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Best Soundbar: Upgrade your TV audio

They say that with films and TV shows, video is 50% of the equation and audio makes up the rest. If you’re feeling underwhelmed by your TV’s sound performance, there’s a simple way to resolve that problem. Buy yourself a new soundbar.

A soundbar is an easy way to improve the size and quality of your TV audio without investing in a huge surround sound system. We’ve gathered a range of soundbars for different budgets, scenarios and features to help assist you in your search.

When we review a soundbar, we look at a range of criteria such as the size and design; controls and ease of use, and any additional features or audio presets onboard. 

We watch a range of movies, play games and listen music to determine how the soundbar handles key factors such as bass and dialogue. Finally, we crank the volume as high as possible to hear how loud it can go before succumbing to distortion. 

If you’re looking for something more specific, we’ve got our guides for the best Dolby Atmos soundbars, the best small soundbars and the best cheap soundbars. Those interested in going beyond a soundbar will also want to check out our guide to the best surround sound systems.

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 soundbar you can buy, but it is a lot of soundbar for a lot of money – $2199 / £2199 to be exact.

The Ambeo is over a metre long and weighs 18.5kg. It steadfastly refuses to sit beneath a telly unless the TV is wall-mounted. 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.

Which means it needs a fair amount of space 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 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 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, and the less well known MPEG-H are the main audio formats supported. To calibrate the Ambeo’s performance, it has a high-quality calibration microphone that matches 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 from the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Theatre, but that’s even more expensive. If the size of the Ambeo Max is off-putting, there is the smaller (and less expensive) Ambeo Soundbar Plus for £1299 / $1299.

Reviewer: Steve May
Full Review: Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Max

Samsung HW-Q990D

Best soundbar system
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Pros

  • Powerful and immersive sound stage
  • Excellent HDR and gaming support over HDMI loop through
  • Good with music too

Cons

  • It’s not cheap
  • Creates more clutter than a single soundbar option
  • Might annoy the neighbours!

The Q990D another belter of a wireless home cinema system from Samsung, tweaking and refining the performance of the predecessor, the Q990C.

There’s still no increase in channel count, which sticks at a massive 11.1.4 channels (the most of any soundbar). As has been the case with previous flagship soundbars, the power and dynamism of its speakers makes this a soundbar system that delivers intensity, impact and ‘bite’, with a dynamic range that adds to the excitement of the visuals on screen.

The ‘Acoustic Lens’ subwoofer continues to deliver some of the deepest rumbles we’ve come across in the soundbar world, but it feels more balanced and integrated into the frequency range thanks to the Space Fit Pro calaibration system. The rear speakers offer a fantastic sense of detail to create a soundstage that’s cohesive and balanced; positioning effects accurately around the soundstage whether they be overhead, behind the listening position or to the sides.

Its music performance has been improved, the tone is warmer than previous models, the subwoofer much better integrated into the performance.

If you have a compatible Samsung TV, there’s support for the Q-Symphony technology that combines the soundbar’s drivers with that of a Samsung TV’s speakers to create a bigger sound that places effects where they’re meant to be onscreen. Alexa voice recognition is built-in, and for iOS users there’s AirPlay 2 to cast audio to the soundbar.

The design and connectivity options are essentially the same as before. Connections include two HMI inputs and a single optical audio input, with the HDMI input able to pass through HDR10+ and Dolby Vision formats, as well as 4K/120Hz pass-through. The finest soundbar system has become even better.

Reviewer: John Archer
Full Review: Samsung HW-Q990D

Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus

Best one-box soundbar
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Pros

  • Ambeo virtualisation
  • Excellent dynamics
  • Two HDMI inputs

Cons

  • No 4K/120Hz pass-through
  • Expensive

The original Ambeo soundbar was a behemoth, a soundbar so big it would take up a third of the TV screen when sat in front of it. The Ambeo Soundbar Plus takes everything we liked about the Ambeo Max, and puts it into a much more friendly form factor.

