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Taken in Reviewed Testing Lab

The Best Soundbars of 2021

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The Sonos Arc is among the best sounding new soundbars you can buy, offering thrilling Dolby Atmos audio in a singular system that's also upgradeable. Read More

Pros

  • Rich, powerful sound
  • Hands-off interface
  • Sonos style and versatility

Cons

  • Dolby Atmos limited to newer TVs
  • Short on inputs
  • Big and heavy

Yamaha’s YAS-209 offers great sound for the price, along with everything from a subwoofer and spare HDMI input to Amazon's Alexa voice assistant. Read More

Pros

  • Clear, punchy sound
  • Loaded with features
  • Built-in Alexa

Cons

  • No analog input
  • No multi-room audio

Samsung's HW-Q950a soundbar with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X is a pricey but potent all-in-one surround system, featuring excellent sound and musicality. Read More

Pros

  • Powerful, seamless immersion
  • Great musicality
  • Good app and feature set

Cons

  • Useless visual display
  • Hefty size and price

The Sonos Beam Gen 2 takes everything we loved about the first Sonos Beam—compact size, versatility, and great sound—and adds Dolby Atmos compatibility. Read More

Pros

  • Excellent sound and features
  • Respectable virtual Dolby Atmos
  • Elegant design

Cons

  • So-so overhead audio
  • No spare HDMI input
  • Still no Trueplay for Android

The Klipsch Cinema 400 is a 2.1-channel soundbar that's short on extras, but packs all the goods to create impressively detailed sound. Read More

Pros

  • Refined sound signature
  • Impressive bass response
  • Stylish design

Cons

  • No WiFi
  • Stereo sound only
  • Lack of features
  • Sonos Arc

  • Yamaha YAS-209

  • Samsung HW-Q950A

  • Sonos Beam (Gen 2)

  • Klipsch Cinema 400

  • Vizio V21-H8

  • How We Tested Soundbars

  • What You Should Know About Soundbars

  • Other Soundbars We Tested

  • More Articles You Might Enjoy

Nothing pairs with a great 4K TV like an equally awesome sound system. And if you don’t want to deal with home theater speakers, wires, or amplifiers, a soundbar is the way to go. Soundbars don't just clear up dialogue issues: they can also vastly improve cinematic sound, bringing everything you watch (or play) to life with powerful punch and dazzling features like surround sound, Dolby Atmos, and wireless music streaming all in a simplified package.

We’ve spent countless hours over the years evaluating soundbars, and right now the Sonos Arc (available at Best Buy for $899.99) is our favorite thanks to stellar performance, tons of versatile features (including Dolby Atmos) and a slick, minimalist design. If the Arc doesn't strike your fancy, though, we’ve corralled plenty of other top choices tailored for any listening space—and any budget.

Note: This is our premiere list with favorites from all price points. If you’ve got a specific budget in mind, check out our Best Soundbars Under $500, Best Under $300, and Best Under $200 lists for more options.

These are the best soundbars we've tested:

  • Sonos Arc
  • Yamaha YAS-209
  • Samsung HW-Q950A
  • Sonos Beam (gen 2)
  • Klipsch Cinema 400
  • Vizio V21-H8
  • Vizio Elevate
  • Sony HT-A7000
  • Vizio M512a-H6
  • Samsung HW-Q800T
  • Sony HT-G700

Sonos Arc soundbar
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

The Sonos Arc is a pricy but peerless home audio package.

Best Overall
Sonos Arc

Sonos’ first-ever Dolby Atmos soundbar is more than just a pretty (and tubular) face. This powerful hunk of well-fashioned plastic is loaded with 11 individually powered drivers, including dual speakers pointed upward to bounce off your ceiling, creating an impressively potent example of the hemispheric immersion for which Dolby’s Atmos sound format is so highly praised.

But Dolby Atmos isn’t the only prize up the Arc’s sleeve. Its well-tuned drivers offer a rich and smooth sound signature that’s fantastic for anything you play, from sitcoms to streaming music.

