Any cinephile knows the importance of sound design in film. Some of the best scares in horror films, the most rousing action scenes, the tensest cat and mouse chases depend on expert sound layering and trickery to keep you on your toes.
If you’ve seen Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk on the big screen, you have an idea of how it can work.
But how does one recreate that sort of sensation at home? Let’s be honest, you never will. It’s virtually impossible. There’s very little one can do short of housing actual theatre equipment in their home to really bring home the theatrical experience.
But, in terms of coming close, adding a soundbar is a decent substitution.
There are a lot of overpriced soundbars on the market, all claiming to have the ability to transform your living room into a cinema, and they are often admittedly impressive.
However, you don’t have to break the bank to get a soundbar that works perfectly well and brings home a viewing experience far better than anything else on your block.
|Soundbars Under $100||Model||Expert Rating||Price|
Before going into the 7 best soundbars under $100, let us explain to you the specifications you need to consider before buying a soundbar.
What to Look for in the Best Soundbar Under $100
Soundbars are typically about as long as a television set, perhaps slightly less. But that’s not a rule. There are many soundbars that come in various sizes, some less than a foot, some longer than 60 inches.
While some of them actually require the extra space, there are others that are just essentially long boxes.
You can easily find a soundbar about the same length as your television if that’s what you’re looking for, but it might not be the best option. Ultimately, what will decide the size soundbar you get will be its placement.
If you’re putting it in a large area, you’re going to want a large soundbar that actually uses every inch of its size. Smaller areas don’t require so much.
Where you place it, the soundbar is just as important as how big it is. Usually, you’ve probably seen soundbars placed just at the base of the television, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that setup.
It’s a handy, convenient place for it, and keeping it on the same surface as the TV will conserve space.
The question becomes just how much space you want to conserve. For if it’s really important if every square inch of space in your apartment or home will otherwise be occupied, then perhaps a wall-mounted device is more what you’re looking for.
There are a few options for wall-mounts that are under $100, and you could always easily set up a little shelf for it on your own.
You’ve probably noticed that many soundbars brag about their multiple connections. This simply means what it can be plugged into or connected with wirelessly, but it’s actually pretty important.
At this price range, you aren’t going to find a lot of wireless wifi. At best, you’ll have a solid bluetooth connection, which isn’t all bad, but it’s still a downgrade for which you should prepare.
More and more, televisions are connected through ARC or the even more recent HDMI ARC, so you’ll want to look for connections that have that capability. Without it, you may have to shell out some extra cash to buy an adapter so the two can connect.
A lot of more recent models have more than one HDMI connection, which can be quite useful. But you need to know your television and what it requires.
Always consider the add-ons when they feature them, particularly the “why” of their advertisement. When something claims to be an easy setup, you’re left to wonder if they’ve run out of things to discuss about the product. However, there are some devices that are genuinely easier to work with.
Oftentimes, they will have a wireless or built-in subwoofer, but for such a low price, one should consider if it actually is an effective product. Some subwoofers, as we mentioned here, don’t appear to really add much, while others make all the difference.
The audio presets should always be looked at, and generally, the more options you have, the better. However, that really depends on what you are using the soundbar for. You may find the number of options stifling.
7 Best Soundbars Under $100:
Here are the 7 best soundbars under $100 that may not have all the bells and whistles of other, more expensive models, but they certainly deliver when it comes to sound quality improvement.
- High-sensitivity remote control
- 3D Surround Sound
- Advanced Bluetooth technology
- Control with remote or buttons
For a single piece device, Bestian has a surprisingly powerful sound. Their previous models have proven that they know how to deliver quality audio, and this newer model upgrades that with 3D surround sound. And when they say surround, they really mean it. This is one of the best for pure impact and clarity of speech on the market.
The only downside with the Bestian is that it’s still a fundamental device as powerful as it can be. It’s a soundbar, no frills, but since it’s only got one job to do, it does it well. Tested with both movie and music, it might be better suited for the former. The dialogue in the film was crisp as though it were spoken in the living room.
One of the Bestian’s best features is the remote, which is not just a handy way to adjust the audio or an afterthought, as is often the case. This remote allows you to select different audio setups for dialogue, making it even better pronounced.
The design is fairly sleek, though it could be better. Too often, a soundbar can come off looking like a black brick, and this is no exception. Obviously, you’ll likely need to purchase a subwoofer separately if you really want the proper audio boost, however even without one, the Bestian carries sound amicably.
- Superior audio with room-filling sound.
