It used to be that if you wanted a quality sound system in your home, you needed a ridiculously bulky, expensive, and overweight sound system made up of multiple components. But as technology and modern sensibilities have changed, so has the technology we use in our sound systems. Speakers have gotten smaller, and a decent soundbar can provide you with a level of epic performance that will provide you with significantly more immersion than what you’d get out of the thin delivery of most built-in television speakers.
We’re here to show you that you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a good sound system. We’ve identified 10 models in the running for
- 10 Best Soundbars Under $300
- 1. VIZIO SB2920-C6 29″ 2.0 Ch Sound Bar
- 2. Bose Solo 5 TV Soundbar Sound System
- 3. TaoTronics Bluetooth 4.2 Stereo Soundbar
- 4. Yamaha YAS-108 Sound Bar
- 5. BYL 5.0 Bluetooth Soundbar
- 6. WOHOME 2.1 Ch Soundbar
- 7. Sony HT-S350 2.1CH Soundbar
- 8. Polk Audio SIGNA S2 Ultra-Slim Sound Bar
- 9. TCL Alto 7 2.0 Ch Home Theater Sound Bar
- 10. JBL Bar Studio 2.0- Ch Bluetooth Soundbar
- Soundbars Under $300 Buyer’s Guide
10 Best Soundbars Under $300
1. VIZIO SB2920-C6 29″ 2.0 Ch Sound Bar
Getting the VIZIO SB2920-C6 for under $300 means waiting for a sale, but this soundbar will be well worth the wait. Despite its sleek 29 inch frame, this is a pretty powerful soundbar. And rather than stuff this model with a bunch of useless features, Vizio has focused instead on the fundamentals. It can deliver an impressive volume of 95 decibels, and there's a clarity that extends even to the higher volumes. Distortion isn't going to be a problem with this soundbar.
And if you aren't the most tech inclined person, you won't have to worry about difficulties getting this soundbar hooked up to your TV. Installation is as simple as plugging in the wires, and this model comes with everything you need to mount it above your entertainment center if that's what you prefer. It also offers one of the best interfaces with both a remote and inline controls.
2. Bose Solo 5 TV Soundbar Sound System
The Bose Solo 5 is a bit sparse in its feature set and simplistic in its sound engineering, but it's a reliable workhorse soundbar that will fit comfortably into practically any space. This soundbar is less than 22 inches wide and weighs less than four pounds, and that makes it one of the best choices around if you want a soundbar under $300 that can work with a smaller TV in your bedroom or kitchen. Just keep in mind that it's probably not the best fit for your home theater system.
And Bose has ensured that their compact soundbar is incredibly easy to navigate. It may be small, but the LED lights are smartly designed so that you can tell what mode the soundbar is in with just a quick glance at the color. It also comes with one of the best universal remote controls we've seen in a soundbar.
3. TaoTronics Bluetooth 4.2 Stereo Soundbar
TaoTronics has created a sleek and stylish looking soundbar that sounds nearly as good as it looks. This is a stereo soundbar model that makes use of the high-quality Bluetooth 4.2 protocol to provide quality wireless connectivity at distances of up to 33 feet. That means you can control your sound even from the other side of the room. And the inclusion of three separate equalizer settings means you can easily shift between a gaming, home cinema, and traditional TV audio experience with just the press of a button.
And no matter what sort of home theater system you're working with, setup is always a breeze with this TaoTronics soundbar. The inclusion of RCA, HDMI, aux, and optical inputs
means that you can just plug and play the soundbar into practically any component you can imagine, so you have a lot of flexibility to accommodate the needs of your television.
4. Yamaha YAS-108 Sound Bar
The YAS-108 is easily one of the best soundbars you'll find for under $300, and that's in large part due to the fact that Yamaha has separated the subwoofers and tweeters into separate components. That provides you with a denser soundscape and a richer listening experience than you might expect from a budget soundbar. Despite its incredibly slim frame, this soundbar delivers resonant mids and highs alongside a deep and meaningful bass audio experience.
