5 Best Budget Soundbars 2023

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Introducing the “5 Best Budget Soundbars of 2023” – your gateway to an enhanced audio experience without draining your wallet. In this guide, we unveil the top soundbars that offer exceptional sound quality and affordability, perfect for elevating your home entertainment setup.

VIZIO M-Series M213ad-K8
VIZIO M-Series M213ad-K8

Sony HT-S400
Sony HT-S400

Bose TV Speaker
Bose TV Speaker

TCL Alto 6+
TCL Alto 6+

Roku Streambar 9102R
Roku Streambar 9102R

1. VIZIO M-Series M213ad-K8

The first one on our list is the Vizio M-Series M213ad-K8 All-in-One Sound Bar. The Vizio M213AD-K8 is a 2.1-channel soundbar, with a total of six drivers. Both the left and right channels get a tweeter and a full-range driver each, while the low frequencies come courtesy of two built-in three-inch woofers. There’s also a passive radiator to bolster the bass. The center channel is derived from the left- and right-hand drivers, which combine to create a “phantom” center channel for dialogue.

Design-wise, the M213AD-K8 is 36 inches long, 2.13 inches high, and 5.5 inches deep. While it is primarily designed to sit in front of your TV, it can also be situated on the wall to point outward into your room. It comprises a plastic construction and features a gray cloth wrapper over the top. At one end, the bar has a set of controls including power and input selection.

The M213AD-K8 supports the two main immersive object-based audio formats, Dolby Atmos and DTS: X. While the soundbar lacks up-firing drivers for bouncing Atmos and DTS:X height effects off the ceiling, it uses DTS Virtual:X processing to virtualize height as well as surround cues.

In terms of sound quality, the M213AD-K8 wouldn’t be adequate for filling a medium-sized or larger living room with sound. But for a studio apartment or a bedroom, the Vizio would make for an excellent upgrade for your tinny TV speakers, serving up clean, well-balanced sound, surprisingly punchy bass, a wide soundstage, and a decent amount of immersiveness.

If your smart speaker doesn’t have an audio-out jack, you can connect it to the soundbar via Bluetooth. While the Vizio M213AD-K8 does offer Bluetooth connectivity, it lacks Wi-Fi, which means you can’t cast audio to the soundbar via Apple’s AirPlay 2 or Google Chromecast, nor are there any built-in streaming video capabilities, as you’ll find on Roku’s Streambar and Streambar Pro soundbars.

The Vizio M213AD-K8 lacks the backlit remote that comes with Vizio’s pricier soundbars. Instead, it comes with a basic wand with a volume slider, a four-way navigation pad, and buttons for input selection, mute, and Bluetooth pairing.

Overall, The Vizio M213AD-K8 delivers terrific Dolby Atmos sound for the price, making it a great way to boost the sound of, say, a bedroom TV or the set in a dorm room. For a larger living room, not so much, particularly given that the M213AD-K8 itself can’t be upgraded in any way.


  • Terrific sound for the price
  • Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support
  • Handsome, low-profile design
  • Two HDMI ports, plus eARC
  • Excellent bass response


  • No Wi-Fi or built-in streaming player
  • Dialogue pushed a little hard at times
  • Can’t be expanded with additional speakers

2. Sony HT-S400

The next one on our list is the Sony HT-S400 2.1 Channel soundbar system, Sony’s classic, understated design philosophy works perfectly with soundbars. The HT-S400’s textured black plastic body and light gray metal grille call almost no attention to themselves, which should be the goal of any soundbar. At 35.5 inches wide and only a hair over 2.5 inches tall, you’ll be able to place this speaker in front of almost any TV that’s 40 inches in screen size or larger.

The same can’t quite be said of its wireless subwoofer. It’s one of the biggest we’ve seen at this price at over 15 inches tall and 15 inches deep. Still, you should be able to stash it in a corner somewhere to make it less obtrusive. Interestingly, as one of the few front-firing subs in this category, and with a completely protected driver, you potentially could lie it on its side, for even greater placement flexibility.

