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Best sound bars for 2024

Our expert's top picks, plus some shopping tips

In this article: our top sound bar picks, along with a few wallet-friendly alternatives...

  1. Best budget sound bar — Yamaha SR-B20A
  2. Best sound bar for music lovers — Sonos Arc
  3. Best sound bar for big rooms — Bose Smart Soundbar Ultra
  4. Best sound bar with wireless surround sound — JBL Bar 1300X
  5. Best-sounding sound bar — Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar | MAX
  6. Best sound bar for small rooms — Polk Audio MagniFi Mini AX

...plus we'll provide some handy shopping tips.

One of the easiest ways to add high-quality sound to your home theater is to pick up a powered sound bar. These space-efficient, speaker-packed bars can fit snugly under most TVs and are a breeze to set up. Most of the time you only need to deal with a couple wires: an A/V cable connected directly to your TV and a power cord plugged into an A/C outlet.

Most sound bar systems cost less than a traditional component home theater system. And lots of bars come bundled with a powered subwoofer, so you can still enjoy deep bass impact with your entertainment. There's a lot to love about a solid sound bar system. But which one is right for you? No better place to start than a list of the best.

Check out our top sound bar picks for 2024 below.

Yamaha SR-B20A sound bar

Best budget sound bar— Yamaha SR-B20A

Yamaha's sound bars have been a hit with our customers for years. The SR-B20A is no exception, with a set of six drivers including two built-in ported subwoofers for powerful full-range sound. This slim two-channel bar is packed with value, providing immersive home theater sound with DTS Virtual:X. This sound processing technology simulates surround and height channel speakers to create a surprisingly spacious soundstage.

The SR-B20A also comes with built-in Bluetooth, which lets you control the bar with a free downloadable app and easily stream music from your phone.

Details

  • two-channel sound bar with simulated 3D surround sound
  • DTS Virtual:X digital sound processing simulates surround and height-channel speakers
  • built-in Bluetooth for wireless music streaming from compatible devices
  • Clear Voice mode for clearer, louder dialogue with movies and shows

A wallet-friendly upgrade

The JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass MK2 provides high-quality two-channel sound with its bar, but adds a compact subwoofer. That extra bass adds impact you can feel to your favorite movies and TV shows.

What our customers say about the SR-B20A

Sonos Arc

Best sound bar for music lovers — Sonos Arc

The Sonos Arc is one of our most popular and well-rated sound bars. Sonos lets you play music from an expansive range of streaming services, making it easy as pie to find and enjoy your favorite tunes. It's also great for movie night. This Dolby Atmos bar offers high-quality sound with 11 built-in speakers, including angled side-firing and up-firing speakers that can place sound effects in a precise three-dimensional soundstage as they move around you.

One of the coolest things about Sonos is that they make it simple to expand your system without running wires all over your house. You can pair the Arc with a Sonos Sub to add serious bass impact to your movies and music. Or if you want to build up to a home theater system with true surround sound, the bar can also be paired with two Sonos Era 300s or Era 100s to act as rear-channel speakers.

Controlling the Arc is a breeze, too, whether you're using Sonos's intuitive app or the bar's built-in voice Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice control. If you're an Apple fan, you can also control the bar with Siri using Apple AirPlay 2.

Details

  • 11 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 compact Sonos Beam (Gen 2) is a great option from Sonos if you're tight on space, delivering surprisingly big sound from a bar of its size. There's also the Sonos Ray, the slimmest and most affordable bar from Sonos so far.

What our customers say about the Arc

Bose Smart Soundbar Ultra

Best sound bar for large rooms — Bose Smart Soundbar Ultra

The Bose Smart Soundbar Ultra is the most powerful entry in Bose's line of impressive sound bars. It delivers the smooth sound quality Bose is famous for and has a clean, elegant look that fits almost any room.

This bar supports Dolby Atmos and features nine built-in speakers, each expertly arranged to aim discrete sounds towards different parts of your room. By reflecting sounds off your ceiling and walls, the sound bar generates effects that feel like they're coming from all around you.

True to its name, the Smart Soundbar 900 also has a ton of convenient smart features like built-in voice control and robust music streaming options. Your home theater setup can also be expanded with deep bass and rear-channel effects by adding a Bass Module 700 and a pair of Surround Speakers 700s, respectively.

Details

  • specially designed drivers deliver full, spacious sound
  • PhaseGuide® technology simulates surround sound
  • built-in voice control with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
  • support for Dolby Atmos for an immersive, theater-like experience
  • solid build with a metal grille and beautiful tempered glass top panel

A wallet-friendly alternative

The Bose Smart Soundbar 600 is a slimmer bar but still adds some serious "oomph" to your home theater. And it comes with all the convenient smart features of the Ultra.

What our customers say about the Smart Ultra Soundbar

JBL Bar 1300X Powered home theater sound bar with wireless subwoofer, wireless surround speakers, and Dolby Atmos®

Best sound bar with wireless surround sound — JBL Bar 1300X

The JBL Bar 1300X is a streamlined 11.1.4-channel Dolby Atmos system that features a speaker-packed bar and 100% wire-free surround speakers. And the included 12" wireless subwoofer adds deep bass to help you feel the action onscreen.

The coolest feature of the 1300X has got to be the ultra-convenient battery-powered surrounds. They charge when connected to the bar and can be detached in seconds. This lets you effortlessly add rear-channel effects when you need them, without worrying about finding an A/C outlet.

