We've tested over 165 soundbars, and below you'll find the best soundbars under $250 to buy. See our recommendations for the best soundbars, the best soundbars under $200, and the best soundbars under $300.
The best budget soundbar we've tested is the Vizio V Series V51-H6. It's one of the few setups available in this price range with discrete satellite speakers for an improved surround sound. With 5.1 audio formats like Dolby Digital and DTS, both of which are commonly found on streaming services and Blu-rays, you get an immersive, cinematic feel, as if your couch were dropped right in the middle of the action. The added subwoofer brings plenty of rumble in the bass for action-packed scenes. You'll have to wire the satellites to the subwoofer to get them to work, though, which isn't ideal for all living spaces.
Living in a studio apartment Low on space A standalone soundbar might be the best option since it packs sound into an all-in-one package that's available without a bulky subwoofer to take up extra space in your room. The best we've tested in the budget range is the Vizio M Series M213ad-K8. It comes in a unique trapezoidal design, and its 2.1 setup means it's ideal for listening to stereo content, including most music and TV shows. You get a pretty clear sound right out of the box, so the dialogue on screen is clear and easy to follow. Without a sub, you don't get the same rumble in the low-bass. It's not noticeable if you mostly listen to content without a lot of bass mixed in, like dialogue-centric TV shows and sitcoms, but it's not ideal for those who love bass-heavy EDM and hip-hop.
If you don't want to spend much on a soundbar, check out the TCL Alto 6+. As the best cheap soundbar we've tested, it makes a solid choice for those who are new to the soundbar space. Though it sometimes retails for over $100, you can often find it at a more affordable price point. With a dedicated subwoofer, it can bring more thump and rumble in the bass than other cheap bars, most of which come as standalone setups. As a result, it's a good pick for bass-heavy music like EDM and hip-hop.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best cheap soundbars for most people to buy. We factor in the price (a cheaper soundbar wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no soundbars that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
If you would like to choose for yourself, here's the list of the best value soundbars. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. No soundbar is perfect. Personal taste, preference, and listening habits will matter more in your selection.
Sony WH-1000XM5: was $400 now $348 at Amazon (opens in new tab)The best pair of wireless noise-cancelling headphones you can buy at this price. The Sony XM5 headphones might feel a little less premium than before, but the jump in sound quality from the previous generation is a big one. Five stars
Apple AirPods Max: was $549 now $449 at Amazon (opens in new tab) (opens in new tab)Yes, even with this fantastic deal Apple's wireless noise-cancelling over-ear headphones are still quite expensive. But they are wonderful to use, boast spatial audio support and are one of the very best-sounding wireless headphones we've heard. Worth it. Five stars
AirPods Max: was $549 now $449 at Amazon (opens in new tab)Yes, even with a fantastic deal Apple's wireless noise-cancelling over-ear headphones are still quite expensive. But they are wonderful to use, boast spatial audio support and are one of the very best-sounding wireless headphones we've heard. Worth it. Five stars
For our official listening tests, I concealed the identities of the soundbars behind thin, black fabric. I told the panelists nothing at all about the soundbars, although they could see that at least some of the soundbars used dedicated surround speakers, which were arrayed on speaker stands behind them. I set the volume of each soundbar to the same playback level, using a sound pressure level meter and a shaped noise tone taken from a Dolby Digital receiver. I then played them the same movie and music selections I used for my testing, plus one music track of their choice.
For theaterphiles who also appreciate simplicity, the LG S95QR is the best way to get performance close to that of a real surround-sound speaker system without the complicated setup and confusing operation of a typical AV receiver. The package includes the large soundbar, a subwoofer, and two wireless surround speakers. The system has a total of five upward-firing immersive speakers: three in the soundbar, and one in each of the surround speakers. This setup allows it to produce exciting, enveloping sound with any good surround-sound movie, but especially with movies encoded in Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. The powerful subwoofer can easily shake the couch, providing a realistic sense of impacts and explosions in games and action movies. The S95QR is also packed with more features than our other picks, including Google Home and Amazon Alexa compatibility; Apple AirPlay 2 and Google Chromecast Wi-Fi streaming; two HDMI inputs plus an HDMI eARC port; and Bluetooth. 781b155fdc