TVs these days are improving in quality in all areas, except one – the sound quality of the built-in TV speakers. Slim and beautiful designs leaves little room for proper built-in sound systems. The easiest and most efficient way to improve the sound of your TV-set is to add a good soundbar to it.
Thankfully, this doesn’t have to cost you a fortune as there is a lot of good options out there for a reasonable price. We’ve put together a list of the best soundbars under $400, to help you find a good soundbar without having to break the bank.
|Name||Channel System||Subwoofer||Rear Speakers||Bluetooth||Total Power|
|Q ACOUSTICS M4||2.1||Built-in||No||Yes||100W RMS|
|VIZIO SB3621N-E8M||2.1||Wireless External||No||Yes||Up to 100 db|
|ZVOX SB500||3.1||Built-in||No||Yes||140W Nominal|
|YAMAHA YAS-107BL||2.1||Built-in||No||Yes||120W Nominal|
|VIZIO SB4451-C0||5.1||Wireless External||Yes||Yes||Up to 103db|
|SAMSUNG HW-M360/ZA||2.1||Wireless External||No||Yes||200W|
|POLK AUDIO MAGNIFI MINI||2.1||Wireless External||No||Yes||150W|
|BOSE SOLO 5 TV SOUND SYSTEM||2||No||No||Yes||Not Given|
| CREATIVE SOUND BLASTERX KATANA||2.1||Wired External||No||Yes||75W Nominal|
Why Buy a Soundbar – How Does it Improve the Sound?
There could be many reasons for choosing to add a soundbar to your TV, but the main reasons for most people is that it’s relatively cheap, and it’s very easy to set up as it can be placed flat on your TV-stand in front of the TV, or mounted on the wall beneath your TV. There’s basically no need for extra speakers, taking up lots of space, leaving you with a mess of tangled wires, as a soundbar connects to your TV via only -one- single cable.
A soundbar is a long and slim device, containing several speakers lined up side by side inside it’s cabinet, providing you with both a perfect stereo sound and/or a virtual surround sound. As soundbars comes in different sizes and lengths, it could be a good idea to check the width before you decide to buy it, if it is important to you that it matches the width of your TV.
Most soundbars comes with a subwoofer, which gives you the chance to experience low frequency sounds and deep bass. If you decide to go for a soundbar with a subwoofer, it could be smart to choose one that’s wireless, to save you from having a cable trailing from the soundbar to the woofer.
If you want your soundbar to have the possibility for wireless streaming, you should opt for a model that has built-in Bluetooth, which makes it possible to listen to Spotify or any other music app of your choice or music stored on your phone and/or tablet, through your soundbar. Almost every soundbar on the market has built-in Bluetooth these days, so there’s no reason to settle for a soundbar without it.
Soundbar vs Soundbase – What’s the difference?
A soundbar is as already mentioned, a slim and elegant long device, suited to be mounted on the wall, but there’s also an alternative to the soundbar, in the same category. A soundbase is designed to sit -underneath- your TV on the stand, and is a much flatter unit, but holds a bit more space than the soundbar, which gives room for it to include more bass drivers than the soundbar. This means that most soundbases won’t require a separate subwoofer. Before you decide to buy a soundbase, it’s important to check the specifications and make sure that it is either wider than your TVs base or that it fits in between its legs, and that your TV is not exceeding the maximum weight mentioned in the specs of the soundbase.
Our list will only contain top rated soundbars under $400, but if you decide to go for a soundbase in this price range, we would recommend you to check out the Q Acoustics M2 Soundbase, that comes with a built-in subwoofer. This is a soundbase that will give you a lot of value for money as it provides you a nicely balanced, and great sound.
If you rather would go for a great soundbar at a decent price, check out our list below.
In our opinion, you won’t find a better soundbar in this price range than The Q Acoustics M4 Soundbar, as it gives you a brilliant sound for a relatively low price. This trapezoidal shaped soundbar is quite big, as a result of having a built-in subwoofer at the back of its cabinet, giving you a powerful and nicely balanced sound.
