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Best Soundbar 2023: Upgrade your TV audio

If you’ve bought a TV you’ve likely realised that the sound isn’t too great, especially if you’re looking to hear your favourite TV shows and films in their best quality. This is where a soundbar can improve the performance.

And as soundbars come in different sizes along different features, it’s not necessarily too easy to figure out exactly what you need. We’ve created this list from affordable to very premium models, soundbars that are large enough to act as their own sound system to ones that are small enough if you don’t have much space to hand.

We’ve listened to plenty of movies and music, playing games and lived with these bars to hear how they handle dialogue, deal with the scale of big Hollywood movies and how musical they sound in case you want to use them as wireless speaker in your living room.

We’re constantly updating this list and adding new models if they are worthy of featuring, so continue to check back if you haven’t found something that tickles your fancy. Or if you have something else on your mind in terms of giving your audio a boost, then check out our list of the Best Dolby Atmos soundbars for immersive audio.

If you’re in need of something smaller, our best small soundbar list will help and if it’s not a soundbar you need but a sound system, then our list of the best surround systems is here to help.

Best soundbar at a glance

How we test

Learn more about how we test soundbars

Soundbars were created to boost TV sound quality – which means we end up watching a lot of TV. We play everything – news reports for voices, movies for scale and effects steering – to ensure that the soundbars that come through the doors at Trusted Reviews are given a proper challenge. We’ll play different genres of music, too, since a good soundbar should be capable of doubling-up as a great music system.

More complex soundbars feature network functionality for hooking up to other speakers and playing music around the home, so we test for connectivity issues and ease of use. We cover the spectrum of models available, everything from cheap soundbars costing less than £100 to those over £1000, to ensure our reviews benefit from our extensive market knowledge. Every product is compared to similarly priced rivals, too.

Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Max

Best overall soundbar
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Pros

  • Superb 3D audio performance
  • As good with music as it is movies

Cons

  • Eye-wateringly expensive
  • Big and not exactly pretty

We rate the Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Max as the best overall soundbar that you can buy today, but it is a lot of soundbar for a lot of money – $2199 / £2199 to be exact.

The Ambeo is a large soundbar, not one that will easily sit beneath a telly unless the TV is wall-mounted, stretching over a metre long and weighing in at 18.5kg. The similarly priced Devialet Dione tips the scales at 12kg, and we considered that to be fairly heavy. The Ambeo is heavier than some OLED TVs on their own.

Which means it needs a fair amount of space to be accommodated, but for its size and heft the build quality is excellent with a good selection of inputs that includes three HDMI ports, digital optical out and aux-in. Wirelessly there is support for Google Chromecast and Bluetooth 4.2.

The Ambeo Soundbar is an all-in-one effort, and one of a few that we’ve tested that lives up to its claims of offering 5.1.4 channel immersive sound. It sounds absolutely sensational, firing effects around a room and generating plenty of power and muscle to make films and TV shows sound their exciting best. We found there to be a substantial level of bass for a single-bar system, with a good level of extension to the low end and in addition, plenty of depth and nuance to the soundstage it creates. But you’ll want to make sure the Ambeo processing is switched on, as we found the bar’s performance lost a sense of depth and height with it off.

There’s Dolby Atmos, DTS:X as well as the less well known MPEG-H audio formats supported. To calibrate the Ambeo’s performance, it features a high-quality calibration microphone to match the profile of the soundbar’s sound to a room, although it can only perform this from a single listening point. That means you want to be sitting in the right place at all times for the best experience possible.

There’s competition in the sound stakes from the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Theatre, but that’s even more expensive at nearly £6,000. If the size of the Ambeo Max is off-putting, Senheiser has released the smaller (and less expensive) Ambeo Soundbar Plus for £1,299 / $1,499.

Reviewer: Steve May
Full Review: Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Theatre

Best high-end soundbar
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Pros

  • Stunning design
  • Huge soundstage
  • Profound bass performance
  • Generous connectivity

Cons

  • You’ll need to add B&O rears for cinematic immersion
  • Unconvincing gaming
  • Horrendously expensive

When it comes to extravagant products there are few better than Bang & Olufsen, and with their supporting Beosound Theatre, they’ve attempted to create an Atmos bar with no compromises.

And in our view they’ve succeeded. There are still constraints and limitations given that the Beosound Theatre is a one-box system that still needs rear speakers to create the enveloping effect of Dolby Atmos immersive sound, meaning the soundstage is front-heavy. It doesn’t the same reach and wraparound effect that the Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Max can produce with its digital processing.

