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The best soundbars you can buy, tested and reviewed

ZDNET put some of the best soundbars to the test to come up with this list of our top picks.
Written by Allison Murray, Staff Writer
Reviewed by Nina Raemont
Hisense AX5125H 5.1.2Ch Soundbar | Best soundbar overall
The Hisense AX5125H 5.1.2Ch Sound Bar.
Hisense AX5125H 5.1.2Ch Soundbar
Best soundbar overall
View now View at Amazon
Roku Streambar | Best budget soundbar
A Roku soundbar on a TV stand
Roku Streambar
Best budget soundbar
View now View at Roku
Philips Fidelio FB1 | Best soundbar for audiophiles
A vertical mic next to a black soundbar on a wooden table
Philips Fidelio FB1
Best soundbar for audiophiles
View now View at Amazon
Bowers and Wilkins Panorama 3 | Best soundbar splurge
Bowers and Wilkins Panorama 3
Best soundbar splurge
View now View at Amazon
Razer Leviathan V2 | Best soundbar for gaming
Razer Leviathan V2
Best soundbar for gaming
View now View at Amazon

You don't have to be an audiophile to enjoy good sound. The truth is that many TVs today just do not have the best sound, meaning you are sacrificing your audio every second that you skip using a soundbar. A soundbar can bring your programs to life and transform your favorite songs with heavy bass and clear details.

Not all soundbars are created equal, though. Depending on what you're looking for, you'll want to weigh the pros and cons of each soundbar. Do you prefer a more surround-sound feel? Consider upgrading to a soundbar with more channels. Do you like punchy bass to your sound? You'll want to look for a soundbar with either an included or built-in subwoofer. 

Also: The best sound systems you can buy

Choosing the perfect one for your space can be daunting. That's why ZDNET rounded up the best soundbars we've went hands-on with to make our top picks. Our number one choice as the best soundbar for most people is the Hisense AX5125H 5.1.2Ch soundbar, but we also included devices from brands like Roku, Philips, Bowers and Wilkins, and more. 

The best soundbars of 2024

Pros & Cons
  • Great price
  • Easy to install and use
  • Subwoofer adds great punch to sound
  • Midrange could be better
  • Not a lot of sound customization
More Details

Hisense AX5125H 5.1.2Ch Soundbar tech specs: Power: 500W | Subwoofer: 6.5-inch subwoofer with 180W max power | Connectivity: HDMI, Bluetooth, or optical

This Hisense soundbar is the best soundbar for most people. While it isn't for audiophiles and has a limited number of EQ adjustments, at its price point for $350, it provides a movie- or TV-watching experience most people are looking for. Plus, it has everything you need for the best listening experience, including a subwoofer and two wireless, surround-sound speakers. And, the soundbar itself has a whopping nine speakers built into it. 

The specs speak for themselves: 5.1.2 Surround with 500W max audio power, Dolby Atmos, seven preset EQ modes, Roku TV ready, and more. 

Review: I replaced my expensive Klipsch soundbar with a $300 Hisense, and it surprised me in the best way

ZDNET contributor Jack Wallen said that this soundbar exceeded his expectations, especially concerning its ease of use and fairly impressive sound for its price point. 

"As far as bass is concerned, it's punchy but not overly so," he wrote. "The subwoofer adds to the overall effect of the sound." 

Wallen added that this soundbar is literally a plug-and-play device that took only minutes to get up and running. 

"The limited sound adjustments make it very user-friendly," Wallen said. "You won't find anything overly complicated with this soundbar."

Pros & Cons
  • Excellent connectivity
  • 300+ free channels
  • Dialogue enhancement
  • Only works with Roku televisions
  • Subwoofer sold separately
More Details

Roku Streambar tech specs: Power: N/A | Subwoofer: Not included | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, HDMI, USB, Bluetooth, and optical

The Roku Streambar is not just a soundbar -- it includes 4K streaming of all your favorite programs, including over 300 live TV channels and access to Roku Originals. Dolby Audio brings movies and shows to life with a 4K resolution for a better picture. Benefit from wide connectivity that includes Bluetooth, USB, HDMI, and Wi-Fi connections. A remote control comes included in case you prefer that over voice control. 

