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The 10 Best Budget Soundbars

Matt McIntyre

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The 10 Best Budget Soundbars

What are the best budget soundbars? 

While the best 4K televisions deliver optimal visual performance, they often don’t cut it when it comes to audio.

Enter the soundbar.

Whether you’re choosing a high-end soundbar or looking for the best budget soundbar on the market, you can guarantee a significant improvement in audio performance for movies, music, and gaming.

On top of great quality audio, some of the best budget soundbars also offer compatibility with your existing voice-controlled ecosystem.

There’s also the option to bring on board a subwoofer, so you can really make sure the walls shake when enjoying your favorite action movies or playing the latest first-person shooter.

Whether you’re looking for a great affordable soundbar to enhance your living room or a suitable product to go in one of the kids’ bedrooms, this guide will walk you through your options.

 

The Best Budget Soundbars Compared

Our tech lists are created by researching the best-reviewed products from the most reputable web sources.

Here’s our list of the 10 best budget soundbars:

 

In A Rush? Here’s Our Top Pick:

Best Budget Soundbar Overall
JBL Bar 2.0
$199.95
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12/02/2021 12:29 am GMT

 

10. Panasonic SoundSlayer

Best Budget Soundbar For Gaming
Panasonic SoundSlayer
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Panasonic is a company that needs no introduction – they’ve been manufacturing top-quality entertainment systems for decades and have earned their solid reputation.

Their SoundSlayer soundbar has been optimized for the gaming experience and comes with a built-in subwoofer for extra bass when destroying enemy camps.

The Panasonic SoundSlayer is powered by Atmos. Delivering an immersive soundscape, whether you’re playing video games or watching movies.

If you’re just looking for an enhanced gaming experience, this soundbar comes with a selection of dedicated sound modes covering role-playing games, first-person shooters, and Voice Mode.

Bass levels and overall sound quality is decent for an entry-level budget soundbar, too, and it’s rare to find a soundbar in this price range that offers the Dolby Atmos experience.

Pros

  • Great value
  • Dolby Atmos at an affordable price
  • Decent bass

Cons

  • Performance via Bluetooth is lacking
  • No subwoofer output

 

9. Polk Audio React

Best Budget Soundbar With Amazon Alexa
Polk Audio React
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If you already have Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant in your home, chances are you’ll want a soundbar that offers compatibility so that you can control your device vocally.

The Polk Audio React soundbar brings this compatibility without breaking the bank.

Alexa compatibility allows users to play the same music in various rooms throughout the home and control smart home devices from your soundbar.

You can also connect this to your music streaming services, for instance, Spotify and Pandora.

Movie fans aren’t left out of the loop, either: the Polk Audio React offers Dolby and DTS virtual surround sound without the need for additional speakers.

It’s also one of the smarter-looking budget soundbars, so it won’t look out of place sitting under your 4K television.

Pros

  • Compatible with Amazon Alexa
  • Great sound for the price range
  • Nice looking unit

Cons

  • Limited to one HDMI input

 

8. JBL BAR 5.0 Multibeam

Best Compact Budget Soundbar
JBL BAR 5.0 Multibeam
$399.95
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12/02/2021 09:14 am GMT

Some soundbars can verge on the cumbersome side and take up a little more room than necessary.

JBL’s BAR 5.0 Multibeam manages to pack a real audio punch while maintaining a low profile with its sleek, compact design.

It’s also a feature-rich budget soundbar, offering users a range of functionality, including Amazon Alexa compatibility, as well as AirPlay2 for Apple users, Alexa Multi-Room Music, and Chromecast built-in.

Movie lovers will also be impressed with its 3D sound experience, delivered through integrated Dolby Atmos and JBL’s own MultiBeam surround sound.

Related:  The 10 Best OLED TVs to Buy

The JBL BAR 5.0 Multibeam delivers solid audio performance whether you’re listening to music or watching movies, all; the more impressive when you consider its tidy size.

You can expect solid basslines to accompany energetic mid-ranges and dynamic high frequencies.

Pros

  • Great compact design
  • Solid audio performance
  • Atmos + MultiBeam sound
  • Decent value for money

Cons

  • Atmos can be a little front heavy
  • Detail could be sharper

 

7. Yamaha YAS-207

Best Budget Soundbar For Movie Enthusiasts
Yamaha YAS-207
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Like Panasonic, Yamaha has long since established itself among the leaders of great quality home audio equipment, often leading the pack when it comes to home cinema audio gear.

For those looking for a budget soundbar to enhance their home cinema setup, Yamaha’s YAS-207 represents a solid purchase worth your consideration.

Not surprisingly, their budget entry into the realm of soundbars delivers solid performance for movie enthusiasts looking for an immersive surround-style listening experience.

Its DTS Virtual:X 3D surround sound system comes about as close as you can get to the full home theater surround sound experience without the high cost.

Indeed, in terms of budget soundbars, the Yamaha YAS-207 is virtually unrivaled in this department.

