2021's Best Soundbars to Elevate Your Home Viewing Experience

By David GallagherLast Updated Feb 25, 2021 2:13:09 AM ET
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Photo Courtesy: Bose/Amazon

As many of us are still spending a great deal of time at home due to COVID-19 pandemic, at-home entertainment has become more important than ever before. If your television's sound system consistently proves to be lacking, then now may be the perfect time to invest in a soundbar. And we’ve rounded up the best of what 2021 has to offer!

What to Look for When Purchasing a Soundbar

Before you figure out which soundbar is best, you’ll need to determine your needs. For starters, what features matter most to you? If you're just looking for a way to boost your audio experience — better surround sound and clearer dialogue, for example — then there’s no need to spend hundreds of dollars. Plenty of soundbars under $100 will make a great fit. However, if you’re able to splurge, pricier soundbars come with some neat add-ons, like built-in Alexa and Google Assistant options, multiple sound modes, and much, much more.

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Photo Courtesy: Chris Ryan/OJO/Getty Images

You’ll also want to consider how much space you have. While some soundbars include additional speakers and subwoofers, others are stand-alone and a bit more compact. Finally, connectivity is an important factor. Before you invest in any soundbar, you should make sure it’ll work for your TV. While adapters and extra cables might help out in a pinch, convenience is often key. On the topic of connectivity, you’ll also want to check into the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth options. Gone are the days when soundbars were used to enhance TVs and TVs alone. These days, many soundbars are equipped with Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth capabilities, which allow you to stream music, podcasts, and other content from a wide variety of devices.

Best Budget Choice: VIZIO 2.0

If you'd love to enhance your entertainment experience without breaking the bank, then the VIZO 2.0 soundbar might be the answer for you. For less than $100, you can boost your audio with DTS technologies that simulate surround sound. Simply connect your soundbar to your TV using one of the included cables for a quick and easy set-up.

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Photo Courtesy: VIZIO/Amazon

As an added bonus, you can also stream audio wirelessly from your phone or any other Bluetooth-enabled device. While it may not be quite as fancy as some of the more expensive options, it does come with DTS Studio Sound, DTS TruVolume, and DTS TruSurround. If you're looking for a no-frills soundbar that's great for enhancing the audio of your favorite movies, TV shows, and music, this one is a great choice.

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Best Mid-Budget Choice: Sony HT-S350

If you're looking to add some variety to your listening experience, then check into the Sony HT-S350 Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer. The soundbar/subwoofer combo comes equipped with seven different sound modes to choose from, including Auto Sound, Cinema, Music, Game, News, Sports, and Standard Audio Mode.

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Photo Courtesy: Sony/Amazon

With the voice enhancement feature, you'll be able to clearly hear conversations and speech, regardless of background noise. Additionally, the Bluetooth streaming ability allows you to easily stream audio from your favorite shows, movies, and music from your TV, tablet, phone, or any other Bluetooth enabled device. With this Sony soundbar, transportive surround sound, incredible bass, and crystal-clear audio will be a new movie night standard.

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Best Sound Customization: Bose Soundbar 700

Take your entertainment to the next level with Bose's best-performing soundbar, the Bose Soundbar 700. Featuring deep bass, immersive sound, and built-in Alexa and Google Assistant, this investment brings a lot to the table. While it comes with a remote, the soundbar’s noise-rejecting mic system also offers a seamless hands-free option.

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Photo Courtesy: Bose/Amazon

It also features independent volume controls when paired with Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, which means you can listen to your TV through your headphones at any volume you like while lowering or muting the soundbar's general output to a noise level that works for others in the room. Stream content from your other devices, make calls and much, much more with this top-notch soundbar from Bose.

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Best Features: Sonos Arc

Ready to invest in a premium audio option? Make sure you add the Sonos Arc to your list, especially if you like all the bells and whistles. The Arc offers 3D sound coupled with Dolby Atomos and Trueplay tuning, which help the advice adapt to the particular acoustics of any room. Designed with the help of Oscar-winning sound engineers, it offers a Speech Enhancement option, which helps clarify dialogue during both loud action sequences and quieter moments.

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Photo Courtesy: Sonos/Amazon

Looking to reduce the intensity of booming sound effects? Try the "night sound" mode. The Sonos Arc also includes built-in Alexa and Google Assistant features, both of which allow you to play music, navigate menus, ask questions and set alarms with voice commands. If you want to enjoy a surround sound experience without the need for additional speakers or subwoofers, this Sonos model is your best bet.

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Best Splurge: Samsung HW-Q950T

If you want to immerse yourself in the ultimate sound experience, look no further than the Samsung HW-Q950T. Quite possibly the best soundbar system on the market, this device is a bit of an investment — but it’s also just about the closest you'll get to an at-home movie theater experience. Designed for immersion, the Samsung HW-Q950T directs sound both around the room and toward the ceiling to create a surround sound and overhead audio experience.

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Photo Courtesy: Samsung/Amazon

With integrated smart technology that analyzes each scene in a movie or show to provide the optimal sound experience, this model clearly has all the bells and whistles. Additionally, the 9.1.4 setup offers a few extras, including two satellite speakers, a wireless subwoofer and built-in Alexa voice-control options. And with its Dolby Atmos and DTS: X surround sound technology, you’re sure to be impressed by this soundbar’s clarity.

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