But the bass performance is thunderous for any one-box sound system, our reviewer commenting that the Theatre was the most dynamic sounding soundbar they had ever heard. The energy and drive it gives soundtracks is excellent, and it seamlessly blends midrange and sub-bass frequencies with confidence. Dialogue clarity is excellent, and the soundbar is particularly good in delivering music. While it’s a excellent bar for movies and music, with games it’s weak at localising effects within the soundstage, making it tougher to figure out what’s around you.

DTS:X isn’t supported, which is a disappointment, but there are plenty of ways to send audio wirelessly to the bar through Chromecast, AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect, with app support that allows the EQ to be adjusted and audio modes to enable. The bar is also able to measure your listening space and optimise its output to deliver the best possible sound.

The design is certainly not understated, with the Beosound Theatre primarily built to integrate with LG C2 OLED but can be partnered with any other TV. The width of the bar can be adjusted to match the size of the screen, with a modular design that allows it to be upgraded over time. And around the back is a generous array of connections with four HDMI ports, including one that supports 4K/120Hz frame rates.

The Beosound Theatre is eye-wateringly expensive at £5590 / $6890 but it is a class-leading effort in terms of build quality and design, and it offers up a superb sonic performance. This is a soundbar that will blow you away with its performance.

Reviewer: Steve May
Full Review: Bang & Olufsen Beosound Theatre

Samsung HW-Q700B

Best affordable Atmos soundbar and subwoofer
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Pros

  • Crisp, entertaining presentation
  • HDMI input for local sources
  • Extra features for Samsung TV owners

Cons

  • No sense of deep Atmos immersion
  • Front LED often difficult to read
  • Prosaic design

Samsung’s soundbar line-up is one of the most popular, acting as a perfect complement to their TVs, and the HW-Q700B strikes an impressive balance between performance and value at its $699 / £699 asking price.

Much like the step-up HW-Q800B, it’s both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X compatible and features an HDMI input that supports 4K HDR passthrough if you’ve run out of inputs on your TV. Samsung exclusive features include Q Symphony, which allows the soundbar to work in tandem with the TV’s speakers for a bigger sound and one where the position of effects sticks to the screen. Our reviewer very much enjoyed its implementation on this bar.

It features several other ways to fire audio at it including AirPlay 2 for iOS devices, Bluetooth support and Spotify Connect integration through Samsung’s SmartThings app that corrals other smart devices in the home to speak to each other. Other smarts are covered in voice support for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

It’s the performance that we’re here for, and this 3.1.2 channel effort has several appealing traits. Our reviewer found dialogue clarity to be excellent, making it easy to follow what’s been said when the action on screen gets busy. The upfiring height drivers perform a great job of expanding the soundfield with a film such as The Gray Man, the sense of ambient space makes the action feel more believable.

The crossover point between the main unit and the subwoofer is smoothly done, and the sub itself puts in a punchy, hard-hitting performance with low frequencies to create plenty of impact. Bass delivery isn’t necessarily full of depth, but it is effective. The issue that we would point out is that the Q700B is a front-heavy soundstage, with no rear speakers to create the enveloping soundscape needed for true Atmos and DTS:X soundtracks. It does, however, support Samsung’s rear speaker package.

The HW-Q700B is a soundbar for larger screens, those with smaller TVs may want to look at the Sonos Beam Gen 2 or Bose Smart Soundbar 600 as similarly priced alternatives, though both those models do not come with a subwoofer included.

Reviewer: Steve May
Full Review: Samsung HW-Q700B

Wharfedale Vista 200S

Best affordable soundbar
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Pros

  • Great with movies and music
  • Well-integrated bass
  • Low-profile and well-made cabinet
  • Exceptional value
  • Easy to setup

Cons

  • Nothing at this price

If the expense of the Sennheiser Ambeo causes your eyes to water, the presence of an affordable soundbar with the boost of a dedicated subwoofer might be more attractive. In that case the Wharfedale Vista 200S is a highly recommended option.

We found the bar’s design to be attractive in appearance and the construction durable. The black finish and glossy top surface doesn’t scream a cheap soundbar despite the Vista 200S’s affordable price. With a width of 900mm it’s tailored to partner televisions up to 65-inches in size, and that it boasts a slim for factor also means you won’t be living in fear of the soundbar blocking the picture.

In terms of features, we observed there wasn’t much to grapple with aside from its active wireless subwoofer that has a side-firing 165mm driver with 60W of power. If you want wireless connectivity or immersive audio, you’d be better off seeking the smaller but more expensive Sonos Beam Gen 2. We did note the three preset EQ settings for media playback are provided in Movies, Music and News to optimise the soundbar’s sound for those types of content.

