HotRate has already presented you with guides to the best soundbars under $100 and the best soundbars under $300 in 2020, but we like to present our readers with as many options as possible so they can be truly educated in their shopping experience. With soundbars becoming an increasingly common fixture in the home, we’ve decided it’s only appropriate to put the spotlight on budget soundbars that also offer a decent amount of features and performance.
With that in mind, we present you with this guide for finding the best soundbar under 200. We offer reviews for 10 of the best models as well as more general shopping information so you can take your search beyond our site.
As with all of our reviews, we have made sure to take a wide range of factors into consideration when putting this list together. By considering crucial features such as sound quality, the audio connections and build quality, we hope to assist you with your quest to find the best soundbar under 200.
- 10 Best Soundbars Under $200
- 1. VIZIO SB3821-C6 38″ 2.1Ch Sound Bar
- 2. Bose Solo 5 TV Soundbar Sound System
- 3. Dell AC511 USB Wired SoundBar
- 4. TaoTronics Computer Sound Bar
- 5. Polk Audio SIGNA S2 Ultra-Slim Universal TV Sound Bar
- 6. Samsung 2.1 HW-R550 Soundbar
- 7. Wohome 2.1Ch Bluetooth TV Soundbar with Built-in Subwoofer
- 8. Yamaha YAS 108 Bluetooth Sound Bar with Built-in Subwoofers
- 9. TCL Alto 7 2.0CH Home Theater Sound Bar
- 10. Sony HT-S350 2.1CH Bluetooth Soundbar
- Soundbar Under $200 Buyer’s Guide
10 Best Soundbars Under $200
1. VIZIO SB3821-C6 38″ 2.1Ch Sound Bar
Whether you're looking for soundbars that can serve as the crux for your theater's surround sound system or simply a means to improve on the basic audio performance of your living room TV, the SB3821-C6 by Vizio is certainly up to the task. With a length of 38 inches and a separate and dedicated wireless subwoofer, this isn't the most space-conscious soundbar on the market, but it definitely packs in a lot of power for its $150 price tag.
The support for the latest and greatest technology here is pretty comprehensive. You get Dolby Digital decoding along with the capability to handle DTS audio post processing and DTS TruVolume. That's on top of the impressive hardware engineering packed into this soundbar. The 2.75 inch drivers and 5 inch woofer combine to offer rumbling but authentic bass and clear and crisp mids and dialogue sound quality across the board.
2. Bose Solo 5 TV Soundbar Sound System
The Bose Solo 5 doesn't come with its own dedicated subwoofer, but this two-channel soundbar looks great while still offering a respectable sound experience. This probably shouldn't be your go to for action movies or other movies that feature a lot of bass, as the dynamism is a little on the thin end, but dialogue comes through crisp and clear, and the inclusion of both a universal remote control and wireless Bluetooth support makes it eminently simple to control.
But if the frequency response performance is a little lackluster, there's a reason for that. The Bose Solo 5 is a remarkably small soundbar, and while that might affect the overall sound quality, that makes it a best choice if you want a soundbar for smaller spaces like your bedroom. An appealing look, small dimensions, satisfactory audio quality and easy to use interface ensure that it's a versatile choice well suited to less technologically capable users.
3. Dell AC511 USB Wired SoundBar
The Dell AC511 is a remarkably cheap soundbar. $20 is an unheard of price among this list of the best soundbars, and while you shouldn't expect a miracle in terms of audio quality, it's the best choice if you just want higher quality audio for the TV in your bedroom or kitchen. The low profile design is one of the smallest we've encountered, and it even comes with a T hook so you can mount it directly to your television or the wall. It can also connect directly using any run of the mill USB cable.
The bass is practically not present at all, but dialogue audio quality and other treble performance are capable, particularly given the unheard-of price range. It can channel sound through either the 3.5mm aux cable input or through the USB cord itself, reducing the need to rely on a complex nest of cables to get your home theater soundbar up and running.
