Hey everyone! This is VoteTopBest, and today we’re reviewing the five best soundbars for 2021-22 for you, all for under $600. You’ll see which ones professional raters agree are among the best, and what ordinary users say about them. Links to all products are in the description.
VIZIO SB46514-F6 5.1.4 (46 inches)
This product on Amazon 👉https://amzn.to/3dDjA1t
|Center panel size||46.1 inches (117.0 cm)|
|Frequency range||30 to 20,000 Hz|
|Sound pressure||108 dB|
|Surround sound||DTS Virtual X™, Dolby Atmos|
|Number of amplifier channels||10|
First on our list is also the most expensive soundbar for this group.
This model was first released back in 2018, but even now in 2021, it still continues to be in demand and to get lots of positive feedback from both users and experts.
The model is often compared with its previous generation model, the SB36512-F6 5.1.2. However, most professionals as well as regular customers are unanimous in their opinion that the Vizio 5.1.4 has definitely overtaken its forerunner in almost every way. There is a slightly larger subwoofer and two additional passive speakers. But the horizontal panel itself is clearly an improvement thanks to its additional high-frequency emitters.
The added speakers in the soundbar largely determined its panel dimensions. This is a fairly long, 117 cm wide bar, which means it will definitely not fit next to the legs of most 55-inch TV stands. On the other hand, thanks to its low height of only 6.5 cm, the panel will not obscure the lower part of the screen if the TV is installed flush with the surface of the table the soundbar is sitting on.
The build quality of the Vizio SB46514 is noticeably improved over the previous generation. The entire front surface is protected by a metal grill rather than being covered with just a dust-collecting cloth. The construction is solid, looks very chic thanks to its serious and yet elegant design.
The entire package bundle will definitely please as well. Together with the soundbar, you will receive a whole set of cables: two power cables, 3.5 mm RCA, an audio cable with 3.5 mm mini-jack plugs at the ends, a digital optical cable, and an HDMI. And there are even more interfaces on the panel, including both USB and Ethernet. In addition, the delivery bundle includes a mounting kit with screws and brackets, cable ties, and a remote control.
Sound studies have demonstrated that the Vizio SB46514 has excellent center channel performance thanks to its dedicated main speaker. Dialogues have a precise and clear sound, which will be good news for those who watch lots of TV shows.
And for movie-lovers, this soundbar also shows off its high class performance, with a pleasant deep bass, a wide stage, and expressive detail. Support for surround sound with Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby Atmos technologies will help you to immerse yourself in the story while watching your favorite movies.
User reviews on Amazon for the sound on this system are mostly positive, even enthusiastic. However, there is also a small percentage of sophisticated audiophiles who say they don’t see anything special in the expressiveness of this model’s sound. Some users notably didn’t like the soundbar’s dimensions. Buyers of the first batches of this model complained about spontaneous disconnections and difficulties with the connection settings.
|Quality of materials and workmanship;||Dimensions;|
|Added satellites;||No longer available and firmware updates are no longer released.|
|Support for Dolby Atmos and Dolby Digital Plus surround sound;|
|High quality stereo;|
This product on Amazon 👉https://amzn.to/3EZPQrH
|Central panel size||36.6 inches (93 cm)|
|Frequency range||40 to 20,000 Hz|
|Sound configuration||Supports 5.1, down-mix up to 2.1|
|Output power||200W (Soundbar: 50W × 2, Subwoofer: 100W)|
|Surround sound||DTS Virtual: X|
Next on our ranking list is the more affordable, but no less interesting, Yamaha soundbar. As of the end of 2021, it costs around $350. In the description of the YAS-209 model, the manufacturer does not promise anything particularly stellar. It is a three channel system that only supports the major formats. However, in some important aspects, this soundbar still differs significantly from similar models in its class. Let’s take a look at what add-ons put this model in the top of the ratings.
Perhaps its most noticeable feature is its surprisingly balanced sound, which is not very typical for this form factor of speakers and price point. The soundbar itself is made up of six emitters: two with a membrane diameter of 25 mm and four with 46 mm each. This combination adequately reproduces frequency ranges above 150 Hz, and is harmoniously complemented by a wireless subwoofer with a pleasantly deep bass.
The Yamaha YAS-209 supports standard PCM digital audio as well as Dolby Digital and DTS surround sound. It recognizes a 5.1 multi-channel audio signal, although it automatically down-mixes to “its” 2.1. Despite its support for only three channels, DTS Virtual: X technology successfully manages to create a surround sound effect.
The layout of the interfaces is also noteworthy. It has everything you need, from the usual 3.5 mm mini-jacks to HDMI, optical input, and S/PDIF. At the same time, the device supports a high-quality video signal pass-through, up to a resource-intensive 4K.
It also supports ARC technology, meaning that by connecting it to a TV via HDMI Out, the sound can be fed directly to the soundbar via the same cable. But if your TV doesn’t support ARC, you can connect it via S/PDIF. Also of note is its support for HDMI CEC, meaning you can change the volume on the soundbar by using the TV remote control.
