What Is The Best Soundbar Under 200 Dollars?

We did the research and took our time evaluating dozens of models before ultimately determining that the best soundbar under 200 dollars is SB3621n-F8M by VIZIO. Our team chose this Amazon-exclusive model as the Editor's Choice due the attractive design, competitive specifications (2.1 channel and DTS Virtual: X support) and most importantly, stellar performance.

If the LG model doesn't suit your needs, our second runner-up choice is the LG's SK5Y 2.1 channel 360W soundbar. The SK5Y is priced higher than our top VIZIO pick, but it offers 24-bit upsampling as well as the ability to upgrade to 5.1 surround sound via optional add-on speakers at a later date.

Our top recommendation for those on a tight budget and are looking for a soundbar in the $100-$200 range would be VIZIO's SB2821-D6 which sells for just under $130. While it ditches some of the bells and whistles of its older, larger VIZIO sibling, it still harnesses a 2.1 channel design with a dedicated subwoofer and up to 95dB of sound output.

Best Soundbar Under $200 (Editor's Choice)

Coming from a reputable brand like VIZIO, the SB3621n-F8m offers a competitive form, features and function.

Price similarly to the LG SK5Y, this model from VIZIO is the best soundbar that the brand offers while remaining under a $200 budget. This is an Amazon-exclusive model that supports the DTS Virtual: X technology.

Runner-Up Pick

A high-resolution soundbar from LG offering DTS Virtual: X support and 24-bit quality/upsampling.

LG is one of the most reputable names in the home theater and entertainment industry. Their SK5Y soundbar offers a sleek design, attractive feature-set and excellent performance all while remaining under a budget of $200. 

*Pricing as of 12/6/18

Best Budget Option

A smaller and more compact soundbar from VIZIO with less features for a cheaper price.

LG is one of the most reputable names in the home theater and entertainment industry. Their SK5Y soundbar offers a sleek design, attractive feature-set and excellent performance all while remaining under a budget of $200. 

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If you are reading this guide and have found your way here through Google or another source then you are probably in search of the best soundbar under 200 dollars. Fortunately, you have come to the right place as the remainder of this buyer's guide will offer advanced knowledge about the soundbar and home entertainment industry.

We will run through several valuable elements to consider during your search for the right soundbar model for your needs under a $200 budget including reason to invest in a soundbar, which features or attributes should you look for and ultimately give a run down of each of our recommended models and their pros/cons. 

If you finish reading the entirety of this article and find yourself with an outlying question or concern before moving forward with a soundbar purchase then you can leave us a comment for free at the end of this article and we will do our best to help address your situation in a timely manner with helpful advice or answers.

Why Purchase A Soundbar Over Using Native TV Speakers?

Those who are new to the home entertainment or theater system market may not understand the benefits of purchasing a soundbar over utilizing the native speakers found in your television. While the native speakers are suitable for some users, those looking to reap the performance and convenience benefits of a dedicated soundbar will be happy to hear of the benefits listed below:

1) Increased Audio Immersion, Performance and Clarity

As more television manufacturers decide to make their latest models thinner and sleeker, this ultimately hurts the consumer in terms of audio performance. With such a thin profile or compact chassis surrounding the TV panel, there just isn't the room there used to be for large, high-quality speakers to be integrated within these models.

By adding a soundbar to your home theater setup, you gain the ability to utilize larger, better speakers which in this guide's case will be 2.1 channel utilizing either have a dedicated subwoofer that is separate from the soundbar or directly integrating a subwoofer(s) into the soundbar's design itself. 

This type of hardware will allow you to watch your favorite movies, tv shows or video games with vastly improved audio performance thus providing deeper bass, directional audio, optimal vocal clarity and often higher levels of adjustable equalization for tuning the sound to your desired preference.. 

2) Convenience Of Having A High Quality Bluetooth Speaker For External Use

The primary purpose of buying a soundbar in the $100-$200 price range will obviously be for use with your television, but these models have a convenient secondary purpose as well for most users. In the age of technology we live in today, most of you probably have a smartphone, tablet or computer that you listen to music, podcasts or ebooks on. 

Since these soundbars all have built-in Bluetooth technology, you can easily connect a third-party device and reap the benefits of improved audio performance while listening to your favorite content. Most of the time these soundbars will be mounted in a location in your home that is often occupied such as a living room or basement and thus making the convenience of having a powerful and excellent sounding Bluetooth speaker at your disposal is a nice added touch.

3) Boost Your Home Theater System's Overall Appeal & Function

Some of you may be buying a soundbar not just for the incredible audio performance benefits, but as a means to better complete your home theater setup overall.