Review: Roku's soundbar sounded better than expected, and it fixed a big problem I have

ZDNET contributor Artie Beaty went hands-on with the Roku Streambar and was impressed by the device's sound, especially when it came to dialogue. 

"Action elements still seemed loud, but they didn't overpower everything else," he wrote. "And that's without diving into the settings and fine-tuning things. Right out of the box, it provided near-perfect audio."

Beaty also praised the fact that the soundbar has no wires, making it easy to set up and doubling its purpose as a Bluetooth speaker for music.

Pros & Cons
  • Crisp and clear sound
  • EQ customizations
  • Mic adjusts to each channel's output
  • Complicated setup
  • Subwoofer sold separately
More Details

Philips Fidelio FB1 tech specs: Power: 310 W | Subwoofer: Not included | Connectivity: HDMI, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, optical, USB

The Philips Fidelio FB1 soundbar has two up-firing speakers, 15 drivers running off a rated 310W of amplification, Dolby Atmos, Play-Fi compatibility to connect to extra subwoofers or speakers, as well as Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility.

You can control the sound profile and add customizations -- such as EQ presets or the audio balance of each speaker in the soundbar -- via two different apps, but the user interface of these apps isn't super intuitive. It also comes with an included mic that intelligently adjusts each channel's output to deliver sublime surround sound.

Review: The Philips Fidelio FB1 soundbar is meant for audiophiles 

I was able to test out this soundbar for several days, and was overall impressed with its specs and crisp sound for most media. For example, listening to a crackling Yule log on the TV felt like your head was literally inside the fire, with flames and sparks flying all around you.

If you're really into playing around with different options and customizations, it's a soundbar that will provide you with a sound perfect for your ears and for whatever you are listening to.

Pros & Cons
  • Sleek and minimal design
  • Dolby Atmos spatial audio
  • Capacitive touch screen controls
  • App pairing process can be quicker
  • Volume control can be more intuitive
More Details

Bowers and Wilkins Panorama 3 tech specs: Power: 400W | Subwoofer: 2 built-in | Connectivity: Bluetooth, HDMI, USB, optical

At $1,000, this soundbar from Bowers and Wilkins is definitely a splurge, but since the brand is synonymous with studio-grade loudspeakers and audio systems used by industry professionals, you'll get what you pay for in this soundbar. 

Its impressive specs include 13 drivers, a hexagonal design that delivers Dolby Atmos spatial audio to your ceiling (creating that surround-sound effect), high-resolution playback with HDMI eARC compatibility, and a frequency response of 43Hz - 48kHz. 

Review: Bowers and Wilkins Panorama 3: Competitive soundbar with Dolby Atmos

ZDNET editor June Wan went hands-on with this soundbar last year, and gave it a rating of 4.5 out of 5. Here's what he had to say:

"Bowers and Wilkins has managed to squeeze in a wide range of speakers throughout the soundbar, capable of up to 48kHz in frequency response," he wrote. "That means the device can output more natural and precise audio, especially when listening to higher-frequency sounds like cymbals and shattering glass."

Wan added that even though the soundbar doesn't have a subwoofer or extra speakers for the traditional, multi-directional sound experience, he didn't miss them, and it still provided "enough rumbling to satisfy even bass-lovers." 

Pros & Cons
  • Sharp and explosive audio performance
  • Compact and modern design
  • Bottom-firing RGB light is elegantly mesmerizing
  • Lack of ports, particularly 3.5mm and optical audio input
  • Companion software required to get THX Spatial Audio
More Details

Razer Leviathan V2 tech specs: Power: 150W | Subwoofer: Down-firing subwoofer | Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2

While not built for a TV, this soundbar was built with gamers in mind and fits nicely on your desk and in front of a monitor to add to your overall gaming setup. It has features gamers will love, such as THX Spatial Audio, preset and game-based lighting animations via Razer Chroma, and a compact design with detachable rubber feet that keeps it angled towards you for minimal audio obstruction. 

