Best budget soundbars Buying Guide: Welcome to Mapomable?’s round-up of the best budget soundbars you can buy in 2021.
The Best Budget Soundbars 2021
How do I choose a best budget soundbars (or soundbase)?
Soundbars come in all different shapes and sizes and it’s important to pick the right model to suit your TV and living room. The first thing to look at is the size of the bar. Too wide and it may not fit on your AV cabinet; it might also be wider than your TV, which could look odd, especially if you plan to wall-mount the bar. Height is also a consideration if you’re going to be placing the bar in front of your TV on your AV cabinet. You’ll want to be sure it’s not so high that it obscures the bottom part of the TV screen.
Next, consider whether you want a standalone soundbar or one with extra speakers to enhance the audio experience. A standalone unit is easier to set up and looks more elegant but these bars can lack the dynamism and sense of immersion that a more complex setup can deliver. In particular, because of their size and shape, standalone soundbars can struggle to deliver convincing bass, which is why many are supplied with subwoofers.
A separate subwoofer delivers far more convincing bass, adds richness and body to audio in general, and can deliver room-shaking low-frequency sound effects. Look for a wireless subwoofer, which will allow you to hide the subwoofer away, out of sight. Certain soundbars also come with rear speakers that deliver truly enveloping 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound. If you’re not sure you want these, some bars allow you to upgrade your soundbar further down the line by adding wireless rear speakers.
Soundbases are somewhat less popular than soundbars and, as the name suggests, form a platform on which your TV sits. Because sound bases are typically larger than soundbars and can, therefore, house bigger drivers, you typically get a fuller, richer sound without having to use a separate subwoofer. Soundbases aren’t, however, suitable for all TVs. Those with legs at either end, for instance, won’t sit neatly atop a sound base and may not have the clearance beneath to accommodate its full height.
1. Sonos Beam Compact Smart Soundbar
This is Sonos’s smaller, cheaper soundbar, but it’s no less impressive a device. It supports the Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple Siri personal assistants, so you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to voice controls.
It also plays all sorts of streaming services, including Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music, Amazon, Deezer, and Google Play Music. And it works with other Sonos speakers, creating a multi-room system. Of course, you’ll probably want to connect it to your TV, where it will bring a sound quality that’s far superior to built-in speakers. We liked it so much, we gave it one of our coveted Cupomable? 2019 Awards. In 2021, we had no choice but to give it the nod yet again – for the best soundbar in the highly-competitive £300 – £500 bracket. Highly recommended.
2. Creative Stage 2.1: The best soundbar under £100
Not everyone has heaps of cash to throw at a soundbar and if you’re looking to upgrade your TV’s audio, Creative’s Stage 2.1 soundbar is a cheap and cheerful solution. At only £80, it won’t break the bank and will vastly improve your TV’s audio output.
The soundbar has a variety of inputs making it perfect for all sorts of setups. It’s super small and lightweight, too. As for sound quality, it’s extremely impressive: it’s great at the low end, crisp and detailed at the high end, and delivers an engaging listen overall. Although it won’t provide the same surround-sound experience as more expensive setups, the Creative Stage is a great choice if you don’t have huge amounts to spend.
3. Samsung HW-N650 Cinematic Wireless Soundbar
Samsung’s HW-N650 is one of the best-selling soundbars, and for good reason. Not only does it offer good sound quality from its four combined-120W tweeters, but also comes with a wired subwoofer to add some meat to the sound. It’s a bit on the trim side at 37.13 x 2.28 x 2.56 inches, but it only weighs 3.5 lbs. The accompanying subwoofer is wired, so that might be one hang-up, and you won’t find a ton of ports here. On the plus side, though, it comes with 3D Sound Plus, which tries to simulate a surround sound effect using some clever sonic tricks. If you don’t mind something basic, this is your guy.
4. Majority Snowdon II Soundbar 2.1
Our cheapest option is the Majority Snowdon II. This sub-£50 soundbar brings virtual surround sound to a living room and has a subwoofer built into the bar itself to cut down on its footprint, making it ideal for compact spaces and tight budgets. Other devices, like smartphones and tablets, can also stream audio through Bluetooth or via the 3.5mm line-in cable. The preset EQs offer some quick-change flexibility while watching films or playing video games. The volume is great and the sound acceptable, but this is best suited to giving mid-range TV audio a boost rather than completely revolutionizing a setup.
5. Sony HT-G700-3.1ch Dolby Atmos
This soundbar busts its way near the top of our list by offering an excellent package that makes it easy to recommend to most people for the price – it gives you significantly more spectacular directional audio than budget soundbars, and though expensive soundbars offer more dynamic audio, you have to spend almost double the price to really improve on what this gives you.
This soundbar and wireless subwoofer include Sony’s fanciest processing, to make the three drivers in the soundbar seem like they’re giving you sound coming from the sides and above. It can’t really achieve its claims of being like a surround sound system, but that’s okay because what it does manage is really impressive.
Soundtracks have excellent width from this speaker, convincingly coming from the far left and right, but also being more subtly positioned in front of you, to match what’s on-screen. And yes, some height is added too, for extra immersion.
But it also does the boring stuff you want a soundbar to do immaculately: it makes voices much more audible in sound mixes, adds rich bass to underpin dramatic action, and generally lifts everything to sound more cinematic.
It’s really easy to set up, too – plug and play, basically, with the wireless connection between the two boxes pre-synced – and includes an HDMI input as well as an HDMI output to your TV, so you don’t lose the use of one port. Finally, it’s small enough to fit well with TVs of 43 inches and up; other Dolby Atmos soundbars tend to be much bigger.
