October 2021

Sound Bars: Aggregated Ranking Report

This report contains an aggregate consensus of Sound Bar rankings posted by key online experts, as of October 2021.

At a glance - October 2021 Ranking

Scroll horizontally to browse this ranking table
Rank Change Price Sound Bar
Tom's Guide
CNET
World Wide Stereo
TechRadar
Rtings.com
SoundGuys
TechHive
CNN Underscored
PCMag
WIRED
1
- $990
Sonos Arc
2
8
3
1
3
-
-
2
3
8
2
- $495
Sonos Beam
6
-
5
6
6
2
4
7
4
-
3
- Check price
Sennheiser Ambeo 3D Soundbar
-
6
10
7
5
1
-
-
9
10
4
+1 $99
Roku Streambar
7
9
-
-
-
-
2
5
-
6
5
+1 $328
Vizio M-Series 5.1
8
-
-
-
7
-
3
13
6
-
6
+1 $300
Yamaha YAS-209
1
4
14
-
-
-
-
-
-
9
7
-3 $953
Vizio Elevate
-
5
-
-
4
-
6
14
-
-
8
- $180
Roku Streambar Pro
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
1
2
-
9
- $539
Klipsch Cinema 600
-
-
2
-
-
-
-
-
1
-
10
New * $1598
Samsung HW-Q950A
-
-
-
-
1
-
-
-
-
3
11
- $799
Bose Soundbar 700
-
-
6
-
-
-
-
3
-
-
12
- Check price
Samsung HW-Q90R
-
-
-
3
-
-
5
-
-
-
13
-3 $199
Polk Audio React
9
-
13
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
14
-1 $247
Polk Signa S3
-
7
-
-
-
-
-
-
8
-
15
-1 Check price
Sony HT-ST5000
-
-
8
-
-
-
-
11
-
-
16
-1 $1200
JBL Bar 9.1
-
-
9
-
-
-
-
-
7
-
17
-1 $298
Sony HT-X8500
-
-
-
4
-
-
-
-
-
4
18
-1 $258
Roku Smart Soundbar
-
-
-
-
-
4
-
-
-
5
19
-1 $248
Sony HT-S350
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
8
5
-

We ranked Sonos Arc #1 in October 2021 because:

  • 8 independent experts mentioned it in their “best Sound Bars” rankings.
  • Out of those, 1 expert ranked Sonos Arc as #1.
Critic endorsements:
Tom's Guide

The Best Premium Soundbar

Pros
Clear vocals and focused sound
Strong, Sonos-quality bass
Alexa and Google Assistant built-in

Cons
Very large

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CNET

Best All-In-One Soundbar Under $1,000

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World Wide Stereo

The Best All-in-One Soundbar

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TechRadar

The Best Soundbar You Can Buy Right Now

Pros
Dolby Atmos, TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus
Discrete all-in-one soundbar
Amazing surround sound and music playback

Cons
Doesn’t suit every room

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Rtings.com

Best 5.1 Soundbar

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CNN Underscored

The upgrade pick

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PCMag

Best for multi-room audio/Editors' Choice

Pros
Large sound field with powerful bass, even without a subwoofer
Supports Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
Can easily be expanded with satellites and a subwoofer
Dolby Atmos compatibility with angled tweeters

Cons
Expensive
Only works with pricey Sonos subwoofer

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WIRED

The Smartest Soundbar

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We ranked Sonos Beam #2 in October 2021 because:

  • 8 independent experts mentioned it in their “best Sound Bars” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
Tom's Guide

Big Sound And Smart Home Controls

Pros
Easy set up
Alexa inside
Wide soundstage

Cons
Bass lacks detail
No Bluetooth audio

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World Wide Stereo

The Smartest Soundbar

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TechRadar

This Is The Smart Soundbar We've Been Waiting For

Pros
Great compact design
HDMI ARC compatible
Superb sound

Cons
No Dolby Atmos

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Rtings.com

Smaller Alternative

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SoundGuys

Best Smart Soundbar

Pros
Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant support
Size
Dolby Digital Support
Easy Setup
Simple to connect other Sonos Speakers

Cons
Doesn't support any object based codecs
Overpriced

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TechHive

Runner-up

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CNN Underscored

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PCMag

Best for multi-room audio/Editors' Choice

Pros
Powerful sound for its size.
Built-in Amazon Alexa voice assistant.
Easily expanded with additional Sonos speakers.

