A soundbar is the best and simplest way to give your TV audio a boost. After all, if you've spent money on getting the best TV, you want to make sure you're getting the most from it.
However, with such a broad range of sizes and price points, it can be tricky to know which is the best soundbar to buy. Sound quality, features and design can all vary between brands and models, so you need to know where to spend your money and what functions you can do without.
We've spent the last few months reviewing a range of soundbars from the likes of Sonos, Sony, Yamaha and Roku, testing them against these categories to help you decide which soundbar best suits you and your TV.
Here is our hand-picked selection of the best soundbars to suit any budget, room size or TV set-up.
Best soundbars at a glance
- Best overall soundbar: Sonos Arc
- Best soundbar for Sony TVs: Sony HT-G700
- Best soundbar for TV streaming: Roku Streambar
- Best mid-range soundbar: Yamaha YAS-209
- Best budget soundbar: TCL TS6100
- Best compact soundbar: Yamaha SR-C20A
How to choose the best soundbar
- Sound quality: If you're looking to buy a soundbar, improving your TV's audio quality is going to be a priority. From Dolby Atmos to Sony's Vertical Surround Engine, each brand will have its own technique to refine the TV's output. This may be accompanied by audio modes found on an app or remote to fine-tune the sound further to increase bass or enhance the sound for speech.
- Design: Soundbars are available in a range of sizes and designs. There are two main design set-ups; an all-in-one soundbar or a soundbar with an accompanying subwoofer. Naturally, the latter will take up more space and tend to be in the mid-range or premium price point. You'll also want to consider whether you'll want to mount the soundbar or for it to sit on a TV unit. The colour options are limited, with most available only in black – or with the addition of white, in the case of Sonos.
- Features: Some models will come with additional features with the aim of drawing you away from their competitors. For example, Sonos has its own app featuring Sonos Radio, a streaming service containing curated stations based on genre, decade, artist, or mood. Then, you have the likes of the Roku Streambar, which combines a soundbar with a streaming device to give you access to Netflix, Disney+ and other apps that you can't usually watch without a smart TV.
- Price: With the price of soundbars varying so considerably, your budget will be an important part of which model you end up with. You don't have to pay a lot for a soundbar to drastically improve your TV audio, but there are some features, such as surround sound, that do tend to push up the price. Models under £200 are unlikely to come with surround sound or a wireless subwoofer but will often be compact and simple to set up, making them great for rooms with limited space. The premium soundbars are more likely to feature 360-degree sound, Dolby Atmos technology and more sophisticated audio modes. However, this can mean they're much bigger and require a more extensive setup.
How much money should you spend on a soundbar?
The cost of soundbars varies drastically from anywhere around the £60 mark to upwards of £2,000. This can make it tricky to know how much to spend. You don't need to spend a small fortune to get decent sound quality and specs. However, there is some truth in the fact that the premium models tend to come with a more extensive range of features and more sophisticated audio processing technology.
We'd also suggest that you consider how much you spent on the TV that you intend to use with the soundbar. If you're just looking to upgrade the audio of an old TV, a budget soundbar costing under £200 is more than likely going to do the job you need it to. However, if you've invested a little more in building the ultimate cinematic experience, you'll want a soundbar that does it justice. If this is the case, you might want to consider the mid-range or premium models that offer surround sound or come with wireless subwoofers for that extra oomph.
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Best soundbars to buy in 2022
Here is our expert pick of the best soundbars you can buy this year so far.
Best overall soundbar
- Brilliant sound quality
- Good volume range
- Sleek, modern design
- Simple set-up
- Two colour options
- Can be incorporated into a larger multi-speaker system
- It’s big – might not fit neatly into all room types
- Dolby Atmos
- Voice control via Google Assistant or Alexa
- Built-in IR repeater
- Speech enhancement mode on Sonos app to boost TV dialogue
- Stream music, podcasts and audiobooks from Spotify, Audible, Apple Music and Amazon Music.
Sonos makes brilliant speakers, so there's no surprise that their premium all-in-one soundbar offering, the Sonos Arc, is equally spectacular. It is the bigger of the two soundbars made by Sonos and features 11 Class-D digital amplifiers, eight elliptical woofers and three silk-dome tweeters. The difference between TV-only audio and the Sonos Arc is immense. We could hear background noise and music on TV shows that we weren’t even aware of before.
Beyond the fantastic sound quality, the soundbar also has a great range of additional features. These include Alexa is built into the soundbar so that it can be controlled with voice commands, a built-in IR repeater and Sonos Radio via the Sonos app. The Sonos Arc also has the added bonus of being available in two colours; white and black. Not the most exciting colour choices but more options than most brands offer.
However, there are a few considerations. First, the Sonos Arc's size means it is best suited to medium- to large-sized rooms. Second, the price. There are definitely soundbars and TV sound systems that cost a lot more than the Sonos Arc, but £799 is not an insignificant amount to spend. There are cheaper alternatives like the Sonos Beam, but we think you'll be hard-pressed to find a more stylish soundbar that delivers so many features to such a high standard. If you want to give your TV set-up the ultimate upgrade, there's no better soundbar to buy than the Sonos Arc.
Read the full Sonos Arc review.
