One of the best soundbars from this list will make a huge difference to the audio within your home. That’s why a top-quality soundbar is an important investment for any home cinema enthusiast. You can use it on its own or as part of an immersive 5.1 speaker system that forms the immersive home theatre system of your dreams.
TV displays are getting slimmer and slimmer. Although this means they look great in your home, there’s less room for built-in speakers. Just take a look at any of the top TVs at the moment and you’ll see the audio isn’t up to scratch. Even the best Samsung TV could use an external speaker system.
This is why we’ve rounded up the very best soundbars on the market in one handy guide. Because there’s no point spending a small fortune on a new TV display for the audio to fall short.
What you’ll find below is our selection of the best soundbars available for you to buy in 2020, from the best pricey, feature-rich models through to ultra-affordable, easy-to-set-up speakers.
Our list has a bit of everything. There are plenty of expensive soundbars here that will give you immersive Dolby Atmos sound and a wide soundstage. But when it comes to soundbars, you don’t always need to spend the big bucks. It’s well-worth considering the cheaper options on here too, as they sound great for the price and won’t break the bank.
Our top picks
The best soundbars 2020
1. Samsung HW-Q90R Soundbar
Be afraid, traditional Hi-Fi speakers. Be very afraid.
Dimensions: 1226 x 83 x 136mm (W x H x D) | Speaker configuration: 7.1.4 | Claimed audio power: 512W | Connections: 2 x HDMI inputs, 1 x HDMI output with eARC, optical digital audio input, USB (service only), Bluetooth and WiFi
Impressive sound quality
Dolby Atmos and DTS:X
Easy to install and setup
Limited HDMI Inputs
Deceptively simple in its setup process, Samsung’s HW-Q90R soundbar has been designed to deliver maximum bang for your buck within minutes of being powered on for the first time. In fact, getting the soundbar up and running almost seems too basic, with no need for calibration of any sort. Setting up this Dolby Atmos and DTS:X compatible system is as simple as plugging in and powering on the soundbar, followed by its two wireless rear speakers and its room-rattling subwoofer. A blue light will appear on the speakers and sub to let you know that they’re automatically paired and ready to rock.
Admittedly, we wish the HW-Q90R had more than two HDMI inputs and one output, meaning you may have to prioritise certain devices or get used to physically switching cables. Fiddly HDMI issues aside, this object-based 7.1.4 channel system (7 ear-level speakers, 1 channel for low bass reproduction, 4 overhead audio channels) arguably delivers the most immersive and powerful audio we’ve heard in a soundbar yet. Pop in a recent blockbuster with a Dolby Atmos track and prepare to be blown away by the HW-Q90R’s immense three-dimensional sound.
For all non-Dolby Atmos and DTS:X tracks, the Q90R soundbar opts for simplicity once again, offering just four distinct listening modes. Standard mode presents the source’s signal as intended, whether it be a 5.1 or mono track, while Surround mode works its magic by upmixing the track to all available channels. Adaptive Sound mode returns once again, adjusting signals on a scene-per-scene basis to prioritise things like voice and on-screen action, while a new Game Pro mode is said to make gaming even more immersive (we didn’t really notice a difference, though). Music lovers will be happy to know that the Q90R will also upscale music that’s played over Bluetooth connection using Samsung’s UHQ 32-bit technology.
Read more: Samsung HW-Q90R Soundbar review
2. Sony HT-X8500 Soundbar
Sony’s all-in-one Dolby Atmos bar may be the best value of the year
Dimensions: 890 x 64 x 96 mm (35 1/8 x 2 5/8 x 3 7/8 in) | Speaker configuration: 2.1 | Claimed audio power: N/A | Connections: 1 HDMI input, 1 HDMI Out (ARC), analogue audio in/out, Ethernet, optical audio in, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
Dolby Atmos and DTS:X compatible
Compact all-in-one form factor
No upfiring drivers
Given that rival Dolby Atmos-compatible soundbars typically sell for twice the price, Sony’s HT-X8500 warrants an easy recommendation. Cost-cutting can be attributed to connectivity and features but what’s genuinely confounding is just how great the HT-X8500 sounds.
The key to the HT-X8500’s gutsy performance is Sony’s proprietary Vertical Sound Engine – working with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X content, it creates a convincing illusion of wraparound sound that allow Dolby Atmos movies to play with a clear sense of expanded height and width.
The build quality and design of the soundbar is exceptional, and its general audio performance impresses with its clarity and spatial presentation.
Overall, if you want a home theatre sound system that won’t dent your budget, it’s probably the best option right now.