Many of you reading this have invest in a newer HD or 4K TV that is thin, elegant and made to really capture some attention. While the form-factor of these televisions are often quite appealing, the practicality of these built-in speakers just don't suffice to the amazing picture quality that modern televisions are capable of.

By adding one of the soundbars listed within this $200 budget article, you'll improve both the form and function of your home theater system.  These sleek soundbars that can be placed on an existing TV stand or mounted under your TV to complete the overall home theater look and allow you to match the stellar visual experience with improved audio performance.

Educate Yourself: What To Look For Before Buying A Soundbar

If you are buying a soundbar for the first time or upgrading from a cheaper model then chances are you may not be familiar with a lot of the wording or marketing lingo used on the product pages regarding features or technical specifications

Fortunately, we are going to cover the most popular features, specifications and buzzwords used within the soundbar industry and sum up the important things you need to know before you make a purchase.

Brand

An obvious attribute to consider is brand or manufacturer behind the soundbar model in question. The brand is important because it will help determine things like the average quality of their product, support channels and warranty coverage.

All of the models we listed within this guide will be from reputable, well-known companies in the home entertainment of audio industry so you shouldn't have much to worry in this regard. However, you can find knock-off or miscellaneous foreign brands on places like Amazon or eBay that promise high-specs for a low cost. While they may work, you do run a serious risk of longevity and potential warranty trouble if it ever malfunctions.

Price

Another pretty self-explanatory aspect to consider is your overall budget. While most of you will have a max budget of $200 for purchasing a soundbar, the models found within the $100 to $200 price-range differ fairly greatly in both cost and feature-set. 

The models like the VIZIO SB2821-D6 which falls closer to the $100 mark than the $200 mark offers a smaller design and less features than our Editor's Choice which is VIZIO's higher-end SB3621N-F8M which costs almost $200 but comes includes the bells and whistles like support for DTS Digital: X.

Size

The size of the soundbar is something you'll often see referenced within the product page or marketing materials, but we don't think it is a crucial element to consider. While it is true that a larger soundbar size may offer more or larger speaker drivers which provides greater sound potential, but this isn't always the case.

Some people like to match the size of their television to a comparable soundbar, but this isn't a necessity. We suggest measuring your potential TV stand or wall mounting scenario more than the TV size as this is a far more critical cause of concern to ensure that your desired placement environment will be adequate to support your soundbar size.

Number of Channels

This refers to the number of individual surround sound channels that the soundbar supports. At this $200 price-point, you are going to primarily see 2.1 channel soundbars which means that there are two stereo speakers representing a front channel plus a subwoofer for added base performance. 

There will be no external speakers for the rear like in a 5.1 surround sound, but some models like the LG SK5Y offer the ability to purchase additional wireless speakers to upgrade to 5.1 down the line for an extra cost.

Power (Wattage)

A common term that is used as a marketing ploy by entertainment manufacturers is the measurement of power typically coming from an amplifier to the unit. The wattage doesn't necessarily have any correlation to the quality of the speakers. 

The sensitivity of the speakers is much more important than the wattage (much like how a camera sensor sensitivity and performance is more important than the sheer number of megapixels). Not all manufacturer's will provide information on the wattage, but it is more of a vanity metric than an important one.

Some studies have shown that every time you double the wattage of a speaker, the volume of these speakers will only increase by 3dB. 

Loudness/Sensitivity (dB)

You'll often see manufacturer's refer to the loudness or sensitivity of a soundbar which often is measured and marketed by the decibel level (dB). 

What this sensitivity determines is how efficiently the soundbar can convert the power or wattage into the output volume (measured in dB). This sensitivity or loudness will sometimes be referred to as the sound pressure level.  

An example of how small extra wattage affects the overall volume.
Miscellaneous examples of how loud certain everyday situations can be for reference.

Most of the models within this buyer's guide will have a sound output or loudness around 100dB which is equivalent to a motorcycle (and far loud enough for most household viewing situations). 

Keep in mind, some manufacturers won't disclose any indication of sensitivity or volume output in decibel form, but they should fall in line with the 100dB range of its competition.

Speaker Count

An attribute that refers to the number of speakers used within the soundbar's internal array. However, this metric isn't all that important as more speakers isn't necessarily better than fewer speakers that are of a higher quality.

Keep in mind, more speakers doesn't directly equate to more channels. In a case where there are more than two speakers in the design such as with Polk's Signa S2 model which harnesses 4 speakers, they are pairing two speakers for both the left and right channels. 

