By: Steve Murano
Last updated: November 2017
We have already reviewed soundbars at the budget-friendly sub-$100, as well as more luxurious sub-$500 ranges before, but what if your budget is a couple hundred dollars? Here are the top picks we feel would give you the best run for your money.
Our overall top pick is Yamaha YAS-107BL with dual built-in subwoofers and super sleek design:
Soundbars in the $200 range come in all shapes and forms – from soundbases to standalone soundbars to 2.1 channel systems with a wireless subwoofer and even some 5.1 channel systems. We suggest considering the available space in the room and whether you are ready to deal with long wires before making a final decision.
A standalone soundbar is probably the easiest and the most discreet form factor available. It fits most rooms and greatly improves the sound if your TV set.
A soundbase is less discreet but often provides considerably better bass response and can be used as a stand for your TV.
Finally, a 2.1 system comes with a wireless subwoofer that can be placed anywhere in the room and provides deeper bass.
In our comparison table below we have compiled our 3 top picks in the under two hundred dollar range.
If you want to learn more about choosing a particular soundbar, what to look for and what to avoid, read our first article in the series.
Our Top Picks in sub-$200 range
1. Yamaha YAS-107BL is the newest model on the list and is the most affordable soundbar from the famous Japanese manufacturer. It’s a standalone soundbar with dual built-in subwoofers, Bluetooth support and super-slim design, making it easy to wall-mount it if you prefer this placement.
Yamaha is 35″ long, has a total power output of 120W and features an external subwoofer output, allowing you to plug in an external subwoofer unit if you desire even deeper bass. For an easy, out-of-the-box way to drastically improve your TV sound, look no further than this stylish beauty.
Read the reviews and check current price on Amazon here: Yamaha YAS-107BL
2. VIZIO SB3851-D0 SmartCast is a 2016 model from Vizio. This 5.1 soundbar is a successor to the wildly popular SB38-51 DO model and adds the proprietory SmartCast technology which you can use to stream music wirelessly from your mobile device (of course, Bluetooth connectivity is still there).
Vizio is 38″ long, comes with a dedicated 5″ external subwoofer, a pair of rear speakers (connected to the subwoofer with 5′ cables) and covers the frequency range of 50Hz-20kHz. Compared to its predecessor it now has an HDMI input which is a very welcome addition. Overall, at this price point, you should not expect HiFi sound quality, but will definitely greatly improve your TV watching experience without breaking the bank.
Read the reviews and check current price on Amazon here: VIZIO SB3851-D0 SmartCast
3. ZVOX SoundBase 330 is a 24″ soundbase (a soundbar you can stand your TV on). At only 24″ it’s much smaller than a traditional soundbar but it produces surprisingly rich and deep sound for its size. It’s especially good for clearing up the muddy sound in TV shows and really helps understand those quiet dialogues in the movies much better.
Soundbase’s form factor allows the manufacturer to install a larger subwoofer (5.25″ in this case) while keeping the overall footprint quite small. If you’re short on space, don’t need Bluetooth connectivity and your TV is not a giant 65″ monster, give Zvox a chance.
Read the reviews and check current price on Amazon here: ZVOX SoundBase 330
Here’s how our top picks compare to each other:
- Soundbar model
- Number of channels
- Rear Speakers
- Frequency Range
- Yamaha YAS-107BL
- 2, built-in
- HDMI, Optical, HDMI out (ARC), Analog
- 120 Watts
- Subwoofer output for connecting an external subwoofer
- VIZIO SB3851-D0
- Wireless, 5"
- HDMI, Optical, RCA (Coaxial/SPDIF), 3.5mm In, USB
- An updated model with Vizio's SmartCast wireless streaming technology
- ZVOX SoundBase 330
- 3 speakers
- built-in, 5.25"
- Optical, Coaxial, Analog Stereo
- A sound base can be placed directly underneath your TV, saving you space and making installation a breeze. We wish it had Bluetooth, but other than that, it's a great budget-friendly choice for smaller TVs
Are you unhappy with your TV’s sound quality? We’ve all been there. The picture quality just gets better and better and the TV sets themselves are getting slimmer and slimmer, but something’s missing… With those slim TVs there’s simply no space to install proper speakers. And there’s no way around it – for deep rich sound you need large enough speakers.
Fortunately, there’s a reasonably inexpensive way to fix this problem. Soundbars (and soundbases) have been around for quite a few years now and there are literally hundreds of different models available.
While you can get a soundbar for less than $30 (please don’t) and for more than $800, we feel the sweet spot for soundbars is around $200-500. Even if your budget is on the low end of that range, there are some seriously good models available for less than two hundred dollars.
What is a Soundbar and What To Look For When Choosing a Sound Bar
For information on how to choose a sound bar, what to pay attention to and what to avoid when choosing one head on to our previous article on the topic.
What to expect from a sub-$200 sound bar?
Sound bars in the under $200 range will not win any awards for HiFi sound, but they will definitely improve your TV watching experience, especially those quiet dialogues in the movies and shows.
Feature-wise, expect to find a range of wireless connectivity options (Bluetooth being most common), either external or built-in subwoofer and a wide range of inputs. 2 out of 3 soundbars we recommend come with HDMI input allowing you to connect the soundbar with an HDMI cable for best performance. Bluetooth support allows you to stream music from your smartphone or tablet, so that’s one less gadget you might need to own.
What you probably won’t get at $300 range
Since this is still a budget-friendly range, don’t set your expectations too high. That’s not audiophile-grade equipment (but neither is the price).
Still, at less than two hundred dollars, you can expect much clearer and louder sound than your TV set is capable of producing. Enjoy the movies the way they were meant to be enjoyed!