The current trend is for TVs to be very minimal – incredibly slim and almost no frame. While this looks incredibly elegant, it has left the engineers with nowhere to put quality speakers. So while the picture has gone from those fuzzy images we used to get with VHS and cathode ray tubes, to HD and now 4K and beyond, the sound has taken a similar leap…but backward!
Fortunately, soundbars exist to give your TV it’s sound back without making your living room look like a branch of BestBuy. They’ll massively improve your sound without the hassle or maze of cables that traditional surround sound system requires and even the entry level units are a big upgrade on your TV’s sound.
So, a soundbar is a great way to upgrade your TV and get cinema-style audio in your living room, but what should you be looking for and which is the right one for you?
This best soundbar round-up below will give you the quick answers with our more complete reviews below.
What is the best Soundbar for 2018?
Our Pick as Best Soundbar for 2018
Best Soundbar Under $200 for 2018
Best Soundbar Under $500 for 2018
Best Soundbar Under $300 for 2018
Best Soundbar Under $1000 for 2018
Best Soundbar Under $100 for 2018
Our Overall Winner
We’ve covered the best buys at the most common price points and recommended our choice of the best at those price points. As you would expect, the more you spend the better the sound will be, however, there is a definite case of diminishing returns.
So the Sonos, while amazing and the best outright model here, especially with the potential to add more to it as you go, does not win our overall prize as it simply isn’t *that* much better to justify the money, although if you have the money, it is better…so your choice!
At the other end, simply getting the product to market costs money, which takes away from what they can spend on the cheapest units. So for our choice of overall winner really comes down to our favorite mid-range units; the Yamaha, the Q-Acoustics and the Bose.
The addition of the subwoofer, combined with excellent amplification and electronics gives the Bose an amazing amount bang for your buck in our opinion and it is an excellent choice, especially if you like your actions films. but it lacks a little control when things are less frenetic.
Also, while the Yamaha is fantastic and the clear audio technology performs wonders, I am going to have to rule it out as the Q Acoustics just sounds that bit better all-round and for not that much more money. So this leaves us to declare the Q Acoustics our winner!
While lacking a little of the bombast of the Bose’s subwoofer the Q Acoustics has just a touch more control and clarity. However, it can also handle itself perfectly well when the action on screen steps it up too and has no problems handling the rumble of V8s or placing the ricochet of bullets around the room.
So for the best all-rounder, we are going to have to (narrowly) give it to the Q Acoustics – an awesome soundbar!
Below we will go into our individual price point winners
Apex Digital ASB-900 – Best Soundbar Under $100
You may not have heard of Apex, but their Digital ASB-900 is a knockout for the price. It is quite large but kicks out 250 Watts, making it loud enough to fill a good sized room with great sound.
It does not offer an HDMI connection, but it does offer an optical input and if you decide it is lacking in basee, there is an output for a subwoofer. All in all a bit of a bargain!
Yamaha YAS-107 – Best Soundbar Under $200
The Yamaha YAS-107 is a sleek sound bar featuring built-in subwoofers so that it fits neatly in front of your TV, on a shelf or even mounted on a wall while still offering an impressively full range of sound.
The overall sound of this bar is excellent and also features “Clear Voice” which makes dialogue so clear even during the most bombastic action sequences. Add to this Bluetooth wireless technology, which lets you stream music from your iPhone, iPad and Android devices, and you have got a winner.
VIZIO SB3851-C0 – Best Soundbar Under $300
Visio are becoming real masters of producing excellent home cinema sound for very little money and their SB3851-C0 Soundbar is a prime example.
Rather than just the usual front bar, this comes with both subwoofer and rear speakers for a true 5.1 surround sound experience. The speakers are nicely engineered with a good balance between the bass and treble and good clarity. Allied to a punchy amplifier that will comfortably fill a living room with sound and you’ve got a winner
The one downside is a lack of HDMI, a bit of an obvious omission, but it will seemlessly hook up with countless apps on your phones and tablets making it a superb gadget for your family room
Q Acoustics Media 4 – Best Soundbar Under $400
The Q Acoustics Media 4 Soundbar has won several awards and you can easily see (and hear) why. It is remarkably compact, with the subwoofer integrated into the unit, but the sound quality, detail and the bass are crisp and strong.
If you want a bit more punch you can easily add a sub-woofer, but unless you really like bombastic action movies or you have a large room to fill, you shouldn’t need it
The build quality is excellent too, especially at the price, and we recommend it wholeheartedly.
Bose CineMate 15 – Best Soundbar Under $500
Bose CineMate 15 Home Theater Speaker System really does change your ideas of what you think you can get out a speaker system like this – you will not just hear the sound, you will feel it!
The full and impressive sound is not at the expense of placing clear dialogue front and center with pinpoint accuracy with the effects left to right, creating a highly impressive surround sound stage from such a small sound bar.
SONOS Playbar – Best Soundbar Under $1000
This sort of money for just a soundbar might seem steep but it’s well worth the price for the quality of sound on offer from the SONOS Playbar TV Soundbar. The PlayBar uses some acoustic and electronic techniques to expand the sound stage so it sounds wider than it is.
For an extra bit of power you can add in the excellent (although pricey) SONOS wireless subwoofer if you want some more deep bass along with the option of also adding SONOS wireless surround speaksers for even better sound placement.
We should also mention that SONOS also make the Playbase, which is essentially the same device, just designed to be a flat base for your TV to stand on. We didn’t like the sound from this quite as much, but it is well worth considering if you don’t like the idea of a soundbar sitting just under your TV.
Naturally, being SONOS, you can add all the other SONOS speakers and gadgets which allow you to stream music all around the house. This all makes it a great choice not only for its audio capabilities but also the ability to expand and enhance it later.
Like most things, the more money you spend, generally the better the product. However in the world of soundbars you can get some amazing bargains that sound way more expensive than they have any right to for the price.
There are quite a few varieties of soundbar – basic standalone soundbars without subwoofers, more advanced soundbars with subwoofers and the potential to add satellite speakers or a sound-base that your TV sits on.
So the choice can be a little bewildering, so we hope this roundup has given you some food for thought. If you are still unsure, may I suggest you decide on a budget and take a look at the soundbars we have reviewed for that price range.
If you have any further questions, please do just drop us a line
- 1 What is the best Soundbar for 2018?
- 2 Apex Digital ASB-900 – Best Soundbar Under $100
- 3 Yamaha YAS-107 – Best Soundbar Under $200
- 4 VIZIO SB3851-C0 – Best Soundbar Under $300
- 5 Q Acoustics Media 4 – Best Soundbar Under $400
- 6 Bose CineMate 15 – Best Soundbar Under $500
- 7 SONOS Playbar – Best Soundbar Under $1000
- 8 Summary