The best soundbars for 2023: TV audio upgrades for all budgets

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REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
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REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

The best soundbars are a must-have if you’ve invested in a big TV and its speakers don’t deliver the same level of immersion that you get from the visuals. 

Some TVs may not need a soundbar. But even the best TVs on the planet tend to need an external soundbar for better audio, especially cheaper TVs. If you've got one of the best TVs under $500 or best TVs under £500, you'll benefit from the extra oomph of a soundbar.

We've tested many soundbars and speaker systems over the years so we're here to help you work out which options are worth your time, whether you want to create the ultimate home theater system of your dreams or simply want the best soundbar under $200/£200 to improve the sound of your TV and make speech clearer. 

December end-of-year sales present an opportunity to find a great deal on soundbars at all price levels. You can now find normally pricey 11.1.4 Dolby Atmos systems like Samsung’s HW-Q990B (jump to our write up below) at a greatly reduced cost, and the same goes for entry-level 2.1-channel ones like Sony’s HT-S400 (full details here). 

Winter is the time to settle in and catch up on all those shows you missed during the rest of the year while you were out and about, so you might as well do it in style with a TV audio upgrade.

The quick list

Clicking on the quick links above will let you jump to a specific soundbar category – everything from full-bore Dolby Atmos systems with wireless surrounds and subwoofer to compact all-in-one units. 

The best soundbars for 2023

Why you can trust TechRadar Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Below you'll find full write-ups for each of the best soundbars in our list. We've tested each one extensively, so you can be sure that our recommendations can be trusted.

The best soundbar overall

The best soundbar for most people

Specifications

Dimensions: 1110.7 x 60.4 x 120.0 mm (W x H x D)
Speaker configuration: 9.1.4
Claimed audio power: N/A
Connections: HDMI input (eARC), optical in, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth

Reasons to buy

+
The most immersive Dolby Atmos sound for the price 
+
Powerful but also nuanced and balanced sound
+
Expansive channel count

Reasons to avoid

-
Not great with music
-
Shrill trebles can very occasionally sound a touch harsh
Buy it if

✅ You want a true Dolby Atmos experience: With its 9.1.4 channel count, real rear speakers and oodles of power, the Q930B is one of a relatively small number of soundbars that delivers a full Dolby Atmos soundstage.

✅ You can’t afford the HW-Q990B: While Samsung’s flagship Q990B (skip to the Q990B here) is absolutely better than the Q930B, the Q930B certainly doesn’t feel like something that costs 40% less.

You want deep bass: The rumbles from the Q930B reach extremely low by soundbar standards, and it's particularly effective at enhancing the drama when it comes to action movies.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want to minimise clutter: With its four separate elements, the Q930B pushes the definition of a soundbar to a degree that minimalists might not like.

❌ You want a deeply musical experience: The Q930B’s difficulties with integrating the subwoofer into music make it an inconsistent and at times awkward stereo performer.

You're looking for design flair: The Q930B's more functional than pretty, but at this price that's an acceptable compromise to make. Plus, you can store the subwoofer under the sofa if you want to.

The bottom line

💻 The Samsung HW-Q930B rewrites the mid-range Dolby Atmos soundbar rulebook. The days where stepping down from Samsung’s flagship surround setup to the next model below it meant having to swallow all kinds of compromise are over. This is serious home theater sound for an affordable price, and it's excellent.

 What you need to know 

The Samsung HW-Q930B is a big change for the company's approach to Dolby Atmos soundbars. Despite being around half the price of Samsung’s 2022 flagship the HW-Q990B (more on that here) the HW-Q930B comprises four components: the main soundbar, a subwoofer, and two rear speakers. In fact, it delivers an eye-catching 9.1.4 channel count that’s only two channels down on the Q990B’s class-leading 11.1.4 configuration, making it the best Dolby Atmos soundbar for its price.

Features: The HW-Q930B ticks most soundbar feature boxes, including HDMI passthrough with support for Dolby Vision and HDR10+ HDR, and playback of the Dolby Atmos and DTS:X sound formats that represent the best of the film and music worlds.

Design: The main soundbar tucks nine channels of sound into its crisp form. It’s reasonably compact, and it provides a helpful LED readout on its front edge. The subwoofer isn’t particularly pretty, but it doesn’t need to be. (You can, after all, hide it behind a sofa or under a side board without damaging its sound.)

Performance: The Q930B’s sound is in a different class to that of its two-piece Samsung predecessors. Not least because including good-quality rears means its sound is now truly immersive, rather than being locked to the front of your room. In fact, no similarly priced soundbar rival we’ve heard to date combines such a fulsome surround sound experience with so much raw power. Bass is a little less refined and non-directional though, and as with all of Samsung’s high-end soundbars, the Q930B’s movie mastery doesn’t cross over to music.

Value for money: The Q930B is not as powerful, impactful, fully rounded or capable of filling really big rooms as Samsung’s Q990B flagship soundbar, but we'd say the compromises are pretty easy to swallow in return for saving $600 / £750. The Q930B sounds far more powerful and immersive than you’ve any right to expect for its cost.

