The Best Sound Bar for TV, PS4, and Xbox One

Want the best audio quality for the money? You need a sound bar.

If you’ve got a flat-screen TV, you’re probably impressed by the sharp picture, bright colors, and sleek design. One thing that likely disappoints you, though, is your TV’s audio quality. Flat-screen televisions just don’t have room inside for good-quality speakers. What you get in a thin TV, you lose in great sound. This is really a problem for gaming, where audio is a huge part of the experience. Without good speakers, your game’s audio will seem flat. With the launch of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 approaching, you want your games to sound their very best.

But there is a solution, and it doesn’t have to cost over $500, like many full surround-sound systems do. A quality sound bar will give you the audio you want for a respectable price. They’ve also got a small footprint, so sound bars are perfect if you don’t have room for a full speaker system. And you don’t need any technical knowledge to set them up, either. Great, right?

So what are the best sound bars out there right now?

Here’s a list of the top-selling sound bars and promising products that are soon to be released. Click on a product name to learn more on Amazon.com.

 

Sound Bar Pros Cons Price Average Review (out of 5)
Sony HTCT260 Sound Bar Home Theater System
Rich bass,
Bluetooth connectivity, night mode, optical input
No HDMI, hexagon shape may not appeal to some $$$ 4.5
Polk Audio N1 SurroundBar for All Xbox Consoles (Black)
Custom gaming EQs, deep bass without subwoofer, universal remote compatible No subwoofer $$$ N/A
(not yet released)
LG Electronics NB3530A Sound Bar System
Wireless subwoofer, Bluetooth, 2 optical inputs May not pair with universal remotes $$$ 4.5
VIZIO S4251w-B4 5.1 Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer and Satellite Speakers
Wireless subwoofer, low harmonic distortion, quality remote control Sound may cut out when changing channels/audio source $$$ 4.5
Atlantic Technology H-PAS PowerBar 235 Powered Home Theater Soundbar
Speech enhancement feature, on-board amplifier, rich sound without subwoofer Large and heavy, requires significant shelf or floor space $$$$ 4.5
RCA RTS735E Home Theater Sound Bar
Good value, line-in jack for MP3 devices, small footprint Remote control is not high quality $ 4
Samsung HW-F450 2.1 Channel 280-Watt Soundbar
Wireless subwoofer, can control sound bar with TV remote, Bluetooth connectivity Some features only work with Samsung TVs $$ 4
Philips CSS2123B/F7 SoundBar Home Cinema Speakers
DoubleBASS technology for deeper bass, iLink jack for MP3 players, great price for quality Only works with included remote control, occasional tinny audio, no HDMI $$ 4
Yamaha YAS-101BL Front Surround System, Piano Black
7.1 surround sound, UniVolume feature, can control with TV remote No HDMI, static at very high volume levels $$$ 4

 

Price code on chart: $ = Under $100 |  $$ = $100-$200 |  $$$ = $200-$300 |  $$$$ = $300 and up

 

1. Sony HT-CT260 Sound Bar Home Theater System

This is the #1 bestseller in the sound bar category on Amazon, with a total 4.5 star review from buyers. If you’re looking for awesome sound for a fair price, you may not need to look further than the Sony HT-CT260.best sound bar - sony

Sony says that this sound bar is best for a TV that’s 40 inches or larger, but of course, it will work with smaller screens too. It comes with a wireless subwoofer and the 2.1 channel S-Force PRO surround sound bar. That means you’ll get the rich sound of a 5.1 or 7.1 system from a much smaller and cheaper speaker. The HT-CT260 boasts theater-like sound with Dolby Digital Pro Logic II, which has become the standard for high-quality at-home audio.

The sound bar has a unique hexagonal shape that you can adjust to fit any desk, table, or entertainment center. It’s black, sleek, and unobtrusive, and it will look great next to any TV or game console. It’s also wall mountable thanks to its integrated keyhole wall mounts, so you won’t need to buy any separate equipment to hang it up.

