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The Best Soundbars for Turning Your Living Room Into a Movie Theater


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TV speakers are better than they have ever been. Any new high-range flat screen will now come decked out with fantastic sound, a perfect complement to crystal-clear picture quality.

However, that audio experience can always be improved. And for that, a good soundbar might just be the option. These speakers — or, more often, collections of them — serve as an ideal piggyback to take the TV watching experience from good to great, giving a movie-theater quality to the living room. There are a lot of good options on the market: Companies such as Sonos, Bose, Sony and Samsung are just a few who offer excellent soundbars and accompanying home speaker systems.

How to Choose the Right Soundbar for your TV

There are a few things you’ll want to consider before buying the best soundbar:

  • TV size If you want your soundbar’s width to match your TV, you’ll need to measure the actual width of your television (not the diagonal screen size). But if you’re looking for vibrant sound to go along with your big-screen TV, then you’ll really want to look at the tech specs (such as surround sound) rather than just the physical length of your soundbar.
  • Speaker channels Do you want surround sound for all of those action-packed movies you’re streaming, or do you prefer dialogue-driven entertainment (or both)? There are different types of speaker channel systems for soundbars depending on your preferences, and here are the most common:
    • 2.1, the most basic option with left and right speakers and a subwoofer, which is best for small spaces or if you’re not picky about surround sound
    • 5.1, which uses left, right and center speakers and a subwoofer, and is the most common surround sound option
    • 7.1, the best option for home theaters that uses two front speakers, two back speakers, two side speakers, a center speaker and a subwoofer
  • Connection If you want to use your TV as a switcher (meaning you’re using the TV remote to switch between other inputs such as a gaming console or DVR), then your audio output connection to your soundbar will be relatively easy. However, soundbars use different input connections, and two of the most common are digital optical audio cables and HDMI cables. For the best sound quality for multi-channel formats, generally HDMI is the best way to go. And some of the best TVs and soundbars feature ARC or eARC HDMI, an option that cut down on the number of cables while upgrading your audio.
  • Wireless connectivity If you want to use your soundbar to play audio from other devices besides your TV (say your phone or computer), you’ll want a unit with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity.
  • Location Are you looking for the best soundbars for mounting on the wall, or you do you plan to set your speakers on a TV stand or media console? For the former, you’ll want to make sure to get a wall-mountable unit, while a lower-profile soundbar is best for placing in front of your TV without blocking the screen.

The Best Soundbars for Every Type of TV Setup

Now that you know how to choose the right speakers, we’ve rounded up over 10 of the best soundbars that will turn your TV room into a proper home cinema. Check out our top picks below from Sonos, JBL, Samsung, Sennheiser and many other best-selling audio electronics brands.

1. Sonos Arc Soundbar


For its sleek Arc soundbar, Sonos collaborated with Oscar-winning sound engineers to specifically amplify the human voice, creating crystal clear audio. It has a handsome curved shape and 11 speakers on all sides to give it a unique, fresh look while ensuring that sound reverberates throughout the listening space, thanks to Dolby Atmos (which offers the most realistic surround sound right now).

This soundbar boasts voice control, allowing switching between streaming services, or even toggling specifics on sound. Perhaps the biggest appeal of the Arc, though, is its practicality. Given the slim and creative design, it’s easy to mount on a wall. And the simple color schemes — either all black or all white — don’t make it an eyesore like some other soundbars out there.

Sonos Arc Soundbar

Sonos Arc Soundbar


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2. Roku Streambar Pro Soundbar


If you’re looking to upgrade your TV’s streaming and sound capabilities, Roku’s Streambar Pro is the way to go. Also available in expanded options with a subwoofer and surround sound speakers, the streaming platform’s soundbar delivers stunning cinematic sound via Dolby audio and vibrant 4K quality for video streaming. The speaker lets you automatically lower the volume on commercials, optimize sound for dialogue or nighttime watching and plug in headphones to the remote so you watch without disturbing the rest of the household.

Roku Streambar

Roku Streambar Pro (reg. $180)



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3. Vizio SB3651NS-H6 Soundbar


One of the best cheap soundbars that doesn’t sacrifice quality, Vizio’s 5.1 channel system is a great option for small spaces, as the wireless slim subwoofer can be placed under a couch or discreetly in corners while still delivering booming bass. The DTS Virtual:X technology (which rivals Dolby Atmos) offers virtualized 3D surround sound for immersive audio, and the soundbar also features Bluetooth for playing audio from smartphones and other devices.

Vizio 5.1 Channel Soundbar

Vizio SB3651NS-H6 Soundbar


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4. TCL Alto 6 Soundbar


If you’re on a tight budget yet don’t want to skimp on audio, TCL Alto’s 6 soundbar (also available with a wireless subwoofer and extra speakers) offers the right combination of price and Dolby surround sound quality. It features Bluetooth connectivity for wireless music streaming, and the unit is also wall-mountable.

