The best budget soundbases in 2022
Good news: there is a foolproof way to get better sound from your TV without filling your living room with speakers – or even making room for a soundbar. It’s called a soundbase, and the beauty of it is that it’s wide, flat, and sits directly beneath your television (as opposed to a soundbar that sits in front of it and thus requires more room).
A soundbase is a handy, space-saving solution for situations (read: room dimensions) where a ‘bar just isn’t practical, and if you plump for one of the ones listed below, it’ll give your TV far more oomph and quality in the sound department. If you like the look of one of the models, simply click on the attached, in-depth What Hi-Fi? review; you’ll soon know the product as well as if it were rested in the palm of your hand.
You can get HDMI or digital optical inputs, wireless Bluetooth audio, and a significant improvement in sound performance when watching TV or movies. Interested? You are, of course. And you should be, given this lot. The following is a list of the best budget soundbases we’ve tested.
Top 10 best budget soundbases in 2022
1. Sonos Playbase
With multi-room speakers, a couple of soundbars, and this soundbase, Sonos is the original multi-room champion. So you not only get better sound from your TV, but also all of the clever streaming functionality Sonos provides, as well as the ability to easily connect to a multi-room system and be upgraded to a full 5.1 system with the addition of a Sonos Sub and two Sonos Ones, Sonos One SLs, Sonos Play:1s (or even Play:3 or Play:5) speakers. The Playbase is sturdy and can hold TVs weighing up to 35kg. Sonically, it’s a punchy, dynamic, and fairly detailed performance, with only an occasional harsh treble giving us pause.
2. Sonos Beam
This is Sonos’s smaller, less expensive soundbar, but it’s no less impressive. It supports the Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple Siri personal assistants, so you have plenty of options for voice controls.
It also supports various streaming services, such as Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music, Amazon, Deezer, and Google Play Music. It also syncs with other Sonos speakers to form a multi-room system. Of course, you’ll want to connect it to your TV, where it will provide sound quality far superior to built-in speakers. We were so impressed with it that we gave it one of our coveted What Hi-Fi? 2019 Awards. In 2020, we had no choice but to award it again – this time for the best soundbar in the highly competitive £300 – £500 price range. It comes highly recommended.
3. Roku Streambar
Consider the Roku Streambar to be an upgrade to your TV rather than an entry into proper home cinema, and it checks almost every box. While it doesn’t quite reach five stars, it easily nails the aspects for which it will be most commonly used: projection and clarity. The Streambar will work with any television that has an HDMI input and will output 4K HDR at up to 60 frames per second for those who have compatible sets. Everyone else will get 1080p Full HD with upscaled signals from lower resolutions.
The included remote is excellent, and for an out-of-the-box boost to TV audio and older sets’ smart features, the Roku Streambar is an extremely low-risk purchase at this price. In that regard, we can wholeheartedly recommend it.
4. The Denon DHT-T110
The Denon DHT-T110 isn’t all that different from many of the other models on this list. It has a similar weight rating, size, and even appearance. So, why would you choose this soundbase over others? Easy. You are listening to music. Although the DHT-T110 can handle movies well, it really shines when it comes to songs and albums. We don’t think you’ll find a better soundbar for streaming music for less than $300.
Part of this is due to its excellent bass and excellent Bluetooth streaming capabilities. The codec, which is the software programme that converts 1s and 0s, does an excellent job of ensuring that wireless streaming (which can be a little iffy at times) sounds solid. While the DHT-T110 isn’t the best soundbase on the market—it can’t compete with the Sonos Playbase in terms of overall sound quality—its musical abilities make it a solid choice. We’ve also seen it at much lower prices than the one listed, so be sure to shop around!
5. Creative Stage 2.1
Not everyone has a lot of money to throw around for a soundbar, and if you want to upgrade the audio on your TV, Creative’s Stage 2.1 soundbar is a cheap and cheerful option. It won’t break the bank at £80 and will vastly improve your TV’s audio output.
