Banner Image Credit: Polk Audio
If you're still using your built-in TV speakers in 2020, it's time to upgrade your home theater with a high-quality sound system. One of the best ways to increase your TV's audio quality (without breaking the bank) is to invest in a good soundbar.
Soundbars are great because they pack a lot of power into a compact speaker. With a soundbar, you don't need to splurge on an expensive surround sound system that is difficult to set up, you can just plug in a single speaker (and sometimes a subwoofer) and get to listening.
Today, we're highlighting the best budget soundbars in the $200 price range, but that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice sound quality or bonus features like Bluetooth connectivity, surround sound and external subwoofers. In fact, around the $200 price point, you can find a great soundbar with all the bells and whistles.
Here are the 5 best soundbars you can buy in 2020 - all under $200.
The Polk Audio AM6214-A Signa S2 Ultra-Slim TV Sound Bar tops our list because it packs a huge punch in a sleek package.
Plus, unlike some of the other options on this list, it comes with a wireless subwoofer for powerful bass for when you stream music or movies. If you've never had a separate subwoofer, the deep bass will seriously blow you away. Not only is the Polk system great for bass-heavy music (like rock, hip-hop and electronic), it makes movies much more immersive. Have you ever heard a helicopter land or bomb explode in your living room? Boom. Now you have.
This affordable soundbar's low profile design fits sleekly under any standing TV, or you can use a wall mount with any mounted TV. And just like any quality soundbar in 2020, you can connect your smartphone wirelessly with Bluetooth and plug the soundbar into your TV using an HDMI cable or optical cable.
If you want to get the most for your money, this is the soundbar to get.
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If you're looking for a name brand soundbar at an off-brand price, look no further than the Bose Solo 5 TV Soundbar Sound System. Bose is well known for providing a top of the line audio experience and their entry-level soundbar is no different.
From our experience, this small-but-mighty soundbar provides clear sound and a clear voice for TV shows and movies. According to Bose, the Solo 5 "brings clarity to your audio from dialogue to sound effects" which is great if you have trouble understanding people talking in your muffled living room (like me!).
Our only caveat is that the included remote control is a little overwhelming for such a simple device. So if you're technologically impaired, you might want to look for a simpler alternative. But this could also be a benefit if you really want to tinker with the sound modes to create a better sound for your viewing and listening experience.
Also, note that the Bose Solo 5 does not come with a subwoofer. We found that the bass is sufficient for most people, but serious audiophiles should consider upgrading to the Bose 3.1 Home Theater Set.
If you're the type of person that really cares about brand names, this is our top pick.
Sony is another brand we all know and trust. The Sony HT-S350 Soundbar is at the high-end of our price range, but you can usually get it under $200 on Amazon. This 2.1 Channel Sound Bar System features virtual surround sound which emulates an actual 3D surround sound system. Of course, it will never replace the real deal, but for smaller spaces, it comes close. Plus, installation is way easier than a multi-speaker system.
Like the Polk Audio bar in the top spot, the Sony HT-S350 also comes with a wireless subwoofer, so you can guarantee a full range of sounds, from the deepest bass to the highest pitches. And of all the soundbars featured on this list, we think the Sony HT-S350 is the best looking.
You really can't go wrong with this soundbar (or any soundbar on our list, really).
If you have a Samsung TV, then you can't go wrong with the Samsung HW-R450 with Wireless Subwoofer. One of the reasons they work so well together is that you only need one remote, which can be a godsend for people who are always losing things. The HW-R450 also pairs wirelessly with Samsung smart TVs, so no optical input required (even though it comes with one if you need it).
If you want to get a true surround sound experience, you can also upgrade your home theater setup with the optional Wireless Surround Kit (sold separately).
Samsung makes some of our favorite smart TVs and if you have one, going with a matching soundbar is a no-brainer.
The Yamaha Yas-108 is similar in size to the Bose Solo 5, but it's sometimes a lot cheaper if you can snag it on sale. It also doesn't come with a subwoofer so don't expect a powerful bass. That said, Yamaha makes some of the best speakers in the business, so if you just want to upgrade your speakers to watch your favorite TV shows, the YAS-108 is a great, compact option.
But don't take its small size fool you; the YAS-108 comes with built-in subs and DTS Virtual: X Virtual 3D surround sound technology. Based on reviews, it can take a little bit of tweaking to get the sound optimized for your space, but the sound quality is very impressive for its size once that's done.
This soundbar is a great alternative to the Bose Solo 5 but, once again, it doesn't come with an external subwoofer, so you might be sacrificing deep bass in favor of a compact form factor.
What to Look For in a Soundbar
When it comes to buying a soundbar, here are a few key factors to consider.
- Size - The size of your soundbar should be based on the size of your television. You don't want to get a soundbar that is wider than your TV, and you don't want something that is so small that it doesn't match the quality of your giant 4K TV.
- Bluetooth Connection - If you want to seamlessly play music from your iPhone without using an AUX cord, you need Bluetooth.This is a pretty standard feature these days, but be sure to check before making a purchase.
- Power - Typically a midrange soundbar will have a power output between 80W and 200W. While watts isn't a perfect indicator of sound quality, it is something to keep in mind.
- External Subwoofer - If you have the room (and no downstairs neighbors), then you should definitely consider something with a subwoofer. This is especially important if you plan to use your new soundbar for music.
- Different Sound Modes - Technology has come a long way, and many modern soundbars feature different modes to easily optimize for things like music, dialogue, gaming and more.
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