Speaking of streaming, like all Sonos speakers, the Arc offers Wi-Fi connection through the Sonos app, along with the ability to connect with other Sonos speakers, either in a group, or as part of a surround sound setup. This allows you to add dual surround speakers and a Sonos subwoofer if you want, though the Arc offers impressive bass response even without one. Like the Sonos Beam, it also sports built-in microphones and your choice of Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa support, making it both a soundbar and a powerful smart speaker.

The drawback of all these features is, of course, the price of $799, which puts the bar beyond the average budget. That’s really the only thing keeping the Arc from taking the top slot on our list, as it outscored everything else we tested. In addition, while the bar includes an HDMI eARC port for seamless connection to your TV it doesn’t offer a secondary HDMI input for outboard devices like streamers and game consoles. That means, for most setups, it doesn’t support high-resolution Dolby Atmos playback. In addition, if you want to stream Dolby Atmos at all, you must have a TV with Dolby Digital Plus (common on most name-brand TVs 2017 or newer).

Since most folks get their Dolby Atmos from streaming services like Netflix and Disney+ (which use the compressed format) the difficulty in sourcing full-resolution Dolby Atmos shouldn’t matter to the majority of buyers. Moreover, this bar sounds fantastic with just about any content, and its many features and loaded app make it a versatile, intuitive way to step into Dolby Atmos sound.

Pros

  • Rich, powerful sound

  • Hands-off interface

  • Sonos style and versatility

Cons

  • Dolby Atmos limited to newer TVs

  • Short on inputs

  • Big and heavy

The Yamaha YAS-209 is our top soundbar right now.
Credit: Yamaha

The Yamaha YAS-209 is our favorite soundbar for value right now.

Best Value
Yamaha YAS-209

Yamaha’s YAS-209 takes our award for the most value-packed soundbar for three basic reasons: it sounds great for the money, it’s easy to set up and use, and it’s absolutely loaded with features.

Those features include everything from a spare HDMI input for your favorite device to Amazon's Alexa voice assistant for built-in control of smart home devices and even basic playback commands with your voice. Don’t love Alexa? That’s ok, it’s easy to mute the microphones atop the bar and use the YAS-209 as a traditional soundbar. And that’s where this system really excels.

When it comes to sound performance, while the 209 can’t match up with expensive bars with multiple upfiring drivers for Dolby Atmos immersion like the Sonos Arc, it absolutely punches above its weight. Detail is impressive, bass response from the wireless sub is smooth and powerful, and dialogue is easy to make out thanks to the Clear Voice EQ feature. On that note, the bar offers multiple sound modes (including DTS:X Virtual Surround to expand the soundstage), making it easy to adjust the EQ to taste.

You can also stream your favorite music or podcast over your choice of Wi-Fi (including Spotify Connect) or Bluetooth. We do bemoan the lack of an analog input—which makes plugging in legacy devices like turntables something of a pain, and it would be nice to have AirPlay 2 for Apple Music users to be able to stream directly over Wi-Fi.

Those quibbles aside, however, it’s hard to find much fault with this stealthy sound system. If you're looking for a great-sounding, affordable soundbar that’s chock-full of features, Yamaha’s YAS-209 is the best in the business right now.

Pros

  • Clear, punchy sound

  • Loaded with features

  • Built-in Alexa

Cons

  • No analog input

  • No multi-room audio

A close-up of the black Q950a sits on a woodgrain cabinet in front of a large TV, with brick background.
Credit: Reviewed/Jackson Ruckar

The system creates a clear and immersive experience for music as well as film and TV content.

Best for Dolby Atmos
Samsung HW-Q950A

As soundbars go, Samsung’s Q950A is about as insane as it gets. 22 drivers. 11.1.4-channel audio. Upfiring and side-firing drivers not only in the bar, but also in the wireless surround speakers. And enough Dolby Atmos immersion to make you question the need for discreet speaker systems at all. For a moment, anyway.

As noted in our review, no soundbar can deliver the full dynamics, resonance, and presence of a true multi-speaker home theater system and receiver setup. But the Q950A comes about as close as we’ve heard. Its reams of drivers combine for a thrilling Dolby Atmos (and DTS:X) experience that transforms your room into the “dome” of sound that makes 3D audio great.

Perhaps unsurprisingly for Samsung lately, the system also offers great musicality (Samsung acquired AKG for a reason). While we’d still take a pair of good bookshelves for music first, the Q950A does a number on our favorite tunes, especially when you let the system spin your stereo tracks into a surround sound cloud of instruments and vocals.

The Q950A also packs a great arsenal of features, including HDMI eARC (and dual HDMI inputs), high-resolution audio at up to 24bit/92kHz to support for all major surround formats, 4K HDR passthrough, Wi-Fi connection with AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect, a well-loaded app for control, and Amazon Alexa on demand (though it leaves out both Google Assistant and Chromecast). The system is also intuitive to use and offers useful sound modes, including its Adaptive Sound mode to optimize all media content in real-time. That lets you (for the most part) set it and forget it.

So what’s the catch? At $1,800 MSRP, this is a massive investment that falls only a few hundred dollars short of a traditional home theater system (with all the frills). In addition, the visual display is puzzlingly set atop the bar rendering it mostly useless. You can use the app for almost all tuning, but it somehow doesn’t allow for channel control, meaning you’ll have to get up to adjust the levels there.

Luckily the price has dropped a fair bit online, making this bar more reasonable—especially for all you get. If you’re looking for the mother of all Atmos soundbars, and you have the money to invest, this monster is our top pick.

Pros

  • Powerful, seamless immersion

  • Great musicality

  • Good app and feature set

Cons

  • Useless visual display

  • Hefty size and price

The Sonos Beam Gen 2, sitting in front of a TV
Credit: Reviewed / Lee Neikirk

No offense to my TV, but the Sonos Beam Gen 2 is definitely the most handsome thing in my living room (besides me).

Best Under $500
Sonos Beam (Gen 2)

We’ve adored the compact-but-powerful Sonos Beam since it launched, and the Gen 2 upgrade brings even more to love. With this update, Sonos kept everything we liked about the original Beam—a minimalist form factor, powerfully tuned speakers, and versatile features and playback options—and added virtualized Dolby Atmos.

Despite lacking the upfiring drivers of most Dolby Atmos soundbars we test, the Beam Gen 2 is surprisingly adept at creating an immersive soundstage. The sounds of cars screeching around corners or footfalls onto rainy pavement boast a convincing level of aural placement. The clarity that Dolby Atmos brings to just about every sound effect and musical swell is well worth the price of admission here, even if the bar struggles to create the full overhead impact you’ll get from bars with dedicated height speakers.

But the value really comes in the overall package. Like all Sonos products, you’ll get more than just a standalone speaker here: the Beam Gen 2 connects over the Sonos app for access to the full ecosystem, which integrates excellent Wi-Fi connectivity, Sonos Radio, Spotify Connect, AirPlay 2, and more. Tasks like adding additional Sonos speakers for surround sound, or syncing up multi-room audio are a snap. Admittedly, starting with the Beam Gen 2 alone and upgrading with additional Sonos products is an expensive task, but the built-in flexibility is still a big boon—especially if you’ve already got a Sonos One smart speaker or other components.

The Beam Gen 2 isn’t perfect. It lacks a spare HDMI input, meaning it’ll hog your HDMI ARC or HDMI eARC port and may introduce some format-based headaches on older TVs that only have an HDMI ARC port. But ultimately, the list of pros handily outweigh the cons, and the new Beam stands out as one of the most fetching soundbar buys in its price range. It was a real triple-play even without Dolby Atmos compatibility: with it, it’s a home run.

Pros

  • Excellent sound and features

  • Respectable virtual Dolby Atmos

  • Elegant design

Cons

  • So-so overhead audio

  • No spare HDMI input

  • Still no Trueplay for Android

Credit: Reviewed

The Klipsch Cinema 400 delivers incredible sound for its price.