- Multi Connection including RCA, HDMI ARC, AUX-input, USB, Optical input, and Bluetooth.
- Built-in subwoofer
- Compatible with Phone, TV, and PC
The idea when shopping for a soundbar that’s under $100 is to find one that exceeds the typical expectations of the price. For a soundbar that operates way outside of its supposed limitations, look no further than the Majority Teton.
You get quite a bit for very little. This is probably the easiest soundbar to connect to a television, and it doesn’t matter what kind. The multi-connection ports in the back are conveniently located and support even older technologies. It might well be the most high-tech item in your living room.
It’s always helpful to have a built-in subwoofer, and when you’re shopping so inexpensively, it’s practically a must. The question is how well the subwoofer actually performs. And again, for a cheap soundbar, the Majority Teton impresses. The sound could best be described as full-bodied.
Several presets allow you to fine-tune the device for dialogue, music, or whatever you happen to be playing on television. This is always a handy feature, though you don’t always notice much of a difference in the presets. In the case of the Teton, however, you can absolutely hear things more clearly when they’re set correctly.
The only issue the soundbar seems to have is its auto-shutoff feature, which seems a little finicky. When you shut off the TV, the soundbar also goes to sleep. However, it doesn’t automatically boot back up when you turn the TV back on.
- 120W High Power
- Built-in DSP technology
- 3D Surround sound
- Multiple connection options
- Slim design
This is one attractive, sleek soundbar. Rarely do you actually appreciate the subtle curves, the soft material covering the speakers, but here it’s absolutely noticeable. That’s far from the only thing that makes the Top Vision unique.
The built-in digital signal processing technology works to decode the audio, translating it so it can be heard perfectly. One of the most impressive factors, however, is the multiple connections available. You can even play music using a USB key.
The dialogue and sound design on the picture we watched came through with crystal clarity when it comes to cinema. A modern war film like Dunkirk, with rousing action scenes, plays fantastically well.
One issue that takes some getting used to, and may frustrate some users more than they feel it’s worth, is the EQ settings. You may have fun experimenting with them, you may get annoyed, but it takes a while to figure out which settings work best in your home.
Overall, the sound delivered was some of the best you can get for $100, you’ll just have to know how to properly adjust the controls.
- 1 surround sound
- Wireless subwoofer
- Compatible with phone, projectors, TV, and PC
Starting with the design, there’s really nothing to write home about the Majority. It’s a fairly standard looking device. But it’s concealing a pretty solid machine that won’t easily break should something happen. Too often, technology is made to all but disintegrate in a few years (that’s certainly Apple’s business model), so it’s nice to have something dependable.
To be completely honest, this is one case where the subwoofer is somewhat unnecessary, as testing it without one showed little difference in audio quality. It’s wireless, and the fact that you can place it anywhere is a major plus. However, considering it doesn’t add that much, you’re better off just storing it.
Without the subwoofer, the sound worked terrifically well. Clear and pronounced, which was particularly useful for gaming and certain kinds of music. It’s especially handy that you can connect with anything, though a full wifi connection is always preferable to bluetooth.
The bluetooth connectivity took some getting used to as well. Even if you shut it off and left it alone for a while, it had a tendency to immediately go back to whatever podcast or song you were listening to the last time you used it.
Overall, the sound quality is what makes it worth purchasing. The apparent add-on here feels a lot more like window dressing for a device that was impressive enough on its own. Though it’d be better with more than just 3 audio settings, it’s still a quality machine.
- Bluetooth and DSP
- 4 Sound modes: Movies, Music, 3D, and News
- Multiple connections and easy setup
- Wall mountable
One thing that’s very much appreciated in the design of the VMAI is how elegant it is. There’s a sleekness to it, but also a direct, no-funny-business approach as if it knows what its job is.
This is only compounded by the fact that you can mount it to the wall right along with your television, making it one of the most out-of-the-way soundbars around for such a low price.
However, the design is never the key aspect of the soundbar that you’re seeking, it’s just a nice feature. The sound is what you’re paying for, and it’s a pleasure to say the audio delivers.
The subwoofer is not some wireless add-on that you can take or leave, it’s a vital part of the system, and it delivers clear dialogue that’s easy to distinguish.
That being said, there are better sound systems out there for around the same price. The real attraction is the fact that you can mount it to the wall easily, which may seem insignificant, but if you have a small apartment, conserving space is much more important.
- Compatible with phone, TV, and PC
- Built-in subwoofer
- Compact design
You wouldn’t expect much from something priced so low. At $39.99, most shoppers would gawk at such a low number. You certainly wouldn’t expect it to be capable of producing wall-trembling sounds, but that’s precisely what it can do, provided it’s paired with the right television.
