This guide will tell you about TOP-5 best soundbars and their most important features you need to consider before buying a product. It discusses how the price affects the quality, in what way soundbars are different from other speaker setups, and why having an external subwoofer matters a lot. You will also learn why you should prefer models with Bluetooth capabilities and what hidden costs should be taken into account. An illustrative comparative chart will help you decide which model is right for you.
What You Will Learn From This Guide:
- Why sound bars are that important?
- How do soundbars work?
- What are the types of soundbars and their differences?
- Should you buy cheap soundbars for 40-60$ or should you pay more for brand-name models?
- What to look for when buying a product?
- TOP-5 best soundbars under 200
- Pros & Cons of using these products
Why Sound Bars are That Important?
For musicians, it comes as no surprise that most of our time isn't spent writing or performing music, but setting up the sound so it's ideal. This is why having the right sound setup is so ideal, as great music will still sound bad on inefficient speakers. I know I've certainly spent my fair share of time trying to replicate very specific sound setups only to feel that my work is inadequate due to the type of speakers I invested in.
You don't have to be a musician, though, to appreciate good sound quality. This gets even more complicated when you factor in that a majority of the people who are listening to your music aren't spending enormous amounts of money on luxury speakers, instead opting for the cheapest models available on the market in order to spend their money efficiently. This might seem antithetical to the premise of finding the highest-quality speakers to play music on, but it isn't. In fact, it is possible to find a setup for your home that gives you a high-quality sound experience for an affordable price.
In order to find the best setup for your home, I recommend you start with looking for the right soundbar. This is because a majority of people actually listen to music and sound through their home sound system, whether it be through their video games, TV, or simply playing audio off of their TV while hosting a dinner party.
This may sound like a lot of information to consider when purchasing a soundbar, but it isn't. I've spent a great deal of my time scouring the market for some of the most efficient soundbars that are also at affordable prices. Soundbars are often the best way to get a varied sound in your home without having to take up a lot of space with a speaker setup, keeping your organization compact. In this article, I hope to offer you my expertise through a detailed Buyer's Guide and reviewing some of the market's most notable products.
Through this article, you'll be able to gauge which soundbars are worth it compared to others so that the next time you're in the market for a new setup, you'll be able to easily spot the best soundbars for under 200.
So, without further ado, let's get right into it!
How Do Soundbars Work?
Soundbars work by providing sound in the same way a normal speaker setup does. After all, a soundbar is simply a one speaker setup that lets you upgrade from your TV's built-in speaker setup without having to invest in a large configuration. This doesn't have to be limited to your TV use, as soundbars can also be utilized for playing music from other compatible devices throughout your house.
What makes soundbars different from other speaker setups, though, is the amount of convenience they offer customers. For example, they're often quite compact and offer a wide variety of sound that is typically achieved through multiple speakers, making them an essential option for customers who want to achieve high-quality sound without taking up too much space.
Most modern-day soundbars work like speakers do, with the sound being inputted from a source and then outputted out of a front speaker.
However, something that is important for modern-day soundbars is the presence of a built-in amplifier, allowing them to exist as only a one-speaker setup.
What Are The Types of Soundbars And Their Differences?
The aforementioned soundbars that have built-in amplifiers are referred to as “self-powered soundbars”. As the name suggests, this means that they run on their own and do not require extra amplification from additional devices.
In contrast to self-powered soundbars, there are other types of "passive soundbars" that must be plugged into a receiver to work, but these are becoming increasingly unavailable in today's market.
There aren't many different types of soundbars within the category of self-powered soundbars, but the ones that are out there typically don't have different main units. Instead, the difference is simply whether or not there is an external subwoofer or not. Having an external subwoofer allows you to have a more detailed sound by placing the speaker's different distances from each other, but might be counterintuitive for those looking for a strictly one-speaker-setup.
It should be noted, though, that there are many soundbars that have built-in subwoofers, allowing you to skip the part of having to place a separate speaker. The best part? All of these different types of soundbars can be found for under $200.