While it might not perform as well when playing music, it still puts out great bass and a nice overall reproduction of vocals and instrumentation to satisfy music lovers, even if it’s not quite as bright and full-bodied as it could be.

Pros

  • DTS Virtual:X delivers an immersive soundscape
  • Supports 4K
  • Attractive design

Cons

  • Music reproduction could be better
  • Limited to one HDMI input

 

6. Roku Streambar

Best Budget Soundbar For 4K Streaming
Roku Streambar
$79.98
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12/02/2021 03:24 pm GMT

Of all the budget soundbars we’ve covered in this guide, Roku’s Streambar is hands-down the smallest of the bunch.

But despite its tiny comparative size, it still manages to pack a punch in the audio department while also throwing in 4K HDR streaming options to boot.

Netflix, Disney Plus, and of course Roku’s own streaming channel can all be accessed via the Streambar along with a range of other streaming services, which makes this a great choice for a bedroom where you might not have full access to your existing streaming packages.

It’s easy to set up and use, especially as you can control everything via the included remote control (or if you’re feeling extra lazy via the voice control option).

Despite its small size, the Roku Streambar can kick out some real volume, delivering clear dialogue and overall well-projected sound.

Overall it’s a great budget soundbar for those looking for an out-of-the-box soundbar that includes a comprehensive range of streaming service options.

Pros

  • 4K HDR streaming 
  • Nice and compact unit
  • Very easy to set up

Cons

  • Lacks Dolby Vision and Atmos
  • Bass could be better
  • Remote control isn’t programmable

 

5. Denon DHT-S216

Best Budget Soundbar With Virtual Surround Sound
Denon DHT-S216
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Denon’s DHT-S216 soundbar offers users an all-in-one soundbar at an affordable price, which brings immersive virtual surround sound to the table.

It will also work with most subwoofers, so if you’re looking for extra oomph to your movie-watching experience, it’s among the best budget choices on the market.

Featuring DTS Virtual:X, Denon’s soundbar might be a little on the bland side to look at, but underneath its exterior lies a speaker system that emits a full sound across the range of frequencies.

Music reproduction comes through with clarity, but the DHT-S216 really shines when pumping out virtual surround sound.

If you’re a movie buff looking for an involving audio experience on a tight budget, this is one to consider.

Denon has clearly placed audio performance ahead of packing the DHT-S216 with bells and whistles, and the great sound quality more than makes up for the lack of in-built Wi-Fi and voice assistants.

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Pros

  • Great virtual surround sound
  • Quality all-round audio performance
  • Good price

Cons

  • Lacks Wi-Fi connection
  • Simplistic unit design

 

4. TCL Alto 6+

Best Value Budget Soundbar
TCL Alto 6+
$99.99
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12/02/2021 12:31 am GMT

Perhaps one of the key areas of performance lacking in budget soundbars is bass reproduction.

Smaller budget soundbars, in particular, can suffer when it comes to low frequencies, so the TCL Alto 6+ solves this concern by including a subwoofer in the price.

Easy to set up and stream either music or movies, what the TCL Alto 6+ lacks in features it more than makes up for with its impressive audio.

The soundbar itself might be on the smaller side, but the additional subwoofer more than compensates, and together they give out crisp highs and bellowing lows.

If you’re using this to watch television, dialogue reproduction is clear and precise.

The TCL Alto 6+ doesn’t offer much in the way of customization or audio adjustments, so what you hear out of the box is what you get. Fortunately, what you hear is top-quality audio at an unbeatable price.

Pros

  • Very easy to use
  • Nice sound with quality bass for the price
  • Great value

Cons

  • Limited customization
  • Doesn’t include an app

 

3. VIZIO SB2920-C6

Best Budget Soundbar For Small Rooms
VIZIO SB2920-C6
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The VIZIO SB2920-C6 soundbar represents the budget among budget soundbars, which makes it ideal if you’re looking to improve audio in a small bedroom or office setup.

Despite its low price point, it still puts out great sound, including DTS Studio Sound, DTS TruVolume, and DTS TruSurround for the surround sound effect.

You can stream music via Bluetooth and access the soundbar via remote control, and its ergonomic design will sit nicely under a television.

There’s also an energy-saving feature that will place the soundbar in stand-by mode after a period of inactivity, so if you forget to switch it off, you won’t rack up a pointless energy bill.

It’s also simple to install, so you’ll be pumping out music or watching your favorite movies in surround sound in no time.

It might not have the power to fill an expansive living room, but put one in your office, and the results are very respectable given the low price point.

Pros

  • Incredibly cheap
  • Easy to set up
  • Comes with DTS surround

Cons

  • Basic EQ settings
  • Could be louder

 

2. Creative Stage V2

Best Budget Soundbar With Subwoofer
Creative Stage V2
$109.99
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12/02/2021 12:49 pm GMT

A common complaint with some budget soundbars is the lack of suitable inputs.

