The best cheap soundbars in 2023

Best cheap soundbars hero image showing the Creative Stage V2 placed in front of a TV
(Image credit: Future)

The best cheap soundbars bring a sonic boost to the sound from a TV's built-in speakers, with better-sounding dialog and bigger bass to make action movies come alive. Each of these sub-$200 models has been thoroughly reviewed for its ability to deliver a more engaging listening experience for medium-sized TV screens without bleeding your wallet dry.

Although they're packed with an impressive array of features and sound customization options, you may not get top-notch features like Dolby Atmos format support. But the sonic upgrade these low-cost soundbars bring makes them worthwhile all the same. 

Read on to discover the right soundbar for you. And don't forget, you'll find lots more info in our in-depth standalone reviews, covering installation, customization, and performance. Just follow the link at the end of each product summary to learn more. 

Top 3 best cheap soundbars

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Best cheap soundbar overall: Creative Stage V2
This low-priced soundbar delivers clear, articulate sound, highlighted by powerful bass that the accompanying subwoofer handles with ease. There are built-in bass and treble controls, plus the bundled remote comes programmed with a variety of functions that simplify usage.  (opens in new tab)

Best cheap soundbar overall: Creative Stage V2
This low-priced soundbar delivers clear, articulate sound, highlighted by powerful bass that the accompanying subwoofer handles with ease. There are built-in bass and treble controls, plus the bundled remote comes programmed with a variety of functions that simplify usage. 

Best value cheap soundbar: Vizio V-Series 2.1 Home Theater Soundbar V21-H8
A superb, low-cost soundbar and subwoofer combo, the Vizio is well featured with inputs to hook up other media devices and compatible with numerous surround sound formats. Bass fans will enjoy the low end that comes out of the small subwoofer, and although it sacrifices control and precision, you can't grumble at the price. (opens in new tab)

Best value cheap soundbar: Vizio V-Series 2.1 Home Theater Soundbar V21-H8
A superb, low-cost soundbar and subwoofer combo, the Vizio is well featured with inputs to hook up other media devices and compatible with numerous surround sound formats. Bass fans will enjoy the low end that comes out of the small subwoofer, and although it sacrifices control and precision, you can't grumble at the price.

Best cheap soundbar for beginners: TLC Alto 6 
The TCL Alto 6 isn’t far behind the Creative Stage V2. It's packaged with a subwoofer that offers strong sound and smart features like Roku integration. We we're impressed with how forceful the Alto 6 Plus sounded in our testing and how easy it was to set up. (opens in new tab)

Best cheap soundbar for beginners: TLC Alto 6
The TCL Alto 6 isn’t far behind the Creative Stage V2. It's packaged with a subwoofer that offers strong sound and smart features like Roku integration. We we're impressed with how forceful the Alto 6 Plus sounded in our testing and how easy it was to set up.

The best cheap soundbars you can buy right now

The Creative Stage V2 set up on the entertainment centerTop Pick

(Image credit: Future)
The best cheap soundbar with a subwoofer

Specifications

Size: 26.8 x 3 x 3.9 inches (soundbar), 4.6 x 6.7 x x 9.8 inches (subwoofer)
Inputs: Optical digital audio, 3.5mm, USB, HDMI ARC
Bluetooth: Yes
HDMI: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Great value
+
High sound quality
+
Good connectivity

Reasons to avoid

-
Short subwoofer cable
-
Plastic is a dust magnet

The Creative Stage V2 soundbar is incredible value for money. In addition to a sleek soundbar with a relative bounty of connectivity, including HDMI ARC, the small outlay also gets you a dedicated subwoofer to help pump out impactful bass.

Sound quality is very good overall, and can be tweaked to match what you're watching. For instance, you can choose to boost the bass or treble at any time, and there are "Dialog" and "Surround" to try out as well. The latter doesn't provide digital surround sound per se, but does widen the soundstage for more exciting action scenes.

Read our full Creative Stage V2 review.