4. TaoTronics Computer Sound Bar
TaoTronics knows how to create quality electronics to a good price point, and that's certainly the case with this soundbar. Despite occupying the under $40 price range, this is a solidly built soundbar that's an especially great choice if you want to increase the sound quality on your gaming laptop or make the most of the limited space in your bedroom. And if you're trying to avoid waking up your roommates, the presence of a headphone input is a good addition that can certainly help with that.
And TaoTronics has clearly put some effort into making this soundbar look good. The LED lights can really boost the ambiance of your local sound system, and the elevated stand better directs the sound to your ears when it's positioned below ear level. Operation is incredibly simple as well. All you have to do is plug it in and trust it to provide you with the performance you need. If you're looking for the best soundbar under 200 that has all the features, but not the flashy brand, then this might be the best sound bar for you.
5. Polk Audio SIGNA S2 Ultra-Slim Universal TV Sound Bar
You can always count on Polk Audio to set the bar for what a good speaker in a particular price range should sound like, and it's easy to argue that the Signa S2 is the best soundbar under 200. This soundbar is powerful while still maintaining an incredibly slim profile, and while it does include a separate, dedicated subwoofer, it's not going to take up too much space in your home. And the wireless Bluetooth input compatibility means you don't need to fuss over a nest of wires and cables.
But the listening experience is what you pay for when you get a Polk soundbar, and the audio quality here is extremely strong. As you might expect from a soundbar with a separate subwoofer, the bass really kicks with this model, but the soundbar itself is no slouch either. With the burden of the bass handled elsewhere, you get exceedingly crisp high from this bar.
6. Samsung 2.1 HW-R550 Soundbar
You may have to wait strategically for a sale on Amazon to pick up the Samsung HW R550 if you want it for under $200, but it will be well worth the patience. This soundbar combines with a packaged wireless subwoofer that handles the bass to constitute a 2.1 channel sound system, and it performs well above the expectations for its price range. Oddly enough, the bass quality on this Samsung soundbar is a little disappointing considering the included wireless subwoofer, but the rest of the package more than makes up for it. It's a tightly built soundbar that really excels in the mids and highs.
And whether you're looking to use this soundbar to play games, listen to music, or watch movies, you can count on it to be up to the task. This is a soundbar with multiple sound modes and a smart sound feature that automatically adjusts the frequency levels to accommodate what you're listening to. This ensures the best quality audio for a number of situations.
7. Wohome 2.1Ch Bluetooth TV Soundbar with Built-in Subwoofer
If you like the idea of a 2.1 channel soundbar but don't have the space to make room for a standalone wireless subwoofer (or simply don't want to), this Wohome model might be the best soundbar under 200 option for you. It packs two full-range speakers and a sub-range speaker into a single, slim package, and it manages to do so while maintaining a price of under $70. It can work wirelessly via the Bluetooth connectivity or connect physically to your TV or computer via the aux or optical inputs
And it also gives you a lot of control over how you want to listen to your favorite movies, music, and TV shows. Four separate sound modes are included, covering a wide gamut of listening options, and they're further bolstered by DSP technology to ensure more accurate and pristine audio reproduction regardless of the circumstances you're working with.
8. Yamaha YAS 108 Bluetooth Sound Bar with Built-in Subwoofers
The Yamaha YAS 108 is the total package. It may wear a price tag that hovers right around $200, but we can confidently say this is a soundbar that really earns it's $200 asking price. Two one inch dome tweeters, two woofers handling the mid-range, and two hefty three-inch subwoofers to take care of the bass do a great job of distributing everything across the frequency response range, and the result is a soundbar that's just as comfortable belting out booming bass as it is delivering crisp and meaningful dialogue.
But to further increase this soundbar's ability to perform the best highs, Yamaha has deigned to include Clear Voice audio technology in this soundbar. The result is some of the best vocal reproduction you'll find anywhere. Add a few more speakers and an external sub to compliment the built-in subwoofers in reproducing the bass, and you confidently have one of the best soundbar sound systems for the price if you don't have a whole lot to spend.
