Best Soundbars Android Central 2020
Soundbars have come a long way in the last few years. While full-sized speakers will still sound better — sound needs space, after all — soundbars are great for their size. That size also requires a smaller footprint in your living room, so it's great for people who want to save space. With something like the Sonos Beam, you'll get great sound without a head-scratching installation process, and more. There are other great soundbars available, and we have detailed some of the best options for your home.
- Best Overall: Sonos Beam Smart TV Sound Bar
- Best for Sonos Enthusiasts: Sonos Playbar
- Best for Bose Fans: Bose Solo 5 TV
- 3D Surround Sound: Yamaha YAS-209BL Soundbar
- Best for Amazon Integration: Polk Audio Command Bar
- Best on a Budget: TaoTronics 2.1 Channel Soundbar
- Truly Wireless Surround Sound: JBL Bar 5.1
- Best for Samsung TVs: Samsung Harman Kardon HW-Q70R Soundbar
Best Overall: Sonos Beam Smart TV Sound Bar
With the Sonos Beam, you get a superb TV soundbar with some basic smarts. The Sonos Beam connects to your TV with HDMI-ARC, or with the included HDMI-to-Optical adapter. A recent update has brought the ability for integration between Sonos products and Google Assistant. You can control your TV with your voice if your TV supports HDMI-CEC, which most modern sets do. Controlling your TV with your voice isn't a replacement for a remote, but it's an excellent option.
Sonos' ecosystem is attractive because of how easy it is to add more of its speakers to create a surround system. And as for connections, you'll get a single HDMI port, a single Ethernet port, and the standard AC power input. You can start with the Sonos Beam and have a great soundbar. A few months later, you can pick up a couple of Sonos One speakers to add more channels. Or, you can buy a Sonos 5.1 kit with everything you need.
However, if you want to experience better "lows" in your movies and video games, you'll want to pick up a subwoofer after-the-fact. This adds more of a punch to intense scenes and helps to immerse you in whatever you're watching or playing.
- Amazon Alexa built-in
- Compatible with Google Assistant
- Integration with other Sonos speakers
- Great sound
- No subwoofer included
- Optical cable needed if HDMI-ARC not available
- Voice commands won't work with Optical cable
All of the smarts
With Alexa support and the ability to pair with other Sonos speakers, the Beam should be the go-to soundbar for almost everyone.
Best for Sonos Enthusiasts: Sonos Playbar
Sonos has been rising the ranks. Once it simply made fantastic speakers that pair to your phone, but now, you can get them all over the house. Over the last few years, the company has moved into the soundbar game, with the Playbar coming in as its flagship model. It offers the homeowner six woofers, three tweeters, and a total of nine amplifiers for incredible, immersive sound.
The Playbar requires only two cables to plug-in before being ready to experience the greatness of this soundbar, which is incredible if you don't have a complicated setup. As for connections, the Playbar offers two Ethernet ports, a Digital audio IN port, and an AC power input. Plus, as part of the Sonos family, you can connect the Playbar to other Sonos speakers for an authentic surround-sound experience.
While it's a fantastic option, the Soundbar isn't without a couple of downfalls that may have you looking elsewhere. First is the size and weight — it measures in at almost 12 pounds and is more than 35 inches wide, so you'll need to have plenty of space and heavy-duty wall anchors. The other pitfall is that there is no subwoofer included, so you may not get as much "punch" during your movies as you might want.
- Wall mountable
- Integrates with other Sonos speakers
- Only two cables to hook-up
- Speech Enhancement clarifies dialogue
- Heavier than comparable products
- No subwoofer included
Best for Sonos Enthusiasts
Great sound with the smarts to boot
Sonos knocked it out of the park with the Playbar, as this is compatible with Amazon Alexa, and is perfect for most setups.
Best for Bose Fans: Bose Solo 5
Bose has been in the sound game for a long time, but its home theater audio options used to be priced out of budgets for many potential owners. The times have changed, and the Bose Solo 5 soundbar system couldn't be better evidence of that. This affordable soundbar provides an Optical input, coaxial input, and a 3.5mm auxiliary input while allowing for Bluetooth connections if you want to use your phone or tablet.