And this is a soundbar loaded with the type of tech that allows it to shift easily between different types of environments. Traditional TV programming will benefit from the clear voice technology which expands the frequency response range approximate to vocals, while the DTS Virtual:X technology included is a great way to transform traditional video gaming and film viewing into a truly cinematic experience you can feel throughout the entire room.
5. BYL 5.0 Bluetooth Soundbar
The 5.0 Bluetooth protocol that this BYL soundbar utilizes is some of the best around, and that means a more connected experience with less risk of dropping sound quality when streaming music or movies, but that's just the tip of the iceberg for what this soundbar has to offer. It also makes use of digital signal processing: a technology that lets you choose between different sound profiles to suit the experience of what you're watching or listening to.
And all of that comes in a soundbar that's significantly less than $100. It won't offer you the best sound quality on our list, but it's easily one of the best ultra-budget models we've found. The treble and bass can be independently adjusted if you're not looking to make use of the presets, and a memory function allows you to easily readjust things to where they were in the factory settings.
6. WOHOME 2.1 Ch Soundbar
If you're looking for a richer aural experience than what you'll find in most budget soundbars, you may want to take a step up to the WOHOME. It's rated at 2.1 channels, an upgrade that may be small but does a great job of expanding your bass performance and really helping the mids and treble sing. Just be sure to make space in your home theater setup for the separate subwoofer that comes packaged with this sound bar.
But you'll get an approximation of surround sound quality with this sound bar and smart compatibility with practically every TV on the market today thanks to the highly responsive IR remote control. And the sound quality on this sound bar is balanced out by the capacity for the drivers to get loud. This model can hit a peak of 95 decibels without you having to worry about distortion.
7. Sony HT-S350 2.1CH Soundbar
The HT-S350 by Sony is another 2.1 soundbar for TV, but with a powerful maximum output of 320 watts, it's one of the best suited soundbars you'll find if you're looking to set up a serious home theater system. This is a sound bar that really breathes in larger rooms thanks to that power and the S-force Pro Front Surround technology which creates a more meaningful sound stage. It also offers voice enhancement technology to deliver crisper and easier to understand sound when listening to less bombastic television programs.
And the fact that the subwoofer is wireless gives you a lot more leverage to design a system that suits your room. Both pieces come with all the gear you need to properly mount them, and they're an exceptional choice if you want to buy more speakers and further enhance the quality and density of your stereo system.
8. Polk Audio SIGNA S2 Ultra-Slim Sound Bar
Polk is a name that should make anyone who knows anything about sound engineering stand at attention. Their SIGNA S2 delivers a premium and high-quality sound bar with a dedicated subwoofer. And not only does it look good, but it delivers exceptional performance in a frame that's slimmer than you could hope from a quality 2.1 channel model. You'll get access to five full range drivers that can compete easily with any other drivers in this price range.
The ability to stream music through your phone might be expected in a sound bar these days, but more exciting is the presence of Polk's innovative Voice Adjust Technology. It goes a step above similar features in other sound bars to provide you with some of the best and most balanced vocals you'll find in a sound bar. And the smartly built design means that you can have your new sound system up and running in a matter of minutes.
9. TCL Alto 7 2.0 Ch Home Theater Sound Bar
The base model of the TLC Alto is a 2.0 system, but if you really need to get the bass pounding, you can always upgrade to an advanced version with 2.1 channel sound and a dedicated subwoofer for only $50 more. But this sound bar is pretty strong even on its own. The deep bass ports do a clever job of enhancing the bass boost without having to rely on a dedicated subwoofer, and the sound bar has been precisely tuned to reduce the threat of distortion.
But the tweeters are the standout here. These drivers are well built to maximize the clarity of the mids and highs without distortion. A variety of different sound modes allow you to pull up get the right sound for any experience with just a press of your remote control. You can even use the IR passthrough to control the device with your TV's remote control.
10. JBL Bar Studio 2.0- Ch Bluetooth Soundbar
JBL is one of those speaker manufacturers that may not have much visibility with the general public but who's recognized by audiophiles for producing some of the most reliable workhorse speakers around. This two channel soundbar might not stand out from the competition at a glance, but it focuses on a simple and basic approach to design that prioritizes sound engineering over flashy features. Wireless streaming is available via Bluetooth, and the dual bass port design lets the lows really breathe.