9. TCL Alto 7 2.0CH Home Theater Sound Bar
Looking for a soundbar that will integrate seamlessly with your TV? There are few better options than the TCL Alto 7. For a decent $100 price tag, you get a soundbar that includes an IR pass-through cable for controlling it with your TV remote and the ability to connect directly via HDMI. It's one of the simplest and most elegant designs of soundbar that we've found in this category.
And it delivers some unassuming but universally balanced sound performance as well. The tweeters deliver crisp and lovely highs, while the inclusion of deep bass ports enhances the performance in the lows. And this model has been tuned specifically to reduce the threat of distortion regardless of what you're listening to. It's easily one of the best soundbars under 200 for TVs.
10. Sony HT-S350 2.1CH Bluetooth Soundbar
The Sony HT-S350 normally retails for almost $300, but if you hurry, you can find it on Amazon for less than $200. And it's definitely worth your time. This is a true 2.1 system with a dedicated wireless subwoofer and a powerful maximum output of 320 watts. That's easily enough juice to serve as an admirable hub for a larger home theater stereo configuration.
But this model doesn't sacrifice overall performance for the sake of sound volume. The S-force Pro technology really ensures an elaborate and varied soundstage and great imaging, while the high-quality drivers ensure clarity across the entire frequency response range. It also includes voice enhancement tech to minimize background noise and really ensure that dialogue stands out.
Soundbar Under $200 Buyer’s Guide
Are you on the hunt for the best soundbar for less than $200 to help compliment your home theater set up? In the below guide, we’ll break down the important specs that you should be keeping an eye out for, and also provide you with helpful answers to some of the most pressing questions for shoppers.
When shopping for the best quality soundbar under $200, you have two choices to consider when thinking of channels. A 2.0 system includes two channels on the left and right. These do a decent job of creating a soundstage that directs sound out of both sides of the speaker, however it’s not going to reach the same level of fidelity as a more dedicated surround sound system.
A 2.1 system adds a subwoofer into the mix. While this is usually a separate component, there are also soundbar models that include a built-in subwoofer. This may technically not qualify as a 2.1 system, but it achieves much the same results. The subwoofer is dedicated solely to the bass, and that allows not just deeper lows but also frees up the main drivers to focus more on the highs and mids. Sound quality tends to improve across the board when you spend enough to add in a subwoofer. Naturally, an external wireless subwoofer is going to offer a lot better performance.
If you’re simply interested in buying a small soundbar to improve the audio quality in a small room, a good 2.0 system should be fine. You can always add a subwoofer later. If you’re after the best audio quality from a soundbar around, a subwoofer and additional speakers will be a necessity. Just keep in mind that you’ll eventually have to spend significantly more than $200 for the privilege.
Do you desire a listening experience that you can feel? If you want to turn your home into a real home theater or simply enjoy your favorite music or TV shows in your living room, the sensitivity of your soundbar is really going to matter. Measured in decibels (or dB), sensitivity tells you the maximum volume that your soundbar can safely achieve without distortion, and it’s directly related to the amount of power that can flow freely through it. And if you intend to expand your soundbar into a more advanced surround sound experience with connected external devices, sensitivity is even more important, because you want to make sure that all your components are equally balanced.
So what’s the right sensitivity for power users? Ultimately, louder is better until it isn’t. Most of the best sounding bars on our list can achieve 85 decibels comfortably, but even that can be dangerous when listened to for prolonged periods of time. At 85 decibels, you can safely listen to music or TV for up to eight hours, but that rapidly diminishes as you increase the power. At 91 decibels, the safe listening level drops to a quarter of that.
While we recommend people who like volume to look for a soundbar under $200 that can support a power of around 100 decibels, exercise caution. Some manufacturers don’t list their maximum decibel rating, and these are usually smaller and less expensive soundbars that aren’t built with maximum volume in mind.
When examining at what connections you should look for on soundbars under 200, the most obvious thing to consider is whether or not your soundbar, TV, and any other source devices all share the appropriate inputs. HDMI offers the best performance and is compatible with both video and sound, but optical cords are no slouch either. A 3.5mm output, also known as an aux output, is compatible with just about every device, but it offers degraded sound quality.
