The 7 Best Soundbars to Buy in 2018

Your home theater system isn't complete without one

SB700 Aluminum Sound Bar with Built-In Subwoofer
Amazon

Soundbars are a great way to take your home theater and audio system to the next level. But when buying one, it can be difficult to decide which would best complement your TV, fill your living room with the right sound and be compatible with your other gadgets (smartphones, etc.). To help, we've rounded up the top soundbars, and there's something for everyone. So whether you're looking to stay under a certain budget or splurge on the highest-quality system, these soundbars won't disappoint.

Sonos has become known for its top-of-class speakers for music lovers, but with its PLAYBAR, the company expands its offering to movie buffs as well. The PLAYBAR has nine amplified drivers — six mid-woofers and three high range tweeters — and together they produce a big and immersive sound. At a slim 35.4 x 5.5 x 3.3 inches, it’s designed to sit underneath your TV, either mounted on the wall or sitting flat on the table. And that’s OK because you won’t want to hide this good-looking fabric and aluminum speaker.

When it comes to connectivity, the PLAYBAR keeps it simple. It has just two Ethernet ports, a power socket, and an optical input. (Where most TV devices use HDMI, the Sonos PLAYBAR uses an optical audio input, so double check that your TV has an optical output before buying it.) Amazon reviewers praise its intuitive Android/iOS app, which draws on your favorite streaming services and can be used to play different music in different rooms. We also love its handy night mode, which automatically enhances quiet sounds while diminishing the volume and impact of intense sounds.​

As the world’s first soundbar with DTS Virtual, a virtual 3D sound, the Yamaha YAS-207BL offers an entirely new experience to immerse gamers deeper into their world. With a slim design that’s 35 inches long, Yamaha tucks away four 1.75-inch woofers, two one-inch tweeters and one external 6.25-inch subwoofer, which makes for 200 watts of power overall. The Yamaha adds Bluetooth streaming from any compatible device with an automatic sound enhancement to deepen mid and low-range sound for a warmer sound overall. A downloadable app for both Android and iOS offers even more control, including input, surround mode, sound adjustment and additional settings beyond the included remote control. The setup is a snap with a single cable connection to a television via HDMI with support for 4K, HDR and HDCP 2.2.

Best Budget: Richsound Research TB232SW

The 32-inch Richsound Research TB232SW 2.1-channel soundbar with 120-watt total output is an outstanding option for budget-conscious buyers that don't want to sacrifice good sound. Offering clean audio and a deep bass courtesy of the external subwoofer, the Richsound is ready right out of the box to create cinematic sound.

With Bluetooth connectivity built-in, streaming music and audio wirelessly is easily done with any compatible device, including Apple and Android smartphones and tablets. The HDMI setup is paired with an optical output, as well as AUX in for a soundbar solution that’s ready for modern televisions.

The included remote control handles all the basic settings to discover the right audio experience for you. The Richsound can be controlled with your existing television remote using an HDMI ARC connection that’s already enabled. Wall-mounting the soundbar with the included installation bracket and kit makes for both improved sound and placement.

Read more reviews of the best budget soundbars available to purchase online. 

Best Surround Sound: VIZIO SB3851-D0 SmartCast 5.1 Sound Bar System

The VIZIO SB3851-D0 soundbar system delivers great surround sound at a reasonable price. It has four pieces of equipment: one 38-inch soundbar that sits in front of your TV, two speakers that go in the back of your room and a subwoofer that connects them all. This model offers 5.1 channel surround sound at 101 dB and bass as deep as 50 Hz, so everything you play will come through clearly. On top of this, the unit works with the Vizio SmartCast app on your smartphone, so you can play music and other content on your phone directly to the system.

Several Amazon reviewers note that this model takes some time to set up to achieve the right sound for whatever room this unit is for. Expect to fiddle with the settings a bit to find the right treble, bass, and balance, but after you set it up, you’ll be immersed in a new world.

Best Sound Quality: ZVOX SB700 Aluminum

This little-known soundbar deserves recognition for its incredible sound performance. The ZVOX SB700 delivers expansive 3D sound all from inside a single aluminum cabinet. While other soundbars might combine with satellite speakers and a sub for surround sound, this unit delivers enveloping sound from a 57” bar.

Fill the room with 140 watts of sound, including two 5” built-in MegaBass Digitally tailored subwoofers. The subs combine with three 2” speakers that have AccuVoice hearing aid technology to deliver extra clear dialogue. No more suffering through subtitles just to hear the conversation, just enable Output Leveling to make soft sounds louder and loud sounds softer. The feature is also helpful for jarring commercials. Sound is amplified by a stylish anodized aluminum cabinet that provides low-resonance audio characteristics.

In terms of well-connected speakers, decent sound quality and ease of use with the tech already in your home, Sonos has kind of dethroned Bose for the crown. When it comes to the brand's PLAYBASE, the usual Sonos features are here as expected, including Alexa connectivity, a seamless integration into the Sonos environment (giving you multiroom sound control), their Trueplay speaker tuning and, of course, amazing sound quality. What’s interesting about the base is the logic behind why it’s a base and not just a soundbar. The theory is that a soundbar sounds best when it is mounted on a wall, underneath the TV. However, most people place their TV on a TV stand and then sit the soundbar underneath, which isn’t taking full advantage of the soundbar’s acoustic properties. Sonos has made this a base and designed it to give you the best sound while sitting under the TV. Overall, it’s a great design from a brand that’s known for innovation.

Best with Subwoofer: Klipsch R-20B

Historically, Klipsch is an audio brand known for quality (and high price tags to match). More recently, though, Klipsch has made efforts to deliver more affordable products — and to decent success. The R-20B might not be the best soundbar on the market, but when it comes to options with a subwoofer, you’d be hard-pressed to find one that gives you better sound quality. The soundbar itself provides true two-way audio with a Tractrix tweeter horn for shimmering treble and four 3-inch speakers to cover the lion’s share of your midrange. The separate, wireless subwoofer unit with a 10-inch cone (that fires out the side) gives you a really nice low-end oomph that usually isn’t present in soundbar-only systems. But, where this system really shines is in its software add-ons, including Klipsch's proprietary AptX tech that gives you the ability to easily stream fully lossless audio. Wrap that up with a seamless Bluetooth experience, and you have a truly modern system from a historically significant brand.

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