Over the past decade, high-definition (HD) TV technology has continued to impress. Picture quality on modern TVs is stunning, especially on a 4K set with a high dynamic range (HDR).
Unfortunately, even the best TVs tend to have subpar audio. This is why it’s important to pair your HD TV with the best sound bar possible.
Here’s a look at some great sound bar choices for several different home theater setups. We’ll provide our pick for the best in each category, as well as a solid option for those on a tighter budget of $300 or less.
Best Sound Bars for Movies
If you’re a movie buff looking to round out your home theater system, it’s important to choose a sound bar that takes advantage of the latest audio technology.
Dolby Atmos technology is the gold standard in surround sound, providing great clarity, depth, and auditory detail to enhance your movie experience. Any sound bar you choose should have Dolby Atmos capability if you want the best possible sound experience for watching movies.
Our Top Pick: Bose Smart Sound Bar 900 With Speakers & Subwoofer
The Bose Smart Sound Bar 900 is packed with features including Dolby Atmos capability and voice control compatible with Amazon’s Alexa. For the full experience, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the entire setup with the satellite speakers and base module.
The Smart Soundbar 900 also has a stand-out feature called ADAPTiQ. Bose refers to this ADAPTiQ technology as a “room correction” feature, because it automatically optimizes its audio profile based on the acoustics of the room.
Our Budget Pick: TCL Alto 9+ 3.1 Channel Sound Bar
For a phenomenal sound bar on a budget, the TCL Alto 9+ 3.1 Channel Sound Bar is hard to beat. Coming in at a current price of $249, this sound bar includes:
- Dolby Atmos compatibility
- A wireless subwoofer for enhanced bass
- The proprietary RAY-DANZ technology to provide an ultra-wide soundstage
- Built-in Google Chromecast, Apple Airplay, and Bluetooth capabilities
Plus, if you have a Roku TV setup is faster than usual as this sound bar is Roku TV-ready right out of the box.
Best Sound Bars for Gamers
Modern video games feature not only stunning graphics but also high-quality and immersive audio. So, a quality sound bar can really enhance your gaming experience.
Our Top Pick: Sony HT-A7000
The Sony HT-A7000 is a 7.1.2 channel Dolby Atmos sound bar. There are three main features that make this option stand out for gaming on a big-screen TV:
- The Sound Field Optimization technology, which allows the HT-A7000 to calibrate itself to the acoustics of its environment to provide the most precise sound profile.
- Sony’s 360 Reality technology, which further enhances the sound by providing an incredibly immersive sound experience.
- The included 8K and 4K passthrough. This means you can connect your game console directly to the sound bar, then connect the sound bar to the TV without losing any quality or audio-video sync.
It’s worth noting that this audio setup comes at a premium price of $1,399.99.
Our Budget Pick: Sound BlasterX Katana
If you’re a PC gamer, our budget pick may be the perfect choice for you.
The Creative Sound BlasterX Katana is a small but powerful multi-channel gaming sound bar that fits under your computer monitor. The included subwoofer gives your PC gaming a nice bass boost all for less than $300.
The Sound BlasterX Katan has a five-driver design for a precision sound experience. The sound bar also includes a reactive lighting system to provide the perfect atmosphere for gaming.
Best Sound Bars for Music
A great sound bar isn’t just for movies and gaming. If you’re an audiophile with an extensive music catalog you’ll want a sound bar with great projection and range. After all, what better way to make house chores more tolerable than by jamming your favorite tunes while you sweep?
Our Top Pick: Sonos Arc
Sonos is one of the most well-known brands in the home audio space. Therefore, it’s only natural that they would deliver a sound bar that offers a phenomenal experience for listening to music. The Sonos Arc sound bar does just that.
In addition to the features you would expect, such as the inclusion of Dolby Atmos and Bluetooth capabilities, the Sonos Arc can stream music from virtually any source. The sound bar’s universal search feature makes it a breeze to load a playlist from Spotify, Apple Music, or even from your own personal music collection.
In addition to Bluetooth connectivity, Apple users will be happy to note that the Sonos Arc is also Airplay 2 compatible, which provides an even better lossless audio experience than Bluetooth.
Our Budget Pick: Vizio V Series V51-H6
For those looking for a more affordable option, Vizio’s V Series V51-H6 is a budget-friendly sound bar that delivers superior audio performance.
With an included subwoofer and satellite speakers, this sound bar not only sounds great but provides a full room, immersive listening experience.
While it does lack Dolby Atmos, which may be a deal-breaker for movie fans, the V51-H6 offers phenomenal treble and bass control to get precisely the right sound for any style of music.
Sound Bars Can Make or Break a Home Entertainment Setup
When choosing a sound bar, it’s important to consider your specific needs. If you want the best sound experience while watching movies, you may need something different from someone who is most concerned about listening to music.
But no matter why you want to upgrade your television speakers with a quality sound bar, a unit from our list will have you covered with a premium audio experience.