Are you on the lookout for a major sound upgrade?
A soundbar is a fantastic way to improve the sound quality and volume of your paper-thin TV speakers, or even your PC.
If you’re willing to invest roughly $500 on your soundbar, you can walk away with a first-class speaker.
However, choosing the right soundbar to spend your money on can be a difficult process.
That’s why we have your back with a list to help you find the best soundbar under $500.
Quick List: Top 9 Soundbars Under $500
- JBL Bar 3.1 Soundbar
- Sonos Beam Smart TV Soundbar
- Samsung Harman Kardon HW-Q6CR/ZA Soundbar
- Yamaha YAS-408 Soundbar
- Polk Audio MagniFi Max SR Home Theater Soundbar
- Samsung 3.1 HW-R650 Soundbar
- Bose Soundbar 500
- Samsung 3.0 HW-MS650/ZA Soundbar
- Yamaha YAS-209 Soundbar
Researching Soundbars Under $500
Throughout our research for a soundbar, one of the first things we considered was the sound quality. No one wants to invest their money in an expensive soundbar to be met with weak sounds.
At the price of under $500, you can find some incredible soundbars. You can expect some fantastic sounds with a load of features to improve your TV experience.
In this range, the number of channels on a soundbar can vary quite a lot. You can find anything from 2.1 to even 5.1 so in general, we focused our search on 3.0 or 3.1 channel soundbars so that you receive the benefit of having that extra center channel and some powerful bass. Moreover, we looked at the number of drivers and speakers on the soundbar, regardless of channels, to ensure that the sound quality is in top shape.
In terms of features, we searched for soundbars that gave options to adjust bass and treble and those that have extra modes. More specifically, having a surround sound mode can transform a whole experience and give you ultimate the immersion into your movies.
With these aspects and others in mind, we searched to find the best value for money.
If you feel you can afford more you might want to check out our post on the best soundbars under $1000. Alternatively if you don’t think you are quite ready to be in this price range you can see our lists of quality sound bars under $300 or even under $200.
The Best Soundbar Under $500 in 2021
1. JBL Bar 3.1 Soundbar Review
If you’re looking for a powerful soundbar to full you room with impressive volume, then this is perfect. The JBL 3.1 Bar also has a dedicated center channel that is sure to deliver crisp dialog.
✔️ What we like: 450 W of power
❌ What we don’t like: Doesn’t support DTS
- 103 dB
- 4K connectivity
- Impressive bass
This soundbar comes with its own remote control but sometimes having too many remote controls can be incredibly frustrating. That’s why this JBL has gone the extra step to make its soundbar compatible with your TV remote. This means that you can happily pack away the soundbar remote and just use the TV remote to control your soundbar.
This JBL Bar 3.1 has a frequency response of 35 Hz to 20 kHz which will give you some terrific range to still sound good in the lows and highs. With the wireless subwoofer, this 3.1 bar offers some incredible bass. Overall it sounds fantastic for multiple different applications!
Accompanied by the sound, which is great by itself, is the JBL Surround Sound and Dolby Digital. This will take the sound to the next level when you watch movies and TV. It creates a virtual surround sound experience so that you can feel as if you are inside the movie, without needing to invest in a full surround sound system.
Furthermore, the JBL 3.1 soundbar allows you to connect to 4K devices. It doesn’t just let you connect to one, it allows you to connect to up to three via HDMI. The bar also offers Bluetooth connectivity so that you can connect your smartphone or tablet. With the JBL SoundShift, you will be able to instantly change the sound from your TV to your smart device.
This bar has you covered for all your connections and with its impressive power and sound delivery, you can’t go wrong with the JBL 3.1 Bar.
2. Sonos Beam Smart TV Soundbar Review
Sonos has done a great job of creating a soundbar that is an awesome addition to your TV set up. With a center channel to make dialog extra crisp, this would be a welcome addition to any household.
✔️ What we like: Alexa built-in
❌ What we don’t like: Doesn’t offer Bluetooth connectivity
- High definition sound
- Five drivers
- Speech enhancement
- Apple AirPlay
The Sonos Beam is a compact soundbar with a sleek design that will suit any TV set up. The bar itself has a fabric cover that may tear easier than a metal grill, but besides the outer layer, it has a robust design that is well-built.