Best Under $300
Klipsch Cinema 400

Klipsch’s Cinema 400 has accomplished the deceptively tough task of doing a lot with a little. Dressed in a unique design representing a generous nod to Klipsch’s popular home theater speakers, this 2.1-channel system delivers impressive sound for the admittedly limited number of drivers that it’s equipped with. That's why it's our favorite soundbar under $300.

It’s quality, not quantity with Klipsch’s construction and approach to this bar’s sound. A pair of 3-inch midrange woofers flanked by 1-inch horn tweeters work together to create wonderfully detailed sound that avoids the harsh higher frequencies that some take issue with, in entry-level lines of Klipsch speakers. The 8-inch ported subwoofer is the real star of the show, producing resonating low end unlike most other soundbar subwoofers in this class.

With a modest price, concessions had to be made somewhere along the way. For the Cinema 400, it’s in the features department. The bar does not have WiFi or voice assistant support to speak of, nor does it have support for sought-after audio formats like Dolby Atmos or an expansive equalizer to tune its sound to your personal taste (though that’s not surprising at this price). Additionally, as pleasant as the overall sound of the Cinema 400 is, the lack of a dedicated center channel driver is noticeable when watching dialogue-heavy content.

That being said, if a lack of features seems like a fair tradeoff for remarkable stereo audio quality to you, the Klipsch Cinema 400 makes for a compelling option. It really is a suitable bar for anyone who wants great sound, but doesn’t need the creature comforts of WiFi and virtual assistants. Of course, if you would prefer those kinds of features and don't want to lose out on sound quality, you can send a little more money on the excellent Yamaha YAS-209.

The Cinema 400 sidesteps those perks, however, delivering an old-school rendition of a new-age product. In other words, it looks classic and sounds stellar. There’s really not that much else to this bar, and for many, there doesn’t need to be: that's what makes the Cinema 400 such an excellent pick.

Pros

  • Refined sound signature

  • Impressive bass response

  • Stylish design

Cons

  • No WiFi

  • Stereo sound only

  • Lack of features

Vizio V-Series 2.1 Home Theater Soundbar
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

This Vizio 2.1-channel soundbar/sub combo offers excellent sound for its price.

Best Under $200
Vizio V21-H8

Vizio's 2.1-channel soundbar is an awesome choice if you want full-bodied sound and modern features without shelling out a ton of money. While a lot of entry-level soundbars don't offer up satisfying bass performance, we were very impressed with how deep and robust the V21-H8's wireless subwoofer is, delivering a balanced, blended soundscape that really ups the audio ante where movies, music, and video games are concerned. That's why it's our favorite soundbar under $200.

This Vizio combo also checks off a lot of the right boxes for features. You're getting Bluetooth, WiFi, and HDMI (ARC) compatibility, making it easy to stream music from your phone and control the soundbar with your TV remote. Like most combo bars, the wireless sub and soundbar pair quickly and automatically, making it easy to just plug everything in and instantly upgrade your home theater situation. Adjusting volume and jumping between sound modes is easy, too: in fact, the simplicity of this product is one of its strengths.

Premium, future-facing features like Dolby Atmos, eARC, or microphones for built-in voice assistant control are not a part of this package, but that's reflected in the easily digestible price point. If you just need a quick and effective audio upgrade, this entry-level Vizio combo is one of the most value-packed options around.

Pros

  • Solid bass presence

  • Classic design

Cons

  • Not very future proof

How We Tested Soundbars

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

The ideal soundbar blends right in with your TV; it's the unsung hero of movie night.

The Testers

Reviewed staff have spent years evaluating soundbars—everything from simple 2.1-channel value models to the huskiest Dolby Atmos 'bars—in order to narrow down the picks and find the best soundbars for every buyer. We've got a long history studying headphone audio objectively via our in-house Head-and-Torso Simulator, and no shortage of movie- and music-lovers on staff hungering for the best living room audio experience. Our soundbar testing is spearheaded by Reviewed's experienced team of home theater and tech experts, and backed up by science.

The Tests

For years now, Reviewed has listened to, loved, and argued over standalone soundbars, soundbar/sub combos, and a few home-theater-in-a-box products to find the best soundbars you can buy.

