You probably already shelled out good money for a nice big TV and maybe a streaming gadget to play your Netflix. But it doesn’t matter how large your screen is or how much it cost—the speakers in your TV probably sound awful.
You’d be surprised by how much more you enjoy those shows with a halfway decent soundbar or surround system hooked up to your primo panel. Explosions pop, dialog sounds far crisper, and you may even notice sonic details in your favorite films that you’ve never picked up on before.
Updated November 2021: We’ve added the second-generation Sonos Beam.
Why You Need a Soundbar
We have yet to test a new TV that didn’t sound crummy without some kind of audio accessory added. That’s mostly due to the way televisions are designed. Great-sounding speakers are bulky, and as TVs have gotten thinner, with shrinking bezels and sleeker designs, manufacturers are having a harder time building good speakers into them.
If you can afford to spend $150 on a new soundbar with a subwoofer, it’s essential to getting the most out of your viewing experience. To help, we put together this list of the best soundbars we’ve tested, including soundbars sold on their own, as well as models that come bundled with a subwoofer. We’ve also compiled some advice on how to make the most of your purchase.
Special offer for Gear readers: Get a 1-year subscription to WIRED for $5 ($25 off). This includes unlimited access to WIRED.com and our print magazine (if you’d like). Subscriptions help fund the work we do every day.
If you buy something using links in our stories, we may earn a commission. This helps support our journalism. Learn more. Please also consider subscribing to WIRED