From 4K to OLED, by way of HDR and ever thinner flat-screen profiles, the TV space is currently inundated with technology that puts the TVs of old to shame. Despite all these advancements, they still falter in one core area – audio. The universally-adopted flat screen design comes with limitations, and there simply isn’t space in those tight dimensions to fit speakers that match those crisp visuals, realistic contrast, and vivid colors.
If your TV speakers feel at odds with the hefty sum you forked out for the latest TV, then a soundbar may be an affordable and reliable solution to bring the audio up to par, especially if you’re against the idea of decking out your living room with a multi-speaker surround sound system.
While you could easily spend ridiculous sums for the very best soundbars, there’s no need to. Soundbars invariably deliver better and louder audio than TVs, so it’s hard to go wrong, even with the most entry-level budget options.
Nevertheless, not all soundbars are created equal, and some just offer better value for money. To that end, we’ve gathered up our top soundbar recommendations priced under $200. These hit the nail on the head by drastically improving your viewing experience with a stellar audio experience.
Even a cursory Google search reveals an abundance of soundbars – cheap, expensive, big, small; you get the idea – and honing in on the right one for your budget and requirements can be quite the challenge.
To wade through so many options and find the very best under $200, we focused our search on weighing up a few core factors: audio quality, wattage, connectivity, number and type of ports, additional speakers/subwoofers, dimensions, and whether they include a quality remote control or not. The best soundbars encompass an excellent balance of all these factors to deliver a quality sonic experience.
We finally settled on five soundbars that, in our eyes, make the best use of that $200 budget. You’ll find products from household names like Samsung, Sony, and Bose, each assigned a category that highlights their strengths. Read on for a brief review of each alongside some easily digestible pros and cons.
Best Soundbar Under $200
Compact design and excellent build quality
Modest low end won’t suit bass heads
No USB or HDMI
The Bose Solo 5 is a single-unit soundbar that packs in all the audio expertise that Bose is known for but at a very affordable price. Housed in a sleek 1.6 kg unit measuring 2.6″ H x 21.6″ W x 3.4 D”, the Bose Solo 5 is on the more compact side when it comes to soundbar dimensions, making it an ideal option when space is limited. The sleek all-black design should merge well with most setups.
Sound-wise, the soundbar produces well-balanced audio that genuinely shines when it comes to the spoken word, bringing dialogue and vocals to life in movies, games, and music with stunning clarity and detail. While suitably rich and with enough presence, the low end isn’t as pronounced as other models, chiefly because the soundbar doesn’t include a standalone subwoofer, so those that prefer a beefier low-end may want to look elsewhere. Volume is impressive for such a small unit, too.
It also features Bluetooth connectivity for easy pairing with mobile devices. Alongside, the soundbar ships with a programmable universal remote that allows you to control your TV, cable, or satellite box without having to revert to different remotes. Ports include one coaxial input, one AUX, and an optical audio input. The unit also houses a mounting ring should you prefer to attach it to the wall behind the TV.
While the Bose Solo 5 may lack some of the features of other sub-$200 soundbars, it more than makes up for it with stellar audio and a price tag you wouldn’t usually associate with Bose products.
Powerful standalone subwoofer
Smart Sound feature
Rich, bass-oriented sound
Better surround sound found elsewhere
For those that want a bit more power from a soundbar, the Samsung HW-T550 puts those $200 to good use. The sound is incredibly well-rounded, emphasizing deep and punchy bass thanks to the standalone subwoofer that ships alongside the soundbar. The subwoofer is conveniently wireless, so no messing around with cables.
With Dolby Atmos and DTX Virtual:X support, the Samsung HW-T550 fares reasonably well on the 3D surround sound front, too, although there are better options if this is a priority for you. Volume is respectable with 320 Watts of power, and the soundbar should blend well with small and medium-sized rooms with plenty of oomph to spare.