This is a soundbar designed for smaller televisions or computer monitors, making it a go-to choice for gamers looking to save a little. The multiple connections make it easy to plug into such devices.
The remote control has 12 buttons, a lot for such a simple device, but they’re all easy to understand. There are different settings for various genres of music, though they’re a little too generic. Simple words like “rock” or “jazz” don’t inspire a lot of confidence in their ability to discern, but they serve their purpose well enough. The “jazz” setting sounds as it should.
One of the most baffling aspects of the Bowfell is that there’s no HDMI connection. These days, most televisions are run through HDMI, so this feels somewhat dated, and you may have to buy an adapter. Nevertheless, the booming bass it does deliver for 40 bucks is certainly impressive.
- 90 DB of room-filling sound
- Enhanced Ultra Bass
- Multiple Inputs
- Easy setup
You start to get a little wary of ads for products that highlight their “easy setup.” It always sounds a little ridiculous, particularly when dealing with a soundbar. You should, at most, be dealing with three plugs – probably even less if you don’t opt for a subwoofer. An easy setup should be something that goes unwritten.
It is certainly easy to set up, capable of working both connected and wirelessly. The bluetooth works for up to 33 feet, which makes it fairly easy to place in a living or bedroom. The technology is no better or worse than any bluetooth device. You’re better off with wifi, as usual, though you aren’t going to find that at this low cost.
One thing you can be thankful for is just how simple the operation is. With multiple inputs that are easy to access, it’s nice to know the company values convenience.
But do they value audio quality enough to warrant a purchase? Without question, the raw audio, even before you use any presets on the remote, is resoundingly clear. The only issue is that the remote, while it’s easy to use and understand, is one of the more exclusive ones on the market. You can’t just use a universal remote, they won’t pick up the device.
So it’s best to keep the remote close to the soundbar, so you don’t misplace it.
One of the most impressive aspects was the bass, which was enhanced to levels that got an entire room full of people dancing. This is precisely the kind of soundbar you want for a party or social gathering.
Now that you know the best, cheapest soundbars available, it may be helpful to have an idea of what makes this technology so special and what you need to look for when shopping for one to complement your home entertainment system.
FAQs Bout Best Soundbars
Are Soundbars a Waste of Money?
That would very much depend on your personal definition of waste. To some, excess spending on any new technology is wasteful. To others, paying a premium to enhance the experience of a favorite hobby, pastime or interest is the only way to properly enjoy it.
Whatever your personal feelings on the matter, soundbars were designed to complement the TV in your home, enriching the overall experience of viewing and listening. It’s a high-quality product that does its one job consistently well.
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Do Soundbars Work With Any TV?
One of the most common questions that comes up when dealing with anything to do with technology is whether or not the device is “future proof.” This means that no matter what advancements we make in the future or have already made, the device will be compatible with anything from the recent past.
Fortunately, soundbars have been made to work with just about any television, both older and newer.
They are capable of this because of those multiple connections they often tout, including HDMI for modern televisions and a standard RCA input as well as an optical connection. You may have some issues with modern TVs without an HDMI, but older ones shouldn’t be a problem.
Is it Worth Getting a Cheap Soundbar?
Whatever piece of advertising told you that the more expensive something is, the better quality it is was dead wrong. In fact, cheaper models of soundbars are actively trying to compete with the high-end brands, so they focus intensely on making what they do offer the best quality.
You may have extra frills, and certain things like a full wireless connection are absolutely worth upgrading for, but it doesn’t mean you’re getting a worse product. You’re simply shopping wisely.
How Much Should I Spend On a Soundbar?
How much you spend on a soundbar will depend on a lot of things, such as how much you’re actually willing to invest and how much you can practically make use of. If you’re going to buy an expensive soundbar that floods a large area with deep bass, you should probably have that large area already.
You can find a perfectly good soundbar for as little as $40, however you may personally need one upwards of $300. It’s entirely up to you.
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Does a Soundbar Replace TV Speakers?
Yes. The primary purpose of a soundbar is to, in fact, replace the speakers on your television, which admittedly are pretty weak in even the best television sets. They don’t work in tandem with speakers to enhance the sound. The reason this would be a mistake is that it would cause an echo.
As the same audio signal would be received both by your soundbar and the TV speakers, it would create feedback that would easily get annoying. Best to just ignore the speakers entirely and stick with a quality soundbar.