Read more: Sony HT-X8500 Soundbar review
3. JBL Bar Studio
The best soundbar for less than AU$300
Power: 30W | Speakers: 2 | Dimensions: 614 x 58 x 86mm | Weight: 1.4kg | Inputs: 1 x HDMI (ARC), 1 x digital optical, 1 x USB | Outputs: N/A | Wireless: Bluetooth 4.2 | Subwoofer included?: No | Special features: N/A
Blunt at high volumes
Not the best for music
If you thought quality soundbars only come at a high price point, think again – the JBL Bar Studio offers solid, punchy sound, great connectivity (via single ARC-enabled HDMI output, an optical digital input and Bluetooth) and a sleek design with an impressive build quality for a price that frankly seems unbelievable.
Although it’s relatively small (only 60cm long and 6cm tall), the JBL Bar Studio still delivers clean audio (particularly when it comes to dialogue) from its 2 channels and surprisingly rich bass for a setup that doesn’t include a subwoofer.
If the part about JBL Bar Studio only being a 2-channel system made you take a step back, don’t worry – the soundbar uses the JBL Surround Sound in-house technology to emulate the encompassing feel or a true sound of a 5.1 system.
If you’re looking for a great soundbar but only have a few hundred bucks to spare, you’re unlikely to find a better option than the JBL Bar Studio.
4. Samsung HW-Q70R Soundbar
A good-looking and well-spec’d soundbar for both movies and gaming
Power: 3300W | Speakers: 3.1.2 | Dimensions: 1100 x 59 x 100mm (W x H x D) | Connections: HDMI input and output with ARC, optical digital audio input, Bluetooth | Subwoofer included?: Yes
Clean sound and impressive bass
Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support
Optional rear surround speakers
Flatter sounding than Q80 and Q90
Only one HDMI input
Minimal smart functionality
Delivering an expansive wall of sound and exceptionally heavy bass, Samsung’s HW-Q70R is one of the better Dolby Atmos-compatible soundbars available in the mid-range price point.
It’s true that Samsung’s Q80 and Q90 soundbars offer noticeably fuller sound and additional immersion, but they also come with a significant jump in cost. Admittedly, the Q70 does lack side-firing speakers, relying instead on its ability to bounce sound off your ceiling and walls using its up-firing speakers.
While this does slightly affect its capacity to create truly convincing 3D soundscapes when used on its own, we still found plenty of directionality on numerous films with Dolby Atmos audio tracks that we tested. This is thanks in large part to Samsung’s Acoustic Beam technology, which fires the soundbar’s tweeters into pipes covered in multiple holes, effectively creating a pipe organ-style sound that feels fuller than you might expect from a traditional 3.1.2 channel setup.
If you’re looking for a strong audio performer that doesn’t cross over into super-expenisve territory and which supports both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X formats, Samsung’s HW-Q70R soundbar is a fantastic option.
Read more: Samsung HW-Q70R Soundbar review
5. Yamaha YAS-207
Great performance. Great price. Too few features.
Power: 200W | Weight: 2.7kg : 3.1.2 | Dimensions: 930 x 60 x 108mm (W x H x D) | Connections: HDMI input and output (ARC), optical digital audio input, Bluetooth | Subwoofer included?: Yes
DTS Virtual:X is underwhelming
No Google Cast or Apple AirPlay
Dated and forgettable design
For the money, the Yamaha YAS-207 is an excellent choice for users looking to upgrade their movie and TV watching experience on the cheap. The YAS-207 offers balanced sound, simple setup and DTS virtual surround processing which, while not for us, others may enjoy.
The sound quality of the Yamaha YAS-207 is excellent, offering crisp highs and deep bass. Dialogue was loud and clear for movies and TV, but there is an option to enhance dialogue further by pressing the “Clear Voice” button on the remote. While we liked the sounds of the mids and highs, out of the box there can be a too much bass so we didn’t feel bad dialing it down by one level.
The Yamaha YAS-207 soundbar is a great value, packing in solid sound quality for the price. DTS Virtual:X is a nice addition at this price point but its performance is underwhelming with an artificial sounding soundstage. That said, niceties like Google Cast and AirPlay, available on the YAS-207’s competitors, are noticeably missing here.
Read more: Yamaha YAS-207 soundbar review
6. Sonos Playbar
Turns your multi-room audio system into wireless surround sound
Power: Not quoted | Speakers: 9 | Dimensions: 900 x 85 x 140mm | Weight: 5.4kg | Inputs: 1 x digital optical, 2 x Ethernet LAN | Outputs: N/A | Wireless: WiFi | Special features: Sonos Play:1 speakers can be connected as wireless rear speakers
Integrates with Sonos systems
Clever audio modes
Requires particular TVs
The Sonos Playbar is a non-HDMI device that uses optical to hook up to a TV. Used simply on its own it delivers a massive sonic boost to your TV listening, but operating it does require using a smartphone or tablet app. The benefit is that it can seamlessly segue in to a Sonos wireless system, and can even act as the front three speakers in a 5.1 setup with two Play:1s acting as rears.
Unfortunately although it’s optical-only setup will be great for most, it does exclude owners of TVs that lack this connector, which has pushed it a little further down this list.
