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 sound great for their size. That size also requires a smaller footprint in your living room and with something like the Sonos Beam, you will 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 most people: Bose Solo 5 TV
- 3D Surround Sound: Yamaha YAS-207BL Soundbar
- Best for small spaces: Polk Audio MagniFi Mini Soundbar
- Best on a Budget: TaoTronics Soundbar
- Best for Google Assistant: JBL Link Bar
- Best for Samsung TVs: Samsung Harman Kardon HW-Q60R 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. It only supports Alexa right now, but Google Assistant integration is coming at some point. 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 their speakers and create a surround system. 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.
- Amazon Alexa built-in
- Integration with other Sonos speakers
- No subwoofer included
- Optical cable needed if HDMI-ARC not available
- Voice commands won't work with Optical cable
All of the smarts
With Amazon Alexa support and the ability to pair with other Sonos speakers, the Sonos Beam should be the go-to soundbar for almost everyone.
Best for Sonos enthusiasts: Sonos Playbar
Sonos has been rising the ranks: once they were merely fantastic speakers to pair to your phone, now they're what you want throughout 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 its six woofers, three tweeters, and a total of nine amplifiers.
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. 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 as 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 soundbar is compatible with Amazon Alexa, has excellent sound, and is perfect for most setups.
Best for most people: Bose Solo 5
Bose has been in the sound game for a long time, but it's 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 multiple digital or analog inputs while allowing for Bluetooth connections if you want to use your phone or tablet.
Bose also includes 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 with this option, and as such, there is no subwoofer included, so you may need to try and find a third-party option. 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 of your compatible products
- Enhanced bass mode available
- Dialogue Mode improves clarity
- Bluetooth connectivity enables music streaming
- No subwoofer included
- No USB port included
- Only 21.5-inches wide
Best for most people
Perfect soundbar for most people
Bose has been in the sound game for quite some time, and the Solo 5 is the best soundbar for most people. It offers excellent sound and won't break the bank.
3D Surround Sound: Yamaha YAS-207BL Soundbar
There is surround sound, and then there is a 3-dimensional surround sound, and the Yamaha 207BL Soundbar was the first of its kind to offer 3D surround sound. With DTS Virtual:X, the 207BL 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 207BL is excellent in many facets, there are a few frustrating omissions. The first of these is the lack of integration with smart assistants like Alexa or Google Assistant. Additionally, you won't be able to pair this soundbar with other speakers, leaving you to only rely on the 207BL and subwoofer for your audio needs.
- Wireless subwoofer included
- Virtual 3D surround sound
- Able to stream music over Bluetooth
- Use the included remote or application on your phone
- Incompatible with smart assistants
- No support for multi-room systems
3D Surround Sound
The Yamaha 207BL is almost the perfect soundbar with the subwoofer for bass, and virtual 3D sounds. However, the lack of assistant support isn't great.
Best for small spaces: Polk Audio MagniFi Mini Soundbar
Polk is another one of those companies that prides itself on providing great audio experiences throughout your home. The MagniFi Mini Soundbar is no different and has a few tricks up its sleeves that other soundbars simply can't compete with.
Smart home integration is on board, as Polk has included Google Assistant with the built-in Chromecast for Google Cast. This allows you to play content directly from your smartphone, tablet, or Chromebook without having to deal with the frustrating pairing system of Bluetooth. The MagniFi Mini also includes a wireless subwoofer so that you can get that extra bass from your media, without the need for any additional wires.
As the MagniFi Mini is exceptionally compact, there is no way to mount this to your wall without installing a shelf underneath your TV. Plus, Polk has not included the ability to sync this with other speakers, even those made by Polk, so you will have to hope that this speaker gives you the desired output.
- Fits into small spaces
- Wireless subwoofer included
- Voice Adjust technology allows control voice levels for media
- Stream music with Google Home or Bluetooth
- Cannot mount to the wall
- Cannot connect to other speakers
Best for small spaces
Compact, smart, and powerful
The Polk MagniFi Mini includes Dolby Digital 5.1, is ultra-compact, and has a Chromecast built-in. Just don't expect to be able to mount it on the wall.
Best on a Budget: TaoTronics Soundbar
If you want your first soundbar to sound great without breaking your wallet, the TaoTronics Soundbar is the best choice for you. You get two audio channels, Bluetooth connectivity for your phone, 3.5mm or Optical connectivity to your TV, all in a slim package. There's no HDMI passthrough, no smart assistants, nothing but good sound.
At only 25-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, or save some space, 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
- 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
If you are looking for a budget soundbar, the TaoTronics Soundbar is a great pick. There are some caveats, but that is expected in this price range.
Best for Google Assistant: JBL Link Bar
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 which integrate Assistant so that it becomes even more useful. One such category where Assistant is arriving is in the soundbar space.
The JBL Link Bar is the perfect example of this, as the company worked with Google to integrate not only Google Assistant, but also Google Cast support. This means that you can control your soundbar with your voice, while also using it as a Chromecast for your TV. 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.
Unfortunately, some sacrifices had to be made, and one of which is the fact that you cannot 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 the Link Bar. Additionally, JBL opted not to include the wireless subwoofer, so you will need to shell out a few more bucks if you want to pick up the subwoofer.
- 3 HDMI Inputs
- 1 HDMI Arc Output
- Built-in Android TV
- Privacy switch for microphone
- Cannot be added to Google Home Groups
- Cannot pair Bluetooth headphones
- Need to purchase subwoofer separately
Best for Google Assistant
Get Google Assistant built-in
JBL's Link Bar is a fantastic option for those entrenched in the Google ecosystem with its Assistant and Android TV support.
Best for Samsung TVs: Samsung Harman Kardon HW-Q60R 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-Q60R Soundbar, you can throw those worries out the window.
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 Q60R plugged into one fo the compatible 2019 Samsung QLED televisions. But even if you don't have one of those TVs, the Q60R is intriguing with its pass-through 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 2019 Samsung TVs for this to work correctly.
- Dedicated channel for clear dialogue
- Wireless subwoofer
- 4K Pass-through 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 Q90R Soundbar, you get a lot of different features such as Adaptive Sound, but you will have to own a 2019 Samsung TV for it to work.
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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