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Best Soundbars Under $500 for 2019

Soundbars can enhance your movie-watching experience at a fraction of the cost of a full-sized audio system. Or they can be added to your existing sound system to enhance dialog.

Televisions nowadays are amazingly thin and optimize your viewing experience. This gives them a sleeker look and easy portability, but the trade-off is the exclusion of powerful audio speakers. Also, on most new TVs, the speakers are turned away from you, further reducing the sound quality.

You are probably thinking, “but my TV sounds OK.” Well, perhaps you’ve not had to rewind a movie to or strain to hear the dialog - this is a common complaint as you get older. It is therefore imperative that you have a high-quality sounds system to get that movie theater-like feel in your home, and the easiest way to get that is with a soundbar. 

We’ve put together a review to show you the main features you should look for when shopping for a soundbar, and a list of the best ones to help you you make an educated decision on which one to get.

Advantages of sound bars

Soundbars are steadily gaining popularity these days, and it is easy to see why. They don’t take up much space on your entertainment system or on the floor; they just sit nicely below your TV. Also, their general slim size means they are quite easy to move around.

One significant advantage of using soundbars is the fact that they don’t just serve as speakers for your TV, because you can connect them to your smart mobile devices using a Bluetooth connection. Pretty cool, right? No wonder it is projected that by 2021, the revenue from soundbars in the US will rise from $3.18 billion (2017) to $4.89 billion.

Soundbars have most of the advantages of a full-sized audio system - bass, clear treble, even the ability to enhance dialog - without the price tag of a dedicated speaker for each part.

Features to consider when buying a soundbar

Of course, just like any other piece of tech hardware on the market, there are things you need to consider before getting a soundbar. Some features you need to consider before getting a soundbar include:

Available Connections

The connections made available by the soundbar determine if you would be able to connect it with your TV or not. Most TVs nowadays come with an HDTV switching function that allows you to switch between external devices connected to the TV. This is, however, limited to the number of available ports on the TV. Some soundbars – usually the more expensive ones – come with HDMI inputs for easy connection.

Audio Performance

The audio quality of a soundbar should be top on your list of features to consider. Although you don’t expect the absolute best possible sound output from it, at the very least, it will offer you a much better audio quality than what your TV speakers are giving you. Some soundbars come with subwoofers that give you that deep vibration that makes movie explosion scenes more enjoyable, and they also can be a dialog enhancers in floor speaker setups.

Number of Channels

The number of channels a soundbar has is also quite important. Channels are sound sources and are usually individual speakers in a typical home theater setup. However, a soundbar has all its channels in one unit. We don't need to go into the technical details, but just know that the more channels you have the better the experience you get, so consider this when making your choice.

Bluetooth and Wireless Streaming 

One feature that is definitely not overrated on the soundbar is the wireless streaming capability. The soundbar can stream audio from your device using Bluetooth. Therefore, if you listen to music on your mobile device a lot, then getting a Bluetooth enabled soundbar is a good idea.

1) Vizio SB3621 available for $128 on Amazon

Key features
  • Wireless subwoofers.
  • Bluetooth enabled.
  • 100 dB audio.
  • Can go as low as 50 Hz.

Vizio is a reputable tech company with many top quality products to their name. The Vizio SB3621 is one of their more popular products. This soundbar has a minimal design and offers you 100dB of clear sound with a harmonic distortion less than one percent. The soundbar is Bluetooth enabled for easy connection to your mobile devices. The Vizio SB3621 is regarded as one of the best budget soundbars because it offers really good features at a remarkably low price.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

The Vizio SB3621 is a budget soundbar with a minimalistic design that preaches, “Less is more.” The 100 dB sound output is pretty decent for your home, and it can go as low as 50 Hz, so you don’t have to worry about sacrificing bass for the cheap price. This soundbar can connect easily to your Bluetooth enabled devices, so you can use it anytime.

What's not so good about it?

This product offers many cool features, but it does come with a few flaws which is not unexpected considering its price. It doesn’t come with enough information on how to use it, so getting it to work may be a bit tricky, especially for those that aren’t tech-savvy. Also, the remote doesn’t come with a backlight, so using it in the dark could prove tedious. The Vizio SB3621 doesn’t come with a radio, which isn’t that shocking considering its price.

