Top 10 Best Wireless Soundbars of 2017

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(Flickr/chunkysalsa)

A new sound system is the most significant upgrade you can make to your home theater setup, but the wide variety of systems available can leave you lost as to what will best meet your needs.

Ultimately, this will be determined by factors like budget, room size, and how you plan to use the speakers, but for most people, a soundbar and wireless subwoofer will be the most well-rounded choice.

Even at that, soundbars range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, and come in arrays varying from 2.1 to 9.1 channels, so finding the perfect setup is no easy task.

Some elements that are useful to look for in a soundbar include a compact form factor, Bluetooth or Play-Fi streaming options, inputs, and affordability.

Of course, it doesn’t matter which bells and whistles a speaker has, as truly top quality soundbars will be distinguished by their top quality sound.

That is why we’ve put together a list detailing which soundbars offer the best home theater sound for their value.

Check out our picks and start down the path toward a more enlightened home entertainment experience.


1. VIZIO SB4051-C0 5.1

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(Vizio)

Though all of Vizio’s soundbars are a phenomenal value, the SB4051-C0 is of particular interest as a true 5.1 channel home theater solution for under $400.

The full system includes a 40-inch soundbar, plus a subwoofer that connects to two rear satellite speakers. These back three speakers are wirelessly connected to the soundbar, but are still connected by a wire themselves.

The speakers are compact and easy to place, and the setup comes with several wall-mounting brackets for the soundbar and satellite speakers.

In terms of inputs, this setup includes one HDMI ARC, one normal HDMI, one digital optical, a 3.5mm analog, and an RCA analog connection.

On top of that, there is convenient Bluetooth connection for wireless listening from any compatible device.

And though the small remote has a learning curve, its LCD screen makes for diverse use that can’t be found on other soundbar remotes. This said, a backlight for the remote would be incredibly useful.

Fortunately, these compact speakers deliver more sound than their size would suggest, reaching a deafening max volume of 102 dB.

High frequencies are clear, mid-range is solid, and overall the sound is downright impressive. The one flaw in the sound is that its low-end frequencies are particularly dominating, making the bass harsh and boomy.

Even at its lowest setting, the bass can easily overpower the treble, but these low end sounds can be softened somewhat by a “night mode,” which makes the audio more compressed and suitable for late night viewing.

There is also the DTS TruVolume enhancement, which normalizes the audio volume level for a more comfortable media experience.

The sound staging is intricately detailed, as is to be expected from a 5.1 system.

But it is fair to say that the overall sound from the SB4051 does not compare with high-end sound systems, many of which are able to digitally emulate surround sound with amazing detail.

Nonetheless, this sound system is an incredible value that looks as great as it sounds.

Price: $298.00 (15 percent off MSRP)

Buy the Vizio SB4051-C0 5.1 here.


Pros:

  • Offers 5.1 sound for the price of a 2.1 system
  • Bluetooth Connectivity
  • Versatile LCD remote

Cons:

  • Bass is unbalanced and overpowering
  • Not fully wireless
  • Remote could use a backlight

Find more Vizio SB4051-C0 5.1 information and reviews here.



2. SONOS Playbar TV Sound Bar

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(Amazon)

The Sonos Playbar is a pricey but sought after soundbar, which serves as both a full-range soundbar and a wireless speaker without the help of a sub or satellite speakers.

Yes, the Playbar is just one piece of Sonos’ high-end 5.1 Home Theater System, but the incredible frequency response of the Playbar itself makes it well worth picking up as a standalone speaker.

Using Play-Fi technology, the Playbar can double as a wireless speaker that streams audio content. Play-Fi involves streaming high quality audio over wireless internet, which could be an issue for some users with low quality networking equipment.

However, the speaker also has two ethernet ports which can now be used without the Sonos Bridge, making wired connections an easy alternative. Play-Fi is controlled via the Sonos app, which supports almost every streaming service, from Spotify, to Pandora, to Rdio.

Setting up the Playbar is simple as well, as all you need is to plug in the power cable and send an optic cable to your TV and you are all set.

However, the fact that it only hooks into the TV via a lone HDMI-optical port means that you are reliant on your TV set’s ability to throughput 5.1 Dolby Digital.

This should not be an issue, as most modern TVs do support 5.1 throughput, but this may cause compatibility issues with older TV sets.

Once you hear the Playbar in person, you will understand just how easily this lone soundbar competes with subwoofer setups.

Usually the size of a soundbar’s speakers is the main limit on its frequency range. Sonos remedies this by packing nine amplified speakers — six midrange and three tweeters — under the hood of this compact soundbar.

