Does $500 get you a decent soundbar? The answer varies, as some may offer only the basics while others can immerse you on full 3D surround sound. As with any purchase, you want to get the most out of your money. Here are the best soundbars under 500 that will get you the most value:
Reviews of the Best Soundbars Under 500
1. Sonos Beam
The Sonos Beam has a simple design that understates its top-notch audio potential. In fact, the Sonos Beam is professionally tuned by Oscar-winning sound engineers to guarantee good sound quality.
With enhanced speech, the soundbar is designed to emphasize the dialogue when you’re watching movies for an excellent sound experience. Having a pick out of two different colors to complement your interior design is only a minor bonus.
Amazon Alexa is also built into the Sonos Beam to help you set everyday functions. It can respond to your commands and makes controlling and setting up the app very easy.
2. Vizio SB36512-F6
The Vizio SB36512-F6 is a premium soundbar sound system that comes with satellite speakers and a wireless subwoofer for that true cinematic sound. This Vizio model looks as high-end as one would expect with its sleek metal exterior that features silver accents.
Complete with Dolby Atmos built-in, the Vizio soundbar offers audio heights that regular systems can’t provide by projecting the sound from upward-firing speakers. The difference is great if you’re watching movies.
Everything you need is included right out of the box and can be set up to support multi-room streaming with other Vizio SmartCast devices. Overall, this Vizio model is a powerful speaker set for the money.
3. Polk Signa S2
The Audio Signa is an affordable sound bar and subwoofer combo that improves the dialogue and bass of your favorite content. The 5 full-range speakers or drivers delivers powerful virtual surround sound via Dolby Digital Decoding.
The slim soundbar is easy to place and won’t block your remote sensor on the TV. The wireless sub gives users the freedom to find the right placement to get the best use out of the sub’s bass performance.
You can also enjoy your favorite music and podcasts from the improved audio speakers of your sound bar via Bluetooth built into the Audio Signa 2. Compared to a lot of other models available at this price, the Signa S2 is a good one to get.
4. Polk MagniFi Mini
The Polk MagniFi Mini is a great home theater solution for limited spaces. It’s a compact soundbar at only 13.5 inches with a very small subwoofer companion. It has a low profile but packs impressive sound that’s on par with soundbars 2-3 times its size.
The small size doesn’t hinder the soundbar from being packed with advanced features such as Polk’s patented SDA Audio Technology and Dolby Digital 5.1 decoding capabilities.
To give users much more control over the audio quality, this soundbar under 500 lets you adjust audio levels so you can experience better movies and play more powerful music no matter the volume.
If you want to play content on any standard mode, you can choose from Music mode, Movie mode, Sports mode, and Night mode.
5. Yamaha YAS-209
The Yamaha YAS-209 soundbar rounds off our ‘best soundbar under 500’ list. It is another soundbar subwoofer combo that focuses on clear dialogue. The Clear Voice feature in the Yamaha YAS-209 will bring forth every previously missed whisper.
Complete with DTS Virtual:X 3D surround sound, this Yamaha YAS soundbar provides an excellent listening experience with every deep bass note enhanced by the wireless subwoofer.
The wireless subwoofer offers flexible placement to best complement the soundbar. As for controlling the Yamaha YAS 2.1 channel sound bar, it comes with Alexa built-in and its own remote control.
While there are other Yamaha YAS models like the Yamaha YAS-108, this is still one of the best soundbars around.
Soundbar Under 500 Buyer’s Guide
For the best soundbar under 500 price range, you can expect a great improvement from your TV speakers. You should be able to come home and enjoy your favorite music and movies with even more definition and bass.
While reviews can help, it’s still important to know what to look for to find the best soundbar around. To ensure that you make a good choice, follow our guide below.
You can also check our top picks for under a thousand bucks.
In all our reviews, bigger isn’t always better, especially if you don’t have the room. Consider your space and your TV before deciding which one is the right soundbar under 500.
Soundbars are best for small to medium-sized rooms. However, with larger TVs, rear satellite speaker, and subwoofer add-ons, your soundbar can accommodate a bigger room.
Soundbars should come in the same size as the TVs in a living room. However, it can be hard to find one with exactly the same width, so you can go a few inches shorter. The soundbar can still project great sound that surpasses the TV speakers, but won’t overtake your entertainment system as well.
The speaker drivers, also referred to as channels, are responsible for propelling sound from the soundbar to you.
You’ll get the most out of multi-directional speakers because they allow soundbars to utilize the acoustics of your living room well. Sound can bounce off the ceiling and the walls to make the performance a good one each time.
The number of speakers your soundbar offers is indicated by the number that follows the model’s name. For example, a 2.1 channel soundbar like the Yamaha YAS-209 will feature two channels and a subwoofer. A 3.1 soundbar will have more channels than a 2.1, but the difference in experience will depend on more factors.
The more channels your soundbar features, the better it can achieve surround sound. While two channels like in the Yamaha YAS-209 will work well, the industry standard for true surround would require at least 5 channels .
However, there are a lot of other factors that can determine the quality that your soundbar offers, but more on that later.
When looking for the best soundbar under 500, consider if it includes a wireless subwoofer, especially if you value deep bass tones and a richer audio quality. The subwoofer can either be built directly into the soundbars or as a more powerful, separate unit that you connect with the soundbar.
