Best soundbar 2023: audio big enough for the Super Bowl
Our soundbar recommendations tested for the big game
The best soundbar is better heard than seen in your home theater setup, and we’ve tested quite a few from Samsung, LG and Sonos alongside some of our best TV recommendations out there. Yes, 8K and 4KTVs get most of the love today, but a quality soundbar will instantly bring your television audio experience up to speed without taking up too much space. There’s nothing worse than turning on a TV that looks incredible only to watch a movie while hearing buzzing, distorted audio.
Our Soundbar recommendations are meant to help films become immersive, not a distraction, and in 2023, the options come in every shape and size. While there are definitely enthusiast-class soundbars out there that’ll cost you thousands of dollars, you can easily find more affordable options that’ll give you a much better audio experience than your TV can on its own. And whether you’re playing the best PS5 games or sitting down to watch the Super Bowl, you’re going to want superb audio.
The best soundbar pairs well with the PS5
Unfortunately, there are hundreds of soundbars on sale right now from countless manufacturers, making it difficult to find one actually worth your time and money. Luckily we can help. We are audio nerds who won’t put up with bad sound, and we’ve put our soundbar expertise to work here to highlight our favorite speaker picks.
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How to pick the best soundbar
Measure the space where the soundbar will be
Decide on a budget
Do you need a soundbar with a subwoofer?
Are you going to be using this for games, movies or sports?
Find a soundbar that fits into your gadget ecosystem
1. Samsung Q800B
High-end on a mid-range budget
Channels: 5.1.2 | Speakers: 11 | Dimensions: 43.7 x 2.4 x 4.7 inches (W x H x D) | Subwoofer included?: Yes
✅ Excellent sound quality
✅ Under $1,000
❌ Very large
You can’t really talk about home theater these days without Samsung popping up somewhere in the conversation, but the Samsung Q800B is genuinely one of the best soundbars I’ve ever had the pleasure of using. This thing has been in my living room for something like six months and it has truly elevated my TV experience. I play a lot of games and watch a lot of movies, and the Dolby Atmos support here makes it sound like I have a full surround sound system in my tiny New York apartment.
Set up was a bit of a pain, as I initially set it up with a TCL TV, but it was relatively easy to configure things through my smartphone. That’s probably the biggest weakness here, is that while set up is relatively simple if you have a Samsung device, it’s a little more complicated if you don’t. Luckily for me, though, I had a Galaxy smartphone.
I did try it a bit later when I reviewed the Samsung Neo QN95B QLED TV for Decidedly, and it took this soundbar to a whole new level. The soundbar has excellent sound on its own, but if you pair it with a Samsung TV that supports it, you can use both the TV speakers and the soundbar at the same time, further boosting the soundbar's already-impressive sound.
You will have to make sure you have space under your TV for this soundbar, though. It’s quite large, measuring nearly four feet wide and 5 inches deep. It barely fits on my TV stand, but I made it work because it just sounds that good. Luckily, you can wall mount it, too.
2. LG S80QY
A featureful, lower-cost alternative
Channels: 3.1.3 | Dimensions: 39.4 x 2.5 x 5.3 inches (W x H x D) | Subwoofer included?: Yes
✅ Dolby Atmos support
❌ Very large for what it does
The LG S80QY is a great mid-range soundbar, especially now that LG has dropped its price from $899 to just $499. Given the lower cost, the 3.1.3 soundbar is a fantastic deal, as it includes a powerful subwoofer and is compatible with Dolby Atmos.
It’s able to do it with such a compact speaker design because it has an up-firing center channel that can easily bounce off the walls in your living space. This way, it can simulate a full surround sound system without having a bunch of extra speakers lying around.
You can further amplify the LG S80QY’s capabilities by picking up the SPQ8-S rear speaker kit. This is a soundbar we haven’t had a chance to review in-house, but just looking at the specs it’s an incredibly powerful audio product, with a power output spec of up to 480W. That means this baby can get loud.
3. Sonos Ray
A budget pick with smarts
Channels: 2 | Dimensions: 22 x 2.79 x 3.74 inches (W x H x D) | Subwoofer included: No
✅ Automatic sound tuning
✅ Fits into Sonos’ ecosystem
❌ Intended for small rooms and simple setups
Sonos fans will find lots of love in the cheapest soundbar we recommend from the high-end speaker company. The Sonos Ray brings all the features found in the rest of the lineup to an affordable soundbar that is easy to set up and simple to use.
The Sonos Ray price is just $279. Unlike the other soundbars we tested, you won’t get a subwoofer with your purchase, but the upside is the company’s speakers are modular, so you can add the Sonos Sub and a couple of Sonos One (which we think is the best smart speaker for music) to get a proper surround sound system going.
Finally, the Sonos Ray supports Google Assistant and Alexa and has a dialogue enhancement mode to keep you from having to ride the volume button on your TV remote. Unfortunately, there are some downsides: there’s no no Dolby Atmos, no HDMI and no eARC, so this soundbar is best for simple setups and small rooms. If you can swing it and you like Sonos, you might be better off with the Sonos Beam (Gen 2), which does offer Atmos and eARC.
Best soundbar alternatives
It can be easy to forget Soundbars are a relatively new home entertainment innovation, and that they’re not the only option for a quick and easy way to add sound to your TV. Here are some other choices you can make
🍎 Apple HomePod: At $299, the Apple HomePod 2 is a fantastic alternative to a soundbar if you already own an Apple TV set-top box, particularly in a stereo pair. The speakers offer great, immersive audio with deep bass and excellent clarity. Setup is easy, with plenty of audio format support and it uses eARC for routing audio from your consoles through it. For simpler setups, a pair of cheaper, $99-each HomePod Minis also make a great budget soundbar alternative.
📺 Sony A80J: Stay with me on this one. Instead of getting a soundbar, get a great TV with really good sound. The A80J may be a couple of years old, but that can work to your advantage if you want better sound and great picture quality at a low price (it’s routinely under $1,000). I loved this TV when I reviewed it for Gizmodo, and its sound is good enough that I’d recommend it over any similarly-priced TV and soundbar combo, especially if starting from scratch.