The HT-CT260 is Bluetooth enabled. That means that this speaker can wirelessly connect to and deliver sound through Bluetooth devices, including your smartphone, MP3 player, tablet, or computer. It connects directly to your HDTV via the included digital optical cable. Other than that, there’s no more wires or hassle required.

Amazon reviews say that this speaker is comparable to, and even better than, some pricey Bose models. According to reviewers, the sound is full and rich, setup is easy, and the Bluetooth connectivity is a major bonus. One potential drawback is that the speaker doesn’t have an HDMI output, but this is no big deal if your TV has an optical connection.

Sony has a few other models that are similar to the HT-CT260, such as the HT-CT150 and the HT-CT550W. Of these, only this model, the CT260, features Bluetooth audio streaming, which might be a big draw for you. The CT150 uses a wired connection, not wireless, and it’s only 340 watts. Still, it’s a good choice if you don’t mind the cables and want to save a few bucks. The HT-CT260 model is the highest-rated sound bar of all three models. You can see a good comparison chart of all three sound bars on this Amazon page.

Click here to learn more about the HT-CT260 and read over 200 reviews on Amazon.

2. Polk Audio N1 SurroundBar

Polk is a well-respected name in home audio, and this little sound bar looks to deliver like its other offerings do. The N1 SurroundBar goes on sale on October 18, 2013, so there are no reviews for this product yet. However, it’s worth a mention best sound bar - polkbecause the sound bar was developed especially with gamers in mind.

The Polk team worked with Microsoft’s Halo and Forza sound producers to create custom audio settings specifically designed to enhance game music and effects. The result is something called Immersion Modes, and this sound bar comes with four of them–Halo Warrior, Forza Racer, Cinema, and Music. Presumably, the Halo Warrior setting is designed for shooters, and the Forza Racer setting works best for driving and racing games. That’s convenient, too, since the gorgeous Forza Motorsport 5 is slated to release in late November.

The sound bar itself features Dolby Digital audio, as most speakers do, as well as Polk’s own SDA Surround Sound Technology. The built-in Full Complement Sub Bass Drive feature serves as a substitute for a subwoofer. If you really like deep bass, though, you also have the option to hook up a third-party subwoofer to the bar.

Like the Sony model mentioned above, the N1 SurroundBar is also Bluetooth compatible. You can get the bar in either black or white. The white offering is nice, since most sound bars are only available in black.

There isn’t much more information about this bar yet, but it looks like a high-quality product that will rocket to the top of the sales charts once it’s released. If you want it, head over to Amazon to learn more and pre-order it now.

3. LG Electronics NB3530A Sound Bar System

LG’s NB3530A sound bar is quite similar to Sony’s offerings, but it’s priced quite a bit lower. LG has a great track record with TVs and electronics, so don’t let the low price fool you–this is a great product. It’s the #2 bestselling sound bar on best sound bar - lgAmazon, with over 100 reviews for a 4.5 star total rating.

Like its competitors, this LG bar is wireless, and it comes with a wireless subwoofer for extra bass. It includes a wall bracket for easy mounting.

The NB3530A is Bluetooth ready, and it’s got two optical outputs instead of just the one the Sony model has. This model has 2.1 channel speakers with 300 watts of power. Of LG’s four comparable sound bars, this is the only one with two optical outputs. It’s suitable for TVs 42 inches and below. If you’ve got a larger screen, consider LG’s NB3730A or NB4530B models, both of which are great for TVs 47 inches and above. Click here to see a comparison chart of these four models on Amazon (scroll down to see the chart).

Customer reviews praise this model’s deep sound, size, and value for the money. One reviewer said that the sound bar worked very well in their 13-by-20 living room. The unit can connect to a universal remote, but a few reviewers had trouble doing so. This model has an auto-power feature that turns it on and off with your TV, although some reviewers could not get this to work with their televisions.

