Bose TV Speaker- Small Soundbar with Bluetooth and HDMI-ARC Connectivity, Black, Includes Remote ControlView on Amazon
Polk Audio Signa S2 Ultra-Slim TV Sound Bar | Works with 4K & HD TVs | Wireless Subwoofer | Includes HDMI & Optical Cables | Bluetooth Enabled, BlackView on Amazon
- BrandPolk Audio
VIZIO M-Series M21d-H8R 36” All-in-One 2.1 Channel Home Theater Surround Sound Bar with Bluetooth – 4K Dolby Vision HDR Pass Through, Built-in Dual Subwoofers, DTS Virtual:X, HDMI ARC, Display RemoteView on Amazon
Soundbar, TaoTronics Three Equalizer Mode Audio Speaker for TV, 32-Inch Wired & Wireless Bluetooth 5.0 Stereo Soundbar, Optical/Aux/RCA Connection, Wall Mountable, Remote ControlView on Amazon
100Watt 40 Inch Soundbar, Bestisan Sound Bar Wireless and Wired Audio Bluetooth 5.0 TV Speakers with IR Remote Function (2019 Beef Up Version, 60 Days Home Trial)View on Amazon
TCL Alto 6+ 2.1 Channel Dolby Audio Sound Bar with Wireless Subwoofer, Bluetooth – TS6110, 240W, 31.5-inch, BlackView on Amazon
Soundbar, BESTISAN TV Sound Bar with Dual Bass Ports Wired and Wireless Bluetooth 5.0 Home Theater System (28 Inch, Enhanced Bass Technology, 3-Inch Drivers, Bass Adjustable, Wall Mountable, Dsp)View on Amazon
Sound bar, Bestisan Soundbar Wired and Wireless Bluetooth 5.0 Speaker for TV (28 Inches, Optical Cable Included, DSP, Bass Adjustable, Wall Mountable)View on Amazon
Last update on 2021-12-01 / Affiliate links / Images, Product Titles, and Product Highlights from Amazon Product Advertising API
There are two types of engineering getting the job done: sound bars and sound bases under $500. They both come with internal speakers and serve the same purpose: to make your TV sound better clearly, like in dialogue clearer (especially if it has the Voice Enhancement feature), richer sounds, sharper details, more immersion, more cinematic, all of that. Real effect: the sound of a cricket at night is like the sound of a cricket at night, and not like someone let the tap flow. But there are some differences:
1. Sound bars
A television sound bar is a long, thin rectangular bar filled with speakers and lots of technical wizards. A good sound makes speech look like a good pair of glasses makes everything clear. The result: clear and clear voices - and very much, even clearly whispering dialogues. (There's no need to turn on subtitles or turn up the volume to hear what's being said.) And since the sound bars are wider than the base of the sound, they throw the sound further (left and right) and up to a degree (wear (though very small) closer for a real home theater effect.
As for where they go, the sound bars A) attach to the wall under your TV, B) put in front of your TV if your TV is on a table or C) put on a shelf below or above the TV if your TV is in a racking system. Many sound bars these days come with a separate wireless subwoofer and the additional thumpa-thumpa kick that really rounds out the experience.
2. Sound bases
The purpose of the sound base is exactly the same as the sound bar (to make your TV sound great), but they differ in size and capacity. The sound base is deeper (front to back) than the sound bars, but is usually shorter in width (from side to side) and they are primarily designed to be placed under the TV or on a shelf right next to it.
Sound bases usually have more internal space than the sound bars and, as a result, they come with better built-in amplifiers and larger bass drivers, reducing the need for a subwoofer - albeit very it's hard to beat a good standalone subwoofer. And louder is better when it comes to sound. Today, sound bases are increasingly difficult to manufacture and advances in sound bar technology, the versatility they offer, and the fact that they are well represented from some of the best brands out there, usually suggest a sound bar before the sound base.