Read more: Sonos Playbar review
7. Sonos Beam
This is the smart soundbar we’ve been waiting for
Power: N/A | Speakers: 3 channels | Dimensions: 2.70 x 25.625 x 3.94 in. (68.5 x 651 x 100 mm) | Weight: 6.2 lbs (2.8 kg) | Inputs: 1 x Digital Optical-In, 1 x HDMI-in | Wireless: Sonos | Subwoofer included?: No | Special features: Amazon Alexa, Apple AirPlay 2
Great compact design
HDMI ARC compatible
No Dolby Atmos
The Sonos Beam is a fantastic soundbar for its price, one that takes full advantage of the Sonos ecosystem and is a joy to use (and set up, if your television has HDMI ARC). Its smaller form factor means it’s a device that will sit comfortably next to a 32-inch TV but it’s got enough of a footprint to not be dwarfed by a much bigger set.
The Sonos Beam doesn’t offer earth-shattering bass and the lack of Dolby Atmos support will irk some, but at this price point it’d be more of a surprise if it had been included. The voice control may be Alexa-only for now, but it works well and if you have adopted some of Amazon’s TV toys, it really is worth experimenting with.
Read more: Sonos Beam review
8. Yamaha YSP-2700
A terrific soundbar for watching movies
Power: N/A | Channels: 7.1 | Dimensions: 944 x 51 x 154mm | Weight: 4.0 kg | Inputs: 3 x HDMI in, 1 x HDMI out, digital optical, digital coaxial in | Wireless: Bluetooth, AirPlay, Wi-Fi | Special features: Yamaha MusicCast
Excellent sound quality
Handles all formats & streams
Occasional switching delay
Inaccessible USB slot
Looking at the YSP-2700, you’d be surprised at how big a sound Yamaha’s soundbar is capable of producing. This slim and unassuming soundbar delivers a terrific 7.1-channel surround sound effect by bouncing sound off the walls.
If room-rumbling bass is what you’re after, you’re in luck – the Yamaha YSP-2700 comes with a wireless, cube-shaped, front-firing subwoofer that’s able to reach some surprisingly deep levels.
In terms of connectivity, the YSP-2700 offers one HDMI out and three HDMI ins with support for HDCP 2.2 and 4K video pass-through. Bluetooth, Wi-Fi (up to 24-bit/192kHz) and Apple AirPlay streaming are also available, along with Yamaha MusicCast, which allows you to integrate the soundbar into a compatible multi-room system. As for audio formats, Dolby Digital TrueHD and DTS:HD are offered, but sadly there’s no support for Dolby Atmos.
Sure, it’s not the cheapest soundbar around, but its spacious soundstage, impressive dynamics and hearty bass make the YSP-2700 a great option for your living room.
9. Polk Audio Command Bar
Inexpensive and very smart
Power: N/A | Speakers: 1 | Dimensions: 43 x 14.5 x 14.4 inches | Weight: 8.6lbs | Inputs: 1 x SPDIDF, 1 x HDMI, 1 x TOSLINK, 1 x micro-USB connection | Outputs: 1 x HDMI output with Audio Return Channel (ARC) | Wireless: Bluetooth | Subwoofer included?: Yes | Special features: Alexa built in
Space for a Fire TV stick
Audio is mediocre
If your budget cap for a smart soundbar is relatively tight, then we highly recommend the Polk Audio Command Bar for any small or medium-sized living room.
As you might be able to tell based on the soundbar’s design, the Command Bar comes with Alexa built right into it making it unquestionably smart. It’s also relatively inexpensive too for a soundbar that comes with a subwoofer.
It has defined and powerful low end, some cool smart features, and looks pretty good, too.
Read more: Polk Audio Command Bar review
Why should I buy a soundbar?
If you love the slim aesthetic of your new 4K TV, we can bet it doesn’t have the audio needed to match the visuals. That means a good soundbar is your best option to get the most out of your favorite TV shows and films.
The best soundbars of 2020 are built to be just as pleasing to the eye as they are to the ear. Most of them are sleek, minimal and designed to sit flush against a wall or home cinema set-up. They’re also a good solution for smaller homes and rooms with little space that wouldn’t be able to squeeze a 7.1 channel speaker system in.
The majority of the soundbars on this list are made to sit in front of your screen, but they can also be wall-mounted above or to the side of it as well, depending on how your room is laid out. This provides you with ultimate choice as to how your home entertainment set-up looks.
Despite most of the soundbars on this list only featuring front-facing speakers, many are able to confidently project sound in a way that makes it seem as though there’s booming audio coming from every direction.
Best soundbars at a glance
- Samsung HW-Q90R Soundbar
- Sony HT-X8500 Soundbar
- JBL Bar Studio
- Samsung HW-Q70R Soundbar
- Yamaha YAS-207
- Sonos Playbar
- Sonos Beam
- Yamaha YSP-2700
- Polk Audio Command Bar