Cons
No Bluetooth.
Optional subwoofer is expensive.

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Methodology: combine opinions of key experts

Identify Experts

We identify key publishers and experts that consistently review and recommend Sound Bars.

Capture Rankings

For each publisher we find a currently recommended "top 10" list of Sound Bars, it must be updated in the last 9 months.

Aggregate Rankings

We put all those lists together and aggregate them. The more frequently a product is recommended, the higher it is in our ranking

Experts chosen for October 2021 ranking

We ranked Sennheiser Ambeo 3D Soundbar #3 in October 2021 because:

  • 7 independent experts mentioned it in their “best Sound Bars” rankings.
  • Out of those, 1 expert ranked Sennheiser Ambeo 3D Soundbar as #1.
Critic endorsements:
CNET

Best Soundbar Under $1,000

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World Wide Stereo

The Best Dolby Atmos Soundbar

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TechRadar

Dazzling 3D Sound – But at Quite a Price

Pros
Superb sound quality
Effective Dolby Atmos

Cons
Humongous price, size and weight
No AirPlay or AptX for Bluetooth

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Rtings.com

Best Standalone Soundbar

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SoundGuys

Best All Around/Editors Choice

Pros
Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support
Number of Inputs
Chromecast built-in

Cons
Price
Fairly large soundbar

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PCMag

Immersive All-in-One Audio

Pros
Powerful audio with rich bass depth, crisp highs, and listening modes tailored to music, film, and TV.
Ambeo modes widen stereo field and create immersive listening experience.

Cons
Wildly expensive.
Big and heavy.
We'd still like to add a subwoofer.

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WIRED

Absolute Best Soundbar (If Price Is No Object)

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We ranked Roku Streambar #4 in October 2021 because:

  • 5 independent experts mentioned it in their “best Sound Bars” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
Tom's Guide

The Best Soundbar For Cord-Cutters

Pros
4K streaming
Clear, loud sound
Compact design

Cons
Relatively weak bass
No Ethernet port

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CNET

Best Soundbar With Built-In Streaming Video

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TechHive

Runner-up

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CNN Underscored

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WIRED

For Small Spaces

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We ranked Vizio M-Series 5.1 #5 in October 2021 because:

  • 5 independent experts mentioned it in their “best Sound Bars” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
Tom's Guide

The best soundbar, subwoofer and satellite system on a budget

Pros
True surround sound
Full Dolby Atmos support
Great value

Cons
Bass can overpower
No auto calibration or app

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Rtings.com

Best Soundbar Under $500

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TechHive

Best mid-range soundbar

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CNN Underscored

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PCMag

Affordable 5.1 Surround/Editor's Choice

Pros
Powerful, theater-like sub-bass and solid overall balance
EQ and dedicated levels for individual channels
5.1 surround with Dolby Atmos support
Generous array of included cabling

Cons
Can distort on deep bass at high volumes
Rear surrounds are wired to subwoofer

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We ranked Yamaha YAS-209 #6 in October 2021 because:

  • 4 independent experts mentioned it in their “best Sound Bars” rankings.
  • Out of those, 1 expert ranked Yamaha YAS-209 as #1.
Critic endorsements:
Tom's Guide

The Best Soundbar And Subwoofer Combo

Pros
Clear and resonant dialog
Excellent for music
Alexa inside

Cons
Lacks low-frequency effects when movies are playing
Only 1 HDMI input

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CNET

Best Soundbar Under $400

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World Wide Stereo

The Best Sound Bar Under $400

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WIRED

Best Smart Soundbar With a Dedicated Sub

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We ranked Vizio Elevate #7 in October 2021 because:

  • 4 independent experts mentioned it in their “best Sound Bars” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
CNET

Best Soundbar Under $1,000

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Rtings.com

More Customizable Alternative

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TechHive

Runner-up

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CNN Underscored

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We ranked Roku Streambar Pro #8 in October 2021 because:

  • 2 independent experts mentioned it in their “best Sound Bars” rankings.
  • Out of those, 1 expert ranked Roku Streambar Pro as #1.
Critic endorsements:
CNN Underscored

Best Soundbar

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PCMag

Best for Roku Media Streaming/Editors' Choice

Pros
Affordable
Solid audio performance
Lots of media streaming options
Remote with headphone jack

Cons
Relatively weak bass response

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We ranked Klipsch Cinema 600 #9 in October 2021 because:

