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Best soundbars 2021: the best TV speakers you can buy

Included in this guide:

Best soundbars Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best soundbars you can buy in 2021. 

As flat-screen displays continue to get brighter, sharper and more vivid, the difference between the sparkling quality of new a TV's picture and its lacklustre sound performance is becoming more apparent. That's because almost all modern sets, regardless of size, have subpar speakers hidden away in increasingly scant frames. But fortunately, just adding a soundbar to your set-up is an easy way to get a more engaging and enjoyable viewing experience. The best soundbars pack impressive audio into a self-contained package small enough to sit in front of or below your TV. There are no separate surround speakers to crowd out the room and no snaking cables to act as trip hazards.

Before you buy, there are some things to bear in mind. Consider the dimensions of your TV to work out just how big your new soundbar needs to be. You don't want it to be dwarfed by the screen, but then again, it could look strange partnering a huge bar with a small TV – like a tiny head perched atop overly broad shoulders. Look up the dimensions and compare the bar's width with that of your TV. Also, check the height – if you need to place the soundbar in front of your TV, you don't want it obscuring half the picture.

Next, features and connectivity. Many modern soundbars boast wireless subwoofers, Bluetooth connectivity, 4K-friendly HDMI inputs for a games console or 4K Blu-ray player, ARC and eARC-enabled HDMI outputs and even support Dolby Atmos audio with up-firing speakers. Have a think about the content you'll be viewing and the sources you'll be plugging in. If you are just watching Freeview, a lot of these technologies will be redundant. But if you're streaming the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video in 4K HDR, you'll want to squeeze out the best possible audio quality to make sure your content sounds as good as it looks.

For a complete overview, check out our guide on how to choose and set up a soundbar.

Below, we've rounded up the best soundbars for a range of different budgets (if you're specifically looking for a very affordable model, also check out our best budget soundbars page). All of them will up your audio game with a fuss-free setup. Enjoy.

See all our soundbar reviews

The best Dolby Atmos movie scenes

Home cinema soundbar: Sony HT-A7000

(Image credit: Sony)

1. Sony HT-A7000

Powerful and muscular room-filling Dolby Atmos from a single soundbar

Specifications
Connectivity: eARC, 2*HDMI 2.1, optical, USB, WiFi, Ethernet
Sound format support : Dolby Atmos/ Dolby AudioTM/ DTS:X/ DTS-HD/ PCM
Streaming : Chromecast, Bluetooth 5, Apple Airplay 2, WiFi
Voice control : Google Assistant, Alexa
Dimensions (hwd) : 8 x 130 x 14 cm
Weight: 8.7kg
Reasons to buy
+Robust low-end+Excellent Atmos performance+Feature-rich
Reasons to avoid
-No VRR or ALLM at launch-EQ controls would be nice-Slightly confused styling

Sony has excellent form with soundbars, and the 2021 What Hi-Fi? Award-wining HT-A7000 soundbar is no different. A 7.1.2 slab of sound, this Dolby Atmos soundbar packs in two up-firing speakers, two beam tweeters, five front-facing drivers and a built-in dual subwoofer into a single chassis. Using a combination of driver placement and psychoacoustic techniques, the Sony HT-A700 delivers a broad and high soundstage, whether you’re watching immersive content or not, while retaining musicality, presence and detail.

In terms of height and precision, the performance is similar to that of the Sonos Arc, but the width of the soundstage and its forward projection is more convincing. It’s not the same as having direct audio from the speaker above or the side, but it’s effective and dramatically enticing, enriching the viewing experience. The integrated sub is also particularly impressive with a taut, controlled and powerful performance.

In terms of supported audio formats, the A7000 excels itself and includes Dolby Atmos (in both the Digital+ and TrueHD formats), DTS:X, LPCM, hi-res wireless audio and Sony 360 Reality Audio.

The A7000 is as packed with streaming smarts as it is stuffed with speakers with Spotify ConnectApple AirPlay 2Google Chromecast all on board and integration into a multi-room system – with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit and Google Home all supported.

Alongside two HDMI 2.1 pass-through sockets capable of handling 8K@60Hz, 4K@120Hz, and Dolby Vision HDR, there are ports for eARC, analogue and optical audio inputs and USB type-A. There’s also an analogue output for Sony’s Acoustic Center Sync, which lets a compatible Bravia TV become part of the soundbar’s centre channel when the two are connected using the supplied cable.

The Sony HT-A7000 is an outstanding, future-proofed, all-in-one performer with excellent integration if you have a newer Sony Bravia TV.

