The Best Budget Soundbars

Budget soundbars: Sonos, LG and Sharp

by William Lobley |
Updated on

When you're watching a huge blockbuster with a carefully designed sound mix, you want to be able to get the best out of it, even if you're viewing it in the comfort of your own home. But the biggest TV in the world doesn’t mean a thing if you don’t have a suitably impressive sound system to back up those crisp 4K visuals.

What form your audio-boosting device should take depends a great deal on your room layout, but few of us can accommodate the hulking, free-standing speakers favoured by many audiophiles.

Empire's top pick:

Best budget soundbar: Denon DHT-S216 - Buy now on Amazon UK

Best budget Sonos: Sonos Ray - Buy now on Amazon UK

Best budget soundbar and subwoofer: LG SN4 - Buy now on Amazon UK

Thankfully, soundbars are an ideal solution – sleekly designed in a way that means they sit neatly in front of your telly, and contain an array of in-built speakers to offer spacious audio with enough separation of bass, mids, and higher frequencies.

And since so many soundbars also come with a wireless subwoofer, there’s never been more ways to get impressively full audio with limited space. They are sure to make your home movie nights all the more immersive.

If your budget doesn't stretch to pricey sound equipment, that's no issue. We've rounded up a list of the best soundbars that won't break the bank and will fit neatly into your existing setup. Soon, you'll be surrounding yourself with great sound without the extortionate cost. The only other thing you'll need to pick up is a fresh packet of popcorn.


Best Budget Soundbars

Denon DHT-S2161 of 9

Denon DHT-S216

The best budget soundbar

The Denon DHT-S216 soundbar is our pick for the best soundbar on a budget. It's a 2.1 speaker with a quality audio profile, delivering rich and crisp sound that adds great presence to a TV setup. In our experience testing of the soundbar, selecting its Pure EQ mode was our preference, as it allowed us to hear TV audio with an organic-yet-punchy sound.

Day-to-day, the DHT-S216 enhances audio and helps keep action clear and dialogue heard. Its Bluetooth setting even makes it a great device to listen to streamed music from a smartphone.

But it's when movie night or a gaming session rolls around that it really shines. Hitting the remote's DTS Virtual button switches the Denon over to surround-sound mode. Here, the soundbar magics up a 3D audio experience, creating the impression of audio channels above and behind, adding immersion and exhilaration to the on-screen action. It's not exactly the same as you get from a true surround-sound setup, but it's darn close for the outlay.

The Denon DHT-S216 is a leading example of balancing price with performance. It's excellent value.

Specifications: Output: 120W total, Frequency Response: Not available, Audio Processing: DTS Virtual , Connections: Optical, Bluetooth, HDMI, USB, Aux-in, Size (Soundbar): 890 x 60 x 120 mm, Weight: 3.5kg

Sonos Ray Soundbar2 of 9

Sonos Ray Soundbar

The best budget Sonos soundbar

Yes, this one's a little bit pricier – but it's still a viable budget option (especially when compared with the £799 Sonos Arc soundbar). The Sonos Ray is perfect for a home cinema because Oscar-winning sound designers helped engineer and fine-tune the audio output. This bar will easily fill a room with incredible film audio - the audio is rich and lively, with punchy bass sitting cleanly next to crisp mids and highs. It's also great for those with a TV setup who need to save a little space without compromising power. Plus, there's always the option to build a full 5.1 surround sound system with a few Sonos Rays in the future.

Specifications: Output: Not available, Frequency Response: Not specified, Audio Processing: Dolby Digital, DTS Digital Surround Sound, Connections: HDMI ARC, Optical, WiFi/Ethernet, Apple AirPlay 2, Size/Weight: 93 x 557 x 70 mm, 1.9 kg, Extras: Sonos multi-room connectivity

LG Electronics Soundbar SN4 2.1 ch 300W High Res Audio Sound Bar with Bluetooth3 of 9

LG Electronics Soundbar SN4 2.1 ch 300W High Res Audio Sound Bar with Bluetooth

Best soundbar with wireless subwoofer under £200

LG's phenomenal SN4 2.1 channel soundbar, replete with Bluetooth, optical and HDMI connectivity, is a seriously brilliant option for your home cinema setup.

With an astounding 300W audio output, which is in no small part attributed to the SN4's gigantic subwoofer - rest assured that the SN4 more than delivers enough hair-raising, bass-rich sound to satiate even the pickiest of audio enthusiasts.

Just be wary, space-constrained home-cinema builders - both the subwoofer and the soundbar itself are quite massive, so ensure you've got plenty of room before you buy.