You can connect to this soundbar via HDMI ARC and if you use the Optical to HDMI adapter, which is included, you can connect via Optical. The bar doesn’t have Bluetooth, but it does offer Wi-Fi connectivity. Using the Wi-Fi, you can connect to external devices with no hassle.
In addition to that, the Sonos Beam supports Apple Airplay which simplifies the connection if you have Apple products. The cherry on top of this amazing soundbar is built-in Alexa. This means that you can interact with your soundbar hands-free and control settings without needing to go anywhere near your remote.
All these features of voice control are great, but what about the sound? Well, Sonos has done a fantastic job of delivering a balanced sound that handles dialog exceptionally well. The lack of a wireless subwoofer means that some people may feel that it lacks substance for certain music genres and movies. However, this soundbar can be easily upgraded by purchasing an external subwoofer that integrates perfectly with the soundbar.
Despite the lack of bass, this soundbar still provides an immersive movie experience with its side-firing speakers and its Dolby Digital support. It also excels with TV shows and any dialog-heavy uses. The center channel does an impressive job of accentuating the dialog, which is further improved by its Speak Enhancement feature.
All in all, this Sonos Beam smart tv soundbar is a superb option for all applications but it is particularly well-suited to content that requires crisp vocals.
3. Samsung Harman Kardon HW-Q6CR/ZA Soundbar Review
Samsung has done it again by providing a high-quality soundbar at an affordable price. This bar offers a seamless sound experience with its advanced technology.
✔️ What we like: Samsung Acoustic Beam
❌ What we don’t like: Doesn’t offer Wi-Fi connectivity
- Compatible with OneRemote
- Powerful bass
- Clear dialog
- Game Mode
If you’re someone who loves being fully immersed in movies, then this soundbar would be a fantastic option. It is compatible with 4K and HDR 10, meaning that you won’t just be seeing amazing quality on the screen, you will be hearing it too! The HW-Q6CR provides a dynamic sound that transforms the whole room into an immersive experience.
This bar boasts the Samsung Acoustic Beam technology which essentially mixes the sound and then delivers it specifically from the direction that the sound seems to come from. This is a terrific way to give that surround-sound feel, even though the sound is only coming from the one soundbar unit and the wireless subwoofer.
The HW-Q6CR also has some other features up its sleeve. It can automatically detect when you are gaming and switch you into Game Mode. This will enhance the gaming experience with surround sound and the powerful subwoofer. On top of that, if you’re just resting at home and watching TV, you can be confident that the vocals will be crisp and clear. The dedicated center channel provides a balanced sound and ensures that you won’t struggle to hear any of the dialog.
The soundbar does not offer Wi-Fi but it does offer Bluetooth connectivity. This gives you the ultimate freedom to connect your smartphone and stream music whenever you wish. The soundbar also integrates perfectly with the Samsung OneRemote which means that you can finally pack away all your remotes and just use one to control everything. All in all, this bar would be a fantastic purchase for anyone who wants a soundbar that can do it all.
From movies to music and even gaming, this Samsung HW-Q6CR/ZA is a terrific soundbar!
4. Yamaha YAS-408 Soundbar Review
Yamaha has pulled out all the stops with this YAS-408 soundbar. Whether you want a bar that handles dialog well or streams music with ease, this soundbar delivers.
✔️ What we like: Great vocal clarity
❌ What we don’t like: Sub-par 3D surround sound
- Alexa built in
- Clear Voice
- Easily upgradable
The Yamaha YAS-408 is an awesome amalgamation of extra features and high-quality sound. It has been designed and built with exceptional skill to give a solid soundbar and has been styled to last a lifetime.
The YAS-408 offers optimal convenience through its voice control with Alexa. This feature can save you loads of effort by giving you control of the soundbar without going anywhere near a remote or the bar itself.
On top of being able to make sound adjustments just through speaking, you can also connect your favorite smart device. The YAS-408 offers both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi wireless connectivity, giving you many options to stream your music and videos from your smartphone or tablet.
In terms of sound features, this soundbar has you sorted. You can enjoy lifelike entertainment with the DTS Virtual:X virtual 3D surround sound, and although some people experience this mode as low quality, it is still beneficial to have the option. Contrary to the 3D surround sound mode, this soundbar really shines with its vocal quality.