Read the full review: Samsung HW-Q930B

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Test results
AttributesNotesRating
FeaturesVery well-specced with only minor omissions★★★★★
DesignImpressively small. Not a looker, but that's OK★★★★☆
PerformanceA true Dolby Atmos 'dome of sound'★★★★★
ValueThere's nothing quite like it for this price★★★★★

The best budget soundbars

The best budget soundbar overall

Specifications

Dimensions: Soundbar: 980 x 64 x 108mm (W x H x D); Subwoofer: 192 x 387 x 406 mm
Speaker configuration: 3.1
Claimed audio power: 400W
Connections: HDMI eARC x 1, HDMI input x 1, optical digital x 1, Bluetooth

Reasons to buy

+
Impressively wide and tall sound
+
Dolby Atmos & DTS:X support
+
4K HDR HDMI passthrough

Reasons to avoid

-
Can't manage true height
-
Not as dynamic as higher priced options
Buy it if

✅ You have a compatible Sony TV: Certain features, such as receiving a stereo Bluetooth signal are only available via compatible Sony TVs - so you'll be able to unlock this soundbar's full potential if you own one.

✅ You want to improve your TV sound: The sound produced by the HT-G700 will outshine the stock audio from your TV, and it does so at an affordable price point.

Don't buy it if:

You want real surround sound or height: Sony's claims for surround sound and height are a little misleading. All of this is done in various algorithmic ways as the soundbar itself only has three speakers.

❌ You intend to play a lot of music: While it's a decent enough performer for TV and movie audio, we didn't find the HT-G700 to be compelling when listening to music.

The bottom line

💻 The Sony HT-G700 3.1-channel soundbar delivers TV and movie sound respectably, and music averagely. But it’s a nice little soundbar that will perfectly complement Sony TVs in particular.

What you need to know

The Sony HT-G700 hits an excellent sweet spot for features, price and the scale of its sound. It's a soundbar and wireless subwoofer combo, and the soundbar is a good size for TVs of 48 inches and up.

Features: Along with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support, the HT-G700 features an HDMI eARC port plus a second port for HDMI pass-through and an optical digital input. There are no audio streaming features beyond Bluetooth.

Design: The HT-G700 is a quietly stylish soundbar system, with a matte grey top surface and a metal front grille punched through with a host of holes. The bar’s height of 6.4cm will keep it clear of all but the most low-slung of today’s TVs. Sony’s soundbar also comes with a wireless subwoofer – a tall, slim unit that stands 38.7cm high.

Performance: Sony uses its excellent sound processing and acoustic wizardry to create a real wall of sound that stretches way beyond the limits of your TV screen, but with convincing positioning and direction of specific sounds. The system's wireless subwoofer gives it depth in bass that an all-in-one soundbar can't match on its own, and speech is really clear even in busy action soundtracks.

Value: The Sony HT-G700 is a fantastic value for a Dolby Atmos soundbar with a separate subwoofer. You can spend more and get much better Atmos immersion, along with more dynamic overall performance, but this budget Sony system ranks as a top-value pick.

Read the full review: Sony HT-G700

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Test results
AttributesNotesRating
FeaturesPlenty for TV sound, less so for music★★★★☆
DesignBasic but stylish and slim enough to work with most TVs★★★★☆
PerformanceGood for the price, but it lacks side-firing drivers★★★★☆
ValueA great range of features and performance for the price★★★★☆
The best cheap soundbar, if you're happy without HDMI

Specifications

Dimensions: 559 x 71 x 95 (w x h x d)
Speaker configuration: 3.0
Claimed audio power: Not listed
Connections: 1x optical digital, Ethernet

Reasons to buy

+
Big, balanced sound
+
Remote control learning part of setup
+
Good with music as well

Reasons to avoid

-
No HDMI ARC option
-
More narrow sound
-
Sounds best for iPhone users
Buy it if

✅ You want better sound without breaking the bank: The Sonos Ray delivers sound that is fuller and clearer than any you'd get from TV speakers. For a lower-end price, you don’t get much more bang for your buck.

✅ You want a small soundbar with big sound: The Sonos Ray fits nicely for TVs between 24 and 50 inches, but the sound isn’t small. It can be the loud and exciting sound upgrade you need in a small space.

Streaming music is important too: The Sonos Ray is better balanced for music than most of its competitors, and with support for Sonos multi-room, Spotify Connect and AirPlay 2, it’s easy to send music around the home to whenever you want it to be.

Don't buy it if:

You want cinematic positional sound: There's no Dolby Atmos support, and while there's good movement across the screen in stereo, you just don't get the precise positioning of sounds that more expensive options offer.

❌ You want a smart speaker, or Bluetooth: While the Sonos Ray does stream over Wi-Fi, there's no voice assistant support, and no Bluetooth for music.

The bottom line

💻 The Sonos Ray is a major sound upgrade compared to the built-in speakers of just about any TV, and gets a massive recommendation. We don't love the lack of HDMI, and movie lovers would do well to spend a little more… but for those who just want clearer speech and more thrilling soundtracks for little money, it's ideal.

