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The 7 best soundbars for gaming — & they start at just $50

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It turns out that diving into hours of gameplay is akin to taking a mental vacation, according to a researcher who studies the link between video games and psychology. For the most restful "vacation" possible, you'll want to check out the best soundbars for gaming, which, in many cases, are the best soundbars, period. That said, there are a few features that improve a soundbar's aptness for gaming, including size, connectivity, and sound quality.

The first thing you'll want to do is measure your desk, media stand, or both, if you intend to use your soundbar for both console and PC gaming. Although they generally boast a narrow profile, soundbars do come in different sizes, and as a general rule of thumb, a soundbar should be roughly the same size as your screen, if not a few inches smaller. For gaming, however, you'll also need room for your console, keyboard, mouse, etc. — so opt for sleeker, more space-savvy options when necessary.

Next, check the ports on your TV or gaming computer; this step is necessary to ensure that you can actually hook up your soundbar of choice. HDMI, optical, USB, and aux are all wire types you might encounter. On the other hand, if you're looking for a wireless option, make sure that both the soundbar and your device are Bluetooth-enabled.

Finally, there's the sound quality. For the most part, a soundbar speaker is similar to the best gaming headsets in that the number of drivers or channels will largely impact the quality. And just for a little decoding help when shopping: Channels are usually listed as '2.0' or '5.1' and so on. The number before the decimal indicates the number of channels, while the number after the decimal indicates whether or not there's a subwoofer. So a 2.0 soundbar will have two channels and no subwoofer, while a 5.1 soundbar will have five channels, plus a subwoofer. The latter, of course, will offer a more powerful sound experience.

Based on all that, check out the six best soundbars for gaming below.

1. The overall best gaming soundbar for TVs

Best for: People who game on TVs.

Key features: For next-level play, the Samsung 2.1 gaming soundbar has smart sound technology and a "game mode" — a special setting that detects when you're gaming and optimizes sound effects. As a result, it's a great option for console players who want to immerse themselves in the action — especially since it comes with a powerful bass subwoofer, too. And while it's specifically designed for seamless use with Samsung TVs, it'll work with a wide selection of other TVs, as well. Thanks to the wireless Bluetooth connectivity, you can minimize wire clutter, stream music from your devices, and expand your sound system down the line. Keep in mind that this speaker has only two channels, but for a little more money, you can opt instead for a four-channel soundbar or a six-channel version. For the price, this is a buy that's hard to beat.

The specs:

  • Size: 2.77 x 35.72 x 2.1 inches
  • Connections: Bluetooth and optical
  • Sound quality: Dolby 2.1

What fans say: "I love this sound bar! Every movie and video games feels more immersive than ever. Pretty easy to set up and use. I also use this to play music with Bluetooth sounds great.”

2. The overall best gaming soundbar for PCs

Best for: People who game on PCs.

Key features: Razer is a well-known gaming hardware company, and the Razer Leviathan soundbar and subwoofer pair has earned itself a 4.6-star rating from over 1,400 PC gamers. Immersive 5.1-channel surround sound sucks you right into the action with preset equalizers that have a specific gaming mode. There’s also a dedicated subwoofer that creates chest-thumping bass — but unlike other units, it fires downward and has a compact, shorter size, so it’s suitable for your desktop. The set even wirelessly connects via Bluetooth from up to 30 feet away, so you can use it to listen to music, too.

The specs:

  • Size: 3.1 by 19.7 by 2.9 inches
  • Connections: optical, aux-in, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Sound quality: 2 5.1 surround sound drivers

What fans say: "The Razer leviathan is an amazing system for the PC. This [is] what it was designed for. It comes with a subwoofer and the thing is incredible. It's super loud and that's not a bad thing at all unless your family is trying to sleep. It's very easy to set up just follow the directions and your good to go.”

3. The best value, according to Reddit

Best for: Those who want a reasonably priced system with plenty of great features.

Key features: If you’re looking for an option that’s “entry-level,” “fuss-free,” and “inexpensive,” Redditors recommend the Creative Stage 2.1 soundbar. Still extremely happy with my CS, use it every day for tv/gaming/Bluetooth playback and I'm sure you'll like it too!” one Redditor wrote. “The subwoofered bass makes all the difference.” It has all the connectivity options you could possibly want, not to mention custom-tuned mid-range drivers in the bar itself and a tower subwoofer with deep bass. It’s also easy to mount and comes with a convenient controller that adjusts sound settings as well as playback features.