The M4 offers basic 2.1 audio, which means there’s no center channel, and no “virtual surround”, but it still delivers an excellent wide sound, making it equally good no matter where you’re positioned in relation to it. This soundbar works excellent both for watching television and movies, and for streaming music (using its Bluetooth connection).
The Q Acoustics M4 Soundbar comes with a wall mounting bracket, which gives you the option to mount it on the wall instead of placing in on the TV stand. Once you’ve positioned it, it’s also very easy connecting it to your TV, using either the optical digital lead (ideal), RCA phono, or 3,5 mm analogue inputs.
This soundbar basically doesn’t have any big flaws, and the combination of the sound quality, value and versatility of the Q Acoustics M4 soundbar, makes it an excellent addition to your TV-set.
– Equally good for television/movies, as for streaming music
– Excellent wide sound
– Controlled bass (built-in subwoofer)
– Very easy to set up (comes with a wall mounting bracket) and connect
– It’s quite big, and not the best looking, in terms of the design
Bottom line: The Q Acoustics M4 Soundbar is very versatile, and an excellent soundbar in this price range
The Vizio SB3621n-E8M is a soundbar that provides excellent sound quality, for a very low price. If you want to spend less than $200 on an upgrade of your TVs sound, this soundbar will definitely leave you satisfied, as it produces better sound than many of its competitors that costs four or even five times more. The Vizio SB3621n-E8M comes with a separate wireless and well-built subwoofer, that is very easy to set up along with the soundbar. A good tips for maximizing the potential of the subwoofer, is to consider placing it in a corner, as this would make the sound “bigger” than if it is placed in the center of the room.
This soundbar doesn’t come with a wall mounting bracket, but could easily be placed in front of your TV on the stand, as it’s relatively small, fits under most TVs, and most likely won’t block your remote control from working.
As for connectivity, the Vizio SB3621n-E8M has most of the important connection options that you want, including an optical input, 3,5mm aux, and the possibility to connect Bluetooth to it. It also has a USB-port that allows you to play audio material (only WAV).
The Vizio SB3621n-E8M isn’t performing the best when it comes to surround simulation, as there are only two speakers in this soundbar (2.1), which makes it difficult to create a theater-like surround experience. However, that is to be expected, as in all other areas it performs more than good enough, considering its price.
– Very good sound quality for a low price
– Nice design
– Easy to set up
– Comes with a good wireless subwoofer
– Doesn’t provide the best surround experience
Bottom line: In our opinion, the Vizio SB3621n-E8M is the best low price soundbar (under $200)
The Zvox SB500 comes very close to the Q Acoustics M4 soundbar in terms of overall sound quality. This elegant and tall soundbar comes in brushed aluminium and uses three high-performance speakers and two built-in dual subwoofers to create a great and natural sound, with powerful bass. The SB500 also has a AccuVoice feature that delivers any dialogue with ultra-clear sound.
This soundbar comes with keyhole brackets for wall mounting, if you decide not to place it on the shelf. Because it’s tall, it might cause an issue with the IR sensor of your TV, if you place it in front of it on the shelf.
The Zvox SB500 has one single digital input (either coaxial or optical), Bluetooth for wireless streaming, and a stereo analog input. Connecting it to the TV is very easy and it won’t take you long to have it up and running.
This soundbar also gives you a satisfying, high performance surround sound, made possible with the PhaseCue virtual surround system.
– Excellent sound-quality
– “Classy” cabinet
– Easy to set up
– Provides virtual surround
– Bigger and taller than most soundbars. Might block your TV’s IR sensor if you decide to not mount it on the wall
Bottom line: Easy to set up and provides you with very good sound quality
The Yamaha YAS-107 finds itself in the lower price range (under $200), but can still compete with more expensive soundbars as it delivers a very impressive sound, and it’s very easy set up and connect to the TV. The YAS-107BL comes in a slim and stylish black design, with built-in subwoofers, and it’s got a subwoofer output, which is very convenient as you could add a wired model to it whenever you’d want.