Speaking of wireless connections and placements, it’s worth noting that the HT-S400 has the ability to connect to a TV via Bluetooth instead of the usual HDMI or optical cable. If you like your technology as simple and straightforward, you’ll love the HT-S400. Other than the Bluetooth option we mentioned above, there are only two ways to connect the soundbar to your TV: HDMI-ARC and optical. Sony includes an optical cable in the box, but if you’d prefer to use HDMI, you’ll need to supply your own HDMI cable.

As a 2.1-channel system, with no support for Dolby Atmos or DTS Virtual:X, you should think of the HT-S400 as an upgrade to your TV’s internal sound system, as opposed to a full home theater solution. In other words, movies, TV shows, and music will all sound bigger and bolder — like they’ve been released from their audio prison — but they stop short of being fully immersive.

There’s also excellent clarity, especially in the higher frequencies, giving everything from gunshots to squealing tires a fun and visceral feel. Sony gives us a voice mode to enhance dialogue even further, but we found we almost never needed it. However, the HT-S400 isn’t quite as capable when it comes to the midranges, which tend to sound a bit hollow.

A small OLED display hidden behind the soundbar’s metal grille will show you whether you’re listening to the TV or Bluetooth, and it will also let you see adjustments as you make them to settings like volume, bass level, and sound field effect. Sony includes a small and basic remote control with the HT-S400. It feels good in the hand, but it isn’t backlit for easy viewing in darkened rooms.

Overall, The Sony HTS 400 is perfect for mixed usage. It’s a simple 2.1 bar that’s pretty limited when it comes to audio format support and sound enhancement tools, so it’s best suited for listening to stereo content like music and TV shows.


  • Simple setup
  • Unobtrusive design
  • Very good bass response
  • Clear and detailed dialogue


  • Only TV or Bluetooth inputs
  • Weak midrange definition
  • No Dolby Atmos
  • No Wi-Fi, AirPlay, or Chromecast

3. Bose TV Speaker

The third one on our list is the Bose TV Speaker, Even though the Bose TV Speaker lacks many of the features found in the company’s higher-end range of smart soundbars, it’s design and styling put it firmly in the same family as these pricier speakers. Its low-profile, perforated metal grille and completely smooth top surface give it a sophisticated, premium vibe. The matte-black plastic shell calls no attention to itself, which means all of your attention will be on the sound, not the speaker, as it should be.

The beauty of a soundbar as simple as the Bose TV Speaker is that setting it up is as easy as it gets. Plug the speaker into your TV using the provided optical cable, or your own HDMI or analog cable, and then plug the speaker’s power cord into the wall. Congrats, you’re done.

In keeping with the TV Speaker’s focus on simplicity, you don’t get any audio extras — no Dolby Digital, no Dolby Atmos, no DTS:X — heck, there isn’t even a virtualized surround mode that pretty much every $100 soundbar offers these days.

What you do get is an excellent 2-channel stereo sound that makes watching TV far more enjoyable. Bose has always been able to coax small speakers into producing big sounds, and the TV Speaker is no exception. There’s no built-in subwoofer and yet the soundbar manages to produce plenty of low-end — especially if you max out the bass adjustment.

The two angled, full-range drivers, provide a sense of width and depth that at times surprised us with its realism. At this price, it would have been nice if Bose gave us the ability to control other aspects of EQ like treble and midrange, but given how well-balanced the speaker is right out of the box, we doubt we would fiddle with them even if we had them.

The dialog mode does exactly what you’d expect, enhancing the upper registers where voices tend to live while de-emphasizing the other soundtrack material. Unlike some other dialog adjustments we’ve tried, which can end up producing a harsh, brittle sound, the Bose TV Speaker simply delivers cleaner, more intelligible speech. There are no physical controls on the soundbar at all — just two LED indicators on the front left corner to tell you when the speaker is on, muted, or using Bluetooth.