Pros:
  • Good sound quality.
  • It is Bluetooth enabled.
  • Offers a decent level of bass.
  • It is a budget soundbar.
Cons:
  • The remote doesn't have a backlight.
  • The instruction manual isn't very comprehensive.
  • It doesn't come with a radio.

2) Sony HT-CT800 available for $298 on Amazon

Key features
  • Ultra-slim design.
  • Wireless multi-room listening.
  • Bluetooth enabled.
  • Voice control.

You would hardly find a list of sound products without coming across one from Sony. Sony has become a household name when it comes to tech products, and it is easy to see why. The Sony HT-CT800 is another cool product from this reputable company. This soundbar boasts a 4K quality with HDR and HDCP2.2 support. You can add wireless surround speakers easily if you want more sound. The wireless multi-room listening allows you to stream video or audio to various rooms in the house. The ultra-slim design also makes it a popular choice among soundbar lovers. It comes at a reasonable price, especially considering all the features offered.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

Out of the box, the Sony HT-CT800 soundbar looks well designed and sturdy. The Google Home compatibility with voice control gives you a comfortable ride. It also comes with an HDMI cord, batteries, wall brackets, and wall templates. You can use the latest 4K format with this soundbar, as it is compatible with 4K HDR and HDCP 2.2. The Bluetooth and wireless features add to the overall experience.

What's not so good about it?

Some customers have complained that the soundbar changes sources on its own, which could be quite frustrating. Also, it provides only one HDMI cord, which is an issue for users that require more than one. Some users have also complained about the quality of the sound.

Pros:
  • It has a sleek ultra-slim design.
  • You can use voice control using the Google Home compatibility.
  • The soundbar comes with wall brackets, and wall templates for easy installation.
  • This soundbar is Bluetooth and wireless enabled.
Cons:
  • It comes with one HDMI cord, which may be an issue for some users.
  • Some users have complained about the sound coming out thin.
  • Some users have complained about the soundbar changing sources on its own.

3) Yamaha YAS-203 available for $429 on Amazon

Key features
  • Wireless subwoofer.
  • Bluetooth enabled.
  • Wall-mountable.
  • 7.1 channels.
  • 1 optical and 1 coaxial inputs.

Yamaha is another tech manufacturing company with many years of experience shipping out quality products. The Yamaha YAS-203 is a soundbar with a simple enough design that looks pleasing to the eye. The wireless subwoofer offers you a top quality sound output. This soundbar is Bluetooth enabled, making any connection with your mobile device straightforward. The Yamaha YAS-203 can be mounted on the wall, and it comes with a remote and battery.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

The Yamaha YAS-203 comes with a remote and digital display that is straightforward and easy to understand. The Bluetooth connectivity allows you to play audio from your mobile device. It also comes with a coaxial input and an optical input for easy connection. One of the most significant selling points of this soundbar is its rich bass output that gives you a pleasant music experience.

What's not so good about it?

This soundbar does have some noticeable flaws, although they are not deal breakers. It doesn’t come with an HDMI cord, which some users find disappointing. This soundbar can’t compete with more expensive products in terms of sound quality, which is not shocking considering its price range. Some users have complained of the surround mode being unhelpful.

Pros:
  • It comes with a digital display and remote that are straightforward to use.
  • The soundbar is Bluetooth enabled.
  • It offers a high quality bass.
  • It is quite affordable.
Cons:
  • It doesn't come with an HDMI cord.
  • It doesn't offer you a very high quality sound output.
  • Some users have complained about the ineffective surround mode.

4) Polk Audio MagniFi Mini

Key features
  • Ultra-compact size.
  • HDMI cable included.
  • Night mode.
  • Bluetooth and wireless enabled.

The Polk Audio ManiFi Mini is an ultra-compact size soundbar that offers wireless music streaming and works with satellite IR and cable box. With this soundbar, you have the option of choosing between movies, sports, and music modes. The HDMI cable included also gives you another connection option. One of its most significant selling points is the night mode, a button that allows you to reduce the bass intensity and increase the voice adjust. This results in a reduced master volume and a clearer dialogue. The price is a bit above average, although it is well below $500, making it reasonably priced for its features.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

The Polk Audio MagniFi Mini soundbar is compatible with almost any TV, so you don’t have to worry about compatibility. The Google Home and Bluetooth features allow you to stream music on your mobile device from music services like Spotify and Google Play. The HDMI cord alongside the optical cables makes for a painless connection. The night-mode is a unique feature that increases your overall experience.

