Banner Image Credit: Polk Audio
If you're still using your built-in TV speakers in 2021, 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 single compact woofer. That's what the cool kids call speakers. 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 (the better-known part of the woofer) and get to listening.
Today, we're highlighting the best budget soundbars in the $200 range, but that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice sound quality or bonus features like Bluetooth connectivity, digital 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 8 best soundbars you can buy in 2021 — all around the $200 price range.
The Polk Audio AM6214-A Signa S2 Ultra-Slim TV Sound Bar tops our list as the best soundbar under $200 because it packs a huge punch in a sleek package.
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 2021, 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.
The perfect soundbar for serious at-home movie watching, the Soundbar for TV from VIZIO features Dolby digital and DTS TruSurround virtual surround sound. Listen to your favorite scores and soundtracks like you've never heard them before with a truly enhanced audio experience in a slim 15" package.
With a completely wireless design, including the remote and subwoofer, you'll keep your home free of cords and clutter and elevate your sound design with this minimal soundbar from VIZIO. The simple black and silver design will disappear completely in any home decor but looks especially great with other VIZIO home theatre products.
Thanks to the included subwoofer, this speaker delivers a strong bass punch. You will need to take the time to follow the setup steps, including customizing speaker settings based on height and room placement.
For less than $100, the Sony S100F with Integrated Tweeter and Bluetooth packs a lot of features into its small size and price tag.
With a bass reflex feature for better quality bass sounds and a Voice Enhancement feature that delivers crystal clear audio on conference calls and quiet, hushed television shows, you can get the features of the Bose Solo 5, for about half of the cost.
With connections available through HDMI ARC, you'll be able to easily control your speaker through your TV's controller, which is a total bonus. You'll need to dial in the settings for the best sound, and you can't connect an additional subwoofer or other speakers to enhance the sound.
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 is 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.
Yes, this option just tiptoes over the $200 mark. But hear us out, this one is worth the extra cash.
JBL is known for packing high-quality audio experiences into teeny tiny packages. Lovers of JBL's Flip Bluetooth Speaker can attest to the room-filling power of one of these handheld speakers with an almost cult following.
This 3" wide soundbar delivers the big sound you've come to expect from JBL, with added surround sound for primo movie watching thanks to the wireless subwoofer. A beautiful balance of treble and bass, this soundbar also offers the unique SoundShift technology that allows the user to instantly and seamlessly switch between streaming Spotify from your phone to TV audio and then back again to finish your favorite song.
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 let 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.
The Soundcore Infini Pro Soundbar makes our list thanks to its industry-leading surround sound technology, Dolby Atmos. Feel as though sound is actually coming at you from all directions, thanks to this groundbreaking sound audio experience.
Packing two subwoofers, two midrange drivers, two tweeters and two bass reflex ports into one eight-pound package is no easy feat, but Soundcore does it with sleek style. We like that you can fully customize your listening experience with pre-programmed audio modes for whatever you might be playing. Switch between Voice, Music and Movie mode to make custom changes without the hassle of updating individual settings.
Plus, fear not 4K TV owners. This soundbar connects seamlessly to 4K HDR and supports Dolby Vision pass-through paring unparalleled sound and perfect picture quality.
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 or coaxial 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.
- Compatibility - Though most of these soundbars are going to pair seamlessly with whatever TV or smartphone you pair them to, if you roll with Apple, make sure your chosen soundbar does too. Same goes for Google, Android and paring with Alexa.
Is it Loud and Clear?
If you're still not sure about spending $200 on a single soundbar, think about it this way — The average ticket for the movies costs about $10. Add the cost of popcorn, candy and a drink, and you're looking at close to $20 per person. For the cost of a mere handful of trips to the movies, you could have a quality, smart soundbar with great sound in a price range you can't say no to.
We know you missed a few theatre visits last year too. Turn your home viewing experience into a full-range listening experience with one of these eight awesome soundbars under $200.
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8 Best Soundbars For $200:
- Polk Audio AM6214-A Signa S2 Ultra-Slim TV Sound Bar
- Bose Solo 5 TV Soundbar Sound System
- VIZIO Soundbar for TV
- Sony S100F Soundbar with Bass Reflex Speaker
- Samsung 2.1 Soundbar HW-R450 with Wireless Subwoofer
- JBL Bar 2.1 Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer
- Yamaha YAS-108 Sound Bar
- Soundcore Infini Pro Integrated 2.1 Channel Soundbar with Dolby Atmos