The 11 Best Soundbars of 2020

Your home theater system isn't complete without one

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The Rundown

Most Popular: Sonos Beam at Amazon

"The Sonos Beam is a feature-rich soundbar that checks all the right boxes."

Best Overall: Sonos PLAYBAR at Amazon

"Automatically enhances quiet sounds while diminishing the volume and impact of intense sounds.​"

Best for Gaming: Yamaha YAS-207BL at Amazon

"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 Smart Soundbar: Bose Soundbar 500 at Amazon

"The Soundbar 500 can be controlled via app, remote, or Alexa voice commands."

Best Design: Sonos PLAYBASE at Amazon

"A great design from a brand that’s known for innovation."

Best for Apartments: Vizio 5.1.2 at Best Buy

"A six inch subwoofer and two compact rear speakers are included to create deep bass levels and a true surround sound experience."

Best with Subwoofer: Nakamichi 7.2.4 channel soundbar at Best Buy

"With the Nakamichi 7.2 channel soundbar, you get two eight-inch subwoofers with down-firing drivers."

Best for TV: Samsung Sound + Hi-Res Audio Soundbar at Best Buy

"Wirelessly stream from a mobile device via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection."

Runner-Up Best with Subwoofer: Klipsch R-20B at Amazon

"A truly modern system from a historically significant brand."

Best for Surround Sound: Sony HT-Z9F Sound Bar at Amazon at Amazon

"The Sony HT-Z9F soundbar promises true surround sound without the bulk of a full-blown, home-theater speaker system."

Our Top Picks

Most Popular: Sonos Beam

4
What We Like
  • 5.1 channel

  • AirPlay 2 compatible

  • Alexa-enabled

What We Don't Like
  • Not compatible with all TV models

The Sonos Beam is a feature-rich soundbar that checks all the right boxes. Sonos has established itself as a premium manufacturer in the speaker space and the Beam is no exception — it can connect to any other available Sonos speakers through Wi-Fi, with the ability to expand into a 5.1-channel system across your home. It's also compatible with Airplay for a direct connection to Apple’s entire lineup of hardware and comes Alexa-enabled so you can integrate it with your other Amazon devices for easy voice control.

This wireless soundbar has one of the fastest setup processes in the industry. Simply connect it to Sonos' smartphone app (available on both Android and iOS platforms) and you're ready to go. With five amplifiers built-in, the Sonos plays a spacious sound that results in crystal clear dialogue and action scenes that sound like they are coming from a much larger home theater system. And Sonos is constantly auto-updating their speakers' software, so your soundbar's performance should only improve.

Best Overall: Sonos PLAYBAR

4.2
What We Like
  • Slim design

  • 9 sound drivers

  • Simple connections

What We Don't Like
  • No alexa built in

  • Not AirPlay 2 compatible

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.) The PLAYBAR has been praised for 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.​

Best for Gaming: Yamaha YAS-207BL

4.3
What We Like
  • Virtual 3D sound

  • Bluetooth connectivity

  • Subwoofer included

What We Don't Like
  • Only one HDMI input

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 Smart Soundbar: Bose Soundbar 500

What We Like
  • Auto optimizes sound based on room

  • Alexa-enabled

What We Don't Like
  • Not compatible with Google Mesh WiFi

The Bose Soundbar 500 represents another move by the brand towards smart functionality. If you’re looking for a Bose-quality audio setup that can be controlled via Alexa, this sleek soundbar will fit right in in your smart home.

The Soundbar 500 features the brand’s ADAPTIQ sound, which analyzes the room the speaker is in and optimizes the sound accordingly. They’ve also put in a clearer voice pickup microphone so that Alexa won’t miss a command. The soundbar has custom-designed transducers and QuietPorts to further bolster the sound projection, clarity, and quality, and as a design touch, Bose has also included an adaptive LED light bar that lights up when Alexa is listening (much like the Amazon-built Echo and Echo Dot Alexa units).

The Soundbar 500 can be controlled via app, remote, or Alexa voice commands. You can even add a Home Speaker 500 if you want to create a surround sound or multi-room system. It’s also compatible with most popular music streaming apps like Spotify, Pandora and more. 

Best Design: Sonos PLAYBASE

What We Like
  • Multi-room sound control

  • AirPlay 2 compatible

What We Don't Like
  • No built-in voice controls

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 for Apartments: Vizio 5.1.2

Vizio 5.1.2
Vizio 5.1.2.
What We Like
  • Dolby Atmos and Virtual X

  • Chromecast built in

  • Apple Music free for four months

What We Don't Like
  • No 4K passthrough

Setting up a sound system in an apartment can be tricky because of the limited space. Luckily, the Vizio 5.1.2 system has everything you need for a great movie watching or music listening experience without having to get rid of your couch. The 36-inch soundbar features two upward-firing drivers so sound doesn't bounce off furniture or walls to get lost and muddled. 