TCL Alto 6 Soundbar

TCL Alto 6 Soundbar (reg. $80)



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5. Sonos Beam 2 Soundbar


Sonos’ new second-generation model of its popular Beam smart soundbar now supports Dolby Atmos, offering a more immersive audio experience in the same compact size and with a sleeker look. The company tapped Oscar-winning sound mixers to fine-tune the speaker for better audio clarity, and the redesigned soundbar also features custom settings for gamers (who can plug into the new HDMI eARC connection) and sports fans (who can swap the commentary with their favorite local radio broadcast). It’s easy to set up (so it makes a great gift for even the most technologically unsavvy people) and can be paired with other Sonos speakers, and you can choose from two modern colorways to suit your decor.

Sonos Beam 2 Soundbar in White

Sonos Beam 2 Soundbar


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6. Sennheiser Ambeo 5.1 Soundbar


Sennheiser’s first foray into the soundbar market is an authoritative one. The German manufacturer’s Ambeo 5.1 speaker system may look chunky and imposing, but it’s one of the best high-end soundbars out there right now as it’s equipped with Dolby Atmos. Featuring 13 mini speakers, Sennheiser claims its soundbar will “merge with the acoustics of your environment to create a 3D sound experience.”

Users get the standard specifications to accompany the price, too. The Ambeo is equipped with Bluetooth, allowing for phone connection and music streaming. Furthermore, it comes with Chromecast, so streaming radio or other media is easy. Though it isn’t wireless, the aforementioned features make it clear that Sennheiser has put in plenty of effort into making one of the best soundbars on the market.

Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar

Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar (reg. $2,500)



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7. Samsung HW Q67CT 7.1-Channel Soundbar


Another affordable home theater audio option is Samsung’s 7.1-channel soundbar, which pairs well with the electronics brand’s QLED TV series. This speaker system boasts DTS Virtual:X for transforming your living room into a home theater with 3D surround sound, while Samsung’s Acoustic Beam technology makes it feel as if the sound is coming at you from the action onscreen. Note that while most of the components are wireless, the rear speakers are wired and should be connected to the receiver.

Samsung HW Q67CT Soundbar

Samsung 7.1-Channel Soundbar


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8. JBL Bar 5.1 Soundbar


From its top-notch range of wireless speakers to its reliable workout headphones, JBL has an affinity for premium sound in a practical manner. The company’s Bar 5.1 soundbar certainly delivers an HD experience with its 10-inch subwoofer, as the entirely wireless speaker system features detachable units that be strategically positioned around your home theater space for immersive audio. It also boasts Bluetooth connectivity, so you can hook up your phone for music streaming from anywhere around the home.

JBL 5.1 Soundbar

JBL Bar 5.1 Soundbar



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9. Bose Smart Soundbar 700


Bose has consistently provided some of the best sounding headphones on the market — and its Smart Soundbar 700 expands that capability to speakers. It’s compatible with virtual assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, allowing the user to seamlessly switch between music and TV using voice control. Bose has ensured that the 700 will pick up any commands, fitting the speaker with eight microphones to register commands from users.

But the real appeal in the 700 is its capacity to pair with Bose wireless headphones. So, if users want to enjoy the big screen without disturbing the world around them, they can simply connect their headphones to the soundbar — keeping the visual experience without sacrificing sound. Bose also offers affordable bundle packages, making it easy to group the soundbar with a few other speakers for surround sound.

Bose Smart Soundbar 700

Bose Smart Soundbar 700



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10. Sony Z9F Soundbar


Compared to the sheer volume of speakers on other options, the fact that Sony’s Z9F soundbar only has a mere three might make it seem like an underequipped system. However, the Z9F features Dolby Atmos technology, which packs a lot of punch by creating a surround-sound feel despite only having one unit. Sony’s “virtual sound” technology is set up so that sound comes at the user vertically for a 3D auditory experience.

The real appeal in the Z9F, though, is its sheer number of options for customization. The speaker can be manipulated for different television watching experiences, offering different settings and profiles for movies, news, sports, gaming and music. Each mode amplifies a certain element of the audio to create a realistic listening experience — a distinctive feature available on few other high-end speakers.

Sony Z9F Soundbar

Sony Z9F Soundbar



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11. Klipsch Cinema 600 Soundbar


Klipsch has gone for a different approach than some of its competitors for its Cinema 600 soundbar, instituting a modified two-speaker model, with one large sound system at either end of the bar — and a few smaller ones sprinkled across the middle. This approach creates a proper left and right experience, a more traditional way of listening. But the sheer size and quality of the speakers makes raw stereo sound incredibly clear.

The Cinema offers various different modes, allowing users to tweak dialogue according to their preferences. That sound can be heard with more clarity through the 10-inch subwoofer included in the package — making the Klipsch one of the most cost-effective systems on this list. Best of all, it boasts a sleek wood finish that makes it a handsome addition to any stylish home theater.

Klipsch Cinema 600 Soundbar

Klipsch Cinema 600 Soundbar



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