If you’re a self-confessed audiophile with a penchant for movies and games, you probably have one goal that you simply can’t wait to cross out of your list—assembling your very own home entertainment system. Who can blame you? The contentment you feel knowing that you have all the amenities at hand to provide you with great, rich sound is pure ecstasy. Bring that together with a high-quality HDTV and a top soundbar (in our case) and yep, you’re on cloud nine.
Then again, putting together your own entertainment system is no joke. If you’re not careful, you might end up spending more than you bargained for, and still get the poorest system in the market. So, audiophiles, rejoice! I have compiled a list of..
The top 8 soundbars in the market that fall under the less-than-$500 category:
Coming from one of the leading companies dedicated to the production of musical instruments, it should not come as a surprise that this system is no. 1 on our list. The soundbar-wireless subwoofer combination (we now have a whole article dedicated to soundbars with wireless subwoofers) comes in a luxurious black exterior that allows it to blend well with the surroundings without compromising the sound delivered. Bluetooth technology is also fitted into this system, thus adding to the allure of this gem to audiophiles everywhere. The audiobar itself is more than capable of meeting your demands due to its dual 2 1/8” cone speakers and its 6.5” wireless subwoofer, enabling you to experience an immersive sound delivery. What sets this gem apart is the incorporation of the Air Surround Xtreme technology that actually lets you enjoy a 7.1 channel reproduction of sounds without the clutter of additional speakers, as well as the Clear Voice technology and the UniVolume configuration, which enables you to hear dialogues and other sounds with more clarity and accuracy.
The no. 2 on our list is another gem from Sony. It comes in a stylish matte-black finish and is one of the simplest sound bars in the market today. It has accompanying wireless subwoofer, capable of providing your room with deep bass sound with low to nil distortion. Like most of the picks in our list, it also comes equipped with Bluetooth connectivity for your endless wireless music streaming. Despite the simple veneer, this gem is meant to immerse your room in full-range surround sound, thanks to its two-way 4-speaker system. Excellent state-of-the-art technology, such as the S-Master Amplification configuration and the S-Force PRO Front Surround configuration, greatly improves the delivery of high-definition sound unlike any other. 7 sound modes are also available for you to choose from.
Certainly the longest on our list at 54 inches, this audio system is clearly built for large television. The HT-SB602 is accompanied by a wireless subwoofer that is somewhat slimmer than most of the woofers in this list. It features several inputs that make this beauty easy to connect with plenty of other media devices. You can also stream your favorite music wirelessly through Bluetooth wireless connectivity. Other state-of-the-art technologies also play a part in setting this system apart from all the others. Dolby Digital and DTS surround sound decoders optimize sound delivery, immersing you in full-bodied, dynamic sounds of the highest quality. There are also 6 DSP sound fields that you can choose from, allowing you to set the listening environment of your choice.
This handsome sound system from Samsung is ideal for televisions measuring 46” or larger and it comes in 2 colors: black or white. Plenty of specifications are also mentioned, which help seal this baby’s spot in fourth place. For one, it is allowing you to easily stream your favorite music wirelessly from any Bluetooth-capable device, such as your smartphones or tablets from up to 8 feet. One neat feature in relation to this is that the soundbar automatically switches from Bluetooth to HDMI connectivity once the television is turned on. The wireless subwoofer is also a positive addition to this system, allowing you to hear powerful bass sounds from anywhere in the room without the additional wires. It also features a separate volume dial that helps you adjust the volume according to your taste.
This simple audio bar has several distinctions in comparison with the others on this list. For one, it is the only one in the list that doesn’t have an accompanying subwoofer, primarily due to the built-in subwoofers that has already been fitted into this system. With the other systems in this list being shaped like an actual bar, this beauty looks like a neat box that measures 32.7” long, 3.9” high and 13.9” deep, making it the shortest in our list. But don’t let the simple looks fool you. Boasting of the exclusive Klipsch horn-loaded technology, this tech wonder is more than capable of producing room-filling sound of the highest quality. It is also capable of Bluetooth wireless streaming which allows music playing directly from your own smartphone or tablet. This little box is rather sturdy, allowing it to actually support televisions weighing up to 100 lbs. One minor downside with this system is that it cannot be wall-mounted; however, it can easily be placed under a television or on a shelf, so space is not a problem.
There are plenty of features that landed this 43” beauty the sixth spot on our list. It’s amazing to think that full-bodied sound would be delivered with ease from this compact gemstone. The stylishly-black gadget is fully equipped with four 2.25” woofers and dual 1” tweeters, offering you a rich harmony of realistic sounds. And as if that weren’t enough, this device also comes with a wireless 8” subwoofer that is designed to fill your room with heart-pounding bass without the additional wire clutter. What makes the SB400 special lies in the exclusive HARMAN Display surround sound that lets you enjoy a surround-sound listening experience without adding additional speakers. Bluetooth wireless connectivity also makes an appearance with this beauty, rounding up the features that make this sound system unique.
