If you got yourself a brand-new HDTV, you’re probably already fretting about the lackluster sound quality of the built-in speakers.
Worry no more, because these days there are plenty of budget-friendly soundbars out there that can really pack a punch and give you the immersive sound you want for your action films and music videos.
To help you in your quest to land that awesome soundbar on the cheap, here are five solid options to consider.
Priced at $400, the Sonos Beam is an outstanding choice if you’re looking to eventually set up a multi-room sound system. It comes with both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa built-in and can really take your movie-watching experience to another level.
About $300 cheaper than Sonos’ bigger soundbar offerings—the Playbase and Playbar—the Beam still packs an impactful punch and will certainly give you wall-to-wall quality sound in medium-size living rooms. Be aware that there is no subwoofer, so for those who want to add more thump to their listening experience, know that the sound system can be quickly upgraded by purchasing the Sonos One and/or the Sub, which is simple to sync up with the Beam via a user-friendly app.
Next up is the cheapest of the bunch, but it probably offers the most convenience. The Roku Smart Soundbar, which can be purchased for only $175, has a full-fledged 4K HDR Roku streamer built-in, providing a clever all-in-one audio/video solution. Equipped with four 2.5-inch full-range drivers, this soundbar offers dynamic and balanced sound with just enough bass so that you can fully enjoy those action-heavy films and video games. The overall sound doesn’t necessarily blow you away, but the soundbar is probably better suited for family movie nights rather than streaming music.
In at No. 3 is the $450 Vizio SB36512-F6. This high-quality soundbar is one of the least expensive ways to get your hands on all of the perks of Dolby Atmos. Its compact design features dedicated rear speakers and a number of functions and inputs that you’ll actually use. It definitely won’t take you long to fully enjoy the 5.1.2 immersive sound system, and there’s plenty of music content with access to any Google Chromecast-enabled audio app, such as Spotify and Pandora.
If you want to take $150 off the Vizio soundbar and still have a great listening experience, be sure to check out Sony’s HT-X8500 Soundbar. One of the best values out there, the all-in-one Dolby Atmos device makes other similar speakers look ridiculously expensive. The soundbar’s sky-high audio quality is supported by Sony’s proprietary Vertical Sound Engine, as it can create that sought-after wraparound sound while working with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X content. The build quality and design are top-notch as well.
Finally, don’t forget to take a long look at Yamaha’s YAS-209, which is currently retailing for $350. This soundbar provides excellent audio quality in a compact design. It comes with Amazon Alexa, and this addition has shown to be quite useful when voice-controlling the soundbar to stream certain songs you want. The soundbar has no problem tapping into DTS Virtual:X to offer a full, 3D surround-sound experience without a roomful of speakers.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek and Arirang TV. He currently resides in Minneapolis.