6. Vebos floor stand LG SN11RG black set an optimal experience in every room
LG’s partnership with high-end hi-fi specialist Meridian has produced some remarkable-sounding home cinema speakers. The two models to look out for in the current range are the ultra-premium LG SN11RG and the affordable LG SN7CY.
The SN11RG is a full surround system, pairing a big soundbar with up-firing Dolby Atmos speakers with a pair of wireless rear speakers that also have up-firing speakers – and those are in addition to all the other speakers facing you for direct surround sound. The result is some of the biggest, most convincing 3D audio we’ve ever heard – here’s our full LG SN11RG review.
The LG SN7CY is an impressively low price considering how well-specced it is – it’s the cheapest soundbar on the market to include dedicated up-firing speakers for Dolby Atmos, rather than relying on processing.
7. Sennheiser Ambeo
We could barely find fault in the sound quality here – there’s definitely no need to invest in an additional subwoofer. It has Chromecast built-in, which can be used to create a multi-room system with other Google Home speakers, and “calibration mode” tweaks the sound to suit your surroundings, so you get great sound every time. If you’re tempted to buy this soundbar, make sure you have the space for it though, because it’s huge.
8. Yamaha YAS207 Front Surround Soundbar
Best under £300: Energetic sound without breaking the bank
Yamaha arguably invented this entire concept, and it continues to turn out some remarkably effective soundbars at a wide range of prices. It’s the modestly priced YAS-207 (£299) that’s the pick of the company’s current crop.
As befits its keen price, the YAS-207 isn’t the most luxuriously finished soundbar you can buy. Nor is it awash with the cutting-edge codecs you’ll find on more expensive alternatives. But everything the Yamaha does, it does to a very high standard – and the inclusion of DTS Virtual: X means it’s able to extract a reasonably convincing impression of surround sound even from non-multichannel soundtracks.
The YAS-207 sounds spacious and airy, with plenty of dynamism from its subwoofer to describe the blockbuster action scenes. It’s not the last word in refinement, but it has more than enough excitement to its sound to make up for it. If you want to put a rocket up your TV’s sound without breaking the bank, don’t look any further.
Pros: Composed, energetic sound; virtual surround is a nice touch
Cons: Can get a little ragged at higher volumes
9. Fityou Soundbar for TV
The Fityou is another soundbar and subwoofer combo, only in this case the subwoofer is fairly small. Obviously, this limits the amount of power it can offer, but it also limits the amount of space it needs and makes it generally a bit more discreet. This means that the Fit you could be a good option in households where one person is a big film fan and wants to enjoy the scores which go along with them and the other isn’t.
If connectivity is important to you, then this soundbar is just about as good as it gets. As well as the standard Bluetooth, you can connect via optical, RCA, ARC, HDMI ARC, USB, and coaxial. This soundbar is very simple to install and just as easy to use. The remote control is a decent size and all the buttons are both clearly-labeled and sensibly laid out.
10. AZATOM Studio Soundbar 2.1 with Subwoofer
Another good budget soundbar is the AZATOM 2.1 Studio Soundbar. Right off the bat, this soundbar uses 2.1 audio, with two built-in directional speakers and a subwoofer. It also offers multiple connection options, such as Bluetooth, HDMI ARC, optical audio, and the usual RCA audio cables.
Inside the box, we have a remote control, the power adapter, optical cable, and instructions. We recommend purchasing an HDMI ARC cable.
In my opinion, there are two features that make this soundbar stand out. For one, the HDMI ARC support. Secondly, the size. At 32 inches in length, this soundbar offers great surround sound at solid levels, without any reverb. It’s recommended for living room home cinemas. One thing to keep in mind, this soundbar does not support 3.5mm audio jacks.
When it comes down to it, the Atom 2.1 soundbar delivers great audio. You might be tempted to buy more than one for other areas of your home.
How do I choose a good soundbar?
Sound output: This is measured in wattage. The bigger the wattage, the more powerful the sound (anything above 250W will shake your walls). Not all brands provide sound output information, as it can easily be confused with sound quality.
Home speakers: Some soundbars double-up as home speakers, using Bluetooth, wifi or a 3.5mm cable to connect to music streaming services or your smartphone or tablet. Others can wirelessly connect to other speakers in your home and play the same music at the same time.
Voice assistants: Alexa and Google Assistant are built into some soundbars, allowing you to use your voice to control your music and smart home gadgets.
Dolby Atmos: This cinematic audio format, first introduced in 2012, puts you bang in the middle of the action by strategically placing speakers above, behind, and to the side of your seat. Some newer soundbars support Dolby Atmos, using upwards-firing speakers to achieve the desired effect at home. Make sure whatever you’re watching is in Dolby Atmos (either a compatible Blu-ray or some shows and films on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, and Disney). Some soundbars require a Dolby Atmos-compatible TV, too.
Energy consumption: Consider how much energy the soundbar will use. Many new soundbars will be efficient, but some older models eat up a lot of electricity. Every soundbar on our list uses less than 2kW of electricity per day – this is equivalent to two cotton cycles on your washing machine and costs about 32p, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best budget soundbars for most people to buy. We factor in the price (a cheaper soundbar wins over a pricier one if the difference isn’t worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no soundbars that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
If you would like to choose for yourself, here’s the list of all our soundbar reviews under $300. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. No soundbar is perfect. Personal taste, preference, and listening habits will matter more in your selection.