This soundbar is able to be wall-mounted by using the keyhole slots on the rear side, or you could lay it in front of the TV on the stand. As for connectivity the Yamaha YAS-107BL has got a HDMI 2.0 input, in addition to an optical digital input and a 3,5mm stereo analog input. It’s also possible to stream music from your device of choice, using Bluetooth. The YAS-107 also features a Clear Voice mode, designed to boost dialogue.
Overall, the Yamaha YAS-107BL is a very solid and elegant single-unit solution with a great sound, and this soundbar would be an excellent addition to any TV-set, as it’s one of the best cheap soundbars on the market. For some however, the reasonable bass that it provides won’t be enough, but the good thing is that you got the option to add a separate subwoofer later.
– High quality soundbar for a low price
– Slim and stylish design
– HDMI 2.0a support
– Clear dialogue
– The bass is reasonably good, but could be improved
Bottom line: Yamaha YAS-107 gives you good value for money
The Vizio SB4451-C0 smartcast 44-Inch 5.1 Channel Soundbar, is one of the more expensive soundbars included in our list, but it provides you with high-quality audio, and combined with its elegant style, it is well worth the money. The SB4451-C0 comes with a wireless subwoofer and two satellite speakers (not wireless), giving you a fully 5.1 surround experience.
Because of the slim nature of the Vizio SB4451-C0, it is perfect for being placed in front of the TV on the stand, but you could also wall mount it, and it’s rear satellite speakers. This soundbar has 1 input for HDMI, 1 optical and 1 coaxial digital input in addition to a HDMI output, LAN and audio line-in. The Vizio SB4451-C0 system is best utilized from the SmartCast-app that allows you to turn any smart device, like your phone, into your own personal remote-control, and where you could stream music, and fine-tune the soundbar through the easy-to-use system settings. It also has Bluetooth connectivity for wireless streaming.
The SB4451-C0 is very user-friendly and easy to set up, using the plug and play set up that will have your soundbar up and running in just a few minutes. If you’re looking for a quality home cinema 5.1 surround sound-system at a reasonable price, you won’t go wrong with this one.
– Good quality 5.1 surround sound system
– Elegant and stylish design
– Comes with SmartCast
– The rear satellite speakers are not wireless, but connected to the subwoofer
Bottom line: High-quality home cinema 5.1 surround sound-system that doesn’t cost a fortune
Samsung’s HW-M360/ZA is one the cheapest soundbars we’ve included (under $150) in our list, but its sound quality and overall performance makes it compete with way more expensive soundbars. The HW-M36/ZA uses 2.1 channel sound and comes with a wireless, separate subwoofer which gives you very dynamic and powerful bass. Samsung is usually very good when it comes to design, and this soundbar is no different in that regard as it’s got a very stylish and nice looking black design.
This soundbar is perfect for having it sit on the table, in front of the TV, but it could also be wall-mounted. You could easily connect it to your TV using its optical digital input. The Samsung HW-M360 2.1 Channel 200W Soundbar System also comes with Bluetooth connectivity for easy and wireless streaming of your favourite music services.
This soundbar is also very easy to set up and use, and gives you great value for money, and it would be a great addition to your home cinema set, as its total power of 200Watt more than likely will leave you satisfied.
– Good and powerful sound
– Elegant and nice looking design
– Low price
– Its “surround sound” isn’t the best
Bottom line: If you don’t want to spend a lot on a soundbar, this gives you a lot of value for money
The Polk Audio MagniFi Mini is a compact soundbar system that delivers room-filling audio from smaller boxes, perfect for those who don’t want too big and imposing soundbars filling up their space. This nice-looking and “tiny” soundbar compared to other soundbars, comes with a wireless subwoofer, giving you a nice and well-balanced sound. The MagniFi Mini also does a good job with voices, using Voice Adjust for a nice and clearer dialogue, but is not working as well when there is music playback.
