Regardless of how expensive, or inexpensive they are, one thing almost all TVs have in common is that their built-in speakers are just underwhelming. Everyone can agree that in the vast majority of cases, it is best to get separate speakers for adequate, high quality sound output. However, it can be undesirable for many people to have a whole set of speakers surrounding your room to produce high quality sound. Not only does it look unsettling and crowded when you have 5 speakers surrounding your room, it can also be quite expensive to purchase and set up.
One of the best options in such a case is to get a soundbar. A soundbar is basically a smaller version of a set of home theater speakers and provides more than decent sound quality which is significantly better than that of an average TV. Soundbars are compact and don’t take up much space so they’re perfect to simply put under or beside your TV and provide an enjoyable experience. Some even come with an included sub-woofer to add an extra bit of oomph.
Soundbars come in a wide range of prices, with varying features, performance and sound quality. Thus, we’ve tried and reviewed some of the best soundbars available and selected 5 of them in this list of the best soundbar in under $200. We’ve carefully weighed their pros, cons and features to determine their value for money and overall worth. Reading through the article will give you enough knowledge to make an informed decision about your purchase and choose the one which suits your needs perfectly.
1. Polk Audio Signa S2
Speaker Configuration: 2 x oval mid-range drivers, 2 x tweeters (bar), external subwoofer | Connectivity: HDMI, Optical, 3.5mm Aux, Bluetooth
Last Update on 2020-06-27 using Amazon Product Advertising API
The first soundbar in our list is the Audio Signa S2 from Polka. This soundbar has all the bells and whistles a good soundbar should have. Its audio quality is top notch and has a soundbar with a subwoofer included which adds great richness to the bass of your audio, transforming your experience completely. The design is sleek and has a low profile so the soundbar can fit right under your TV without being an eye-sore. The subwoofer however does stand out and needs to be placed separately. The only con it has is that it’s not loud enough for some very large rooms, which is understandable considering the price of the soundbar.
The Audio Signa S2 is one of the best soundbars available in the market. Not only does it have a 2.1 channel due to its added subwoofer, it also has Dolby Digital decoding which produces incredible room filling sound which is significantly better when compared to an average TVs speakers. It has a rich, deep bass and a v shaped audio signature which provides a dynamic pop to the sound of the system, making it desirable for many users.
Some purists may not prefer the somewhat distortion of the equalizer and want a system with a purer audio signal. The sound output isn’t exactly too loud, which can be disappointing for users with large rooms, but it’s worth noting that the max signal the soundbar does produce, has no distortion or any imbalanced frequencies so the quality remains at a high standard continuously.
The design of the soundbar is pretty simple and lacks any extra aesthetic features, which perhaps can be attributed to its surprisingly low price. The finish on the soundbar is smooth and the subwoofer has a glass plate on its front, but besides that, it’s all quite plain. The soundbar has extensive connectivity options, keeping in line with much more expensive models. It supports HDMI, optical, a 3.5mm aux jack as well as a Bluetooth connection for immediate streaming from a users’ phone, tablet or compatible device.
Overall, the Polka Audio Signa S2 is simply one of the best soundbars available in this price range. It provides impressive value for money with its solid features and great audio quality. There’s little to fret about if you’re someone who intends to buy this soundbar, which is exactly why we’ve dubbed this as the Editor’s Choice.
2. Samsung 2.1 Soundbar HW-R450
All about the sound
Speaker Configuration: 2 x mid-range drivers, 2 x tweeters (bar), external subwoofer | Connectivity: HDMI, Optical, 3.5mm Aux, Bluetooth
Last Update on 2020-06-27 using Amazon Product Advertising API
The second entry in our list is the Samsung 2.1 Soundbar HW-450. This soundbar covers pretty much everything a user could want out of their soundbar, especially if you’ve got a Samsung TV yourself. It produces rich, high quality sound with powerful but controlled bass which isn’t overpowering and muddy. The smart sound technology adjusts the sound according to the content being played and has easily discernible dialogues. However, it only has an HDMI 1.4 port instead of an HDMI 2.0, which can limit the output for some high end TVs.
The HW-R450 is all about the sound. It produces rich audio with a natural sound signal most of the time. I say most of the time because the smart sound technology adjusts the sound signal to better match the content being played, which is a great feature and turns out to be quite useful in many scenarios. The subwoofer generates powerful bass but it’s in no way overpowering. Audio is always clear and discernible without being muddy or tinny in sound. It also has a game mode which optimizes the sound to enhance your gaming experience and make it more immersive.
In terms of design, the soundbar and the external subwoofer are quite plain and sleek. There’s a remote control included which can be used to control the soundbar and adjust its settings accordingly. If you have a Samsung OneRemote you can use it for your Samsung TV and soundbar with ease as well. The connectivity options are good since it has HDMI 1.4, optical, analog and Bluetooth support so users can stream audio however they like with minimal setup and complications. The HDMI 1.4 can be limiting for higher end TVs with 4K resolution and 60 fps, so a higher quality soundbar may be needed in that case.
Overall, the Samsung 2.1 Soundbar HW-450 is a fantastic soundbar which does the one job it’s supposed to do, and does it quite well, provide high quality audio. The sound quality is above what you’d expect from a sub-$200 soundbar. It has useful smart features which adjust the sound according to what’s being played on the TV. The design is compact and has good connectivity options which make it a great purchase for a soundbar for your home.
