Even the best TVs can only offer so-so sound. But going with a full-on home theater system can be a pain in the you-know-what, with complex setups and lots of wires. The best in-between option for folks who like to keep things simple is a soundbar.
Some soundbars come with lots of extra speakers. Some are terrific for music. Still others manage to get the job done on a shoestring budget, without even so much as a wireless subwoofer. But when it comes to sheer versatility and performance, the Sonos Arc is the whole package.
It’s compatible with Dolby Atmos, it has room-filling sound, it’s expandable, it doubles as a smart speaker, and there’s nothing like it on this list when it comes to multiroom audio. It’s certainly not the cheapest soundbar you’ll find, but once you consider its many strengths, it’s hard to deny the value Sonos provides with the Arc.
That’s not to say it’s the only soundbar out there worth your hard-earned cash, though. Far from it, in fact. We’ve stocked this list with multiple other recommendations for you to check out, separated into the areas in which they excel, so you’ll have plenty of options to find the right soundbar for your setup and preferred media.
Vizio M-Series AiO (M213ad-K8)
The best soundbar for $200 or less
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The best money-is-no-object soundbar
Vizio P-Series Elevate
The best Dolby Atmos for under $1,000
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LG S95QR 9.1.5 Channel Soundbar
The best home theater replacement
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Vizio M-Series 5.1 soundbar (M51a-H6/M51ax-J6)
The best budget soundbar
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Simon Cohen / Digital TrendsSonos Arc The best overall
- Excellent surround sound
- Easy and simple setup
- Decent Dolby Atmos from a single speaker
- Choice of Alexa or Google Assistant
- No HDMI inputs
- Not ideal for all music genres
Why should you buy it? It’s a thrilling combination of Sonos functionality and impeccable Dolby Atmos sound.
Who’s it for? Anyone looking for premium home theater sound wrapped in Sonos’ signature simplicity.
Why we picked the Sonos Arc:
At the risk of sounding too sensational, the Sonos Arc embodies everything Sonos is about. It’s incredibly easy to set up and use, it provides great sound, and it seamlessly incorporates itself into your larger network of whole-home Sonos sound. With all of that packed in, it would have been easy for Dolby Atmos to be an afterthought.
Quite the contrary, as it turns out. The Arc uses up-firing drivers to re-create Dolby Atmos sound, and while it doesn’t completely blow you away, the execution is incredibly effective. The Arc adds a solid sense of 3D space to action-oriented films like Avengers: Endgame and Ford v Ferrari, bringing the sounds of roaring cars and interplanetary battles to life in stunning form.
The Atmos goodness doesn’t stop there. If you have an Amazon Music Unlimited account, you can stream Dolby Atmos Music tracks from within the Sonos app. And if you have an Apple TV or Nvidia Shield, you can also stream Atmos Music from Tidal or Apple Music from their respective apps, and pipe them through your TV to the Arc.
Like the Sonos Playbar before it, you can easily expand the Arc’s home theater capabilities by adding other Sonos speakers as surround satellites, plus you now have two choice for low-frequency effects: the magnificent — if very expensive — Sonos Sub and the new, smaller Sub Mini.
It’s also a smart speaker, with three choices of voice assistant: The bare-bones but super useful Sonos Voice Control, for Sonos-only functions, or Alexa and Google Assistant, which can control Sonos products and much more, too.
But what really pushes the Arc to the top of our list is how versatile it is for non-TV listening. The Sonos app gives you an incredible amount of control over the Arc (and any other Sonos speakers in your home), as well as streaming music sources. Whether it’s a playlist from Spotify or a track buried deep in your personal music collection, the universal search feature makes it a snap to find.
Did we mention the Arc is also an AirPlay 2-enabled speaker? For Apple users, this is a much better option than Bluetooth, as it preserves more of the sound quality.
It’s worth noting that unlike some soundbars on this list, the Arc does not have any HDMI inputs. So when you connect it to your TV’s HDMI ARC port, you will be losing an HDMI input on your TV. For those with only one or two video sources, this isn’t a problem, but others may have to make some tough choices — or buy an HDMI switch.
If having an HDMI input is important to you, we highly recommend spending an extra $100 on the Sony HT-A5000. It might not have the Arc’s multiroom and music streaming chops, but it has superb sound quality, with even better bass than the Arc thanks to its built-in subwoofer.
Right now, the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 is probably the closest competitor to the Sonos Arc. With an almost identical feature set and price, it’s an excellent alternative.
The best overall
Riley Yong/Digital TrendsVizio M-Series AiO (M213ad-K8) The best soundbar for $200 or less
- Great fidelity for the price
- Excellent dialogue clarity
- Wide soundstage
- Ample bass
- Good dynamics
- No perceived Dolby Atmos effects
Why should you buy it? It’s affordable, it’s a breeze to set up, and it delivers stellar sound for the money.
Who’s it for? Anyone looking to give their TV a big sound upgrade with a modest investment.
Why we picked the Vizio M-Series AiO (M213ad-K8):
When you get right down to it, people buy soundbars because they want better sound from their TV, but they’re not interested in all of the convoluted wiring, settings, or the expense involved in going with a full home theater system. And when it comes to delivering on that goal for the least amount of money, Vizio’s 2023 M-Series AiO is a slam-dunk.
It starts with a single speaker, which is compact and understated — no flashy metal finishes or exposed drivers — just an elegant trapezoid wrapped in dark gray fabric. Getting it connected is a cinch — just plug it into your TV using the included HDMI cable or you can use your own optical cable. That’