We found the sound quality for the price was especially good, with the 200S putting in a great performance across the frequency range with a top-end that didn’t suffer from a lack of detail, plus some punchy bass thanks to the active subwoofer. We also observed that the Vista 200S could get rather loud without sounding harsh or compressed due to its 120W of built-in amplification. It also dealt with dialogue well, even without a dedicated centre speaker, and if you’re interested in playing music through this bar, then it delivers on a smooth and clear performance.

There are cheaper soundbars, such as the Sharp HT-SBW202, as an alternative but we haven’t come across another soundbar that offers as much performance-per-pound at this price the Wharfedale.

Reviewer: Steve Withers
Full reviews: Wharfedale Vista 200S

Sony HT-A7000

Best soundbar for movies and music
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Pros

  • Well-featured
  • Excellent sonic performance
  • Strong bass for a single bar
  • Terrific music performance

Cons

  • Needs plenty of space
  • Adding subwoofer and rear channels is expensive
  • Standalone bar is pricey

If you’re in the market for a soundbar that’s great with both movies and music, we suggest you give the Sony HT-A7000 a closer look.

During testing, we found its audio delivery to be crisp and concise, with clear voices and especially powerful bass for a single-bar unit. Its 7.1.2 channel Dolby Atmos and DTS:X performance impressed too, with a great sense of height that makes for a more immersive performance than what you get from a ‘standard’ soundbar. Its claims of virtual surround sound weren’t too convincing, but this is likely down to needing a room with walls nearby to bounce sounds off to the listening position (which we didn’t have in our set-up).

The HT-A7000 is also an excellent performer for music showcasing great tonality, depicting the mid-range naturally, along with sharp highs and punchy bass. We would say it performs better with music in its Cinema mode than Music, eliciting a smoother performance with vocals.

There is an upgrade path with the ability to add rear speakers and a subwoofer, but this doesn’t come at a particularly affordable price, taking the total cost past $2000 / £2000. You at least get plenty of bang for buck for features, with various options of playing audio through the system be it wired or wireless. There is Chromecast, AirPlay 2, Bluetooth 5 and Spotify Connect, and support for Hi-Res Audio with DSD and the wireless LDAC format.

There’s Sony’s 360 Reality Audio format that can play tracks in 3D audio from music streaming services such as Tidal and Deezer. Smart assistance is on the table with both Alexa and Google assistant, but a separate compatible device is needed to enable hands-free control.

Its design is rather out there, with a reflective glass top surface and different combination of materials that may make it marmite for some (we rather liked it). It is also a large soundbar, wider than the Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Max though thankfully not as tall, so it can fit beneath most TVs. You’d really want to pair with a TV 55-inches or bigger to get the most impact. Sony has launched a cheaper version in the HT-A5000 that supports a similar feature set but at half the price.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full review: Sony HT-A7000

Sonos Arc

Best Atmos soundbar under £1000
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Pros

  • Expansive, well-defined and invigorating sound
  • Good impression of audio height and width
  • Fine spec
  • Ample control options

Cons

  • Slightly bumpy frequency response
  • Some treble stridency
  • No MQA support

Both the Sennheiser and Sony soundbars on this list cost north of $1000 / £1000 for a Dolby Atmos soundbar. If that’s not a price you’re willing to jump over, then we’d suggest the Sonos Arc. While it’s certainly not cheap, its range of connectivity, streaming support and true upfiring speakers make it one of the outstanding options below £1000.

The Arc represented the first time Sonos waded into the Dolby Atmos waters and we found the bar’s soundstage was full of plenty of height and width in testing, putting in a crisp performance with good control of the top end, alongside a detailed presentation of the mid-range and low-end.

Our reviewer found the transition between mid-range and low-end was not the most fluid, hampering the overall cohesion of the Arc’s presentation. It plays music well, although again the blend of bass and mid-range did cause it to lack conviction at times. The lack of bass is an issue that hampers several Atmos single-bars such as the Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3, but at least with the Arc a subwoofer can be added.

The Arc features HDMI eARC, which means you’ll need a TV with an eARC port to wring the best possible Atmos performance. Wirelessly there’s AirPlay 2 (Sonos still omits Bluetooth from its spec), and in the S2 app there’s the ability to place the Arc within a multi-room system with other Sonos speakers. The S2 app also provides access to streaming services in the likes of Spotify, Tidal, Deezer, Qobuz as well as the Sonos Radio service. Those with an iOS device can take advantage of the Trueplay feature that optimises audio playback to any room.