Testing mostly involves using them as any consumer would, using each bar as an audio substitute for a TV (via either HDMI ARC or optical connection), testing its streaming and Bluetooth functions, and analyzing its sound modes, voice-boosting modes, and individual proprietary features. We also conduct back-to-back analyses of sources like Netflix/Blu-ray movies , surround sound and Dolby Atmos demo discs, Spotify over Bluetooth and/or Wi-Fi, and occasionally, 3.5mm aux sources and USB audio.

While the best soundbars all had different combinations of drivers, tweeters, woofers, and external subwoofers, generally, audio quality was respectable in most cases across genres and sources. Apart from performance features like surround sound speakers and Dolby Atmos/DTS:X speakers, what often tends to set soundbars from major brands apart in like price ranges are usability pain points, design aesthetics, and overall responsiveness—where the day-to-day rubber meets the road, so to speak.

What You Should Know About Soundbars

In short, the point of a soundbar is to either replace a home theater speaker system with a less obtrusive device or, more simply, to replace your TV's built-in speakers with something that actually sounds good. Because speaker (or driver) clarity depends so much on the vibration of moving parts within a confined space, modern super-thin LED and OLED TVs generally don't have very good sound. You might think your TV sounds fine, but when you hear your favorite movies, TV shows, or music through a good soundbar, your opinion will change.

Soundbars aren't your only option for improving your living room/home theater audio, but they're by far the most affordable and convenient. If you live in an apartment or smaller space, or simply don't want to shell out the considerable funds it requires to install a surround system or mounted speakers in your home, a soundbar is an impermanent way to greatly improve your TV audio experience.

HDMI ARC And HDMI eARC Connection Explained

HDMI ARC or HDMI eARC are the preferred soundbar connection options, not only because these connections allow for newer TVs (around 2017 and later) to pass advanced audio formats like Dolby Atmos, but also because they usually allow you to control the soundbar's power and volume with your TV remote—without the need to program said remote. (To do this, you may need to turn on HDMI CEC in your TV's settings.)

The optical audio connection that also comes standard on virtually all soundbars can carry 2.1-and 5.1-channel surround sound, but that's where it tops out. If you have a more advanced soundbar with Dolby Atmos (which usually includes upfiring speakers), you'll have to use HDMI ARC or eARC to make it work properly.

Speaking of eARC, some soundbars (often pricier ones) may have an HDMI eARC connection rather than the more common HDMI ARC port. This stands for "enhanced Audio Return Channel" and is designed to provide high-quality, uncompressed audio from your TV (including top-quality Dolby Atmos) as well as address any sync issues between on-screen video and the soundbar's audio. While eARC is becoming more common, there are really only two things you need to know when it comes to soundbar connection. First, eARC's "enhanced" features only work if both your sound system and TV support eARC. Second, in all other respects, HDMI eARC should work just like HDMI ARC.

What To Look For In A Soundbar

The major things to look for when shopping for a soundbar are price, audio output, and connectivity, the latter two usually being directly related to the first. If you're on a tight budget, you likely aren't going to get extras like Dolby Atmos, satellite surround speakers, or a huge range of decoding/pass-thru options for advanced or lossless audio modes. However, you can expect to get multiple speaker drivers comprising at least a stereo (left/right) setup, and usually an external subwoofer.

Tweeters refer to smaller speakers (drivers) assigned to the high-mid and high (treble) frequencies of the audio spectrum. Woofers and subwoofers refer to speakers (drivers) assigned to the midrange and bass/sub-bass frequencies of the audio spectrum respectively.

What About a Subwoofer?

Many soundbars offer what is known as a 2.1-channel configuration, meaning the sound is directed through left and right stereo channels with the addition of a separate subwoofer to handle lower frequencies (which makes up the ".1" of the equation). A 2.0-channel soundbar works fine for most content, and a soundbar without a subwoofer or one that has built-in woofers, rather than a separate cabinet, may even be preferred in smaller apartments.

