The Best Soundbars for 2022 (2023)

NewTVsare generallythin, which makes them look great on your wall or in your entertainment center. However, a slender frame isn't an advantage for sound quality. Speakers typically need a lot of space to produce good audio (with a few unique technical exceptions, like expensive and rare electrostatic panel speakers or the actuators on certain high-end OLED TVs), and there simply isn't much real estate in slim sets. This means that, as pleasing as the picture looks, your TV's built-in speakers probably don't sound too good. You need a separate sound system if you want loud, high-quality audio for your home theater that isn't thin or tinny: You need a soundbar.

Soundbars are long, usually thin (but still thicker than your TV) speakers that incorporate stereo; left/right/center; surround sound; or even spatial audio in an easy-to-set-up device you plug into your TV's HDMI or optical port. They're add-on sound systems that don't take up much more space than your TV but add much-needed power, range, and clarity to your audio experience.

You don't technically need to stick to a soundbar for a simple audio system for your TV. Almost any Bluetooth speaker or one with an optical, RCA, or 3.5mm input (if your TV has a headphone jack) can greatly improve your audio experience, though its power and ability to produce a sound field might be more ideal for smaller screens. It also might not fit as neatly under or in front of your TV. See our roundup of the best computer speakersfor some ideas.

Do You Need a Subwoofer?

If you plan on building a sound system with more than one piece, the most important addition is a subwoofer. Many soundbars include subwoofers that wirelessly connect to the rest of the system and, because low-frequency sounds don't rely as much on acoustics as higher frequencies, you can tuck the subwoofer behind, next to, or under your couch and still feel the effect of the rumble. You may need to plug a wireless subwoofer into a power outlet, but that's likely the full extent of the setup process for wireless models.

(Video) Top 5 Soundbars in 2022 🎯 Top 5 Soundbar Picks

The Best Soundbars for 2022 (1)

Soundbars can put out a lot of sound from low-mid to high frequencies, but they usually can't reach deep down into the low-frequency ranges. Because of how sound travels, you need a lot of physical volume to get very powerful bass, and the wide, shallow shape of soundbars doesn't offer that. That's why many soundbars include separate subwoofers.

A subwoofer is a speaker designed specifically for putting out low-frequency sound, in the bass and sub-base ranges. It's typically bulky and equipped with a large driver (usually around six inches) so it can move a lot of air to get that low-end rumble. You can get a good listening experience with just a soundbar, but if you really want to make the walls shake and feel your favorite movies or music, you should invest in a subwoofer.

If your soundbar doesn't include a subwoofer, you might still have options. Some soundbars have subwoofer outputs, so you can add one after the fact. You have to consider cables if you add a subwoofer this way, though. You also need to either make sure your subwoofer is powered (has a built-in amp) or connect a preamp between your unpowered subwoofer and the soundbar. Just like it takes a lot of space to move that much air, it also takes a lot of power. A few soundbar systems, like those from Roku and Sonos, also support expansion with separate wireless subwoofers. They require specific subwoofers made by the same manufacturer, though, so your options are much more limited.

(Video) Best Soundbars To Buy Early 2022

Check out our article on how to set up your speakersfor more on soundbar placement and how to get the best possible audio out of your system.

What About Surround Sound?

Most soundbars claim to offer some form of simulated surround sound, but this can be a bit misleading. Audio processing and driver placement can create a sense of surround sound even if the speakers are just directly in front of you, but this type of setup isn't capable of reproducing the accurate imaging of a surround system with dedicated satellites for each channel. If you really want a sense of immersion and for every sound effect to come from just the right direction, you need a full surround sound speaker system or at least a soundbar with separate satellites for the rear audio channels.

The Best Soundbars for 2022 (2)

There's also the matter of the type of surround sound you want to listen to. Conventional 5.1- and 7.1-channel audio is common for a lot of content, but home theater sound has gone beyond that with spatial audio. Spatial sound systems like Dolby Atmos map every source of sound from what you're watching to a location around you in a 3D space, and calculate just how to mix the audio to best reproduce their locations whether your speakers have two drivers or dozens. It's very immersive, especially with the addition of upward-facing drivers to produce sounds that give a sense of height and not just horizontal movement. Not all soundbars support Dolby Atmos, though, and not all that support Atmos have the drivers necessary for height.

