Best soundbars Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best soundbars you can buy in 2020.
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.
Before you buy, it's worth bearing in mind the size of your TV and how big you want your new bar to be. You won't want it to be dwarfed by the screen, but then again it could look strange partnering a big bar with a tiny TV. Compare the bar's width with that of your TV. Als check the height – if you need to place it in front of a TV, you don't want the bar obstructing the picture.
Next, you need to turn your attention to features. Many modern soundbars boast wireless subwoofers, Bluetooth streaming, 4K-friendly HDMI inputs, ARC-enabled HDMI outputs and even support Dolby Atmos audio with upfiring speakers. Have a think about the content you'll be viewing and the sources you'll be plugging in.
Below you'll find our pick 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.
See all our soundbar reviews
Judging on a sound-per-pound basis, the Sonos Beam is currently the best soundbar you can buy. It comes with a few additions to its spec sheet, 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 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
We originally tested This JBL soundbar at £150, but you can now pick one up for just £99, proof that there are some fine soundbars 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 a little 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
The Ambeo Soundbar is Sennheiser's first consumer speaker, and it's quite the proposition - a premium soundbar packed full of features including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support, 4K HDR pass-through, auto-calibration and four HDMI inputs. 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.
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. If you want surround 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 another chapter in Yamaha’s soundbar success story. 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. And the bar serves up a great dynamic performance with a broad, clear soundstage which works well for movies, and it also boasts the ability to sound fun with music, too.
Read the full review: Dali Katch One
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 nice spread of sound, while still portraying voices and effects clearly and convincingly. The JVC's size 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
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
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 (thanks to its upfiring drivers) with sophisticated sound quality.
The feature count on this Sony soundbar is impressive too, with three HDMI inputs, USB, Bluetooth and high-res audio support. If you’ve been looking for a fuss-free way to get Dolby Atmos into your home, apart from the Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar, this is the best we’ve seen so far.
Read the full review: Sony HT-ST5000
The sound from this Dali soundbar is hugely engaging, and it looks very dapper to boot. There aren't any HDMI inputs, but you do get a couple of optical connections, a high-res-supporting micro-USB socket and aptX Bluetooth.
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.
Read the full review: Dali Kubik One
The Sonos Beam might 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 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 combines well with its multitude of streaming services.
Read the full review: Sonos Playbar
Like the Sony HT-ST5000 above, this Samsung soundbar 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 sound. 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 big and premium soundbar.
Read the full review: Samsung HW-N950
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