These speakers are also articulated for powerful stereo sound. The surround sound effect is great, and digitally places the slightest footfall to the deepest booming explosion.

Features like “Night mode” can equalize the sound by compressing the dynamic range to emphasize whispered dialog and subtle surround effects without the loud parts of the movie being overpowering.

“Speech enhancement” brings the dialog forward in the mix so you can make out what characters are saying, even when there are other distractions.

The soundbar is also capable of digitally simulating surround sound on DTS-encoded soundtracks.

The compact sub and powerful satellite speakers that round out the experience aren’t to be trifled with either, but given the hefty cost of Sonos equipment, starting with the soundbar and then upgrading is a great compromise.

Price: $699.00

Buy the SONOS Playbar TV Sound Bar here.


Pros:

  • Produces full range sound with just one unit
  • Easy setup
  • Wireless Play-Fi streaming

Cons:

  • High price tag
  • Limited by TV’s ability to pass through 5.1 surround
  • No included subwoofer

Find more SONOS Playbar TV Sound Bar information and reviews here.



3. Definitive Technology W Studio Wireless

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(Amazon)

Definitive Technology’s W Studio wireless soundbar and subwoofer make for a true audiophile setup, massive price tag and all. Although it is not a true surround sound setup, this pricey 2.1 setup achieves the same impressive audio depth with just a soundbar and wireless subwoofers.

Its Spatial Array Technology utilizes the raw power of the soundbar’s three 1-inch aluminum-dome tweeters and six 3-inch woofers to digitally emulate room-filling 5.1 channel surround sound. Whereas many other soundbars employ this feature as a sort of a gimmick, the W Studio fully commits itself to a bigger sound, in both sound staging and quality.

The wireless 8-inch 200 Watt subwoofer is incredibly loud and punchy, though it is still incredibly balanced against the rich highs and even mids from the soundbar itself.

The remote control offers versatile EQ controls, with independent levels for center and bass frequencies, plus presets for movies or music. There are also some basic controls on the soundbar itself.

Plentiful inputs can also be found on the soundbar, including three HDMI in, one HDMI out, an auxiliary 3.5mm port, and a digital optical input. Unfortunately, none of the HDMI ports support ARC, which some people use to make their speaker a hub for their theater system. Not everyone will miss this feature.

Play-Fi wireless streaming is also present, and is made easy by the Definitive Technology App, even though the streaming options from the app are limited.

SoundGuys editor Kris Wouk does make a fair point in stating that at the price, this unit has to sound fantastic to compete with efficiently-priced budget systems. Yet, surprisingly, this 5.1 sound system does.

Price: $1,299.00

Buy the Definitive Technology W Studio Wireless here.


Pros:

  • Brilliant digital sound staging
  • Fully adjustable EQ
  • Wireless Play-Fi streaming

Cons:

  • Very high price tag
  • App has limited Play-Fi streaming options
  • No HDMI ARC

Find more Definitive Technology W Studio Wireless information and reviews here.



4. Denon DHT-S514

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(Amazon)

Denon’s DHT-S514 is a sought-after 2.1 sound system that offers stellar sound along with convenient Bluetooth connectivity to make for a great all-around listening experience. Bluetooth with aptX is a welcome feature, as it enables lossless audio streaming with other aptX-compatible devices, plus wireless Play-Fi apps seen in other setups can be hit or miss.

There is also an abundance of wired connection options, including HDMI ARC, digital optical, coaxial, and 3.5mm auxiliary. The 39.5-inch soundbar does have holes for mounting, but does not include any of the necessary hardware to do so.

If you are not planning on mounting it, the DHT-S514 also comes with attachable feet, plus an IR sensor extension in case it blocks the remote sensor for your TV.

The sound from this 172 Watt system comes from dual 2 x 5 inch precision drivers and a pair of 1/2-inch dome tweeters in the soundbar, and dual 5.3-inch woofers in the sub. With a frequency range of 40Hz – 20kHz, the resulting sound is deep and immersive.

The rounded sound is rich with mids, but more extreme frequencies are not neglected either, with full bass and highs complementing the overall sound and producing no signal distortion or frequency interference.

Listening modes and sound enhancements are abundant, including a Night Mode, a Dialogue Enhancer, a Music Mode, and a Movie Surround Sound Mode, each of which offers a different listening experience.

Many will prefer this over manually dialing in a sound for each situation, which is the only option for some other speakers.

All in all, the DHT-S514 is an attractive soundbar, and promises a great value for its middle of the road price with audio quality resting a step above.

Price: $517.12

Buy the Denon DHT-S514 here.


