If you love the super-slim design of your TV, but lament the equally thin sound quality, it may be time to buy a sound bar speaker.

As modern sets have grown sleeker, their once-powerful audio systems have gotten the squeeze. That's why fewer than 20 of the 200-plus televisions in our ratings merit a very good or better score for sound.

But a sound bar is an easy way to fix that problem.

It typically houses two to five speakers in a long, thin enclosure that can be mounted on a wall or placed on a shelf. Many come with a separate wireless subwoofer that improves bass response. Some even have rear speakers for a true surround-sound effect.

Another option, the sound base, doubles as a pedestal for your TV set. It usually has three to five speakers, but no subwoofer (though there may be an output for adding one). Before buying one of these, though, make sure it can support the weight of your TV, and that the TV's stand doesn't exceed the width of the base.

With either approach, a high-end model can cost more than $1,000. But you don't have to pay a fortune to get quality audio. Here are three sound bars that sell for less than $200.

JBL Cinema Base sound base-style sound bar.
JBL Cinema Base

JBL Cinema Base, $150

As its name suggests, the JBL Cinema Base is a pedestal-style model. Despite its compact size, it has good overall sound quality and, in our testing, that means it's a commendable choice. The average listener will find that it works well for music and movie playback. According to the manufacturer, the Cinema Base will support TVs up to 60 inches, but you may want to confirm that your TV's stand rests properly on top of the unit.

Features include built-in Bluetooth for streaming music from a phone or tablet, a USB port for charging mobile devices, and a remote control so you can raise or lower the volume from your sofa.

Photo of the Vizio SB3821-C6 sound bar.
Vizio SB3821-C6

Vizio SB3821-C6, $160

Designed for modest-sized TVs, the Vizio SB3821-C6—a 2.1-channel sound bar speaker system—also delivers good overall sound. The speaker comes with a wireless subwoofer and built-in Bluetooth. The slightly pricier SB3821-D6—a "SmartCast" model introduced this year—includes Google Cast, so you can send music and other content to the device from your phone or tablet via an app.

Photo of the Sony HT-XT1 sound base-style sound bar.
Sony HT-XT1

Sony HT-XT1, $200

Another model with good overall sound quality, the 2-channel Sony HT-XT1 can support up to 66 pounds on its sleekly-styled base, the company says, so it will work with almost any TV 55 inches or smaller.

In our tests, we found that it performed best when you use a digital or Bluetooth wireless connection. (The sound quality was fine, but just a bit lower for the analog connection.) Features include Bluetooth with Near Field Communication pairing, plus three HDMI inputs for connecting other gear. The speaker also comes with a thin, wand-style remote with a slide-out panel that houses less-used controls.