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post #1 of 13 Old 09-14-2018, 12:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Best Soundbars Under $500

Looking for the best soundbars under $500? Here’s a list featuring great sounding and feature packed options.


Today’s soundbars perform better than ever thanks to advances in audio technology like DSP processing. Looking at the best soundbars under $500 presents a cornucopia of options: You can get a smart soundbar, surround-sound capability, a wireless subwoofer, HDMI compatibility, and even Wi-Fi music streaming.

There are tons of models to choose from, including offerings from all the major TV makers and speaker manufacturers. However, choosing the right soundbar at any price point requires thinking about your usage scenario. Is this going to be a living room soundbar for TV and sports? You’ll want something simple but loud.

Do you plan to use the soundbar for music as much as TV and movies? Perhaps a high-quality two-channel model is best for you, or a system that has streaming built-in (many do). Are you really into movies and surround-sound? There are options that include rear speakers in the box and others with some flavor of virtual surround processing.

Knowing what you’ll use it for will help you narrow down the options when looking at the best soundbars under $500, since there are so many.

There is the consideration of whether you are going to wall-mount your soundbar, or put it on a TV stand. And if it’s on a TV stand, there is always the question of whether any given model will fit with the TV you pair it with. Soundbars come in all shapes and sizes, so you’ll want to do some quick math and make sure it fits.

The good news is with so many options available, there is almost certainly a soundbar option that’s right for you, the only trick is finding it. With that in mind, here’s an alphabetical list featuring some of the best soundbars under $500.

-----

Klipsch HD Theater SB 3 Soundbar ($499.98)

This soundbar from Klipsch is a perfect example of a high-performance 2.1 soundbar system. The engineering and the money goes into the fidelity of two channels and a sub. Because it’s Klipsch, the result is easy to deduce: Queue up you favorite music and crank the volume!



A 10″ down-firing sub adds solidity to the performance and a 3D surround mode creates a more spacious sound when watching movies or playing video games. But the main reason to get this system (which eschews HDMI and networking and basically every other “feature” of other soundbars), is for the two channels of Klipsch sound packed into a soundbar form factor.


Polk Audio MagniFi MAX ($449.00)

I’ll gladly vouch for the fidelity of this soundbar system. Polk has really knocked it out of the ballpark when it comes to price-performance ratio with the MagniFi series.



You’ll get crisp, clear, dynamic sound that includes impactful bass from a surprisingly competent subwoofer. Furthermore, this soundbar uses Polk’s patented SDA (stereo dimensional array) technology to render a wide and immersive sound field without requiring surround speakers. And it’s also smart, with Chromecast built-in, which allows it to stream directly from many apps and also be a part of a multi-room audio system.


Samsung HW-N650 ($497.99)

Samsung has produced a steady stream of super-sounding soundbars over the past few years. The HW-N650, which I reviewed here, looks good, sounds great, offers a ton of features, and is well-built. Plus if you want to add real wireless surround speakers, Samsung sells an affordable upgrade, the SWA-8500S for $81.44.



This soundbar is well equipped with inputs including Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and HDMI, as well as optical digital and analog. The wireless sub is notable for digging deep and providing real impact to the bass. Whether you use it for movies, TV, gaming, or music listening, you will certainly enjoy the impressive fidelity of the HW-N650 soundbar from Samsung, which is easily one of the best soundbars under $500.


SONOS Beam ($398.00)

When HDMI finally arrived in the Sonos universe, it came in the Beam, a surprisingly affordable offering from the company that (practically speaking) single-handedly created the multiroom, networked lifestyles speaker category that is now on fire.



Beam is true Sonos design, carefully engineered down to the last detail. You can count on several things with any Sonos product: The Beam sounds good, is attractive, reliable, and easy to use. So what’s the catch? The beam does not include a subwoofer, and if you want to have a proper cinematic experience or get the most out of music, you’ll need a sub.