Specifications: Output: 300w total, Frequency Response: Not available, Audio Processing: Meridian, Connections: Optical, Bluetooth, HDMI, USB Size (Soundbar): 85 x 890 x 57 mm, Size (Subwoofer): 261 x 171 x 390 mm, Weight (Combined): 9.4kg

JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass Sound Bar4 of 9

JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass Sound Bar

Best budget soundbar runner-up

JBL's budget bar is an absolute steal. Sure, as a standalone soundbar with no satellites or sub, it's never going to deliver the immersion of a dedicated separated setup, but there's far more going on here than the price tag might suggest. Despite its physical limitations (the whole thing is only about 60cm wide), the bar puts out a surprisingly throaty bass with decent detail, JBL's pseudo surround technology bounces beams around a room to give the illusion of enveloping sound without the need for physical rear speakers. It doesn't provide a next-level auditory sensation, but at this price, it doesn't need to.

Specifications: Output: 820w, Frequency Response: Not specified, Audio Processing: Dolby Digital, JBL Smart Surround, Connections: HDMI ARC, Optical, Bluetooth 4.2, Size/Weight: 58 x 614 x 90 mm, 1.6kg

Majority Snowdon II5 of 9

Majority Snowdon II

Best for a tight budget

Our cheapest option is the Majority Snowdon II. This sub-£100 soundbar brings virtual surround sound to a living room and has a subwoofer built into the bar itself to cut down on its footprint, making it ideal for compact spaces and tight budgets. Other devices, like smartphones and tablets, can also stream audio through Bluetooth or via the 3.5mm line-in cable. The preset EQs offer some quick-change flexibility while watching films or playing video games. The volume is great and the sound acceptable, but this is best suited to giving mid-range TV audio a boost rather than completely revolutionising a setup.

Specifications: Output: 120w, Frequency Response: Not available, Audio Processing: Majority Virtual Surround Sound, Connections: AUX In, RCA, Bluetooth, Size/Weight: 83 x 810 x 83 mm, 1.2kg

Sony HT-SF1506 of 9

Sony HT-SF150

Best budget Sony soundbar

Sony's unit processes sound through its S-Force system and a bass reflex unit, which provides a great quality of sound. While the lower frequencies of the bass response are somewhat absent, the low and mid balance helps push the human voice through in the mix. The design sensibilities on display here are sharp and understated, allowing the soundbar to sit comfortably and stylishly under a television.

Specifications: Output: 120w, Frequency Response: 88Hz - 15kHz (approx.), Audio Processing: Dolby Digital, S-Force Front Surround, Connections: HDMI ARC, Bluetooth 4.2, USB, Size/Weight: 64 x 900 x 88 mm, 2.4kg

Sharp HT-SBW4607 of 9

Sharp HT-SBW460

Best 3.1 soundbar and wireless subwoofer

As a 3.1 soundbar, the HT-SBW460 is capable of delivering a much broader surround sound experience than other budget options. It also allows the bar to take advantage of Dolby's Atmos system, which will provide superior three-dimensional object-orientated audio where available. The centre speaker is dedicated to delivering dialogue clearly, while the commanding wireless subwoofer delivers power and weight to all audio (after spending some time playing with the settings - it's a bit much right from the box). The 440w output ensures that there's plenty of volume to work with. Just be aware that this one takes up a little more room than other soundbars and subs - but it's worth it for bigger rooms.

Specifications: Output: 440w, Frequency Response: Not available, Audio Processing: Dolby Atmos, Connections: HDMI ARC, AUX In, Optical, Bluetooth, USB, 4K Passthrough, Size (Soundbar): 73 x 950 x 110 mm, Weight (Combined): 9.3kg

Majority K28 of 9

Majority K2

Bargain subwoofer and soundbar combo

Buying a soundbar on a budget doesn't have to mean an all-in-one unit. This bargain from Majority includes a bar speaker and a wireless subwoofer for rumbling bass, for well under £100. For the price, it'll easily liven up the audio on your next movie night – and with an HDMI and RCA cable included, it comes bundled with all you need to get set up.

Specifications: Output: 150w, Frequency Response: Not available, Audio Processing: Majority Virtual Surround Sound, Connections: HDMI ARC, AUX In, Optical, Bluetooth, USB, Size (Soundbar): 53 x 762 x 69 mm, Size (Subwoofer): 197 x 280 x 197 mm, Weight (Combined): 3.4kg

Bose TV Speaker9 of 9

Bose TV Speaker

Best budget Bose soundbar

Bose is a name you can trust. The TV Speaker works to bring clarity to a TV's audio with dialogue refinement, EQ to boost your entertainment's sound effects and bass to show you the power of sound. It's a simple and effective device with a low footprint that can also stream music via Bluetooth. For future upgrades, the Bose Bass Module 500 or 700 can be added for even more kick and bite.