External Subwoofer

Whether or not a 2.1 channel soundbar integrates their sub internally or via dedicated external subwoofer should provide a good indication of the potential bass output. Like any other audio component, the actual quality of the subwoofer will matter more than the size. 

In the case of an internal subwoofer integrated within a $200 soundbar, the lack of space will often result in a smaller, less powerful subwoofer than one that can be larger and integrated into its own box thus producing superior bass performance.

Bluetooth Support

A wireless technology that you have probably already used before for supplying audio signals from a smartphone, tablet or computer to your car or external speaker. All of the 200 dollar soundbars on this list will offer some form of support for playing audio over their native Bluetooth connection. 

This is most convenient for those looking to use their soundbar for use outside of what they are watching on their TV such as playing music, podcasts or audiobooks from their mobile device or computer. In some select cases, you can pair your television with a soundbar via Bluetooth, but this will only be available with some compatible TVs/soundbars combinations (often only with models from the same manufacturer). 

Optical Connection

A optical audio cable is a wired connection format which is one of the most commonly used methods for transmitting digital audio at lower price-points.

Digital Coaxial Connection

References a digital coaxial connection which has an RCA connection at the end of the cable. This is most commonly associated and plugged into the orange output on your source receiver or device. 

3.5mm Connection

One of the most popular audio connections for mobile devices and computers. However, it is quickly disappearing on many modern mobile devices such as Apple's latest iPhones.

RCA Connection

An older, more traditional form of connection used to transport both audio and video signals via three connections (most commonly seen as yellow, red and white).

While you most likely associate an HDMI connection with video more than audio, an HDMI ARC port is widely supported in modern televisions, soundbars and receivers as of the introduction of HDMI 1.4 as a standard back in 2009.

ARC stands for “audio return channel” and this means you can connect your TV to your soundbar via a single HDMI cable which can simplify the number of cables needed (no dedicated audio cable needed).

HDMI Out (ARC)

While you most likely associate an HDMI connection with video more than audio, an HDMI ARC port is widely supported in modern televisions, soundbars and receivers as of the introduction of HDMI 1.4 as a standard back in 2009.

ARC stands for “audio return channel” and this means you can connect your TV to your soundbar via a single HDMI cable which can simplify the number of cables needed (no dedicated audio cable needed).

The nice part about HDMI ARC is that it is often used in conjunction with HDMI-CEC, an HDMI standard called Consumer Electronics Control. What this allows you to do is use your TV's native remote control to operate the external soundbar's volume settings thus allowing you to not need the native remote included from the soundbar's manufacturer. 

HDMI In (Passthrough)

Going hand-in-hand with the HDMI ARC port, an HDMI passthrough refers to a secondary HDMI port found on the soundbar. This will allow you to run an HDMI from your content source (such as a cable or satellite box) into your soundbar then run another HDMI cable from your soundbar into television.

A diagram showing the connection benefits with an HDMI Arc/passthrough. (Credit: HDMI.org)

This type of feature allows you to remove the need to connect your source receiver to your television and allows the soundbar to act as a passthrough of both audio and video thus removing the need for excess cables.

Wall Mountable

Whether or not the soundbar can be mounted to a wall or other flat wall-like surface. All of the recommended models within this guide are able to be wall mounted.

DTS Virtual: X

A next-generation, surround-sound format that is designed to compete against the popular Dolby Atomos technology. Owned by Xperi Corp (formerly Digital Theater Systems Inc.), this is a multichannel audio technology which can be licensed for use in consumer and commercial audio devices. 

DTS Virtual: X in a nutshell, is an object-based audio technology designed to bounce the height effects off your ceiling. This will help create better overhead sound thus providing more immersive audio. 

Compared: The Top Soundbars Under 200 Dollars

LG SK5Y 360W Soundbar
Polk Signa S2
VIZIO SB3621n-F8M
Yamaha YAS-108
LG SK5Y 360W Soundbar
VIZIO-SB2821-D6 soundbar
Brand
LG
Polk
VIZIO
Yamaha
Sony
VIZIO
Model
SK5Y
Signa S2
SB3621N-F8M
YAS-108
S200F
SB2821-D6
Price
Size
35″
35.5″
36″
35″
38″
28″
Channels
2.1
2.1
2.1
2.1
2.1
2.1
Power
360W
N/A
N/A
120W
80W
N/A
Loudness
N/A
N/A
100dB
N/A
N/A
95dB
Speaker Count
2
4
2
2
2
2
External Subwoofer
Bluetooth
Optical
Digital Coaxial
3.5mm
RCA
HDMI Out (Arc)
HDMI In (Passthrough)
Wall Mount
DTS Virtual: X

Sub-$200 Soundbar Reviews (2018)

VIZIO SB3621n-F8M

Pros

  • Elegant 2-piece design with contrasting silver accents
  • Support for DTS Virtual:X & Dolby Audio (except Atomos)
  • Can be upgraded to utilize LG's SPK8-S wireless speakers

Cons

  • Does not offer a built-in Chromecast (like the VIZIO's higher-end models)
  • No way to add speakers and upgrade to 5.1 surround sound in the future like the LG SK5

VIZIO has become a top player in the home entertainment space over the past decade rising the ranks to adequately compete with larger, more established brands like Samsung, LG and Sony. This model is our choice as the best soundbar under 200 dollars for 2019.