The price of a Sonos Sub is a bit steep at $699.97 but it’s a much better performer than the subs that come in the box with other soundbars and speaks to the fact you can build out a Sonos surround system that’s based on the Beam by adding wireless surrounds and the Sub for real 5.1.


Sony HTCT800 2.1 Channel Soundbar ($378.00)

Here’s a soundbar that’s starkly minimalist, and that’s a good thing! Sony’s HTCT800 many “only” be a 2-channel model, but what’s outstanding is its form factor. This is an ultra-slim soundbar designed for flush wall-mount applications where a regular soundbar would stick out.



Each channel in this system gets 110 W of power for dynamic sound. It’s got HDMI connectivity as well as Wi-Fi and bluetooth. Its grill is made of perforated metal and it’s a perfect match for a wall-mounted Sony TV.


VIZIO SB4551-D5 45” 5.1 Slim Sound Bar System ($399.99)

Vizio is always about delivering great performance at appealing price points. The company has been making affordable yet excellent soundbars for years, and I have reviewed numerous models. The SB4551 is the priciest system offered by the company that does not include Dolby Atmos and yet it’s still just under $500!



With Vizio, you get everything: True 5.1 surround with a slim wireless sub (that fits under or behind a couch) with rear speakers, Wi-Fi streaming, support for Dolby and DTS audio, and a remote.


Yamaha MusicCast Bar 400 ($499.95)

Yamaha’s been in the soundbar game a long time and has much experience building great-sounding examples. The MusicCast Bar 400 is a perfect example of the well-rounded, technologically advanced product it offers.



With the MusicCast Bar 400, you get Amazon Alexa voice recognition, DTS Virtual X for immersive sound, Dolby Vision support via HDMI, and more. It’s flexible, with a wall-mount option, and MusicCast supports streaming services and allows it to be a part of a large multi-room sound system. It’s definitely one of the best soundbars under $500.

-----

Main image above by Customdesigner / Shutterstock

We are committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best products. We earn commissions from purchases you make using the retail links in our product reviews. Learn more about how this works here.

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Last edited by imagic; 09-14-2018 at 12:12 PM.
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post #2 of 13 Old 09-14-2018, 12:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post
Looking for the best soundbars under $500? Here’s a list featuring great sounding and feature packed options.


Today’s soundbars perform better than ever thanks to advances in audio technology like DSP processing. Looking at the best soundbars under $500 presents a cornucopia of options: You can get a smart soundbar, surround-sound capability, a wireless subwoofer, HDMI compatibility, and even Wi-Fi music streaming.

There are tons of models to choose from, including offerings from all the major TV makers and speaker manufacturers. However, choosing the right soundbar at any price point requires thinking about your usage scenario. Is this going to be a living room soundbar for TV and sports? You’ll want something simple but loud.

Do you plan to use the soundbar for music as much as TV and movies? Perhaps a high-quality two-channel model is best for you, or a system that has streaming built-in (many do). Are you really into movies and surround-sound? There are options that include rear speakers in the box and others with some flavor of virtual surround processing.

Knowing what you’ll use it for will help you narrow down the options when looking at the best soundbars under $500, since there are so many.

There is the consideration of whether you are going to wall-mount your soundbar, or put it on a TV stand. And if it’s on a TV stand, there is always the question of whether any given model will fit with the TV you pair it with. Soundbars come in all shapes and sizes, so you’ll want to do some quick math and make sure it fits.

The good news is with so many options available, there is almost certainly a soundbar option that’s right for you, the only trick is finding it. With that in mind, here’s an alphabetical list featuring some of the best soundbars under $500.

-----

Klipsch HD Theater SB 3 Soundbar ($499.98)

This soundbar from Klipsch is a perfect example of a high-performance 2.1 soundbar system. The engineering and the money goes into the fidelity of two channels and a sub. Because it’s Klipsch, the result is easy to deduce: Queue up you favorite music and crank the volume!