The sound is set up in a such a way that the balanced drivers accentuate dialog clearly. In addition, you can also activate the Clear Voice enhancement mode which will make the dialog crisper and even easier to follow. This is particularly advantageous to people who enjoy their TV shows.
What’s more is that this soundbar is easily upgradable. You can seamlessly add MusicCast speakers to make your sound even more immersive. They will integrate perfectly to create a full set up which is always a fantastic option to have, since many people prefer being able to steadily add on to their system over time rather than buying a full system in one go.
All things considered, this Yamaha YAS-408 is a dynamic and balanced soundbar that will easily meet all your sound needs.
5. Polk Audio MagniFi Max SR Home Theater Soundbar Review
If you’re looking for major bang for your buck, this is absolutely for you. Polk Audio has managed to offer up a full home theater system while still keeping the price reasonable.
✔️ What we like: Full 5.1 home theater system
❌ What we don’t like: Soundbar is large
- Includes wireless subwoofer and two speakers
- Voice adjust technology
- Compatible with 4K and HD
- Seven drivers and tweeters
As much as having just a soundbar and a subwoofer can give you an amazing sound system, sometimes you just want the real deal. If you’ve been on the lookout for a full home theater system, only to be disheartened by the prices, allow us to be the bearer of good news! This Polk Audio MagniFi Max SR is a full 5.1 home theater system and it still makes it under the $500 mark.
The main soundbar may be rather long compared to other options but you are still receiving a wireless subwoofer and two wireless speakers to complete the whole set up. This is an incredible bargain and although you can expect the sound to be slightly lower quality than other 5.1 channel systems, this is understandable at the heavily reduced price.
With this system, you can expect a complete surround sound experience. The soundbar itself has seven drivers and tweeters which is sure to deliver some terrific sound. This is enhanced more by the Polk Stereo Dimensional Array (SDA) technology which essentially expands the soundstage and delivers a 3D surround sound adventure.
This combination is a recipe made in heaven for any movie lovers who want to completely immerse themselves in the action. You can also freely adjust the vocal clarity with the Voice Adjust feature, ensuring that you will always hear those whispers and soft dialogs in your favorite movies and TV shows.
This system is also compatible with 4K and HD TV so that you can indulge in both high-quality audio and incredible visuals. On top of that, you can also freely connect your smartphone or tablet to the soundbar with either Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
If you want proper value for money, there’s no denying that this Polk Audio system is first in line!
6. Samsung 3.1 HW-R650 Soundbar Review
This Samsung soundbar is a fantastic product as is, but when combined with a Samsung TV, the features really shine. Moreover, it is easily upgradable if you have your sights set on eventually having a full home theater set up.
✔️ What we like: Loud and balanced sound
❌ What we don’t like: No 4K pass-through
- Smart sound technology
- Game mode
- Dedicated center channel
Are you working your way to a full home theater system but don’t want to wait to buy the whole thing in one go? This Samsung soundbar has been designed specifically so that you can build on it to later create a full set up. The HW-R650 is compatible with the Wireless Surround Kit, which can be bought separately. The Wireless Surround Kit will integrate seamlessly with your soundbar and complete the set up to give you a whole 5.1 channel system.
In terms of its sound-quality, this soundbar performs wonderfully for its price. The overall sound is balanced and has some punch behind the volume. Also, with its dedicated center channel, you can enjoy some clear vocal audio. Furthermore, the sound is dynamic and versatile, which is enhanced by the Smart Sound Technology.
This allows the soundbar to automatically detect what you are watching or listening to and therefore make the appropriate adjustments to optimize your sound for that particular use. This is an awesome solution to constantly fumbling with the remote and fiddling with the settings to try to find the right balance. It’s safe to say that this soundbar knows how to make your life much easier!
What’s more, is that the Samsung HW-R650 offers Game Mode. This will improve your sound effects and boost your overall experience to make it more immersive. With this soundbar’s solid build and impressive 340 W power, you won’t be missing out on anything. All in all, the HW-R650 is a superb soundbar with some awesome features, great sound quality and volume, as well as trusted craftsmanship.
Anyone would be delighted to own this soundbar, but you will reap even more benefits from this bar if you already have a Samsung TV.
7. Bose Soundbar 500 Review
On the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of bulk, is the Bose soundbar. If you’re looking for exceptional sound but in an incredibly compact form, then this may be perfect for you.
