Best soundbars 2019: the best TV speakers you can buy

Best soundbars Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best soundbars you can buy in 2019.

If your TV looks great but sounds flat, what you need is a soundbar. The very best soundbars can pack great, meaty sound into a package small enough to sit in front of your TV. They might also boast wireless subwoofers, Bluetooth, 4K-friendly HDMI inputs and even Dolby Atmos audio.

These are our picks of the best soundbars for a range of different budgets. All of them are simple to install and will avoid the need for lots of speakers and cables cluttering up your living room.

Best soundbars 2019

1. Sonos Beam

Small, adaptable and great sounding, the Beam could be Sonos's best yet.

SPECIFICATIONS

Sound formats: Dolby Digital 5.1 | Connectivity: 1 x HDMI ARC, 1 x optical digital, Wi-Fi, Ethernet | Voice control: Amazon Alexa | Dimensions: 7 x 65 x 10cm (HxWxD)

Reasons to Buy
Impressively three-dimensional sound
Surprising bass weight and depth
Streaming and multi-room smarts
Reasons to Avoid
A little sibilance at high volumes
More HDMI inputs would be nice

The Sonos Beam is a smaller, cheaper TV speaker than the Sonos Playbar and Playbase. It comes with a few additions to its spec sheet, including an HDMI connection and voice control assistant, initially Amazon Alexa, but Google Assistant and Apple Siri will follow.

This is an affordable soundbar that most could find space for, and that could transform your listening experience. The width, depth and three-dimensionality of the presentation smashes expectations. You really don't need to spend another £300 for the Playbar – this should meet most people's needs perfectly.

Read the full review: Sonos Beam

Best soundbars 2019

2. JBL Bar Studio

A solid, affordable upgrade to your TV speakers.

SPECIFICATIONS

Sound format: JBL Surround Sound | Streaming: Bluetooth v4.2 | Max power: 30W | Connectivity: 1 x HDMI ARC | Dimensions: 6 x 61 x 9cm (HxWxD)

Reasons to Buy
Solid and punchy sound
Plenty of bass
Good range of features
Reasons to Avoid
Hardness at higher volumes
Not great with music

On a sound-per-pound basis the JBL certainly holds its own. We originally tested it at £150, but you can now pick one up for just £99. Sure, that might be too cheap for a true all-rounder, but the JBL Bar Studio is proof that there are some fine performers to be had for little money. Connectivity includes a single ARC-enable HDMI output, an optical digital input and Bluetooth.

Given its petite size, the scale of the JBL's sound is restricted, but it still delivers a confident, full-bodied upgrade to your telly’s speakers. There's plenty of detail, clear dialogue and punchy, rich bass at the bottom end too.

Read the full review: JBL Bar Studio

Best soundbars 2019

3. Yamaha YAS-207

Another five-star soundbar from Yamaha's impressive stable.

SPECIFICATIONS

Sound formats: Dolby & DTS surround sound | Connectivity: 1 x HDMI | Streaming: Bluetooth | Subwoofer: Yes | Dimensions: soundbar 6 x 93 x 10.8cm, subwoofer 44 x 14 x 40cm (HxWxD)

Reasons to Buy
Crisp, dynamic sound
Spacious and immersive
Slim and practical design
Reasons to Avoid
Treble a little unrefined

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 another chapter in Yamaha’s soundbar success story. A worthy Best Buy.

Read the full review: Yamaha YAS-207

Best soundbars 2019

4. JVC TH-W513B

A nicely built, bargain-priced soundbar that does a fine job.

SPECIFICATIONS

Sound formats: Dolby Digital 5.1 | Connectivity: Optical and coaxial digital, 3.5mm | Streaming: Bluetooth | Subwoofer: No | Dimensions: 6.2 x 80 x 9.3cm (HxWxD)

Reasons to Buy
Goes loud
Good for dialogue
Buetooth
Reasons to Avoid
Lacks bass weight
Sound hardens up at high volume

If you don't want to spend a fortune on boosting your TV's sound, this JVC soundbar will do the job and still give you plenty of change from £100. It's nicely put together and not too obtrusive, so if your TV's already on a stand it should slot underneath without any problems. There's a simple remote handset, optical/coaxial digital inputs and Bluetooth connectivity for straightforward music streaming.

The overall sound is a little bass-light, but its 'Movie' setting helps deliver a nicely rounded spread of sound, while still portraying voices and effects clearly and convincingly. The size of the bar means it doesn't really suit huge flatscreens, but we'd have no hesitation hooking it up to a smaller screen in a bedroom or study.

Read the full review: JVC TH-W513B

Best soundbars 2019

5. Yamaha YSP-2700

This Yamaha will immerse you in a movie soundtrack.