Across the board, there are no connection issues with the Yamaha YAS-209, thanks to its good, branded mobile software, the Yamaha Sound Bar Controller. Once installed and launched, the program will automatically detect the device wirelessly. Most often, users connect the soundbar and device to the app via Wi-Fi. But there is one thing: the YAS-209 only supports one Wi-Fi band, 2.4GHz. Therefore, at the time of setup, the device will also need to be connected in 2.4GHz mode.
It is also worth adding that this model has a well-developed voice assistant, Alexa from Amazon. Alexa understands the user perfectly even at a distance, with background music and with a pronounced accent. Many users will enjoy from its close integration with Spotify, Tidal, Qobuz and popular streaming services.
In Amazon reviews, users most often praise the sound quality of the Yamaha YAS-209. However, some are critical the device, and it’s because of sound: they find the high ranges of the device to be excessively sharp, while in the lower ranges they say there is not enough “mid-low” range.
|A balanced sound that is rare in this category;||User comments about sound nuances;|
|High-quality realization of multichannel surround sound;||Some users note difficulties when first connecting.|
|Many connection interfaces;|
|Well-integrated with Alexa voice assistant;|
|Integration with streaming services;|
|Easy to use, branded mobile app.|
Klipsch Cinema 400
This product on Amazon 👉https://amzn.to/3EP94A0
|Center panel size||40 inches (101.4 cm)|
|Frequency range||35 to 20000 Hz|
|Sound configuration||2.1 with 5.1 decoding and Dolby Digital|
|Output power||400 Watts|
|Surround sound||Surround mode, proprietary technology|
This soundbar is made by a major American hi-fi speaker company. This particular model is only slightly cheaper than the previous one, but in some ways it is much more intriguing. The set consists of a horizontal panel and a subwoofer; this system, like the previous one we looked at, does not try to somehow replace multi-channel home theaters with additional satellites. And this actually turns out to be quite a plus.
Both modules —the soundbar panel and the subwoofer — have an impressive finish appearance thanks to a black vinyl film that looks like wood.
The length of the central panel is 101.4 cm, and along the edges are rather spectacular Tractrix horns, each of which containing a high-frequency emitter. Middle frequencies are provided by three oval drivers. A subwoofer with an 8-inch speaker and bass reflex produces low frequencies. The device connects to the system via a 2.4 GHz radio channel and its own protocol. The central unit has a wired output to the second subwoofer for when a system upgrade is needed.
The sub and soundbar are connected via a radio channel, but the built-in Bluetooth module can also be used for wireless content transmission to the device. You can connect acoustics via a wire through a conventional 3.5 mm audio interface, optical digital input, or HDMI. As with the previous model, here HDMI supports ARC. So, when you are connecting it to a TV, one cable will be enough.
The Klipsch Cinema 400 is characterized by extraordinary dynamics and excellent subwoofer matching. It provides its best sound quality when watching action movies with gunfights and epic battles.
The system reproduces much quieter and more nuanced moments of cinema quite well; for example, it performs very well when faint nature sounds are to be heard. It’s the same with music. As a soundbar, the Klipsch Cinema 400 perfectly reproduces musical compositions, showing expressiveness, balance, wide stage, and accurate detail.
Where this model lags behind more advanced options is in its reproduction of dialogues against a background of dynamic scenes. This is caused by the lack of a dedicated driver for the center channel.
In major marketplace reviews, customers often praise the device’s clarity in the upper mids, good bass thanks to the large subwoofer, and the lack of any audio lag. Criticism is mainly related to overblown expectations, people often expect soundbars to be of a quality that by definition they are not designed to be.
|High-quality, dynamic sound;||No Wi-Fi;|
|Expressive design;||No dedicated central driver, therefore it falls short in reproducing dialogues.|
|Fast wireless connection from the subwoofer to the main unit (no delays);|
VIZIO V-Series 2.1 Home Theater Sound Bar
This product on Amazon 👉https://amzn.to/3oHA3Yt
|Central panel size||36 inches (914.4 mm)|
|Frequency range||50 to 20,000 Hz|
|Surround sound||DTS Virtual: X|
And again in our review this time we have another VIZIO product. This time, however, we will look at a very budget version of the soundbar, coming in at two times cheaper than the previous one. It consists of a set of a central panel and a subwoofer. This is a really decent way to radically upgrade your home TV’s sound at an affordable price. The model was inexpensive even when it was released last 2020, and now it can be purchased for $130.
Of course, when compared to the rest of the VIZIO product line, this model has a basic level of performance. However, it should be expected that in order to reduce the price, the manufacturer had to make compromises in terms of functionality. And it’s good that when making changes to the device’s functionality, its sound quality, which of course is the most important thing, was practically unaffected.