✔️ What we like: Slim design
❌ What we don’t like: Lacks a wireless subwoofer
- Dialog enhancement
- Built-in Alexa
- Wi-Fi connectivity
This Bose soundbar has been designed with a small size and slim profile as a priority. This set up may not suit everyone as they may favor the inclusion of a wireless subwoofer over a more portable sound system. However, for those who appreciate the simplicity and have space limitations, this Bose 500 may be a fantastic option.
As can be expected by the lack of a subwoofer, some people may experience this soundbar as sub-par in the low end. However, unless you are listening to music that is bass-heavy or you particularly value strong bass, you will likely be more than satisfied with the sound. Moreover, this soundbar has a well-balanced sound that will deliver the clarity of dialog very well.
If its clear sound still isn’t enough for you to follow the dialog of the news or your TV shows comfortably, it has a Dialog Enhancement feature. This will make the vocals crisper and easier to hear, even down to the whispers.
The Bose Soundbar 500 also has some extra perks that can change your whole view of a soundbar. It boasts built-in Alexa AI technology which opens doors to voice control. With this service, you can easily control your soundbar just by speaking.
Alexa essentially provides information, answers questions, and gives you general assistance with your entertainment needs. With this, you are receiving more than just a bar full of speakers, you are investing in an ecosystem that supports your sound and entertainment needs.
Furthermore, this Soundbar 500 meets all your wireless connectivity needs with both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. You can happily stream audio from your favorite smart device without the hassle of cables.
All in all, if you want a compact sound solution that delivers on both features and quality, then this is a superb option.
8. Samsung 3.0 HW-MS650/ZA Soundbar Review
The Samsung HW-MS650/ZA provides some excellent sound at a very affordable price. It sounds great and also manages to offer a variety of features that go a long way.
✔️ What we like: 450 W of power
❌ What we don’t like: Lacks bass intensity
- Distortion canceling technology
- Works with Alexa
- Wi-Fi connectivity
The HW-MS650 doesn’t have a wireless subwoofer, which means it may lack that extra kick that a subwoofer provides, but for a soundbar without a subwoofer, it has some serious punch. At a whopping 450 W, with nine speakers, this soundbar does more than make up for the lack of a subwoofer.
The HW-MS650 is kitted out with drivers and speakers that provide an excellent and well-rounded sound that would elevate any TV room sound system. If you want an elegant and sophisticated one-bar sound solution, then this should be one of your top contenders.
Moreover, this soundbar isn’t just a bar to improve your sound. It is a piece of electronics that houses advanced technology that can create a wholly interactive experience. The addition of Alexa makes this possible and gives you access to voice control, and so much more.
You won’t have any issues connecting to this soundbar. It offers wired connectivity via HDMI and USB, as well as wireless connectivity through Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. The HW-MS650 also supports 4K so that you can match your quality sound with quality visuals.
This soundbar boasts some awesome features. One of them being the Distortion Canceling technology which can cancel out distortion before it happens. It also makes use of multi-speaker control which coordinates the speakers to increase the bass power.
The result is a richer bass with more depth. You can also enjoy the Smart Sound Mode by leaving the remote alone and allowing the soundbar to make the adjustments for you. It does this by automatically analyzing what you are watching and optimizing the sound. All things considered, this Samsung 3.0 soundbar is simplistic but packs some serious power with both the sound and the features.
If you like a compact solution, this is well worth the investment!
9. Yamaha YAS-209 Soundbar Review
Yamaha is no stranger to the soundbar industry, and this shows in the experienced design and high-quality build of the bar. The YAS-209 is just another example of why Yamaha is a trusted brand.
✔️ What we like: Great value for money
❌ What we don’t like: No center channel
- Clear Voice technology
- Built-in Alexa
- Wi-Fi connectivity
- DTS Virtual:X surround sound
- Soundbar Controller App
This Yamaha model comes in swinging with a wonderfully balanced sound profile. The soundbar may only have two channels but it includes a wireless subwoofer that is easy to move around the room to your desire. Yamaha has aided the two-channel system with some fantastic virtual surround sound technology.
The DTS Virtual:X will mimic the effects of a full surround sound system to give you a full immersion into the action, without needing to spend huge amounts of cash on more speakers. Of course, the technology will not be able to completely replace the effect of a full home theater system, but it does an impressive job of delivering a similar experience.
