Choosing the best soundbar for you can be tricky, whether you want to build your dream home theater system, or you want a more reliable audio source to accompany your TV with great sound and an affordable price.
Generally speaking, soundbars are must-have devices to accompany today’s modern TVs. That’s because as the newest and best TVs get slimmer and slimmer, there’s less room for built-in speakers. That means they might look fantastic but you’ll need another way to do the advanced screen tech justice.
Comb through the specs of any of the top TVs you can buy right now and you’ll see the audio probably won't be up to scratch. In our opinion, even the best Samsung TV could use an external soundbar to upgrade its audio performance from fair to great.
That’s why we’ve created this guide to the best soundbars you can buy right now, selecting the top soundbar devices on the market for every budget, home, and setup. That’s because we don’t want you to spend a fortune on a new TV display only for the audio to fall short as soon as you’ve got it all set-up. Or pick a new soundbar that looks good but doesn’t deliver the quality you’re looking for.
In the list below you’ll find our pick of the best soundbars in 2021, from those that boast Dolby Atmos through to ultra-affordable plug-in-and-go models.
The best soundbars 2021
1. Sonos Arc
Sonos latest surround sound solution is contained entirely in a single soundbar it calls Arc.
While we’re not sure if the device gets its name from the HDMI interface it uses, the curved sound it pitches or the fact that it is perhaps, metaphorically, a vessel delivering impressive surround sound to the modern minimalist home, this system is hell-bent on short circuiting the surround sound game.
The Sonos Arc draws on Dolby’s latest TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus sound codecs to deliver the best quality lossless audio found on cutting edge Blu-ray disks and some of the leading streaming services. It then enhances the 3D soundscape using Dolby Atmos object tracks to bounce certain sounds off the walls around you so they feel like they’re coming at you from all angles.
While all this might sound complicated, the Sonos Arc setup couldn’t be simpler, involving just a couple of steps on the smartphone app. The minimalist cable connections and all-in-one system construction add to this no-fuss feeling and streamlined aesthetic – making it the best soundbar you can buy in 2021.
The Q950T sees Samsung retain its place at the top of the 3D audio soundbar league, beaten only by the Sonos Arc. It combines Samsung’s customary fearsome power with enhanced precision and dynamism by providing 14 separate channels of sound. Plus, its slimmer shape will see it fit under a wider range of TVs too.
The 9.1.4 system is pretty remarkable for a soundbar, and is clearly tailor-made for the object-based sound delights of today’s Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio formats.
Audio streaming is supported over both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, which includes Hi-Res Audio file formats, and even lets you connect with certain phones just by tapping them against the soundbar’s bodywork.
Physical connectivity is fair for a premium soundbar, comprising two HDMI inputs, one HDMI output (with eARC support for obtaining lossless Dolby Atmos / DTS:X soundtracks from compatible TVs) and an optical digital audio input.
The Samsung HW-Q90R was the brand's all-singing, all-dancing flagship soundbar for 2019 – and in 2021, it has only just been pipped by the newer Q950T.
It not only supports object-based audio in the shape of both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, it’s also the only soundbar from 2019 to achieve this with actual rear speakers and four upward-firing drivers.
Few soundbars come so close to producing the full Dolby Atmos and DTS:X experience, and thanks to tuning from Harman Kardon the HW-Q90 even sounds good with music. A decent set of features and fully-specified HDMI connections complete a nearly flawless package... as long as you can afford it, this is one of the best soundbars you can buy.