The Vizio V-Series 2.1 Home Theater Soundbar V21-H8 placed on a wooden tablebest value awards badge

(Image credit: Michael Gowan)
A superb, low-cost soundbar and subwoofer combo

Specifications

Size: 36 x 3.3 x 2.2 inches
Inputs: HDMI, USB, 3.5mm, Aux VA
Bluetooth: Yes
HDMI: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Wide soundstage
+
Lots of audio and input options
+
Affordable

Reasons to avoid

-
Bass can overwhelm voices
-
Dolby Audio support through optical digital only

Vizio has a variety of soundbar and subwoofer bundles to choose from, but our current favorite is the V-Series 2.1 Home Theater Soundbar V21-H8. The speaker itself has a nondescript, minimalist design that blends nicely into any home theater setup. There are numerous inputs to hook up other media devices, including televisions, gaming consoles, and any Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri smart speaker. 

Bundled with the combo is a highly functional remote to enable playback, volume, and even DTS Virtual:X and DTS TruVolume, which help produce bigger and more encompassing sound. Staying in standard mode will also reward your ears with clear voices and rich mid frequencies.

Bass fanatics might enjoy the emphasized low end that comes out of the small subwoofer, but critical listeners won’t since it lacks precision and creates muddiness on certain songs and soundtracks.

Read our full Vizio V-Series 2.1 Home Theater Soundbar V21-H8 review.

The TCL Alto 6 Plus soundbar and subwooferTop Pick

(Image credit: Future)
The best cheap soundbar with a wireless subwoofer

Specifications

Size: 31.5 x 4.2 x 2.4 inches (soundbar), 12.8 x 7.9 x 7.9 inches (subwoofer)
Inputs: Optical digital audio, 3.5mm, USB, HDMI ARC
Bluetooth: Yes
HDMI: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Wireless subwoofer
+
Easy setup
+
Roku TV integration

Reasons to avoid

-
Not great for music
-
Minimal sound adjustment

The Alto 6 Plus is even cheaper than the Stage V2, and it also has its own dedicated subwoofer — only this one is wireless. It’s powerful, too, proving more than capable of filling out movie action scenes or music playback with deep, rumbling bass.

The downside is that this low-end isn’t as tightly controlled as it is on pricier soundbar/sub combos, and your options for adjusting the sound profile are relatively limited. But we were still impressed with how forceful the Alto 6 Plus sounded in our testing, and its simplicity means that home theater beginners might actually appreciate how easy it is to complete setup.

Read our full TCL Alto 6 Plus review.

Roku Streambar

(Image credit: Roku)
A compact and well-designed soundbar with 4K streaming

Specifications

Size: 14.0 x 4.2 x 2.4 inches
Inputs: USB, optical audio
Bluetooth: Yes
HDMI: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
4K streaming
+
Clear, loud sound
+
Compact design

Reasons to avoid

-
Relatively weak bass
-
No Ethernet port

The Roku Streambar is Roku's second soundbar outing, and just might be the company's best yet. This unique all-in-one device is both a compact soundbar and a 4K Roku streaming player at once, allowing you to enjoy great sound for shows and movies while tapping into your favorite streaming services all from the same hardware.

Don't let its size fool you, though — the Streambar delivers impressive sound for its size and price. Packing four 1.9-inch drivers, this small soundbar can easily fill a living room with crisp audio for your next Netflix or Disney Plus binge. And since you're getting Roku software inside, you'll be able to watch just about every streaming service out there, with an intuitive interface and an included remote for navigation. Better yet, you can pair the Streambar to the Roku TV Wireless Speakers and Roku Wireless Subwoofer if you want even more immersive sound.

Read our full Roku Streambar review.

Roku Streambar Pro with controller

(Image credit: Roku)
A soundbar with built-in Roku streaming

Specifications

Size: 32.2 x 3.9 x 2.8inches
Inputs: Optical digital audio, HDMI ARC, USB
Bluetooth: No
HDMI: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Simple to set up and use
+
Decent bass without a subwoofer
+
Wide sound

Reasons to avoid

-
No Dolby Atmos support
-
Sometimes sluggish streaming performance

One of Roku’s earliest audio products, the Streambar Pro is an impressive device that stuffs a 4K Roku streaming player into a tiny soundbar. Virtual surround sound is available right out of the box to fill up your living room. Bass is decent considering there’s no subwoofer bundled with the package. It also comes with one of the most user-friendly remotes available, which features a button for voice search and headphone jack for private listening.

Lack of Dolby Atmos support will disappoint those seeking a more immersive listening experience. So will the sluggish performance when going through the menus and app. Nonetheless, to get quality sound and Roku functionality from a speaker makes this a sweet deal.