That said, if you're looking for cinematic rumble—whether for movies, TV, or video games—you'll want to seriously consider a soundbar that includes a separate subwoofer. It cannot be underestimated how much this will enhance action scenes and other dramatic moments, while also helping thinner bars fill in some of the gaps their smaller drivers create in the frequency spectrum. There are only a few cases where low-frequency sound is well-handled without a subwoofer, such as in Sonos' Arc soundbar.

Surround Sound and Dolby Atmos/DTS:X

Some soundbars also offer separate surround sound speakers that can be set behind you in a multi-channel configuration. When fed content mixed in surround sound, these soundbars better immerse you in your favorite shows and movies, especially when the different channels are balanced properly. In some cases, satellite surround speakers can even be added on later.

Dolby Atmos- and DTS:X-enabled soundbars take things even further, usually adding upfiring speakers (either 2 or 4), which can bounce sound off the ceiling so that it appears to be coming from above, immersing you in a hemispheric globe of sound. While only effective with Dolby Atmos and/or DTS:X-supported content, these soundbars offer the most immersive experience available, bringing you even closer to what you'll experience in a high-quality theater. In addition, some soundbars are only Dolby Atmos or DTS:X compatible, with the sound being virtualized with digital signal processing or even wave-guide technology to varying degrees of efficacy.

Either way, you will pay a premium for this technology, and you may also have more speakers to spread around your TV room, so these concessions must be considered before making your choice.


Other Soundbars We Tested

Product image of Vizio Elevate
Vizio Elevate

Vizio’s Elevate soundbar has a trick up its sleeve not shared by any other soundbar on this list: rollable speakers that “elevate” the sound upward to serve as height channels for 3D audio content, and roll back down again for any other content. This makes the height speakers quite versatile, allowing you to blast sound from all 13 speakers inside the bar at all times.

But apart from that, it’s the sheer amount of cinematic chutzpah this Dolby Atmos machine delivers that sets it apart from most other soundbars on the market. Simply put, you’ll have a hard time finding better (or even equivalent) surround sound might at this price in any other bar on our list.

With 18 speakers in total, including dual surround sound speakers and a thunderous subwoofer, the Elevate is a joy for action flicks. It's especially immersive when bouncing sound off your ceiling and walls when sourced with well-mixed Dolby Atmos content, from The Mandalorian streams to Blu-ray Atmos demos in full-resolution Dolby TrueHD. It also delivers premium detail and clear dialogue to enhance prestige dramas, alongside plenty of features like Chromecast streaming over WiFi, two spare HDMI inputs, and HDMI eARC for seamless, future-proof connection to the latest TVs.

Where the bar falters a bit is in its music delivery, which tends to go to extremes both in the bass and the upper midrange, resulting in less musicality than our top pick. In addition, the interface isn’t the best for novices, requiring manual tuning for best results.

Luckily, the simplified remote is relatively easy to use and the overall design is equal parts sleek and robust, thanks to plush materials like anodized aluminum and a striking overall design. If you’re looking for unadulterated Dolby Atmos might, without going full-on A/V enthusiast, this system is a fantastic choice.

Pros

  • Sleek, innovative design

  • Detailed, cinematic sound

  • Plenty of connection options

Cons

  • Aggressive attack lacks musicality

  • Not for audio novices

Product image of Sony HT-A7000
Sony HT-A7000

Sony’s HT-A7000 is a magician of a soundbar, offering some of the best virtual surround sound we’ve ever heard from a single bar in a slick and stylish design. The soundbar offers tons of drivers, including upfiring drivers for effective Dolby Atmos, but it’s the virtual immersion that really makes the bar sing, offering spooky accuracy that places sound all around, and even behind you, all from its position at the front of the room.

The bar also brings tons of features to bear, including a full on-screen interface and a clear front display to go along with multiple ways to connect over Wi-Fi (including Spotify Connect and AirPlay 2), and decoding for virtually every sound format under the sun. That includes Dolby Atmos in all its iterations, of course, alongside DTS:X, Dolby TrueHD, and everything in between.

