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The best soundbars under $500 for 2023

Yamaha YAS-209
Yamaha YAS-209
The best overall
Jump to details
Sonos Beam (Gen 2)
Sonos Beam (Gen 2)
Best designed soundbar under $500
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Amazon Fire TV Soundbar
Amazon Fire TV Soundbar
The best value
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Polk Signa S4
Polk Signa S4
The best for dialogue
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Sony HTX8500 2.1ch Dolby Atmos Soundbar
Sony HTX8500
The best soundbar with built-in subwoofers
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Roku Streambar
Roku Streambar
The best small-sized soundbar
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There’s certainly no shortage of soundbars on the shelves of our favorite electronics stores. But many of these high-tech speaker products are either a bit on the lackluster side in terms of quality, or more than $500 in total cost. And when you consider that most folks are purchasing a soundbar to improve he sound of their TVs, the last thing anyone wants is a soundbar that doesn’t deliver in one way or another.

This is why we’ve put together this list of the best soundbars under $500 that you can buy right now. We know how important audio can be when watching movies, playing video games, and streaming music, and we also know that not every shopper has an unlimited budget to play with. But some of the best audio brands in town – names like Sonos and Sony – make excellent soundbars that are also affordable.

yamaha yas 209 soundbar review
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Yamaha YAS-209

The best overall

Pros
  • Clear, powerful sound
  • Multiple sound modes
  • Built-in Alexa
  • Wi-Fi and Spotify Connect
Cons
  • No independent Alexa volume control

The Yamaha YAS-209 is everything you need in a soundbar, plus a bunch of features you didn’t know you wanted. It's super easy to set up and even technophobes should be able to get this up and running in no time using an optical cable and wireless subwoofer connection.

With Alexa built-in you get a lot more versatility, too, since playing music is easy as asking and you can also get music and podcasts via Spotify Connect, as well as both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Alexa can also help out with classic voice commands like getting news, sports, and weather updates, she can create lists, and set timers and alarms of course, but there are also built-in controls for running the soundbar too. Ask Alexa to crank the volume up, play movies from Amazon Fire TV, and more.

The sound quality is fantastic. YAS-209 has DTS Virtual:X, which means it’s capable of 3D surround sound from just a single device. The overall audio quality is clear, and delicate sounds are easy to pick out. The bass when playing music was full and defined, and a welcomed upgrade. When watching TV, the dialogue is clear and easily cuts through, thanks in part to special settings which are designed to make your TV and movie listening as sharp as possible. Overall it gives you really panoramic sound.

What’s under the hood? This 200-watt 2.1-channel soundbar easily fills a space, and the powerful subwoofer gives you deep bass with flexible placement. Plus, six preset sound modes can adjust how your overall audio sounds, with options to highlight Movies, TV, Sports, Game Music, or Stereo.

This YAS-209 is also quite compact, running about 36-inches across (or 3 feet) and just 2.5-inches high. It can fit easily into almost any existing setup without much trouble.

Yamaha YAS-209
Yamaha YAS-209
The best overall
sonos beam gen 2 hands on review 00016
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Sonos Beam (Gen 2)

Best designed soundbar under $500

Pros
  • Easy setup
  • Immersive, room-filling sound
  • Sleek design
  • AirPlay 2
Cons
  • No HDMI inputs
  • Requires compatible TV for Dolby Atmos

Building on the success of the Beam's first-gen speaker, the second-gen Beam is nearly identical in appearance but offers quite a bit more under the hood than its predecessor. One notable new feature is Dolby Atmos support, where Sonos engineers have dedicated two front-facing speaker arrays to simulating overhead sounds for a full 3D Atmos experience.

The new Beam also features support for HDMI eARC, which means bigger and better audio processing, especially when it comes to 4K Blu-rays, Dolby Atmos streams from Netflix, and other high-fidelity sources.

Sonos makes killer speakers that sound great and look good, too. With a more rounded design and soft curves, the Sonos Beam looks a little more sculptural in your space. Particularly if you have a more modern space, adding the white version and wall mounting, can mean it almost disappears, so the focus is on your content.

The whole Sonos system is designed to be the ultimate in multiroom audio, meaning you can add other speakers in your media room or all over the house and control them all from the Sonos app or using voice control. Since you have the option of talking to your digital butler via your Sonos Beam too, it doubles as a smart home portal as well, meaning it’s super versatile.