Should You Buy Cheap Soundbars for 40-60$ or Should You Pay More for Brand-Name Models?
Like with all forms of technology, your mileage will vary when you start looking into the truly budget models. In the case of soundbars, this typically refers to the range of models between $40 and $60. Though it is possible to get a good product within this incredibly budget category, it's important to realize that it is more difficult than looking at more reasonable price points.
Of course, if you're looking for a quick, easy fix that won't dig too deep into your wallet, investing in a cheap soundbar will be a good solution to your problem. However, I don't recommend it due to how much the quality can vary when you get to the truly low-end models. In my experience, there is a price point at which the probability flips, making most of the models on the market quite good for a variety of different uses.
If you purchase a cheap soundbar due to a restricted budget, I'm not going to say that it won't be worth the money somewhat. However, if it's the difference between $60 and $70, the chances of the latter soundbar being better are much higher. In my opinion, this is enough of the reason to open your budget to more moderately-priced models.
What To Look For When Buying A Product?
When looking for a soundbar, it's important to know exactly what you're planning on using it for. If you are somebody who wants a simple, one-speaker-setup, then you already confine yourself to models that only contain this feature.
However, there is a good range of models that have detachable or completely separate subwoofers that let you customize your sound even further. There are even soundbars that come with surround sound capabilities so you can get a truly full sound without having to invest in a pricey system!
Another important factor to be on the lookout for when considering which soundbar you should buy is whether or not your chosen device has Bluetooth capabilities. Though there are often many different types of wireless soundbars, Bluetooth is often the most reliable technology that can be compatible with a majority of modern devices. For example, your smartphone, your gaming system, and your TV all likely have Bluetooth capabilities, making it an especially flexible option.
Of course, price plays a huge role in whether or not a soundbar is right for you. In the next section, I'll be taking a look at the Top 5 Best Soundbars Under 200, giving you a good range of differently-priced models. With this list, you'll be able to get an idea of what the best models are at certain price points, allowing you to decide for yourself which is right for you.
When considering the price of a soundbar, you should be on the lookout for any hidden costs. By hidden costs, I'm referring to how easy the unit is to set up. For example, some units require a professional to set it up, meaning that you either have to be experienced enough to do it yourself or spend extra money to hire somebody. This will obviously cost you more, so you should definitely factor it into your overall price when looking for the right soundbar for you.
TOP-5 Best Soundbars Under 200
Below, you will find a review of TOP-5 best products within the price range from $80 to $200 available on the market. Basically, these items differ in the type of a subwoofer, which can be either external or built-in. There is also such a crucial feature as surround capability which is not present in some models, though. Some units work best at high volumes while others are more suitable for listening to music involving acoustic guitars or television shows involving speaking.
Affordable 29-Inch Soundbar | VIZIO SB-2920-C6
As the cheapest item on this list, the VIZIO SB-2920-C6 is the best example of a budget model that isn't too cheap enough that it will be lower quality. It gives you a great deal of sound quality, with up to 95 decibels (dB) of incredibly clear sound. Not only that, but it also has only less than 1% harmonic distortion, which is good for those moments when you're listening to music or film audio that has been mastered quite loud.
It's also a Bluetooth-compatible model, which isn't the most unique thing on the market, but certainly gets a shout out because of how simple it is to use. You can connect it easily to other devices so you can use them as a remote, something that I appreciated greatly during my time using this product. And, in the event that you don't want to use a Bluetooth device as a remote, it comes with a handy remote that makes everything easier!
The only real downside I have with this product is that the setup is not that intuitive. Though it is self-described as having an "easy setup", the included manual is quite complicated and requires a knowledge of soundbars to be able to effectively navigate it. Because of this, it's likely that you're better off hiring a professional to help you, something that nearly doubles the price.
However, if you're able to install soundbars yourself or know someone personally who can install one for cheaper than the suggested rate, then this soundbar is a steal for its price!
