Best Soundbars
2021/04

What makes the best soundbar?

Not all soundbars are created equal. Each model has its individual strengths and weaknesses and comes at a different price. This makes it incredibly difficult to keep track of the huge number of manufacturers and models. Sonos, Bose, Samsung, LG and countless more – who makes the soundbar that is just right for me?

Most of the time, it’s not so easy to determine whether a soundbar meets your personal requirements or not. Of course, special features like Dolby Atmos or satellite speakers are always advertised directly, but you can often only guess at a lot of other features.

That’s why we’ve created this list for you, in which we’ve gathered what we think are the best soundbars according to different criteria, so you can find just the right one to fill your living room with rich, spatial sound.

Soundbars by type

The best 5.1 Surround Soundbars

2021/04

5.1 Surround Soundbar: JBL Bar 9.1

Room size
above 40 m2
Channels
5.1.4
Dolby Atmos
Set
Soundbar + Subwoofer + Satellites
  • 400W Soundbar, 300W Subwoofer
  • 120W wireless battery satellites
  • Impressive 3D surround sound
  • Sound profile & room correction
  • HDMI eARC, Wi-Fi & Bluetooth
  • Dolby Atmos & DTS:X
  • No Dialogue Enhancement Feature
  • No Equalizer

The JBL 9.1 Soundbar is a 5.1.4 channel soundbar with excellent surround sound and Dolby Atmos/DTS:X support. It creates an extremely immersive TV experience with its freely placeable battery-powered satellite speakers, which have up-firing speakers just like the soundbar itself, and envelops the user in a breathtaking soundscape.

Although there is no dedicated app for operating the soundbar, the Wi-Fi interface with integrated Chromecast and Apple Airplay 2 supports almost all popular streaming services, so you can easily stream your music to the JBL 9.1 soundbar.

Alternative: Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar

Best 5.1 Standalone Soundbar
  • Ambeo 3D Mode
  • No external Hardware needed
  • No Satellite Speakers
  • No external Subwoofer
  • Huge dimensions

Alternative: JBL Bar 5.1 Surround

The sister model
  • Price
  • No up-firing speakers
  • No Dolby Atmos

The best Dolby Atmos Soundbars

2021/04

Dolby Atmos Soundbar: Samsung HW-Q950T

Room size
above 40 m2
Channels
9.1.4
(9.1.4 virtual)
Dolby Atmos
Set
Soundbar + Subwoofer + Satellites
  • ~550W total power (9.1.4)
  • Subwoofer + 2 satellite speakers
  • Dolby Atmos & DTS:X
  • HDMI 2.1 / eARC
  • Up- & side-firing speakers
  • Wi-Fi & Smart Features
  • No room correction feature
  • No USB

You get the best overall package with the Samsung HW-Q950T. The 9.1.4 soundbar with wireless Atmos satellite speakers and subwoofers delivers a great 3D surround sound with an excellently balanced sound profile, which means it can be used for almost every content. Music as well as dialog-heavy content and movies can be impressively staged. Especially when it comes to surround sound, the irrefutable advantage of freely placeable satellite speakers becomes apparent.

The soundbar also has many features to improve the sound, which can be used via the Samsung SmartThings app. This is operated via the Wi-fi interface and thus via smartphone, which enables a variety of smart features and streaming services for the soundbar. These can also be used via the integrated Amazon Alexa voice control. But unfortunately, the Samsung HW-Q950T does not support room correction to be calibrated to the room’s acoustics.