Read our full Roku Streambar Pro review.

The LG SK1 on a shelf

(Image credit: Future)
A user-friendly and very cheap soundbar

Specifications

Size: 25.5 x 3 x 7.5 inches
Inputs: Optical digital audio, 3.5mm
Bluetooth: Yes
HDMI: No

Reasons to buy

+
Aggressively priced
+
Easy to setup and use
+
Lots of input options

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited connectivity and power
-
Mild bass

Another good option for smaller TVs is the LG SK1. Its compact design only includes two speakers and claims a modest 40W power output, which is enough to outperform many TV audio systems.

The plug'n'play setup, simple interface and included remote also help streamline everyday usage, which might be ideal if you just want a better TV speaker without a ton of extras. Still, we'd recommend turning on the Bass Blast mode for some extra low-end punch, and you can connect a Bluetooth device if you ever want to use the SK1 as a music speaker as well.

Read our full LG SK1 review.

How to choose the best cheap soundbar for you

The best cheap soundbar for you depends on the features, connections and size that will help you most enjoy watching movies and TV. Some of these soundbars come with a subwoofer — a speaker dedicated to producing the tactile rumble that's evident when watching action movies. Think about whether you need a remote as  some designs are better than others. 

Soundbar size: There are a number of factors that play into deciding which soundbar you should buy. Size will likely be prohibitive for most customers; you obviously need a soundbar that will suit your TV and space constraints within your entertainment console. And, because a soundbar is one of the centerpieces of your home theater setup, it has to look good and fit stylistically.

Then you have to factor in the size of the room you're dealing with, and the distance viewers would typically be sitting from the TV. If you're dealing with a larger space, it's probably best to target soundbars that come with a subwoofer — you'll surely appreciate the extra bass.

Connectivity: Connectivity is crucial too, both in terms of wired and wireless access. Not every soundbar comes with an HDMI port; some force you to make do with optical audio. That's perfectly fine if you want to use your TV as a pass-through, but those who are in dire need of more HDMI ports — because their capacity is limited between game consoles, streaming boxes and so on — will need to prioritize options that offer those additional connections.

You’ll also want to pay attention to the audio outputs on your TV or monitor. Although the majority of the soundbars now come with an HDMI port for audio output from your TV, but the LG SK1 offers optical digital only. 

Pricing considerations: Obviously, price is a big consideration when looking for the best soundbars. Although there are always exceptions, big-name brands will typically command a bit extra, but generally speaking, the less you spend on a soundbar the greater the chance that sound and features will be compromised. Going for a budget option isn't always the best choice, as any money you save on your purchase won't do you much good if the sound quality is poor. 

As the saying goes: timing is everything; and right now it's worth checking out the holiday season sales when many of our favorite models will be discounted at online retailers, meaning you can bag a bargain for even less.

Contributions from: Michael Gowan

Next: For more TV and soundbar info, check out our helpful guides on choosing the right big-screen TV for you, the best TVs right now and how to improve your TV sound. 

More: Yamaha unveils SR-C30A entry-level soundbar to rival the similarly priced Sonos Ray. While at the other end of the spectrum check out what we made of the most powerful soundbar we've ever heard in our Devialet Dione review.

How we test the best cheap soundbars

We test soundbars for vocal clarity and low-end effects by watching a variety of movies and TV shows, including video in action and drama genres. We also listen to various songs ranging from rock to hip hop to acoustic to evaluate music performance. We benchmark volume using an app that measures decibels. 

Ease of use depends on how quickly and simply we can connect the soundbar to the TV and how easily we can make adjustments to the sound quality. We'll let you know if this process is particularly easy or difficult, though cheap soundbars pretty much never require specialist audio knowledge to set up.

Once testing is completed, we rate the best soundbars based on our five-point system (1 = worst, 5 = best). Products that hit nearly every mark are awarded an Editor's Choice badge.

Find out how we test for more information on our reviewing procedures

Lee Dunkley
Audio Editor

As a former editor of the U.K.'s Hi-Fi Choice magazine, Lee is passionate about all kinds of audio tech and has been providing sound advice to enable consumers to make informed buying decisions since he joined Which? magazine as a product tester in the 1990s. Lee covers all things audio for Tom's Guide, including headphones, wireless speakers and soundbars and loves to connect and share the mindfulness benefits that listening to music in the very best quality can bring.