Eletiofe Your TV Sounds Awful. Upgrade It With One of...

Your TV Sounds Awful. Upgrade It With One of These Soundbars


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You’ve probably already shelled out for a nice big TV, and maybe a streaming gadget to play your Netflix, but what about your sound?

It doesn’t matter how large your screen is or how much it cost—it probably sounds awful. You’d be surprised by how much more you enjoy those Netflix Originals with a halfway decent soundbar or surround system. Explosions pop, dialog sounds far crisper, and you may even notice details you’ve never picked up on before.

Why You Need a Soundbar

We have yet to test a modern TV that didn’t sound crummy without some kind of audio accessory added. That’s mostly due to the way they’re designed: Great-sounding speakers are bulky, and as TVs have gotten thinner, with shrinking bezels and sleeker designs, manufacturers are having a harder time building them in.

Even if you can only afford to spend $150 on a new soundbar with a subwoofer, it’s essential to getting the most out of your viewing experience. To help, we put together this list of the best soundbar bundles we’ve tested, and a little advice on how to make the most of them.

Updated November 27: We’ve added the Vizio SB3821-C6, Sonos Arc, Enclave Audio CineHome Pro, Roku Streambar, and ZVOX AccuVoice AC157. Be sure to check out our Black Friday TV and soundbar picks.

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  • Image may contain Electronics

    Photograph: Vizio

    Best Value

    Vizio 2.1 Soundbar (SB3821-C6)

    Vizio is one of the best brands in the business when it comes to delivering good sound at palatable prices, and its most recent 2.1-channel model is a shining example of this ethos. The SB3821-C6 soundbar is sleek, easy to set up, and has a wireless subwoofer that can sit next to your couch.

    With 3.5-mm, USB, and optical cable inputs—plus Bluetooth for playing music from your smartphone—you can enjoy its crystal-clear audio from virtually any device you own, though you will have to shell out for a more expensive bar if you want to use HDMI ARC to control your sound using your TV’s remote control instead of the included Vizio remote (though it does have IR codes to program your TV remote manually if you’re tech-savvy).

    Inputs: Optical, coaxial, USB, 3.5-mm audio, and Bluetooth

  • Photograph: Yamaha

    Best Smart Soundbar With a Built-In Sub

    Yamaha YAS-109

    I always recommend snagging a soundbar with a subwoofer included for maximum audio enjoyment, but if you live in a smaller apartment, or simply just don’t have room for a subwoofer in your living room, the subwoofer-less Yamaha YAS-109 is for you. It might not come with a sub, but this small Yamaha bar comes packed with great tech.

    With the same great built-in Alexa, Spotify Connect, and the same dual HDMI inputs as the YAS-209 (also on this list), you’ll get a stripped-down bar that’s capable of being the center of your living room audio experience—from playing your favorite movies to telling you the news and weather—without making you touch a remote.

    Inputs: 2 HDMI ports (one ARC), optical, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Bluetooth, and mics for voice-activated Alexa

  • Photograph: Yamaha

    Best Smart Soundbar With a Dedicated Sub

    Yamaha YAS-209

    If you’re looking for a soundbar and sub combo that doubles as a smart speaker for your living room, there is no better option than the Yamaha YAS-209. It has Amazon Alexa built in, two virtual surround sound modes, Wi-Fi, Spotify Connect, and Bluetooth. You can do everything from play Taylor Swift to check the weather. That’s a heck of a lot of features for such an affordable bar.

    The YAS-209 also sounds better than it has any right to at this price. Audio comes through crisp and clear, with impressive width and depth, and the included subwoofer bolsters explosions, footsteps, and your favorite bassy tunes.

    Inputs: 2 HDMI ports (one ARC), optical, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Bluetooth, and mics for voice-activated Alexa

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