SPECIFICATIONS

Sound formats: Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio | Subwoofer: Yes, wireless | Connectivity: 3 x HDMI in, 1 x HDMI out, digital optical, digital coaxial in | Streaming: Bluetooth, AirPlay, wi-fi | Dimensions: soundbar 5.1 x 94 x 15cm, subwoofer 30 x 30 x 30cm (HxWcD)

Reasons to Buy
Wide, spacious sound
Tonally well balanced
Good dynamics
Reasons to Avoid
Needs careful placement
Treble could have more bite

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's excellent performance and unique capabilities more than justify its price.

Read the full review: Yamaha YSP-2700

Best soundbars 2019

6. Sony HT-ST5000

This Sony takes the Dolby Atmos soundbars to new heights.

SPECIFICATIONS

Sound format: Dolby Digtial, Dolby Atmos | Connectivity: 3 x HDMI in, 1 x HDMI out | Streaming: Bluetooth | Hi-res audio: 96k/24-bit PCM | Subwoofer: Yes | Dimensions: soundbar 8 x 118 x 14.5cm (HxWxD), subwoofer 40 x 25 x 43cm (HxWxD)

Reasons to Buy
Excellent integration
Weighty bass
Impressive Dolby Atmos effect
Reasons to Avoid
Remote could be better designed

Accomplished Dolby Atmos soundbars are few and far between. The  Sony HT-ST5000 is one of them. It makes film soundtracks so immersive you'll think you're in the movie. The HT-ST5000 is fantastic – pairing a real sense of height with a sophisticated sound quality. If you’ve been looking for a fuss-free way to get Dolby Atmos into your home, this is the best we’ve seen so far.

Read the full review: Sony HT-ST5000

Best soundbars 2019

7. Dali Kubik One

A massive success in a gorgeous package.

SPECIFICATIONS

Connectivity: 2 optical inputs, 1 x RCA, subwoofer out | Hi-res audio: 24bit/96kHz | Streaming: aptX Bluetooth | Dimensions: 16 x 98 x 10cm (HxWxD)

Reasons to Buy
Involving, engaging sound
Good connectivity
Good looks
Reasons to Avoid
Nothing of note

One of the best premium soundbars we've tested - the sound is hugely engaging, and it looks very dapper to boot. Dali says the Kubik One is not exactly a soundbar – it’s a system in its own right, rather than a mere extension of your TV. Whatever the appropriate nomenclature, one thing is for sure: we think it’s brilliant. Award-winningly brilliant, in fact.

Read the full review: Dali Kubik One

Best soundbars 2019

8. Sonos Playbar

With a couple of little caveats, the Playbar is a solid proposition for boosting your TV sound.

SPECIFICATIONS

Sound formats: Dolby Digital 5.1 | Connectivity: 1 x optical digital, Ethernet, Wi-Fi | Voice control: No | Dimensions: 8.5 x 90 x 14cm (HxWxD)

Reasons to Buy
Delivers a brilliant Sonos experience
Wide, deep and detailed soundstage
Reasons to Avoid
No HDMI connections
No DTS support

The Sonos Beam be the best soundbar we've heard in 2019, but there's still plenty of life left in the Playbar. It offers the same Sonos smarts as the Beam, but in a much larger package. Connectivity is limited to an optical input, so it doesn't offer quite the same flexibility as the HDMI-toting Beam, but you still get access to Sonos' excellent user experience and multi-room smarts.

It's nicely made and can be wall-mounted using the optional £35 mount or laid flat in front of your TV. The built-in accelerometers automatically sense its orientation and adjust the sound for the best experience. The most impressive aspect of Playbar's sound is its wide, expansive soundstage which does a great job of filling your room. 

There's a surprising amount of bass weight too, while the speaker's musical nature means it's more than capable of playing your favourite tracks from its multitude of streaming services.

Read the full review: Sonos Playbar

Best soundbars 2019

9. Samsung HW-N950

Big, bold and beautiful – just how a Dolby Atmos soundbar should sound.

SPECIFICATIONS

Sound formats: Dolby Digital, Dolby Atmos, DTS, DTS:X | Connectivity: 2 x HDMI inputs, 1 x optical digital, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth | Voice control: No | Subwoofer: Yes | Dimensions: 8 x 123 x 14cm (HxWxD)

Reasons to Buy
Large soundfield
Effective Atmos delivery
Solid and clear presentation
Reasons to Avoid
Lacks dynamic punch
Bass a bit loose
Size won’t suit all

Like the Sony HT-ST5000 above, the Samsung HW-N950 is a great advert for Dolby Atmos soundbars. Given you need room to accommodate the bar, a wireless subwoofer and two wireless rear speaker modules, it's actually more of a system, but you do get proper 7.1.4 Atmos sound. You also get a good spread of features and connectivity options, including three, 4K-compatible HDMI sockets, Bluetooth and wi-fi.

The Samsung's biggest asset is its room-filling soundfield. The system makes a huge impression, flinging sounds and surround effects far and wide. There's plenty of weight behind explosions and voices sound solid too. The Sony does have the dynamic edge which is why we've positioned it higher, but the Samsung is still a viable alternative for those looking for a premium soundbar-based set-up.

Read the full review: Samsung HW-N950

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