The surrounds also feature Bluetooth that can be operated separately, letting you use them to play music in another room. Just pair them up and go. You can even use a single surround to listen in mono, just like a portable Bluetooth speaker. When JBL says "wireless" they mean it.

Details

  • powered sound bar, wireless 12" subwoofer, and true wireless surround speakers
  • delivers 11.1.4-channel sound with MultiBeam technology, DTS:X, and Dolby Atmos for immersive 3D audio
  • surround speakers feature built-in batteries and recharge when attached to the sound bar
  • PureVoice technology for crystal-clear dialogue
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay 2, and Chromecast built-in for wireless music streaming from compatible devices

A wallet-friendly alternative

The Samsung HW-B550D is a 3.1-channel bar and sub combo with the option to add wireless rear speakers whenever you're ready to upgrade to true surround sound.

What our customers say about the Bar 1300X

Sennheiser AMBEO Atmos sound bar

Best-sounding sound bar — Sennheiser AMBEO | Max

The AMBEO Soundbar | Max has been one of our best-selling and top-rated sound bars for years with room-filling 3D sound that injects life and impact into everything you listen to. It also made a big splash here at Crutchfield. Folks still talk about the demo around the office. A whopping 13 drivers are built into the bar, expertly controlled to produce incredibly immersive and detailed sound.

The AMBEO Max's secret sauce is Sennheiser's AMBEO advanced virtualization technology, which auto-calibrates the bar's sound to match your room's acoustics. This allows the AMBEO Max to simulate realistic surround and height effects, so you can hear sounds above and around you that feel true to life. You can even customize the level of virtualization the bar produces to match your mood or what you're watching.

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 AMBEO Soundbar | Plus is the powerful "little" brother of the Max. It offers the same AMBEO virtualization for immersive surround sound in a more compact and affordable package.

What our customers say about the AMBEO | Max

Polk Audio MagniFi Mini

Best sound bar for small rooms — Polk MagniFi Mini AX

Polk packed in as much sound as they could into a tiny package with the MagniFi Mini AX. This ultra-compact sound bar and subwoofer system delivers an expansive soundstage with a level of detail and precision you'd expect from a much bigger and more expensive bar.

The MagniFi Mini AX's 3D audio mode adds a virtual height dimension, enhances surround effects, and even upmixes stereo audio for bigger, more involving sound. You can also expand your system to true 5.1 home theater sound with the optional Polk SR2 wireless surround kit.

If you want to chill and listen to music, this bar has you covered with built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay 3, Chromecast built-in, and Spotify Connect. With all these options, it's easy to wirelessly stream your favorite tunes from your phone directly to the sound bar.

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

The JBL Bar 2.0 All-in-One MK2 is a great solution for anyone with a smaller space that doesn't need (or have room for) a subwoofer.

What our customers say about the MagniFi Mini AX

Sound bar shopping tips

We carry lots of sound bars and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes. There's something to fit almost any space and budget. To find the one that will fit your needs best, you can start by asking yourself a few questions.

How "home theater" are you looking to go?

Are you looking for a theater-like experience or just trying to hear your TV a little better? If it's the latter, a simple two-channel or three-channel sound bar will be more than enough in all likelihood.

The bigger you want to go the more you'll want to consider a bar that's matched with a subwoofer or that comes with rear-channel surround speakers. The sound bars with the biggest sound are the ones that come with a sub and support both height and surround channels.

Are you having trouble hearing dialogue?

Look for models that have a dedicated center channel and/or dialogue enhancement features. These two features will help you hear those hard-to-catch lines above anything else.

How much space do you have?

The bigger your room the more a larger sound bar starts to make sense. The same goes for your TV. If you have big TV, you'll want your sound bar to be big enough to match. Always double check a sound bar's dimensions before you pick it up to make sure it's a good fit for your space.

Where's the sound bar being placed?

Lots of sound bars will fit right under your TV. This is probably the easiest way to install a sound bar, but you need to double check the bar's height to make sure it will fit under your TV.

If you prefer a clean setup, you might consider a sound bar that can be wall-mounted. Fortunately, this is pretty much standard these days.

Are you trying to connect several components?

The more A/V equipment you've got in your setup, the more you might need a few extra connections on the back of your sound bar. If you're connecting a source like a Blu-ray player or gaming console straight to the sound bar, you'll also want to make sure the bar supports video passthrough.

Check out our sound bar connection and setup guide for more information.

Get started today!

There are tons of great sound bar systems to choose from, and we're here to help. We have even more tips in our full sound bar buying guide. And if you need a little guidance finding exactly what you’re looking for, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our friendly Advisors.

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. 

  • John from ARLINGTON

    Posted on 1/26/2023

    Have a BenQ V7050i paired with a 110" screen. Have Panasonic 420 4k player and Charter Spectrum Cable box. Since the screen is so wide, I want a bar with width for better sound stage. No gaming, no streaming..only movies and tv watching. Don't want to have to use apps to set up, just remote set up. Atmos is not a must as none of my blurays have it. A single bar, with or without a sub is acceptable, and external surround is nice but not 100% required. Am leaning towards the Ambeo, likely the smaller vs Max but am intrigued by Sonos and Samsung. Am open for suggestions.

    Commenter image

    Colin M. from Crutchfield

    on 1/27/2023

    Hi John, you can't go wrong with either the AMBEO Plus or AMBEO Max, that's for sure. But if you're looking for a bar to match the width of a larger screen, we should have plenty of solid options for you. Your best bet will be to chat with one of our Advisors to go through all the details of your set up. That way we can point you towards the best bar for your system. :)
  • 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!
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