Best soundbars: our pick of speakers for an effortless home theater experience

These are our top picks for the best soundbars to add a cinematic tone to your next binge-watch, including models from LG, Sonos, Bowers & Wilkins, and more

best surround sound system: Sennheiser Ambeo
(Image credit: Sennheiser)

The best soundbars can improve your television's audio quality and give you more control over how it sounds, allowing you to hear what's happening in your favorite shows and movies. They come in a variety of designs (from single speakers to complete sound systems with a wireless subwoofer included) and are designed to complement modern flat-screen TVs with smaller speakers.

Without external speakers to compensate, the sound quality of an average television has dropped, making soundbars ever more popular as a result. Many come with technology like Dolby Atmos that mimics surround sound, while you can connect others to a broader speaker system after the fact.

The best soundbars available right now have been rated on everything from their smart features and connectivity to their size and design, and we've reviewed them all. Scroll down to see what we thought. Check out our roundup of the best surround sound systems if you're looking for more.  

And keep coming back to check as we'll be updating this page with deals for Amazon Prime Day on Tuesday, October 10, and Wednesday, October 11, 2023. Many of the best soundbars typically are sold for up to half off. Likewise, over Black Friday weekend (from Friday, November 23) we'll be sharing all the latest sales as they happen - some soundbars can have as much as 75% off. We'll be sniffing them out so you don't have to.

Best Soundbars: The Quick List

The best soundbars in 2024

Livingetc knows design. We spend hours testing and comparing the latest products, bringing only our edit of the very best to you. Find out more about how we review.

Best soundbar overall

Sonos Beam Soundbar (Gen 2)Livingetc badge – tried, loved

(Image credit: Sonos)
Best soundbar overall

Specifications

Channels: 4 drivers, 1 tweeter
Bluetooth?: No
Dolby Atmos?: Yes
Subwoofer included?: No
Smart?: Alexa, Google Assistant
Dimensions: 25.6 x 2.3 x 3.9in
Weight: 6.2lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Good sound considering size
+
Dolby Atmos support
+
Attractive, compact design
+
Alexa and Google Assistant built-in

Reasons to avoid

-
Quite expensive

A carefully improved design and two additional channels make the updated Sonos Beam (Gen 2) soundbar a worthwhile upgrade from its predecessor. A power cable, HDMI 2.0 cable, and optical audio adapter are all you need for setup, but using the Sonos app opens up a wealth of additional features. With Trueplay, iOS devices can adjust the sound output to meet the room's acoustics.

The Beam is an impressive speaker, featuring five Class-D digital amplifiers, a center tweeter, four elliptical mid-woofers, and three passive radiators. Simulated surround sound provides the illusion of height despite lacking dedicated upward-firing drivers. With Dolby Atmos support and wall-mounting capabilities, the second-generation Sonos Beam is a noteworthy improvement over the first-generation model.

In addition to impressive sound quality, the soundbar features a variety of customization options and impressive specs. For those who prioritize excellent sound quality, the added features and improvements make it a worthwhile investment.

Livingetc rating: 5 out of 5 stars | read our full Sonos Beam (Gen 2) review

Best soundbar for large spaces

Sennheiser AMBEOLivingetc badge – tried, loved

(Image credit: Sennheiser)

2. Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar

Best soundbar for large spaces

Specifications

Channels: 5.1.4
Bluetooth?: Yes
Dolby Atmos?: Yes
Subwoofer included?: No
Smart?: No
Dimensions: 5.3 x 49.8 x 0.7in
Weight: 40.8lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Well-built and attractive design
+
Great virtual surround sound with Dolby Atmos
+
In-built subwoofer

Reasons to avoid

-
The most expensive soundbar on our list
-
No built-in smart assistant
-
Might be too heavy and bulky for some people

The Sennheiser AMBEO soundbar trades convenience for sound quality, but it delivers on all counts. With support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X surround sound and its impressive internal speaker set-up, the AMBEO is powerful enough to be your only TV speaker.

The only drawback is the size and heft of the unit, so it's not recommended for small spaces. With a height of 5.3in and weight of more than 40lbs, this speaker can actually block some of your TV's picture if placed on a stand. If you want to mount the soundbar, you will need a bracket that can support it. For inspiration, check out our post on soundbar mounting ideas.