The soundbar has a variety of inputs, making it suitable for a wide range of setups. It’s also very small and light. In terms of sound quality, it’s extremely impressive: it’s great at the low end, crisp and detailed at the high end, and overall delivers an engaging listen. Although it does not provide the same surround-sound experience as more expensive setups, the Creative Stage is an excellent choice if you do not have a large budget.
6. Yamaha MusicCast Bar 400
The Yamaha MusicCast Bar 400 is a 2.1-channel soundbar that comes with an active wireless subwoofer and works well with both movies and music. Its understated and well-made design includes the company’s MusicCast as well as good bass.
There is no Dolby Atmos or DTS:X support, and there is only one HDMI input, but there is voice control via Alexa, and you can buy this soundbar without the wireless subwoofer if you are on a tight budget.
7. Sony HT-ZF9
The Sony HT-ZF9 is a small and well-built 3.1-channel soundbar that not only supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, but also provides 7.1.2 surround sound via effective virtual sound processing. Other features include built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Chromecast, as well as 4K HDR and Hi-Res audio support.
While the HT-ZF9 cannot compete with soundbars that deliver immersive audio in a more traditional manner, it has a lot to recommend. Both movies and music sound good, and Sony’s use of digital signal processing to create a virtual immersive experience is frequently very successful.
8. B&O Beosound stage
The Danish audio masters have done it again with this soundbar, which ‘packs an astonishing amount of sound into a small, stylish unit’. The Beosound Stage is B&O’s first soundbar, and it was well worth the wait.
There are 11 drivers hidden behind the stylish Kvadrat cloth finish, producing a hugely impressive wall of sound – angled drivers provide height, while a variety of tweeters and woofers add width and depth. It can also get extremely boomy without the use of a subwoofer.
The level of detail is superb, and the director has a deft touch with everything from dynamic action scenes that pan across the screen to subtle speech. It extracts every last drop of audio quality from soundtracks thanks to Dolby Atmos compatibility, and it does provide a noticeable boost to audio spatial positioning when compared to simpler soundbars, though don’t expect it to provide a full surround experience like the Samsung Q90R below.
9. YAMAHA SR-B20A
If you’re looking for the best soundbar under £250, your search is over. The audio quality is excellent for the price, providing far more balance, clarity, and depth than a budget TV speaker could ever hope to provide. And, despite the fact that this soundbar isn’t even as wide as a typical 32-inch TV (meaning it’s equally at home with monitors as it is with TVs), the sound has a really impressive width and stereo positioning. The dynamic range is also excellent in everything from movies to video games. It also works well with music and has Bluetooth for easy streaming.
It’s also extremely simple to set up, with a single HDMI ARC port for easy TV connection (allowing control via your TV remote), twin optical connectors, or even a good ol’ 3.5mm jack. The remote is awkward, but there are controls on the top and a great app for mode adjustments. This thing is inexpensive, versatile, unobtrusive, and produces excellent sound. We adore it, and our full Yamaha SR-C20A review explains why.
10. SAMSUNG HW-Q950T
If you want the scale of a movie theatre at home in the most convenient package possible, the Samsung HW-Q950T is the way to go. This is a four-box system, which means it includes a soundbar, a subwoofer, and two rear speakers. That takes a little longer to set up and position than most of the other options here, but they’re all wirelessly connected, so it’s not a big deal in the end. And the results are quite impressive – no other soundbar option is more convincing when it comes to the 3D effect of object-based audio (such as Dolby Atmos), adding surround sound and even height.
It’s not just about scale here; the dexterity of the sound is also excellent. Everything in the soundtrack, from the smallest to the largest, is picked out and presented clearly and precisely. If a movie requires it, it can deliver subtle scenes with a light touch, then instantly turn on the big noise for a shock moment.
