There are numerous soundbars on the market, but choosing the appropriate one might be tough. To help you, we’ve compiled a list of the top 13 best soundbars under $200. This list of the top soundbars is the result of extensive study on each device. Taking into account the qualities of each soundbar, such as connectivity, sound quality, inbuilt Bluetooth, speakers, and so on, we have selected the top 13 best soundbars.
If your TV’s sound is inadequate, you’re not alone: practically all new TVs, regardless of size, have subpar speakers tucked away in ever thin frames. However, simply adding a soundbar to your setup is a simple method to have a more engaged and delightful viewing experience. The best soundbars deliver powerful audio into a compact device small enough to set in front of or beneath your television. There are no separate surround speakers to overwhelm the area, nor are there any snake cables to tumble over.
There are a few things to consider before making a purchase. Consider the measurements of your TV to determine the size of your new soundbar. You don’t want it to be dwarfed by the screen, but pairing a massive bar with a little TV could look odd — like a tiny head placed above overly large shoulders. Look up the specs and compare the width of the bar to the width of your TV. Check the height as well; if you need to set the soundbar in front of your TV, you don’t want it to obscure half of the image.
Then there are features and connectivity. Many modern soundbars have wireless subwoofers, Bluetooth connectivity, 4K HDMI inputs for a games console or 4K Blu-ray player, ARC and eARC-enabled HDMI outputs, and even Dolby Atmos audio with up-firing speakers. Consider the stuff you’ll be viewing and the sources you’ll be using. Many of these technology will be obsolete if you only watch Freeview. However, if you’re streaming 4K HDR content from Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, you’ll want to get the greatest audio quality available to ensure your movie sounds as amazing as it looks.
The five-star Sonos Beam is currently the greatest soundbar you can buy in terms of sound-per-pound. It differs from the Sonos Playbar and Playbase in a few ways, including an HDMI connection and voice control support from Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, with Apple Siri to follow.
This is a low-cost soundbar that has the potential to improve your listening experience. It’s compact and light, and it’ll fit in front of most televisions. The top has sleek touch controls, as well as HDMI and Ethernet ports at the back. The Beam may be wall-mounted, but the extra bracket is expensive.
- Impressive three-dimensional sound
- Surprising bass weight and depth
- Streaming and multi-room smarts
- A little sibilance at high volumes
- Only one HDMI input
Sonos isn’t new to soundbars, but the Arc is the brand’s first soundbar to be fully compatible with Dolby Atmos. It replaces the Playbar and Playbase and is priced higher than the Beam (seen above). The Arc is a good companion for 55in and larger TVs and can be placed directly on your furniture or wall-mounted with the optional £79/$79/AU$99 mount.
On the bar, there are touch-sensitive play/pause and volume controls, as well as LEDs that indicate status and whether you’re speaking to the built-in Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. AirPlay 2, ethernet, and eARC for Dolby Atmos from compatible TVs are all supported.
To generate your soundfield, the Sonos Arc employs 11 drivers, several of which are upfiring and directed towards your room to bounce sound off your walls and ceiling. All of this adds up to one of the most impressive Atmos performances from a soundbar.
You’re whisked away to the heart of the action. Surround effects are nicely positioned, and the sound has terrific vitality and weight. If you merely want to listen to music, the tone is perfectly balanced, however it could sound a little more direct. But there’s no denying that this is a fantastic soundbar for the money.
- Convincing Dolby Atmos
- Dynamic, detailed and weighty
- All of the usual Sonos smarts
- Music could be better projected
- Heavily reliant on your TV’s spec
The Roku Streambar is a low-cost 2.0 setup. This extremely small soundbar lets you access many streaming sites, like Netflix and Hulu, from a single location, thanks to Roku’s media streamer. It can also be upgraded in the future with a separate subwoofer and satellites. It does, however, struggle to create low-bass and has a veiled treble. It is also not very loud and does not support Atmos. On the plus side, you can stream audio wirelessly over Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay 2, and Wi-Fi. Its center channel reproduces dialogue cleanly as well, making it ideal for vocal-centric content.
For speech and TV shows, the Roku Streambar is adequate. Despite the lack of a dedicated center channel, it can replicate dialogue clearly. There’s also a dialogue enhancement feature to boost vocal clarity even further. You can also use Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay 2, and Wi-Fi to broadcast audiobooks and podcasts to the bar. It doesn’t get too loud, though.
- Bluetooth, AirPlay 2, and Wi-Fi compatible.
- Four EQ presets available.