Pros:

  • Bluetooth wireless connectivity
  • Diverse preset listening modes
  • Easily programmed to other remotes

Cons:

  • Mounting hardware not included
  • Bulkier form factor
  • Customer service can be finicky

Find more Denon DHT-S514 information and reviews here.



5. Harman Kardon Sabre SB35

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(Amazon)

Harman Kardon’s Sabre SB35 gets its name from both its stylish and ultra-slim form factor and its incredibly sharp sound, which comes from a soundbar and wireless subwoofer. The aluminum-finished soundbar is 1.3 inches thick, and looks clean and beautiful either mounted or placed on its metal stand.

The SB35 offers convenient Bluetooth connection in addition to one Micro HDMI ARC, three Micro HDMI, one optical, and one auxiliary input. The setup does come with one HDMI-to-Micro HDMI cable, but if you want to use any of the other HDMI ports, you will need to have more handy. There is also an IR transmitter so that the speaker can work with your TV’s remote.

The sound on the SB35 is impeccable, which is to be expected from its proprietary Harman Kardon drivers. It is downright puzzling to hear the rich and full sound of the SB35 coming out of such a compact soundbar. The speaker has much better harmonic balance than you might expect.

And considering that the subwoofer is ultra-slim as well, it delivers an incredibly full bass sound, offering a total frequency range of 43Hz – 22kHz between the speakers.

And while the speaker’s smooth, balanced sound is definitely a strong point, its virtual surround sound is not.

Other digital enhancements sound great on the SB35, but those looking for a realistic surround sound experience in a small package will not find it here.

There is still plenty else to love about the Sabre line, but if you don’t want to spend top dollar on the slimmest speaker out there, the Harman Kardon SB26 is a fantastic alternative that offers similar performance out of a larger package.

Price: $999.95 (17 percent off MSRP)

Buy the Harman Kardon Sabre SB35 here.


Pros:

  • Bluetooth wireless connectivity
  • Ultra-slim design blends into any décor
  • Smooth, balanced sound

Cons:

  • Requires extra Micro HDMI cables for its smaller ports
  • Virtual surround is gimmicky
  • High price tag

Find more Harman Kardon Sabre SB35 information and reviews here.



6. Sony HT-CT370

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(Amazon)

Although Sony’s entry-level HT-CT370 will obviously not compete with high-end setups five times its price, it is one of the best values in its sub-$300 price range.

This 2.1 system supports DTS HD, and can fill out a room with digital surround sound like the best 5.1 systems.

The 35.5-inch soundbar has a slim profile, and the wireless subwoofer is relatively compact, but both of these speakers produce a bigger sound than one would expect for their size.

This achieves impressive volumes with 300 Watts of power behind it, and offers an energized sound that is heavy on the lows and highs.

Because the mids can get drowned out some in the digital signal boosting, the speakers can sometimes sound a little thin.

But the sound is still fairly present overall. Bass and tone adjustments allow you to fine-tune the sound to your liking, and can be used to enhance dialogue or balance out-of-control bass in close quarters.

THE HT-CT370 also offers convenient quick Bluetooth and NFC connectivity, which allows for easier streaming from any media source.

A rare downside to its connection is that since the wireless subwoofer connects via the 2.4GHz wireless band, home routers and WiFi devices can occasionally cause connection issues that prevent the sub from working.

If you have had problems with devices acting this way in the past, it may be best to go with a wired system. Other available inputs include one HDMI ARC plus three regular HDMI, one optical, and and one 3.5mm auxiliary.

While great sound and functionality make this a great pick in its price range, the HT-CT370 does have one last flaw that sets it apart from top price sets.

The included mounts did not have much thought put into them, and do not even include crucial hardware like drywall anchors, which will frustrate anyone planning to do a wall mount for this soundbar. However, if this doesn’t apply to you, there are few other drawbacks that diminish the value of the HT-CT370.

Note as well that the previous model, the Sony HTCT260H offers an even better bang for your buck, though it is a bit bulkier and less dynamic in sound.

Neither of these are high-end home theater material, but are among the best choices for blooming home theater enthusiasts.

Price: $299.99

Buy the Sony HT-CT370 here.


Pros:

  • Bluetooth and NFC connectivity
  • Slim and compact setup
  • Rich audio quality for the price

Cons:

  • Mid frequencies are somewhat muddled
  • Some mounting hardware not included
  • Wireless subwoofer can sometimes suffer from interference

Find more Sony HT-CT370 information and reviews here.



7. Yamaha YAS-203

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(Amazon)

The YAS-203 from Yamaha is a mid-range soundbar and wireless subwoofer combo that hits the sweet spot between price and performance. This goes above and beyond, and delivers rich sound across a virtual 7.1 channel auditory image.

