Best soundbars under $200 for 2021

By Dasblog

If you find that the built-in speakers inside your TV don’t sound good at all, but you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a full sound system (surround sound, rear speakers, subwoofer and so on) for watching movies and TV shows (and maybe when you’re trying to play Spotify through your phone via Bluetooth), perhaps you should consider a soundbar.

While soundbar technology can get pricey — you can get a smart soundbar or get one with an external subwoofer and other advanced features — there are a lot of great soundbar options for less than $200. The budget soundbar models highlighted here are ones that performed well in CNET’s hands-on tests — and one is just $80.

All four of the affordable soundbars on this list have a remote control and Bluetooth (for wireless music streaming from your phone and Bluetooth-enabled devices) and an optical connection (for hooking to a TV). And connectivity is particularly easy in the Vizio V21, Roku Streambar and the Creative Stage, which all include an HDMI port. It’s time to abandon TV sound and turn up the volume for a better audio experience!

Sarah Tew/CNET

My previous recommendation, the Vizio SB3621n-e8, is about to be replaced with a new version but in the meantime you can nab the V21. For $180 the V21 includes a wireless subwoofer, HDMI connectivity and both Dolby and DTS decoding. Like its former stablemate this is an absolute movie machine, and an impressive speaker to stream music via Bluetooth as well.

Read our Vizio V21 review.


Sarah Tew/CNET

If your budget is a Franklin and no more, the most sound option is this Vizio. With a larger-than-most cabinet the SB362An-F6 offers levels of bass that even the $200 Yamaha YAS-108 can’t touch. The Vizio SB362An-F6 doesn’t boast as many features as some of the bars below, but it does have Bluetooth connectivity and a remote control for controlling volume and three bands of EQ. If you just want the best sound quality for the lowest price, this sounder with bluetooth is it, but if you can spend a bit more, keep scrolling.

Read our VIZIO SB362AN-F6 review.


Sarah Tew/CNET

The compact Roku Streambar offers a lot for your $130. This is a fully fledged 4K HDR streamer with hundreds of supported services, plus the ability to connect over Bluetooth. It’s an instant upgrade on your TV speaker too, with excellent vocal clarity.

Read our Roku Streambar review.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Soundbars are able to make a lot of noise from a tiny box, but nothing can compare with the bass that a dedicated subwoofer can bring. The Creative Stage offers a lot for just $80, including HDMI cable connectivity, but it’s the wired subwoofer which makes the system really sing. This soundbar also offers bluetooth connectivity and a USB port for playing MP3s from an external drive.

Read our Creative Stage review.


Can you spend a bit more?

At $250, for example, not only will you get better audio experience and sound, but a better assortment of features, including a subwoofer as standard and a greater number of inputs. Some of these soundbars, such as the Sonos Beam, even have Amazon Alexa built-in. While the sky’s the limit to how much you can spend on upgrading your sound, the real sweet spot is between $300 and $400. See our list of best soundbars here, which includes models that offer state of the art Dolby Atmos audio effects.

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