The Samsung HW-T550’s Smart Sound feature is a highlight. It will automatically detect the qualities of the audio emitted by the TV and adapt to optimize the output whether your gaming, watching sports, or a gripping drama. Gaming performance is particularly noteworthy, and the Game Mode feature does well to offer clear directional sound for a more immersive in-game experience.
The Samsung HW-T550 features one HDMI-in and one HDMI ARC port on the back for easy pairing with a TV and Bluetooth to connect to mobile devices and the TV itself. You can effectively have a cable-less audio setup with the Samsung HW-T550, although you’ll need to purchase the separate Wireless Sound Kit. It also ships with a Samsung remote control to manage volume, power on/off, and more.
5.1 channel system
Solid surround sound
Audio may be too warm and muddy for some
Those looking for a home theater-style soundbar option without spending an arm and a leg should find plenty of value in the excellent Vizio V Series V51-H6. This solid 5.1 channel system packs in more than its affordable price would imply, making it a top choice for convincingly solid surround sound below $200.
As surround systems go, the Vizio V Series V51-H6 is relatively compact, measuring up to 37.6″ x 17.5″ x 14.2″. Both the main soundbar, subwoofer, and satellite speaker all have attractive contoured edges alongside an elegant yet suitably understated all-black design.
While the small size may raise concerns that Vizio has cut corners to keep the cost down, rest assured that the soundbar more than delivers. At this price point, there simply aren’t any other true 5.1 soundbars out there. The Vizio V Series V51-H6 hits a nice balance of rounded audio with plenty of kick from the subwoofer for those frantic action scenes (maybe too warm and muddy for some), ample, detailed mids, and varied surround modes that put you at the center of what’s happening on screen.
The Vizio V Series V51-H6 also features a range of connectivity options – 3.5 mm stereo, optical port, AUX, USB, Bluetooth, and HDMI ARC. This should suit most setups with plenty of ports to spare. As for the remote, think practical with little thrills, but enough to fine-tune EQ, volume, and effects as required.
Sound quality lags slightly behind Bose Solo 5
The 2.1 channel Sony HT-S200F soundbar offers a versatile mix of great sound, a small form factor (23″ x 2.1/2″ x 3.3/4″), and connectivity at a very attractive price point. The space-saving, compact design makes it a strong option for small rooms and those that don’t want a bulky soundbar disrupting a carefully curated entertainment setup. With the Sony name attached, you also get the expertise and technical know-how of one if not the most respected audio brand out there.
Due to its diminutive size, don’t expect the depth of larger units with satellite speakers. That said, the soundbar brings audio to life with a rounded profile with great bass thanks to the in-built subwoofer. A pair of front-facing speakers deliver crisp highs and detailed mids, with impressive performance when bringing the subtleties of voices to life.
Sony’s virtual surround sound S-Force Pro technology does a good job of emulating theater-style surround sound – surprising for such a small unit. Surprisingly for its size, the Sony HT-S200F hits some impressive volume peaks with little to no distortion even when pushed. The Bose Solo 5 slightly bests the Sony HT-S200F in audio quality, but you do pay more for the pleasure.
Despite the low price and small size, Sony has packaged a decent spread of connectivity options, including HDMI ARC, optical audio input, and a USB Type-A port. Bluetooth 4.2 covers wireless use well, allowing you to link up portable devices for easy, on the fly music streaming from phones or tablets. Wi-Fi would have been a nice addition, but at this price point, it’s a sacrifice we were willing to accept, given the Sony HT-S200F offers some great features and decent audio. A remote is also included and can be used to control Sony TVs.
4K Roku player
Fantastic sound from a single unit soundbar
Lacks low end depth
No on unit controls
Our guide wouldn’t be complete without at least one smart soundbar recommendation. Our pick goes to the small but mighty Roku Smart Soundbar, a two-in-one solution to level up not just your TV’s audio but your streaming setup, too, all for under $200.
Of course, the main draw is the smart features that center around the in-built 4K Roku player that can stream content from all your favorite services and apps: Apple TV, Disney +, Amazon Prime, Netflix, HBO, Showtime, Hulu, and more. The video quality is suitably respectable, smooth, and as expected at this price point. The Roku Smart Soundbar supports HDR10, so as long as your TV does too, you can expect a detailed, pleasant viewing experience.