The third soundbar in our list is the Razer Leviathan. As is to be expected from Razer products, the Leviathan soundbar is a high quality machine which generates great audio quality with its Dolby sound support. The external subwoofer produces deep, powerful bass. The design of the soundbar is unlike what we’ve come to expect from the average soundbar. It’s more compact than the average soundbar in this price range and it has the infamous Razer logo on it. The one con it has is that there’s no remote control for the device which can make it inconvenient to use at times.
The Leviathan soundbar is powered by Dolby Technology, the sound it produces is converted to a 5.1 virtual surround stage which enhances the user’s experience with its rich sound output. The powerful external downward firing subwoofer can produce deep bass which is neither muddy or overpowering. The soundboard comes with three standard presets, namely for gaming, music and movies, which helps configure the sound signal according to the content being played for a more immersive, customized experience.
Unlike most other soundboards, the Leviathan is a more aesthetically pleasing device with a distinct design featuring a Razer logo on its compact soundbar. The large subwoofer also has a Razer logo on the top of its boxy frame. In terms of connectivity, there’s quite a couple of options that get the job done, including Bluetooth, an analog jack and an optical connection. The soundbar doesn’t come with a remote control which can be quite bothersome for users. It’s highly inconvenient to walk up to your soundbar if you need to change any settings while gaming or watching a movie.
Overall, the Razer Leviathan is a great, unique soundbar available in under $200. Its unique design provides an aesthetically pleasing look but may look out of place in some living rooms. The audio quality is spectacular for its price tag and the overall value for money for this soundbar is great. All in all, it’s a good purchase with great value and audio quality, if you like the unique design and don’t mind the lack of a remote control.
The fourth entry in our list is the Bose Solo 5. Bose is known for their quality audio products and this one is no different. It has great audio quality and has good features which help improve dialogue and voice audibility which can be quite useful. It has a very small footprint since it’s only 21.6 inches in width and has a low profile design.
One of the most interesting features that come included with this soundbar is the universal remote that comes with it, which can be used to control not only your soundbar, but also your TV, Blu-Ray player or Bluetooth device. It has decent connectivity options but it lacks an HDMI port which may be a deal breaker for some users, whereas for most it’s not a particularly big deal.
The Solo 5 has two speakers which generate high quality audio. The sound isn’t the most punchy and loud which makes it unsuitable for large rooms, but the audio quality and discernible difference between frequencies and different notes is fantastic. It outclasses any built-in TV speakers we’ve ever seen with a large margin but does lack a separate soundwoofer which is why it’s placed down near the bottom of our list. Its dialogue mode makes dialogues in movies and shows much more discernible but it does cost a bit of bass depth so it should only be used when users have trouble comprehending dialogues in normal conditions.
On the design front, this soundbar from Bose doesn’t have any spectacular flair to it. It has a simple, sleek design with a small form factor which is only 21.6 inches wide, making it suitable to be placed under any TV without taking up much space. There are no buttons on the soundbar itself, which is why its universal remote is so important.
The universal remote controls all the features and performance of the soundbar and can also be used to interact with the TV itself or any other device such as a Blu-Ray player, DVD player or even a Bluetooth device. It has decent connectivity options which include optical, coaxial and an aux port as well as Bluetooth support for wireless streaming. However, there’s no HDMI port which can be bothersome for some users.
Overall, the Bose Solo 5 is one of the best soundbars in terms of audio quality available in the market. Even though it doesn’t have a separate subwoofer, it packs quite a punch and generates high quality sound. Its design is simple and has a small, portable footprint. The features of the soundbar and its overall high quality performance make it a great buy as a portable soundbar for everyday usage.
The last entry in our list is also the cheapest. The VIZIO SB2920-C6 is the budget soundbar. It can fill your whole room with its loud sound output. Loud doesn’t mean it gets blown it, it’s also high quality and has no distortion even on high volume settings due to the DTS audio technology support. More than anything, this soundbar is super affordable and provides amazing value for money. However, the low price means it doesn’t come with an external subwoofer which means the bass output for this soundbar is mediocre at best.
The VIZIO SB2920-C6 generates loud sound at 96 decibels, which can easily reach every corner of a large room. The sound quality is no slouch either since its supported by DTS TruSurround which provides a realistic virtual surround sound for users. It also comes with DTS TruVolume feature which enables a consistent volume level regardless of the content being played, which can add to the comfort of the viewer’s experience.
The size of the soundbar is larger than any other on this list, spanning 29 inches in width but it still is sleek in looks. This enables a more immersive, surround sound experience without actually having true surround sound speakers all over your living room. There’s an included remote control as well as buttons on the soundbar itself to change and adjust its settings with ease. It has a wide range of connectivity options which include Bluetooth for wireless streaming, Coaxial, Optical and 3.5mm Aux jack.
In conclusion, the VIZIO SB2920-C6 is one of the best soundbars available if you’re on a tight budget. It provides the absolute best value for money in terms of design, audio quality and features since it performs well in all categories. All in all, it’s a great purchase for those who want a better audio experience than they get on their TV without spending hundreds of dollars on it.