Bose also includes a Dialogue Mode, which will improve the clarity of spoken words for your various movies and TV shows. It's great that the action is packed, but if you can't hear the conversations, you may end up missing the crux of the storyline. Bose wants to make sure that doesn't happen.
With a soundbar like the Solo 5, you may expect some caveats, and there are just a few. Bose opted to keep it simple, and as such, there is no subwoofer included. In some instances, you want a soundbar that spans across the entirety of your TV, but you'll have to look elsewhere as the Solo 5 measures in at just 21.5 inches, which may be a bit small for some.
- Universal remote controls all compatible products
- Enhanced bass mode available
- Dialogue Mode
- Bluetooth connectivity enables music streaming
- Small size for compact spaces
- No subwoofer included
- No USB port included
- Might be too small for some
Best for Bose Fans
Perfect soundbar for most people
Bose has been in the sound game for quite a while, and the Solo 5 is a great pick as it offers excellent sound and looks sleek.
3D Surround Sound: Yamaha YAS-209BL Soundbar
There is surround sound, and then there is a three-dimensional surround sound, and the Yamaha 209BL Soundbar is a vast improvement over its predecessor. With DTS Virtual:X, the 209BL will fill every inch of your room to entrench you in the action and make you feel like you are part of the movie.
Yamaha also includes the ability to stream music over Bluetooth, along with using either the included remote or the accompanying smartphone app. Plus, there is a wireless subwoofer packaged in the bundle so you can get just the right amount of bass for your favorite movie, TV show, or music playlist.
Unfortunately, while the 209BL is excellent in many facets, there are a few frustrating omissions. The first frustration is the number of inputs, as there's a single HDMI for input, one for output, and a single Digital Optical output port. As for smart home assistants, you'll be limited to Amazon Alexa, which is already built-in. However, Google Assistant and Apple AirPlay 2 users will not be able to take advantage of those benefits. Additionally, Yamaha has not included support for all music streaming services, including the likes of Apple Music, TIDAL, or YouTube Music.
- Wireless subwoofer included
- Virtual 3D surround sound
- Amazon Alexa built-in for voice control
- Use the included remote or application on your phone
- Does not support all music-streaming services
- No support for multi-room systems
- Limited input/output ports
3D Surround Sound
The Yamaha 209BL is a nearly perfect soundbar between the subwoofer and virtual 3D sounds, but there are still some compromises.
Best for Amazon Integration: Polk Audio Command Bar
Polk is another one of those companies that prides itself on providing great audio experiences throughout your home. The Command Sound Bar is no different and has a few tricks up its sleeves that other soundbars simply can't compete with. Kicking everything off, the Command Bar sports two HDMI ports, with one ARC-compatible HDMI port, along with a standard optical port for your television and a service USB slot.
Smart home integration is on board, with included Amazon Alexa so you can control your smart home products. This works perfectly with the newly-added multi-room music support so you'll have your music everywhere. The Command also includes a wireless subwoofer so that you can get that extra bass from your media without the need for any additional wires.
Although Polk says "it's coming," there are still a few Alexa-focused features that are not available yet. These include routines, calling, messaging, reminders and more, but Polk is working Amazon to implement these. The other downside is that there is no built-in "cast" feature like Chromecast, but you'll still get great integration with a Fire TV.
- Easy integration with Fire TV's
- Wireless subwoofer included
- Voice Adjust technology allows control voice levels for media
- Stream music with Alexa or Bluetooth
- No built-in casting option
- Alexa voice control features are limited (for now)
Best for Amazon Integration
Sleek, smart, and powerful
The Command Bar includes Dolby Digital 5.1, is sleek, includes a subwoofer, and is great for those in the Amazon Alexa ecosystem.
Best on a Budget: TaoTronics 2.1 Channel Soundbar
If you want your first soundbar to sound great without breaking your wallet, the TaoTronics Soundbar is the best choice. You get three audio channels, Bluetooth connectivity for your phone, and 3.5mm or Optical connectivity to your TV, and coaxial input, all in a slim package. There's no HDMI passthrough or smart assistants; nothing but good sound.
At only 36 inches across, this is an excellent option for college dorms or other rooms without a lot of space. And if you want to get fancy, there are two holes for wall mounting the speaker. For controls, you can take advantage of the buttons on the side, or the included remote so that you can get the perfect sound for the situation.
