After hours of researching top in class best soundbars, we’re confident to say that Vizio Sound Bar SB3651-E6 is the best soundbar overall. It comes with premium audio and deep thumping bass. A great fit for 40”+ class TV, its built-in Bluetooth allows you to wirelessly stream Dolby digital music from your mobile device. Sonos Beam (with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Apple AirPlay-enabled) is our second-best.
Best pick: VIZIO sound bar SB3651-E6
You can experience every detail with incredible clarity of up to 101 dB, with a total harmonic distortion of less than 1%. Acknowledge true surround with crystal-clear dialogue and booming bass. One of the best soundbars we tested.
Crystal Clear Sound
The VIZIO soundbar SB3651-E6 5.1 Wireless soundbar system makes the sound of your favorite television shows more pleasant. But, it doesn’t end there! It adds such a powerful bass you will feel as if you are part of all the action. This soundbar has two satellite speakers, which supply clean and clear audio in your room to complete your surround sound system. You would get all of this in this cheap soundbar.
The first thing you notice about Vizio is that it looks sleek. The 36-inch soundbar has a low profile, only 2.1 inches tall, low enough that it sits beneath your smart TV screen. It has a beautiful black fabric on the front and top, also silver plastic caps on the ends which give it a quiet and minimalist appearance. It’s black and silver sub-woofer sits around a foot high. It synchronizes the soundbar wirelessly, so you can position it beside your sofa or chair (optimally). The two long cables plug in straight into the sub-woofer, which should be sufficiently long for the most sized rooms.
Google Chromecast is built-in
The Rich SmartCast mobile app from Vizio is even better, as the physical remote is. Again, it’s the best we have seen in this price range accompanying a product and it’s better than apps with many more-expensive speakers.
Vizio is committed to the google Chromecast technology, and the app operates across the Vizio entire product line, from TVs to speakers. From an entertainment perspective, the Vizio app provides a unified control mechanism for your Vizio TV, your Vizio soundbar, and your portable battery-powered Vizio speakers.
This app allows you to adjust volume and switch inputs and even rename the individual inputs so that they are shown as Blu-ray, Cable, Apple TV, or Chromecast instead of HDMI, AUX, Optical, etc.
Instant Home Theatre
The setup is not perfect you will have to get used to the remote, or use the app. Chromecast works just fine. Even with these issues, Vizio SmartCast SB3651-E6 is a great 5.1-channel sound system. CNET also included this model in its best soundbar list.
The Bottom Line: For under $250, you’ve got a solid soundbar with three audio channels (left, center, and right), a subwoofer, and two satellite speakers that elevate the sound of a TV in clear ways. It is difficult to find a better package for less than $300 if you don’t have a soundbar yet. In a box, it’s an entire home theater.
Best soundbar under $200 – Vizio soundbar SB3621n-E8
You might call VIZIO sound bar 36 2.1 a revolution, or you might call it a trend, but something is exciting going on at home theatre’s budget segment. Earlier, you need to have a lot of money to spend to get a great soundbar system. But now you don’t have to spend thousands, thanks to VIZIO— you just have to spend hundreds. At $200, the Vizio SB3621n-E8’s instantly upgrades your home theatre experience.
It’s 36 inches wide and comes with 5.25-inch sub-woofer speakers which imitate the deepest bass exactly, and 50 Hz-20 kHz frequency response catches all the highs and lows. VIZIO soundbar TruSurround and Dolby Digital technology make the sound experience better even in full volume. Its “display” is situated at the front of the bar and its sleek design fits in with every room of your house.
The device is compatible with Bluetooth so that you can also stream high-quality music from your phone or tablet. You can place this VIZIO soundbar on a table or install it on your wall. Under most VIZIO TV models, the slimmer, portable soundbar works. It’s an easy setup from start to finish with all audio cables included.
As far as networking is concerned, the Vizio has two digital inputs — a coaxial and an optical — plus USB and a 3.5 mm port. The only drawback we found is the LED display is not very helpful, and the WAV-file-only USB port is a little weird. This is the best soundbar we’ve heard of. Even though it was double the cost, we would have high praise for this soundbar unit.