Sonos Beam (Gen 2)
Sonos Beam (Gen 2)
Best designed soundbar under $500
amazon fire tv soundbar review 00001
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Amazon Fire TV Soundbar

The best value

Pros
  • Decent bass for a single speaker
  • HDMI connection
  • Effective virtual surround sound
Cons
  • Weak midrange performance
  • Some missing instructions

Sometimes all you need from a soundbar is a little kick in the treble and bass, which is exactly what the Amazon Fire TV Soundbar can provide. If you’re not into the idea of having a wireless sub around, this Amazon device doesn’t come with one, yet it still delivers a surprising amount of bass.

We were also impressed by the Fire TV Soundbar’s DTS Virtual: X capabilities, which could fool anyone into thinking there’s more than just a soundbar in your media room. If you want a soundbar that meshes well with your 32-inch bedroom TV, or your 55-inch living room set, the Fire TV Soundbar’s minimalist design checks those boxes too. You’ll also be able to wire it up using HDMI ARC/eARC or digital optical (cable sold separately).

We’re not using words like “amazing” or “revolutionary” for a reason here, because the Amazon Fire TV Soundbar isn’t breaking down any doors. But it is a solid soundbar that you can grab for less than $150, and it even comes with a Bluetooth input, so you’ll be able to play your favorite tunes from Spotify and Apple Music with your phone or tablet.

Contrary to its name though, the Fire TV Soundbar doesn’t actually have Fire TV movie/TV show streaming capabilities. If you’re in the market for a soundbar/streamer combo though, the Roku Streambar may be a better fit.

Amazon Fire TV Soundbar
Amazon Fire TV Soundbar
The best value
polk signa s4 review pol soundbar 00031
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Polk Signa S4

The best for dialogue

Pros
  • Compact design
  • Ultra-simple setup
  • Very clear dialogue
  • Excellent Dolby Atmos sound
  • Great for TV-based music
Cons
  • No EQ adjustments
  • No Wi-Fi/AirPlay/Chromecast
  • No HDMI outputs

It’s a good sign when a soundbar is capable of decoding Dolby Atmos, but it’s an even better sign when the bar itself features up-firing drivers for Atmos sound to project from. Such is the case with the Polk Signa S4, an excellent Atmos-ready soundbar that delivers the kind of surround simulation that will save you from investing tons of cash into piles of speaker wire and ceiling speakers.

Oh, and above all, the Signa S4 is remarkable when it comes to dialogue clarity. This is thanks to a feature called Voice Adjust, which lets you choose from three different levels of speech enhancement.

One of the most frustrating parts of streaming a movie or TV show is that platforms like Netflix and Disney+ can be hit-or-miss when it comes to the content audio mixes, which usually means you’ll be cranking the volume to hear what characters are saying, only to be shocked out of your skin when a movie score kicks in. This is exactly the kind of thing the Signa S4 is excellent at balancing, while also delivering an impactful Atmos simulation.

Polk Signa S4
Polk Signa S4
The best for dialogue
The Sony HTX8500 Dolby Atmos soundbar.
Sony

Sony HTX8500

The best soundbar with built-in subwoofers

Pros
  • Good price
  • Great surround sound emulation
  • Can be used as an A/V receiver
  • Solid bass
Cons
  • No wireless subwoofer

Wireless subwoofers are only “wireless” in the sense that they can connect to your soundbar without the need for LFE cables or speaker wire. Otherwise, these rectangular audio companions still require a wall outlet connection, which can be challenging if you’re dealing with an outlet-starved room, or you simply don’t have a good place to seat the woofer.

Fortunately, there are soundbars like the Sony HTX8500 to even the playing field. Instead of having to contend with a separate sub, the HTX8500 has two built-in woofers, and the end results are really good.

The HTX8500 also supports both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X codecs, so you’ll be able to enjoy an elevated surround experience without having to buy a bunch of speakers. You’ll also be able to switch between three different audio presets (Theater, Music, and Game modes) to best match the content you’re indulging in.

The HTX8500 also includes 4K HDR passthrough, which means you’ll be able to connect an A/V component (like a set-top box or Blu-ray player) directly to the soundbar, while having a second HDMI connected from the bar to your TV.