The included remote control isn’t backlit, but the main volume and mute buttons are easy enough to identify in the dark, thanks to their layout and recessed design. The remote lets you activate Bluetooth mode, switch the speaker into dialog enhancement mode, and adjust the amount of bass, all of which are effortless to do.

Overall, The Bose TV Speaker is about as hands-off as a soundbar gets, which is exactly what some buyers want.


  • Small, elegant design
  • Very simple setup and operation
  • Impressive bass for its size
  • Effective dialog mode
  • Optional subwoofer


  • A bit pricey
  • Can’t pair with Bose headphones
  • No HDMI inputs
  • Minimal EQ customization
  • No smart features

4. TCL Alto 6+

The next one on our list is the TCL Alto 6+ 2.1 Channel soundbar system, If you’ve been wavering on whether it’s worth spending money on better sound for your TV, the TCL Alto 6 Plus makes the decision much easier. This does exactly what you want from a soundbar: It greatly improves the quality of the sound you hear compared to your TV’s built-in speakers. It’s also dead simple to set up and use, and it costs just $99.

The Alto 6 Plus is a relatively small package. The 31.5 x 4.2 x 2.4-inch soundbar has two drivers inside and features rounded edges instead of the more traditional rectangular aesthetic. The wireless subwoofer doesn’t take up much space either, at 12.8 x 7.9 x 7.9 inches. You can connect to your TV via HDMI ARC, or use optical digital or 3.5 mm. There’s a USB port for playing music and you can stream wirelessly using Bluetooth.

The Alto 6 Plus doesn’t have many special features, so there aren’t many buttons on the soundbar itself: just power, input, Bluetooth, and volume. There are five LED lights on the front: one that is always on and switches color to indicate the input, and four that flash in various combinations to show you which sound mode you’ve switched to, as well as indicate the volume when you change it.

The remote also keeps it simple, with buttons for power, mute, input, and Bluetooth. There’s a wheel that controls the volume and has play/pause, skip, and back buttons for controlling music. You can also select from three sound modes. While making the TCL Alto 6+ review, we tested the sound quality and found out that it has a decent stereo frequency response, but it can hardly play a satisfying low bass, making songs sound a little flat.

On the other hand, the middle frequencies range is well balanced, highlighting vocals’ details and the majority of instruments. TCL Alto 6+ comes by default with three equalizers (EQ) presets to let you personalize the sound however you like. These presets seem to limit the user, but they are quite well-balanced and designed to deliver what they are supposed to. The presets are TV, Music, and Movie, and every single one of them will alter the sound according to the audible experience that the user should feel.

Overall, TCL Alto 6+ is great for TV shows due to its clear and accurate voice reproduction, but on average, it works well for mixed-use. It hardly can play a satisfying low bass, and it does not support Dolby Atmos.


  • Clear dialog and booming bass
  • Simple to use
  • Affordable


  • Minimal sound adjustment
  • No app
  • No Dolby Atmos

5. Roku Streambar 9102R

The last one on our list is Roku Streamer 9102R, The Roku Streambar measures 14.0 x 4.2 x 2.4 inches, making it half the length of the Roku Smart Soundbar. This thing is small. That plus a sleek design and all-black exterior make it extremely unobtrusive, sitting underneath your television or attached to the wall.

There are no interface buttons on the chassis, just ports in the back for HDMI, USB power, and an optical cable. If you want to hook up the Streambar to Ethernet, you’ll need an adapter, which we personally didn’t mind, but might bother you, if you prefer hardwired connections.

The Streambar comes with the Roku Voice Remote, which is black and rectangular. It features a directional pad and buttons for power, home, voice control, and playback, as well as shortcuts for Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, and Sling. We use all of those services, but it would be nice if they were programmable instead. The remote is comparable to the voice-enabled remote that comes with the Fire TV Stick and the new Chromecast with Google TV.