But that doesn't mean this model isn't without some bells and whistles. Five equalizer presets give you easy access to a variety of listening experiences, and this model can even work with your existing television mode. But what really stands out here in terms of features is the virtual surround sound experience. That can often seem like a gimmick, but the virtual engineering JBL did here is actually very impressive.
Soundbars Under $300 Buyer’s Guide
A soundbar isn’t fundamentally that different from any other speakers, but the big advantage is that it packs all the fundamentals into a single unit. A single soundbar isn’t going to be a replacement for a full surround sound system, or even a nice combination of bookshelf speakers with a subwoofer. But it is a compact solution for your entertainment center that won’t take up much space but still provide you with sound quality well above what’s typically included in factory televisions.
But if you’re looking for soundbars under $300, you need to know something about the fundamentals. Our guide will cover the features, inputs, and components you should look for when shopping for a sound bar so that you can make a more educated choice when shopping. Just keep in mind that at this price range, getting a sound bar that suits yor needs will likely require sacrificing something.
The concept of channels can be confusing to those new to the world of audio products, but it doesn’t need to be. Channels are identified by a system x.y where x is the number of speaker drivers and y is the number of separate subwoofers. Average budget soundbars are going to offer a 2.0 system, while the best soundbars in the price range are going to boast a 2.1 channel rating. But what are the differences between these in practical terms?
Even a 2.0 soundbar will typically provide a pretty significant improvement over your TV’s built-in speakers. As TVs have gotten smaller, the sound quality built in to these devices has degraded over the years, and if you’re looking to put together a real home theater system, some sort of separate stereo setup is necessary. 2.0 sound bars will at the very least split the sound engineering from your music, movies, or video games into left and right channels. It’s not exactly surround sound, but it is a far more sophisticated soundscape than what you’d find with traditional TV speakers. And since soundbars come with amplifiers, you’ll also generally get clearer and crisper sound quality.
Where 2.1 channel soundbars really excel is on delivering quality bass performance. The drivers on normal speakers will have to pull double duty: replicating both the higher frequencies (mids and trebel) as well as the bass, and that means that they don’t particularly excel at either end of the frequency range. By separating the subwoofer into a separate element, both the bass and the high frequency performance is going to generally be better, but the addition of a discreet subwoofer will obviously take up more space than a sound bar alone would. And larger rooms are going to benefit significantly more from the expansive sound stage and volume that a discreet subwoofer can provide.
But even if you do settle on a 2.0 model only to find yourself needing more weight further on, you aren’t out of luck. You can always expand your system with a new subwoofer or speakers further down the load. Quality soundbars can be a great base for a surround sound system, and you don’t have to invest in every component at once. It’s better to make sure that the fundamentals are strong and build out from there than to invest in a shoddy surround sound system from the start.
Bluetooth has become arguably the most ubiquitous wireless connectivity option, and that means that even sounding bars under $300 almost always come with some level of Bluetooth connectivity. While most customers tend to use soundbars under $300 as an accompaniment to their television system, Bluetooth is a great way to stream music directly through your phone, computer, or tablet. It’s a convenience so common that we recommend no customers go without it. You don’t need to worry yourself too much about the version of Bluetooth supported. While later versions offer more reliable connections, the difference shouldn’t be enough to turn you off from a particular model.
Support for smart home devices is rarer, but the best soundbars under $300 come with connectivity built in for Amazon Alexa devices. That means that if you have an Echo or any other voice activated Alexa device in your home, you can use it to control your soundbar. It’s a great way to prepare your home for the future, but just keep in mind that the voice functions available in even the best soundbars under $300 tend to be relatively rudimentary.
And while they aren’t present in most models under $300, the best soundbars provide streaming directly through the soundbar interface. These models make use of a Wi-Fi network or ethernet cable to give you access to services like Pandora and Spotify. That can be a convenience if your TV doesn’t come with streaming services built in, but given the huge amount of devices that facilitate streaming and the presence of Bluetooth technology, this shouldn’t be a make or break issue for most consumers.