Buy the Sonos Arc at:
Sonos Arc deals
Best soundbar for Sony TVs
- Simple design
- Switch quickly between modes via remote
- Wireless-nature of subwoofer gives flexibility with placement
- HDMI cable not included
- The subwoofer is quite big and heavy
- Dolby Atmos
- Wireless subwoofer to boost the bass
- Vertical Surround Engine for more immersive, surround sound
- Specialist sound modes for cinema, speech and music
- Stream music via Bluetooth
The Sony HT-G700 is a mid-range soundbar that has a classic design, Dolby Atmos and comes with a subwoofer so that you can really feel the bass. Depending on what you're watching, you can also choose specialist audio modes to enhance the TV-watching experience. These modes include adjustments for cinema, speech and music. Each mode changes the levels to best suit the chosen category, and there's almost no delay between selecting a mode and it activating.
However, because the soundbar does come with two elements – the bar itself and the wireless subwoofer – it does take up more space than an all-in-one device. The wireless nature of the subwoofer does give you some freedom on where you can place it, but you still need a decent amount of floor space.
Read the full Sony HT-G700 review.
Buy the Sony HT–G700:
Sony HT–G700 deals
Best soundbar for TV streaming
- Great value for money
- Small soundbar fits into any set-up
- Can be mounted
- Produces crisp and well-rounded sound
- Great choice of channels and apps
- No Dolby Vision
- 4K streaming
- Automatically quietens loud adverts
- Voice remote
- Works with Alexa and Google Assistant
- Private Listening mode streams audio to your phone and allows you to listen via your headphones
Free extra remote with the Roku mobile app
- Stream music with Bluetooth and Spotify Connect
- Access to apps including Disney+, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and BT Sport
If you have an old or "non-smart" TV that you're looking to upgrade, the Roku Streambar is the device you need. The small soundbar doubles up as a streaming device giving you access to streaming services and apps like Disney+, Amazon Prime Video and Spotify.
For just under £130, the small soundbar offers 4K streaming and surprisingly good sound. It is well-balanced and a significant improvement on TV-only audio.
Other features include voice control, a Private Listening mode that streams audio to your phone and allows you to listen via your headphones and a free remote via the Roku mobile app. While it's small enough to sit on a TV unit without being overly dominating, it can also be mounted.
Read the full Roku Streambar review.
Buy the Roku Streambar at:
Roku Streambar deals
Best mid-range soundbar
- Good-looking soundbar
- Surround sound via DTS Virtual:X
- Speech is crystal clear
- Voice control via Alexa
- Subwoofer is big and heavy
- App isn’t very user-friendly
- LED lights cannot be seen when sat down
- DTS Virtual:X
- Wireless subwoofer
- Bluetooth and Wi-Fi-enabled
- Built-in voice assistant Alexa
- Connect to Wi-Fi to stream Spotify and Amazon Music via Yamaha Sound Bar Controller app
The Yamaha YAS-209 has two elements; the soundbar and an accompanying wireless subwoofer. The combination of the subwoofer with DTS Virtual:X technology means that the Yamaha soundbar delivers 3D sound that is identical from wherever you are in the room.
The mid-range price also means you get additional features such as voice control via Alexa and pre-set sound modes for speech, sport and movies.
If you want a classic-looking soundbar with a few more features than what most budget soundbars can offer, the Yamaha YAS-209 is a good option for you.
Read the full Yamaha YAS-209 review.
Buy the Yamaha YAS-209 at:
Yamaha YAS-209 deals
Best budget soundbar
- Great value for money
- Compact and unassuming design
- Easy to use
- Good sound quality for the price
- Not the most sophisticated set-up
- Lacks bass
- No surround sound
- Dolby Digital
- Two built-in speakers
- Can be mounted (mount included in the box)
The TCL TS6100 soundbar proves that you don't have to spend a small fortune to get decent sound quality. Films, TV shows and speech sound great thanks to the Dolby Digital audio processing.
It has a couple of downfalls. The sound is a little directional and lacks a bit of bass, but for less than £60, it's still a good improvement on TV-only audio. The set-up is simple, too, and it comes with everything you need to mount it.
With two built-in speakers, the TLC TS6100 is a no-fuss, compact soundbar that offers good sound quality at a budget price.
Read the full TCL TS610 review.
Buy the TCL TS6100 at:
TCL TS6100 soundbar deals
Best compact soundbar
- Compact size
- Quick and easy set-up
- Good sound quality for size
- Sleek, unassuming design
- Remote control is a little ugly
- All-in-one soundbar with built-in subwoofer
- Virtual Surround technology
- Soundbar Remote app (iOS and Android)
- Sound modes for gaming, music, films and TV via the app
If you're looking for a small soundbar that delivers quality sound at an affordable price, the Yamaha SR-C20A should tick most of your boxes. The £229 soundbar is only 60cm in length and neatly slots under any TV. This means it won't get in the way of the TV's IR repeater and will fit unassumingly into any TV set-up.
Our last impression from this Yamaha soundbar was how punchy the sound was, considering its size. It comes with various sound modes, including for gaming, movies and everyday TV watching, and there's a noticeable difference between each one. Also found on the remote is separate volume controls for the subwoofer, which is ideal if you're the type of person who likes to fiddle to get the sound quality "just right".
The Yamaha SR-C20A doesn't necessarily have the most sophisticated setup, but with everything it offers, it delivers well. If you aren't looking to spend much more than £200 to upgrade your TV audio, this Yamaha soundbar is a solid option.
Buy the Yamaha SR-C20A at: