A lot of us are old enough to remember the days without the internet when the TV used to be the chief source of indoor entertainment for the whole family. Adults watched sports, news, or a series, while kids enjoyed cartoons or hooked up the television with a console. But do you remember old TVs with external speakers?
You most likely don’t because our traditional TVs had enough room for speakers. Now, thin LED screens don’t have the space to accommodate good quality speakers. So if you want decent quality sound and want something that’s in between the subpar stock sound and an expensive surround sound (which also requires space), a decent soundbar is your best option.
If you want to take a minimalist approach, consider soundbars without subwoofer, which takes up more space and add to the cost. I’ve created this list to help you choose the right soundbar.
#1 Sonos Arc – My Top Pick
Sonos Arc has taken the top spot in a variety of similar lists, and even though we tried not to do the same, this product has taken the top spot almost by force.
It’s one of the best rated and reviewed soundbars out there.
It’s a smart soundbar and truly does justice to the word. It’s aesthetically pleasing (all 45 inches of it) and looks amazing with sleek LEDs, but its looks are nothing compared to its substance.
Thanks to its TruePlay technology, it automatically adjusts the sound quality and tones to match the natural acoustics of the room it’s in. So you get a clear sound, whether it’s vocals or music.
Even though it’s a standalone bar, it can mimic a surround sound system thanks to Dolby Atmos, making it perfect for a budget home theater.
The Alexa and Google assistant are built-in. It doesn’t offer Bluetooth connectivity. Instead, it can be connected via Apple Airplay 2 and WiFi. It offers both Ethernet and HDMI Arc input/output connections.
Despite a heavy price tag , it’s one of the few all-rounder, best soundbars out there that truly shine even without a subwoofer. Its inherent deep bass is enough for most users.
- Best sound quality and clear vocals.
- Great surround sound capabilities.
- Built-in Alexa and voice control feature.
- Perfect for high-quality multi-room audio.
- Sound quality and features rely heavily on your TV. Older models won’t benefit as much from the Arc.
- One HDMI port.
#2 Vizio SB2920-C6 29″ Sound Bar – Editors Choice
Compared to the Arc, one area where this Vizio soundbar truly shines is the price. At the time of writing this, Vizio SB2920-C6 is available for under three figures, which means you can get more than ten of these for the price of one Arc.
But the reason it’s the editor’s choice is that despite a low price, it delivers.
It offers a decent quality deep bass, the sound quality is good, and it comes with Bluetooth connectivity. It’s one of the soundbars without subwoofer that actually works, which is impressive, especially considering its price range.
The length of 29 inches also makes it relatively smaller than most others on this list. Though it doesn’t support Dolby digital decoding, another Vizio soundbar model (SB3820-C6) does.
The DTS TruSurround and DTSTruVolume try to mimic surround sound as much as possible, and while it might not be enough to create a home theater, it’s probably the best soundbar (or one of them) that you can get in this price range.
Since it’s an old piece of technology (though not obsolete), it doesn’t have a lot of features you might take for granted in a newer soundbar. It’s also not very easy to set up. But for the price, it’s a great option for people who are still stuck with a relatively older screen. It offers decent audio quality. The Input/Output connections include a wide variety, including digital optical connection and Bluetooth.
- Fantastic value for money.
- Ideal pairing with older screens.
- Decent surround-sound feature (especially for the price).
- No Amazon Alexa or voice control.
- Doesn’t pair well with newer screens.
- No Wi Fi or Airplay connectivity.
Buy the Vizio SB2920-C6 on Amazon
#3 Sonos Beam – Best value
Another of the same company this early in the list might seem like we are playing favorites, but we are not.
Sonos has some of the best soundbars out there, especially when it comes to the best soundbars without subwoofers.
Unlike the Arc, the Sonos Beam is more reasonably priced. While it’s not a home theater lone-warrior like the Arc, it packs quite a punch. It’s also relatively smaller than the Arc, 25.6 inches long compared to the Arc’s length of 45 inches.
It comes with an HDMI Arc input, built-in Amazon Alexa, and Apple Airplay. It offers an excellent sound quality, especially when it comes to vocals (an area where a stock speaker system traditionally lacks). This makes it ideal for watching TV shows and streaming services, but the audio quality is decent enough to play music as well.
Like any other soundbar the company has created, the best quality of Sonos beam is endorsed by a number of audiophiles and musicians.
It doesn’t produce very deep or powerful bass, but most users seem okay with the quality, especially for their living rooms, even the spacier ones. But the audio quality is good enough to make it one of the best soundbars without subwoofers.
- Affordable for a Sonos soundbar.
- Amazing audio experience for watching shows and movies.
- It can be paired with a universal remote control.
- No bluetooth.
- Good for pairing up with a TV, but difficult to connect to a sound system.
- Customer support issues.
#4 Bose Solo 5 – One Of The Most Reviewed Soundbar
We know that being one of the most reviewed soundbars is no guarantee of quality audio or excellent sound. But to achieve the high review ratings the Bose Sole 5 has, the company must have done something right.
This Bose soundbar can be connected via Bluetooth, optical cable, coaxial, and analog aux. The lack of HDMI inputs doesn’t make the Bose soundbar ideal for people with TVs that have limited sound output ports, but for everyone else, it’s a decent quality soundbar.
The price is mid-range, but you have to pay more for a wall mount.
It can easily be controlled with a universal remote control.
The sound quality of the Bose soundbar is terrific, especially considering how old it is. The dialogues can be heard with a clear sound, and people don’t have to keep turning the volume up or down to account for the background noises. It shuts off when it detects no activity.
Even though it’s counted among some of the best soundbars without subwoofers, the Bose soundbar is an old piece of hardware. So while it might be a fantastic option for some of you, it’s not for everyone.
- It’s a compact soundbar (21.5 inches long) and quite easy to accommodate.
- Great audio quality with sound enhancement feature.
- Blue tooth connectivity.
- A heavy and limited universal remote control.
- Lacks bass quality.
#5 TaoTronics Sound Bar (TT-SK023) – Best Affordable Option
TaoTronics is not an extensively known name when it comes to a sound system, but for a soundbar without subwoofer, its affordable TT-SK023 model can be a desirable option.
The soundbar is available for under three figures (cheaper if you buy the renewed version). The wall mount kit is part of the package. It has a sleek design (31.5 inches long and 2.4 x 2.4 inches square profile) and can be a good fit for laptops and PCs as well (or for a “man-cave” home entertainment system).
The soundbar can be connected via Bluetooth and optical RCA (among other inputs).
Another reason you may want to use this for more than just your TV is its three equalizer modes: Game, music, and movie. So you can opt for an appropriate option when you stream music or play games. Most people find it deceptively easy to install and run, and love its great sound, especially for the price.
Even though the unit isn’t equipped with the best surround audio features or gadgets, it has the capability of filling almost every room in your home with sound, making your auditory experiences top shelf.
- Great value for money.
- Very easy to set up.
- Best for multi-use.
- Not compatible with a lot of universal remotes.
- Optical connection is finicky.
#6 Samsung HW-T450 2.1ch Soundbar – Best For Gaming
Even though it can be used as a soundbar without subwoofer included, it’s one of the few that comes with a wireless subwoofer with rich deep bass and completes a decent home theater system.
However, the addition of the wireless subwoofer bumps the price up quite a bit. Though there is no DTS virtual feature, the Dolby digital 2.0 channel is good enough for producing the most high-quality sounds.
Unlike other Samsung soundbars geared more towards users who like to stream music, its sound is optimized more for gaming. It comes with a Bluetooth connection but only Bluetooth and no HDMI input.
The T-450 also doesn’t have Alexa voice or Google assistant and might not have the full range of features you might expect from a Samsung soundbar, but from a price perspective, it’s a great bargain.
- Decent sound system for the price.
- Great for gaming.
- Easy to use with Samsung TV (one remote).
- The full range of capabilities cannot be unleashed by the lonely soundbar without subwoofers.
- No HDMI arc port.
Buy the Samsung HW-T450 on Amazon
#7 Yamaha YAS 109 – Best For Affordable Smart Control Solution
The Yamaha Yas 109 comes with an Alexa voice but no Google assistant.
It doesn’t have Dolby Atmos, but it does come with DTS virtual surround sound, making it ideal for almost any size living room.
It’s not the best soundbar out there, but it earns one of the top spots, especially in the affordable soundbar category. Even without a subwoofer, it offers good, deep bass and can be connected via Wi-Fi.
One reason it’s so low on this list is that while it’s good, it doesn’t really produce great sound. The Yamaha YAS 109 is suitable for a (nearly) full range of smart soundbar features but drops the ball when it comes to audio quality. The remote settings and automatic sound adjustment feature can also use some tweaking.
All in all, it’s a decent sound solution for a home audio system that’s better than the stock speakers of a TV and worse compared to any other soundbar that focuses more on audio than on gimmicks, which is weird considering it’s from Yamaha.