A 10″ down-firing sub adds solidity to the performance and a 3D surround mode creates a more spacious sound when watching movies or playing video games. But the main reason to get this system (which eschews HDMI and networking and basically every other “feature” of other soundbars, is for the two channels of Klipsch sound packed into a soundbar form factor.


Polk Audio MagniFi MAX ($449.00)

I’ll gladly vouch for the fidelity of this soundbar system. Polk has really knocked it out of the ballpark when it comes to price-performance ratio with the MagniFi series.



You’ll get crisp, clear, dynamic sound that includes impactful bass from a surprisingly competent subwoofer. Furthermore, this soundbar uses Polk’s patented SDA (stereo dimensional array) technology to render a wide and immersive sound field without requiring surround speakers. And it’s also smart, with Chromecast built-in, which allows it to stream directly from many apps and also be a part of a multi-room audio system.


Samsung HW-N650 ($497.99)

Samsung has produced a steady stream of super-sounding soundbars over the past few years. The HW-N650, which I reviewed here, looks good, sounds great, offers a ton of features, and is well-built. Plus if you want to add real wireless surround speakers, Samsung sells an affordable upgrade, the SWA-8500S for $81.44.



This soundbar is well equipped with inputs including Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and HDMI, as well as optical digital and analog. The wireless sub is notable for digging deep and providing real impact to the bass. Whether you use it for movies, TV, gaming, or music listening, you will certainly enjoy the impressive fidelity of the HW-N650 soundbar from Samsung, which is easily one of the best soundbars under $500.


SONOS Beam ($398.00)

When HDMI finally arrived in the Sonos universe, it came in the Beam, a surprisingly affordable offering from the company that (practically speaking) single-handedly created the multiroom, networked lifestyles speaker category that is now on fire.



Beam is true Sonos design, carefully engineered down to the last detail. You can count on several things with any Sonos product: The Beam sounds good, is attractive, reliable, and easy to use. So what’s the catch? The beam does not include a subwoofer, and if you want to have a proper cinematic experience or get the most out of music, you’ll need a sub.

The price of a Sonos Sub is a bit steep at $699.97 but it’s a much better performer than the subs that come in the box with other soundbars and speaks to the fact you can build out a Sonos surround system that’s based on the Beam by adding wireless surrounds and the Sub for real 5.1.


Sony HTCT800 2.1 Channel Soundbar ($378.00)

Here’s a soundbar that’s starkly minimalist, and that’s a good thing! Sony’s HTCT800 many “only” be a 2-channel model, but what’s outstanding is its form factor. This is an ultra-slim soundbar designed for flush wall-mount applications where a regular soundbar would stick out.



Each channel in this system gets 110 W of power for dynamic sound. It’s got HDMI connectivity as well as Wi-Fi and bluetooth. Its grill is made of perforated metal and it’s a perfect match for a wall-mounted Sony TV.


VIZIO SB4551-D5 45” 5.1 Slim Sound Bar System ($399.99)

Vizio is always about delivering great performance at appealing price points. The company has been making affordable yet excellent soundbars for years, and I have reviewed numerous models. The SB4551 is the priciest system offered by the company that does not include Dolby Atmos and yet it’s still just under $500!



With Vizio, you get everything: True 5.1 surround with a slim wireless sub (that fits under or behind a couch) with rear speakers, Wi-Fi streaming, support for Dolby and DTS audio, and a remote.


Yamaha MusicCast Bar 400 ($499.95)

Yamaha’s been in the soundbar game a long time and has much experience building great-sounding examples. The MusicCast Bar 400 is a perfect example of the well-rounded, technologically advanced product it offers.



With the MusicCast Bar 400, you get Amazon Alexa voice recognition, DTS Virtual X for immersive sound, Dolby Vision support via HDMI, and more. It’s flexible, with a wall-mount option, and MusicCast supports streaming services and allows it to be a part of a large multi-room sound system. It’s definitely one of the best soundbars under $500.

