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Best sound bars for 2023

Our expert's top picks, plus some shopping tips

In this article: My list of best sound bars — along with a budget-friendly alternative for each ...

  1. Best budget pick — Yamaha YAS-209
  2. Best for music lovers — Sonos Arc
  3. Best for large spaces — Bose® Smart Soundbar 900
  4. Best bar with wireless surround sound — JBL Bar 9.1
  5. Best-sounding — Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar | MAX
  6. Best for small spaces — Polk Audio MagniFi Mini AX

... plus some shopping tips.

Adding a sound bar is an easy, convenient, and space-saving way to get great sound from your TV. A good sound bar is the perfect solution for an apartment or a living room with an open floor plan. If your décor, lifestyle, or budget won't allow for a full-blown surround sound system, you'll find a lot to like in a sound bar. Here are my top picks for 2023.

Yamaha YAS-209

More home theater bang for your buck — Yamaha YAS-209

Yamaha's YAS series bars are always customer favorites, and we expect the YAS-209 to continue that trend. It has built-in Amazon Alexa voice control and DTS:Virtual X — a lifelike 3D virtual surround sound format.

This sound bar is easy to hook up and is compatible with 4K TVs and video sources with HDR (high dynamic range).

Details

  • four 1-3/4" full-range drivers and two 1" dome tweeters
  • separate wireless subwoofer with 6-1/2" front-firing driver
  • Yamaha's Clear Voice feature makes dialogue easier to understand
  • you can control your system with a free app
  • the price is hard to beat

A wallet-friendly alternative

You can save some money (and a little floor real estate) with Yamaha's YAS-109. Instead of a wireless sub, there's a pair of ported subwoofers built into the bar itself.

What our customers say about the YAS-209

Sonos Arc

A sound bar for music lovers — Sonos Arc

Get killer TV and movie sound, including Dolby Atmos, with access to all your favorite tunes through Sonos Arc.

Sonos' Trueplay tuning lets you use an app on your iPhone® (currently not compatible with Android™) to fine-tune Arc so it sounds great no matter where you place it.

Pair a Sonos Sub with Arc to add bass impact to your home theater system. The Sub pairs wirelessly with Arc, and is a simple way to enjoy rich, full-sounding music, movies, and TV. Add additional speakers to build up to a 5.1 home theater system.

Details

  • eleven built-in speakers (two up-firing drivers, dedicated center channel, and eight elliptical woofers)
  • communicates wirelessly with other Sonos players
  • quick, easy setup and control with free Sonos app
  • you can add other Sonos speakers to your TV sound system
  • easy to integrate into Sonos wireless whole-home audio system

A wallet-friendly alternative

The Sonos Beam (Gen 2) is a compact but powerful offering from Sonos, delivering way bigger sound than you'd expect from a bar its size. There's also the Sonos Ray which is the slimmest and most affordable Sonos sound bar yet.

What our customers say about Arc

Bose Smart Soundbar 900

Voice control and a living room-friendly design — Bose® Smart Soundbar 900

The powerful Bose® Smart Soundbar 900 has heavy-duty drivers that cut right through dead spots in open floor plans. Bose's ADAPTiQ® room calibration system makes up for any challenges presented by objects reflecting sound in your room.

The 900 has Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant built-in, so you can control it — and other smart home devices — using only your voice.

Bose also offers the optional wireless Bass Module 700. In Bose's own words, “it's the difference between hearing bass and feeling thunder.” It communicates wirelessly with the Smart Soundbar 900 to add realistic impact to onscreen effects.

Details

  • specially designed drivers deliver full, spacious sound
  • PhaseGuide® technology simulates surround sound
  • Voice4Video™ technology expands Alexa, control your TV with just your voice
  • support for Dolby Atmos for an immersive, theater-like experience
  • solid build with a metal grille and beautiful tempered glass top panel
  • optional Surround Speakers 700 available for added rear effects

A wallet-friendly alternatives

The Bose Smart Soundbar 600 is slimmer but still packs plenty of punch — with all the convenient smart features of the 900. And the Smart Soundbar 300 is their extra-compact little brother.

What our customers say about the Soundbar 900

JBL Bar 9.1 Powered home theater sound bar with wireless subwoofer, wireless surround speakers, and Dolby Atmos®

Truly wireless surround sound — JBL Bar 9.1

A lot of sound bars give you the option for "wireless" rear speakers. Sure — they make a wireless connection to the sound bar, but they still need a wired connection for power. The JBL Bar 9.1 is unique. It includes 100% wire-free rear speakers that recharge when attached to the sound bar.