The real game-changer here is the inclusion of Bluetooth wireless connection. With a Bluetooth connection, you can essentially use your phone as a remote control to share streaming music and movies directly to your stereo. Bluetooth wireless connection offers a remote range of 33 feet, and there are fortunately some excellent and affordable Bluetooth enabled soundbars under $200.
Sound waves are measured along a frequency range that conveys lower bass performance on the low end and extending up the frequencies to cover mid-level and high sound waves. The human capacity for hearing covers the experience of 20 Hz (ultra-deep bass) to 20 kHz (extremely high and piercing highs), but there’s still value in soundbars that extend beyond this range. The higher the frequency response, the better the soundstage and imaging.
Obviously, soundbars with a subwoofer are going to extend the bass levels a lot, further improving the audio quality. but you may have noticed that many of the soundbars on our list don’t cover the whole frequency response of human hearing. If you want truly high fidelity listening, you’ll need to spend a little more. But most customers should be comfortable hooking up models that don’t cover the whole range of human hearing in their home theater setup.
If you have an entire room dedicated to a home theater system, then the size of your new soundbar likely won’t be much of a problem. While it’s not always the case, larger soundbars can pack in more drivers, and a bigger subwoofer will generally get you a larger and more immersive sound experience in terms of bass performance.
But bigger is only better if you have the space in your home for it. If your living room is smaller or you’re looking for a soundbar that will work in your bedroom or your kitchen, you may want to pay closer attention to the dimensions. Many of the smaller products on our list – notably Dell AC511 and the TaoTronics model – are extremely small. Users looking to equip a soundbar to their computer or even pack it in with their laptop to share with friends can really benefit from a smaller soundbar, and that may be worth the cost of reduced audio quality.
If you want to create a surround sound system in your home, you need to make sure that all of the appropriate frequencies are distributed to the right speakers. This is usually accomplished through digital technology built into your components. This usually takes the form of Dolby Digital or DTS. Both formats take the sound sent out from your display, redistribute them, and share them appropriately across all the components in your stereo setup.
In some instances, they can even replicate a surround sound system if you don’t have all of the necessary components, but it usually won’t provide the same results you’d get from actually putting the right speakers in place. That said, it can save you a lot of money and a lot of space in your home. A soundbar that boasts 2.1 channel performance without a separate subwoofer likely makes use of either DTS or Dolby Digital technology to achieve those results, using software technology to give the impression of good bass.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Soundbars Worth It?
If you want superb audio performance without having to invest in a whole array of speakers, they absolutely are. As the display technology in TVs has gotten better, the quality of their speakers has only decreased, but soundbars offer a compact but meaningful way to boost your sound performance without costing you too much money. They can work well on their own or serve as a center channel for a more dedicated home theater system.
What is the Best Soundbar For the Money?
In terms of sheer value, it’s hard to beat the TaoTronics soundbars. It may sport a simple design, but these soundbars are compact and lightweight while still pumping out some good audio quality. It’s not going to be the best choice for everyone, but if your budget is tight and you aren’t trying to spend a lot on brand name soundbars such as Yamaha, it’s the most solid choice available.
Are Soundbars as Good as Surround Sound?
Simply put – no. While technologies like Dolby and DTS can come closer to replicating the quality of surround sound, they still aren’t going to sound as good as the real thing. A quality soundbar offers, at most, three channels, whereas a good surround sound system will typically include three or more.
What Size Sound Bar Do I Need?
That depends. How much space do you have? Your biggest consideration needs to be whether your soundbar will fit comfortably into your existing home theater or living room design. That said, bigger soundbars often provide better sensitivity and get more clarity in sound performance, so you should aim for the biggest and best soundbar that fits your practical needs, while still maintaining high aesthetics in your setting.
We hope that you find everything you need with our list of the best soundbar under 200 of 2020. We have worked hard to include some of the best soundbars that we could find across the web. Ultimately, as you will have seen, there are a lot of factors at play when you are searching for the best soundbars for your home theatre set up. We’ve worked hard to make sure that only the top models are represented. But if you decide you want something a little different, we highly recommend you investigate our guide to the best center channel speakers.