Most impressively, it performs this incredible sound staging for under $400. This soundbar wirelessly connects to a sub with a 6.5 inch woofer that is present when it needs to be, but doesn’t overpower the sound in a way that other subs tend to.

Along with the balanced bass sound, the YAS-203 also offers surprising performance from its dual 2.1-inch full-range drivers, which manage to emulate a complex speaker arrangement without having to stuff the bar with drivers facing every direction, like some sound systems do.

The speakers also offer audio improvements like Clear Voice and UniVolume, which can, respectively, equalize sound to emphasize conversation and compress sound to improve volume consistency.

This 34.8-inch soundbar has a particularly low profile. Although it is not the best-looking speakers out there, it is clean and compact, especially when mounted. Note that some essential hardware is missing from the included mounting materials, so plan accordingly.

The one nice thing about the looks of this speaker is its helpful LED array, which makes for easy setting adjustments. For inputs, you have one optical, one coaxial digital input, and one analog RCA input, but HDMI inputs are strangely absent.

The sound you will get from the optical input should be sufficient, but this will come as a disappointment to those hoping to utilize ARC. The small remote has a decent amount of function in it.

Because the remote can be so easily lost, it is best to use its Learn feature to incorporate control into your TV remote. The remote can also be replaced with a phone app of the same basic function.

Price: $399.95

Buy the Yamaha YAS-203 here.


Pros:

  • Easily programmed to other remotes
  • Blue connectivity
  • Impressive virtual 7.1 surround sound

Cons:

  • Limited wired inputs
  • Some mounting hardware not included
  • Useless remote

Find more Yamaha YAS-203 information and reviews here.



8. Pioneer SP-SB23W

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(Amazon)

Pioneer SP-SB23W is a mid-range soundbar system with a fresh philosophy from designer Andrew Jones, Chief Speaker Engineer at TAD Laboratories. Jones is accustomed to making $80,000 TAD speakers, so budget soundbars are certainly new territory for him, but nonetheless, he’s provided an excellent soundbar that doesn’t break the bank.

Its curved MDF (medium-density fiberboard) cabinet is a little thicker than other soundbars, but this thick material provides ideal isolation for producing quality sound out of this 36-inch soundbar.

The philosophy of simplified awesome carries into this setup’s sound as well, as this speaker has completely forgone DTS support for digital surround sound.

Some may be turned away by this, but the focus of this soundbar is not to fill the shoes of a larger sound system, but rather to provide the best, most balanced 2.1 sound for the price. This is explained in part by Jones himself in the video below.

This bar’s powerful, dynamic 218 Watt sound comes courtesy of four 3-inch mid-woofers and two 1-inch soft dome tweeters. There is also a 6.5-inch woofer in the sub. The active digital crossover network ensures maximum balance between the sub and the speakers, giving a rich, well-blended sound like none other.

There is no distortion, phasing, or even harsh frequencies, and the EQ options for music, movies, and dialogue sound natural and pleasant. These features are after the hearts of audiophile listeners, as this soundbar is the closest thing to listening to high-end cabinet speakers for this price.

As the SP-SB23W is so sound oriented, it is reasonable to expect a few shortcomings in the rest of the design, and this is indeed the case. Input selection is very slim, offering only an analog RCA input, and a digital optical input, with no HDMI in sight.

Built-in Bluetooth helps ease the pain some, but the Bluetooth connection can be fairly glitchy at times, so it is a mixed blessing. Attempting to have this Bluetooth glitchiness looked at can mean dealing with customer support, which many reviewers report is a consistent hassle. And another small gripe is the wafer-thin remote, which can and should be replaced with your own TV or cable box remote.

It does have a nice set of functions like EQ mode, input selection, power on/off, volume, and more, but these tiny remotes are simply too easy to lose. When we rapid-fire the cons at you like that, they can seem like a big deal, but buyers who are dedicated to finding a pure and powerful sound will be able to look past these minor shortcomings for the brilliant audio they offer.

Price: $279.00 (38 percent off MSRP)

Buy the Pioneer SP-SB23W here.


Pros:

  • Sound-first design delivers impressive audio
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Active digital crossover blends sound excellently
  • High quality MDF construction

Cons:

  • Limited wired inputs
  • Poor customer service
  • No digital surround sound
  • Bluetooth can be glitchy

Find more Pioneer SP-SB23W information and reviews here.