If you want to improve your TV with soundbar support, you need to make sure that the sound bars you’re looking at will work with your television. Fortunately, the inputs used by TVs have become pretty standardized, but there are still discrepancies regarding what sort of inputs you’ll find in sound bars and in TVs. Most soundbars you’ll find will come equipped with certain standards which we’ll outline below.
- One or more digital ports are almost always present. These can take the form of coaxial or optical inputs, and while there’s a debate about which one offers the better sound quality, the difference between the two is largely negligible. Coaxial cables tend to be more rugged than optical cables however.
- Most models will also come with at least one dedicated analog output which can take the form of either an RCA cable or a 3.5 mm auxiliary jack. The latter is great because it’s compatible with practically any device on the market, while the former is a good choice if you’re making use of older equipment, since a lot of aging stereo and TV systems rely predominantly on RCA.
- Less common but increasingly more prevalent is an HDMI cable. This is the recognized standard for transmitting video and audio in 2020, and it’s one of the best wired connections you can consider looking forward. Any TV bought in the past few years (and any TVs you could expect to buy in the foreseeable future) come with an HDMI port. If you plan on using your soundbar in conjunction with a dedicated video player like a Roku or a Blu-Ray player, you’ll want to make sure to get a soundbar that supports the HDMI ARC technology. This will allow you to use your soundbar with any video devices that are connected via HDMI to your TV.
- A far less common feature is the inclusion of a USB port. If you’re looking for a soundbar that’s easy to set up with your computer or that you can take with you when you travel with your laptop, this is one of the best choices around. They offer an incredibly convenient way to connect to computers, but you won’t find much use out of a USB port if you’re only trying to connect your soundbar and subwoofer to a base TV.
Size and Weight
One of the biggest appeals of soundbars is that they offer quality sound with a much smaller footprint than comparable full speaker systems. Setup is usually as simple as plugging them directly into your video source, and they can be either mounted or placed in front of your TV. But soundbars can vary significantly in terms of actual size.
If you plan on placing your soundbar in front of or underneath your TV, you’ll want to carefully measure it to make sure that you have enough clearance from your TV. The last thing you want to do is cover your TV’s IR sensor so the remote control won’t register it. If your TV is low to the shelf surface or uses a stand instead of dedicated legs, we generally recommend mounting it rather than placing it right underneath your TV.
Of course, a 2.1 system will take up more space in your room because of the dedicated subwoofer. We generally recommend systems like these for setup in smaller spaces like the living room or home theater room, as their biggest benefits won’t be felt in the kitchen or bedroom. In any case, bigger doesn’t always mean better, so consider the actual specs rather than the dimensions when trying to evaluate the actual sound quality of a bar.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Sound Bar?
A soundbar is essentially a miniature speaker system packed into a single, compact frame. Most models will come with two tweeters to create the mid and high range frequencies along with woofers for the bass. These are a very sensible alternative to traditional speakers because they take up a small amount of space but can be expanded into a more robust sound system with the inclusion of other speakers.
What’s a HiFi Soundbar?
HiFi is short for “high fidelity”, a term that audiophiles use to describe a speaker that can deliver incredibly strong sound reproduction. And while there’s no universal standard for measuring “HiFi sound”, it’s generally reserved for speakers that offer a flat frequency response range along with minimal or absent distortion and noise. That said, exercise caution. Just because a soundbar is marketed as a HiFi model doesn’t mean it really is.
What is the Best Soundbar?
We’re partial to the SIGNA S2 by Polk. The ratio of value to your dollar is incredible with this model. For less than $200, it offers you a 2.1 sound system with its own subwoofer and a truly immaculately designed bar. It’s a great looking model that sounds even better than you’d expect, and we think it’s the best all around model on our list.
Soundbars have become incredibly cheap, and that means that the market is flooded with any number of half-baked models. Fortunately, our list is just scratching the surface of great options, and you can use our guide to expand your shopping experience. And if your budget is a little tighter, be sure to check out our guide to the best soundbars under $100.