Specifications: Output: Not available, Frequency Response: Not available, Audio Processing: Dolby, Connections: Optical, AUX In, RCA, Bluetooth 4.2, Size/Weight: 56 x 594 x 102 mm, 2kg

If you haven't found the soundbar for you, read out other soundbar buying guides:

The Best Soundbars Under £200 | The Best Soundbars | The Best Soundbars Under £300 | The Best Soundbars Under £800

What we look for in the best budget soundbars:


Output can be a useful gauge of a soundbar's volume when considered alongside other factors.

Output wattage refers to the power being pushed through an amplifier. The resulting signal gets kicked out of the speakers to become the bit we all know as volume. It’s measured in decibels, or dB (technically, it's a measure of speaker sensitivity, but that’s beside the point here). The more output, the more decibels and the louder a soundbar will be.

It's also important to note that a 60w speaker will not be twice as loud as a 30w speaker. Decibel gains are incremental - doubling wattage adds only 3dB.

Due to the myriad factors that go into determining a soundbar's volume, including output, speaker sensitivity and component quality, some manufacturers choose not to report output wattage as they feel it can mislead consumers. There’s also no legal requirement for them to do so.

Frequency Response

Frequency response measures the audible frequencies a soundbar can deliver and can be a handy indicator of overall sound quality.

20Hz - 20KHz is the average human audio spectrum. Having a soundbar getting close to these parameters is important for delivering a complete sound with shaking bass and vibrant highs (where appropriate, of course). It’s not the end of the world if a soundbar falls a tad short - as we age, many lose the ability to hear the extremes within this range.

As with power, some manufacturers do not report this. On occasion, independent analysists report approximate ranges, but these are unconfirmed by the manufacturer.


Obviously, the overall tone of a soundbar is hugely important. A soundbar needs to have punchy bass. These low frequencies add power, presence and atmosphere to movies, TV shows and video games. Mids are just as crucial because the human voice sits within this range. Many soundbars have features applied to bringing these tones through clearly, with some even dedicating entire speakers to the process. Finally, highs need to be handled with care - they carry across a lot of detail and sparkle.


Connectivity is hugely important when choosing a new soundbar, as it determines how the soundbar receives input. The more connections and interfaces available, the greater the soundbars flexibility.

Bluetooth and WiFi wireless connections are great at creating neat, fuss-free home cinema. Soundbars equipped with these connections can often connect to multiple devices, including smartphones and stereos. HDMI connections allow for quality low-latency signal transfers, and HDMI ARC can streamline the audio output across several devices.

Optical connections allow digital signals to transfer without a HDMI cable, while RCA and 3.5mm Aux-in connections allow for almost universal connectivity, albeit with limited functionality elsewhere.


The physical size of a soundbar is crucial - it can make or break a compact home cinema. It’s worth assessing where a soundbar will sit in relation to a TV’s feet or stand. Additionally, a tall soundbar risks blocking the bottom portion of a screen and IR receivers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are soundbars worth it?

Well, if you’re unsatisfied with your current TV audio then yes. Flatscreen TV designs don’t include much room for mega audio equipment, so getting an external speaker of some kind will in the majority of cases give you a much better sound experience. Soundbars offer simplicity – they’re sleek, tend to be all-in-one units (sometimes with an additional subwoofer speaker), and don’t require much tech know-how to get up and running.

Can soundbars do surround sound?

The nature of soundbars – long tubes filled with an array of smaller speakers – mean that they’re not true surround sound systems. However, some more advanced and expensive models can offer something akin to surround sound, with audio technology designed to bounce sound across different corners of your living room and fill all four walls.

Looking for the best surround sound systems? Check out our guide here.

How do I choose a soundbar?

Think of the most important criteria for you – is it low cost and plug-and-play simplicity to get that little bit more from your TV audio? Do you want more connectivity (like the higher-end HDMI-ARC inputs for ultra-HD audio) at a potentially higher price? Do you want a booming subwoofer, or do you have neighbours who wouldn’t appreciate that thumping bass? (In this case, maybe check out these surround-sound headphones instead.) Either way, be sure to check your TV’s connectivity settings, and find a soundbar that’s compatible with your existing setup, and that fits the purpose you’re looking to fulfil.

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