Staying at home this summer? The best soundbar can make your movie nights as epic as any trip to the theatre. These essential speakers can augment the typically tinny sound that most TVs have with rich bass and crisp dialogue, allowing you to enjoy your games, movies, and shows the way they were meant to be experienced. While you can be spending as little as $80 on a soundbar (or sound base), the sweet spot for this kind of speakers is around under $300.
Soundbars are also great alternatives to full home theatre setups, which can be very expensive and bulky. Many of the best soundbars on offer include subwoofers for better bass and some can even work with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for use with your favorite music or video streaming services. Read on below for our picks for the best soundbars to buy right now.
How to Choose the Best Soundbar for You
Several factors play into deciding which soundbar you should buy. The size will likely be the most immediate consideration for most customers; you obviously need a soundbar that can suit your TV and the space constraints within your entertainment console. Additionally, because a soundbar is one of the centerpieces of your home theatre setup, it has to look good and fit in stylistically. Then you also have to factor in the size of the room you’re dealing with, and the distance at which viewers would typically be sitting from the TV. If you’re dealing with large spaces, it’s probably best to prefer soundbars that come with a subwoofer — you’ll surely appreciate the extra bass.
Ports and connectivity are crucial, both in terms of wired and wireless domains. Not every soundbar comes with HDMI ports; some force you to work with optical audio. That’s fine if you wanna use your TV as a pass-through device, but those who are in need of more HDMI ports — because their port capacity is fairly limited between audio devices, game consoles, streaming boxes, and so on — will face the need to prioritize options that offer particular connections. Finally, more of the best soundbars today embrace Dolby Atmos, which is a surround sound technology designed to simulate immersive 3D audio you’d get from a movie theatre. The big difference Atmos has compared to traditional surround sound is that you can hear the sound move up and down, not just from side-to-side – allowing you to get an extra dimension of immersiveness when, say, a car flies overhead in an action movie.
How We Test Soundbars
When testing for inclusion on our best soundbars page, we play a range of media — including movies, music and games —to evaluate the overall sound quality. We also test companion software that may come with a soundbar, and factor in the ease to set up and use each device.
Other features tested include the inputs, outputs, and ability to be wall-mounted, all of which determine how well a soundbar will work with your home entertainment setup. We also consider the wattage of each soundbar and its supported audio channels. The inclusion of a subwoofer is also considered great as these are all factors that can greatly affect how each speaker will sound in your preferred place of use.
Our Top Picks for Best Soundbars under $300:
Here are our current Best Soundbar Picks under $300:
1. Polk Audio MagniFi Mini (Best compact soundbar)
Size: 13.4 x 3.1 x 4.3 inches | Inputs/Outputs: HDMI, USB, Digital Optical, Ethernet | Audio Channels: 5.1, stereo | Bluetooth: Yes | Subwoofer: Yes | Wattage: N/A | Wall Mountable: No
Don’t let the small size of this excellent Polk Audio soundbar fool you. The Polk MagniFi Mini packs huge audio into a tiny package like a soundbar, unlike any other products like it. It fits seamlessly into any setup, delivering crisp dialogue and deep bass with the help of its included wireless subwoofer. It also includes support for Google Cast, doubling as a great home music speaker. The MagniFi Mini can get loud enough to fill most small apartments and bedrooms, and we found it reliable for getting immersed in our movies and shows. A handy remote and an easy setup process makes it one of the best soundbar out there, and at $250, it won’t set you back much, either.
Being quite versatile, the MagniFi Mini can serve as both, a soundbar and the main music speaker in many situations, especially in an apartment. It produces excellent audio for movies, TV, and music few full-size soundbars in this price range match its overall performance. At under $300, the Polk MagniFi Mini is our best soundbar pick for this article. It’s the best we’ve heard for the price and is still by far the best attempt we’ve heard at packing a big sound into a micro-size speaker.
- Powerful bass and clear vocals
- Wireless subwoofer
- Google Cast audio integration
- Small in size but not in quality
- No onscreen display or mobile app
- Harsh treble
2. Yamaha YAS-108 (Best with a Built-in Sub)
Size: 35 x 2.1 x 5.1 inches, 7 lbs | Inputs/Outputs: HDMI in/out, analog audio, subwoofer, digital optical, | Audio Channels: Stereo | Bluetooth: Yes | Subwoofer: No | Wattage: N/A | Wall Mountable: Yes
The Yamaha YAS-108 has aged well but still offers an impressive number of features for a $200 soundbar. It includes HDMI, 4K passthrough, a variety of sound modes and Bluetooth support for jamming out to music. It is also well manufactured with quality components. For the Sound quality, it packs some excellent sound into its small design and offers crisp highs and satisfying bass thanks to the built-in subwoofers that boost the low end without needing additional speakers.