The bar connects to your TV via HDMI eARC which allows for versatility and simplicity, especially with HDMI eARC-ready TVs. For those without newer TVs, it can also accept up to two devices directly and passthrough video at up to 8K thanks to HDMI 2.1 inputs, making this among the most future-proofed soundbars we’ve tested. It also offers Alexa and Google assistant support, though you’ll need a separate speaker to test it, as well as automated room calibration mode.

With impressive performance, tons of features, and among the best Dolby Atmos and surround sound you can get from a singular bar, the A7000 is tough to beat. But there is a catch, of course: it’s extremely expensive for a single bar, and if you want to add a subwoofer for richer, more authoritative bass, you’ll be paying nearly as much as competing bars with a subwoofer and surround sound speakers included, such as [Samsung’s HW-Q950A].

That said, if you want incredible sound quality, brilliant Atmos immersion, and every home theater feature under the sun in one giant bar, the HT-A7000 is tough to beat.

Pros

  • Excellent virtual surround

  • Tons of features

  • Stylish design

Cons

  • No included subwoofer

  • Weak-sauce app

Product image of Vizio M512A-H6
Vizio M512A-H6

Anyone who thinks affordable Dolby Atmos can’t be achieved, clearly hasn’t been following Vizio over the last few years. The latest prime example from the folks at Vizio is the M-Series 5.1.2 soundbar.

The fact of the matter is, no competing brand is offering a more complete Dolby Atmos package for under $500 than Vizio. Better yet, the performance Vizio managed to fit into this relatively affordable soundbar setup is impressive. You get a full front soundstage (including a clear center channel for dialogue) complemented by rear speakers and a subwoofer that produces solid audio quality for music, movies, and TV shows alike. With the addition of upfiring drivers inside the bar, Vizio supplies an added layer of immersion when watching Dolby Atmos-supported content that you won’t find anywhere else for this cheap.

The M-Series 5.1.2 also incorporates HDMI eARC and DTS:X, two future-looking features that the bar’s predecessor, the SB36512-F6 lacked. It does so at the cost of WiFi connection, meaning you’ll only be able to stream music over Bluetooth, and there’s also no built-in smart assistant (a plus or a minus depending on your stance). If features like WiFi and multi-room audio are among your top demands, you’ll want to look at the Vizio SB36512-F6 instead (while it’s still available).

As with other Vizio surround soundbars, including the pricier Vizio Elevate, the M-series 5.1.2 does require you to wire the rear speakers into your subwoofer for connection, which can limit where you can place them depending on your living room. Luckily, Vizio offers plenty of length in the connection wires for most setups.

Those digressions aside, the overwhelming value that the Vizio M-Series 5.1.2 represents can’t be overlooked. Vizio yet again delivers great sound quality for Dolby Atmos content, 5.1 content, and just about anything else you’ll play, all at a price that undercuts the majority of the competition. It may not be the best Dolby Atmos soundbar available on the market. But if you don’t have thousands to spend on audio, no other soundbar is going to provide a better bang for your buck.

Pros

  • Sleek new design

  • Good overall sound

  • Great Dolby Atmos for the money

Cons

  • No Wi-Fi

  • Wired rear speakers

Product image of Samsung HW-Q800T
Samsung HW-Q800T

An iteration of the Q70 soundbar series before it, Samsung’s Q800T is a bit of an odd fit in Samsung’s lineup, but its diverse feature set and excellent sound—thanks in no small part to Samsung’s Acoustic Beam technology—make this a fun and effective way to jazz up your TV room.

The Q800T offers a powerful punch thanks to its large-and-in-charge, side-firing subwoofer, while the lean bar takes care of the upper register with clarity, poise, and impressive precision. The soundstage leans on the lighter side, but the fully perforated grill helps the smaller drivers breathe a bit, making the sound less closed and digitized than ultra-thin bars in its class like LG’s SP9YA.