Where you place your TV and the amount of space you have around the TV can decide which type (sound bar or sound stand) works best for you - and which will affect where you put it. The sound bars are more flexible to install - they're built for wall mounting or under (and in front) of your TV. The same holds true for all sound bars: setting up is easy. If your TV is on a table or on a table, simply place the soundbar on the same table, just below the screen. (Just make sure you have enough space between the bottom of the TV and the table - check the specifications of the sound bar and measure the area before buying). If your TV is wall mounted, attach the sound bar to the wall now. Some sound bars even come with mounting kits to make DIY installation even easier.
The audio stands, on the other hand, are built to put underneath your TV (that's why they're so heavy), on top of a table or shelf.
Aesthetically speaking, your new sound bar shouldn't be wider than your TV's - and in a perfect world, they both have the exact same width to look even. However, technically, you can pair audio with any TV size. So when it comes to size, use it at your own pace. Just make sure your TV has the right connection for a new sound bar, especially if your TV is 8 years or older.
One of the best home soundbars with subwoofers under 500 that we want to introduce first today is Yamaha Audio YAS-209BL. Sounds great for the money, easy to set up and use, and full of features. Yamaha YAS-209BL itself is one of the nicer models we've tested, with a 36-inch design that looks great under most TVs. The soundbar's four 1.75-inch drivers deliver immersive sound to movies and shows. What's more, the built-in Alexa function makes it easy to control any smart device in the house - even when the soundbar is off.
3. Active or passive?
Passive means that the sound bar does not have a built-in power amplifier and requires a receiver or amplifier to operate. However, they have better speakers - and better speakers mean better sound. Therefore, a passive soundbar will cost you a bit more and you will have to connect more components together. You will also need to connect the traditional subwoofer if you want more bass.
Active means that the sound bar comes with a built-in amplifier powering everything, as well as a channel processor separating the left, right and center speakers in the audio bar. So there are no additional receivers to plug in (or buy), plus less wires with an all-in-one device.
If you are looking for a simpler upgrade of your TV's sound, go for an active sound bar. Passive soundbars are better suited for custom settings (for example, if you want your sound bar to disappear as part of your TV or want a full-blown Dolby Atmos system).
When talking about active soundbars, Q Acoustics M4 is a bright candidate. As audio enthusiasts, we can't get the great sound Q Acoustics was trying to develop with the QM4. If you're all about performance, you can't go wrong. This is another best sound system under 500 of an unusually shaped shape, so you may have to make some insignificant room in your listening position. This isn't a big deal, but it's something to keep in mind when you shop.
4. Soundbar channels
Treat the channels as either the sound source or individual speakers. Most shows and movies today offer 5 different audio channels (and in some cases more channels for surround sound) digitally embedded: center, left, right, plus two channels in the back (rear left and right rear). What makes sound bars different from a regular home theater setup: all channels / speakers are contained in one unit. So, the following logic:
- Sound bar 2 channels: 2 speakers: left and right.
- 3-channel audio: 3 speakers: center, right and left.
- 5-channel sound bar: all 5 aforementioned speakers: center, right, left and two rear speakers. (The 5-channel system has been the home theater standard for almost 20 years now.)
- 7-channel audio: 7 speakers. Basically, 7 channels are like 5 channels with bonus: By dividing the surround and back channel information into 4 channels, you get a total of 7 channels. (Latest and best standards.)
- Dolby Atmos sound bar: This is a "Holy cow" version of 5 or 7-channel audio. What makes it different: the upward-facing speakers are in the sound bar, reflecting sound above you for a higher three-dimensional sound field. So when you see channel numbers like 5.1.2 or 7.1.2, the third number represents Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers (the first is for the traditional channel number and the second is for the subwoofer). This sound bar works best in rooms with flat ceilings up to 11 feet high made of rigid, reflective material.
The latest soundbars now come with lots of connectivity options - and more than one way it works. Some key connections to note:
So easy. Simply connect the soundbar to the TV's audio return channel (ARC) input with an HDMI cable and you're ready to go. HDMI is especially good for multichannel sound bars.