For the people who like to fine-tune their audio, the YAS-108 packs inside several EQ presets including 3D surround for maximum immersion and Clear Voice that upps the dialogue. You’ll rarely find this combination of features for the price, making the YAS-108 the best soundbar overall for those looking to stay under the $300 price point.
- Full sound from a compact form
- Sharp treble and good bass
- HDMI and 4K passthrough
- No app support yet
- Cheap fabric-covered design.
3. Sonos Beam (Alexa Integration)
Size: 25.6 x 2.7 x 3.9 inches, 6.2 pounds | Inputs/Outputs: HDMI Arc, Wi-Fi, optical audio, Apple AirPlay 2 | Audio Channels: Stereo | Bluetooth: No | Subwoofer: No | Wall Mountable: Yes
Sonos may be known to you as the luxury music brand with expensive offerings but their Sonos Beam soundbar is small, affordable and great-sounding and also doubles as a neat smart home gadget. The Sonos Beam has quite a lot going for it including full Alexa integration, Apple AirPlay 2 and Google Assistant support making it a future proof purchase. It delivers a wide soundstage and crisp dialogue that will make your favourite movies and shows sing along.
The Sonos Beam can also adjust the sound to your environment in ways that few soundbars allow which is quite innovative. We’d really like it if the Beam embraced Bluetooth though, but it’s still an excellent choice if an Alexa-ready soundbar with great performance is what you want. Pairing up with other Sonos speakers is also quite convenient. If big bass isn’t your priority or you have a small-sized room, the Sonos Beam is a great soundbar and will make your ears happy.
- Easy setup
- Alexa inside
- Wide soundstage
- Brand value
- Can be connected to other Sonos speakers
- Bass lacks detail
- No Bluetooth audio
4. Roku Smart Soundbar (Strong Streaming Game)
Size: 32.2 x 2.8 x 3.9 inches, 5.5 pounds | Inputs/Outputs: Optical In, USB 2.0, HDMI ARC | Audio Channels: Stereo | Bluetooth: Yes | Subwoofer: No | Wall Mountable: N/A
If you’re looking for an affordable soundbar but don’t yet have a reliable streaming player, the Roku Smart Soundbar gives you the best of both worlds in the same package. This soundbar can double as a fully-featured 4K Roku HDR player, giving you access to streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Apple TV. This soundbar also performs decently in audio performance and delivers solid audio for the price, pumping out strong bass and crisp treble. It doesn’t offer a night-and-day difference over most standard TV speakers, but it’s not a tremendously expensive gadget either. We’ll let it pass!
Roku’s soundbar even provides support for Alexa and Google Assistant for easy voice controls. Setup is also extremely easy because it comes with Roku’s simple streaming interface allowing you to stream your shows easier than ever. For $179, you get a 4K HDR streaming device with thousands of channels that can provide marginally better treble sound and much better bass sound than your TV offers by default. That seems about right.
- Good sound quality
- Full Roku built-in
- Easy setup
- Support for multiple apps and streaming services.
- Treble isn’t a big step up
- Slow navigation
- Not sound centric
5. Bose Solo 5
Size: 2.6 x 21.6 x 3.4 inches, 3.7 pounds | Inputs/Outputs: 3.5mm, coaxial, optical | Audio Channels: 2.0 | Bluetooth: Yes | Subwoofer: No | Wattage: N/A | Wall Mountable: Yes
One of the best small soundbar you can buy under $300 that we’ve tested so far is Bose’s Solo 5. The simple looking soundbar is compact enough for travel and small enough to fit between the legs of most TV stands without obstructing your view of the screen. Although mostly made from solid plastic, this soundbar has a good build. Its decently well-balanced frequency response reproduces accurate vocals and instruments, which makes it great for more dialogue-heavy audio like telenovelas or podcasts. You can also use Bluetooth to connect your mobile device to this soundbar, making it easy to share your music with others in the room.
However, this soundbar lacks thump and rumble which can be partially explained by the fact that it’s missing a wireless subwoofer. It also doesn’t have any HDMI ports which can be less versatile than the other budget soundbars we’ve tested so far. Overall, if you’re space-conscious and you’re on a budget, this is a solid and inexpensive soundbar under $300 for small spaces.