Read the full review: Sony HT-A7000

Home cinema soundbar: Sonos Beam Gen 2

(Image credit: Sonos)

2. Sonos Beam Gen 2

The dinky Sonos Beam delivers a refined sound and excellent Dolby Atmos interpretation

Specifications
Sound format support: Dolby Atmos DP / Dolby Atmos True HD / Dolby Digital / Multichannel PCM/ Dolby Multichannel PCM / stereo PCM
Connectivity: 1 x HDMI eARC, Wi-Fi, Ethernet
Voice control: Works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
Dimensions (hwd) : 7 x 65 x 10cm
Weight: 2.8 kg
Reasons to buy
+Effective handling of Dolby Atmos+Warm, refined sound+Streaming smarts
Reasons to avoid
-No additional HDMI ports-Doesn’t support DTS:X

Delivering Dolby Atmos from a small chassis is no mean feat but the 2021 What Hi-Fi? Award winning Sonos Beam Gen 2 achieves a convincing, immersive performance without so much as a vertical speaker in sight. Instead, when watching Atmos content, two of the soundbars five front-facing arrays are dedicated to reproducing overhead and surround sounds. With its hefty processing power, the Sonos Beam Gen 2 uses psychoacoustic HRTF (head-related transfer function) technology to give the impression of height without needing to get vertical.

While genuine overhead sounds are perhaps a stretch too far for this petite performer, its virtual delivery of the Atmos format outstrips any similarly priced soundbar and even a few that are more expensive. The Beam Gen 2 offers an enveloping, spatial soundscape with rich, detailed audio as well as tangible motion and depth.

Not that many soundbars at this price point come with networking capabilities, but this being a Sonos product, the Beam Gen 2’s ability to integrate into a wireless multiroom system is fundamental to its design. This means you can stream to the Beam Gen 2 from a handheld device using Apple AirPlay 2, and Spotify Connect is built-in too. There will also be a forthcoming upgrade to add support for Amazon Music Ultra HD audio, which will give access to lossless 24-bit/48kHz tracks as well as Dolby Atmos Music.

Despite the lack of upward drivers, if space and budget are limited there isn't a better Dolby Atmos soundbar that we'd recommend.

Read the full review: Sonos Beam Gen 2

Sonos Arc Soundbar

(Image credit: Sonos)

3. Sonos Arc

Easily one of the best soundbars we've heard at the money.

Specifications
Sound formats: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Atmos, Dolby True HD, Dolby Digital Plus
Connectivity: 1 x HDMI eARC, 1 x optical digital, Wi-Fi, Ethernet
Voice control: Amazon Alexa, Google, Assistant
Dimensions: 8.7 x 114 x 12cm (HxWxD)
Reasons to buy
+Convincing Dolby Atmos+Dynamic, detailed and weighty+All of the usual Sonos smarts
Reasons to avoid
-Music could be better projected-Heavily reliant on your TV’s specs

Soundbars aren't new territory for Sonos, but the 2021 What Hi-Fi? Award-winning Arc is the only soundbar from the brand to deliver Dolby Atmos with verticle speakers. It sits above the Beam (Gen 2) in terms of pricing and is suited to 55in TVs and above, with optional wall mounting fixings available for £79 ($79/AU$99) .

There are touch-sensitive play/pause and volume controls on the bar with LEDs that indicate status and when you're talking to the built-in Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. Connectivity includes AirPlay 2, ethernet and eARC for Dolby Atmos from compatible TVs.

The Sonos Arc uses 11 drivers to create your soundfield, several of which are upfiring and angled into your room to bounce sound off your walls and ceiling. It all adds up to one of the most convincing Atmos performances you can get from a soundbar.

You're transported to the heart of the action. Surround effects are expertly placed, and there's great dynamism and good weight to the sound too. Tonally, it's nicely balanced if you just want to listen to music, although it could sound a tiny bit more direct. But, there's no doubt this is a hugely impressive soundbar for the money.

Read the full Sonos Arc review

Sonos Beam Soundbar

4. Sonos Beam Gen 1

Small, adaptable and great sounding, this is Sonos's best soundbar 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
+Impressive three-dimensional sound+Surprising bass weight and depth+Streaming and multi-room smarts
Reasons to avoid
-A little sibilance at high volumes-Only one HDMI input

Judging on a sound-per-pound basis, the five-star Sonos Beam is currently the best soundbar you can buy, but sadly not for much longer as it has just been supplanted by a newer model. 

It comes with an impressive spec sheet for its price point including an ARC/HDMI connection and voice control assistance from Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and  Apple Siri.

