There was a time when folks rolled their eyes at the mention of soundbars. Many average consumers thought they were a silly upsell at the electronics store; something for audiophiles, maybe. But we’ve come a long way since the first soundbars. With TVs continuing to slim down, soundbars are now a necessity for one key reason: TVs are just too thin to contain proper speakers with power, projection, resonance, depth, and audio magic that matches 4K video sound sources.
There are many soundbars out there worth your dough, and most major electronics manufacturers make them, so you can choose a favorite brand, shop within a budget, look for a particular color, or hunt for the best in audio quality. But there’s another option in soundbars that’s also worth considering: Those with Dolby Atmos capabilities.
In a nutshell (and more on this below in our buying tips section), Dolby Atmos soundbars utilize upward-firing speakers to mimic the immersive 3D sound that would otherwise be delivered by ceiling-mounted speakers, and other surround sound speakers, in a traditional Dolby Atmos home theater system. The beauty of an Atmos soundbar is that it can do a pretty great job with much less fuss (and cost).
For our money, the Sonos Arc is the best Dolby Atmos soundbar you can buy. High-performing, room-filling sound is what you get, and even though the price tag is a bit on the steep side, it’s well worth it. That said, we’ve also taken a look at some of the other top Dolby Atmos soundbars and lined them up for you.
The best Dolby Atmos soundbars at a glance
The best Dolby Atmos soundbar: Sonos Arc
Why should you buy it? Sonos Arc is the full package: Great sound, Dolby Atmos capabilities from its upward-firing speakers, a sleek and modern design, all with Sonos quality.
Who’s it for? Audiophiles who want Dolby Atmos surround sound for their movies but don’t want to mess around with the cost and complications of a full home theater system.
Why we picked the Sonos Arc:
Arc, according to Sonos, is its “most immersive home theater experience.” With movie theater-caliber sound, support for Dolby Atmos, and your choice of voice assistants, Sonos is carving out more space for itself in the premium home theater category. This all-in-one soundbar is also at the higher end of the price spectrum at around $800, but since it has all the bells and whistles, that’s perhaps not surprising.
The sound quality of the Arc is outstandingly detailed, it gets plenty loud, and it’s got loads of low end, which is key for movie watching (though you can also add the separate Sonos Sub to your kit, too, if you need more). The Arc is a big, powerful soundbar that fills the room. Highs are sharp, mids and voices slice through easily when watching TV and movies, but it’s just as impressive when it comes to music, with a wide soundstage.
But let’s get right to the main attraction — what’s the Sonos Arc’s Atmos sound like? Our reviewers referred to it as a “stellar audio experience,” and although the results can vary depending on your room size and ceiling heights, the Arc’s upward-firing speakers do a great job at creating a sense of a bigger 3D space, with ricocheting bullet sounds and speeding cars bouncing off the walls for some great movie immersion.
The Sonos Arc soundbar is controlled via the Sonos app on your smartphone or by asking Google Assistant or Alexa. You can also listen to music, podcasts, and other audio on this since the Arc can act as a home speaker too.
Place your Arc in front of a standing TV or mount it to the wall with a separate custom-designed wall mount. A simple HDMI eARC or ARC keeps set-up simple. The Sonos system is of course expandable, too, meaning if you do end up wanting to create more of a sound ecosystem, you can add other speakers or the aforementioned Sub into the mix any time since all Sonos speakers are designed to play nicely together.
The Sonos app lets you take control of your speakers in your home and customize the sound, plus with AirPlay 2, you can stream from your iPhone and keep more of the sound quality.
Read our in-depth Sonos Arc review
The best Dolby Atmos soundbar with upward-firing speakers: Vizio Elevate
Why should you buy it? Rotating speakers that blast you with overhead channels of sound. Need we say more?
Who’s it for? Gamers and those looking for serious bass.
Why we picked the Vizio Elevate:
As we noted, the best way to get that overhead audio effect is to have overhead speakers, but when you can’t, upward-firing speakers as part of your soundbar can go a long way toward replicating that full 3D sound.
Packed inside the Vizio Elevate are 18 high-performance speakers with four up-firing speakers in the soundbar, plus more upward-aiming speakers as part of the two rears included in this kit (a separate subwoofer is also part of the package). With this kit, you’re literally being surrounded by sound.
The bar of the soundbar actually rotates to aim the sound up and over your head to project all that Dolby Atmos goodness all over your ceiling. Our Vizio Elevate review shows just what this rotating soundbar can do in more detail.
Elevate’s Adaptive Height Speakers also rotate forward to blast you with the full force of the audio that aims to create a much broader soundstage. The Vizio Elevate also boasts you’ll hear clearer vocals and concert hall levels of power and performance. The bass to shake your space vibrates down to 30hz and the whole system gets up to 107 decibels, making Vizio Elevate a perfect Dolby Atmos soundbar for gaming, movie watching, and listening to music.
Read our in-depth Vizio Elevate review
The best Dolby Atmos soundbar package (with sub and rears): Samsung HW-Q950T
Why should you buy it? You want the added depth that additional speakers give, plus bass that comes from a dedicated subwoofer.
Who’s it for? Cinephiles and folks with a bit more space to spread out their system
Why we picked the Samsung HW-Q950T:
This immersive 9.1.4-channel sound system uses four up-firing channels to wrap your room in quality audio. Interestingly, Samsung also added wide speakers on both corners of the soundbar so the audio fills the space between it and the rear speakers to enhance your overall surround sound experience.
Meant to work best with a Samsung TV, the HW-Q950T soundbar combines sounds, using both the speaker kit and the TV’s speakers to fill the space. Naturally, it also has digital assistant smarts, and you can adjust music, get information, and manage your day with just your voice. Plus, with HDMI eARC, you can hear lossless sound even when connected to other devices through your TV, like game consoles. If you prefer going the DTS:X route, it’s ready for that as well. Overall, the audio quality is standout and the additional speakers give you a lot more detail to play with.
The best mid-priced priced Dolby Atmos soundbar: Vizio M-Series M51a-H6 5.1 Soundbar
Why should you buy it? Another top-notch all-in-one kit with a sub and rear speakers, this setup from Vizio packs nine high-performance speakers into the low-profile soundbar.
Who’s it for? Someone looking for a full kit that’s customizable, without the premium price tag.
Why we picked the Vizio M-Series M51a-H6:
Utilizing virtual surround instead of the up-firing speakers of some of the other soundbars on our list, the Vizio M-Series M51a-H6 fills the room with spacious sound, with support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. This soundbar set also comes with a pair of low-profile surround speakers that are volume-adjustable, plus a 6-inch wireless subwoofer for deep bass with power and boom. A backlit display remote control rounds out the offerings inside the box, making this a great get-it-all-for-a-great-price option.
A flexible setup allows you to choose two placements for your speakers. They can go traditionally at the rear or use Front Surround Mode, where they can be placed at the front of the room for a wider soundstage (also handy for smaller spaces with no room behind the sofa), or Dual Stereo Surround Mode, which sends the same audio to all the speakers at once. An HDMI eARC port is an added bonus (and a rarity at this price point), allowing high-bandwidth and lossless audio when paired with a compatible TV, and the M51a-H6 also includes Bluetooth, optical, and USB connections.
The Vizio M-Series M51a-H6 kit is also smart, and you can use it with Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant devices too.
Read our in-depth Vizio M-Series M51a-H6 soundbar review
The best ultra-premium Dolby Atmos soundbar: Sennheiser Ambeo soundbar
Why should you buy it? With powe