Setting up the Roku Streambar took a little longer than we expected, due to some necessary software updates and restarts. Overall, though, it’s a smooth, simple process. Since the Streambar has most of the same features as a Roku Ultra, it performed wonderfully — steady, clear 4K streaming and fast navigation with little to no lag. we plugged it into a TCL Roku TV through the HDMI ARC port, and the two worked seamlessly together. The Streambar goes up to 4K and HDR formats, though not Dolby Vision. Apps opened within seconds, and most movies and TV shows resolved to HD in the same amount of time.

That performance is on par with most of Roku’s competitors’ products, including Fire TV Stick and Chromecast with Google TV. The Streambar is also a speaker and a pretty good one for the price and size. This is not a premium speaker. It’s powerful enough for a small living room, but without a subwoofer, the bass is fairly weak. Roku seemingly intends the Streambar to be a gateway speaker for users to enhance the audio on television sets. The company is also encouraging customers who want deeper bass to match the Streambar with the Roku TV Wireless Speakers and Roku Wireless Subwoofer.

The Streambar has four 1.9-inch drivers, two of which face forward and two of which point to the side, creating a bit of a surround sound effect. It was certainly capable of filling our small living room with sound, even at low volume levels.

Overall, The Roku Streambar is an attractive option if you want 4K streaming and a good speaker to enhance your TV’s audio.


  • Full, clear sound
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • 4K/HDR streaming
  • Easy to setup and use


  • No Dolby Vision or Atmos
  • Bass is weak
  • Can’t program the remote
  • No audio jack on the remote

Buying Guide: 5 Best Budget Soundbars 2023

Looking to elevate your home audio experience without breaking the bank? A budget soundbar can be your ideal audio companion. In this buying guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to help you choose the 5 best budget soundbars for 2023.

Step 1: Determine Your Budget
Before diving into the world of soundbars, establish a clear budget. Soundbars come in various price ranges, so knowing your spending limit is essential. For the best value, consider a budget range between $100 and $300.

Step 2: Assess Your Room Size
Measure the dimensions of your room. Larger rooms may require soundbars with more power and additional speakers for optimal audio coverage. For small to medium-sized rooms, a basic soundbar might suffice.

Step 3: Audio Quality Matters
Soundbars offer various audio formats, including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. Assess your audio needs. If you’re a movie buff, prioritize soundbars with immersive audio technologies. For casual TV watching, a standard 2.1-channel soundbar should suffice.

Step 4: Connectivity Options
Consider the devices you’ll be connecting to your soundbar. Look for models with multiple input options, such as HDMI, Bluetooth, and optical connections. This ensures compatibility with your TV, gaming console, or streaming device.

Step 5: Soundbar Size and Design
The physical dimensions of the soundbar matter, especially if you plan to mount it on a wall or place it in front of your TV. Ensure it complements your room’s aesthetics and doesn’t obstruct your TV screen.

Step 6: Read Reviews and Seek Recommendations
To narrow down your choices, read online reviews and seek recommendations from friends or online communities. Real-world experiences can provide valuable insights into a soundbar’s performance and reliability.

Step 7: Brand Reputation
Consider well-established brands known for their audio quality and customer support. Brands like Sony, Samsung, LG, and Yamaha often offer reliable budget soundbar options.

Step 8: Check for Additional Features
Some budget soundbars come with extra features like built-in voice assistants, wireless subwoofers, or EQ adjustments. Evaluate whether these features align with your preferences.

Step 9: Warranty and Support
Check the warranty and after-sales support offered by the manufacturer. A longer warranty period can provide peace of mind, while good customer support ensures assistance in case of issues.

Step 10: Price Comparison
Finally, compare prices from different retailers and online stores. Keep an eye out for discounts and bundled deals that might save you some money without compromising quality.

By following these ten steps, you’ll be well-equipped to make an informed decision when choosing one of the 5 best budget soundbars for 2023. Remember to prioritize your specific needs and preferences to find the perfect soundbar to enhance your audio experience without breaking the bank.