The Vizio’s TruSurround processing sound was too bright, but so we didn’t use it much; the plain simulated surround mode sounded fine.
Sub-woofer had no trouble spreading deep bass, and the bass range was fully good when played at medium volume levels. The dialog was naturally balanced, and all genres of music sounded better than we get from soundbars, which cost much more than the SB3621.
We’ve tested a large number of soundbars, but this one is a game-changer, it’s that good for the price.
Setting up the Vizio SB3621n-E8 is a painless experience. Just attach the optical wire to our Blu-ray players, fine-tuning the soundbar/sub-woofer balance with the sub volume control, and adjusting the bass and treble controls, via the remote. We tweaked those balances from time to time as we played one movie to the next and with music. The SB3621n-E8 is a snap to use.
Regrettably for lower-heavy films, we realized the tiny sub-woofer as a separate source of the sound. Ideally, any sound of the device will emerge from the soundbar itself. We put the sub closer, right by the soundbar and that led to improving the mixture between sub and soundbar. Not perfectly, but good enough.
The Bottom Line: Vizio soundbar SB3621n-E8 is a complete package, not just its cost is unbelievably low. The amazing thing is this soundbar is smaller than other soundbar units we’ve ever reviewed. In our listening trials, the Vizio SB3621n-E8 performed well.
Its lackluster surround simulation is not good for watching movies, but while listening to music, it helps the soundbar project clear dialog and precise vocals. The soundbar should be sufficient if you primarily use it for watching television and listen to music.
Best soundbar (with Alexa) – Yamaha sound bar YAS-209
The Yamaha sound bar YAS-209 2 Channel Dolby Atmos soundbar is the perfect choice for you if you’re looking to get a sound system for your home that would help you experience every sound beat with perfect clarity.
YAS-2019 is a True Wireless Sound Bar that is built to produce perfect music throughout the day. The soundbar is 36.6 x 4.3 x 2.5 “and can sit on the wall, or place the soundbar on the wall to get the best of both worlds.
It has Bluetooth wireless connectivity, and built-in Alexa voice control means you can manage your soundbar, play music, set alarms, and control smart home devices as easily as you ask. You can do everything from listening to weather forecast to playing (Shawn Mendes).
ALEXA VOICE CONTROL
When you have Alexa voice control with you, all you need is to ask. The YAS-209 allows you to control your soundbar, music, and more with Alexa Voice Control. All you need to do is ask with Alexa voice control integration. The soundbar offers a built-in Alexa voice control system to conveniently monitor your soundbar, music, and more.
Immersive 3D Sound
The immersive sound of YAS-209 brings new home cinema experience. It features DTS Virtual: X which has exhilarating 3D surround sound. Audio comes through crisp and clear, and the included sub-woofer boosts blasts, footsteps, and your favorite bass tunes.
The ability to remove clutters is a key benefit of having a soundbar – which removes the need for surround speakers and cables all through the room. A wireless sub-woofer system goes further by providing even more flexibility in positioning. Experience the explosive bass while enjoying the flexibility to put the sub-woofer in the room anywhere.
Setup and Installation
Setting up the YAS-209 was a relatively painless experience. Connect it through an HDMI output to the TV’s HDMI inputs. You’ll have to supply your HDMI cable as Yamaha doesn’t include one in the box.
The Yamaha Soundbar YAS 209 has some inherent limitations, as it is the budget soundbar. Apart from the fact that the 2.1 channel soundbar does not have physical surround speakers or support, it also lacks a dedicated center channel which makes dialog sometimes sounds like bloating out a bit.
You may occasionally find the slippery sound of the dialog—which is slightly distracting. YAS-209’s overall sound is pretty good. I was impressed by the accurate, rich sound and a strong booming bass of the wireless subwoofer. We have tested many expensive soundbars, but standard audio modes from Yamaha’s YAS-209 still sound much better than the best built-in televisions speakers.
