Best Soundbars of 2019 (So Far)

Soundbars can be a godsend for home theater enthusiasts who crave a lively surround-sound experience but have limited space — or funds. Or for folks who want a less complicated audio setup — one that doesn’t involve hooking up six or more individual speakers and dealing with an overly complicated control interface. Whatever the reason, a good soundbar can bring a satisfying experience — for movies, TV, and music — to your main TV or the TV in your guest room. Simplicity is key. Here are a handful of soundbars we’ve reviewed in recent months — all worth a listen if you fit this profile.


Yamaha MusicCast BAR 400 Soundbar System: $499 ($450 on Amazon)


Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value

Yamaha’s ultra-sleek BAR 400 system brings movie soundtracks to life without commandeering precious living space. Throw in a MusicCast 50 wireless speaker ($499) and, in the words of reviewer Leslie Shapiro, you have a “stellar wireless 5.1 system that creates an immersive experience.” But the BAR 400 is much more than just a streamlined movie sound system: It can just as easily be pressed into action as a multiroom music system, thanks to the inclusion of Yamaha’s excellent app-based MusicCast platform. If you buy on Amazon you get 50 bucks off.

AT A GLANCE

Plus

DTS Virtual:X simulated surround processing
Simple set up
Multiroom capability
Optional MusicCast 50 wireless speaker ($499) can be used to boost surround performance

Minus

Unnecessarily complicated user controls
No Chromecast built-in

Full Review Here

LG SL8YG 3.1.2 Atmos Soundbar: $600


Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value

LG teamed with the audio gurus at Meridian to produce its best sounding soundbar yet. The two-piece system supports voice controllable wireless streaming and is ready for 3.1.2 Dolby Atmos/DTS:X surround action out of the box but can be easily expanded to 5.1.2 playback with optional wireless surround speakers. Summing up his impressions, reviewer Al Griffin wrote: “If you’re seeking extended dynamics and thorough immersion from a soundbar, you may want to look elsewhere (the $2,500 Sennheiser Ambeo, for example). But if your expectations — and budget — are more limited, this new, upscale offering from LG is well worth consideration.”

AT A GLANCE

Plus

Good sound quality with movies and music
3.1.2 Atmos playback
Chromecast built-in for music streaming

Minus

Wireless surround speakers not included
Center channel lacks some clarity on dynamic scenes

Full Review Here

Vizio 5.1.4 Atmos Soundbar: $999 ($817 on Amazon)


Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value

For many of us, a full-blown Dolby Atmos speaker system is simply out of the question due to concerns over complexity, space, budget, or some combination of the three. Enter what may be the ultimate compromise: Vizio’s 5.1.4 soundbar system (model SB46514-F6), which delivers a shockingly good immersive surround experience from a four-piece setup comprising a 46-inch-wide bar with eight drivers (two up-firing), two rear satellite speakers (also with up-firing drivers), and a subwoofer. As a bonus, the system supports wireless streaming via Bluetooth and Chromecast. Amazon is currently offering an $83 discount on the system.

AT A GLANCE

Plus

Potent sound for the price
5.1.4 Atmos playback
Chromecast built-in for music streaming

Minus

No wireless surround speaker option
No DTS:X decoding

Full Review Here