Their SB3621n-F8M is one of their 2018 soundbars that is exclusive to Amazon (meaning that it is only sold through the retailer) with some serious value on the dollar. 

In terms of appeal, the VIZIO models offer an elegant look consisting of a black base with contrasting silver accents on both the sides of the subwoofer as well as the 36-inch soundbar.

The subwoofer operates wirelessly allowing you to place the sub anywhere in the room that you so desire. Of course, this will still require a consistent powers source so its not truly “wireless” it just doesn't need to be connected directly to the subwoofer. 

Performance wise, the SB3621n-F8M is capable of supplying up to 100dB of audio with less than 1% of total harmonic distortion. Thanks to the dedicated external subwoofer, frequencies can reach as low as 50hz for stellar bass performance.

VIZIO developed this model to support DTS Virtual: X thus allowing the soundbar to deliver virtual overhead sound for better immersion. There is support for Dolby Audio technologies, but there isn't any support for their newest Dolby Atomos format which is similar to the DTS Virtual: X which is present in this model.

LG SK5Y 360W Soundbar

Pros

  • Sleek 2-piece design
  • Support for DTS Virtual:X & Dolby Digital
  • Can be upgraded to utilize LG's SPK8-S wireless speakers

Cons

  • Sale price could end at any time
  • Not as many connection types offered as competing models

*Pricing as of 12/6/18

LG is well-known for their high-end televisions as their OLED models are often considered the best in the market. Beyond their amazing display technology, their audio accessories are also something to consider.

In this case, LG's SK5Y soundbar originally has an MSRP of $279.99 which is much higher than our $200 max budget. However, LG has been discounting it for $100 for quite a few months now thus making this soundbar model affordable enough for most prospective buyers.

For just under $180, the SK5Y offers quite a bang for your buck in terms of features and has a nice sleek appeal to it as well. The two-piece design offers the 35″ soundbar (mountable) alongside a dedicated subwoofer which can be placed on the floor near your television. 

The conjunction of these two units is how the soundbar attains its 2.1 surround sound functionality. There is built-in adaptive sound control as well as bass blast in addition to support for DTS Virtual:X, DTS Digital Surround and Dolby Digital formats.

Internally, the soundbar harnesses two 80W speaker drivers and the subwoofer comes in at 200W offering a total of 360W of power. Additionally, this model offers the ability to add an additional two speakers to the rear for upgrading to 5.1 surround sound via LG's SPK8-S Wireless Rear Speaker Kit which has an MSRP for $179.99.

LG's SK5Y doesn't offer as many connection inputs as some of the models on this list (particularly the VIZIO models), but it covers all the most common ones including optical, HDMI, 3.5mm AUX, and Bluetooth support. 

Polk Signa S2

Pros

  • Slim & sleek
  • 'VoiceAdjust' technology allows you to fine tune dialogue audio to your liking
  • 'Night mode' boosts helps avoid disturbing others around you

Cons

  • Limited connection options

Polk is a brand that hasn't reached the household name status, but is a widely respected manufacturer in the world of audio components. Their Signa S2 soundbar offers a sleek appeal that is designed to look slim (measures in at 2″ tall) on your media stand or when wall mounted. Much like its competition, it utilizes a separate subwoofer that wirelessly connects to your soundbar for a simplified, minimal cable setup. 

Unique to the Signa S2 is Polk's exclusive VoiceAdjust feature which allows you to increase the volume and vocal clarity for any movies or TV shows that you may be watching. You no longer have to settle when viewing scenes where the loud background music or special effects drown out any important dialogue between characters or a narrator. 

Beyond this VoiceAdjust technology, there is also an integrated Night mode which with the press of a button will damped the bass output and increasing the VoiceAdjust setting (without adjusting the master volume) allowing you to enjoy the audio from your favorite content while dramatically reducing the likelihood of waking up or disturbing a neighbor, roommate, family member or significant other. 