What you need to know

The Sonos Ray is the cheapest soundbar in Sonos' range, cutting a big portion of the price of the Sonos Beam in exchange for losing some features, and to fit in an even smaller and more room-friendly frame. So many of the best soundbars today are aimed at delivery of big Dolby Atmos sound in a home theater setup, but the Sonos Ray is more about making sure that you can actually hear what people are saying on screen, and that soundtracks get enough detail and bass to do them justice - something that TV speakers just can't really manage.

Features: The Sonos Ray uses an optical digital connection to connect to your TV, and that's the only way it can connect to it. You can stream music to it from the options in the Sonos app, or use Apple AirPlay 2 or Spotify Connect to stream from a music app directly. There are Speech Enhancement and Night Mode sound options, along with TruePlay tuning (requires an iPhone) to calibrate the sound to your room.

Design: Available in a black or white finish, the Sonos Ray has a flat front (with a hard grille that's easy to dust, mercifully) in a lozenge shape, with tapered sides. There are touch controls on top, for tweaking volume or playing/pausing music. Overall, it's a nice-looking, solidly made soundbar that can be placed anywhere without fuss.

Performance: The Ray’s sound feels meaty and deep in a way that most built-in TV speakers could never touch. But when a movie soundtrack gets really thick with low-end sound, it can sometimes feel like it’s bottoming out and creating something more mushy than bassy. For music, it delivers a great balance that delivers on the low end as well as solid treble. Vocals are great, and well detailed.

Value: The Sonos Ray is a very good value, but not quite a great value. Part of it depends on how important music playback is for you. We think it's effectively best-in-class for this at its price, so if you want something that you'll stream music to often, the Sonos Ray has a big value edge.

Read the full review: Sonos Ray

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Test results
AttributesNotesRating
FeaturesNice Sonos speaker, shame about the lack of HDMI★★★☆☆
DesignNeat, good looking, and made to last★★★★☆
PerformanceImpressively full and clear sound★★★★☆
ValueSome rivals are better-equipped at this price★★★☆☆
The best cheap Sony soundbar

Specifications

Dimensions: 900 x 64 x 88mm (soundbar); 192 x 387 x 400mm (subwoofer)
Speaker configuration: 2.1
Power: 330W
Connectivity: HDMI ARC, USB-A (for updates); optical audio; Bluetooth 5.0

Reasons to buy

+
Great audio quality
+
Elegant design
+
Very affordable

Reasons to avoid

-
No proper Dolby Atmos
Buy it if

✅ You need an easy set up: The wireless subwoofer doesn’t require any complex connecting and it just works once plugged into the electrical socket. There’s also no complex sound calibration needed, either.

You're looking for thoughtful design and feature set:
Having a flat back allows easy wall monitoring, while features like Night Mode reduces the amount of bass in the subwoofer for those moments when a little less noise is needed. 

Don't buy it if:

You're expecting spatial audio formats such as Dolby Atmos: The HT-S400 converts audio signals to Dolby Digital and does offer virtual surround sound, but it would be great to have proper Dolby Atmos support instead. 

❌ You want more wired connectivity options: Though HDMI, optical cable and Bluetooth are supported, the USB port is only for firmware updates and there's no 3.5mm jack. 

The bottom line

💻 The Sony HT-S400 is an affordable soundbar/subwoofer combo that doesn’t compromise on much. Between powerful audio quality and a respectable feature set, it’s nearly perfect for a 2.1-channel soundbar.

What you need to know

The Sony HT-S400 2.1-channel soundbar and wireless subwoofer combo pumps out an impressive 330W of total audio output and does so at a very reasonable price point. There’s no Dolby Atmos, and the HDMI port is only regular ARC rather than the updated eARC version. But the HT-S400 does a bang up job across film/television, general music and games on various platforms. Potential buyers looking to get their feet wet in the world of quality soundbars at an approachable price should look no further. 

Features: The HT-S400 has a slim feature set befitting a soundbar at this low price. Aside from its HDMI ARC port, there’s an optical digital input and that’s about it. Wireless streaming is via Bluetooth and there’s also Sony’s S-Force PRO virtual surround processing.

Design: Like other soundbar options from Sony, the sleek blacks for both soundbar and subwoofer add to the premium aesthetic of the HT-S400, which looks as good as it sounds. Notably for a system at this price point, there’s an OLED display on the soundbar to inform you of things like input mode, volume, Bluetooth connection and bass levels.

Performance: The Sony HT-S400 system performs well-beyond what the affordable sticker price would suggest. For a 2.1 channel soundbar/subwoofer combo, the volume alone can reach impressive peaks. This system is probably best for those in small apartments looking for a cinematic audio experience, as the audio clarity here matches the volume levels. 

Value: Given its great basic sound quality for the price, this system is an excellent value. Sure, you don’t get things like Dolby Atmos processing or HDMI connections beyond the HDMI ARC one that connects to your TV. But if you’re looking for a solid soundbar system at a low price, this is it.

Read the full review: Sony HT-S400

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Test results
AttributesNotesRating
FeaturesA slim feature set, but covers the basics★★★☆☆
DesignLooks good and has a useful front display★★★★★
PerformanceGreat sound for the price★★★★☆
ValueA solid-performing budget soundbar★★★★★