Still, if you’re in the market for a sound bar but can’t afford a Bose or Polk, this little LG bar fits the bill perfectly. Click here to read Amazon reviews and learn more about the LG NB3530A.

4. VIZIO S4251w-B4 5.1 Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer and Satellite Speakers

This impressive system boasts a 5.1 surround speaker setup, wireless subwoofer, rear satellite speakers, and a 42-inch soundbar with right, left, and rear channels. Vizio promises less than 1% harmonic distortion with this model, which is a best sound bar - viziotechnical way of saying the sound is crystal clear. Like all the other speakers here, it’s Bluetooth ready for your phone and other gadgets. This sound bar should also  fit any medium to large size TV.

This Vizio model comes with a variety of inputs, including optical, coaxial, stereo RCA, and USB, so it’s a great choice if your TV doesn’t have an optical connection, as that’s the only input that some cheaper sound bars have.

Another thing that sets this model apart is its remote control. The remote allows you to change inputs or adjust individual speaker volume from anywhere in the room. The remote does not have a backlight, though, so it may be a bit hard to read if you’re watching TV in the dark.

The S4251W-B4 received CNET’s Best of CES 2013 award, and on Amazon, it’s gotten over 120 reviews for a total 4.5 star rating. Amazon reviews praise the easy-to-read remote, immersive rear speakers, high-quality sound, and fast setup. One minor issue is that sound may briefly cut out when pausing music or a movie through your TV or when switching device inputs via the TV. Reviewers stated that this was not a big issue and could be overlooked for the value provided by this system.

Click here to learn more about the Vizio S4251W-B4 sound bar or read more reviews on Amazon.com.

5. Atlantic Technology H-PAS PowerBar 235 Powered Home Theater Soundbar

This beast of a sound bar is one of the pricier ones on the market today, but once you read the glowing Amazon reviews, you’ll understand why. You may not know very much about Atlantic Technology, the makers of this product, but most best sound bar - atlanticeverything they put out has amazing audio quality. If you’re looking for an audio experience that matches what you’d get from a true 7.1 speaker system, you’ve got to check this baby out.

The PowerBar 235 features H-PAS technology, which Atlantic claims is so powerful that you won’t need a subwoofer for deep, rich bass. It also supports Dolby ProLogic, Dolby Digital and DTS technologies as well.

If you have limited space in your room, this is not the system for you. Unlike other sound bar systems, this one is pretty big. The bar itself measures 42 inches long and weighs nearly 20 pounds, but that’s because of the large, high-quality speakers inside.

One unique feature this model has is a speech-enhancement option that makes words easier to hear at a low volume. It’s great if you like to watch TV late at night or if you have difficulty hearing speech.

This model has an on-board amplifier, two 4-inch woofers, and an easy-to-read digital display. Like the Vizio model, it comes with a remote, but you can also connect your universal remote control to it. The PowerBar 225 only has optical and coaxial inputs, and it lacks an HDMI connection. This does not affect audio quality, though.

Amazon reviews say that this model enhances movies, TV shows, sporting events and more. One reviewer said that he felt like he was “right there” in the arena as he watched a sport event. Another stated that this system is best for people with small, irregularly shaped TV rooms. Buyers praised the speech-enhancement mode in nearly every review.

To read these reviews and learn more about the PowerBar 235, click here.

6. RCA RTS735E Home Theater Sound Bar

Not all sound bars need to break the bank to sound great. This RCA model offers very good sound quality for the money. In most places, you can get the RTS735E for under $100.best sound bar

This sound bar doesn’t have Bluetooth connectivity like some of the pricier models, but it does have a line-in jack so you can hook up your iPod or another MP3 player.

You only get the sound bar, no subwoofer or extra speakers, but most Amazon reviewers claim that you don’t need them. It offers rich audio and bass without being overwhelmingly loud.

