Best Soundbars Under $200

You don't have to spend a lot to get better TV sound

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Yamaha sound bar Photo: Yamaha

Most of us focus on TV picture quality, screen size, and price when we’re shopping for a new TV. Sound quality is often an afterthought. But once you get a new set home, it can be disappointing to find out that your new TV’s built-in sound can’t do justice to its great picture.

That can be easily remedied by adding a soundbar.

You don’t have to pay a lot to get better sound. The top models in our soundbar ratings, available to members, tend to be pricey, but there are also a number of very reasonably priced models that can add sonic oomph to TV and movie soundtracks. Some can even do a decent job playing music, though audiophiles may want to pay a bit more to get really top-notch sound.

More on TV Sound

The soundbars listed below all provide satisfying sound for $200 or less. Any of them will improve the audio quality on all but the very best-sounding TVs.

Some of these models come with separate wireless subwoofers, which can generally add deeper bass than most TVs can produce. None of these models is a complete 5.1-channel surround-sound system, but a few will let you expand the system by adding an optional subwoofer or rear speakers.

At these prices, you won’t get Dolby Atmos or DTS:X sound, newer audio technologies that add an extra element of height for a more immersive surround-sound experience.

Before buying a soundbar for under $200, make sure you know how you’ll connect it to your TV. Many soundbars these days have HDMI inputs, but some only have an optical digital input. Choose a model with Bluetooth if you want to be able to also play music from a smartphone or tablet.

Our recommendations are listed from the least to most expensive.

Creative Stage 2.1

It’s hard to find a decent-sounding soundbar speaker for less than $100, but you have at least one solid option: the Creative Stage 2.1.

This budget 2.1-channel system delivers good overall sound, so more casual listeners should find that it works well for both music and movie soundtrack playback. It lacks some features usually found in pricier models, however. For example, it’s not compatible with voice-enabled digital assistants, and you can’t use it to stream tunes directly from online music services.

But this soundbar does have built-in Bluetooth for streaming music from a portable device, as well as a wired subwoofer.

Onn Roku Smart Soundbar

As its name suggests, The Onn Roku Smart Soundbar—from Walmart’s house brand for electronics—has a built-in 4K Roku streaming player with HDR, so you can access streaming services such as Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, HBO Max, and Netflix, right from the bar itself. If there’s no shopping link below, it means that the soundbar is currently out of stock.

The all-in-one speaker, which can be used with an optional wireless Roku subwoofer for deeper bass response, connects to a TV via its HDMI ARC port using the included HDMI cable. (HDMI ARC, short for Audio Return Channel, allows audio to be sent back and forth between a soundbar and TV using a single HDMI cable, so you don’t need separate audio connections for other devices connected to the TV.) This model also has Bluetooth for streaming music from a smartphone or tablet. It comes with a Roku remote control.

Samsung HW-A450/ZA

The Samsung HW-A450/ZA is a lower-priced 2.1-channel soundbar speaker system that comes with a wireless subwoofer. It’s a fairly basic model in Samsung’s lineup, but you can add optional Samsung wireless rear speakers to create a full surround-sound system. This model has a digital optical input and a USB port but no HDMI connection.

Features include a graphic EQ for tweaking the sound, and built-in Bluetooth for wireless streaming from your mobile device. It comes with an optical cable and brackets for wall mounting, plus a fairly basic remote control.

Roku Streambar Pro

The Roku Streambar Pro is a 2.0 soundbar with a built-in 4K Roku streaming player that supports HDR10; it’s essentially the replacement for the Roku Smart Soundbar, but it comes with a more advanced voice remote control that has a headphone jack for private listening and buttons that can be programmed for voice commands. It has Roku’s standard access to lots of streaming services.

Yamaha SR-B20A

The Yamaha SR-B20A is an all-in-one soundbar that has built-in subwoofers; it can connect to your TV using either its HDMI ARC or optical digital inputs. It includes DTS Virtual:X, a virtual 3D sound technology that attempts to create a surround sound experience without rear speakers.

This model, one of Yamaha’s least expensive soundbars, has built-in Bluetooth for pairing with your phone or tablet. You can use a free remote app to control sound modes, switch inputs, and power the speaker using your mobile device.

James K. Willcox

I've been a tech journalist for more years than I'm willing to admit. My specialties at CR are TVs, streaming media, audio, and TV and broadband services. In my spare time I build and play guitars and bass, ride motorcycles, and like to sail—hobbies I've not yet figured out how to safely combine.