With this device, you will not find support for many sound standards, but the bare minimum is there. The device even uses surround sound, and not any kind, but DTS Virtual:X. The three dynamics of the center panel do their job perfectly, giving a relatively “warm” frequency with a decent number of low-mids and slightly removed high-mids.
The subwoofer’s bass is strong and heavy. Technically, the subwoofer does not reproduce sound lower than 50 Hz, but this threshold is more than enough to produce a realistic rumble in the room during action scenes.
The highest frequencies can also be heard well, being both expressive and clear. Again, don’t expect premium hi-fi capabilities from this system. But compared to any TV speakers, this is heaven on earth.
We must say a few words about interfaces and connections. The subwoofer here connects to the center unit wirelessly: automatically, quickly and clearly. The inputs/outputs are collected at the back of the central unit. Here we see HDMI with ARC support, an optical input, an AUX interface and an additional AUX VA input for connecting a device with a voice assistant.
A remote control is included to control the device functions. Some of the buttons are duplicated on the top of the soundbar, however: power, signal source input selector, volume control, and a Bluetooth button.
In Amazon reviews, buyers most often reiterate expert conclusions about the high sound quality of the VIZIO V-Series. Critical reviews are mostly either subjective in nature, or users did not really follow the setup instructions. But where owner opinions agreed on the device’s shortcomings is its poorly-conceived arrangement of the buttons on the remote control.
|Wide range sound quality;||Remote control buttons oddly placed;|
|Bluetooth;||A budget model with basic functionality.|
|HDMI ARC support;|
|DTS Virtual: X surround sound;|
|AUX VA for connecting a voice assistant;|
Creative Stage V2 2.1
This product on Amazon 👉https://amzn.to/3GvyWBq
|Central panel size||26.77 inches (680 mm)|
|Frequency range||55 to 20,000 Hz|
|Output power||80 Watts|
|Sound enhancement technologies||Clear Dialog|
And we complete our selection of the five best soundbars under $500 with the most affordable model, made by the famous Singapore trademark, Creative. The soundbar with subwoofer costs just $110 as of the end of 2021, and yet it boasts an unexpectedly good performance.
The Stage V2 is often compared by experts and users to the first generation of the same series, with most opinions in favor of the V2.
Compared to the first generation model, the center panel is increased in width due to added technical equipment. The speaker panel is now slightly angled, protected by a metal mesh. In the center, as before, you will find a character-digital LCD displaying the playback mode, volume, and so on.
Dowels for attaching the device to the wall are included, no additional brackets are required. For ease of access to the connectors when tightly placed against the wall, two separate niches are provided on the back side. The connectors are distributed on two sides – USB, HDMI, AUX, optical output, subwoofer output. It also features a built-in power supply, a complete cable measuring about 1.5 m, and a subwoofer made of MDF with a lateral placement of the woofer, while the bass reflex is placed in the front.
As with the more expensive models, the Stage V2 allows TV sound to be reproduced via the soundbar and offers simplified control thanks to the modernized HDMI interface. It all works in sync even with a connected game console. Meaning, you can turn on the console from the remote control, both the TV and the soundbar immediately turn on together. Turning off the console will turn off both the TV and soundbar. You can also control the volume with a single TV remote.
Sound sources can be connected either via wire through the existing connectors or wirelessly via high-speed Bluetooth 5.0. When connecting, the interface must be selected manually.
The built-in D/A converter is equipped with Surround technology, which creates an expressive surround sound effect. And it does so very effectively, if you listen blindly, you have a distinct feeling that satellites (which this device does not actually have) are creating sound on the different sides, rather than the reality of the sound coming from a single-block soundbar.
The Clear Dialog technology complements your experience: when watching movies and TV shows, voices stand out and are clearly emphasized, while background effects are not negatively affected in any way.
Again, we think it is important to point out that this is far from a device with hi-fi acoustics or sound wonders, which come only at less “wonderful” prices. This is just a decent replacement for the weak sound of the TV speakers. Even expensive modern TVs do not come close to the quality and depth of sound of this budget soundbar.
Consumers and experts are both almost unanimous in their appreciation for the sound quality of the Creative Stage V2. There are some remarks that the bass could be better, but this can hardly be called a fair claim given the price.
The lion’s share of negative reviews on Amazon come down to an extremely inconvenient energy-saving mode – the soundbar automatically turns off after a certain time or with prolonged “silence”. Recently, however, the manufacturer has responded to this storm of buyer indignation and released a firmware that solves the problem.
|Sound quality;||Some users note a lack of bass;|
|Efficient design;||Annoying automatic shutdown, which, however, is now solved by firmware.|
|HDMI ARC support;|
As you can see, there is plenty to choose from in our ranking list today. We showed you both mid-priced soundbars with sleek functionality, and cheaper models with decent sound that still surpass the capabilities of any modern TV. Make a choice, vote for the model you like, and don’t forget to subscribe and like our channel.