The Best Cheap Soundbars of 2019

Soundbars are popular because most TVs sound bad, not because soundbars sound great (many don't). 

Modern televisions are too thin to fit a decent pair of speakers inside, which makes dialogue tough to understand. A good soundbar can be had for less than $100 and will sound better than the built-in speakers in most TVs. 

Some soundbars can simulate surround sound effects and have a separate subwoofer for bass effects. Advanced models (especially Dolby Atmos soundbars) can cost more than $1,000. But, is it worth it?

For the same price, one can buy a well-reviewed home theater receiver like the Denon AVR-X1500 (which includes support for 4K/HDR10 video, Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay and Amazon Alexa voice control) and an excellent 5.1 channel speaker system like the Energy Take Classic.

A $500 alternative is to buy a decent home theater receiver and a center-channel speaker. It's a relatively simple way to get the benefits of a soundbar now with the flexibility of building a home theater later.

If you opt for a soundbar, make sure the input on the soundbar matches the output on your TV. HDMI is the best connection option: It's more secure and futureproof than an Optical connection (which is most common). The 3.5mm (headphone) jack has the worst audio quality of these three connection options.

Here are the best-reviewed soundbars that have sold on Amazon for $100 or less in the past year:

Good Price: $90 | Great Deal: $80

Vizio's soundbar is easy to install, cables are included, and it sounds considerably better than built-in TV speakers, according to several Amazon customers. Some reviewers say the remote is difficult to use in the dark. A few customers couldn't pair this soundbar with their universal remote controls.

Megacra’s 38-Inch Soundbar Has Six Drivers - Image Credit: Megacra

Good Price: $87 | Great Deal: $80

This soundbar is a big improvement over TV speakers, according to several Amazon customers. Some reviewers complain that the instructions are confusing; others don't like the soundbar's "auto-off" feature (it turns itself off after a few minutes of no signal).

Good Price: $98 | Great Deal: $81

Pyle's soundbase has rich, deep and immersive sound, according to several Amazon customers. Many reviewers say the remote is small and hard to use in the dark; some say the bass is too boomy.

John DeFeo