The sound produced by the Roku Smart Soundbar is fantastic for a compact, single-unit without an in-built subwoofer. There’s plenty of clarity and presence relative to its size, and the listening experience is genuinely enjoyable. The low-end veers more towards warm than punchy, which may not suit those that favor deeper low-end profiles.
As for connectivity, the Roku Smart Soundbar features an HDMI ARC port, USB port, optical audio port, and Bluetooth for wireless use. The included remote is standard with little additional thrills. Still, it is an essential tool given there are no on-unit buttons, an inconvenient omission if you happen to misplace the Roku remote.
While you’d be better served buying a dedicated streamer or upgrading to a better TV and picking up a similarly-priced soundbar without smart features (you’ll generally get better sound), the Roku Smart Soundbar is a worthwhile option for those using aging TVs with lackluster smart credentials that want the best of both worlds on the cheap or those that prefer to keep the number of devices to a minimum.
Things To Consider
Size and Style
Chances are you are buying a soundbar to complement a TV you already own in a space already tuned to your entertainment needs. As such, it’s crucial to find a soundbar that not only fits within the constraints of your setup – whether that’s right under the TV, on a console shelf, or mounted on the wall – but also adheres aesthetically. When mounted in full view, a garish soundbar will have you wincing every time you turn on the TV. Fortunately, most soundbar manufacturers keep things simple with toned-down, subdued all-black designs that should blend into most homes.
This point plays into the one above in the sense that you’ll want to buy a soundbar adapted to and sufficiently powerful for the size of your viewing space. A smaller soundbar with modest wattage will serve a small living well but will falter in more elaborate setups where viewers sit further away from the TV. They simply won’t have the power to project sound appropriately.
Look for soundbar wattage, a measure of how much power is packed into the in-built amplifier. While there are many nuances to wattage and the lack of standardized specifications between manufacturers murk the waters here, in general a higher wattage equates to higher volumes and, more specifically, how loud a soundbar can go without distorting the sound.
We recommend looking for speaker sensitivity, often measured in decibels, as this gives a more realistic sense of how well a soundbar can put its wattage to use for louder volumes.
Most, if not all TVs manufactured in the past decade feature an HDMI ARC port. That’s the one you’ll use to pair your soundbar to the TV. Alternatively, you can use the TV’s optical port to channel audio to the soundbar. It’s a bit more rudimentary but offers great quality audio and doesn’t clog up a precious HDMI port.
Beyond that, factor in other wireless connectivity, specifically Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. These will allow you to easily use a portable device like a phone or tablet to stream music and audio through the soundbar without having to fiddle with the TV itself. Soundbars with Wi-Fi (or an Ethernet port) will join your home network and allow you to stream music directly from apps such as Spotify via a companion app.
Lastly, consider whether you’ll need USB ports mounted on the soundbar. These are practical if you want to play audio from a USB stick or hook up the soundbar to your PC, for example.
The Bose Solo 5 tops our list of the best soundbars under $200 due to its balanced audio, compact design, and excellent build quality. If you prefer the deep end punch of a subwoofer, our money is on the Samsung HW-T550 for its rich bass sound and overall value.
For those hungering for a more elaborate 5.1 setup, we recommend the Vizio V Series V51-H6. You won’t find genuine surround sound at a lower price. On the other end of the size spectrum, the Sony HT-S200F impressed with great sound despite its small form factor.
Finally, if you want a 2-in-1 solution that features an in-built 4K streamer and fantastic sound for a single unit without a subwoofer, the Roku Smart Soundbar is a strong option.
With that, it’s time to bring our guide to the best soundbar under $200 to an end. Hopefully, you’ve found your dream soundbar or, at the very least, picked up some useful pointers along the way to help your search. Don’t hesitate to pen a message in the comments section right below with any questions or even recommendations of your own.