After exploring all of the new sub-$500 soundbars available and extensively analyzing the seven most promising models, we believe the Vizio SB3651-E6 5.1 is the ideal soundbar with sub for the majority of people. Its performance-to-price ratio is off the charts, and its connectivity options, including Bluetooth, Google Cast, coaxial, optical and HDMI (with Audio Return Channel), are fantastic for a soundbar at this cost.
You can spend on a soundbar with performance. In reality, several of Vizio’s 2016 models offer larger drivers, deeper-reaching, more attractive subwoofers, and the same connectivity. On the other hand, the SB3651-E6 5.1 delivers the best balance of functionality, connectivity, and value. Its center station, wireless subwoofer, and detachable surround speakers (which plug in the sub) deliver balanced, room-filling sound that beats anything in this budget. It sounds great in stereo mode and offers accurate surround sound for films and TV, which most other soundbars can simply digitally imitate. It also supports Google Chromecast and Bluetooth for streaming audio from mobile devices. On the other hand, the Vizio especially doesn’t support HDMI 2.0, which can be an issue when you intend to use external 4K sources.
If our top pick is inaccessible, or if you have 4K video resources such as a media streamer or UHD Blu-ray participant which you want to connect directly to the soundbar instead of routing them through your TV, then we also love Yamaha’s brand new YAS-207BL. It doesn’t sound quite as natural as the Vizio, but it has deeper bass and slightly better detail. And with no Vizio, its HDMI input (and output signal with Audio Yield Channel) really supports the latest 4K video standards, such as high dynamic selection and HDCP 2.2 copy security.
We believe the Vizio is a much better choice for the majority of people because its sound quality is much better overall and it costs significantly less. The DTS Virtual:X processing may be a little underwhelming occasionally and weird-sounding at others. And though Yamaha doesn’t encourage Chromecast Audio, it does have Bluetooth, which functions with everything.
In case you’ve got a tighter budget, then do not need separate surround sound speakers, then don’t care about Google Cast, or only need a simpler soundbar alternative, Vizio’s Vizio SB3621n-E8 2.1 Soundbar with sub1 is probably exactly what you’re searching for. It’s simple to set up, can perform shockingly loud with hardly any audible distortion, and seems fantastic with music and movies alike. True, it lacks HDMI ARC connectivity, which means you’ll need to use a separate (or universal) distant to control its own volume amounts, but the most important thing is no soundbar this cheap has any appropriate sounding this good.
Should you need Google Cast wireless streaming, by the way, last year’s funding pick, the Vizio SB3821-D6, is still available, but we think the SB3621n-E8 is a better value due to the superior sound quality and lower cost.
The Zvox SB500 is unquestionably the priciest of our selections, but if you’re hard of hearing or are searching for someone who is, its effective dialogue enhancement is worth the excess expense. Most contemporary soundbars offer some type of built-in dialogue enhancement feature, but Zvox AccuVoice utilizes algorithms made from hearing aids to produce a more noticeable effect than anything else we’ve tested–based on some 75-year-old, hearing-aid-using dad. Other built-in technologies such as Output Leveling (which reduces overly loud sounds and boosts soft sounds) additionally boost the impact and make dialogue even simpler to understand.
While the Zvox doesn’t have a separate sub, its dual built in bass drivers delivers reduced frequencies every bit as heavy as the ones delivered by the dedicated subwoofer included with our additional selections. It’s a solid pick for those who either can’t or do not need to accommodate a separate subwoofer on the floor. Nevertheless, the SB500 does get get boomy and overwhelmed with its bass output at times. If you want better sounding bass, it features a wired subwoofer output so you can hook up a higher-performance stand alone subwoofer.