Because this is a budget option, TaoTronics had to make some cuts in features and functionality. For one, there is no smart assistant support, so you'll have to rely on one of your Alexa or Google Assistant speakers for reminders. There is also no subwoofer included, so what you see is what you get with this soundbar, although it's to be expected.
- Wired or Wireless setup
- Mount on wall or under TV
- Setup via wires or Bluetooth
- Lightweight and thin
- No Smart Home integration
- Only Bluetooth 4.2
- No subwoofer included
- Cannot integrate with additional speakers
Best on a Budget
This won't break the bank
The TaoTronics Soundbar is great for those looking for better sound on a budget. Despite its caveats, the Soundbar is still solid.
Truly Wireless Surround Sound: JBL Bar 5.1
Google has done a phenomenal job getting Google Assistant into the hands of millions. What is even better is that there are more products launching that integrate Assistant, so it's even more useful.
The JBL Bar 5.1 is the perfect example of this, as the company worked with Google to integrate not only Google Assistant, but also Google Cast support. Onboard, there are three HDMI ports, along with an HDMI Arc output option. JBL even included a privacy switch for the microphone if you don't want your soundbar listening. However, one of the biggest advantages is the truly-wireless surround sound speakers that detach from the primary soundbar. Then, you can mount them in different areas around your room, and charge them with the main soundbar.
Unfortunately, some sacrifices had to be made. For one, you can't currently add this to your Google Home Groups. That likely won't make or break your purchase, but it's something to be wary of when you get this sound bar. Additionally, the Bar 5.1's wireless speakers are equipped with Micro-USB charging and not USB-C, which is just disappointing at this point.
- Wireless surround speakers included
- 10-inch wireless subwoofer
- Three HDMI inputs
- Instantly switch sound between devices
- Micro-USB charging for surround speakers
- Finding the proper configuration can be frustrating
- Plastic design
Truly Wireless Surround Sound
Get Google Assistant built-in
JBL's Bar 5.1 is a fantastic option for those who want to get rid of the wires and still have a great surround sound experience.
Best for Samsung TVs: Samsung Harman Kardon HW-Q70R Soundbar
It can be frustrating when you have to continually switch your EQ levels to match the type of content being viewed. With Samsung's Harman Kardon HW-Q70R Soundbar, you can throw those worries out the window. As for the connections, Samsung provides a single HDMI input, one HDMI output, and an Optical input, along with Bluetooth connectivity.
The soundbar sports Adaptive Sound Mode, which automatically adjusts the EQ levels based on whatever you are watching. There is a catch here, as you will need to have the Q70R plugged into one of the compatible Samsung QLED televisions. But even if you don't have one of those TVs, the Q70R is intriguing with its passthrough 4K compatibility, along with a dedicated channel to produce clear dialogue.
Another catch with this specific soundbar comes with the included "Game Mode Plus" for those gamers out there. As is the case with the Adaptive Sound Mode, you will need to have one of the compatible Samsung TVs for this to work correctly.
- Dedicated channel for clear dialogue
- Wireless subwoofer
- 4K Passthrough built-in
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Game Mode Plus only works with Samsung TVs
- No Dolby Atmos Support
Best for Samsung TVs
Perfect if you want a Samsung TV setup
With the Samsung Q70R Soundbar, you get an array of features such as Adaptive Sound, but you need to have the right Samsung TV.
Soundbars come in all shapes and sizes, and there are a lot of different considerations to be taken when selecting the best one. The Sonos Beam is our favorite option with its combination of superb sound quality and ability to be paired with other Sonos speakers. This will allow you to create a genuinely immersive, surround audio experience for your home, providing the ultimate movie night.
There are some downfalls, as there is no wireless subwoofer available so the sound may not "punch" as hard as you would like. Although there is a smart assistant available with Amazon's Alexa, you may run into problems if you have to use the Optical connection, as voice commands are not accessible.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Andrew Myrick is a regular freelancer at Android Central and iMore. He has been a tech enthusiast ever since the original iPhone was released and continues to flip-flop between devices. You might as well hook him up to an IV filled with coffee to get him through the day. If you have any questions, you can find him on Twitter, and he'll get back to you.
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