If you've gone all out buying one of the best 4K TVs on the market only to find you're not too crash hot on the sound pumping out of it, you're not alone: almost all modern sets, regardless of size, have lacklustre speakers hidden away in increasingly thinner frames. So instead of straining to hear the dialogue in your favourite show why not get yourself a sonic boost by adding a soundbar?
Soundbars offer the best bang-for-buck middle ground between the audio that your TV outputs and going all-in on a home cinema surround setup, but perhaps the most appealing aspect of soundbars is just how sleek and unobtrusive they are when placed with your TV.
Naturally, you'll want to consider the dimensions of your existing TV so that the soundbar can fit neatly beneath and/or in front of it, depending on your needs. You also won't want it to be too much larger or smaller than the width of your screen, so that it sits harmoniously in your setup.
Once you've considered how your new soundbar will gel with your current TV, you'll need to consider the unit's specs – some bars come with a subwoofer (some of which are wireless) and does it have the right kinds of connections for your TV? How about Bluetooth streaming, so you can turn it into your main living room sound source?
With all these considerations in mind, we've rounded up the best soundbars on offer in today's market. They're all easy enough to install and will help keep your setup minimal, tidy, and relatively free of unnecessary cabling
See all our soundbar reviews
Judging purely on a bang-for-your-buck basis, the five-star Sonos Beam is currently the best soundbar you can buy. It comes with a few additions to its spec sheet when compared to the Sonos Playbar and Playbase, including an HDMI connection and voice control assistance from Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, with Apple Siri to follow.
This is an affordable soundbar that could transform your listening experience. It's small, light and will fit in front of most TVs. There are sleek touch controls on the top, as well as HDMI and Ethernet ports to the rear. You can wall-mount the Beam, although the optional bracket is somewhat pricey.
Sound quality is superb. Inside, four full-range drivers, one tweeter, three passive radiators and five class-D amplifiers help to drive sound around your room for a more immersive, cinematic experience.
The width, depth and three-dimensionality of the sound smashes expectations.
Read the full review: Sonos Beam
Yamaha's smallest soundbar to date is also it's most affordable, and despite both these considerations, the sound it produces is rather stunning. It boasts tremendous capabilities for watching shows and movies, with stunningly clear dialogue and rich, immersive sounds.
While it lacks a little in the bass department (a necessity at this size, really) and shouldn't be your go-to for listening to music, its quick and painless setup, diminutive size and unassuming sound make it a worthy intro into the soundbar world.
If you're considering the Sonos Beam and its value-packed offering but aren't so desperate for the smarts that comes with it (or the doubled cost), this is one of the best ways to boost your TVs audio game without breaking the bank.
Read the full review: Yamaha SR-C20A
While there's little out there that's better value than the Sonos Beam (above), the company's more recent crack at a soundbar with full Dolby Atmos support is pretty close. You'll be paying a little more for the privilege of convincing surround sound via Atmos, but the price is still mighty reasonable compared to competition like the Sennheiser Ambeo below.
The Arc is simple to set up, in typical Sonos fashion, and is a true boon to have in the house thanks to all the integrated smarts that the brand is renowned for. It offers dynamic, detailed and weighty audio to pair with your TV or for any other kind of audio desire you may have.
If you're keen on the quality that Sonos brings to its soundbars but are after something a little more immersive than the Beam above, the extra money here is well spent.
Read the full review: Sonos Arc
This JBL Bar Studio is proof that there are some fine soundbars to be had for very little money. Sound is solid and punchy; connectivity includes a single ARC-enable HDMI output, an optical digital input and Bluetooth.
Build-quality is good, too – it's clear that JBL has crafted this model to its usual high standards of aesthetic modernity. Given its petite size (it's 60cm long and 6cm tall), the scale of the JBL's sound is a little restricted, but it still delivers a confident sound with plenty of detail, clear dialogue and punchy, rich bass at the bottom end.
You also get JBL Surround Sound, an in-house technology designed to replicate the wrap-around sound of a 5.1 system – further proof this soundbar is aiming to overcome the limitations imposed on it by its size.
It might not be a market-leader, but for the money, this is a superb buy for an impressive all-rounder. If you're after a full-bodied upgrade to your telly’s anaemic speakers, you can’t go wrong here.
Read the full review: JBL Bar Studio
The Ambeo Soundbar is Sennheiser's first consumer speaker, and it's quite the proposition – a premium soundbar crammed full of features including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support, 4K HDR pass-through (all of which are useful if Netflix and/or Amazon are your main movie and TV show source). You also get auto-calibration and four HDMI inputs, plus Bluetooth and support for Chromecast.