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 pricey.

Sound quality is superb. Inside, four full-range drivers, one tweeter, three passive radiators and five class-D amplifiers help drive sound around your room for a more immersive, cinematic experience. 

The width, depth and three-dimensionality of the sound smashes expectations – you won't find a better soundbar for the money. But if you do fancy saving some money and want the still-excellent original Beam, you'd best act fast because it's officially been discontinued. Who knows how long the stock will last?

Read the full Sonos Beam review

JBL Bar Studio Soundbar

5. JBL Bar Studio

One of the best soundbars you can buy on a budget.

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

There are some fine soundbars to be had for little money, and this JBL proves that. The 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 this is a superb buy for an impressive all-rounder for the money. If you're after a full-bodied upgrade to your telly’s anaemic speakers, you can’t go wrong here.

Read the full JBL Bar Studio review

Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar

(Image credit: Future)

6. Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar

You'll need plenty of space, but this is the best soundbar for those with deep pockets.

Specifications
Sound formats: Dolby Atmos & DTS:X surround sound
Connectivity: 4 x HDMI, optical digital, RCA line in
Streaming: Bluetooth
Subwoofer: No
Dimensions: 14 x 127 x 17cm (HxWxD)
Reasons to buy
+Rich, balanced sound+Excellent dynamics+Impressive surround effect
Reasons to avoid
-Large-Fussy about positioning

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 is the best soundbar with a premium price tag that we've ever tested, which is why it retained its title once again at the 2021 What Hi-Fi Awards.

Read the full Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar review

Yamaha YAS-207 Soundbar

7. Yamaha YAS-207

One of the very best soundbars when it comes to virtual surround sound.

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 features YSP (Yamaha Sound Projection) technology designed to emulate a surround-sound experience from a single soundbar. You also get immersive ‘virtual’ sound, only this time using DTS’s latest codec: DTS Virtual:X, which simulates an 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 and as it does movie soundtracks. Another chapter in Yamaha’s soundbar success story – and a worthy Best Buy.

Read the full Yamaha YAS-207 review

Dali Katch One Soundbar

(Image credit: Dali)

8. Dali Katch One

A tidy soundbar that's great for movies and music - you just need to wall mount it.

Specifications
Sound formats: Dolby Digital 5.1
Connectivity: HDMI (ARC), optical x 2, 3.5mm
Streaming: Bluetooth (aptX)
Subwoofer: No
Dimensions: 16.4 x 86 x 7cm (HxWxD)
Reasons to buy
+Wholesome, tight bass+Strong dynamics+Good spread of sound
Reasons to avoid
-Really needs wall-mounting-No front-facing display-Highs could sound sweeter

There's plenty to talk about with the Dali Katch One, a soundbar that offers five different audio inputs, three ways to mount it and ten drivers all working together to deliver an immersive sound experience. 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 space to wall mount it, this bar will be a delightful addition to any TV set-up.

Read the full Dali Katch One review

JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam Soundbar

(Image credit: JBL)

9. JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam

This compact soundbar won’t blow a hole in your budget.

Specifications
Sound formats: MultiBeam, Dolby Virtual Atmos
Subwoofer: No
Connectivity: HDMI in, HDMI out (HDCP 2.3 compliant, eARC & 4K HDR passthrough), Ethernet, Optical
Streaming: Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay, Google Chromecast
Dimensions: 5.8 x 71 x 10cm (HxWxD)
Reasons to buy
+Big, full-bodied presentation+Dolby Virtual Atmos+Multi-room options
Reasons to avoid
-Could be more detailed-Dynamic expression poor-Slovenly sense of timing

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. The sound quality is outstanding, 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

Sony HT-ST5000 Soundbar

10. Sony HT-ST5000

This Sony easily mixes it with the best soundbars at the money.

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, but the Sony HT-ST5000 happens to be 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. You can also stream music to it wirelessly via wi-fi or the Bluetooth 4.1 connection. Spotify Connect is also built-in, as is Google Chromecast for Tidal or Google Play Music users. It even has a dedicated ‘Music Service’ button on the remote, which can automatically resume Spotify playback if you've been out and about, listening on your smartphone.

The design of the remote is a bit fussy, but that's really our only gripe. If you’ve been looking for a hassle-free way to get Dolby Atmos into your home, and your budget won't stretch to the Sennheiser Ambeo, this is a fantastic option.