- No room correction.
- Really lacking low-bass.
- Doesn’t get very loud.
The Samsung HW-A550 is the best soundbar under $200 that we’ve tested. This 2.1 configuration includes a dedicated subwoofer and has an out-of-the-box neutral sound profile, making it suited for most sorts of audio content. There’s even a visual EQ and presets to let you tailor the sound to your preferences.
Despite its compact size, this soundbar can get loud enough to fill large rooms and busy gatherings, and there isn’t any compression when cranked up to maximum volume. It’s also Bluetooth-enabled, allowing you to wirelessly stream audio from your mobile devices to the bar. If you listen to a lot of language-heavy content, such as TV episodes, you can utilize its dialogue enhancement tool to make voices clear and crisp.
Unfortunately, this soundbar does not support Dolby Atmos content, which is a bummer for moviegoers. It also struggles to replicate a thumpy low-bass, so you don’t get the deep rumble found in bass-heavy music or action movies. Nonetheless, it provides varied performance at a lower cost.
The Samsung HW-A550 is suitable for mixed use. It offers a fairly balanced sound profile out of the box, making it excellent for listening to a wide range of audio content, with a bit extra punch in the bass range. It struggles, though, to deliver a thumping low-bass for action-packed movies and bass-heavy music. It also does not support Atmos, and its surrounds performance is underwhelming. Fortunately, it provides a plethora of sound customizing possibilities.
- Graphic EQ and presets
- Bass and treble adjustments.
- Dialogue enhancement feature
- Lacks some low-bass.
- No Atmos support.
- Poor surrounds performance.
If you want a tiny setup, the Sony HT-S200F is the best soundbar under $200 that we’ve tested. This compact soundbar will easily fit into your existing setup without taking up much space, and it even includes an integrated subwoofer to help you conserve space. It’s also quite loud, particularly when compared to other tiny soundbars we’ve tested.
This soundbar has a balanced mid-range that makes it excellent for listening to dialogue-centric content such as podcasts and TV episodes, but it can also sound dark and muddy due to a lack of bass and treble. There’s also a bass adjustment tool and EQ presets to assist you tailor the sound. It’s also Bluetooth-enabled, so you can wirelessly stream music from your phone to the bar.
Unfortunately, it does not support Dolby Atmos content, and in order to play it, it must downmix surround video into stereo, which does not sound very immersive. Its soundstage isn’t thought to be particularly wide, which may frustrate some listeners. Having said that, it has good focus, so objects like voices and footsteps appear to come from a specific position rather than a broad region.
It’s fine for mixed use. The Sony S200F features a reasonably neutral, if slightly muddy, sound profile that is better suited for dialogue-oriented entertainment. It lacks bass, despite having an integrated subwoofer, and has difficulty reproducing the deep rumble and punch of bass, as well as having a relatively narrow soundstage. On the plus side, it can grow quite loud, and most people should be fine with it. It also performs well at maximum volume and has a good overall build quality. This bar, however, will not provide an immersive movie listening experience because it lacks a height channel and support for Atmos content.
- Great for dialogue content.
- Performs well at max volume
- Doesn’t get very loud.
- Doesn’t support DTS.
- Always-on surround sound feature
The Vizio V Series V21-H8 is the greatest bass-focused soundbar under $200 that we’ve tested. This 2.1 system boasts a boomy sound profile that’s ideal for genres like EDM or action movies. It has a good stereo dynamic range. Although compression errors are apparent at maximum level, it is loud enough to fill a big room.
It has EQ settings to let you modify the sound. It also offers a subwoofer level and bass adjustment feature, allowing you to tailor the sound to your preferences. It supports Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital+, and DTS content via its ARC connector, which is fantastic if you want to watch movies on Blu-ray or streaming services like Netflix. It also offers an AUX connector for connecting your voice assistant to the speaker.
Unfortunately, it downmixes surround video into stereo in order to play it, and it does not support Atmos, which is unfortunate if you want an immersive audio experience. If you wish to stream music wirelessly, it doesn’t support Wi-Fi, Chromecast, or Apple AirPlay. Still, if you want a bass-heavy sound, this low-cost soundbar is a viable option.
The Vizio V21-H8 is suitable for general use. This 2.1 soundbar boasts a bass-heavy sound profile that gives your favorite tunes an extra boom and punch. Its balanced mid-range maintains speech and vocals in the mix, and it even has a dialogue enhancement option to assist make voices seem clear and present. It does, however, downmix surround audio into stereo and does not support Dolby Atmos content, thus it will not deliver a highly immersive movie-watching experience.