It struggles to deliver as much nuance in the bass as it does elsewhere, and all of this technology comes at a high cost, but it is the best at what it does, as our in-depth Samsung HW-Q950T review reveals. We also have a Samsung HW-Q950T vs B&O Beosound Stage comparison chart if you want to see how this compares to our top pick.
How to choose best budget soundbases
A soundbase or soundbar’s basic design is to create a housing that projects sound. Several speakers are placed inside a single enclosure to produce loud and intense sound, similar to that of a surround-sound cinema. Some models also include a subwoofer. A speaker that is specifically designed to produce low-pitched sounds.
When compared to a soundbase, the sound quality from a TV is generally quite poor. These are some of the factors that can influence the sound quality of your new soundbase.
To begin, consider cone materials. Many are constructed of paper, aluminium, or polypropylene. Cones with the least amount of flex produce the best sound.
Second, consider the enclosure’s shape and size. Because of the vibration it causes inside the box, a larger enclosure may distort the sound more than a smaller one. As a result, manufacturers strive to make soundbases as small as possible.
Although technical details are important, the real way to determine the quality of the sound is to listen to the speaker. Reading reviews is the best way to find out how it sounds before you buy!
Also, if you want excellent sound quality, consider home sinema systems and hi-fi systems.
Soundbar Vs Soundbase
In terms of technology, soundbars and soundbases are nearly identical, and both work to improve your home entertainment setup. A soundbar is an aptly named device, as its shape is similar to a long bar that typically sits across the base of your television. Due to the smaller size of the speakers, soundbars usually include their own subwoofer to boost the bass. It will be quieter than a soundbase if not. Soundbases, on the other hand, have a more rectangular shape and are frequently used as an under-TV speaker.
They are also heavier than soundbars due to the additional weight they must support. Because of their larger size, soundbases can generally support a higher volume level, allowing for larger speakers and integrated subwoofers. Because they both work in the same way, the deciding factor would be how much space you have and the features you want.
Before purchasing, double-check the connections of your TV and sound base.
HDMI, optical, Bluetooth, digital, and analogue coaxial cables are examples of connections.
Additional Bluetooth or Near Field Connection (NFC) makes it simple to pair the device with a smartphone, allowing you to stream music.
If you need a soundbase with music streaming capabilities, make sure to get one with Bluetooth, NFC, or a specific USB or iPod port.
Soundbase With HDMI
Most modern sound bases and soundbars connect via HDMI cables, so check that first when selecting your model.
Many HDMI connections include an Audio Return Channel (ARC), which allows for a two-way audio connection between your TV and the soundbase, as well as other devices such as a DVD player.
As you can see, sound bases aren’t cheap, but the price range varies, so you can find one that fits your budget.
Different brands cost more or less, but more important factors include the number of internal speakers, device size, materials used, and features. Other factors that can influence the price include:
- Whether or not it has an integrated subwoofer. If it does, it’ll cost more.
- If it has a display or not. Generally, versions with displays cost more.
- The number of output modes, such as movie, music, or TV mode.
- Whether it’s a soundbar or a soundbase. Soundbases tend to cost more due to more speakers.
- Whether or not you can connect additional speakers, such as with the SONOS model.
Some brands, such as SONOS, combine ultra-compact devices with incredible sound and a plethora of extra features, resulting in far higher prices. More straightforward versions with equally excellent sound quality, on the other hand, will be less expensive. To keep things simple, our Best for Low Budgets rated Panasonic soundbar is the most affordable option.
With 6 soundbase models covered, you should have a good idea of which model is right for you. Although their general functions are the same, you’ll notice a wide range of differences in features, size, and price. These pieces of equipment can turn ordinary hard-to-hear home movie time into incredible movie experiences from the comfort of your own sofa. Similarly, music and television shows are given the sound quality they deserve. If you’re still undecided about which version to buy, consider the Q Acoustics M2 Soundbar, which has the highest overall rating! It’s appealing, reasonably priced, and comes with a slew of extras.