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

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.

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.

Best Splurge: Focal Dimension

Focal Dimension might not be a household name for audio, but this pick offers fantastic bass response courtesy of its separate subwoofer. Featuring 5.1 stereo sound, the five built-in speakers do a superb job with overall audio performance and offer a surround-sound-like experience. The separate hardware for the subwoofer can sit together with the main soundbar unit or on its own and still deliver sound that will impress the neighbors.

Beyond audio, the touchscreen front-panel display on the unit offers easy and quick control over volume and source control and only lights up when it senses a hand in front of it or when accessed through the included remote control. The inclusion of Bluetooth allows the Focal Dimension unit to easily connect to any compatible device for audio streaming from nearly any room in the house (and you can even connect additional Bluetooth speakers). The dual HDMI ports on the rear also support connections to extra speaker units, as well as a direct connection to a television or other HDMI-compatible hardware.

Best with Subwoofer: Sony HT-MT300/B Powerful Mini Soundbar

Sony’s HT-MT300 mini soundbar is an excellent choice for home theater fans who want to add surround-sound-like experience in the house without spending a fortune. Sony’s S-Force Pro front surround sound technology immediately immerses you into a theater-like experience with a 7.1-channel performance from two up-firing drivers and three super tweeters. The two-way flexible subwoofer adds a wireless front firing and down-firing passive radiator that is best placed right on or near a sofa (thanks to its “sofa mode” for optimized bass). Measuring just 22.24 inches in length, its design and neutral black color easily blend into any room or space that won’t block a TV if placed underneath.

 Connecting via Bluetooth with NFC technology on-board, the Sony not only connects directly to a television through HDMI cable, but it can also connect and stream all your musical favorites without the need for wires. The Sony also incorporates music playback via USB, which allows a dedicated USB storage device to connect to the Sony and play multiple types of audio. The included remote offers total control over audio playback and helps to switch between movies and music to maximize equalizer settings for theater-style sound.

Best for Gaming: Yamaha YAS-207BL

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.


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