Skip to content   Skip to footer navigation 

The best soundbars at every price

The best bargain buys, mid-range marvels and premium purchases for your home entertainment system.

illustration of three differently priced soundbars with ticks
Last updated: 17 March 2023

Whether you're on a budget or you've got money to burn, there's a soundbar that will deliver excellent audio in your price range. 

We test soundbars ranging in price from $149 to $3999, and while some expensive models are standouts, there are plenty of reasonably priced soundbars that also perform well in our testing. 

Don't make the assumption that more money buys you better audio

Don't make the assumption that more money buys you better audio: our experts were unimpressed by some expensive models but blown away by others that come in under the $400 mark. 

CHOICE home entertainment expert Denis Gallagher shares his tips for finding the best soundbar for your money, plus, exclusively for CHOICE members, we'll reveal the best scoring soundbars at the lower, middle and upper end of the market. 

Why buy a soundbar?

For movie buffs and TV bingers, a full home theatre is the ideal. But they can be complicated, bulky and expensive. A soundbar is a much more streamlined alternative that'll give you the next best thing, but without the big hit to your wallet. 

Essentially a slim box containing several speakers, a soundbar sits just below your TV screen and boosts your audio experience. It's not a direct replacement for a professionally installed and calibrated home theatre system, but some do a pretty good job of mimicking the effect of surround sound. 

Best placement for your soundbar

Soundbars perform best in small, enclosed rooms, but not so well in large, open-plan areas. Ideally, they should be used in situations where you're sitting a few metres away from the TV. 

They're best placed just in front of, or below your TV screen, at around the same height as your ears when you're sitting on the lounge. 

If you have a model with a wireless subwoofer, you can place it anywhere in the room. 

Not sure what all the audio formats are? Our expert guide to buying a soundbar breaks down all the terminology. 

When you're ready to set up, check out our article on connecting your soundbar to a TV for a step-by-step guide. 

How we test soundbars

Our rigorous testing means you can be confident in our reviews. They'll help you buy the best soundbar for your needs. 

We use a panel of experts who have years of expertise testing audio equipment. They assess sound quality for film, music and spoken-word audio. We also take into account the ease of connecting and using the soundbar and remote, and how much energy the soundbar uses when in standby mode. 

Our experts score each soundbar on these metrics to calculate an overall score. All of the details are included in our soundbar reviews, and you can filter by price, brand, features and more to find exactly what you're after. 

The best soundbars: budget, mid-range, premium

For CHOICE members only, we reveal our expert's top soundbar picks for your budget. If you're not yet a member, join CHOICE to get instant access to all of our expert, independent reviews. 

Don't waste your money on an expensive model that doesn't deliver on performance or a budget soundbar that sounds worse than your TV speakers. 

No matter your budget, there's a high-performing soundbar for you. 

These three models sit at different price points – low, medium and high – but they're all recommended by CHOICE experts. 

locked content

Unlock this article and more

  • Information you can trust
  • See the best brands
  • Avoid the worst performers

The highest scoring soundbar overall, the Polk Signa S2, is surprisingly affordable at just $399. If you're looking for a higher end soundbar, the Dali Katch One was ranked second overall by our experts, so it's also an excellent choice, particularly for a larger room.

And if you don't have a lot of cash to splash, the JBL Cinema SB110 will set you back less than $200 but is highly regarded by our expert listening panel and perfect for a small loungeroom or study.

Read on to find out what Denis has to say about each of these great soundbars and why they're good buys.

jbl cinema sb110

Best budget buy: The JBL Cinema SB110.

Best budget soundbar

JBL Cinema SB110

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 77%
  • Music quality score: 78%
  • Multi-channel audio quality score: 82%
  • Price: $199

If you don't need the latest audio technology support such as Atmos and Dolby audio, then you can get good honest sound quality with the JBL SB110 for under $200.  You may even be able to find it for under $100 at some retailers, making it one of the best deals going around.

Its simple design allows it to blend in with any TV and you can use either a HDMI ARC or optical (Toslink) audio connection. You can place it below your TV or mount it on the wall with the included brackets. There is no WiFi support, but you do get Bluetooth connectivity to play music directly from your smartphone. 

This is a great value first soundbar that will no doubt deliver better sound than you get through your TV.

Read the full JBL Cinema SB110 review

polk signa s2

Best mid-range buy: The Polk Signa S2.

Best mid-range soundbar

Polk Signa S2 

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 85% (Highest score overall)
  • Music quality score: 93%
  • Multi-channel audio quality score: 97%
  • Price: $399

The fact that the Polk Signa S2 is still widely available after several years on the market supports our high regard for what must be the best value for money soundbar we have tested. This model topped our test, with a higher overall score than a number of models costing more than three times as much.

It doesn't support Dolby Atmos or DTS-X, but HDMI ARC makes it compatible with your 4K disc player and TV and should satisfy most of your movie-watching requirements.

Our listening panel felt it did such a good job with the stereo separation that it felt like there was an additional height channel when assessing the movie audio.

At less than 6cm high this is also a great soundbar for a TV that isn't wall-mounted as there is no chance of it obstructing your view when placed in front of your TV on a table.

This model topped our test, with a higher overall score than a number of models costing more than three times as much

There's no Wi-Fi so it doesn't support music streaming services by itself. However, Bluetooth allows you to enjoy all your favourite music directly from your smartphone, tablet or laptop. An auxiliary port also means you can plug in an iPod, music player or even a Google Audio streaming dongle. 

The listening panel was impressed with the vocal clarity, the clear sound delivered when playing stereo passages and the surprisingly good audio separation when listening to movies.

While the lack of smart features and support for higher end audio formats are typical of a mid-priced soundbar, the overall sound quality delivers at a level much higher than the asking price.

Read the full Polk Signa S2 review

dali katch one

Best premium soundbar: The Dali Katch One.

Best premium soundbar

Dali Katch One

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 81%
  • Music quality score: 83%
  • Multi-channel audio quality score: 92%
  • Price: $1299

While it's not cheap, the Dali Katch One impressed our listening panel with very good stereo quality and excellent performance for movie audio. 

There are multiple audio input options, two optical (Toslink) audio inputs, a 3.5mm auxiliary input connection and HDMI ARC support; making this a good option for use as both a soundbar and a premium room speaker for music. The selection panel on the top of the soundbar gives you easy access to the various sources, whether you are watching something on the TV, listening to music on a CD player or on your smartphone via Bluetooth with aptX.

While not particularly heavy, the Katch One is tall at around 17cm high, so will likely obstruct viewing if placed directly in front of the TV. Ideally it should be mounted below a wall-mounted TV using the funky leather straps or placed on a table below, using its wooden feet.

While the Dali Katch One costs more than three times the Polk Signa S2, you do get a powerful sound, a striking design and loads of audio options.

Read the full Dali Katch One review

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.