The Acoustic Beam technology mentioned above helps spread the sound around nicely. The system uses multiple upfiring ports to create impressive placement of effects on both the horizontal and vertical planes, expanding the soundstage beyond the bar’s 38-inch width. This works great for content of all kinds (music included), and while the sound mostly stays at the front of the room, it's expansive and compelling for a two-piece system.

Where the soundbar has some limitations is in overhead sounds from Dolby Atmos content, as its smaller Beam drivers seem to have trouble bouncing sound off the ceiling and back down again. The result is less immersion than other pared-down Dolby Atmos setups like the aforementioned LG SP9YA and Sonos’ Arc soundbar. While none of these soundbars offer full surround sound immersion (without adding a pair of surround speakers, that is), the side-firing drivers of Sonos and LG’s bars help spread the sound out further.

In addition, the Q800T doesn’t have a great relationship with Alexa at the moment. While the assistant is easy to use via built-in microphones, her voice was sometimes twice as loud as the content we were playing, with no way to correct it. In general, while Samsung says a firmware update is coming, Alexa isn’t currently as polished as you’d expect for a soundbar in this price category. As such, some may want to go with the more affordable Q70T, which offers a smaller subwoofer and Alexa-control that requires your own smart speaker, but also costs a fair bit less.

That said, the Q800T has plenty of features that make it worthy of consideration, including an extra HDMI input to plug in a gaming console or Blu-ray player directly, both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support, HDR passthrough (including Dolby Vision), and both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth streaming. Also, it just sounds dang good, making for a well-rounded package that is sure to be a striking upgrade in comparison to your TV alone.

Pros

  • Clear, powerful sound

  • Plenty of features

  • Impressively slim design

Cons

  • Stunted overhead effects

  • Buggy Alexa performance

Product image of Sony HT-G700
Sony HT-G700

Sony’s HT-G700, doesn’t offer the height speakers generally associated with the format. Instead, this bar is designed to virtualize the height element, and while it doesn’t offer nearly the same immersion as a bar like the Sonos Arc, it does a pretty good job at faking it.

Perhaps more importantly, the G700 offers impressively musical sound from a very thin profile, meaning it’s much easier to add to most living rooms. And because its soundstage is powered in part by digital signal processing, it’s designed to work in places with vaulted ceilings where bouncing sound down from above isn’t an option.

There are two major downsides to the G700. First, the bar doesn’t offer Wi-Fi connection, meaning you’re stuck with Bluetooth streaming and there’s no way to add digital assistants. Second, it’s priced above most similarly appointed bars at $600 MSRP, though it can often be found for $500 on sale .

You can get a lot more features for your money from Yamaha’s YAS-209 and similarly loaded, mid-tier soundbars, but if you don’t mind spending a little extra, the HT-G700 offers among the most impressive audio performance for its size that we've encountered.

Pros

  • Clear, detailed sound

  • Slim and simple design

  • Impressive Dolby Atmos virtualization

Cons

  • Not upgradeable

  • No WiFi

  • Lack of height speakers limits Atmos immersion

Meet the testers

Lee Neikirk

Lee Neikirk

Editor, Home Theater

@Koanshark

Lee has been Reviewed's point person for most television and home theater products since 2012. Lee received Level II certification in TV calibration from the Imaging Science Foundation in 2013. As Editor of the Home Theater vertical, Lee oversees reviews of TVs, monitors, soundbars, and Bluetooth speakers. He also reviews headphones, and has a background in music performance.

See all of Lee Neikirk's reviews
Ryan Waniata

Ryan Waniata

Managing Editor - Electronics

@ryanwaniata

Hailing originally from Montana, Ryan parlayed his time working as a musician and audio engineer into a career in digital media in 2013. Since then he's had extensive experience as a writer and editor, including everything from op-eds and features to reviews on TVs, audio gear, smart home devices, and more.

See all of Ryan Waniata's reviews
Nick Woodard

Nick Woodard

Contributor

@@nwoodard25

Nick Woodard is a tech journalist specializing in all things related to home theater and A/V. His background includes a solid foundation as a sports writer for multiple daily newspapers, and he enjoys hiking and mountain biking in his spare time.

See all of Nick Woodard's reviews

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