The Bottom Line: Yamaha soundbar YAS-207, which still offers some of the best value within the soundbar segment for 2 years now, is the best alternative (especially for those who care for Alexa support). You cannot go wrong with this soundbar and if you want to get upgrades like Dolby Atmos add a few more dollars and buy Vizio for as little as $500.
Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Apple AirPlay enabled soundbar – Sonos Beam
The Sonos Beam is the best cheap soundbar that comes with 2 voice assistants, Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. It can easily fill a little space with its expansive sound. Amazon Alexa is in-built in this device which allows you to play music, check the news, set alarms and more. At just 25.6 inches, Beam won’t hang off furniture or block the TV.
This full-featured 5.1 channel sound system comes with a 3-channel non-surfaced front speaker that can be expanded with 2 optional wireless speakers and a wireless sub-woofer from Sonos. The Beam can be connected to a home network via Wi-Fi or an Ethernet cable and can access content from the Internet such as audio from Tune-in, Pandora, and Spotify. Incredible sound when watching TV and movies, streaming music, listening podcasts with voice control.
It’s smaller than ever
One of the first things I found out was it was small in size. It’s 25.6″ wide, 3.9″ deep, and 2.7″ tall. By comparison, Sonos’ previous soundbar, called the Playbar, is 35.4″ wide, 5.5″ deep, and 3.3″ tall (all of these numbers have been rounded to the nearest tenth).
The size and thickness of the beam prevent it from taking up too much space on a TV stand, but its low height is what surprises. The Beam is just barely shorter than the TV, and that quarter of an inch makes all the difference.
The soundbar is so small that the bass capacity has been affected. But it won’t hinder the performance either. It is a brilliant speaker for films, music, and sport which makes it powerful or punchy as the others!
We suggest the beam as a complement to a small/medium room, as large rooms naturally force you to increase the volume and cause harm to the sound.
Easy voice control – just ask Alexa
Search Spotify for the right music at any time. Search for every artist or album, create playlists, share them and receive personalized advice. Listen to Sonos and control the Spotify app or Sono software to monitor the audio with your voice. The beam will listen to you, even from the other side of the room, with far-field microphones on-board.
Sound quality: The Beam sounds great, and considering how compact it is, I was surprised at how much sound it was creating. It delivers rich, detailed mids and highs at moderate volumes and the bass is ok at best – admittedly but that’s a symptom of its challenging size.
Listen to music, TV, movies and more: Sonos beam may look like a basic soundbar, but it does so much more. The Sonos music streaming system dramatically improves the sound of your TV. The beam meets all your entertainment needs with easy access to your music library as well as support for 50 streaming music services.
Much more control: Do more with this sound beam. Play songs, manage smart devices and use a single Sonos Beam speaker to enjoy all of the other helpful Amazon Alexa applications.
Where it lags? It doesn’t have a sub-woofer. The absence of a sub-woofer means that the beam lacks deep bass, which other beams come with at a low price than this. For TVs, without ARC you lack connectivity options. You cannot switch from Google to Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands are lagging.
The Bottom Line
The Sonos beam is easy to make your living room more intelligent. This smart soundbar not only enhances the sound of your TV but also reveals what all can be done in a compact package, instead of heading along the giant soundbar path.
What we like the most is the flexibility of Beam. You can control the music with the Spotify app. There is no question if you would like to use Apple Music too. The voice control is also available via Alexa, Google assistant or Siri-but if no one works for you, you have covered with the Sonos app.
This uncompromising approach will not lock you in and ensure that the beam is safe for the future.
Should you get a soundbar?
How we picked
How we tested
Should you get a soundbar?
You have spent hundreds, perhaps thousands of dollars already on your brand-new 4 K LED TV and your friends are telling you that more must be spent on a soundbar and a sub-woofer. They are right — you do need a soundbar for a better sound experience. Your 4 K TV has low and tiny speakers, and the difference is instantly visible to you. Sometimes dialogues can be very difficult, to hear.
Big sound effects are tiny and unimpressive (think watching “Star Wars”). And while almost every soundbar amps up your TV audio smoothly and economically. Considering a good one would be a better option to make your home theatre sound incredibly impressive–and some great ones will give you Goosebumps. If you are serious about the detailing of the sound of your films, songs then consider our choices, which have all the soundbars and the features detailing you should think and read before buying.
