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Unfortunately, buying a high priced TV set won't guarantee you quality sound. It seems like most companies are willing to cut corners when it comes to the built-in TV audio system.
If you are someone who has bought a new TV and have been left lacking in the sound department, you are not alone. Luckily, there is an easy fix. Buying a soundbar is the first step to getting the cinematic experience in your own home (with the exception of buying the TV of course).
You'll be happy to hear that modern soundbars won't cost you an arm and a leg.
We've put together this resource to provide you a one-stop shop for selecting the best soundbar under $200.
While nowadays most soundbars are are very user-friendly, it still can be intimidating selecting the one that will give you what you need. Some of you may be questioning compatibility, while others are looking for information based strictly on performance.
We've written this article as a beginner-friendly guide to help answer any of your questions on your road to finding the best soundbar.
Pyle WiFi Sound Bar Speakers
Includes standalone Subwoofer?
We'll first quickly discuss the important considerations you need to make when selecting your soundbar. Hopefully, this section will help answer some of the questions you may have. We will then get straight to our top picks of the best soundbar under $200. We'll provide you with all the information you'll need to make your selection. If you still haven't found a receiver, check out my favorite here.
Let's get started!
Considerations For Selecting The Best Soundbar Under $200
Luckily there aren't too many considerations for selecting soundbars. You'll basically want to focus on three things: compatibility, performance, and bonus features. By sticking to these three criteria, you will simplify the process and come away with the best soundbar for your setup.
While most soundbars will be able to connect to most modern TVs in one form or another, it's a good idea to have an understanding of your options so you can feel confident making the purchase.
- Compatibility should also be considered if you are planning on connecting your speaker to other devices. For example, Karaoke machines typically have dismal factory speakers and can benefit from a powerful soundbar.
There are essentially five main types of connections you should be aware of: RCA, AUX, Optical, USB, HDMI, and Bluetooth. RCA can further be broken down into two categories: analog RCA (stereo RCA inputs) and digital RCA (coaxial). Additionally, most soundbars these days have either a Bluetooth or Wifi connection.
You should be able to use at least one of these connection types with your TV. The best connection to use (if possible) is HDMI. HDMI can pass the high-resolution audio formats found in Blue-rays.
- The next best option is the optical cable. If your T.V. doesn't support Bluetooth transmission, you can always opt to pick up an inexpensive Bluetooth transmitter. Just ensure it use aptX codec!
This is arguably the most important factor you should be considering when selecting your soundbar. There are a few things that you need to be aware of here. The power rating on the speaker will give a sense of how loud the speaker is.
Soundbars usually stick around the 130 Watt power level, while some may go up to around 300 Watts. Another sound level rating you will come across is the dB output. 100 dB outputs will definitely be enough to fill your room with the cinematic experience.
The actual speakers themselves may also be a consideration you take into account. If you want the deep lows, make sure your soundbar comes with some type of subwoofer. A woofer with a diameter above 5'' will be enough to give you what you need. Most soundbars have a standalone woofer, while some offer the woofer built into the actual speaker.
- Bonus Features
Are you looking to use the soundbar for other types of listening? Would you like the extra punch of the speakers when watching movies on your tablet? If so, be sure to look for Bluetooth connectivity with your soundbar. Some soundbars offer Wifi connectivity, another way to connect your devices to the soundbar.
If you are someone who is picky about their sound, some soundbars will offer EQ adjustments. This will allow you to adjust the EQ to suit the room you are listening in or the style of movie you are watching. Lastly, some companies are offering purpose built apps to control all the features of the soundbar without using a remote.
- Look for an optical or HDMI connection
- Speaker must have a power rating of at least 100 Watts
- Speaker must come with a subwoofer
- Look for Bluetooth or Wifi connections
Our Top Picks For The Best Soundbar Under $200
- 38'' Long
- 100 dB 2.1 output with 120 Watts
- Wireless subwoofer
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Includes remote
- RCA, AUX, USB, and Optical
First up on our list - and a strong contender - the VIZIO S3821w-C0C. This soundbar packs in a lot of features with reasonable price tag. Take note this is one of the most well-reviewed soundbars on Amazon with over 1926 reviews and an average rating of 4 out of 5 stars. We highly recommend this option for the budget conscious buyer. It packs in many of the same features as the other soundbars on our list but is up to $20 less expensive. Take note, these are only offered as a refurbished 2013 model (still amazing). If you are looking for the slightly more expensive model, continue to the SB3821-C6 review below.
The VIZIO S3821w-C0C gives you everything you'll need in a soundbar. It will work perfectly with your TV and also offers streaming from your other devices to listen to music or other media. Most importantly, the sound quality is top notch. There have been many comments praising the level of detail this system provides and the deep bass from the subwoofer. It's a perfect system for watching movies or playing video games.
It comes with the standard features you would expect from a high-quality sound bar. The subwoofer is wireless connected, removing any additional wiring required. It is also wall mountable, a perfect addition to any wall mounted TV. While not the most powerful system of the bunch, it does rank well amongst the four.