9. Polk Audio Omni SB1

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(Amazon)

The Omni SB1 is Polk Audio’s mid-range entry into the soundbar world, and its signature warm, balanced sound are matched by the modern and rounded soundbar and accompanying wireless subwoofer. This 3.1 sound system takes particular pride in its Voice Adjust Center Channel Technology, which goes beyond the preset EQs that other speakers offer for enhancing dialogue, by making it fully adjustable by the user.

Advanced crossover technology brilliantly isolates the frequency where the human voice rests, allowing you to adjust this (and the bass frequency) independently to your liking. There are, of course, also preset listening modes for music, movies, and dialogue.

These adjustments are one of the strong points of the half-size remote, which easily allows you to change these balances. This actually makes it worth attempting to keep your remote around, especially if you enjoy the act of dialing in your sound as much as I do.

The same basic controls are found on the soundbar itself, but missing from the soundbar is a full set of inputs. This system opts for the bare minimum digital optical and 3.5mm auxiliary inputs, which can be troubling for some setups, but is otherwise manageable.

Connectivity is greatly enhanced by the Play-Fi (audio streaming over WiFi) feature, which is managed with the Polk Omni App. It allows for playback from Pandora, Spotify, or your own digital music library, and even though the Polk Omni App could be greatly improved, this feature enables lossless audio playback.

This can be an invaluable addition for those who prefer .FLAC listening, as similarly-priced setups that use Bluetooth are limited to a compressed bitrate.

At last, looking at sound, it is apparent that versatile audio was a main focus for Polk. This 350 Watt system runs triple 3 x 1 inch full range drivers in its soundbar, plus an 8-inch woofer in the sub. Detailed mids are a signature of the Polk sound, and the SB1 lives up to this with a warm sound that is both crisp and dynamic.

Lows are highly present, but not overpowering, and highs are clear and make vibrant sound when watching movies or listening to music.

If you love the Polk Audio sound, but aren’t aiming to have a multi-room sound setup, the Polk Magni-Fi Soundbar offers an almost identical speaker design that incorporates a Bluetooth connection rather than Play-Fi for a lower price. Either one is a great option for TV or music listening.

Price: $469.00

Buy the Polk Audio Omni SB1 here.


Pros:

  • Adjustable voice channel greatly improves dialogue
  • Play-Fi wireless streaming
  • Reaches incredible volumes

Cons:

  • Limited wired inputs
  • Lackluster Play-Fi app
  • EQ adjustment can be tedious for those wanting preset audio

Find more Polk Audio Omni SB1 information and reviews here.



10. Klipsch R-20B

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(Amazon)

Klipsch’s R-20B comes from their Reference line of audio equipment, which aims to bring advanced acoustic engineering into an accessible home setup. This is the upgraded model of the Klipsch R-10B, offering additional audio power without changing the form factor of the speakers themselves. As is typical from the Klipsch sound, a lot of attention goes into the low end, and this is reflected in the construction of these speakers.

The 10-inch subwoofer is encased in vibration-resistant MDF, whereas the soundbar has a less premium plastic casing. This isn’t to say that treble is pushed to wayside, however, as the 40-inch soundbar houses two 3/4-inch dome tweeters, and four 3-inch polypropylene mid-range rivers.

All are proprietary Klipsch drivers, and all sound excellent. On that note, the subwoofer casing is rather large, but this is in pursuit of a deeper bass rumble, and as such, is easy to cope with.

Given all of the power that goes into this 250 Watt system, it is nice that the exceptionally deep bass enhances rather than overpowers the rest of the sound spectrum. The R-20B gets a frequency range of 27.5Hz-20kHz, and offers a max volume of 113 dB, which is enough to emulate a full theater experience.

The speakers’ mid-range is a bit bright, but the highs are clear and refreshing. Thankfully, this speaker set sounds good out of the box, as there are no EQ settings on the remote or onboard controls, other than the a volume knob on the sub which has to be manually adjusted.

The one sound improvement you can control is the virtual surround sound, but even with this feature disabled, the soundbar offers fantastic sound staging from just its natural ability to spatially separate sound.

Unfortunately, true DTS surround sound is not possible because this system has no HDMI input, and therefore cannot read any DTS surround sound codecs.

The only inputs available are analog RCA and digital optical, but Bluetooth connectivity is another option, and if an aptX-compatible device is connected, you can even stream lossless audio.

Price: $295.99 (41 percent off MSRP)

Buy the Klipsch R-20B here.


Pros:

  • High quality subwoofer construction
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Fantastic sound staging

Cons:

  • Limited wired inputs
  • Mounting hardware not included
  • No remote EQ options

Find more Klipsch R-20B information and reviews here.



Heavy, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon. Our product recommendations are guided solely by our editors. We have no relationship with manufacturers.
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