What's not so good about it?

Although this soundbar offers a good sound quality, the bass could be better considering its price. Also, the voice adjust feature doesn't suit music playback. Some users have complained that it doesn’t have a level display for the sound, which could have made using it even more pleasant.

Pros:
  • It is compatible with almost any TV.
  • The Bluetooth and Google Home features allow for easy streaming of audio on mobile devices.
  • An HDMI cable is included in the package.
  • It offers a unique night mode that improves general user experience.
Cons:
  • The bass is not very impressive.
  • The soundbar doesn't include a level display for the sound.
  • Some users have complained that the voice adjust feature isn't very useful for music playback.

5) Pioneer SP-SB23W available for $298 on Amazon

Key features
  • 6 individual amplifiers.
  • Wireless subwoofer.
  • Optical and analog inputs.
  • Bluetooth enabled.

The Pioneer SP-SB23W soundbar is a quality product from Pioneer, a tech manufacturing company with many great products to their name. The Pioneer SP-SB23W is a soundbar that is powered by about 6 different amplifiers, giving you an enhanced overall feeling at any volume. The wireless subwoofer offers a deep bass sound that gives you a pleasurable experience. It comes with analog and optical inputs for connecting to your TV. The soundbar is also Bluetooth enabled, making for a more straightforward connection with your mobile devices. This product offers you some cool features, although there are soundbars in its price range that offer even more.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

The Pioneer SP-SB23W soundbar has six amplifiers powering it, thereby boasting an enhanced overall sound quality. The featured subwoofer gives it a better bass quality than what is found in most soundbars in its price range. One significant advantage of using this product is the remote control that you can teach to respond to commands from any other remote. The composite wood enclosure – which is quite unique – gives it superior resistance to high-intensity sound. 

What's not so good about it?

This soundbar isn’t suitable for use in poorly ventilated areas, or any room exposed to direct sunlight or high humidity. Also, some users complained about an audible pop sound coming from the item after a few months of use. Some users also complained about it going off on its own, which could be irritating. The provided remote control is quite small, although you can program it to work with any other remote.

Pros:
  • It features six amplifiers for better sound quality.
  • The subwoofer offers you high quality bass sound.
  • The remote control can be configured for use with other remote controls.
  • The unit is Bluetooth enabled, making connections to mobile devices effortless.
Cons:
  • It is not suitable for use in poorly ventilated areas, 
  • The soundbar gives off an audible pop sound after a few months of use.
  • The provided remote control is small.

6) Q Acoustics Media 4 available for $299 on Amazon

Key features
  • Bluetooth enabled.
  • Analogue and optical inputs.
  • Basic remote control.
  • Built-in subwoofer.
  • Balance mode radiator (BMR) speaker drive units.

Q Acoustics may not be one of the top brands when it comes to audio tech, but the company has been around for over a decade with a number of quality products to their name, like the Q Acoustics M4 soundbar. This soundbar has an built-in subwoofer, giving you a quality sound output. This soundbar is Bluetooth enabled, so you can easily connect it with your mobile devices. The analog and optical inputs allow for easy connection with various sources. It comes with a basic remote that is easy to understand and use. However, you may find it a bit pricey, considering it doesn’t offer as many features as some other soundbars in its price range.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

One of the biggest selling points of the Q Acoustics M4 soundbar is its excellent sound quality, which can be attributed to the built-in subwoofer and BMR speaker drive units. This soundbar is also straightforward to use. Just plug it in, connect to the available source, and you are good to go. The Bluetooth feature means you are not restricted to using it with your TV alone, and you can connect with various sources using the optical and analog inputs.

What's not so good about it?