(Video) 10 Best Soundbars 2022 [ Top 10 Best Soundbars Picks ]

None of this means that a true surround system is the best choice, though. While surround sound is authentic with these multi-speaker sets, several drawbacks make them less appealing than a single soundbar. Conventional surround systems mean much more clutter for your room. Each satellite requires wires running either to the wall or a centralized device like an A/V receiver, and that means a lot of cables to potentially trip over. You can hide them with rugs or in-wall conduits, but it's still going to be more expensive and less convenient than a soundbar, especially when newer Dolby Atmos soundbars do an admirable job of producing a spatial effect even without rear satellites.

Even soundbars with dedicated rear satellites require some wire-juggling, usually connecting the two rear speakers to a wireless subwoofer or to power outlets (but you probably won't need to physically run anything directly to your soundbar). And, of course, you need stands, shelves, or some other sorts of nearby flat surfaces to place all the speakers in your system besides the subwoofer, which can just sit on the floor. If you have the budget to build or remodel your living room around a surround sound system, it's a great choice for your home theater, but this isn't practical for most users.

Streaming Audio

All of the speakers on this list can wirelessly stream music from your smartphone or tablet. Most of them use Bluetooth, and some use Wi-Fi-based wireless audio systems like Apple AirPlay, Google Cast, or Sonos. Bluetooth is easy to use and lets you connect your phone to your soundbar just like it was a pair of headphones. This setup won't offer the best audio quality, though, especially if the soundbar doesn't support high-end Bluetooth codecs.

Wi-Fi isn't quite as simple to configure as Bluetooth, but it lets you set up multi-room sound systems so you can seamlessly play music all over your house. It can also support lossless audio because of the higher bandwidth Wi-Fi allows.

(Video) Top 5 BEST Soundbars of [2022]

Either way, because of wireless audio, you probably won't need to get a separate wireless music speaker for your living room if you have a soundbar. For more, read our roundup ofthe best wireless speakers. Voice assistant integration is also available in many Wi-Fi-compatible models, meaning that many of the soundbars above double assmart speakers.

The Best Soundbars for 2022 (3)

Can a Soundbar Beat a Full Home Theater System and Receiver?

Home theater audio has traditionally been a big, complex field reserved for audiophiles, or at least for people who are comfortable building a sound system out of individual components. The last decade has popularized soundbars as an easy alternative that's less expensive, simpler to set up, and takes up less physical space.

In terms of sheer potential power and system flexibility, no single soundbar or all-in-one sound system can match what you can build if you set up a home theater from components by yourself. With a standalone A/V receiver, amp, and set of big speakers, you can get much more power and control over your home theater sound. You just have to put in much, much more legwork, and likely spend much more money. A good receiver can easily cost as much as a good soundbar, and that's before you even start adding speakers. You also need to run the wires yourself, integrate an amp if necessary, and basically work on it much more than simply taking a soundbar out of a box and plugging it into your TV.

(Video) Samsung Q990B vs Sony A7000! Best Wireless Atmos Soundbars in 2022

An elaborate home theater speaker system can be incredibly rewarding, but you need relatively deep pockets and a good feel for the technology, or even deeper pockets and a willingness to hire a custom installer to make it all happen.

This list comprises the best soundbars we've tested, ranging across all prices, sizes, and feature sets. For more soundbars and other audio solutions, check out ourspeakers coverage, as well as our roundup ofthe best Bluetooth and wireless speakers.

FAQs

What's the best soundbar on the market right now? ›

The best soundbar that we've tested is the Samsung HW-Q990B. This premium 11.1.4 setup offers versatile performance, making it a standout choice for everything from music to movies to TV shows.

Which soundbar is best for home? ›

Best Soundbars in India: Top Picks From Sony, JBL, boAt, And Other Brands
  • Sony HT-S40R Real 5.1ch Dolby Audio Soundbar System. ...
  • Yamaha YAS-109 Soundbar with Built-in Subwoofers. ...
  • ZEBRONICS Zeb-Juke Soundbar system. ...
  • JBL Cinema SB120, Dolby Digital Soundbar with Built-in Subwoofer. ...
  • boAt AAVANTE Soundbar.
21 Jul 2022

How much should I spend on a soundbar? ›

You can spend as little as $100 or more than $1,000. Many sell for between $200 and $600.