Read the full Sony HT-ST5000 review

Dali Kubik One Soundbar

11. Dali Kubik One

A massive soundbar 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

The sound from this excellent soundbar is hugely engaging, and it looks very dapper to boot. The bar delivers a wide, spacious soundstage and pings effects around the room with ease, giving them ample room to manoeuvre. Even the more hectic scenes don’t sound crowded. Add some hefty low-end heft to thicken the sound, and you have a punchy soundbar that wipes the floor with many of its rivals.

Not sure about a red soundbar? Don't worry; the grilles are removable. Red, white and black come as standard, but you can splash out on six other snazzy colours, including purple and lime green. 

As you'd expect for the money, this is a solid bit of kit with a well-designed chassis and decent connectivity. For high-quality music streaming, there's aptX Bluetooth, plus two optical inputs, micro USB (so you can hardwire it to a Mac or PC and access high-res tracks) and a sub socket, should you feel the need to hook up a subwoofer. 

There are no HDMI inputs, and at 16cm high, the Dali might well justify its own shelf, but this bar presents itself extremely well – and, in our opinion, is worth every penny.

Read the full Dali Kubik One review

Roku Streambar Soundbar

(Image credit: Roku)

12. Roku Streambar

This streamer-cum-soundbar represents very good value.

Specifications
Connections: HDMI 2.0a (ARC), optical, USB 2.0
Remote control: Yes
Wireless: Bluetooth 5.0
Dimensions (HWD): 6 x 35.5 x 10.7cm
Weight: 1.1kg
Reasons to buy
+Direct, well-projected sound+Great feature list+Can go loud
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn't sound cinematic

Think of the Roku Streambar as an upgrade on your TV rather than an entry into proper home cinema, and it ticks pretty much every box. While it doesn’t quite ascend to five-star status, it easily nails the aspects for which it is most commonly required: projection and clarity. The Streambar will work with any television with an HDMI input, outputting 4K HDR at up to 60fps for compatible sets. Everyone else will get 1080p Full HD, with lower resolution signals upscaled.

The bundled remote is splendid, and for an out-of-the-box boost to TV audio and older sets’ smart features, the Roku Streambar is extremely low risk for this price. In that sense, it’s something we can wholeheartedly recommend.

Read the full Roku Streambar review

Harman Kardon Citation MultiBeam 700 Soundbar

(Image credit: Harman Kardon)

13. Harman Kardon Citation MultiBeam 700

A solid soundbar with multi-room smarts.

Specifications
Connectivity: HDMI ARC, 3.5mm aux, optical digital
Streaming: Bluetooth 4.3, Wi-Fi, Apple AirPlay
Hi-res audio: 24bit/96kHz
Dimensions: 6.5 x 79 x 13cm (HxWxD)
Reasons to buy
+Balanced, easy-listening sound+Good spatial effects+Part of a solid multi-room family
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks timing and dynamics

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. Its 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 effortless on the ear, but this soundbar is also entertaining. 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 Harman Kardon Citation MultiBeam 700 review

Sony HT-G700 Soundbar

(Image credit: Future)

14. Sony HT-G700

A good entry-level soundbar with plenty of bass and Dolby Atmos support.

Specifications
Sound formats: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X
Connectivity: 1 x HDMI (eARC), 1 x HDMI input, Bluetooth
Dimensions (HxWxD): 6 x 98 x 11cm (bar); 39 x 19 x 40cm (subwoofer)
Power output: 400W
Reasons to buy
+Big, weighty sound+Impressive Atmos effect+Solid and stylish
Reasons to avoid
-Lack of crispness and clarity-No streaming functionality

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 a 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 

Sonos Playbar Soundbar

15. Sonos Playbar

With a couple of little caveats, the Playbar is a solid soundbar proposition.

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 (at the top of this list) is the best pound-for-pound soundbar we've tested, and it arrived on the scene as a replacement for the Playbar. This is why you won't find much stock of this model around, so when you see one for sale, be quick!

It offers many of 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 the same flexibility as the HDMI-toting Beam. However, you still get access to Sonos' excellent user experience and multi-room smarts.

The most impressive aspect of the Playbar is the wide, expansive soundstage which does a great job of filling your room with a surprising amount of bass weight. It's also very nicely made and can be wall-mounted using the optional mount or laid flat in front of your TV. 

This Playbar will play everything (except hi-res audio tracks) that you’ve got stored on your computer or NAS device; you can send audio directly from an Android or iOS phone or tablet; and it connects to internet radio via Spotify, Tidal, Deezer and more.

Still undecided? Take a gander at our Sonos Beam vs Playbar comparison. The smaller, cheaper Beam features voice controls, but if you're after a simple, powerful device that will significantly improve the sound of your TV, the Playbar is an excellent option.