Measuring 127cm wide and 14cm tall, it’s certainly a beast. The result is that the Sennheiser delivers a sound big enough not to need its own subwoofer, with clear, direct dialogue and detail and subtlety in spades. The way it stretches the sound around you creates a great atmosphere and really draws you into the action.
To get the full Dolby Atmos effect, you'll need to wall-mount or position the soundbar on the top shelf of your rack, so the upward-firing speakers aren't obstructed. It's well worth the effort, though.
For those who want convincing 3D sound without the speakers, this the best soundbar with a premium price tag that we've ever tested.
Read the full review: Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar
With a multitude of soundbars competing in the budget-to-midrange market, the fact the Yamaha YAS-207 manages to excel in some areas of sonic performance that others don't makes it pretty special.
The YAS-207 is a natural entertainer and features YSP (Yamaha Sound Projection) technology, which is designed to emulate a surround-sound experience from a single soundbar. You also get immersive virtual sound, only this time by using DTS’s latest codec: DTS Virtual:X, which simulates a 11.1-channel set-up. As far as ‘virtual’ surround-sound experiences from a single enclosure go, it's hugely effective.
The bar also comes with a wireless external subwoofer, and plenty of features, including Bluetooth, an app to cycle between surround sound modes and an HDMI socket that enables 4K HDR passthrough.
Once positioned, performance defies the bar’s physical proportions. It produces a crisp, exciting sound and proves as adept at playing music as it does movie soundtracks. Another chapter in Yamaha’s soundbar success story – and a worthy Best Buy.
Read the full review: Yamaha YAS-207
With five different audio inputs, three ways to mount it and ten drivers all working together to deliver an immersive sound experience, there's plenty to talk about with the Dali Katch One. It is quite tall, so you really have to mount it on a wall, but that will only aid bass performance from the rear-firing drivers.
The Katch One is also a good looking bar and comes in three different finishes: Iron Black, Ivory White and Mountain White. There's an ARC-enabled HDMI socket for getting the audio from your TV, plus a pair of optical inputs and Bluetooth.
The Danish company has crammed in four mid/bass drivers, four passive radiators and two tweeters inside the soundbar and it serves a great dynamic performance with a broad, clear soundstage that works well for movies. It also boasts the ability to sound fun with music, too.
Provided you have the space to wall-mount it, this bar will be a delightful addition to any TV set-up.
Read the full review: Dali Katch One
Missing the cinema? We certainly are. But JBL's soundbar is the closest you can get to the big-screen sound experience without crowding your lounge with separates.
The 5.0 MultiBeam is affordable without feeling cheap, which is quite an achievement. It's small enough to fit under almost any TV, yet feels solid and well built. And it packs a lot into its modest dimensions: there are five 48 x 80mm racetrack drivers complemented by four 75mm passive radiators, and a grille that runs from ear to ear with two more drivers on the hood to deliver height effects.
It uses Dolby Virtual Atmos, rather than the full-fledged real deal, but still manages to fill a room with sound. Sound quality is very good indeed, with no rough edges at all, even when you turn it right the way up. We could ask for a little more clarity and detail, especially in the considerable bass frequencies, and a more open treble response, but this is a full-bodied presentation that’s unlikely to fatigue you, even when listening at high volume.
If you have a large room to fill, but only enough space for a soundbar instead of separates, this could be the ideal solution.
Read the full JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam review
There are numerous reasons you might shun a traditional full surround-sound system in favour of something more convenient – lack of space, too many wires, too much hassle. Yamaha’s YSP soundbar range has been one of the best solutions for over a decade now, offering a simpler, more compact way to get the surround-sound effect into your home.
The YSP-2700 is an excellent performer for the money, bouncing sound off the walls to create a 7.1ch effect, and comes with a cube-shaped, front-firing subwoofer. It delivers plenty of connectivity, including one HDMI out and three HDMI ins with support for HDCP 2.2, 4K video and Dolby Digital TrueHD and DTS:HD audio formats. There's no Dolby Atmos support, though.
There's also Bluetooth, Wi-Fi (up to 24-bit/192kHz) and Apple AirPlay streaming. And the presence of Yamaha MusicCast means you can integrate the bar into a Yamaha MusicCast multi-room system.
While it's at the top end of most budgets, the wide, spacious soundstage, good dynamics and superb feature count more than justifies the YSP-2700's price.
Read the full review: Yamaha YSP-2700
If you're on a tight budget, the Sony HT-G700 could be the soundbar for you. It's not the smallest, but it's big on sound, value and comes with a wireless subwoofer, HDMI input and support for both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.
Sony’s Vertical Surround Engine and S-Force Pro Front Surround technologies combine to produce convincing Dolby Atmos soundscape while a chunky subwoofer adds plenty of heft to big explosions. Sonos's Arc delivers an even more convincing Atoms experience, but it is more expensive.
