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Best soundbars in Australia 2020: enhance your TV shows, movies, games and music

Sonos Arc
(Image credit: Sonos)
PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

One of the best soundbars from this list will make a huge difference to the audio within your home. That’s why a top-quality soundbar is an important investment for any home cinema enthusiast. You can use it on its own or as part of an immersive 5.1 speaker system that forms the immersive home theatre system of your dreams. 

TV displays are getting slimmer and slimmer. Although this means they look great in your home, there’s less room for built-in speakers. Just take a look at any of the top TVs at the moment and you’ll see the audio isn’t up to scratch. Even the best Samsung TV could use an external speaker system.

This is why we've rounded up the very best soundbars on the market in one handy guide. Because there’s no point spending a small fortune on a new TV display for the audio to fall short. 

What you'll find below is our selection of the best soundbars available for you to buy in 2020, from the best pricey, feature-rich models through to ultra-affordable, easy-to-set-up speakers. 

Our list has a bit of everything. There are plenty of expensive soundbars here that will give you immersive Dolby Atmos sound and a wide soundstage. But when it comes to soundbars, you don’t always need to spend the big bucks. It's well-worth considering the cheaper options on here too, as they sound great for the price and won't break the bank.

Our top picks

The best soundbars 2020

Samsung HW-Q950T

(Image credit: Samsung)

1. Samsung HW-Q950T Soundbar

The best just got better

Specifications
Dimensions: 1303 x 621 x 277mm (W x H x D)
Speaker configuration: 9.1.4
Claimed audio power: 546W
Connections: 2 x HDMI inputs, 1 x HDMI output with eARC, optical digital audio input, USB (service only), Bluetooth and WiFi
Reasons to buy
+Powerful sound+Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support+Tasteful design
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Odd display positioning-No auto-calibration

In terms of audio quality, Samsung's HW-Q950T is incredible, delivering dense, layered, complex audio with an abundance of power and no distortion whatsoever. If you're looking to recreate the cinema audio experience in your living room, this is the way to go.

Boasting a 9.1.4 channel configuration, the Q950T provides exceptional 3D audio that brings a great sense of dimensionality to compatible movies and video games. Thanks to the inclusion of eARC support, the soundbar is able to achieve lossless Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio from compatible TVs, meaning you aren't limited solely to the HW-Q950T's two HDMI inputs.

In addition, you also get two rear speakers and a subwoofer which wirelessly connect to the soundbar, making the setup process remarkably easy and straight forward.

The Q950T is Samsung’s top-end soundbar for 2020, so it’s no surprise to find it wearing a top-end price. That said, it's well worth the AUS$1,949 asking price thanks to its raw power, 14 separate speaker channels and a robust set of features.

Read more: Samsung HW-Q90R Soundbar review

sony soundbar

(Image credit: Sony)

2. Sony HT-X8500 Soundbar

Sony’s all-in-one Dolby Atmos bar may be the best value of the year

Specifications
Dimensions: 890 x 64 x 96 mm (35 1/8 x 2 5/8 x 3 7/8 in)
Speaker configuration: 2.1
Claimed audio power: N/A
Connections: 1 HDMI input, 1 HDMI Out (ARC), analogue audio in/out, Ethernet, optical audio in, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
Reasons to buy
+Dolby Atmos and DTS:X compatible+Compact all-in-one form factor+Integrated subwoofer
Reasons to avoid
-No upfiring drivers

Given that rival Dolby Atmos-compatible soundbars typically sell for twice the price, Sony’s HT-X8500 warrants an easy recommendation. Cost-cutting can be attributed to connectivity and features but what’s genuinely confounding is just how great the HT-X8500 sounds. 

The key to the HT-X8500’s gutsy performance is Sony’s proprietary Vertical Sound Engine - working with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X content, it creates a convincing illusion of wraparound sound that allow Dolby Atmos movies to play with a clear sense of expanded height and width.

The build quality and design of the soundbar is exceptional, and its general audio performance impresses with its clarity and spatial presentation. 

Overall, if you want a home theatre sound system that won’t dent your budget, it’s probably the best option right now.

Read more: Sony HT-X8500 Soundbar review

(Image credit: Sonos)

3. Sonos Arc

One of the best soundbars you can buy right now

Specifications
Dimensions: 1141.7 x 87 x 115.7mm (W x H x D)
Speaker configuration: 5.0.2
Claimed audio power: N/A
Connections: HDMI input (ARC), optical digital audio to HDMI converter, Bluetooth, Ethernet port, 802.11b,g Wi-Fi, Apple AirPlay 2, IR receiver
Reasons to buy
+Dolby Atmos, TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus+Discrete all-in-one soundbar+Amazing surround sound and music playback
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn’t suit every room

Sonos has a new surround sound solution and it’s contained entirely in a single soundbar it calls Arc. 

While we’re not sure if the device gets its name from the HDMI interface it uses, the curved sound it pitches or the fact that it is perhaps, metaphorically, a vessel delivering impressive surround sound to the modern minimalist home, whichever the case this system is hell-bent on short circuiting the surround sound game.