As far as the sound goes, you can expect a 45Hz - 20 kHz frequency response thanks to two full-range drivers, two tweeters, two passive radiators, and a down-firing subwoofer. 

Review: Razer Leviathan V2 soundbar: Full of color, in looks and sound

Wan also put this soundbar to the test and was impressed by its "complex (yet harmonious) sound stage."

"The 7.1 surround sound feature helps to create a more immersive listening experience, reproducing the direction of instruments, sound effects, and voices in the way that game designers and artists intended," Wan wrote. "The added bass from the subwoofer gives explosions and shots depth and a rumbling sensation, typically absent with flatter-sounding speakers."

What is the best soundbar?

The best soundbar is the Hisense AX5125H 5.1.2Ch Soundbar, offering the latest technology at an affordable price, as well as separate surround-sound speakers and a subwoofer. To see how it compares, here is an overview of the size and cost of the best soundbars.





Hisense AX5125H 5.1.2Ch


6.5-inch subwoofer with 180W max power

HDMI, Bluetooth, or optical

Roku Streambar


Not included

Wi-Fi, HDMI, USB, Bluetooth, and optical

Philips Fidelio FB1


Not included

HDMI, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, optical, USB

Bowers and Wilkins Panorama 3


2 built-in

Bluetooth, HDMI, USB, optical

Razer Leviathan V2



Bluetooth 5.2

Which is the best soundbar for you?

Here's expert recommendations to help you find the best soundbar for your home. 

Choose this soundbar...

If you want...

Hisense AX5125H 5.1.2Ch Soundbar

The best soundbar for most people. It is easy to setup and provides great sound when watching either movies or TV shows. 

Roku Streambar

Something that doesn't break the bank. The Roku Streambar is an affordable soundbar option, while still providing excellent connectivity and a wide range of free channels.

Philips Fidelio FB1 

A soundbar with plenty of EQ customizations for audiophiles. It also comes with an included mic that intelligently adjusts to provide the best sound. 

Bowers and Wilkins Panorama 3

To splurge on a high-quality soundbar from a renowned brand. It has a hexagonal design that delivers Dolby Atmos spatial audio surround sound. 

Razer Leviathan V2

A gaming soundbar. The compact design allows it to fit on your desk and you can customize the RGB animations.

How did we choose these soundbars?

ZDNET only considered soundbars we have personally tested. In choosing these best soundbars, we kept a number of factors at the forefront.

  • Channels: Most soundbars have anywhere from two up to 16 sound channels. Those soundbars with five channels or more incorporate surround sound for a more immersive experience.
  • HDMI inputs: If you have additional devices, you may need to consider the number of HDMI ports available. Consider whether you will have any gaming consoles, Blu-ray players, or other devices that will need a home in your soundbar.
  • Sound experience: A soundbar is nothing if it doesn't sound good. We considered our own experiences using these soundbars and how they sounded with movies, TV shows, music, and games. 
  • Price: Budget is an important factor to keep in mind when shopping. The soundbars on this list range from low $100s to the $1,000s. 

Do all soundbars work with all TVs?

Most soundbars are compatible with all TVs, allowing you to connect using the HDMI ARC connection to channel audio. Before you decide on the best soundbar for you, check to make sure that it is compatible with the TV you plan on using.

How much do the best soundbars cost?

Soundbars can vary significantly in price, depending on the build and features included. The cost of the best soundbars ranges anywhere from $120 to almost $2,000. 

Soundbars will get more expensive the more channels that they have, the more EQ customizations they have, and the more smart home features they come with. If these things aren't as important to you, you can get away with buying a cheaper soundbar. 

Are there alternative soundbars worth considering?

While searching for the best soundbars, I also found these options that may be worth a second look.

View at AmazonView at Best BuyView at Best Buy
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