Sennheiser AMBEO is an amazing piece of equipment, regardless of how easy it is to set up. Based on what you're watching and when, you can choose from three preset normal, movie, or nighttime modes once installed. Although not perfect - there's no Alexa or Google Assistant built in - this could be the one for you.

Livingetc rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Best soundbar for customizable sound

Bose Smart Soundbar 900

(Image credit: Bose)
Best soundbar for customizable sound

Specifications

Channels: 5.0.2
Bluetooth?: Yes
Dolby Atmos?: Yes
Subwoofer included?: No
Smart?: Alexa, Google Assistant
Dimensions: H2.3 x W41.1 x D4.2in
Weight: 16.9lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Dolby Atmos support
+
Good sound customization options
+
Sleek design
+
Alexa and Google Assistant built-in

Reasons to avoid

-
Gloss design picks up fingerprints easily
-
Difficult to read LED status

The Bose 900 offers a cinematic experience on a smaller scale, and ADAPTiQ room calibration software enhances its sound quality. The soundbar enhances the viewing experience with Dolby Atmos technology that simulates cinematic surround sound. All cables are included, and setting up the soundbar is easy via Bluetooth or the Bose app.

Design-wise, the soundbar's tempered glass top is attractive, but fingerprints can be an issue. We tested the soundbar by playing Dolby Atmos YouTube videos. The room calibration software helps ensure immersion, and the height drivers and multiple channels of amplification fill the room with sound.

The Bose 900 has settings to customize the sound, including a dialogue mode that boosts speech. It can also be controlled by voice commands thanks to the built-in Alexa and Google Assistant. It also streams music via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Spotify Connect, and AirPlay 2. There are only two physical controls: an action button and a mute/unmute button, and the LED status lights can be difficult to read.

Livingetc rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars | read our full Bose Smart Soundbar 900 review

Best compact soundbar

LG Eclair QP5 Sound Bar

(Image credit: LG)
Best compact soundbar

Specifications

Channels: 3.1.2
Bluetooth?: Yes
Dolby Atmos?: Yes
Subwoofer included?: Yes
Smart?: No
Dimensions: 2.4 x 11.7 x 4.9in
Weight: 3.4lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Dolby Atmos surround sound
+
Soundbar is small and compact
+
Good sound customization options

Reasons to avoid

-
No built-in smart assistant
-
Subwoofer's size could take away from 'compact' aspect

LG's Eclair QP5 is a compact yet powerful Dolby Atmos soundbar, providing exceptional sound without dominating your living room. While it doesn't come with built-in smart home compatibility, it can easily be integrated into a wider sound system. With four individual sound settings, including cinema, games, and music, you can tailor the audio to fit any media type. The voice confirmation feature may be an acquired taste, but it adds a unique touch.

The LG Eclair QP5 comes with a compact subwoofer that needs to be placed in close proximity to the soundbar for wireless connection. However, it can be conveniently slotted anywhere with sufficient space. Despite its bulkiness, the subwoofer is still visually pleasing and complements the TV setup well.

Dolby Atmos surround sound makes the LG Eclair QP5 an excellent movie and music player. Although the LG Eclair QP5 has some minor drawbacks, its powerful audio performance, compact design, and easy integration make it a top soundbar contender.

Livingetc rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars | read our full LG QP5 Eclair Soundbar review

Best soundbar for mounted TVs

Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3

(Image credit: Bowers & Wilkins)
Best soundbar for mounted TVs

Specifications

Channels: 3.1.2
Bluetooth?: Yes
Dolby Atmos?: Yes
Subwoofer included?: No
Smart?: Alexa
Dimensions: H5.6 x W47.7 x D2.9in
Weight: 14.3lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Dolby Atmos support
+
Sleek, minimalist design
+
Good sound customization options
+
Built-in Alexa

Reasons to avoid

-
Difficult to control with no remote control
-
Taller than most soundbars

This soundbar from Bowers & Wilkins is sleek and unobtrusive, providing excellent sound without compromising aesthetics. The design choices enhance the simplicity of the speaker, whether it is mounted on a TV cabinet or on the wall. Getting the soundbar started is as simple as connecting it to your TV, downloading the B&W app, creating an account, and letting it find compatible devices.

