Three worthy sound bars under $200 – CNET

Once upon a time you used to have to pay $400 for a good sound bar, and products that cost less were usually rubbish. Things have changed for the better in the last few years, however, with companies focusing on producing quality speakers for the entry-level buyer.

Things you can expect in a $200 sound bar are Bluetooth and an optical connection (for hooking to a TV) plus a remote control. Some models, such as the Yamaha YAS-106, also include HDMI, which makes connectivity even easier, while the Polk Signa S1‘s subwoofer lends it an authority and musicality you don’t usually see at this price.

In the coming weeks we’ll test models from market leaders Samsung and Vizio, but in the meantime here are the three entry-level sound bars we’d recommend. We’ll start off with our favorite, the Yamaha YAS-106.

Yamaha YAS-106

Price: $199

Rating: 8.5/10

Why do we like it? Despite the lack of a subwoofer, the Yamaha is able to offer excellent home theater sound. It’s detailed, has a superwide soundstage and still puts out a generous helping of bass. The included HDMI ports only help to sweeten the deal.

The bottom line: The Yamaha YAS-106 raises the bar for sound quality at ultrabudget prices.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Polk Signa S1

Price: $179

Rating: 8.2/10

Why do we like it? An included sub contributes to some of the best sound with music (as opposed to home theater) we’ve ever heard from a budget sound bar. The Yamaha sounds better with movies, but the Polk is a great choice for music fans. Wall-mounting options and an attractive design help too.

The bottom line: For a budget-priced sound bar system, the Polk Signa S1 sounds a lot bigger than it really is.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

JBL Boost TV

Price: $149

Rating: 7.8/10

Why do we like it? It’s the most compact and cheapest of the bunch, and it still sounds surprisingly good. While it’s not that great at music, the JBL’s ability to make dialogue more intelligible than your TV speakers is the best reason to get one.

The bottom line: The JBL Boost TV offers a simple, effective upgrade to your existing television sound with the option of Bluetooth streaming thrown in.

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Sarah Tew/CNET


Can you spend a bit more?

For $300 not only will you get better sound, but a better assortment of features including a subwoofer as standard and a greater number of inputs. Check out the gallery below for our picks.

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