Getting a soundbar for your home-theater setup gives you the best of both worlds: You don't have to settle for built-in TV speakers — which we've found to be consistently lackluster — but you also get to enjoy quality audio without the cost (or clutter) of a traditional speaker setup.
Of all the soundbars we've reviewed, we've found the Yamaha YAS-203 ($349 on Amazon) to offer the best overall sound quality for both movies and music at a reasonable price. The $192 JBL Cinema SB100 is an excellent option for shoppers on a budget. There are plenty of soundbars built for specific purposes, such as the gamer-centric Razer Leviathan and the music-focused Sonos Playbar. If you love syncing up all of your gadgets, you can check out Vizio's new SmartCast soundbars, which let you beam music right from your phone via Google Cast.
After testing a wide range of soundbars on the market, we chose our top picks for every need.
How We Evaluate Soundbars
When testing soundbars, we play range of media — including movies, music and games — in order to evaluate overall sound quality. We also test any companion software that may come with a soundbar, and factor in how easy it is to set up and use each device.
Other features we consider include a soundbar's inputs, outputs and ability to be wall mounted, all of which determine how well it will work with your home entertainment setup. We also take into account each soundbar's wattage, its supported audio channels and whether it includes a subwoofer — all factors that greatly affect how each speaker will sound in your living room.
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