One of the most obvious flaws of the M4 is the fact that it doesn’t come with an HDMI cord, which you would expect a product in its price range to have. Also, this soundbar doesn’t feature controls for the sound, so you can’t toggle between bass or treble. Some users have expressed dissatisfaction at the fact that you can’t control the Bluetooth function from the remote. The manufacturers perhaps went too easy on the design, as users have complained that it is not well designed.

Pros:
  • It provides excellent sound quality.
  • This soundbar is easy to use.
  • You can easily connect with your smartphones using the Bluetooth feature.
  • It comes with a subwoofer and offers the opportunity to add an external one.
Cons:
  • This soundbar does not have an HDMI cord included.
  • The Bluetooth function cannot be controlled using the remote,
  • You can't switch between bass and treble.

7) Sonos Beam BEAM1US1BLK available for $399 on Amazon

Key features
  • Voice control.
  • HDMI ARC port.
  • Fire TV device.
  • Bluetooth enabled.

Sonos is a manufacturing company with numerous speakers and sound systems to their name, and the Sonos Beam BEAM1US1BLK soundbar is one of their top products. This soundbar is a top of the line product that offers you quality sound output. One unique feature about it is the built-in Alexa functionality that provides a pleasant hands-free experience. This functionality makes listening to music from various streaming sites a breeze. You can give yourself a sound system experience by connecting your speakers wirelessly. This well-designed soundbar has a voice control function, and it offers connectivity via HDMI. This soundbar is a bit pricey, which comes as no surprise considering its high level of functionality.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

The built-in Alexa is definitely one of the highlights of this product, as it allows you to stream music easily and you can stream videos using the Fire TV. Another significant selling point of this soundbar is the voice control system, which gives you that added level of comfort. Additionally, users of Apple devices can benefit from the AirPlay function that allows them to play music from their devices.

What's not so good about it?

In terms of flaws of the Sonos Beam BEAM1US1BLK, if your TV doesn’t have an ARC adapter option, you won’t enjoy the full benefits of the soundbar. Also, it is not compatible with all Sonos speakers. Another issue some users have with the soundbar is the fact that the Alexa function is only available in some countries, which is quite disappointing because, without the function, most of the features that make it unique are lost.

Pros:
  • The soundbar offers great sound quality.
  • The voice control function makes using it very comfortable.
  • The Alexa function makes streaming of audios very straightforward.
  • You can use the Fire TV to stream videos.
Cons:
  • TVs without an ARC adapter can't use most of the features.
  • The soundbar is not compatible with all sonos speakers.
  • Alexa is only available in some countries.

8) Wohome S9220 available for $109 on Amazon

Key features
  • 100dB output sound.
  • Bluetooth enabled.
  • USB/coaxial/optical cables available.
  • Easy to use remote control.

Wohome is one of the leading brands when it comes to smart home devices and the Wohome S9220 soundbar is another one of their quality products. This soundbar is pretty easy to install and operate, as it comes with a remote control for convenient operation. You can decide to pair with any of your mobile devices via Bluetooth, or you can use the USB/RCA/coaxial/optical input cables for connection. It gives out a 100dB sound, which isn’t the best out there but definitely impressive for a soundbar in its price range.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

One of the features that endears users to the Wohome S9220 soundbar is the 3D surround mode that offers you a dynamic experience. The Bluetooth connection allows you to wirelessly connect your devices, so you don't have to worry about dealing with cables. Also, it comes with a wall mount that makes the installation very painless. This soundbar is pretty budget friendly, especially for the features offered. Another feature that makes the Wohome S9220 popular among users is the BT wireless audio streaming.

What's not so good about it?

One observable flaw of this soundbar is the fact that the remote relies heavily on line of sight, so you'd have to stay in front of it to effectively use the remote. Although the sound quality is impressive, the bass is not as great, which is an issue for bass lovers. Some users have complained about the soundbar not integrating well with other brands.

Pros:
  • The 3D surround mode gives a dynamic sound experience.
  • The Bluetooth connection allows easy connection with smart devices.
  • The wall mount makes installation straightforward.
  • It boasts BT wireless audio streaming.
Cons:
  • Using the remote may prove to be quite tricky as you'd have to stay in front of the soundbar to use it.
  • The quality of bass produced is not very great.
  • Some users have complained about its compatibility with other brands.