Read the full Sonos Playbar review

Sony HT-SF150 Soundbar

(Image credit: Future)

16. Sony HT-SF150

A budget soundbar that's a step up from your TV’s speakers

Specifications
Connections : HDMI, optical, USB, ARC
Connectivity: Bluetooth version 4.2
Sound formats: Dolby Digital, Dolby Dual mono, LPCM 2ch
Dimensions: 6.4 x 8.8 x 90cm (HxWxD)
Reasons to buy
+Looks and feels premium+Impressive scale and width+Inexpensive
Reasons to avoid
-Slightly muffled presentation-Could have more punch

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 £100 ($100, 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 there is no replacement for surround sound, it adds 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. Still, this budget bar is ideal for those looking for a quick and easy improvement to their TV.

Read the full Sony HT-SF150 review

LG SP8YA Soundbar

(Image credit: LG)

17. LG SP8YA

A mid-range Dolby Atmos soundbar that proves less is more

Specifications
Sound formats: Dolby Atmos, Dolby AudioTM, DTS:X, DTS-HD, PCM
Connectivity: eARC, 1x HDMI, optical, USB, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, AirPlay 2, Chromecast
Dimensions: hwd: 5.7 x 106 x 12cm (bar); 39 x 22 x 31cm (sub)
Reasons to buy
+Extensive feature set+Room-filling soundscape+Easily expanded with surrounds 
Reasons to avoid
-Sub lacks definition and impact-Missing some height precision 

Up until recently, LG's soundbars have proven to be a bit of a mixed bag, but the company has redeemed itself with its 2021 line-up and the SP8YA is no exception.

This Dolby Atmos soundbar with a wireless sub is bang smack in the middle of the range in terms of price and size but retains the connectivity features of the higher-end models. There's eARC, plus another HDMI 2.1 input with 4K Dolby Vision and HDR10 pass-through as well as an optical input and a USB port. Streaming is well catered for too. Alongside Bluetooth and wi-fi, there’s Chromecast and Apple Airplay 2, 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.

Sonically this 3.1.2 package also punches above its weight with a broad, vibrant soundstage that can easily match the cinematic scale of larger screens. It can also be easily upgraded to 5.1.2 by the addition of the SPK8 2.0 surround kit for around £130 ($180, AU$249).

There are better performers in terms of height available, like the Sonos Arc, and the low end is a little loose and undefined but for those looking for a reasonably priced Dolby Atmos soundbar with a high tech spec and a detailed, room-filling sound, the SP8YA is worth considering.

Read the full review: LG SP8YA

LG SP11RA Soundbar

(Image credit: LG)

18. LG SP11RA

An enjoyable and immersive top-end soundbar package

Specifications
Sound formats: Dolby Atmos, Dolby AudioTM, DTS:X, DTS-HD, PCM
Connectivity: eARC, 2x HDMI, optical, USB, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, AirPlay 2, Chromecast
Dimensions: 6.3 x 144 x 14.6cm (bar); 39 x 22 x 31cm (sub); 21 x 13 x 19cm (rears)
Reasons to buy
+Detailed top end+Large, well-spread soundscape +Comprehensive feature set 
Reasons to avoid
-Looks don’t match the price tag -Lacks a little punch-Sub feels one dimensional 

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 

Samsung HW-Q800A Soundbar

(Image credit: Future)

19. Samsung HW-Q800A

This Dolby Atmos soundbar packs a punch

Specifications
Connections: eARC, HDMI, optical
Sound formats: Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, LPCM 8Ch, Bluetooth 4.2, AirPlay 2
Dimensions: (hwd) 6 x 98 x 11.5cm (bar); 40 x 21 x 40cm (sub)
Reasons to buy
+Spacious presentation+Weighty, articulate sub+Good range of features
Reasons to avoid
-Could be more insightful-Height channel lacks precision

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

MORE:

Looking for a bargain? Here are the best budget soundbars

Best Dolby Atmos soundbars 2021: the best Atmos TV speakers

Check out the latest and cheapest Sonos deals 2021

Andy Madden

Andy is Deputy Editor of What Hi-Fi? and a consumer electronics journalist with nearly 20 years of experience writing news, reviews and features. Over the years he's also contributed to a number of other outlets, including The Sunday Times, the BBC, Stuff, and BA High Life Magazine. Premium wireless earbuds are his passion but he's also keen on car tech and in-car audio systems and can often be found cruising the countryside testing the latest set-ups. In his spare time Andy is a keen golfer and gamer.