-----

Main image above by Customdesigner / Shutterstock

We are committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best products. We earn commissions from purchases you make using the retail links in our product reviews. Learn more about how this works here.
I was a little surprised to not see something like the JBL Bar 3.1 on the list.
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post #3 of 13 Old 09-14-2018, 12:15 PM - Thread Starter
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I was a little surprised to not see something like the JBL Bar 3.1 on the list.
I'll have to check it out, no doubt. I need to get JBL to send me some soundbars, I stuck with stuff I've auditioned for this list, and I did not want to make the list too long, but of course I'd like to consider all strong performers.

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post #4 of 13 Old 09-14-2018, 01:27 PM
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I'll have to check it out, no doubt. I need to get JBL to send me some soundbars, I stuck with stuff I've auditioned for this list, and I did not want to make the list too long, but of course I'd like to consider all strong performers.
I demoed it a bit at a local Best Buy, it sounded pretty good. I was, and still am looking to replace my Nakamichi Shockwafe 7.1 Pro which I have been highly disappointed in, but alas I have had it to long to return it.
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The Yamaha 400 looks good on paper but I've not yet seen any hands on reviews, not sure how it made this list? Can someone point me in the direction of actual reviews???

Paul
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post #6 of 13 Old 09-14-2018, 03:42 PM - Thread Starter
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The Yamaha 400 looks good on paper but I've not yet seen any hands on reviews, not sure how it made this list? Can someone point me in the direction of actual reviews???

Paul
Yamaha is on the list because of the feauture set and it's track record making good Soundbars. It is new, yes, so no reviews yet but I will see if I can get a review up soon, all very busy lots on my plate but maybe a mini review.

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post #7 of 13 Old 09-14-2018, 07:56 PM
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The Samsung N650 has gotten a lot of positive reviews and considered the best bang for your buck! I heard it at my local best buy and it was pretty good! It's gear mostly for gamers.

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post #8 of 13 Old 09-15-2018, 01:11 PM
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Yamaha is on the list because of the feauture set and it's track record making good Soundbars. It is new, yes, so no reviews yet but I will see if I can get a review up soon, all very busy lots on my plate but maybe a mini review.
Thanks you. I too like when I read about his fully featured product. Anxiously awaiting to hear of your experience... please hurry!

Paul
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The Yamaha 400 looks good on paper but I've not yet seen any hands on reviews, not sure how it made this list? Can someone point me in the direction of actual reviews???

Paul

There is a video on this site that see's Mr Henninger dancing around a room to this particular soundbar at the CEDIA expo...
So while reviews may not be anywhere, I can only assume it has a little 'boogie' to it?
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post #10 of 13 Old 09-16-2018, 05:12 AM
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There is a video on this site that see's Mr Henninger dancing around a room to this particular soundbar at the CEDIA expo...
So while reviews may not be anywhere, I can only assume it has a little 'boogie' to it?

Boogie in a bar can be bad.... bad ass:

Paul
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post #11 of 13 Old 09-19-2018, 06:19 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks you. I too like when I read about his fully featured product. Anxiously awaiting to hear of your experience... please hurry!

Paul
Signed the product loan form today.
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post #12 of 13 Old 10-27-2018, 07:55 PM
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Hello IMagic,


I’m glad I found your post. I am in the market for a soundbar. I have a TCL 4K tv.. it is located in a average size living room

My shortlist

The Sony CT800

The Polk Magnifi Max

The Samsung 650N and MS 650 w/o Sub

I looking for a soundbar that provides the most versatility for best bang for buck. I am looking for bass that is noriciable but not not booming. Prefer soundbar that is smooth with out harshness. , WiFi.

Your input is appreciated.

Thank You

Display 55" XBR 900 E
Video. Samsung K8500 4K Player
Audio TBD
Remote Harmony 700
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post #13 of 13 Old 11-10-2018, 12:46 PM
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any recommendations for soundbar with built in subwoofer for LG C8 and Apple Tv 4k?
thanks
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