The Sonos Arc draws on Dolby’s latest TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus sound codecs to deliver the best quality lossless audio found on cutting edge Blu-ray discs and some of the leading streaming services. It then enhances the 3D soundscape using Dolby Atmos object tracks to bounce certain sounds off the walls around you so they feel like they’re coming at you from all angles.

While all this might sound complicated, the Sonos Arc setup couldn’t be simpler, involving just a couple of steps on the smartphone app. The minimalist cable connections and all-in-one system construction add to this no-fuss feeling and streamlined aesthetic – making it one of the best soundbar you can buy in 2020.

Read more: Sonos Arc review

(Image credit: Yamaha)

4. Yamaha YAS-207

Great performance. Great price. Too few features.

Specifications
Power: 200W
Weight: 2.7kg : 3.1.2
Dimensions: 930 x 60 x 108mm (W x H x D)
Connections: HDMI input and output (ARC), optical digital audio input, Bluetooth
Subwoofer included?: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Simple setup+Balanced sound+Excellent value
Reasons to avoid
-DTS Virtual:X is underwhelming-No Google Cast or Apple AirPlay-Dated and forgettable design

For the money, the Yamaha YAS-207 is an excellent choice for users looking to upgrade their movie and TV watching experience on the cheap. The YAS-207 offers balanced sound, simple setup and DTS virtual surround processing which, while not for us, others may enjoy. 

The sound quality of the Yamaha YAS-207 is excellent, offering crisp highs and deep bass. Dialogue was loud and clear for movies and TV, but there is an option to enhance dialogue further by pressing the “Clear Voice” button on the remote. While we liked the sounds of the mids and highs, out of the box there can be a too much bass so we didn't feel bad dialing it down by one level. 

The Yamaha YAS-207 soundbar is a great value, packing in solid sound quality for the price. DTS Virtual:X is a nice addition at this price point but its performance is underwhelming with an artificial sounding soundstage. That said, niceties like Google Cast and AirPlay, available on the YAS-207's competitors, are noticeably missing here.

Read more: Yamaha YAS-207 soundbar review

best soundbar

(Image credit: Sonos)

5. Sonos Playbar

Turns your multi-room audio system into wireless surround sound

Specifications
Power: Not quoted
Speakers: 9
Dimensions: 900 x 85 x 140mm
Weight: 5.4kg
Inputs: 1 x digital optical, 2 x Ethernet LAN
Outputs: N/A
Wireless: WiFi
Special features: Sonos Play:1 speakers can be connected as wireless rear speakers
Reasons to buy
+Beautiful sound+Integrates with Sonos systems +Clever audio modes
Reasons to avoid
-Requires particular TVs 

The Sonos Playbar is a non-HDMI device that uses optical to hook up to a TV. Used simply on its own it delivers a massive sonic boost to your TV listening, but operating it does require using a smartphone or tablet app. The benefit is that it can seamlessly segue in to a Sonos wireless system, and can even act as the front three speakers in a 5.1 setup with two Play:1s acting as rears. 

Unfortunately although it's optical-only setup will be great for most, it does exclude owners of TVs that lack this connector, which has pushed it a little further down this list. 

Read more: Sonos Playbar review

Sonos Beam

6. Sonos Beam

This is the smart soundbar we've been waiting for

Specifications
Power: N/A
Speakers: 3 channels
Dimensions: 2.70 x 25.625 x 3.94 in. (68.5 x 651 x 100 mm)
Weight: 6.2 lbs (2.8 kg)
Inputs: 1 x Digital Optical-In, 1 x HDMI-in
Wireless: Sonos
Subwoofer included?: No
Special features: Amazon Alexa, Apple AirPlay 2
Reasons to buy
+Great compact design+HDMI ARC compatible+Superb sound
Reasons to avoid
-No Dolby Atmos

The Sonos Beam is a fantastic soundbar for its price, one that takes full advantage of the Sonos ecosystem and is a joy to use (and set up, if your television has HDMI ARC). Its smaller form factor means it’s a device that will sit comfortably next to a 32-inch TV but it’s got enough of a footprint to not be dwarfed by a much bigger set. 

The Sonos Beam doesn’t offer earth-shattering bass and the lack of Dolby Atmos support will irk some, but at this price point it'd be more of a surprise if it had been included. The voice control may be Alexa-only for now, but it works well and if you have adopted some of Amazon’s TV toys, it really is worth experimenting with. 

Read more: Sonos Beam review

Yamaha YSP-2700

(Image credit: Yamaha)

7. Yamaha YSP-2700

A terrific soundbar for watching movies

Specifications
Power: N/A
Channels: 7.1
Dimensions: 944 x 51 x 154mm
Weight: 4.0 kg
Inputs: 3 x HDMI in, 1 x HDMI out, digital optical, digital coaxial in
Wireless: Bluetooth, AirPlay, Wi-Fi
Special features: Yamaha MusicCast
Reasons to buy
+Excellent sound quality+Handles all formats & streams
Reasons to avoid
-Occasional switching delay-Inaccessible USB slot

Looking at the YSP-2700, you'd be surprised at how big a sound Yamaha's soundbar is capable of producing. This slim and unassuming soundbar delivers a terrific 7.1-channel surround sound effect by bouncing sound off the walls.