A six inch subwoofer and two compact rear speakers are included to create deep bass levels and a true surround sound experience. All of the speakers feature Dolby Atmos and DTS Virtual X technology to create a virtual height and depth element to the dual channel speakers for richer music and movie playback. The system features Chromecast built in so you can connect apps like Spotify and Pandora to stream your favorite songs from your phone, tablet, or computer. Vizio has paired up with Apple to give you four months of Apple Music for free when you buy this sound bar package.

Best with Subwoofer: Nakamichi 7.2.4 channel soundbar

Nakamichi 7.2.4
Nakamichi 7.2.4.
What We Like
  • 4K passthrough

  • Dolby Atmos and DTS:X

What We Don't Like
  • No voice controls

A subwoofer is the key to rich, bass-filled audio when listening to music or watching shows and movies. With the Nakamichi 7.2 channel soundbar, you get two eight-inch subwoofers with down-firing drivers. This enables the subwoofers to utilize your floor to create deep bass notes you can feel. It also comes with twin rear speakers, each with its own dedicated audio channel so you can customize their high and mid-range sounds. 

The soundbar itself has six 2.5-inch mid-range drivers and two one-inch tweeters for plenty of dynamic range on its own. Every speaker and subwoofer utilizes Dolby Atmos and DTS:X technology as well as three processing engines for a more immersive listening experience. You can connect all your favorite devices with the HDMI inputs, USB port, and Bluetooth connectivity. It also features a 4K passthrough so you can enjoy UHD content without any hassle.

Runner-Up Best with Subwoofer: Klipsch R-20B

What We Like
  • AptX allows truly lossless audio streaming

  • Bluetooth

What We Don't Like
  • No voice controls

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.

Best for TV: Samsung Sound + Hi-Res Audio Soundbar

Samsung Sound+ Premium Soundbar

 Courtesy of Walmart

What We Like
  • Built-in subwoofer

  • 4K passthrough

What We Don't Like
  • WiFi connection issues

If it’s a room-filling sound you’re after, the Samsung Sound + Hi-Res Audio Soundbar has the audio quality you're looking for. The 3.0 channel high-res soundbar has a built-in subwoofer and tweeters to create full, beautiful sound. Included with the soundbar is a 4K pass-through, so you can get premium audio and picture quality through a single HDMI connection. Whether you’re listening to music, movies or television, Smart Sound Mode will automatically analyze the sound and optimize settings and advanced users can adjust these settings manually for the best results. (If you own a Samsung TV, you can also control the soundbar function directly from the TV's menu.)

With Amazon Alexa onboard, the Samsung has enabled voice-control functionality for volume and power controls. You can also wirelessly stream from a mobile device via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection. 

Best for Surround Sound: Sony Sound Bar Speaker HT-Z9F

What We Like
  • Five customizable sound modes

  • 4K passthrough

  • Alexa compatible

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Equipped with Sony’s Vertical Surround Engine and 7.1.2-channel sound, the HT-Z9F sound bar delivers a powerful and immersive listening experience. It holds 3.1 amplifier channels and features five customizable sound modes, tailoring your viewing experience to the occasion, with different settings for movies, music, gaming, news broadcasting, and sports. It is also 4K compatible, equipped with HDR 18 Gbps pass-through and HDCP 2.2 formatting, which brings theater-level quality into the comfort of your home.

The Sony HT-Z9F soundbar promises true surround sound without the bulk of a full-blown, home-theater speaker system. This model measures 39.4 inches long and comes with a 15.25-inch tall subwoofer, which delivers a robust bass to add more dimension the auditory experience. The sound bar also offers HDMI, ARC, and USB inputs, connecting all your media consoles to one unit. Additionally, it offers wireless streaming via Chromecast and Bluetooth-enabled devices and is compatible with Amazon Alexa.

Best Budget: AmazonBasics 2.0 Channel Soundbar

3.4
What We Like
  • Three sound modes

What We Don't Like
  • No built-in subwoofer

The AmazonBasics Soundbar prioritizes cost over quality, so it may not live up to the standards of a true audiophile, but it will deliver crisp, clear sound for the average TV watcher. At 31 inches long, it fits into almost any home entertainment space, but it is best paired with televisions that are less than 42 inches long. This model is a 2.0 channel soundbar, meaning it holds two full-range stereo speakers but lacks a subwoofer. It boasts a volume range of 90dB with minimal distortion, which is quite powerful considering the device’s size.