Details

  • main bar has nine built-in speakers, including two full-range up-firing drivers for overhead effects
  • detachable surrounds each have one up-firing full-range driver and one 3/4" front-facing tweeter
  • separate wireless subwoofer with 10" down-firing driver
  • rechargeable surround speakers provide up to 10 hours of wireless rear/height effects
  • the remote has independent volume controls for sub and surrounds
  • wall-mount brackets are included for the bar and the rear speakers

A wallet-friendly alternative

Samsung's HW-B650 is a 3.1-channel sound bar and sub system with the option to add wireless rear speakers when you're ready for an upgrade to surround sound.

What our customers say about the Bar 9.1

Sennheiser AMBEO Atmos sound bar

The best-sounding bar I've ever heard — Sennheiser AMBEO | Max

If you crave the three-dimensional effects of Atmos and DTS:X, but you don't want to worry about precisely placing speakers everywhere, Sennheiser's AMBEO Soundbar | Max is the way to go. It knocked our socks off when it was demoed here at Crutchfield HQ.

Details

  • 13 built-in drivers deliver 5.1.4-channel sound from a single sound bar
  • AMBEO 3D technology creates an immersive experience using 32-bit processing and room calibration to virtually place speakers around the room
  • supports content encoded with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X
  • Chromecast built-in for easy streaming and multi-room music, compatibility with Google Assistant voice control
  • mono RCA subwoofer output lets you add your own powered subwoofer

A wallet-friendly alternative

The new AMBEO Soundbar | Plus is the Max's powerful "little" brother, offering AMBEO 3D immersion at a more affordable price point.

What our customers say about the AMBEO | Max

Polk Audio MagniFi Mini

Perfect for small spaces — Polk MagniFi Mini AX

Polk's MagniFi Mini AX produces a big sound from a tiny bar. This sound bar supports Dolby Atmos for surpisingly immersive surround sound for it's size. Don't worry about the dialogue getting lost in all the sound and fury though, Polk's VoiceAdjust™ tech keeps it clear even if you're sitting in the back of the room.

Details

  • three 2" midrange drivers and two 3/4" tweeters
  • separate wireless subwoofer with 5" x 7" driver
  • Great sound from a compact bar
  • Chromecast built-in and Apple AirPlay 2 for easy streaming and multi-room music
  • Polk VoiceAdjust™ technology helps keep dialogue intelligible

A wallet-friendly alternative

If you don't want a separate subwoofer, take a look at JBL's Bar 2.0 — a compact solution for smaller spaces.

What our customers say about the MagniFi Mini AX

Sound bar shopping tips

Sound bars come in a variety of shapes and sizes to suit any space, budget, or TV setup. To find the right one for you, start by asking what you hope to get from it.

Are you looking for full-on home theater sound? Or do you just want to hear the TV better?

If you're simply looking for fuller sound from TV, a simpler sound bar model should suit your needs just fine.

If you'd like something that produces thrilling home theater effects, look for a sound bar with surround sound decoding.

Consider whether you'd like a separate subwoofer. Since their built-in speakers are so compact, sound bars can be lacking in the low-frequency department. A lot of them come with wireless subwoofers to fill out the lower end. And some have outputs for a wired connection to the subwoofer of your choice.

How big is your room, and how big is your TV?

In general, larger TVs and larger rooms call for larger sound bars. And more compact models are great for smaller spaces.

Consider your placement options

Sound bars can be wall-mounted or placed on a stand with your TV. And platform-style models are designed to go under your TV.

Do you have a lot of components to connect?

Is your TV is wall-mounted? It might be much easier to connect your cable box, Blu-ray player, and game console through your sound bar. Make sure you get a bar with enough HDMI inputs. See our sound bar connection and setup guide for more information.

Need help choosing?

For more shopping tips, see our complete sound bars buying guide.

Have questions? Our expert Advisors know the gear inside and out.

Your Advisor can send specific Crutchfield pages to your screen, saving you a lot of browsing time. You'll get a shopping cart loaded up with everything you need for your new home theater.

Contact us today.

Free lifetime tech support is included with your Crutchfield purchase.

Popular questions customers ask

Not aways. Self-powered sound bars are more common than passive sound bars. You don't need a receiver or amplifier of any kind to drive a self-powered sound bar. The amplification is built into the bar itself.

We carry over 50 sound bars that can learn your remote’s commands. This helps keep the number of control devices to a minimum. From your TV’s remote, you can adjust the volume, switch sources, and more.