If room-rumbling bass is what you're after, you're in luck – the Yamaha YSP-2700 comes with a wireless, cube-shaped, front-firing subwoofer that's able to reach some surprisingly deep levels.

In terms of connectivity, the YSP-2700 offers one HDMI out and three HDMI ins with support for HDCP 2.2 and 4K video pass-through. Bluetooth, Wi-Fi (up to 24-bit/192kHz) and Apple AirPlay streaming are also available, along with Yamaha MusicCast, which allows you to integrate the soundbar into a compatible multi-room system. As for audio formats, Dolby Digital TrueHD and DTS:HD are offered, but sadly there's no support for Dolby Atmos.

Sure, it's not the cheapest soundbar around, but its spacious soundstage, impressive dynamics and hearty bass make the YSP-2700 a great option for your living room.

soundbars

(Image credit: Polk Audio)

8. Polk Audio Command Bar

Inexpensive and very smart

Specifications
Power: N/A
Speakers: 1
Dimensions: 43 x 14.5 x 14.4 inches
Weight: 8.6lbs
Inputs: 1 x SPDIDF, 1 x HDMI, 1 x TOSLINK, 1 x micro-USB connection
Outputs: 1 x HDMI output with Audio Return Channel (ARC)
Wireless: Bluetooth
Subwoofer included?: Yes
Special features: Alexa built in
Reasons to buy
+Alexa built-in+Space for a Fire TV stick+Inexpensive
Reasons to avoid
-Audio is mediocre

If your budget cap for a smart soundbar is relatively tight, then we highly recommend the Polk Audio Command Bar for any small or medium-sized living room.

As you might be able to tell based on the soundbar’s design, the Command Bar comes with Alexa built right into it making it unquestionably smart. It’s also relatively inexpensive too for a soundbar that comes with a subwoofer. 

It has defined and powerful low end, some cool smart features, and looks pretty good, too.

Read more: Polk Audio Command Bar review

Sennheiser Ambeo 3D Soundbar

(Image credit: Sennheiser)

9. Sennheiser Ambeo 3D Soundbar

Dazzling 3D sound – but at quite a price

Specifications
Power: 500W
Speakers: 5.1.4
Dimensions: 1265 x 135 x 171 mm
Weight: 18.5kg
Inputs: Digital coaxial in, Digital optical in, HDMI 2.1 output (eARC), 3 HDMI 2.0a In, Audio in 3.5 mm jack
Wireless: Bluetooth 4.2 and AAC
Subwoofer included?: No
Reasons to buy
+Superb sound quality+Effective Dolby Atmos
Reasons to avoid
-Humongous price, size and weight-No AirPlay or AptX for Bluetooth

Sennheiser is best known for its range of headphones and professional microphones, but it recently extended its ambitions to home audio as well, with the introduction of its new Ambeo Soundbar. 

The bulky soundbar is packed with the latest audio technologies, including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X for surround sound audio, as well as Sennheiser’s own Ambeo ‘virtual 3D’ sound system. Sennheiser clearly has its sights set on the home cinema market with the Ambeo, although the bar's Wi-Fi connectivity means that it can double up as a pretty impressive music system as well.

It’s not perfect – Sennheiser’s reliance on Google Home to provide Wi-Fi streaming seems like an odd choice – but the sheer sound quality of the Ambeo Soundbar ensures that it justifies its wallet-breaking price tag.

Read more: Sennheiser Ambeo 3D Soundbar review

Why should I buy a soundbar?

What about my TV?

There's no point in having a great soundbar if your TV's display is terrible; that's why we have rounded up the 10 best TVs in Australia in 2020. These are our picks for the top big-screen TVs worth buying this year.

On a budget? Check out the best cheap 4K TV deals in Australia this month. 

If you love the slim aesthetic of your new 4K TV, we can bet it doesn’t have the audio needed to match the visuals. That means a good soundbar is your best option to get the most out of your favorite TV shows and films. 

The best soundbars of 2020 are built to be just as pleasing to the eye as they are to the ear. Most of them are sleek, minimal and designed to sit flush against a wall or home cinema set-up. They're also a good solution for smaller homes and rooms with little space that wouldn't be able to squeeze a 7.1 channel speaker system in. 

The majority of the soundbars on this list are made to sit in front of your screen, but they can also be wall-mounted above or to the side of it as well, depending on how your room is laid out. This provides you with ultimate choice as to how your home entertainment set-up looks.

Despite most of the soundbars on this list only featuring front-facing speakers, many are able to confidently project sound in a way that makes it seem as though there's booming audio coming from every direction.

Best soundbars at a glance

  1. Samsung HW-Q950T Soundbar
  2. Sony HT-X8500 Soundbar
  3. Sonos Arc
  4. Yamaha YAS-207
  5. Sonos Playbar
  6. Sonos Beam
  7. Yamaha YSP-2700
  8. Polk Audio Command Bar
  9. Sennheiser Ambeo 3D Soundbar

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