  • 2 independent experts mentioned it in their “best Sound Bars” rankings.
  • Out of those, 1 expert ranked Klipsch Cinema 600 as #1.
Critic endorsements:
World Wide Stereo

The Best For The Money Soundbar

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PCMag

Powerful, Affordable 3.1 Audio/Editors' Choice

Pros
Powerful audio performance with deep, theater-like sub-bass and crisp high-end definition
Wireless subwoofer
Bluetooth streaming
Virtual surround mode sounds good
Can be expanded to a true 5.1 system

Cons
No user-adjustable EQ

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We ranked Samsung HW-Q950A #10 in October 2021 because:

  • 2 independent experts mentioned it in their “best Sound Bars” rankings.
  • Out of those, 1 expert ranked Samsung HW-Q950A as #1.
Critic endorsements:
Rtings.com

Best Soundbar

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WIRED

Best Dolby Atmos Bar

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We ranked Bose Soundbar 700 #11 in October 2021 because:

  • 2 independent experts mentioned it in their “best Sound Bars” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
World Wide Stereo

The Best Sound Bar for Surround Sound

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CNN Underscored

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We ranked Samsung HW-Q90R #12 in October 2021 because:

  • 2 independent experts mentioned it in their “best Sound Bars” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
TechRadar

Be afraid, traditional Hi-Fi speakers. Be very afraid.

Pros
Impressive sound quality
Dolby Atmos and DTS:X
Easy to install and setup

Cons
Expensive

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TechHive

Best high-end soundbar

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We ranked Polk Audio React #13 in October 2021 because:

  • 2 independent experts mentioned it in their “best Sound Bars” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
Tom's Guide

The best soundbar for getting Alexa on a budget

Pros
Lots of bass without a sub
Built-in Alexa
Slim design

Cons
Narrow soundstage
Limited modes
No Atmos

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World Wide Stereo

The Best Sound Bar Under $300

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We ranked Polk Signa S3 #14 in October 2021 because:

  • 2 independent experts mentioned it in their “best Sound Bars” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
CNET

Best For Music Listening

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PCMag

Affordable 2.1 Audio

Pros
Powerful audio performance with deep bass and crisp highs
Wireless subwoofer
Voice Adjust mode for clearer dialogue
Supports Chromecast audio and Google Assistant voice commands
Ships with both HDMI and optical cables

Cons
No EQ
Lacks visual indicators for various audio modes

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We ranked Sony HT-ST5000 #15 in October 2021 because:

  • 2 independent experts mentioned it in their “best Sound Bars” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
World Wide Stereo

The Best Premium Soundbar

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CNN Underscored

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We ranked JBL Bar 9.1 #16 in October 2021 because:

  • 2 independent experts mentioned it in their “best Sound Bars” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
World Wide Stereo

The Best Soundbar And Wireless Sub

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PCMag

Best for versatility

Pros
Powerful audio with thunderous bass depth
Dolby Atmos drivers
Wireless rear channel speakers
Easy setup

Cons
Expensive
Large
Could use more precise EQ controls

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We ranked Sony HT-X8500 #17 in October 2021 because:

  • 2 independent experts mentioned it in their “best Sound Bars” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
TechRadar

Sony’s All-In-One Dolby Atmos Bar May Be The Best Value Of The Year

Pros
Dolby Atmos and DTS:X compatible
Compact all-in-one form factor
Integrated subwoofer

Cons
No upfiring drivers

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WIRED

Best Cheap Atmos Bar

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We ranked Roku Smart Soundbar #18 in October 2021 because:

  • 2 independent experts mentioned it in their “best Sound Bars” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
SoundGuys

Best Features

Pros
Integrated Roku Player
HDMI ARC output
Google Assistant and Alexa Support
Bluetooth and WIFI Streaming
Remote access via Roku App
Vslue

Cons
Sound clarity lacking

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WIRED

A Bar With Roku Built In

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We ranked Sony HT-S350 #19 in October 2021 because:

  • 2 independent experts mentioned it in their “best Sound Bars” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
CNN Underscored

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PCMag

The Best Affordable 2.1 Audio/Editor's Choice

Pros
Relatively affordable.
Powerful, clear audio with multiple sound modes and adjustable subwoofer levels.
Easy to set up and operate.

Cons
Sound signature is quite sculpted, regardless of mode.

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