Alternative: LG DSN11RG

More immersion & room correction
  • Room correction
  • Better 3D surround sound
  • Night mode
  • More unbalanced sound profile
  • No graphic equalizer
  • Non-linear distortion

Alternative: JBL Bar 9.1

Freely placeable battery satellite speakers
  • Battery Atmos satellites
  • 3D surround sound
  • Room correction
  • No app
  • No graphic equalizer
  • No Dialogue Enhancement Feature

Alternative: Sony HT-G700

Affordable Atmos Soundbar
  • Great price/performance ratio
  • Vertical Surround Engine
  • More versatile
  • No Wi-Fi
  • Atmos downmix to stereo
  • Slightly bass-heavy sound
Soundbars by purpose

The best Soundbars for Music

2021/04

Soundbar for Music: Samsung HW-Q950T

Room size
above 40 m2
Channels
9.1.4
(9.1.4 virtual)
Dolby Atmos
Set
Soundbar + Subwoofer + Satellites
  • ~550W total power (9.1.4)
  • Subwoofer + 2 satellite speakers
  • Dolby Atmos & DTS:X
  • HDMI 2.1 / eARC
  • Up- & side-firing speakers
  • Wi-Fi & Smart Features
  • No room correction feature
  • No USB

The Samsung HW-Q950T is more than just a soundbar. It is a complete 9.1.4 Dolby Atmos sound system that can be used perfectly for most content. The soundbar has a crystal clear sound profile, so music can be played back impressively.

The extremely powerful subwoofer acts very precisely at both high and low volumes and blends excellently into the sound picture. Distortion is almost non-existent and the maximum volume is very high, making the soundbar perfect for house parties.

In terms of smart features and wireless connectivity, the HW-Q950T has everything you could want. The soundbar can be controlled with the SmartThings app and music can be streamed comfortably.

Alternative: Bose Soundbar 700

Space Saving with good Performance
  • Compact
  • Easily expandable
  • Room Correction
  • Less bass
  • No Dolby Atmos
  • No graphic Equalizer

Alternative: Yamaha YAS-209

Smart but affordable music soundbar
  • Powerful Subwoofer
  • Integrated Alexa voice control
  • Pleasant sound profile
  • Max. Volume

Alternative: Polk Audio SIGNA S2

Best affordable music soundbar
  • Strong bass
  • Max. Volume
  • Cheaper appearance
  • No mobile app
  • Less clean sound profile
Soundbars by budget

The best Soundbars under 200 Dollars

2021/04

Soundbar under 200 Dollar: Samsung HW-T550/ZG

Room size
up to 40 m2
Channels
2.1
(2.1.2 virtual)
Set
Soundbar + Subwoofer
  • 160W Soundbar (RMS)
  • 160W Subwoofer
  • 7-band Equalizer
  • HDMI ARC
  • DTS Virtual:X / Dolby Digital
  • Bluetooth & USB
  • No Surround Sound
  • No Dolby Atmos / DTS:X
  • No Center Speaker

The Samsung HW-T550 is a solid 2.1 stereo soundbar with a strong wireless subwoofer. It’s sound profile is pretty decent, but surround sound is not really available. Stereo content like music is reproduced very well and dialogues are optimized by the Dialogue Enhancement Feature so that they sound clean and crisp. The HDMI ARC supports DTS Virtual:X and Dolby Digital and the Soundbar can be controlled with the remote control of the TV.

The 7-band equalizer is an absolute highlight in this price range, with which the sound can be adjusted to individual preferences.

Alternative: Bose Solo 5

Compact designed Soundbar
  • Small footprint
  • Surprisingly good sound
  • No HDMI
  • No Subwoofer
  • No Equalizer Presets

Alternative: Polk Audio SIGNA S2

With great dialog reproduction
  • Higher max. Volume
  • Only few Equalizer Presets
  • No DTS
  • Distortion at high Volume

The best Soundbars under 300 Dollars

2021/04

Soundbar under 300 Dollars: Yamaha YAS-209

Room size
up to 40 m2
Channels
2.1
Set
Soundbar + Subwoofer
  • 100W Soundbar & 100W Subwoofer
  • Balanced Sound Profile
  • Great Stereo Sound
  • DTS Virtual: X (Virtual 3D Surround Sound)
  • HDMI ARC, Wi-Fi, USB, Bluetooth
  • Wi-Fi, Smart Features & Amazon Alexa
  • No Dolby Atmos

Smart 2.1 soundbar with a precise, wireless subwoofer and an excellent sound – especially for music. Thanks to Dolby Digital Surround and DTS Virtual:X, the simulated surround sound is quite good for movies, but can be surpassed by other models at a similar price. Thanks to Yamaha’s Clear Voice feature, dialogs are rendered clearly.