The AmazonBasics Soundbar also lets you personalize your listening experience with one of three sound modes: Movie Mode emphasizes soundtracks and atmospheric sounds, which is best suited for films and gaming, News Mode emphasizes dialogue, so you’ll be able to hear every word spoken without using subtitles, and Standard Mode offers the best of both, creating a well-rounded listening experience. The AmazonBasics soundbar won’t replace a high-end 7.1 channel speaker, but it stands on its own as a reliable product for the budget-conscious consumer.

Tested by

What to Look for in a Soundbar

Subwoofer - While some soundbars come as stand-alone packages, others include subwoofers in the box. If you enjoy watching movies and playing video games with a bassy punch, you’ll want a soundbar with a subwoofer. The soundbar advertising typically denotes it is a 2.1 system.

Surround sound - If you’re looking to get lost in your entertainment, consider picking up a system that includes surround sound for a fantastic movie experience. Just be sure that the system you are eying includes actual physical surround sound speakers and not merely a virtual experience that attempts to bounce sound around the room.

Bluetooth - Want to listen to your favorite songs and stream content from your smartphone to your soundbar? Look for a soundbar that includes built-in Bluetooth for easy wireless streaming from your favorite devices. Additionally, other solutions, like the Sonos Playbar, can use smartphone apps to keep you connected.

Test Results: Sonos Beam (Most Popular)

4
What We Like
  • Powerful bass response

  • Sleek look

  • Good value

What We Don't Like
  • Slightly lacking in sonic detail

  • Limited input/output ports

Sonos Beam
Lifewire 
Sonos Beam
Lifewire 
Sonos Beam
Lifewire 
Sonos Beam
Lifewire 

Our tester loved the Sonos Beam for its sleek design, high-quality sound, and overall value. “Though it lacks a bit of detail, the sound response is surprising for this speaker considering its small footprint,” our reviewer revealed. He was also impressed with its software integration. On the flip side, he wished for more input/output ports as well as Bluetooth capabilities. “Even though the price is higher than other brands, when compared to the rest of the Sonos range, this really is a deal,” declared our tester.

Test Results: Sonos PLAYBAR (Best Overall)

4.2
What We Like
  • Premium sound quality

  • Visually appealing

  • Incredible smart features

What We Don't Like
  • Limited input/output ports

  • Heavy

  • Pricey

Sonos Playbar
Sonos Playbar
 Lifewire
Sonos Playbar
Lifewire 
Sonos Playbar
Lifewire 

“There’s no denying that this soundbar sounds premium, even if it does lack a standalone subwoofer included in the package,” revealed our tester. He also liked its sleek design and software functionality. “With the ability to control the soundbar from your smartphone, and the ability to independently control other Sonos speakers, we have to give a nod to the software here,” our reviewer explained. The negatives? Our tester wished for more input/output ports and Bluetooth functionality and also noted it’s on the heavier side, making it difficult to mount or move. The takeaway? He said it’s worth the purchase “if you buy into the Sonos ecosystem.” He also noted, “A lot of what you're paying for is brand and convenience.”

Test Results: Yamaha YAS-207BL (Best for Gaming)

4.3
What We Like
  • Good value

  • Rich sound quality

  • Plenty of digital audio features

What We Don't Like
  • Clunky setup

  • Build quality could be better

Yamaha YAS-207BL
Lifewire 
Yamaha YAS-207BL
Lifewire 
Yamaha YAS-207BL
Lifewire

This soundbar came highly recommended by our tester for its sound quality, price, and well-rounded set of digital audio features. Calling it a “great value,” he noted, “With 4K HDR pass-through, all the requisite digital ports, and even a modern Bluetooth connection, this has all the inputs you'll need.” In terms of negatives, our reviewer found the setup to be tricky and also mentioned a “lackluster build quality.” Bottom line: “If you want something that just sounds great, and don't need all the bells and whistles of a smart speaker, then this is totally worth the buy,” he declared.

AmazonBasics 2.0 Channel Soundbar (Best Budget)

3.4
What We Like
  • Very affordable

  • Decent sound quality

  • Bluetooth connectivity

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn’t feel durable

  • Limited bass response

  • Plain design

AmazonBasics 2.0 Channel Soundbar
AmazonBasics 2.0 Channel Soundbar
Lifewire
AmazonBasics 2.0 Channel Soundbar
Lifewire 

Our tester felt this was a great budget soundbar due to its decent sound quality and fantastic price. He noted, “The inclusion of Bluetooth is nice to have here because it makes this a dual-use device. It's a Bluetooth speaker and a home theater peripheral.” On the other hand, our reviewer wished for a more substantial bass and was skeptical of its durability with such cheap construction. “It's hard to ding something that's this affordable, and because it checks off so many boxes, this really is a good buy,” our tester explained. “Just make sure you don't drop it.”