The RTS735E is fairly small, so it’s a good choice if you have a smallish TV or not a lot of room for a speaker system. Plus, it runs on just 25 watts of power, which is less than many bigger systems.

One of the only complains on Amazon is the somewhat finicky remote control. Reviewers occasionally reported that the remote simply stopped working or was too flimsy. This can be mitigated, though, by syncing the sound bar with a universal remote.

To read more about the RTS735E on Amazon, click here.

7. Samsung HW-F450 2.1 Channel 280-Watt Soundbarbest sound bar

This sound bar seems like it’s designed to work best with Samsung brand TVs, but don’t let that deter you from picking one up if you have a different model. This bar comes with a wireless subwoofer, which is great if you hate draping cords around the room.

The HW-F450 offers three options for setup connection: optical, HDMI, or SoundShare, a special hookup that only works with Samsung TVs. SoundShare isn’t anything special, it just makes it slightly quicker and easier to setup the bar with your TV. This bar only has one HDMI connection, so you can’t hook up multiple HDMI sources at once. It does have Bluetooth connectivity, if you need that.

Another feature that only works with Samsung TVs is Smart On. This feature lets you use your Samsung TV remote to power on the audio bar.

The sound on this model isn’t absolutely stunning, but if you’re not a total audiophile, it should serve you very well.

To check out Amazon reviews for the HW-F450, click here.

8. Philips CSS2123B/F7 SoundBar Home Cinema Speakers

This sound bar is usually for sale for around $100, and it’s a great price for what you get. It comes with a subwoofer, but it isn’t a wireless one. This model replicates a 5.1 surround sound setup quite well.best sound bars

The CSS2123B model features DoubleBASS, a technology that picks up on low bass frequencies and amplifies them so they’re audible to you. They don’t sound overwhelmingly loud, either.

This Philips model also has an iLink jack for connecting your Apple device, MP3 player, laptop computer, or similar device.

It does not have an HDMI input, but it does have an optical, auxiliary, and co-ax input. No connection cables are included, so you will need to buy them along with the sound bar. Still, for the price of this bar, that shouldn’t be a big deal.

Some Amazon reviewers had an issue with tinny audio, but the majority had no such complaints. It received high remarks for its rich, deep bass and full sound.

If you like to use a universal remote, though, you might not enjoy this system. It only seems to work with the included remote control. If you can get over these minor peeves, you’ll get an exceptional value for your money.

To read reviews or buy the Philips CSS2123B on Amazon, click here.

9. Yamaha YAS-101BL Front Surround System

The Yamaha YAS-101Bl doesn’t come with a separate subwoofer, but you can add one on for about $100 extra. This thing is pretty good without it, though, so you might not need to bother. It’s a simulated 7.1 surround sound system for a best soundbarfraction of the cost. It does have dual front speakers integrated into the bar.

This Yamaha model has a lot of features to go through. First, it has a UniLevel option that keeps volume level across channels, shows, commercials, and movies. That means no sudden rises or dips in the volume level as soon as a commercial comes on. That alone makes this system worth it.

It also has an Audio Delay Control feature that syncs audio and picture together for perfect sound. It’s annoying when the show you’re watching has out-of-sync audio, but this bar fixes that.

This bar comes with a remote, but it’s very easy to connect your own to it. It also has a learning function that allows that bar to pair with your TV or cable remote.

If you have trouble hearing dialogue over music and other sound effects, this is a good option for you. It raises the dialogue level but keeps background sound at a reasonable level.

This system doesn’t support HDMI, but requires an optical connection. It does come with an optical cable, so no need to buy more stuff just to get the bar up and running.

If you’re into saving money, you can buy a refurbished version of this product for a bit less on Amazon (as of October 2013).

To check out reviews for the Yamaha YAS-101BL on Amazon, click here.

 

These are some of the best sound bars out there right now, but more will be added to this list as they release. Check back later for review information on the Polk N1 SurroundBar when it’s released in October 2013.

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