Yes. While your TV’s speakers might have had you saying, “Huh?” a lot, sound bars are great for making dialog discernible. Some have a dedicated center channel for dialogue, and many even have dialog enhancement modes that add even more emphasis to voices.

If you already have a self-powered subwoofer you'd like to use alongside your sound bar, you're in luck! We carry a handful of models that have a dedicated mono subwoofer output. All you need to connect the two is a standard subwoofer cable

Most of the sound bars we carry have Bluetooth built in for streaming your favorite tunes. Some models only support basic Bluetooth, while others support higher resolution codecs like aptX and LDAC. There are also a few models that support Bluetooth transmission, which lets you send audio wirelessly to headphones and compatible Bluetooth speakers. 

Last updated 11/3/2022
  • Michael McArter from Barrie

    Posted on 3/23/2022

    Hello this is a very helpful site for learning about the products you're looking into. I'm very interested in reading more information that I had not a clue about. Thank you very helpful. I'm still looking for a sound bar for mainly listening to music. I enjoy crisp clean vocals and yet warm tones. If you could please send some ideas. Thank you

    Commenter image

    Colin M. from Crutchfield

    on 4/11/2022

    Hi Barrie, If you're planning on primarily listening to your tunes, I'd recommend picking up a bar that supports online music streaming. A bar like the Polks REACT is a simple but great-sounding option in this regard. I've always enjoyed Polk's warm sound myself. If you'd like to go over a few more options that might fit the bill, don't hesitate to reach out to one of our Product Advisors!
  • Gary Bowler from Babcock Ranch Florid

    Posted on 2/7/2022

    I like your video on the Seinheiser Ambeo sound bar. I seem to fit into one of your examples of have a new home that does not accommodate a bunch of speakers like I had in my old home but I want the best sound for my TV. Best price including shipping? Delivery ? Best hookup to my Sony 65 " tv HDMI ?

    Commenter image

    Colin M. from Crutchfield

    on 2/8/2022

    Hi Gary! We offer free shipping for any order of $35 and up. That means all of the sound bars we currently carry will come with free shipping. We have a ton of great options. For the best recommendation, I would give our helpful Product Advisors a ring. They'll have a few questions and can definitely point you towards something that will fit your room and your audio budget!
  • Andrew

    Posted on 2/4/2022

    Hi, We have a new house and the room I want to put the sound bar in is quite large, open and has very high vaulted ceilings. I don't feel that there will be a suitable placement for rear speakers and was wondering if you have any recommendations for type of soundbar or specific unit to target. Thank you.

    Commenter image

    Colin M. from Crutchfield

    on 2/7/2022

    Hi Andrew! I'd suggest a sound bar with virtual surround sound and/or a sound bar with built-in surround channels like the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. These features can help give you immersive surround sound without placing wireless surround speakers in your room. I hope this helps! If you have additional questions, don't hesitate to get in touch with one of our Product Advisors. They can definitely point you towards a model that will fit your needs.
  • Todd Chambers from Pickerington

    Posted on 10/24/2021

    Hi Emily, I have a 31x18 finished basement with an 84 inch LG tv with hdmi arc. I looked at the Bose 900, Sonos Arc and JBL 9. Unbelievably the Bose 900 did not sound as good, the others sounded incredible. I even have other Bose in the house and love them. Still shocked about the Bose sound could it have been a bad set up. I am open for suggestions. I want to mount the sound bar below the tv. I know with the up firing drivers this could ba problem. Thanks for all of your help Todd

    Commenter image

    Colin M. from Crutchfield

    on 10/26/2021

    Hi Todd, You're right, if the TV is directly above the sound bar, that could cause a problem. Make sure you've got some clearance between the sound bar and the TV (usually the sound bar is a bit in front). It may also help to use ADAPTIQ to calibrate the sound bar to the room. If you need a helping hand, don't forget that every purchase with Crutchfield comes with lifetime tech support. Our techs can help walk through the set up to pinpoint what might be causing the trouble.
  • Dave Sarnoff from Bronxville

    Posted on 8/13/2021

    Hello, I plan to buy a 75" TV and mount it to the wall with an articulating mount. The TV will be about 2.5 inches from the wall. If I wall mount a Dolby Atmos capable sound bar to the wall and when mounted it will be more flush than the TV, will I lose the up firing speaker sound? Do I need to mount the soundbar more than 2.5 inches from the wall so as not to be behind the TV?