- Gets loud.
- Four EQ presets.
- Doesn’t support Atmos content.
- Some distortion at max volume
This is particularly common at the lower end of the market, where there appears to be a price point below which it is extremely difficult to design and manufacture a capable all-rounder.
While a product like the JBL Bar Studio may not be able to compete with the greatest in terms of absolute performance, it certainly holds its own in terms of sound-per-pound.
It is not a question of us compensating or making things easy for people lacking the necessary talent to compete; rather, this end of the market should not be overlooked when looking for a good upgrade.
At any price, four stars is still a recommended. It implies that the JBL Bar Studio is essentially among the market leaders and a champion in more ways than one. For starters, there isn’t much to complain about in terms of its design or on-board functionality.
At roughly 60cm in length and little under 6cm in height, it will fit under most adequately sized TVs without looking undernourished, and it has been made to JBL’s normal high quality and aesthetic modernism standards.
The basic power, volume, and source selection controls are located across the top, with HDMI (ARC) and optical connectors to the rear. Bluetooth is also included, which could eliminate the need for a separate living room sound system.
The size of the Studio obviously limits the scope of its sound, with drivers limited to two tweeters and a single woofer – but two reflex ports help reinforce its low-end output.
JBL Surround Sound, an in-house technology meant to recreate the wrap-around sound of a 5.1 system, is more evidence that this soundbar intends to overcome the limits imposed by its size.
You’ll need the supplied credit-card remote to activate that sound mode. The Studio, like other modern soundbars, is meant to work with your standard TV remote, but the JBL clicker is useful for easy source switching and bass level control.
When we connect the Studio to our TV, one of the first things we notice is the bass. It’s not just that there’s a lot of it; it’s also punchy and relatively rich.
We prefer a neutral balance, so we wouldn’t turn it all the way up, but there is certainly more movement to the music than through our TV speakers.
That richness may not be replicated perfectly in the midrange, but it glides above the low-end action, displaying a more-than fair amount of detail.
There is more to the Studio’s presentation than merely tossing words out and hope the listener would be grateful, whether it’s the sound of water in Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse’s Gone Fishing or an eager dugout at the World Cup.
There appears to be a beginning price if you want it everything – flawless performance for TV, film, or music. And it goes beyond that.
While £150 may be too low for a real all-rounder, the JBL Bar Studio demonstrates that there are some excellent performers to be acquired. This has to be one of the best cheap soundbars available for a confident, full-bodied enhancement to your television’s speakers.
- Solid and punchy sound
- Plenty of bass
- Decent detail
- Good range of features
- Hardens slightly at higher volumes
- Lacks timing and dynamics with music
The manufacturer offers a good compromise between performance and convenience by developing YSP (Yamaha Sound Projection) technology, which is designed to simulate a surround-sound experience from a single soundbar.
Yamaha’s YAS-207 similarly seeks to generate immersive “virtual” sound, but this time with DTS’s latest codec, DTS Virtual:X. This seeks to imitate the sound generated by a 7.1.4 setup (quick math tells us that’s 11.1 channels).
It operates differently than surround-sound codecs such as DTS:X. (and Dolby Atmos). DTS:X is natively encoded on the soundtrack of a disc, whereas DTS Virtual:X is a post-processing technology that may be used to both old and new content (as long as it has a DTS codec).
The technique has been developed so that users can enjoy all of the height and surround sound effects while only using a soundbar. The Yamaha YAS-207 is the first soundbar to put it through its paces, and it serves as a fine advertisement for the technology.
While the bar offers optical and 3.5mm inputs, we decided to use one of its HDMI ports, which support 4K and HDR passthrough.
At this point, it’s worth noting that this Yamaha soundbar (and its inbuilt DTS technology) isn’t a miracle worker. It does not make soundtracks appear to be blasted down from the ceiling or from behind the sofa.
However, in terms of delivering ‘virtual’ surround-sound experiences from a single enclosure, the YAS-207 excels.
Its performance contradicts the physical dimensions of the bar. It outperforms its competitors in terms of sonic field, proving to be both more expansive and engulfing.
You don’t need to use the’surround’ mode – in fact, we feel that’stereo’ provides the best balance and direct focus – but you may explore with the seven sound modes via the basic Yamaha HT Controller app.
There’s lots of space to fill in the soundfield, and the Yamaha manages to fill it with delicate, layered detail – to the point where automobile tyres running over rubble have distinct definition.