The only negative thing we don't like is that it is refurbished. We have come across a few reviews suggesting the soundbar was in less than perfect condition. Amazon does provide a very convenient return policy, and these problems were ultimately resolved. If you are willing to take a small risk to receive a great deal, then this is highly recommended.
Bottom Line: Great value for the dollar. A perfect system for watching movies or playing video games. Ranks with the best on our list for sound quality and power. Small risk with refurbished product.
Pyle WiFi Sound Bar Speakers
- 23'' long
- 300 Watt
- Bluetooth and Wifi compatible
- MP3, USB, SD compatible with EQ adjustments
- Mac and PC compatible
The most powerful system on our list: the Pyle WiFi Sound Bar Speakers. If you are looking for something loud that packs a punch, this is a great option. Keep in mind that it doesn't have a standalone subwoofer (although does include a 5.25'' sub within the unit). The speaker is half the size of the other speakers on our list. Therefore, if you are space constraint and aren't looking for a wall-mountable soundbar, the Pyle is a great choice.
For starters, it houses a total of 5 speakers within the casing. (1) 5.25'' Mid-Woofer, (2) 3'' Full Range, (2) 1'' Tweeters. This gives the user a 3D sound experience. It has been mentioned that the 3D sound feature only really works when you are sitting directly inline with the speakers. If you are off axis, it can bounce the sound in a way that amplifies background noise.
Take note, if you are someone who likes their bass you may want to skip this option. The woofer in the casing is only a midrange woofer of 5.25''. While it still packs punch, you may find it lacking if you are used to a standalone dedicated subwoofer. It is also lacking in the input department. There are no options for HDMI or optical inputs, leaving you only with two AUX in and an RCA. However, you are able to connect MP3s, USB and SD cards, something that isn't offered with the other speakers on our list.
Most importantly, the overall sound balance is actually quite good (considering the lack of bass). This makes a perfect do-it-all speaker setup that can be used for watching movies, playing video games, and streaming music. Additionally, it has adjustable EQ parameters if you are wanting something specific.
Bottom Line: If you will appreciate the Bluetooth, USB, MP3, and SD card functions then go ahead a pick this up. It provides a great sound quality with a reasonable price tag. It is also the most powerful unit we recommend with 300 watts. If you aren't going to use those features, or want something with a good bass response, move on to the next pick!
- 38'' long
- 100 dB output 2.1 channel with 130 Watts
- Wireless subwoofer
- Bluetooth compatible
- Wall mountable
- RCA, AUX, USB and Optical
The top contender: the VIZIO SB3821-C6. The SB3821-C6 has most definitely earned its title of best seller on Amazon. For starters, the sound quality is there. This is one of the most crisp and punchy soundbars in the under $200 price range. The dedicated bass provides a great low-end response, while the soundbar itself delivers crystal clear mid to high range frequencies. The SB3821-C6 is capable of delivering 100dBs of sound with less than 1% distortion. It uses industry standard technology from Dolby Digital and DTS surround. If you like it loud and clear, this is your pick.
It also offers all the other features you'll want in a soundbar: wall mountable and Bluetooth compatible. There is no need for any wires when streaming content from your handheld devices. The soundbar can be controlled anywhere in the room via the Bluetooth connection. It comes with the hardware required to mount to the wall with a very easy installation.
It is compatible with most inputs: RCA, USB, Optical, and 3.5mm. If you are looking for something with amazing sound quality and a good bass response, we recommend going with the SB3821-C6.
Bottom Line: The best of the four options. If you are looking for great sound quality with something that will deliver a loud and power punch for watching movies and playing video games, this is your best option.
- 37'' long
- 2.1 channels with 130 Watts
- 5.25'' wired subwoofer
- TV Sound, USB, Bluetooth, Optical inputs
- Wall mountable
Another great option. You may want to consider this option if you have a Samsung TV. The Samsung HW-J355 comes with what is called TV Sound Connect. This option lets you wirelessly connect your TV to your soundbar, doing away with any confusion regarding input or output cables. It also comes with a wired subwoofer. While we prefer wireless subwoofers, having a wired subwoofer still will provide you with the low-frequency response you need while playing video games or watching movies.
You are also able to power on your soundbar using the Bluetooth function. You are able to stream any audio content using the Bluetooth on your smartphone or tablet. If you are looking for complete control using your handheld device, you can download the Remote App (only on Android) to control all the functions of your soundbar. As you would expect with most soundbars, the HW-J355 is wall mountable and includes the hardware in the package.
If you don't already own a Samsung TV, you can connect to the soundbar using Optical, USB or AUX connections.
The sound quality is right up there with the VIZIO SB3821-C6. It will provide you with the clarity and punch you'll need for watching movies and playing video games. This is another well-received soundbar in Amazon and other audio websites. Highly recommended.
Bottom Line: Another great option. If you have a Samsung TV, this will be worth getting over the VIZIO SB3821-C6. A great option altogether, with the only negative being the wired subwoofer.