There's no denying it; the speakers that are built-in to your TV suck. They aren't loud or clear enough for you to get the best audio you can because TV manufacturers expect you to buy some sort of external sound system. Soundbars are an awesome upgrade to any TV, and although there are expensive soundbars out there, there are also some very reasonably priced ones. For less than $200, you can get these fantastic soundbars and start enjoying better sound when you're watching your TV!
If you don't want an external sub, but want to ensure you have deep rich bass, the Yamaha YAS-108 is a good middle ground. With built-in subs to the soundbar itself and a bass boost option, it can pump out quite a bit of low-end when you want. Plus, it's wall-mountable, has Bluetooth, supports 4K pass-through, can use HDMI or Optical inputs, and is even compatible with Alexa.
Universal Remote Included
While Bose is typically expensive, this soundbar provides multiple digital or analog inputs while allowing for Bluetooth connections if you want to use your phone or tablet. It also includes Dialogue Mode, which will improve the clarity of spoken words for your various movies and TV shows. Although this soundbar doesn't come with a subwoofer, there is an enhanced bass mode that can give you extra oomph when you want it.
The VIZIO SB2821-D6 has an external wireless sub making this a full-fledged 2.1 channel system. Although the sub is relatively small, it is surpassingly powerful for its size. Of course, it supports Dolby Digital, DTS TruSurround, and DTS TruVolume, and it can pump out an impressive 95 dB of sound.
If you love being able to shape your sound, the Polk Audio Signa S2 is a 2.1 channel system that allows you to do just that. With three different Clear Voice modes to choose from, separate volume control on the sub and the soundbar, and preset modes for movies, music, and night audio, the Polk Audio Signa S2 is one of the most feature-laden soundbars at this price point.
The TaoTronics soundbar doesn't excel at anything in particular, but for its low price, it's a solid way to upgrade your sound and save a lot of money. It does have Bluetooth 4.2, so you can stream music from your phone or other sources, and it even has a 3.5mm headphone jack and optical inputs. No HDMI, so you're stuck using optical, but the soundbar sounds clear, and since its only 34-inches, it's perfect for smaller rooms.
Amazing for gamers
While the Razer Leviathan is made with gaming in mind, it's a compact but wonderfully sounding little sound system that anyone can enjoy. Bluetooth is on board for all your streaming audio needs, and the separate sub pumps out a lot of low-end sound. The Leviathan also has preset modes for gaming, movies, and music, and you can adjust the volume of the bar and sub independently.
Upgrade your sound
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You'll be amazed at just how much better your TV will sound when you hook up a soundbar to it, and you'll be even happier that you didn't break the bank to do it. Not only will your shows and flicks sound better, but the latest options include extras like Bluetooth, which allows you to stream your music wirelessly when you are not binge-watching.
The Yamaha YAS-108 (opens in new tab) lets you enjoy the bass power of a sub without having to have an external subwoofer taking up space in your living room. Plus, it's compatible with Alexa making it easy to incorporate into your smart home.
If you want a more traditional home theater-like experience with a separate subwoofer, then the VIZIO SB2821-D6 (opens in new tab) is the one for you. This 2.1 system gets loud enough to fill any decent size room but isn't massive, so it can still fit in smaller rooms too.
Lastly, if you're looking for your TV to sound better, and you really don't want to spend money, the TaoTronics Soundbar TT-SK15 (opens in new tab) does the trick. It may not have any fancy features, but it sounds perfectly fine for people who are just looking for something a little more.
Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way.
Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.