    Commenter image

    Colin M. from Crutchfield

    on 8/16/2021

    Hi Dave, If your sound bar has up-firing drivers, having the TV directly in their path won't be ideal. You'll want some clearance so the sound bar can sound it's best. As long as the bar's drivers aren't obstructed, your sound shouldn't be substantively impacted.
  • Piyush from New Orleans

    Posted on 6/26/2021

    Colin, Emily, ... I have an open plan living and kitchen & usually watch 65' TV from 8-10 feet away. I use the soundbar heavily for music, often for casual TV watching and infrequently for movies. I have been quite confused about 3 options for quite a while - 1. Bose Soundbar 700 vs Sonos arc, especially considering the great discounts available for Bose 700. I don't intend to add a sub for now. Also wondering if future proofing for Atmos is really a big deal if I get Bose 700 at $200 discounts over Arc. 2. Will a (Beam/Bose 300)+Sub be a better option than Bose700/Arc without Sub? Thanks for your guidance.

    Commenter image

    Colin M. from Crutchfield

    on 6/28/2021

    You can definitely rock out a sound bar solo for improved sound over your TV, it's a really common configuration. But, we're on the bass train for sure. If you're adding a sub, you can really feel the difference. There's more impact to what you're watching. A lot of folks will pick up a solid sound bar (both the 700 and Arc are pretty awesome), then plan to later pick up a sub too. You don't have to pull the trigger on everything at once. I have Sonos in my house, so I might be a bit biased (thinking about adding more units to house already!). Honestly, both of these sound bars are really popular for a reason though, and you won't go wrong either way. Really, from 8-10 feet, the Beam or 300 would also work out pretty well, it's just a question of how big you want to go. :)
  • Albert Kettenis from Sherman Oaks

    Posted on 5/8/2021

    Hi Colin, I am really enjoying my beautiful Sony XBR 49X950H, and am now pairing it with the Bose 700 Soundbar. I am unclear about what Sony TV "digital audio out" settings to select. The choices are: auto 1 (output compressed without changes) auto 2 ( output only compressed audio for multi-channel without changes) or 3 (PCM always). There is also an on/off pass through mode choice , and a choice of Dolby Digital or Dolby Dig Plus. Could you please help me sort this out? I'm 75 and not very technical, but I love the great TV you guys got for me when no one else had them in stock!

    Commenter image

    Colin M. from Crutchfield

    on 5/10/2021

    Hi Albert, If it's just the sound bar connected to your TV, I would try auto 2 (multi-channel) and Dolby Digital based on your description. There could be other considerations though. If that doesn't work out for you, definitely hit up our Technical Support team. They should be able to get you working. :)
  • George from Tustin, California

    Posted on 3/29/2021

    I am getting the sony a9g in 2 weeks. I watch tv in a room 20 x15 with vaulted ceiling. Mostly watch tv shows, movies, Netflix and sports. No gaming. We sit 17 feet away from the set. A sony z9f is bundled with it, but am wondering if there is a better choice. I have read dozens of reviews, very few of which include this sony. I almost would rather do without the separate subwoofer. Can you help me?

    Commenter image

    Colin M. from Crutchfield

    on 3/30/2021

    Given that you're getting the sound bar with the set, it can't hurt to go ahead and set it up. See how it sounds and if's not quite what you're looking for, our advisors should definitely be able to find something that will be. There might be a few more qualifying details, so don't hesitate to give us a call if the Sony doesn't work out!
  • Jimmy from Loudon

    Posted on 1/25/2021

    Unless I missed something, it appears that the best 2021 sound bars are all self powered speaker systems. I was surprised there was nothing about passive sound bars mentioned. Did I miss something?

    Commenter image

    Colin M. from Crutchfield

    on 1/26/2021

    Apt observation! While we definitely carry some banging passive sound bars, there aren't quite as many to choose from and their application tends to be a bit more specific. A lot of folks stick to powered units, if only because they're a pinch easier to install. Depending on your needs though, a passive unit might make a lot of sense. If you need help picking out a sound bar, one of our super helpful Advisors can definitely point you in the right direction!
  • R Rocque Williams from Charlotte

    Posted on 12/30/2020

    I see Crutchfield doesn't carry the LG SN11 RG Sound Bar, but what is your opinion on it? Thank you,

    Commenter image

    Colin M. from Crutchfield

    on 1/4/2021

    Where we don't carry the SN11 currently, it would be difficult to give you an accurate assessment. We have a wide selection of sound bar though. If you need help finding something that will fit your needs, our helpful Advisors can definitely point you in the right direction.
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