All of the systems here feature soundbars ranging between one and two feet long, while the Polk also includes a separate. While you will then need to find a place to put that sub, it brings with it an elevated level of performance.
If there was ever a solid gold bargain, it’s undoubtedly the Roku Streambar, which combines both audio and streaming in one device. This is a two-channel soundbar with a fully fledged 4K streamer onboard, and even if you don’t use the streaming functions it works well as a standalone soundbar. As a smaller soundbar it doesn’t have the deepest bass, but it does offer an expressive midrange with a dedicated voice mode for clearer dialog. It’s an unbeatable value and frequently on sale for under $100.
Yamaha is one of the most dependable makers of soundbars, but its designs tend to cost a little more than competitors. The SR-C20A, on the other hand, is affordable and also manages to sound great when paired with your TV.
Polk Audio MagniFi Mini
Best for music
At 13 inches wide, the soundbar part of the Mini fits the moniker, even if you do need somewhere to put the gallon-sized subwoofer. The inclusion of the sub is worthwhile, however, as the system punches well above its weight with great sound in movies and with music. In addition, having Google’s Chromecast tech built-in enables a wealth of streaming and multiroom capabilities.
Sonos’ entry-level soundbar features the company’s excellent multiroom music system onboard while being smaller than the Sonos Beam. We were impressed with the sound quality for both music and movies. It delivers a surprisingly wide soundstage through the use of proprietary waveguides. Connection is simple with a single optical connection, while users seeking HDMI or Atmos should look to the step-up Beam Gen 2.