9) JBL Bar 3.1 available for $400 on Amazon

Key features
  • Dedicated center channel
  • SoundShift feature
  • True 4K connectivity
  • Bluetooth enabled

The JBL Bar 3.1 is another top of the line soundbar that offers excellent sound quality, and the 10-inch subwoofer means it doesn’t compromise on bass. It has a dedicated center channel with dedicated speakers and amplifier, which makes dialogue very clear. It also boasts a SoundShift feature that allows you to switch between sounds from your mobile device and sound on your TV. When it comes to connectivity, the JBL Bar 3.1 does not disappoint. The True 4K connectivity with three HDMI IN and one HDMI out (ARC). When you compare the features to other soundbars in its price range, the steep price starts to look like a bargain.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

One of the things that make the JBL Bar 3.1 a top soundbar choice is the fact that it works with different TV remote controls, so with your TV remote control, you can operate this soundbar. This soundbar also allows you to upgrade your home entertainment to HDCP 2.2 and Ultra HD. For those that love bass, the 10-inch subwoofer gives you quality bass sound. The SoundShift feature gives you a very comfortable experience, as you can easily switch from your TV sound to sound from your smart devices.

What's not so good about it?

This soundbar takes a second to start up after detecting a signal, which has been an issue for some users. Also, it doesn't play sound for mp4a and DTS encoded files, which shouldn't be a deal breaker but has been a bit of an issue for some users. The midrange on this soundbar is not as good as what you would expect from a soundbar in its price range.

Pros:
  • It works well with different TV remote controls.
  • The 4K sound quality gives you a pleasant overall experience.
  • The 10-inch subwoofer gives you an impressive bass sound.
  • This soundbar allows you to easily switch between sounds from TV and mobile devices with the SoundShift feature.
Cons:
  • The soundbar goes on standby within a few seconds, which is too short a time.
  • It doesn't play sound for mp4a and DTS encoded files.
  • The midrange is a bit disappointing.

10) Definitive Technology W Studio Micro

Key features
  • Ultra-slim design.
  • Wireless connectivity.
  • 8-inch subwoofer.
  • Definitive Technology App.

 

The Definitive Technology W Studio Micro is a well-built soundbar with a sleek design. This ultra-slim soundbar is a wireless soundbar that also allows you to stream music. With this product, you won’t have any compatibility issue, as it works with any TV. The 8-inch subwoofer gives you a quality bass output. To better enjoy this soundbar, it is advised that you download the Definitive Technology App that gives you access to an array of functions. This soundbar comes at a decent price, although some users are skeptical about the price considering the fact that it is not Bluetooth enabled.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

One of the features that jump out is the ultra-slim design that gives it a sleek look and makes it fit perfectly under your TV. With the wireless connectivity, you can easily stream audios from various streaming sources like Spotify, Pandora, and so on. The 8-inch subwoofer gives the soundbar a pretty impressive bass quality. You can use this soundbar with basically any TV, so you don’t have to worry about compatibility.

What's not so good about it?

Although this soundbar offers some useful features, one of its most significant flaws is the lack of Bluetooth connection, which is quite a surprise for a soundbar in its price range. Also, it doesn’t support HDMI connection. Although the Definitive Technology App offers some cool features, some users found the interface to be clumsy, making using it a bit tedious.

Pros:
  • The ultra-slim design gives it a sleek look.
  • You can stream audio easily using the wireless connectivity.
  • It features an 8-inch subwoofer, giving you an excellent bass quality.
  • It is compatible with virtually any TV.
Cons:
  • It is not Bluetooth enabled.
  • This soundbar doesn't support HDMI connection.
  • The interface of the Definitive Technology App is a bit difficult to understand.

In conclusion...

The way TVs are designed these days has led to a need for speakers other than those provided on the TVs. The ultra-slim design of most TVs has restricted manufacturers to using average speakers at best. Hence, the need for an alternative output source.

Soundbars are excellent choices for your home, as they are small and sit nicely under your TV. Most soundbars also offer wireless connectivity for easy audio streaming, and Bluetooth connection for your mobile devices. Before getting a soundbar, it is crucial you consider your budget, the number of channels, and most especially the audio performance. If you are thinking of getting a soundbar for your home, then this review is a great place to start your search.

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