Which cheap soundbar is best?
If you’re looking for the best soundbar under $200, you’re likely not going to be disappointed. While there was an era when soundbars were new technology, we’ve all but surpassed this time in history, and the modern soundbar market has a lot to offer buyers with just about any budget.
Out of all the cheap soundbars on the market today, the Polk Audio Signa S2 Ultra-Slim TV Soundbar offers perhaps the best balance of affordability, audio quality, functionality and style, which explains how it has remained a staple of the affordable soundbar market.
What to know before you buy a soundbar under $200
Dolby vs. DTS
One of the most important features of a modern soundbar is what type of audio format it supports. While most buyers are familiar with the tuned audio brand Dolby for its common surround sound formats Dolby Digital and Dolby Atmos, its competitor DTS is also commonly found in soundbars. In addition, DTS offers slightly improved audio in its upgraded DTS-HD-MA and DTS-X optimal surround sound builds, as well as a stereo “simulated surround sound” mode called DTS Virtual: X.
While many subwoofers and soundbars can connect wirelessly, many also use specific wired connections to either communicate with their surround sound setups or simply with their TV. There are a wide variety of audio connections available in today’s market, but most commonly for cheap soundbars, you’ll find models that support wireless subwoofer connections, HDMI connections to the TV, optical connections to the surround sound setup and wireless Bluetooth connections for other devices.
Size and mounting options
Most users try to find soundbars that are comparable to the size of their TVs. Soundbar size should also be considered alongside plans to either mount or set the soundbar on an entertainment stand. In general, most soundbars can be mounted directly onto the wall, though many users also elect to simply set them on a dresser, cabinet or another TV stand closest to the TV.
What to look for in a quality soundbar under $200
One of the most common features found in modern soundbars is Bluetooth connectivity. While you can find Bluetooth capability in most soundbars, it’s a good thing to check for — especially at the lower end of the budget spectrum — if you plan to use it often.
Remote control and/or Wi-Fi
Another common feature that many users prefer is the ability to control the soundbar’s volume wirelessly. If you’re just using your soundbar for the TV, many TV remotes will allow you to change the volume of the soundbar using the TV’s volume buttons. However, many soundbars also come with a remote control of their own, some of which include additional functions such as the ability to equalize or edit the audio coming through the speakers. In addition, many high-end soundbars today include Wi-Fi connectivity, which allows the user to use the soundbar with the voice assistant of their choice.
Simulated surround sound or other audio features
While you aren’t likely to be able to purchase a full surround sound setup for under $200, you can usually at least purchase a soundbar that produces a virtual, enhanced surround sound. This emphasizes the directionality of given audio and allows the user to get a taste of multidirectional audio without having to spend $1,000 on a full surround sound setup.
How much you can expect to spend on a soundbar
While you can find several soundbars for under $200, this tends to be the low end of the range. Some soundbars may be priced as low as $150, while most of them tend to fall somewhere between $200-$1,000.
What is a soundstage when it comes to a soundbar?
A. The soundstage usually refers to the listener’s “stage,” based on a given audio setup. Ideally, someone with a home theater surround sound setup could close their eyes and have a better idea of what’s happening on screen, based purely on the directionality of the audio. While a single soundbar and subwoofer may struggle with that, many soundbar users elect to purchase surround sound speakers as they can afford it, affordably building up their home entertainment system around their soundbar.
Can I connect my phone to soundbars using Bluetooth?
A. Most modern soundbars offer some sort of Bluetooth connectivity. This allows users to connect the devices of their choice to a given soundbar, and often even letting the user connect and switch between multiple Bluetooth devices.
What’s the best Soundbar to buy?
Top soundbar under $200
What you need to know: This affordable, super-thin soundbar comes with a subwoofer, a great low-key option that won’t break the bank.
What you’ll love: Affordable. Comes with a wireless subwoofer. Features Bluetooth for wireless connections or HDMI. Can be upgraded to a system with Wi-Fi capabilities. Includes voice adjust audio technology for clear dialogue. Thin, sleek black design.
What you should consider: Some users had issues keeping the soundbar connected to phones and other devices while running the TV.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top soundbar under $200 for the money
What you need to know: This super-affordable soundbar from VIZIO works great as the centerpiece of any surround sound system, and it also comes with a slim, wireless subwoofer.
What you’ll love: Super-affordable. Great surround sound-friendly audio. Subwoofer and soundbar have a sleek, thin design that’s easy to mount or set on an entertainment center. Bluetooth capacity for using separate devices. DTS Virtual: X offers great sound.
What you should consider: Some users reported having issues with certain TVs.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This single-piece speaker from Yamaha comes with built-in subwoofer speakers, so you don’t need the extra hardware, as well as Bluetooth connectivity.
What you’ll love: Affordable. Built-in subwoofer drivers. Enhanced dialogue clarity. DTS Virtual: X offers simulated surround sound. Bluetooth for easy wireless switching between two devices. Includes a remote control.
What you should consider: Some users preferred a separate subwoofer.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Zachary Visconti writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.