- Compact Size
- Plug and Play option
- Wireless Options available
- Brand value
- No HDMI Audio Input
- Lacks Bass
- Value for money proportion little to the lower side
6. Polk Audio Command Bar (Full Fledged Alexa experience)
Size: 42.95 x 4 x 2 inches, 4.95 pounds | Inputs/Outputs: Optical, RCA sub, HDMI, HDMI 4K pass-through | Audio Channels: 2.1 | Bluetooth: Yes | Subwoofer: Yes | Wattage: N/A | Wall Mountable: Yes
The Polk Command Bar is from a new breed of soundbars which include a voice assistant – in this case it’s gonna be Alexa. The Command Bar offers excellent performance for the price and can be bundled with an Amazon Fire Stick the system becomes a hands-free one-stop-shop. It not only has far-fetched mics but also features a dedicated voice assistant button on the remote. No more shouting!
The Polk Audio soundbar is also built with Dolby and DTS surround sound (like Yamaha YAS-108) to completely envelop you with the high-quality sound listening experience. It is also compatible with Fire TV, with built-in support for Amazon Music, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and others! You can stream music from/in multiple rooms and pair the device with your smart home devices with Bluetooth as well! It’s also compatible with Google Assistant. The best part is that you will also receive new features with more software updates down the line, which is just crazy for a soundbar under $300.
- Full Alexa experience
- Wireless subwoofer allows for better bass than standalone soundbars
- Dual HDMI allows mounting a fire stick as well
- One of the best connectivity features
- Narrow soundstage
- Not the best design aesthetic
7. JBL Bar 2.1
Size: 38 x 2.3 x 2.7 inches, 4.18 pounds | Inputs/Outputs: 1 Analog(3.5mm), 1HDMI, 1 Optical, Bluetooth, USB | Audio Channels: 2.1 | Bluetooth: Yes | Subwoofer: Yes | Wattage: 300W | Wall Mountable: Yes
The JBL Bar 2.1 started at $300 but is now widely available for $220 online. While this JBL soundbar doesn’t stand out in any particular way, I discovered during use and testing that it simply delivers the best combination of sound quality, usability, and ease of use out of all the soundbars under $300 we tested. First of all, the form factor is not overly fancy but traditional and functional. The included remote stands out as a full-sized, TV remote-style controller, which gives it ample surface space for buttons. The JBL also offers a considerate range of features via the remote, such as a Night Mode which automatically trims the louder frequencies, and an LED indicator dimmer for when you’re watching in a dim/dark room.
Providing ample, balanced volume, with good clarity for dialogue during movies and satisfying bass is its range of four drivers and two tweeters (in the bar) and subwoofer. The various sound modes (selected via the remote) provide good differentiation for different types of content. Overall, while it doesn’t have satellite speakers, built-in streaming or Alexa, or anything quirky or fancy, for the price the Bar 2.1 delivers the most consistent and convenient soundbar experience. It’s the jack of all soundbars in this price range for the best soundbars under $300.
- Powerful Performance
- Functional remote
- Wide soundstage and stereo separation
- Easy to set up and use
- Distortion in high bass sounds in standard mode
- No WiFi
8. Yamaha YAS-209
Size: 36.6 x 4.3 x 2.5-inches, N/A | Inputs/Outputs: Digital optical in, HDMI in/out | Audio Channels: Stereo, DTS Virtual X Surround | Bluetooth: Yes
The Yamaha YAS-209 offers a great package for its price, getting you great overall sound, wireless subwoofer for beefy bass and convenient Alexa support for voice control. It has a sleeker soundbar than most other sleeker models we’ve tested, with a 36-inch design that should look great under most TVs. The soundbar delivers an immersive sound for movies and shows. What’s more, the built-in Alexa functionality makes it easier to control any smart device in your house — even when the soundbar is off. The YAS-209 also sounds better than any competitor at this price. Audio that comes through is crisp and clear, with impressive width and depth to it, and the included subwoofer bolsters explosions, footsteps, and your favorite bassy tunes.
The inclusion of another HDMI port on the back would’ve been nice, but even despite the nitpick, the Yamaha YAS-209 offers a lot to like. It can double up as a great speaker as well as having two virtual surround sound modes, Wi-Fi, Spotify Connect, and Bluetooth. That’s a heck lot of features for such an affordable sound bar. The YAS-209 hits an attractive middle-ground for all the things anyone can look in for a great soundbar under $300.
- Clear and resonant dialogue
- Excellent for music
- Alexa inside
- Lacks low-frequency effects when movies are playing
- Only 1 HDMI input
The jump between the affordable and mid-range segment of the market is not as apparent, but it is there. We have shown you some of the best models and packages you can find in this price range. These perfectly explain what this short guide was trying to convey with words. Whether or not you will benefit from owning a $300 soundbar will always depend on your needs and how far are you ready to go to get the quality you want. With that in mind, this is the sweet spot segment for finding the best value for the money deals out there.