The Wi-Fi connection and integrated Amazon Alexa voice control turn the soundbar into a truly smart device that supports Amazon Music and Spotify without a third-party device. Normal music streaming is of course possible via Bluetooth. Furthermore, in addition to the convenient control via TV remote, control via mobile app is still possible. So the Yamaha YAS-209 has a really well-rounded complete package with some great features at a fair price.

Alternative: Sony HT-X8500

With Dolby Atmos & DTS:X
  • Dolby Atmos & DTS:X
  • Virtual 3D surround sound
  • Compact Design
  • No external subwoofer
  • Mediocre sound profile
  • No network connectivity

Alternative: Samsung HW-T650/ZG

With Center Speaker
  • Center speaker
  • 340W total power
  • Expandable Setup
  • No Internet Connectivity
  • No Voice & App Control

The best Soundbars under 400 Dollars

2021/04

Soundbar under 400 Dollars: Samsung HW-S60T

Room size
up to 25 m2
Channels
4
Set
Soundbar
  • Balanced Sound profile
  • Acoustic Beam
  • Wide Soundstage
  • Adaptive Sound & Q-Symphony
  • Graphic EQ
  • Wi-Fi & Alexa Built-In
  • No Dolby Atmos/DTS:X
  • Barely any low bass

Samsung’s all-in-one solution for music, movies & dialogue-heavy content. The Acoustic Beam technology with side- & up-firing speakers creates an immersive movie experience, but the soundbar would really benefit from an additional subwoofer. The setup is expandable with a subwoofer and satellite speakers to create a true home theater setup.

If you don’t like the sound profile or want to adjust it to different genres, you can freely adjust it with the graphic equalizer. Still, there are soundbars in this price range that have a more balanced profile, so that music in particular can be reproduced a little better. In terms of smart features, the HW-S60T has everything you could want. Internet access is ensured with Wi-Fi, and the integrated Amazon Alexa makes the soundbar really smart.

Alternative: Yamaha YAS-209

Smart with integrated Amazon Alexa
  • Powerful Subwoofer
  • Integrated Alexa voice control
  • More pleasant sound profile
  • Max. Volume
  • No Dolby Atmos / DTS:X
  • Weaker surround sound

Alternative: Sonos Beam

Even more compact
  • Center Speaker
  • Easily expandable
  • Multiroom option
  • No DTS
  • No Bluetooth
  • Surround Sound

The best Soundbars under 500 Dollars

2021/04

Soundbar under 500 Dollars: LG DSN8RG

Room size
up to 40 m2
Channels
3.1.2
Dolby Atmos
Set
Soundbar + Subwoofer
  • 220W Soundbar + 220W Subwoofer
  • HDMI 2.1 & eARC
  • Dolby Atmos & Vision / DTS:X
  • Up-firing Speaker
  • Integrated Google Assistant
  • Room correction feature
  • No immersive surround sound
  • Large dimension

The LG DSN8YG is a well-tuned Dolby Atmos soundbar with a classy design and impressive 3D sound that you wouldn’t normally expect from a soundbar. This is further accentuated by the up-firing Dolby Atmos speakers.

The sound profile is quite well balanced, making most content very enjoyable in reproduction. However, the soundbar tends to distort at high volumes, so you can only take limited advantage of the high maximum volume.

LG’s Wi-Fi Speaker app is a true highlight, allowing you to both set up and control the soundbar. The app also allows for room calibration, so you can adjust the speakers to the acoustics of the room.

 

Alternative: Sony HT-G700

Virtual 3D Surround Sound
  • Vertical Surround Engine
  • Night Mode
  • Max. Volume
  • No internet connectivity
  • No Side- & Up-firing speaker
  • No Room Calibration

Alternative: Samsung HW-S60T

Q-Symphony & Acoustic Beam
  • Q-Symphony & Acoustic Beam
  • Integratred Amazon Alexa
  • Graphic Equalizer
  • No Subwoofer
  • No Dolby Atmos/DTS:X