For anyone who struggles to hear dialog in movies, TV shows, or even the news, this soundbar has you covered. With the Clear Voice technology, you can bring the vocals to the forefront and relax with some crisp dialog.
The YAS-209 is more than just a soundbar to improve your home sound quality. It is an advanced system that can improve your daily life. This is done by the built-in Alexa technology. This AI system will allow you to use voice control to adjust your various sound settings on the soundbar. Alexa can also provide information, answer questions, and even set alarms for you.
If voice control isn’t your thing, you can always make use of the Soundbar Controller App to make your life easier and avoid the hassle of needing to find the physical remote. The soundbar also offers different wireless connectivity options. You can connect via Bluetooth as well as Wi-Fi to fulfill your streaming desires.
The Yamaha YAS-209 is an all-round terrific soundbar. Whether you’re watching sport, listening to music, or asking Alexa what time it is, you are fully covered.
A Guide to Choosing Soundbars Under $500
In this range, the number of channels can vary greatly. You could easily find 2.1 channel bars or even 5.1 channel systems, but those are uncommon at under $500. Most of the time you will come across 3.0 or 3.1 channel soundbars, which can deliver some fantastic sound.
The number of channels is a good indicator of how the bar will sound in terms of bass and its ability to give you virtual surround sound. However, a high channel system does not automatically mean good sound quality. So the channel depends on what exactly you want from your soundbar, but usually, a 3.0 or 3.1 soundbar in this price range is a great middle ground.
In this price bracket of under $500, you can find some soundbars with incredible features. Many in this range will offer multiple sound profiles for different types of TV genres. It is also common to find virtual surround sound technology, as well as dialog enhancement features which will improve the vocal clarity. On top of just the sound features, some soundbars with also offer Alexa AI technology.
This allows you to control your sound features and adjust settings using voice control. All these features are fantastic to have but beware of soundbars that are trying to compensate for bad sound quality with many features. With that in mind, we recommend finding soundbars that sound amazing without any features first and then consider what extras it has, since the extras can still make a huge difference to the overall soundbar.
In general, having more connectivity options can sometimes be better in case your TV set up ever changes and you need to connect differently to the soundbar than you did before. However, if you already know what connections you need, then having many different modes of connection can be unnecessary.
In this range, you will likely have access to HMDI, Optical, and USB. Most soundbars at under $500 will also give you wireless connectivity with Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Having both can be beneficial but if your only goal is to stream music from your phone then really either will do and having both is not a priority.
When it comes to the design of a soundbar, the look of it will be a matter of personal preference. Some people may prefer a metal grid look and others may prefer a fabric cover. However, most soundbars follow the general style of sleek and simple. This helps the soundbar to blend in seamlessly with the rest of your TV set up. It also means that the bar itself will not be distracting when you watch TV. Sometimes it is also nice to consider soundbars that are different colors.
For example, in some situations, a lightly-colored soundbar could look better in a pale room and it is nice to have that opportunity to go with a lighter look. Regardless of what style you like, it is always a good idea to check that you enjoy the quality of the material used. This will help the soundbar to preserve a clean look for longer.
Furthermore, if you aren’t too fussed about the style, we recommend choosing a classy and neat design. That will ensure that you never get tired of the design and it will never go out of style.
Finding Your Perfect Soundbar
When looking for the best soundbar under $500, the criteria will always be different for each person and what they need.
However, whether you’re looking for your first soundbar or an upgrade, the $500 mark can get you an incredible soundbar for any taste. While keeping the basics of a quality soundbar in mind, we have provided a variety of different soundbars that meet different needs.
This means that you have more than enough options to find the perfect fit for you.
- 13 Best Soundbars Under $300 (Great Sound For A Great Price)
- 6 Best Soundbars Under $100 In 2021 (Great Sound On A Budget)
- 6 Best Soundbars Under $1000 In 2021 (Big Bucks For Big Sound)
- 7 Best Soundbars Under $200 In 2021 (Good Build, Great Sound)
- 9 Best Soundbars Under $500 (Blow Your Mind, Not Your Money)
Simon is a music lover, musical instrument player and passionate audio afficionado. When he is not playing the guitar or listening to music he is either eating tacos or snoring too loudly.