Design wise, the Arc is is keeping with Sonos’ recent design language, its minimalistic look available in black or white. Like the other soundbars on this list it’s over a metre long but it is quite discreet in profile. The Arc is a very good Dolby Atmos soundbar but not without limitations, its lack of all-round DTS support means this isn’t the best choice for home cinema enthusiasts with older DVDs and Blu-rays with DTS soundtracks.

Reviewer: Simon Lucas
Full review:  Sonos Arc

Sonos Beam (Gen 2)

Best small soundbar
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Pros

  • Clean and balanced sound
  • Upgradeable
  • Excellent size
  • Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant support

Cons

  • HDMI eARC input only
  • Limited DTS support

For those with limited space or a smaller TV, the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) is easily one of the best soundbar available in its size. 

The Beam (Gen 2) measures 26-inches in width and just shy of 3-inches in height. For reference, our best overall soundbar, the Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Max is almost twice that size. This makes the Beam ideal for small TVs, with any up to 49-inches in size a suitable fit.  

Similar to the Gen 1 Beam, the Gen 2 is equipped with a tweeter, four mid-woofers and three passive radiators. It has none of the upward-firing speakers for the overhead channels for Dolby Atmos found on the Sonos Arc. Instead, the Beam uses digital processing to create an immersive experience. 

Unlike the original, the Beam (Gen 2) features HDMI eARC, which offers higher bandwidth and support for lossless audio formats such as Atmos. 

There are a number of optional sound modes to choose from including a night mode to cut out loud noises in the evenings and a speech enhancement mode to boost dialogue. The soundbar also supports voice commands with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. 

When it comes to sound quality, we found the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) performs with excellent balance and range. It doesn’t quite have the dimensionality of the Sonos Arc, but it positions sound in a way that it feels as though it’s wrapping around you. Our reviewer felt also felt that bass levels impressed, though they don’t have the same weight and depth as those produced by the larger Arc. 

Nevertheless, the Beam manages to deliver a good sense of cinematics, a clean and balanced sound and thus remains the best choice for smaller TVs and rooms, just beating out the likes of the similarly priced Bose Smart Soundbar 600 and Denon Home 550 Soundbar.

Reviewer: David Ludlow
Full review:  Sonos Beam Gen 2 

Razer Leviathan V2

Best gaming soundbar
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Pros

  • Great bass
  • Customisable RGB lighting
  • Razer Synapse companion app
  • Full and warm sound during music and gaming

Cons

  • Subwoofer too large for a desk
  • Lack of ports
  • Bluetooth audio is less reliable

The Razer Leviathan V2 is a soundbar designed with gamers, intended to amp up gaming sessions with a bar and subwoofer combo. At $249.99 / £229.99, it’s within the affordable realm of the soundbar market, and a worthwhile option not just for gaming, but also with music too.

The appearance of the Leviathan V2 is toned down compared to some of Razer’s other products, although the RGB lighting scheme can summoned and customised to fit the environment, bringing a cascade of colour to gaming sessions. We found the build quality to be sturdy enough, despite being predominantly made from plastic, with feet that can angle the soundbar upwards to fire audio towards the listening position.

There is no HDMI port, just a USB audio input to connect to a PC, and wirelessly there’s Bluetooth 5.2 if you want to connect the Leviathan V2 to a device other than a PC and play audio through the bar. It’s a simple enough state of connections, though we found it to be a little disappointing that there’s 3.5mm despite its predecessor including it. The Razer Audio app features EQ presets such as Bass Boost to help customise the sound to match the game being played.

And in terms of the sound, our reviewer enjoyed the warm, punchy bass of the soundbar/subwoofer combo, with the spacious soundstage helping to identify where enemies where, plus the sound of bullets flying past helped immerse us better within the game. There is THX Spatial Audio as opposed to Dolby Atmos, which the Panasonic SoundSlayer Gaming Speaker features, and we found the addition of spatial audio brought more heightened awareness to the games we played.

Playing music over a Bluetooth connection wasn’t as good as a wireless speaker, it’s perfectly serviceable if you’re expectations aren’t too high.

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FAQs

What’s the best budget soundbar?

Our recommendation would be the Wharfedale Vista 200S. It can be found for a few pounds under £200 and is great with both movies and music. We found it to be superb value.

What’s the best soundbar without a subwoofer?

If you’re short on space or prefer not to have a subwoofer as part of the package, then the Sonos Beam Gen 2 is an excellent choice with its wide soundstage and detailed performance with voices.

What’s best soundbar for a Sony OLED TV?

If you’re after a soundbar to go with a Sony OLED then the HT-A7000 is an excellent choice. With compatible Bravia XR TVs it can function as a centre channel speaker within a surround sound system; and the user interface is integrated better with faster access to quick settings.

Comparison specs

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