with your soundbar's premium audio experience.
What is the best soundbar for around $200/£200?
We can't stress this enough: when it comes to soundbars, there's a lot to choose from. Despite what is called soundbarsThey tend to come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They also range in price from £100/$100 to over £1,000/$1,500 (see: Carrier's X-Fi Sonic Creative).
The cheaper model you go for, the more basic connections there can be. While more expensive add HDMI inputs (including 4K/HDR pass-through), wireless audio streaming (like Bluetooth and AirPlay), better power, more refined speaker drivers and transcribing Blu-ray disc audio formats.
Sure, a full premium surround sound setup is a solution to a bad-sounding TV, but if you're short on space (as well as the budget), then a soundbar offers a good compromise. So what's the best soundbar for around £200/$200?
- If you are looking for a deal, make sure you check out the best cheap soundbar deals and sales in 2019
Best soundbars 2019: TechRadar takes over
The Samsung GW-Q90R is the company's new all-singing, all-dancing flagship soundbar. Not only does it support object-oriented audio in the form of both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, it's also the only 2019 model to achieve this with actual rear speakers and four up-firing speakers.
No other soundbar comes close to producing the full Dolby Atmos and DTS:X experience, and thanks to tuning by Harman Kardon the GW-Q90 even sounds good with music. With a decent feature set and full HDMI connectivity, it's a nearly flawless package... as long as you can afford it.
Read the full review: Samsung GW-Q90R soundbar
The Sony XT-ST5000 display is the most expensive soundbar you'll find here, but for the money you get exceptional hardware that offers spatial support for the Dolby Atmos tech – the top deals very well with more conventional surround sound.
The soundbar's build quality and design is exceptional, and its overall sound quality is astonishing in its clarity and spatial presentation.
Still, the high price tag can turn users away, and most people will get everything they need from less expensive models like the Samsung GW-MS650 above. But, if you want to have the best high-end soundbar around, the XT-ST5000 Display is the best soundbar you can buy today.
Read the full review: Sony GT-ST5000 display
The quality of the acoustics of the M4 soundbar does not immediately beat with its slightly more prosaic looks, “just” 2.1-channel sound and the lack of HDMI support. However, you should only hear what the M4 can do with both music and movies and your doubts about it evaporate almost instantly. In fact, it sounds so good that it's starting to make the idea of trying to deliver more channels with an affordable soundbar look a little silly.
While it actually sounds a lot better than just about any rival soundbar in the same price range, it's actually incredibly good value, especially if you care about music as much as you care about movies.
Read the full review: question acoustics M4 soundbar
Samsung's California-based audio lab has been on a roll. In the past few years, the lab has helped the company assemble the award-winning Samsung hardware-M650, last year's powerful, Dolby Amtos-ready Samsung hardware-N850, and now the Samsung hardware-Q70R, a soundbar designed to keep up with the Korean giant's 2019 QLED TV.
If you've followed Samsung's naming structure in the past, the Samsung hardware-Q70R is a tweaked version of last year's GW-N650 and while the new model costs $800 more (£800, AU$1,099), the good news is that the Q70R has added support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X still uses acoustic teleportation technology that expands the soundstage.
As a result, the sound stage is large and itself open, lending large dimensions. The overall effect is somewhat front-heavy, but that's to be expected given the lack of rear speakers. However, after you take looks, build quality, and features into account, this is a solid midrange combo.
Read the full review: Samsung GW-Q70R soundbar
The Philips Fidelio V5 is an impressive device and it's a great soundbar for those who appreciate good movie sound but have no interest in tearing up their living room to install a 5.1 surround sound system to use just every now and then. Q5 lets you choose your video moments and do it on a whim. And it creates pretty decent surround sound using both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS digital surround decoding.
The combination of convenience and good sound - the soundbar's raison d'être - with its converting surround sound feature makes the Fidelio B5 a great option for the movie lover who can't look at all the sharpening of a proper 5.1 setup.
Read the full review: Philips Fidelio B5
The Sonos playback is a non-HDMI device that uses optical to connect to your TV. Used simply by itself, it delivers a massive sound boost to your TV to listen to, but it doesn't require operation via a smartphone or tablet. The advantage is that it can seamlessly transition into a Sonos wireless music player system, and can even act as the front three speakers in a 5.1 setup with two play:1s acting as rears.
Unfortunately, while this optic-only will be great for most, it doesn't rule out TV owners without such a connector, which pushed it a little further down this install list.
Read the full review: sonos playback
The Sonos Beam is a fantastic speaker for the price that takes full advantage of the Sonos ecosystem and is a joy to use (and install if your TV has an HDMI arc). Its smaller form factor means it's a device that will sit comfortably next to a 32-inch screen, but it'll last a long time without being overshadowed by a much larger set.
The Sonos Ray doesn't offer astounding bass and the lack of Dolby Atmos support will annoy some, but at this price, it would be more of a surprise if it was included. Voice control may be Alex's just now, but it works well and if you've taken some of the Amazon TV toys, it's really worth experimenting with.
Read the full review: Sonos Beam
With nine drivers arranged in a trio for left, center and right channels and a virtual surround mode to give the illusion of having more speakers throughout the room, the HEOS bar is just about everything you want it to be.
Blessed with such a balanced soundbar, the HEOS devices proved to be immediately adept with music, and has a consistently warm yet refined sound quality of its own. The fact that it lacks the ability to adjust audio settings is not as important as we feared. The music sounds great, especially the lossless melodies that HEOS pulls a lot of detail into the bar. However, we noticed several times that the first half of the second song was cut off.
Read the full review: Denon HEOS bar
The key feature of the SB362An-F6 – also referred to helpfully as the “36-inch 2.1 soundbar” on most retailer websites – is indeed its pure value for money, costing just £149 in the UK and an even lower $139 in the US where it was launched at the end of last year.
Despite the bargain price, the SB362An-F6 is neatly designed, measuring 36 inches wide, and faired 2 inches high and 5,2cm deep (914xx52x133mm). It will sit comfortably under the screen of most TVs, and the Vizio also includes a couple of wall mounts as well.
The SB362An-F6 isn't perfect, but its dramatic and great sound provides audio for your TV's built-in speakers. Virtual:X technology works too well in helping to create a more immersive atmosphere while you watch. And while it may be missing a few bells and whistles, there's no doubt that the SB362An-F6 provides excellent value for money.
Read the full review: Visio SB362An-Ф6
If $300 is your budget cap for a smart soundbar, then we highly recommend the audio bar shelf team for any small to medium sized living room.
As you might say, based on the design of the soundbar, the command line comes with Alexa built right into it, making it undeniably smart. It's also relatively inexpensive too, coming in at $250 (£249, AU$649) and it comes with a subwoofer.
It has crisp and powerful bottom end, some cool smart features, and looks pretty good, too.
Read the full review: regiment audio command line
- We've come up with a list of the best movies on Netflix to put your soundbar to the test