Unlike some other soundbars, the Polk Audio MagniFi Mini needs to sit upright, and can not be wall-mounted, though it fits perfectly on the shelf, and it most likely won’t block your TV’s infrared sensor. As for connectivity, this soundbar comes with 1 HDMI with ARC input, 1 optical digital input as well as an 3,5mm AUX input. It also comes with Bluetooth connectivity, and WiFi connection via Google Cast. Setting up GoogleCast is very easy as you just have to download the Google Home app on your device, and follow the instructions that you’re given. Once you’re connected, you could stream music from apps like Spotify or Google Play Music effortlessly. The Google Home app also allows you to configure your speakers in the way you want it.
The MagniFi Mini does provide you with a wide and impressive sound for its size and it’s a good choice for those who’s looking for a minimalist solution, but with a compact sound.
– Nice and compact sound for its size
– Easy to set up
– Many features
– Voice Adjust does not suit with music playback
Bottom line: Delivers impressive sound for its size
The Bose Solo 5 is a small and compact stylishly looking soundbar that delivers good sound quality, especially for watching movies. The Dialogue Mode used on the Bose Solo 5 works really well, giving you improved speech quality, which helps make every spoken word easier to understand. This soundbar has two speakers located to the center, inside its cabinet, which make the sound a bit more narrow than many other soundbars these days, but it is definitely still an improvement from most TVs built-in speakers.
The Bose Solo 5 is perfect for being placed flat on a shelf in front of your TV. It could also be wall-mounted, but a wall-mount kit is not included with the soundbar, you’ll have to buy it separately. The Solo 5 has an optical, coaxial and a 3,5mm AUX input, and it has Bluetooth connection, giving you the chance to stream music from device of choice. It also comes with a very handy universal remote, which can be used to control several of your other devices.
Overall, the Boss Solo 5 is a simplistic and easy to set up soundbar that looks good, and improves your TV’s sound. However, there are other soundbars that gives you more power and better sound-quality, but the Bose Solo 5 is still a decent option.
– Nice looking design
– Easy to set up, and comes with a universal remote
– Its Dialogue Mode improves the speech quality a lot
– Lacks bass
– It’s overall sound performance is decent, but not the best
Bottom line: Works really well as an improvement on your TV’s speakers
Creative’s Sound BlasterX Katana is first and foremost billed as a soundbar system for gaming and meant for desks, but it’s also possible to use it in your living room as its sound quality is very impressive for all types of usage. The slim and cool design of the Sound BlasterX Katana makes it a good fit under most monitors or TVs, but it also includes a bracket for wall mounting. This soundbar comes with a wired subwoofer meant to go under your desk, or on the side of your TV set.
The Sound BlasterX Katana has a string of 49 RGB LEDS on the bottom of it, putting on a miniature light show. You could use different presets or even customizing it yourself by downloading Creatives software. It’s also possible to turn it off if you don’t want the light to appear. As for connectivity, the Sound BlasterX Katana has a 3,5mm mic and headphone connection, 3,5mm AUX, optical, micro-USB inputs, and a standard USB input. It also comes with Bluetooth for streaming from your favourite device.
Overall, Creative’s Sound BlasterX Katana gives you an impressive combination of nice design, and good sound. Its many inputs and outputs also gives you a lot of choices and a wide variety of applications.
– Nice and powerful sound quality
– Cool and sleek design
– Wide variety of inputs and outputs makes it very flexible
– Customizable RGB light string on the bottom of the soundbar
– No HDMI ports
Bottom line: A very compact sound solution for all types of usage
Soundbars with good quality gives you a far better audio experience than the built-in speakers in your TV. The models we’ve listed above are some of the best soundbars in this price segment (best soundbars under $400) and each one has its own qualities and unique design. Hopefully we’ve made it a bit easier for you to find out which one out of these that suits you the best.