The Panorama 3 improved general viewing and sounds more balanced and clear than TV speakers alone, despite lacking the punch some audio enthusiasts would desire. Its bass and treble levels can be adjusted with the Bowers & Wilkins app. It does not come with a remote control, however.

It is the brand's second soundbar after the Formation Bar. While the Formation Bar has a gorgeously unique shape and aesthetic, the Panorama 3 is a great pick for those seeking excellent sound quality without compromising on design.

Livingetc rating: 4 out of 5 stars | read our full Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 review

Best budget soundbar

Majority K2 Sound Bar

(Image credit: Majority)
Best budget soundbar

Specifications

Channels:
Bluetooth?: Yes
Dolby Atmos?: No
Subwoofer included?: Yes
Smart?: No
Dimensions: 30 x 2 x 2.7in
Weight: 7.4lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable
+
Good connectivity
+
Wireless subwoofer

Reasons to avoid

-
Bass levels aren't the best
-
No Dolby Atmos

If you're looking for an affordable yet high-quality soundbar for your TV, the Majority K2 Soundbar could be a good choice. This impressive speaker offers excellent sound quality and comes with a wireless subwoofer to boost the listening experience. Plus, with multiple connectivity options, you can easily play music or podcasts from your phone via Bluetooth or connect an external device through the USB port. 

But the Majority K2 Soundbar isn't just a great option for your entertainment needs - it's also an environmentally conscious choice. For every purchase of this soundbar, Majority has pledged to plant a tree, showing their commitment to sustainability and protecting our planet. It's an odd extra, but we won't complain about any company making it a priority to help the environment.

Livingetc rating: 4 out of 5 stars | read our full Majority K2 Soundbar review

Sonos Beam being tested in writer's home, placed in front of TV on a dark wood cabinet

(Image credit: Future)

About this guide

Livingetc's reviews are based on genuine experience with the products in question, and we choose products for our buying guides based on this experience. With our writers' expertise in tech, smart homes, and interiors, we ensure that all recommendations we provide are as informed and as honest as possible.

In our content, we will clearly indicate when we have reviewed an item, along with links to more detailed reviews and information if we don't have experience with everything. Take a look at our page on how we create buying guides to learn more about our process.

caroline preece author image
Caroline Preece

Caroline is the smart home editor for Livingetc, testing and reviewing all the technology designed to make our home lives easier and more convenient, and save us money. This roundup of the best soundbars brings together her experience of using them in her own home and knowledge of the smart home market. A lifelong love of TV, film and music, as well as a decade in technology journalism, means she's keen to use her knowledge to help people make good choices when it comes to bringing devices into their homes.

How to choose the best soundbar for your home

Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3

(Image credit: Future)

Where should a soundbar be placed?

Soundbars are designed specifically to be placed underneath your TV without blocking any action, but you should ensure enough space before committing to a soundbar that doesn’t fit. Alternatively, many people choose to mount their soundbars to the wall - especially effective if you already have your television mounted. You can read our advice on how to mount a soundbar to find out more.

What is a subwoofer?

You'll hear about subwoofers a lot when you're shopping around for a soundbar, and that's because they're an essential element. Basically, a subwoofer is a speaker that emits low frequencies to extend your sound and make it more dimensional. This is what makes them ideal for adding more bass to your output.

In addition, some soundbars have a subwoofer built-in, while others come with an accompanying subwoofer that you can connect to. If your chosen soundbar doesn't include its own wireless unit, you can see that we rated it highly in our guide to the best subwoofers.

Are soundbars worth it?

The answer to this depends on whether you’re satisfied with your television’s current audio output and what kinds of things you tend to watch regularly. If you’re a music fan, for example, then a soundbar is a must to get the most out of live concerts, YouTube, or even music cast from your phone. However, those who are just happy watching the news and cooking shows might not get as much out of one.

That said, even the occasional movie night makes having a soundbar a worthy investment and, once you watch an action movie this way, there’s no turning back.

There's also the question of whether the better investment might be a more expansive speaker system. To help you choose, you can head on over to our comparison - soundbar or surround sound system?

Caroline Preece