VIZIO SB2920-C6: Check the current price
28-Inch 2.1 Channel Soundbar | VIZIO SB2821-D6
As one of the most notable companies out there making soundbars, VIZIO makes products that not only have the great sound quality, but are also incredibly durable and made-to-last. This SB2821-D6 continues this tradition, giving you very high-quality sound that is compact. Though a bit more expensive than the previous VIZIO product on this list, the SB2821-D6 also comes with a separate wireless subwoofer that lets you get even more power out of your sound.
The sound quality of the main speaker itself isn't too different from the aforementioned SB-2920-C6, retaining the same clear quality that has a good frequency range and sound pressure level of up to 95 dB. Because of the main speaker being relatively the same, the only real difference that comes with this product is the subwoofer.
So, just what difference does it make? Well, a lot. The wireless subwoofer included with the SB2821-D6 is a remarkable way to boost the soundbar's overall sound, allowing you to truly hear the low rumbles and bass aspects of the movie or music you're listening to. If you're someone who loves to listen to metal music or watch action films as I do, you'll be impressed by the amount of immersion this subwoofer can give you. You'll feel strapped to your seat, feeling the vibrations of the audio!
It's worth noting, though, that this product still suffers from the same setup issues as the SB-2920-C6. However, if you're able to find somebody to set it up for cheap, this is a product well worth its money.
VIZIO SB2821-D6: Check the current price
Soundbar With Built-in Subwoofers & Bluetooth | Yamaha YAS-108
You might be familiar with Yamaha due to their prominence as a piano retailer, but their impressive speaker products show that they are also ready to show up to produce incredibly high-quality audio products in general. This YAS-108 model is the priciest soundbar on this list, coming in at just under $200. However, what you settle for in price, you get back in quality: with the DTS Virtual: x Virtual 3D system, you can get a true surround sound experience that won't take up a lot of space.
The setup for this device is also pretty simple, allowing you to not only install it easily but also connect it to other devices seamlessly. Don't have a device that has Bluetooth capability? No problem—with the YAS-108, you can connect via HDMI, auxiliary connection, or even through an optical connection. The built-in subwoofers also work remarkably well, giving you a pounding lower range that makes it an incredibly worthwhile purchase.
Something that the YAS-108 excels at that other brands of soundbars do not is the quality of sound in the mid to upper-frequency ranges. This lends itself best to listening to music involving acoustic guitars or television shows involving speaking, though the YAS-108 also has good sound quality all-around.
If you're interested in finding a soundbar that has a lot packed into a small space, you'll love the YAS-108. It's a bit long at 35 inches long, but well worth making the space given how much power it provides. Those in the market for a truly high-end device will not be disappointed with this soundbar.
Yamaha YAS-108: Check the current price
2.1 Channel 200 Watt Wireless Audio Soundbar | Samsung HW-M360/ZA
Those who are looking for an immersive setup should invest in this Samsung HW-M360/ZA kit. This soundbar specializes in power, working best at high volumes to truly immerse you in the sound. Because of this, it works best with types of music that are mastered pretty loudly. For example, this is one of those soundbars that has worked incredibly efficiently for loud types of music such as heavy metal and pop music. I have had a few fond experiences using this device, in particular, one party in which we were able to switch between loud movies and playing some Top 40 songs at a volume that not only sounded dynamic but also was able to match the noise of people talking.
I especially like this soundbar because of how much power you get with it. The wireless speaker that also comes with it gives you a great way to customize your sound, while those who are searching for even more power can purchase a second speaker as an add-on. The setup for this entire kit is also remarkably easy, making it a perfect option for anybody looking for a seamless setup. It might take some familiarity with audio products in general to accurately set up, but the learning curve isn't too steep.
Something also worth mentioning with this product is that Samsung has a reputation for wonderful customer service, making using their products an even easier process. Any questions I had about the product regarding the aforementioned setup process were easily answered by a customer support agent that was remarkably helpful.