Sony HTX8500 2.1ch Dolby Atmos Soundbar
Sony HTX8500
The best soundbar with built-in subwoofers
The Roku Streambar on a media console.
Roku

Roku Streambar

The best small-sized soundbar

Pros
  • Compact and convenient
  • Built-in Roku streaming device
  • Easy to set up
Cons
  • Lacks the rich sound-staging of bigger bars

If your soundbar hunt has you looking for the absolute smallest footprint you can find, look no further than the Roku Streambar. This versatile little TV speaker is both a Roku streaming device and a super-compact soundbar all in one small package. Though it’s compact, it still packs a surprising audio punch and wide soundstage. The bass is surprisingly strong for a soundbar of this size and it’s quite well balanced.

The Roku Streambar is super easy to set up, and it comes with the Roku remote which is quite handy and will link up so you can control your TV with it too. Play music to it via Bluetooth, plus this soundbar gives you the option of adding a Roku Wireless Subwoofer and immersive surround sound if you want to.

The speakers consist of four 1.9-inch full-range drivers, and they can handle audio formats including Dolby Audio. There are several sound modes including one that clarifies speech, and another to crank the bass. Voice leveling rounds out the specs here.

Roku Streambar
Roku Streambar
The best small-sized soundbar

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a soundbar do?

A soundbar helps boost audio quality from a TV. Because many TVs are so thin and light, there’s no room for a quality built-in sound system, so that needs to get handled separately. A good quality soundbar will project audio farther and wider and make it louder, give more depth to the sound and give you a better overall sound experience.

Are budget soundbars any good?

The short answer? Yes, they can be. It’s important to check out reviews of soundbars to make sure the actual user experience is up to par, but in some cases, there are lots of great options at a much lower price point.

What should you look for in a budget soundbar?

You want to ensure a budget soundbar, like a more expensive option, sounds good, has good bass, and good volume projection. After all, if the soundbar barely has enough power to project beyond what your flatscreen TV can already do, there’s not much value in that. Other things to look for include a physical remote control (handy but often not necessary), voice control via Google or Alexa as well as multiple connectivity options so you know it will hook up properly to your TV.

Do you need a subwoofer with a soundbar?

That depends. If you have a very powerful soundbar that’s been finely tuned, then you may not also need a subwoofer. If you’re not the type of person that has to have floor-shaking bass, then a subwoofer may be lost on you. For some cinephiles and bass lovers, they want to squeeze out every drop from the low end and a dedicated subwoofer is often the only way to do that. If the TV you’re connecting to isn’t a primary screen that’s used all the time for movie watching, you may also be fine to skip the sub.

Are there any wireless budget soundbars?

The market for home theater audio has come a long way even in the last few years. It’s now absolutely possible to find wireless soundbars with a budget price tag.

Where should you place a soundbar?

Soundbars are most commonly placed immediately below the TV. Depending on your setup and configuration, you can mount it to the wall, or place it on furniture underneath your screen. Placement immediately below the TV screen is optimal for the best soundscape. Placing a soundbar too high, such as above the TV, and you run the risk of sound simply bleeding off into the room. You want the audio coming straight towards you, so it's also a good idea to double-check your overall room arrangement, and make sure your TV is centered in front of the main seating area, and at the optimal height for viewing.

Do budget soundbars support virtual assistants?

Some budget soundbars do indeed support virtual assistant features. It’s getting cheaper and easier for manufacturers to integrate digital voice assistant smarts into a soundbar, and white honestly most of us expect that feature in any speaker nowadays too.

Are budget soundbars worth it?

As with any major purchase you get what you pay for. If your budget is limited, a budget soundbar can still fill a need until you're able to afford something bigger, better, and potentially more powerful. And these days, let's be honest, with new technology coming out sometimes as often as once a year, it's hard to predict what kinds of technological advancements there may be by the time you're ready and have the funds to upgrade. A budget soundbar can last for many years, meaning if you choose to hang onto it or move it to another TV if you do want to upgrade, you should still be able to get plenty of use from it.

If you're trying to save a few bucks just for the hell of it, you may end up disappointed in the long run. In short, it's always best to do your research, check consumer reviews, and buy the best device you can afford.

If you're still in need of guidance after perusing all the above topics, check out our expert guide to picking the right soundbar.

Editors' Recommendations

Michael Bizzaco

Michael Bizzaco has been writing about and working with consumer tech for well over a decade, writing about everything from A/V components and smart home devices to encryption software, cloud backup platforms, search engine tools, and more. He has written for Digital Trends for over three years, covering entertainment content, A/V, and smart home devices.

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