How we picked
Choosing the best soundbar is a great task. And based on our in-home testing and hours of research, we considered the below criteria.
- Audio performance: All the soundbars we listed above, deliver superior sound quality than the normal speakers inside our TV sets. It depends on what range of quality you are looking into and how fine the audio experience you want. For example, some people want extreme bass and low treble and others vice-versa. Soundbars that are generally of two-channel, left and right that is capable of producing stereo sound. But a three-channel, left, right and center, deliver high dialogue clarity. We also recommend a separate subwoofer to handle the lower frequencies in music and movies.
- Large Area: If you’re especially looking for a large room area, in terms of more audio power output, you should also expect to significantly spend more. Our top soundbar pick needed to be at least a three-channel soundbar. They can add wireless surround speakers to create a true sound background. Also, it’s not advisable to spend more than INR 30,000 on soundbars. If you have a budget; instead go for a complete home theater setup than buying a soundbar. Soundbars, however, looks more classy in design and deliver a great sound quality for a cinematic experience.
- Easy to use: Soundbars are completely easy to set up and use on a day to day basis. Like in the case of JBL soundbar, while doing testing it took us literally seconds to set-up the entire system with TV and the soundbar itself. So no hassle, very basic steps to follow, anyone can set it up.
- Wireless streaming: Almost every soundbar comes with wireless audio streaming these days. Both Android and iOS devices support Bluetooth so it is the easiest option available to connect in a matter of like 10 seconds. They also connect with computers or laptops without the need for Wi-Fi passwords. Wi-Fi works over a large range than Bluetooth. It does not compress the audio signal.
- Connection flexibility: With a single audio input, budget soundbars are limited to its use. This means you will only be able to run it through your TV and feed the audio to the soundbar. Soundbars that are of medium or high range, various connectivity options are given, including HDMI ARC which is an audio return channel, that will allow you to run a single HDMI cable between your TV and soundbar and gives you a greater level of control. Most soundbars support HDMI video pass-through. While you can enjoy a high-quality soundtrack, at the same time it can make it a little complex while setting it up and in daily use.
- Size or Style: Before buying a soundbar, questions like Will it fit in your space, on your TV stand above or below, can it be wall-mounted? How tall is the soundbar? How will it look like etc, may arise in your mind. You must check images of these on sites like Amazon or Flipkart. Sometimes the reviews that are being posted also contains actual image when they arrived at consumers house, so you get a clear picture of how it will look like in your space.
Lastly, you should be willing to pay more price, if you’re looking to fill your small or large room with a more balanced, fuller, quality cinematic sound to experience the best of audio in the movies and music. So be ready to spend once and the audio part will be taken care of most effectively and efficiently for more likely a long period. These are smart soundbars, they work smartly, to give you the best sound experience.
How we tested
We tested these soundbar’s wireless audio streaming using our Android phone, my friend’s iPhone, a MacBook Pro, and my laptop (Dell All-in-one 3064) model. I also spent time watching some TV content like Netflix series and some Hollywood war movies which I am a fan of. I must say, these soundbars performed exceptionally well. It was delivering a theatre-like audio experience at home. Everything changes, your overall movie experience, if you have a good soundbar integrated with your television.
To particularly test the bass effectiveness, which is a very important metric, I played all 63 Hz, 50 Hz, 40 Hz, 25 Hz, and 20 Hz MP3 files. I specifically wanted to see how these single soundbars would perform in the test. I tested them in my 480-square-feet bedroom and my 1020-square-feet large hallway/living room (10-foot ceiling). I then played multiple songs with different beats and bass. I was surprised to see the so balanced, room-filling quite a mesmerizing sound experience.
I played mostly at a higher volume like 80 to 100 dB. One of the things that characterize these expensive soundbars from the low price in this category is their capability to play louder audio and fill your large room with a cinematic-like appearance. Even if I played at a lower volume, they still performed exceptionally well maintaining sound clarity. They proved to be excellent in our tests.