Samsung HW-M360/ZA: Check the current price
Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer, Black | Samsung HW-M450/ZA
As the other leading brand in soundbars, Samsung has a great reputation for making products that focus on immersion as their main principle. This HW-M450 is no different, improving upon certain aspects of the aforementioned HW-350 to give you an even better, clear sound. It does this by increasing the sensitivity of the upper frequencies, giving you more clarity.
Something I really love about this soundbar, in general, is the ability to add on the optional SWA-8500S Wireless Surround Kit, something that does increase the price but adds a great deal of functionality to your setup. With this add-on, you can even control the setup with your phone, being able to equalize the sound to your specifications on the fly.
On top of this, you're also able to save equalization settings and reset the equalizer so you don't have to worry about toying around with the equalizer and having it get stuck there! I especially enjoy this as I am allowed to customize this soundbar for a variety of different types of music and movies without having to be worried about having to replicate a specific equalization later on.
With the HW-M450/ZA you're also able to benefit from the wonderful customer service that Samsung provides, something I believe is unparalleled when looking at other companies in the market.
However, the most impressive part of this soundbar is not just the main speaker itself, but also the wireless speaker that comes with it. Even if you don't opt for the optional surround sound kit, you still have a great deal of customization with the wireless speaker, providing as high-quality of a sound as the main one itself.
Those looking to spend whichever price it takes to get the best soundbar under 200 should look into the HW-M450/ZA, as it is my personal favorite currently on the market.
Samsung HW-M450/ZA: Check the current price
Comparative Chart of Soundbar Effectiveness
Will soundbar turn on with TV?
For most soundbars, yes! This is because a majority of them come with a setting called "Auto Power Link" that turns on your soundbar as soon as it senses the TV turning on.
Will it work with PS4?
Yes! Because your PS4 goes through your TV, anything that the TV outputs will also output the PS4 signal. Optionally, if your TV's default settings don't do that, you can directly connect your PS4 to your soundbar so it's definitely connected.
Which soundbar under 200 is the best?
Out of all of the options I reviewed in the Top 5 section, the Samsung HW-M450/ZA is the best value for the money. I think it comes down to personal preference, but I feel that the HW-M450/ZA has the best clarity, ease-of-use, and overall intuitive nature that I like to see in a great soundbar. It also sounds wonderful in a variety of situations and gives you the option to customize the sound from the convenience of your phone!
Can a soundbar produce surround sound?
Yes, though it's likely that you'll need to purchase an add-on to do so. All of the options on my Top 5 list have a surround sound system of sorts, but in particular, the Samsung HW-M450/ZA and the Yamaha YAS-108 are my favorite options.
Can it be used without a subwoofer?
Yes! Even if your soundbar comes with a subwoofer, you don't necessarily have to use it. However, it's worth noting that making good use of your subwoofer can help you access the full sound range your soundbar is capable of. If you want to avoid the external subwoofer entirely, I recommend you get a product that has one built-in!
Pros & Cons of Using These Products
- Good sound quality
- Compact setup doesn't take up much space
- Control equalization
- Use for a variety of different types of media and music
- Setup might be difficult for some
- Professional installation adds to the overall cost
Finding the right soundbar can be an incredibly important aspect of anybody's home setup. As more and more people begin to use their TVs as central hubs in their home, running many different devices through them, it becomes more logical to also invest in a soundbar that is up to par.
There are many different types of soundbars that give you a truly impressive quality, but you're best off looking for products that are in the $70-$200 range if you want to have a reliable product.
At the end of the day, the soundbar that is right for you will mostly depend on what you intend to use it for. This is why the Top 5 reviews represent a wide selection of different price points and capabilities, as there are many options available.
It's not easy navigating a new market that you're unfamiliar with, so I hope this guide has helped you familiarize yourself with soundbars so the next time you're in the market, you're able to make an informed decision.