It’s still a fairly long soundbar and as such is best paired with 65-inch TVs and larger. Our reviewer felt the design and build quality was excellent, the Ambeo Plus looks smart without necessarily hogging the attention from what’s on screen. It comes with two HDMI inputs to pass-through audio/HDR, but for a soundbar priced as much as it is, we were disappointed that there was no support for gaming features such as 4K/120Hz.

The system is described as a 7.1.4 system, with upfiring and side-firing speakers to create a wide and spacious presentation. The sound quality we found to be very impressive, dynamic, musical, and detail rich, it is reminiscent of the bigger Ambeo Max. Bass is surprisingly powerful for a one-box system, and the Ambeo processing really does expand the soundstage and place effects from the left, right, centre and above in convincing fashion.

Bass can be increased with support for an additional four Ambeo subwoofers, but bass here digs deep and with punch for a cinematic performance. With music it’s also capable, converting stereo tracks with width and plenty of nuance. There’s no provision to add surround speakers to this unit, so it is a very front-heavy presentation.

In terms of features the Ambeo Plus supports the immersive formats such as Atmos, DTS:X, 360 Reality Audio, and MPEG-H. You can also stream over AirPlay, Spotify Connect, Tidal Connect, Chromecast, and Bluetooth, giving the user plenty of ways to play audio. There’s also Amazon Alexa built-in for those who want to place the soundbar within a smart system.

The price is on the high side at £1299 / $1299, more than the Sony HT-A7000, Sonos Arc, and Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 but in our minds it’s as good, if not better than all of them in terms of delivering cinematic scale to movies and TV.

Reviewer: Steve May
Full Review: Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus

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 have the same reach and wraparound effect 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 commented 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 at 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 performance for 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, offering up a superb sonic performance.

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

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 a soundbar like the Sennheiser Ambeo Max causes your eyes to water, the presence of an affordable soundbar with 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 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 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, eliciting a smoother vocal performance.

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 possible 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

While the Sonos Arc is not exactly cheap, its range of connectivity, streaming support and 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. With the Era 300 available a full Dolby Atmos home cinema system can be created if that’s of interest.

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 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. It’s over a metre long but quite discreet in profile. The Arc is a very good Dolby Atmos soundbar but not without limitations, and 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. If you’re in need of DTS support, we’d recommend with the Sony HT-A7000 or the Sennheiser Ambeo Plus as an alternative.

Reviewer: Simon Lucas
Full review:  Sonos Arc

Samsung HW-Q700C

Best affordable Atmos soundbar and subwoofer
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Pros

  • Big, dynamic, cinematic sound
  • Wireless Dolby Atmos
  • Dolby and DTS support
  • Good music performance

Cons

  • Anonymous looks
  • Could be more subtle and refined

Samsung’s soundbar line-up acts as a perfect complement to their TVs, and the HW-Q700C strikes an impressive balance between performance and value for its asking price.

An upgrade over the HW-Q700B, it supports 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 soundstage. 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 users, Bluetooth support and Spotify Connect integration through Samsung’s SmartThings app that corrals other smart home devices to speak to each other. There’s also voice support in Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

We 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 soundstage, 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 is punchy, weighty, and forceful providing plenty of slam where required.

It could arguably be a little more subtle, lacking the detail and clarity of the HW-Q800C. But you can get this soundbar for less than £300 as of July 2024, which makes it an absolute bargain.

Reviewer: Steve May
Full Review: Samsung HW-Q700C

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 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 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 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 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, and is a cheaper option than the Sennheiser Ambeo Mini.

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 for 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 no 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. There is the Pro version that supports some clever spatial audio processing, and you can read our impressions.

Reviewer: Gemma Ryles
Full review: Razer Leviathan V2 

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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. If you have room for a bigger bar, either the Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Mini or Sony HT-A7000 would be fine options.

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

UK RRP
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Manufacturer
Quiet Mark Accredited
Size (Dimensions)
Weight
ASIN
Release Date
First Reviewed Date
Model Number
Model Variants
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Driver (s)
Audio (Power output)
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ARC/eARC
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Subwoofer
Rear Speaker
Frequency
Multiroom

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