Gear

The 5 best budget soundbars under $300 released in 2022

If you’re looking for an affordable way to upgrade your TV’s barebones audio, look no further.

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A soundbar is the first thing to consider if you're considering an upgrade for your TV's built-in speakers. You don't need to spend a ton of money for a soundbar, though. Even if you’re on a budget, there’s no shortage of great options out there under $300. There are three main types of budget soundbars that you can find at this price point.

The first is stereo soundbars (or two channels) that have higher quality components than the barebones stereo bars that cost around $100. At $300 or less, you’re actually able to get pretty great sound from these systems, making them ideal for small rooms and music listening.

If you’re willing to settle for less precise sound quality, but get an experience more suited for movie watching, there are options that include a wireless subwoofer, so long as you can settle with less performance in the main soundbar.

This year, we’ve even seen budget soundbars that can output virtualized Dolby Atmos surround sound. You’re not going to be confusing the cinema experience here for a more expensive home theater, but you’ll be impressed by the size of the virtual soundstage these systems can create.

Whatever type of sound you’re looking to add to your setup, here are the five best budget soundbars released in 2022 that we think will rock your room.

Sonos Ray

The Sonos Ray is what you get when a company sets out to make the best-possible stereo soundbar around. While the Ray lacks premium soundbar features like HDMI eARC (it’s optical audio only) or support for virtualized Dolby Atmos, it delivers clearer sound than almost anything $300 or less. The Ray also works with Sonos’ TruePlay room-tuning software, something no other soundbar in this guide can match.

Since the Ray is a Sonos product, it also supports direct music streaming, AirPlay 2, and Spotify Connect. The soundbar is expandable to a 4.1 setup with support for Dolby 5.1 surround sound if you buy a pair of rear speakers and a Sub or Sub Mini, but we only recommend rear speakers for Ray buyers. To expand a Ray on the cheap and keep the overall price close to $500, pick up two Ikea Symfonisk Bookshelf speakers and leave it at that.

Samsung HW-S60B

Soundbars that support Dolby Atmos are few and far between in this price range ($400+ is normally when you see that feature become more common), but that doesn’t mean you’re totally out of luck. The Samsung HW-S60B is an all-in-one soundbar with three forward-facing drivers and two side drivers to create very impressive virtual surround and Atmos on a budget. It also connects wirelessly to Samsung TVs. The lack of a subwoofer and less than stellar bass means you’re not going to get a heart-pounding cinema experience from the HW-S60B, but for a simple solution that offers a wide soundstage, this budget soundbar is one of the best.

Basic soundbars, but with more bass

If all you want is to enhance your TV watching without sacrificing a subwoofer, there are plenty of great budget soundbars out there. These soundbars won’t have the impressive soundstage of a virtual Dolby Atmos bar, or the advanced connectivity and room-tuning features of the Sonos Ray, but they’ll still provide an enhancement to your content's dialogue. Their included subwoofers also make movie watching more impactful even with just the stereo mix.

We have three picks from Sony, LG, and Samsung, respectively. The 2.1 channel Sony HT-S400 is the most barebones option here but it currently sells for less than $200. If you want a dedicated center channel for optimal dialogue clarity, you should look at the 3.1 channel Samsung HW-B650 or LG S65Q soundbars.

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