- Easy to connect and use.
- Alexa voice in-built.
- HDMI arc connection
- Not great for dialogues and vocals.
- Bad app design.
- Constant connectivity issues.
Buy the Yamaha YAS-109 on Amazon
A few soundbars which couldn’t make the cut to the best soundbar list but still deserve mentioning are:
100 Watt Bestisan Soundbar
It’s an affordable (a bit costly with mounting options) and well-designed soundbar with a relatively more sizable profile (40 inches long, about 4 inches tall). The soundbar can be used standalone without a subwoofer. The audio quality is good, though not too loud. You can check it out here on Amazon.
Though Sonos Playbar is priced somewhere in the middle of the Arc and the Beam, the usual gimmicks, and the fantastic audio quality, it’s an older version. And if you are prepared to spend a significant amount on Sonos Playbar, a smarter option would be to spend a bit more and get the Arc. You can check it out here on Amazon.
There is no perfect answer as to which would be the best soundbar for you. It depends on factors like affordability, your TV, whether you want it for streaming music or watching TV. If you are willing to spend about a grand on a soundbar, then one of the most promising soundbar Sonos created, i.e., The Arc would be the best fit for you. If you want something decent yet very affordable, Vizio or TaoTronic soundbars will make the cut. The beam would be a good option for an affordable home theater. You will need to make the final call based on your needs and purchasing power.
Soundbar Without Subwoofer Buying Guide
What is a Subwoofer
A subwoofer is a special kind of speaker designed to produce bass and sub-bass, i.e., low-pitched audio frequencies (20-200 Hz). It’s needed because traditional speakers and even some surround sound systems can’t reproduce these sounds, and they get lost in “auditory translation.” A subwoofer can be considered the last stroke you need for a complete audio “picture.”
How a Soundbar Works Without a Subwoofer
Like any other good quality speaker, however, most decent soundbars have built-in subwoofers (but they can only produce specific frequencies, like above 95 Hz). Many soundbars come paired with Bluetooth subwoofers. But even without a subwoofer, a soundbar can work just fine, though it might not offer a perfect musical reproduction (especially if it’s bass-heavy music).
Types of Soundbar
There are two commonly accepted types of soundbars:
Soundbar: Compact and lengthy. They are lightweight and, in most cases, wall-mounted.
Soundbase: A sound base is rectangular like a laptop. Most are strong enough that you can put the TV on top of them, hence the name.
Since a soundbar is mostly a bar, the design varieties are relatively limited. There are circular, triangular, and mostly rectangular bars. Whether you’d be mounting it or putting it in front of the TV can dictate your design choice.
Size of Room
When you are getting a soundbar but not a subwoofer, the size of the room might not matter much. If it comes with surround sound audio, your proximity might matter more than the size of the room. Besides, if you have a smart bar, it would probably adjust the audio based on acoustics.
The number of channels can dictate surround audio and dialogue clarity. A 2.0 sound bar would have two speakers and no subwoofer (2.1 would have one). 3.0 means a central speaker for dialogue clarity, and 5.0 would come with surround features.
Sound quality is the primary characteristic you need to look for in a soundbar. Whether or not it comes with Dolby Atmos or DTS virtual can make a lot of difference.
A subwoofer inside the soundbar can make the quality of sound richer by adding the bass. It’s a desirable feature, but you might not want to pay too much extra for it.
It’s usually mounted above or below the screen (if the screen is mounted as well). If your screen is on a table, you should place the sound bar in front, facing you, for optimal sound quality.
The chances are that your soundbar would come with a universal remote, which you can also use on your TV. It’s a feature worth considering because changing remotes to control your screen and audio can be a hassle.
Most of the new sound bars come with a Bluetooth option and HDMI connections for the best sound quality. Although some older ones also facilitate optical and even analog connections, The connections you can get should depend on your TV because if you have to use an intermediary device, the quality might suffer.
What is the best soundbar without subwoofer?
Though the answer would be subjective, the Sonos Arc on Amazon is one of the most promising soundbars without a subwoofer.
Do all soundbars need a subwoofer?
No. Sound bars can function well without subwoofer, but if you need to hear low frequencies, you’d need a subwoofer.
What is the best soundbar with subwoofer?
The answer would differ based on the user, but the Sony HT-ST5000 on Amazon is one of the most powerful and best soundbars with a subwoofer.
Will a Samsung soundbar work without a subwoofer?
It will work, but for optim