As you'd expect there in native Bluetooth support for connecting to your smartphone, tablet or computer for wireless audio playback.

Yamaha YAS-108

Pros

  • Compact, single-piece design doesn't take up much room
  • Supports DTS Virtual: X
  • 'Clear Voice' mode enhances vocal frequencies

Cons

  • Bass performance will differ than models with a dedicated external subwoofer

One of the largest manufacturers of motor vehicles, Yamaha has also been involved in the consumer entertainment, musical instrument and audio markets for quite some time now. Their YAS-108 soundbar offers a lot of bang for your buck priced under 200 dollars, but falls short to the competition in a few areas.

First off, the look of the YAS-108 will be hit or miss with consumers although we tend to think it is a rather sleek single-piece design with rounded corners, a thin profile and it looks great when wall mounted under your television.

Since it is just one piece, there is no external subwoofer included and the design actually utilizes two built-in subwoofers for providing deep bass within the singular unit. While the bass performance is likely enough for some users, this type of subwoofer design will almost always be outperformed by a dedicated external sub so if you are looking for the best bass performance then you'll likely want to choose another model.

Like the Polk Signa S2, Yamaha has developed their own signature technology which boosts the vocal clarity by enhancing the frequency ranges most commonly found in voices. While this isn't a must have feature, it is surely a nice addition for those who often have trouble distinguishing dialogue from the background music or sound effects.

While this model is more toned down that some of the competing soundbars on this list, you still have support for DTS: Virtual X which offers the virtual 3D surround sound performance that most consumers seek while remaining affordable and in a compact form-factor.

Sony S200F

Pros

  • Compact form-factor
  • Utilizes S-Force Pro (front surround format)
  • 'Clear Voice' mode enhances vocal frequencies

Cons

  • No support for DTS Virtual: X surround sound

Sony has been a leading force in the consumer and professional entertainment industry and harnesses a huge presence in the TV industry with nearly 7% marketshare (which is the third highest below Samsung and LG).

Their S200F soundbar takes a similar approach to the Yamaha model listed above with a one piece design that utilizes built-in subwoofers to fulfill the 2.1 channel surround sound performance. While this isn't as ideal in terms of performance as having a separate soundbar and

Unfortunately, unlike the YAS-108, there is no support for DTS: X or any other 3D surround sound technology. Instead, Sony implemented their lesser-known and proprietary S-Force Pro format which harnesses front surround performance that is less immersive than 3D surround.

There is native Bluetooth support for wirelessly playing back audio from your smartphone, tablet or computer. Additionally, you may be able to wirelessly connect the soundbar to compatible  Sony televisions running Android TV thus skipping the need for a wired connection and providing simultaneous control of the TV/soundbar with a single remote.

VIZIO-SB2821-D6 soundbar

Pros

  • Small enough to fit on virtually any TV stand
  • Supports Dolby Digital, DTS TruSurround & TruVolume
  • Affordable while still offering 2.1 channel audio

Cons

  • Lacks support for DTS Virtual: X surround sound
  • No HDMI ARC connection

The second VIZIO soundbar model to make this under 200 dollar round-up, the SB2821-D6 offers the full 2.1 channel audio benefits while remaining well under budget. Sure, it doesn't have all the bells and whistles of its older sibling the SB3621n-F8M like DTS Virtual: X support yet it covers enough of the needs for those looking to sacrifice features or performance to save money.

Not only is this model the cheapest on this list, but it is also the smallest in width measuring in at just 28 inches. Since this makes the soundbar 7 inches shorter than the other options on this list, it is very compact and thus able to fit on nearly any sized TV stand or even wall-mounted in the tightest of spots.

One of the downfalls to the smaller size and price-point is the lack of advanced connection options like an HDMI ARC port. While this isn't a dealbreaker for many, this will mean that you'll potentially require more cables for setup as well as the lack of being able to use the native TV remote control for controlling your soundbars volume levels.  

 

Final Verdict

You have reached the end of this buying guide on the best soundbars under 200 dollars. Throughout this article, we have introduced you to the top soundbar models within a $200 budget and gave you a brief education as to which criteria you should be looking out for before purchasing a soundbar.

If you've consumed all the various information within this article and still are finding yourself with any outstanding questions or concerns about your soundbar purchase, be sure to leave us a comment below and we will do our best to answer your question or help solve any concerns.

Remember, our team has determined that the best 200 dollar soundbar overall is the VIZIO SB3621n-F8M and remains the recommended choice for most buyers, but any of the models that we mentioned within this list could be a good fit for your needs.

Thanks for reading our guide on the dollars and hope you found it helpful!
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