The only things in the against column are a slight lack of clarity and crispness and the absence of any real music streaming features.
So, if you're after a dedicated bit of home cinema kit on a budget, the powerful-sounding HT-700 serves up a seriously-cinematic performance at a nice price.
Read the full review: Sony HT-G700
If you already own smart speakers from Harman Kardon's Citation range, this soundbar will slip in effortlessly. And even if you don't, the Citation MultiBeam 700 is still a fine soundbar in its own right.
It uses front- and side-firing speakers to try and achieve a 5.1 effect, or you can turn some of them off to listen in stereo. It's streaming credentials include Bluetooth, Chromecast and Apple AirPlay over Wi-Fi. It's not awash with physical connections but there's enough here to get by on, including an HDMI ARC socket.
It's an attractive, clean, neutral design and the Citation MultiBeam 700's looks are mirrored in the sound quality on offer. It's very easy on the ear but this soundbar is also entertaining with it. There are no rough edges and the Harman Kardon delivers a satisfying amount of bass. You even get a decent sense of immersion when watching movies.
If your budget can't stretch to the class-leaders such as the Sonos Arc, then the Harman Kardon is a solid alternative.
Read the full review: Harman Kardon Citation MultiBeam 700
If you're looking for a simple, constructive step up in sound from your TV's in-built speakers, Sony's SF150 offers a significant sonic enhancement for little outlay. Indeed there's almost no other competition worth considering for under AU$200.
Despite its low price point, the SF150 is a well-built speaker and wouldn’t look out of place perched beneath a TV that costs several times its price. Alongside HDMI ARC, it has an optical input supporting Dolby Digital, Dolby Dual mono and LPCM 2ch. There's also a USB port and Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity for music playback from an external source too.
The SF150 also features Sony's S-Force Front Surround technology, which applies processing to give the acoustic impression of a more encompassing sound stage. While it's certainly is no replacement for surround sound, it does add a dramatic sense of weight and separation.
Sonically the SF150 paints with fairly broad brushstrokes, meaning dialogue can sometimes feel a touch muffled and transients lack impact, but that should come as little surprise at this almost ridiculously low price. Anyone wanting a musical, finely detailed speaker should aim for a more sophisticated model, but for those looking for a quick and easy improvement to their TV, this budget bar is ideal.
Read the full Sony HT-SF150 review
Make no mistake; the SP11RA is a big investment in terms of both money and space. The main unit clocks in at a hefty 144cm long, and the package includes a separate sub and two surround speakers. However, you'd be hard pushed to build a true home cinema system that could match the LG's 7.1.4 channels of excellent Dolby Atmos action for price and convenience.
Underneath all that black brushed metal, the main bar houses three front-facing channels, two ‘surround’ channels at either end of the bar and on the top surface are a pair of upward-firing height speakers. The wireless sub houses an 18cm driver and rear port, while the rears each have a front and upward-firing driver.
We can confirm that all those drivers aren't going to waste; the SP11RA is a big improvement from previous LG models, which up until recently have proven to be a bit of a mixed bag. It’s easy to listen to, creating an even, immersive listening experience and, while you may have to give up some space to house it, its connectivity spec is one of the most comprehensive we’ve seen. For streaming, alongside Bluetooth and wi-fi, there’s Chromecast built-in and, if you have access to hi-res content, you’ll be pleased to know the soundbar can handle audio of up to 24-bit/192kHz quality.
Read the full review: LG SP11RA
If you really value the low end of the sonic spectrum, then a soundbar with a separate sub is a must. However, very few soundbar subs perform as well as Samsung's Q800A with a muscular, room-filling sound and a gut-busting bass, all contained within a relatively small package.
So what's hidden under the grille? Across the front edge of the main soundbar are three forward-facing channels, and on the top are two upward-facing tweeters that provide height channels for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X formats, while the modestly sized sub has a side-firing 20cm driver and rear port, for a capable 3.2.1 channels with an articulate, cinematic sound.
And if you happen to own a 2021 Samsung TV, you can enhance the Q800A's sonic performance further using a new feature called ‘Q-Symphony’ that allows the TV's internal speakers to work in conjunction with the soundbar to add more height and space to the soundfield.
Not only does the Q800A offer powerful overall performance, but it also has a broad feature set. Alongside two HDMI ports (one equipped with eARC) and an optical input, there’s Bluetooth and, once connected to wi-fi, you can stream via Spotify Connect and AirPlay 2, all of which can be controlled by the built-in Amazon Alexa voice assistant.
The Q800A is priced to compete directly with the Sonos Arc, and while the latter is crisper and more precise, especially when handling height elements, the Samsung offers a present and compelling listen as well as an epic sense of scale and bass that a solo soundbar couldn’t hope to match.
Read the full review: Samsung HW-Q800A
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