This gem from Pioneer has all the makings of an awesome system. Designed by no less than the internationally–renowned speaker designer Andrew Jones, the sound bar- wireless subwoofer combination comes in a luxurious black exterior which is made of composite wood that prevents unwanted resonances. The main speaker is fitted with four 3” structured surface mid-woofers and dual 1” soft dome tweeters, all of which are individually powered by their own 28-watt amplifiers. The wireless subwoofer features a 6.5” driver, also powered by its own 50-watt amplifier. These components work hand in hand to ensure the delivery of realistic sound of the highest quality. This home system also sports 3 built-in sound modes—movies, music, and dialogue—all of which provide you with different sound delivery, specifically optimized depending on the mode it represents. An additional feature that aims to endear this gem to the audiophile public is its Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to stream and play your music wirelessly.
For those who do not want to settle on just any normal soundbar with only one additional external driver, you might want to take a look at this gem. Unlike the others on the list that only offer an additional external wireless subwoofer, this beauty from VIZIO offers real 5.1 channel listening experience with its 54” soundbar, accompanied by a wireless woofer and rear satellite speakers. It is also considered one of the best in terms of audio performance with up to 104dB of room immersion and almost no harmonic distortions. Despite the number of speakers, it is easy to connect to your HDTV using only a single audio cable. Bluetooth technology also is featured with this system, allowing you to stream your music wirelessly and listen to it in high-definition. Other exceptional specifications are included, such as Dolby Digital, DTS Digital Surround Sound, DTS TruVolume, and VIZIO Surround Matrix, all of which play a part in the delivery of dynamic sounds, without breaking the bank.
What to expect from bars that cost $500 or less?
With plenty of HDTVs in the electronics industry, you’re bound to find the best one for you. But then, even with the best TV, you’d still have a below- average entertainment experience if you miss one crucial part: the sound. With the development of thinner, more compact TV models, there are various changes that went along with it. The good news: the picture and video delivery is certainly top-notch, and some newer television models can even double as a computer screen. Nowadays, most of them even have smart capabilities. However, you can’t expect that these changes are all positive. There’s actually one major downside with the new generation HDTVs: the sound they deliver is most of the times terrible, sometimes having no depth and even coming out muffled at times.
There is a solution to this problem. One simple way to address this unfortunate issue is by hooking your television up with an external sound system, giving the sound delivery a much-needed boost, both in volume and audio quality. When looking for the best sound system, there are many factors that come into play. One of them would be the size of the components. Let’s face it—not everyone would appreciate large speaker devices and not everyone lives in spacious living rooms. As such, an audio system that would easily fit inside a room without using too much space and adding any clutter would definitely be a great addition.
Another possible consideration is the sound quality. What’s the point of buying an extra audio system if it will not even improve the quality of the output delivered by your HDTV? And of course, there’s the price itself. Being an audiophile with limited funds can be such a pain, especially when buying sound systems. Awesome speakers usually don’t come cheap (check out our budget list if you are short on cash, or the article about the soundbars below $100). But then, on a happier note, many companies have heard the plight of these individuals and have released a nifty technological innovation for sound delivery—the soundbar.
Soundbars combine design, sound, and price in one compact body. Simply put, these are speakers that can easily be placed in a room without any problems in position and despite their slim sizes, they deliver high-quality output without problems.
Of course the price is still a factor, but even if there are more expensive alternatives in the market, that’s not to say that those soundbars that cost less than $500 have almost nothing to offer. Au contraire. These technological gems have actually so much to put on the table, that sometimes there’s almost no difference from their more expensive counterparts in terms of features and sound quality. There are actually plenty of these gems costing less than five hundred bucks in the market, each of them with their own unique ways of rendering high-quality sound.
In summary, attaining high-quality output for your television-watching enjoyment does not need to come at the cost of a hefty price tag and if you spend a little extra you will get a significantly better option than a soundbar for $300. In terms of price, the Samsung HW-H550 is the least expensive system on our list while the Klipsch SB 120 is on the higher end of the price range for this review. When it comes to the size, if you live in a small-spaced room but still want to listen to epic sound, you might want to consider the Klipsch SB 120 as it is the smallest on our list. If you want the largest, then you can go for Sharp HT-SB602 or even the VIZIO S5451w-C2 5.1 Home Theater for a true 5.1 surround sound experience.