Creative Stage has addressed this nicely with the V2, allowing users to feed their television, games consoles, and other devices to the bar through a variety of inputs.

The Creative Stage V2 also produces satisfying audio quality thanks to the inclusion of a powerful, rich subwoofer.

Combined with the bar itself, this amounts to a well-balanced overall sound with clear dialogue reproduction both in movies and music. 

There’s also a Room Correction feature, which you can use to modify the output and create an overall sound tailored to your needs.

Pros

  • Punchy subwoofer
  • Great array of inputs
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Unimpressive surround
  • No HDMI or optical cable included

 

1. JBL Bar 2.0

Best Budget Soundbar Overall
JBL Bar 2.0
$199.95
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12/02/2021 12:29 am GMT

The JBL Bar 2.0 is a classy-looking soundbar from a company with a strong track record in the field.

This budget range entry from the company brings the same kind of quality customers have come to expect from their more expensive soundbars at a fraction of the price.

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The low-profile speaker puts out a considerable volume, and even when turned up to the max, the audio remains crisp and clear.

Basses are especially notable for their richness and depth, so you won’t have any trouble filling a decent-sized room with great quality music. 

If you’re looking to upgrade from your TV speakers, the JBL Bar 2.0 is an ideal starting point and perhaps the best budget soundbar on the market, delivering a solid and rounded audio reproduction with plenty of bass and good details.

Pros

  • Excellent sound for a budget soundbar
  • Nice selection of features
  • Slim unit

Cons

  • Limited connectivity
  • Surround sound isn’t the best

 

FAQs About Budget Soundbars

Still, struggling to tune in to the pros and cons of the best budget soundbars?

If you’re unsure what a soundbar can do for you and what features you can expect, check out these frequently asked questions — and their answers — and you’ll get the information you need.

 

Q: What does a soundbar do?

A soundbar offers users an all-in-one speaker system that can be used for playing music or watching films and television.

Some soundbars offer virtual surround sound options, replicating the effect of the home theater experience without the need for multiple speakers set up around the room.

Some soundbars offer integration with virtual assistants for voice control and flexibility with smart home ecosystems.

 

Q: What are the advantages of a soundbar?

There is a range of advantages to using a soundbar. These include:

  • Soundbars are space-saving
  • Vast improvement over TV speakers
  • Offer simulated surround sound for immersive movie watching
  • No cables
  • An affordable way to improve your audio setup
  • Can be used to access streaming services

 

Q: What is the difference between a soundbar and speakers?

Soundbars are predominantly single speaker units, representing an all-in-one device requiring only a single connection point to your television.

By contrast, conventional hi-fis and surround sound setups require multiple speakers individually placed around the room.

Typically, each of these speakers is connected by wires to an amplifier or A/V receiver.

Soundbars are usually much cheaper than full surround sound setups requiring multiple speakers.

However, some allow you to integrate multiple speakers into a broader system or attach a subwoofer to your existing soundbar for additional bass.

 

Q: Are soundbars better than speakers?

A full surround sound speaker setup is typical of much higher quality than a soundbar, as the multi-directional speaker array allows for the delivery of precise, high-quality audio throughout the discreet channels.

However, the cost of a surround sound speaker system is considerably higher than that of a soundbar and requires multiple wires to install.

 

Q: Will a soundbar improve sound quality?

If you’re currently using the TV speakers to listen to entertainment, purchasing a soundbar will represent a significant upgrade in audio quality.

Both music reproduction and movie viewing benefit from the enhanced bass and overall stronger sound performance across frequencies.

 

Q: How To Choose / Which To Choose?

When choosing the right soundbar, you should consider what you intend to use it for and where you plan on installing it.

If you’re looking for a bar to go in the living room, you’ll likely want something more powerful than one you might use for a home office or spare bedroom.

If you’re still unsure, read through this guide for a breakdown of the 10 best budget soundbars once more. 

 

Summary

A limited budget doesn’t mean you have to skimp on quality when choosing the best budget soundbar.

Integrated 4K video and music streaming, detailed sound quality with solid bass reproduction, and convincing virtual surround sound can all be found in a budget soundbar.

If you’re still struggling to make a decision, head back to the top of this guide and check out our recommendations for the 10 best budget soundbars once again. 

Best Budget Soundbar Overall
JBL Bar 2.0
$199.95
Check Price On Amazon
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
12/02/2021 12:29 am GMT

Here’s a quick recap of the 10 best budget soundbars:

  1. JBL Bar 2.0
  2. Creative Stage V2
  3. VIZIO ZB2920-C6
  4. TCL Alto 6+
  5. Denon DHT-S216
  6. Roku Streambar
  7. Yamaha YAS-207
  8. JBL BAR 5.0 Multibeam
  9. Polk Audio React
  10. Panasonic SoundSlayer

What’s your favorite budget soundbar? Leave a comment below.

Matt McIntyre is a digital marketing consultant and certified marketing strategist. When he's not talking about business or marketing, you'll find him in the gym.

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