Vizio V21-H8 2.1 subwoofer/soundbar combiner is a great choice if you want comprehensive sound and modern features without spending a lot of money. This 2.1 soundbar system also offers an impressive set of features including Bluetooth and WiFi streaming, HDMI (ARC) connectivity and multiple EQ modes. Like most mixbars, wireless sub and soundbars are pre-paired, making it easy to plug things in and instantly upgrade your home theater situation.
Want the ability to stream audio from a sound bar or through your phone or tablet? Here's what to look for:
- Bluetooth: Many soundbars today have built-in Bluetooth, making it easy to stream music from computers, smartphones and tablets.
- Wi-Fi: There are wireless sound bars, come with Wi-Fi so they can access your home Internet and stream pretty much anything from anywhere (Spotify, TIDAL, Pandora, you name it it).
The optical patch cord gives you a solid connection, the best match between TV and sound bar. It is also one of the easiest, simplest and most reliable connections out there. But a disadvantage of this port is the lack of the bandwidth to transmit 5.1 signals.
Sonos Beam is an affordable soundbar that can change your listening experience. It's small, lightweight, and will fit most TVs. There are sleek touch controls on the top, as well as HDMI and Ethernet ports on the back. You can mount the Sonos Beam on a wall, although the optional bracket is expensive. This center channel speaker under 500 provides excellent sound quality. Inside, four full-range drivers, a tweeter, three passive radiators, and five class D amplifiers help transmit sound around your room for a more immersive cinematic experience.
Usually, the USB input is included only for firmware updates. But most sound bar updates these days are done through software updates. We say you don't need this - unless you're looking to connect a USB drive with your songs on it.
Vizio SB2920 is the most valuable soundbar in its price range, providing immersive soundstage, clear treble and solid bass without a subwoofer. The SB2920 delivers 95 dB sound with support for DTS Studio SoundTM and DTS TruSurround, which makes this best suits for under 500 budget and for those who want a theater-like experience. Ideal for smaller TVs, this 28-inch soundbar also supports Bluetooth for easy music playback and a variety of connections.
1. Can you add speakers to a sound bar?
Some have and some don't. In fact, some of the newer sound bars come with additional speakers as part of a system that gets you closer to real home theater sound. The only other way you can add wireless rear speakers: if the sound bar has multi-room capability. And it's a great option if you have (or want to set up) a multi-room sound system throughout your home.
2. Can you add a subwoofer to a sound bar?
Many wireless soundbars come with a wireless subwoofer. And those usually do not include a subwoofer port so you can add a separate port if you want. (And you'll want a richer experience.)
3. Do you need a receiver if you have a sound bar?
Not if you buy an active sound bar, yes if you buy a passive sound bar.
4. What is Dolby Atmos sound?
Some of the newer sound bars come with Dolby Atmos technology, which bounces sound off the ceiling to emulate a surround effect. It's pretty good, but it's still not the real thing.
5. What is "cinema sound"?
Most sound bars have a feature called "cinema sound" or "movie sound" (or just "virtual surround sound"), which they say mimics real home theater sounds. health. Reality: All that does is add a bit of digital latency, like a segmented echo (thought reverberation). This doesn't sound like real home theater, but it makes you sound like you're in a larger room. Admittedly a number is great, but you have to pay extra.
6. Can a soundbar be used as a center speaker?
Some can, some cannot - but we do not recommend. Technically, although a passive soundbar can be used as a center channel speaker, it is not designed for that purpose. It's like asking a baseball pitcher to also catch and play second base, instead of sticking to a position where he excels.
Hopefully, after consulting this soundbar review and rating, you can choose for yourself the best soundbar under $500 that suits your needs. Our Phonezoo editor team agreed that Yamaha YAS-209BL and Sonos Beam are the best options for soundbar in this segment because of its convenience as well as outstanding features. Some other interesting products include:
- Best 2.1 soundbar: Vizio V21-H8 2.1.
- Best soundbar with subwoofer: Q Acoustics M4.
- Best budget: Vizio SB2920.