Built-in subwoofers like in some Sony and Yamaha models are often smaller. It lacks power if you’re looking for thundering bass. The upside to built-in subwoofers is that the soundbar system takes up less space, but you’ll have less bass.
If you have the room, a wireless sub will guarantee much more pronounced bass notes to envelope the room. Our reviews always reveal that separate subs are better than built-ins. The wireless connection will let you find the right place for the additional component as well.
(Looking for small subwoofer capable of big sound? See Polk Audio Signa S2 Review here. )
Surround Sound and Dolby Atmos/DTS:X
You no longer need to use multiple speakers or drivers for cinematic surround sound. A soundbar can now produce virtual 3D surround by using the right technologies. Most supreme quality Dolby Atmos soundbars enable you to experience the best cinematic surround sound.
Dolby Atmos and DTS:X are the industry leading audio technologies that offer a true home theater experience. Some budget soundbars like the Klipsch Cinema 600, for example, has built-in Dolby Digital and Dolby Digital Plus providing excellent surround sound experience. You may also find other brand-specific technologies in soundbars that can further improve your experience such as SDA Technology, Sony S-Force and more.
The components in your soundbar can also contribute to true surround. The best soundbar under 500 will offer rear satellite speakers and subwoofers to fully make use of true realistic sound. However, if you lack space, a single soundbar can offer virtual 3D surround with the right set up and technology.
A great way to save space on your TV stand and achieve a nice setup is to mount the soundbar on your wall under or above the TV. This will make sure that the soundbar directs the sound straight to your position for the best results, whether you’re watching movies or listening to music.
The best soundbars under 500 on our list are all compact and lightweight. Even at maximum volume, any model should be able to hold its own.
We do suggest placing your soundbar as close to the TV as possible to produce a seamless picture and audio synchronization.
One big goal of any soundbar is to really bring out the dialogue in movies. You’d want to be able to hear what is being said as clear as possible. The best soundbars will be able to deliver clear vocals with the technology embedded inside.
Soundbars with 3 or more channels have a center channel dedicated to speech. The role of this center speaker is to enhance the dialogue through tuning technologies such as sound modes, Voice Clarity and other features.
When the volume of the dialogue is boosted, it will make the listening experience more powerful as well.
Bluetooth is an good feature for streaming music. Some soundbars can include Wi-Fi too for access to your music library via streaming services and apps. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections are also handy for setting up your sounding bars. Improving sound quality is also easy when you set this up with wireless speakers like Harman Kardon Onyx 3 or 2.
Connecting a soundbar to TVs with wires can look messy, but this wireless option will give you more placement options sans the clutter. Wi-Fi is also crucial if you have a buildable system that supports a multi-room setup such as the Beam.
And if you like wireless streaming, look for something that’s compatible with Apple Airplay.
As for wired connectivity options, the best soundbar under 500 will offer HDMI or digital optical connections. The two methods both support excellent audio. For multi-channel soundbars that offer high definition audio (like Sony and Yamaha YAS models), at least 1 HDMI connection is good for Blu-Ray soundtracks.
HDMI can support Ultra HD content such as 3K of 4K video through its passthrough feature. Analog connectivity features can’t do this, so we recommend that you connect the sound bar via HDMI for solid compatibility and performance.
HDMI also lets viewers switch between video source components easily. The ARC (audio return channel) allows TVs to send audio signals back to the soundbar, which will only require you to have a single connection from your sound bar to your TV.
If you’re one who really likes the concept of a smart home, you can get much more use out of a smart soundbar via voice control. Some units like Sony models and the Yamaha YAS-209 have Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant built-in while others can be synced with enabled devices. Virtual assistants allow the control of music and connection to TVs via voice.
It’s fairly common for soundbars close to 500 to share this smart feature. Other than setting up and controlling your devices, you can also use it to gather information such as the latest news and weather reports.
A handy remote or compatible app can also be used for settings and adjustments. Most soundbars have their own remote, but you can easily program universal remotes to control all components in your entertainment system as well.
Compatible apps are very handy when it comes to adjusting your sound bar. They also have advanced features a remote control doesn’t offer, as some are even designed with treble and bass sliders.
Setting up the sound bar shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. Generally speaking, each sound bar includes everything you need right in the box, including cables, remote, user manual, batteries and even the wall mount kit, if applicable.
Consider reading some reviews around to know the difficulty level of the setup, or guides like what we have for setting up iLive soundbars. But even if you have low-level tech skills, we’re sure you can connect the wires and get your soundbar up and running.
Our Top Pick For A Soundbar Under $500: Sonos Beam
This smart soundbar is professionally tuned by Oscar-winning engineers to achieve the highest standards of sound. You’ll never miss even a whisper in the dialogue with its speech enhancement feature. It can also automatically optimize its settings to produce crystal clear and rich sound.
The Beam is a buildable system that can be expanded into a 3.1, 5.0 or 5.1 sound system to achieve true surround sound. Setup is incredibly simple with the HDMI ARC so you can go from unboxing to enjoying your soundbar in a matter of minutes.
We also compared the Sonos Beam against the Playbase here.