The 8 best soundbars you need to turn any room into a movie theater — Yamaha, Denon, VIZIO and more

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Whether you bought an expensive OLED TV for over a thousand dollars or shelled out less than $150 for a more budget-friendly option, you absolutely need a soundbar if you care about getting the best bang for your buck. Also, the best soundbars instantly upgrade the sound quality of any program, regardless of your TV’s model, price or size.

If you’re still using your TV’s native speakers as your primary audio output source, you’re missing out! Across the board, TVs feature pretty weak audio quality that ultimately discredits the full viewing experience. This is why soundbar sales have skyrocketed over the past year, as they instantly give you that theater-quality surround-sound experience in a small package and from the comfort of your living room.

Like any popular tech product, all soundbars aren’t created equally. So to help you choose one that fits your needs, we’ve weeded through the hoards of options and listed the eight best soundbars to buy, separated into categories.

Choose from the best overall and most affordable to the best surround-sound option and the best space-saving pick from trusted brands like Yamaha, Denon, VIZIO, Sonos and more.

1. Best Overall: Yamaha Audio YAS-209BL Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer, $379.95 (Orig. $349.95)

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Credit: Amazon

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A quality soundbar paired with a wireless subwoofer instantly transforms your home theater setup more than you might think, and this pair from Yamaha is one of the best overall options on the market.

The Yamaha YAS-209 offers excellent sound quality in a compact yet powerful soundbar, and its complementary subwoofer provides that movie-theater-like bass that shakes the room — a feature perfect for movie-watching and binging TV shows. The bass levels are also adjustable via the included remote or the free Yamaha app.

This best-selling soundbar also boasts DTS Virtual:X virtual surround sound, giving you a rich, room-filling audio experience reminiscent of more expensive surround sound speakers. For added convenience, it comes equipped with Amazon Alexa, allowing you to control it with your voice — a feature that comes in handy when you’re playing music or simply not in the mood to reach for the remote.

2. Most Affordable: VIZIO V-Series 2.0 Compact Home Theater Soundbar, $49.99 (Orig. $99.99)

Credit: Target
Credit: Target

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VIZIO is one of the leading soundbar brands in America, so when it released its most compact home theater soundbar to date in 2021, shoppers rejoiced — especially after seeing its price.

The VIZIO V-Series 2.0 Compact Home Theater Soundbar is currently 50% off at Target. This was one of the biggest deals during 2021’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales — and it’s is still active! This release boasts one of the most compact soundbar designs you’ll find today, and though it’s thin and minimal, it packs a punch that rivals some of the largest and most expansive options on the market.

This soundbar also features DTS Virtual:X for room-filling, floor-to-ceiling sound — a feature hard to come by in such an affordable and small option.

3. Best Space-Saving Pick: Yamaha SR-C20A Compact Soundbar with Built-In Subwoofer, $149.95 (Orig. $179.95)

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Credit: Amazon

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While the VIZIO V-Series 2.0 Compact Home Theater Soundbar is definitely a worthwhile space-saving pick, the Yamaha SR-C20A has it beat in size and, in certain aspects, audio power.

If you’re looking for a soundbar fit for a small space, this is, hands-down, the one to buy. In addition to its small package (it’s only 25.98 inches wide), this soundbar has built-in subwoofers, making it an underrated beast for watching movies without the extra bulk and heft.

It also produces surprisingly impressive bass thanks to its passive radiators and super-clear dialogue with its clear voice feature. You can also use its handy Bluetooth feature to stream music and podcasts, and best of all, it’s extremely easy to set up. This is, by far, the dark horse of this entire list, so don’t sleep on this one!

4. Top Surround Sound Option: Denon Home Soundbar 550, $649

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Denon changed the game when it released its Home Soundbar 550 in January 2021 to rival the best-selling and much more expensive Sonos Arc soundbar. Shoppers were impressed and pleasantly surprised by its power and clarity, especially given its modest size.

This hardworking soundbar features a six-driver array, meaning it delivers Dolby Atmos and DTS:X 3D surround sound, which makes for the ultimate immersive experience when watching movies. This is also the best pick for those looking for a movie-theater-like sound experience.

This Denon soundbar also supports Hi-Res Audio, making it perfect for listening to music from your preferred streaming service. It also pairs with other HEOS speakers to give you larger-than-life sound. Another bonus that shoppers love is its AirPlay 2 functionality that lets you stream music from your Apple devices in seconds.

As with most high-end soundbars today, this one also doubles as an Alexa smart speaker.

5. Best For Music-Listening: Polk Audio Signa S2 Ultra-Slim TV Soundbar, $199

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Credit: Amazon

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If you’re looking for a speaker that excels at everything from playing your favorite playlist to the latest episode of The Morning Show, the Polk Signa S2 is the one to buy.

This soundbar is the perfect pick for streaming, thanks to its built-in Chromecast functionality, as well as its Bluetooth and HDMI input. Choose any of the three presets — music, movie or night mode — and watch the sound adjust and wow you without any distortion or muffling.

It also comes with a wireless subwoofer that provides just the right amount of bass to bring any show or scene to life.

6. Top Smart Pick: Sonos Arc, $899

Credit: Sonos
Credit: Sonos

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If you’re on the market for a new soundbar, chances are you’ve already heard about the best-selling Sonos Arc. It’s one of the best premium smart soundbars on the market and works seamlessly across TV shows, movies, music and even gaming.

The Sonos Arc boasts Dolby Atmos and lets you control it via your TV remote, voice and the intuitive and clean Sonos app. Its Dolby Atmos feature gives you 3D surround sound, plus it has improved Trueplay tuning technology, optimizing the sound for the unique acoustics of the room.

Adding to its smart functionalities, the Sonos app lets you use the soundbar in conjunction with services like Apple AirPlay 2 when the TV is off. It’s also voice-control-compatible with Amazon Alexa built right in.

7. Best Room-Filling Sound: VIZIO Elevate Home Theater Surround Sound System, $959.52 (Orig. $1,099.99)

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Credit: Amazon

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The VIZIO Elevate Home Theater Surround Sound System is one of the most all-encompassing and immersive soundbar packages on the market. Some even say it’s the absolute best.

Its main attraction is its motorized-height speakers that automatically rotate to deliver the best surround sound possible. But in addition to this unique feature, the system as a whole is quite impressive. What makes this an unmatched winner is the incorporation of the separate subwoofer and two height-enabled speakers that give you massively immersive sound from all angles. When all of these components work together, it pulls ahead of the Sonos Arc and some of the other high-end options on this list.

It also features Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and Chromecast, and has multiple HDMI inputs for connecting additional devices, as well as Bluetooth functionality for wireless pairing. The only drawback is that it doesn’t come with Apple AirPlay support — a key feature in some of the other options on this list.

8. Top Premium Option: Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar with 13 Speakers, $2,499.95

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Credit: Amazon

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If you absolutely despise the look of multiple remotes on your coffee table and must have the best Dolby Atmos soundbar possible, the Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar is the way to go — especially if you’re willing to foot this pretty hefty bill.

Hands down, this features the best components of all of the speakers listed in one package — no wireless subwoofer or height-enabled speakers necessary. Even without these extra components, this soundbar produces the most realistic overhead and true surround-sound effects of any soundbar on the market.

The Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar is also the best standalone soundbar of the bunch — and this is largely due to its 13-speaker build and integrated subwoofer built into the bar itself. However, the only downside is its hefty build and design that can be a bit distracting, depending on how close it is to your TV’s bottom frame.

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