The specs:

  • Size: 26.8 by 3.94 by 3.07 inches
  • Connections: TV (arc), optical, USB, Bluetooth 5.0, Aux-in
  • Sound quality: 2 drivers

What fans say: “I searched Reddit for ‘decent soundbars for the money’ and came across a thread recommending this dude. [...] it's built very nice, simple to set up, [there are] multiple ways to use it (bluetooth, hdmi/tv arc, aux cable, optical cable), comes with everything you need if you want to mount it (I mounted it above my monitor in about 15 minutes)...it's worth every penny!

4. The best soundbar under $50

Best for: Those who aren’t looking to spend a ton of money.

Key features: Despite its low price tag, this computer speaker has more than 4,500 reviews on Amazon, making it a great, budget-conscious pick. Although there's no subwoofer or fancy technology, the speaker features dual drivers, so reviewers report being pleased with the sound while gaming. There's also a vibrant RGB light that you can customize with color modes and pattern settings, and the knob on the side makes for quick, simple adjustments. You can also use it to play music from your tablet and phone. Finally, since it’s USB-powered, it’s more portable than speakers that require an AC plug.

The specs:

  • Size: 16.42 x 2.99 x 2.68 inches
  • Connections: Bluetooth and 3.5mm aux
  • Sound quality: dual channels

What fans say: "This speaker has quite a kick to it and is perfect for gaming or a home office setup. I use it with my gaming laptop and it's great for on the go gaming as well. Much better than any other computer speakers I have used and very simple set up — just plug and play.”

5. The most versatile pick

Best for: Gamers who need wide compatibility across multiple setups.

Key features: The Bose Solo 5 has more audio connection options than most models, and it's also bold enough for the biggest TVs, but compact enough for a desktop or a small media console. And thanks to the unique dialogue mode — which makes every word stand out — it's an awesome way to upgrade movie nights. The Bluetooth connectivity allows you to stream your music from any device, and the flexible placement means you can put it on a shelf or mount it on the wall. Last but not least, there's the universal remote, so you can control your TV, gaming system, volume, bass, and Bluetooth connectivity. For a little more money, you can get a mounting kit and optical cable for a totally streamlined setup. In short, if you want a single soundbar for gaming, watching movies, and listening to music, this is the way to go.

The specs:

  • Size: 21.5 x 2.8 x 3.4 inches
  • Connections: Bluetooth, optical, HDMI, 3.5mm aux
  • Sound quality: Dolby 5.1

What fans say: "The Bose sound bar provides clear, quality audio that had me wanting to go back and re-watch movies with the new sound quality. Dialog is clear and the punch of the bass in action sequences is amazing. When gaming I get the same immersive sound quality from the Bose sound bar that I do from my SteelSeries 7.1 headphones.”

6. The sleekest option (& the best when you're short on space)

Best for: Gamers with smaller desks.

Key features: If you're short on space, the Sound BlasterX Katana is about as sleek as they come. Even though it packs five powerful drivers for extremely impressive acoustics, it measures roughly 23 inches long and 2.4 inches tall. As a result, it effortlessly fits underneath your monitor — or it can sit on top of smaller media consoles without overwhelming the space. In addition to its size, it also offers 49 programmable LED lights, a brushed aluminum finish, an intuitive remote control, and a wide selection of connectivity options. Finally, it even comes with a subwoofer for great, distortion-free bass.

The specs:

  • Size: 23.6 x 3.1 x 2.4 inches
  • Connections: Bluetooth, optical, 3.5mm aux, USB
  • Sound quality: Dolby 5.1

What fans say: "If you're looking for a powerful desktop speaker system that saves a ton of space on your desk, this is the perfect fit for you. The Katana fits very nicely under a monitor and doesn't force you to place your 2.1 speakers over or under your monitor or around other stuff on your desk.”

7. The One With The Best Audio Quality

Best for: High-end gaming setups and audiophiles.

Key features: Last but not least, there's the Sonos Playbar. Sonos is known for being one of the best speaker systems on the planet, and this soundbar is no exception. It's worth the splurge because it's mountable, connects over Wi-Fi for Sonos phone-app access, and uses a self-adjusting system that was tuned by Oscar-winning sound engineers. Speech enhancement makes movie-watching even better and "night mode" balances sound at low volumes, so you can hear dialogue without keeping other people in the house awake. In terms of gaming, it has nine drivers for full, gorgeous sound that'll put you at the center of the action.

The specs:

  • Size: 35.50 x 5.60 x 3.40 inches
  • Connections: optical
  • Sound quality: 9 drivers

What fans say: "This is simply the best sound system on the market. Works great with my Samsung 65" TV, Amazon music, Apple Music, Sirius, radio stations and my Playstation 4 games through the Samsung. I am a serious audiophile and I am sold.”

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