Is Sonos better than Bose? ›

Should you get a Bose or Sonos speaker? Sonos has a more streamlined approach to its home speakers, so they're your best bet if you want a seamless listening experience. However, Bose offers plenty of other products in addition to soundbars and home speakers, so Bose gives you more options.

Which is better Sony or Bose soundbar? ›

The standalone Bose Smart Soundbar 900 is a bit better for mixed usage than the Sony HT-Z9F. The Bose is better built and has better soundstage, surround, and Atmos performances. The Sony has DTS support and a Full HDMI In port for high-quality passthrough, unlike the Bose.

Is it worth buying a sound bar for TV? ›

Yes, soundbars are worth it because they enhance your audio experience, far outperforming your TV speaker. They also come with a other convenient features that can incorporate other media devices in your home. Placed in front of your TV, a soundbar does an excellent job in improving the sound.

What should I look for in a soundbar? ›

6 Things To Look For When Buying the Best Soundbar for You:
  • Where will it live? ...
  • What size sound bar should you get? ...
  • What are active or passive sound bars, and why is that important? ...
  • What are sound bar “channels” and how many do I need? ...
  • What connections do I need? ...
  • How will I control the sound bar?
17 Mar 2022

What size soundbar should I get for a 65 inch TV? ›

While most soundbars won't sound as good as separate speakers -- especially with music -- they're still vastly better than your TV's built-in sound.
...
Soundbar lengths for TV screen sizes.
Speaker length (in inches)Recommended TV screen size
38 to 4542-inch to 50-inch
5055-inch to 65-inch
6070-inch and larger
1 more row
17 Feb 2022

Is a Bose soundbar worth it? ›

Bose makes well-built and neutral-sounding soundbars. They tend to be very straightforward, and some of their setups are easily upgradable. However, due to their simple design, they don't have as many sound enhancement features as other brands and lack HDMI In ports.

Are soundbars better than speakers? ›

Speaker sets offer better audio quality than soundbars. This is partly because of their size. But it's also because by placing speakers throughout a room, you can achieve genuine surround sound. Speaker sets are ideal for providing an immersive experience while watching movies or playing games.

What size soundbar should I get for a 65 inch TV? ›

While most soundbars won't sound as good as separate speakers -- especially with music -- they're still vastly better than your TV's built-in sound.
...
Soundbar lengths for TV screen sizes.
Speaker length (in inches)Recommended TV screen size
38 to 4542-inch to 50-inch
5055-inch to 65-inch
6070-inch and larger
1 more row
17 Feb 2022

Is a Bose soundbar worth it? ›

Bose makes well-built and neutral-sounding soundbars. They tend to be very straightforward, and some of their setups are easily upgradable. However, due to their simple design, they don't have as many sound enhancement features as other brands and lack HDMI In ports.

Are Dolby Atmos soundbars worth it? ›

Fortunately, Dolby Atmos soundbars can deliver cinematic audio in spaces that speaker packages could only ever dream of, at a fraction of the price. And, with a well-considered purchase you can make a powerful sonic impact on your living room for very little outlay.

Which surround sound system is best? ›

The best surround sound systems: tried and tested by us
  • Sony HT-A9 Home Theater System. Best wireless surround sound system. ...
  • Monoprice SB-600. ...
  • Sonos Beam (Gen 2) System. ...
  • LG SN11RG Soundbar System. ...
  • Samsung HW-Q950T Soundbar System. ...
  • JBL 9.1-Channel Soundbar System. ...
  • Klipsch Black Reference Theater Pack Surround Sound System.
11 Oct 2022

Videos

1. BEST SOUNDBARS: 5 Soundbars (2022 Buying Guide)
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2. How To Choose A Soundbar - A Buying Guide
(Chris Majestic)
3. 2022 Best Dolby Atmos Soundbars | 3D Spatial Audio, Voice Control, eARC! | Sony, Samsung, Sonos, JBL
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4. TOP 5: Best Soundbar 2022
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5. Top 7 Soundbars of 2022 👌
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6. 10 Best Dolby Atmos Soundbar 2022 - Top 10 Best Soundbars in 2022
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