Background elements (such as people talking backstage) can be heard even among the music and throng.
However, it does not become so engrossed in the intricacies that it forgets how to have fun. The musical performance of the act is full of vitality and sharpness, with the Yamaha exhibiting tight control over the drum rolls and punch to the cymbals.
When it plays the psychedelic rolling rhythms of Travis Scott’s Butterfly Effect over Bluetooth, its talent is validated. Good news for anyone seeking for a soundbar that can play music as well as movies.
However, the upper frequencies aren’t as refined, and the mids aren’t as firm as they are through the Q Acoustics Media 4. The frequency range of the Yamaha isn’t as effectively integrated as that of the Media 4.
However, the Yamaha’s presentation remains tight and tonally equal, and we like the increased bass extension – a weakness in the Q Acoustics’ arsenal.
We become more immersed and absorbed by the Yamaha’s increased expression and dynamic liberty (particularly in the midrange). It reveals significantly more of Vin Diesel’s command inflections to his soldiers, and voices in general are transmitted with greater clarity.
We never feel the need to activate Yamaha’s Clear Voice in this case – we enjoy the balance as is – but it’s effective if you want a midrange boost during dialogue-driven programs.
Yamaha has enough market expertise to know that a soundbar will most likely sit beneath a television in most people’s setups.
The bar is only 6cm high, so it should easily clear most TV screens, and it’s also designed to be unobtrusive. It’s a dark bar with a few indicator lights to indicate the source and surround type selection.
- Crisp, insightful and dynamic sound
- Spacious and immersive performance
- Slim and practical design
- Treble a little unrefined
- Could do with more midrange solidity
Dali, it appears, is not one to rest on its laurels. Despite the Kubik One’s award-winning triumph in the TV sound category at last year’s What Hi-Fi? Awards, the company has released a second soundbar just in time for our 2019 talent show.
The Dali Katch One costs slightly less than the Kubik One. It’s equally elegant, albeit in a different way, and is designed to serve as a hub for all of your living room audio demands.
With five distinct audio inputs, three mounting options, and 10 drivers working together to fill your room with sound, we’re curious to see what Dali has learnt from its first home cinema trip.
But the first thing we notice is that the Dali Katch One has a flaw — it’s excessively tall. Inside the soundbar, the Danish manufacturer has stuffed four 9cm aluminium mid/bass drivers and four 11.5cm steel passive radiators, as well as two 21mm soft-dome high-frequency units.
That speaks well for its acoustic capabilities, but it means that the 17cm tall glass fiber-reinforced ABS cabinet interferes with your TV screen and, as a result, your TV remote sensor. While most soundbars aim to be as unobtrusive as possible by staying out of the way of your picture, the Katch One is an exception.
Of course, mounting it on the wall is one option. For that purpose, there are some gorgeous leather straps provided, as well as some hidden fastening at the rear if you wish. On the plus side, if you wall-mount it, the rear-firing drivers will be perfectly positioned to maximize the bass produced. Another option is to wall mount your TV and use the accompanying little wooden brackets for the Dali.
Aside from its height, the Katch One is a stylish soundbar. It’s oblong with rounded ends and comes in three Scandinavian-inspired colors: Iron Black, Ivory White, and Mountain White. On the top, the actual buttons for power, volume, and source are all hidden. To keep the cords as inconspicuous as possible, the ports are recessed on the back.
Because there is no network connectivity or apps with the Katch One – it is purely audio – HDMI ARC will most likely be your connecting method. This pulls the audio from your TV and supports CEC, so you can still alter the volume using your TV’s remote. For added functionality, a small Dali remote is included in the box.
There are two optical ins on the back if you want to connect to your TV or add a music player. There’s also a 3.5mm aux-in and, while the USB connection is purely for service, if you enter the dongle, it will support Google Chromecast Audio. Finally, Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX playback is supported.
There are four 50W class D amps inside, and if the ten drivers aren’t loud enough, there’s a hookup for an external sub-woofer on the back. Those hoping for Dolby Atmos or other types of advanced audio decoding should look elsewhere.
The Katch One has two sound modes: Wide and Focus. There is no LED display, and all of the buttons and halo lights are on top, making it difficult to tell which one is currently selected from your vantage point. Fortunately, the audio makes it quite clear which mode is active.
- Full, tight bass
- Plenty of dynamic variety
- Excellent spatial handling
- Good selection of inputs
- Impractical dimensions
- Treble could be sweeter
- No front-facing display