Choosing the best soundbar for your home office or studio can be tricky – but get it right, and your creative space could be transformed. This is especially true for anyone who works with film or video, particularly if you watch your work back on a slim TV or monitor; after all, those thin displays don’t leave much room for a good speaker system to be built in.
Soundbars also look far sleeker than most stereo speaker setups; their long, slim builds complement most decor styles and the best soundbars are designed to look just as good as they sound.
How to choose the best soundbar
But how do you know which is the best soundbar for you? One of the first things to consider is budget. Soundbars cost from anywhere between $120/£100 to well over $1500/£1200. If you want one to simply enhance your movie watching experience, the lower-end models will certainly suffice. But if you're after a soundbar to enhance and complement your creative work, you might want to look at slightly more expensive options.
It’s also worth thinking about how your new soundbar will work in your home or studio. While most soundbars are designed to sit in front of your TV or monitor, many can be wall mounted, making them a cool design focal point as well as a great way to listen to music or boost audio playback on your films.
There are also lots of options when it comes to connectivity; while the cheapest models usually have the most basic connections, many soundbars offer 4K HDR passthrough and wireless streaming through Bluetooth or Apple AirPlay – great if your studio is low on space and you want to avoid irritating cables.
Sound considerations when buying a soundbar
Most importantly, you should think about how you want your new soundbar to sound. If you want the audio to be super-immersive (if you're a filmmaker, for example), it’s worth considering a soundbar that supports object based surround sound like Dolby Atmos or DTS:X. These audio technologies position sound within a 3D space, and are probably best suited to filmmakers who need to envision how their creations will work in a cinema setting – or anyone who wants to experience super-immersive audio when watching films or listening to music.
Similarly, up-firing tweeters will send sound right up to your ceiling while soundbars that come with subwoofers will provide pumping bass that's perfect for parties, if you want to take the soundbar out of your studio for special occasions.
At the top of our list is the Samsung HW-MS650, thanks to its fantastic audio quality, reasonable price tag, and high number of connection options.
But, it’s not the only good soundbar out there. We’ve put together this guide to the best soundbars money can buy, so you can choose the perfect soundbar for your needs.
01. Samsung HW-MS650
The best soundbar overall is a great all-rounder
Dimensions: 1060 x 78 x 130mm (W x H x D) | Power: 9 x 20W | Weight: 7 kg | Speaker configuration: 3.0 speaker array | Design: Wall mounted or free standing | Wireless: 2-way Bluetooth, Wi-Fi | Inputs: Single 4K/HDR HDMI loopthrough, one optical audio input, 3.5mm audio port
There's a lot to love about the Samsung HW-MS650. From its reasonable price tag to the plethora of connection options it supports, there are lots of reasons why this soundbar is a fantastic option for any creative who wants to enhance their studio sound setup – whether you want to use it to playback your own films, listen to music as you work, or watch TV in your spare time.
Thanks to a powerful 3.0 speaker array, it sounds great, and can handle bass frequencies admirably, which means it will handle even the bassiest 'concentration' playlists. It also looks great, with a classic rectangular design and an industrial-looking grille.
However, this soundbar is relatively tall, and could obscure the bottom of your TV display. It can be wall mounted if this is an issue, which means it should work well in most homes or studios, and can even make a cool focal point if mounted away from your monitor or TV display.
02. Creative X-Fi Sonic Carrier
The best soundbar if money is no option is extravagantly glorious
Dimensions: 521 x 151 x 96mm (W x H x D) | Power: 2000W | Weight: 16 kg | Speaker configuration: 11.2.4 channel array | Design: Wall mounted or free standing | Wireless: 2-way Bluetooth | Inputs: 2 x digital optical, 3 x HDMI (ARC), 1 x Ethernet port, 1x 3.5 mm jack, two ¼” microphone connectors, two USB 2.0 type A connector for USB flash drives and HDDs, one SD card slot and three MicroSD card slots alongside
The Creative X-Fi Sonic Carrier is the crème de la crème of the soundbar world – and it comes in at an eye-watering $3,999 / £2,870. With 17 speakers in an 11.2.4 channel array, this soundbar packs an unbelievable audio punch, and can fill any room with sound – but be warned – if you work in an apartment or share a studio wall with a neighbour, you might want to turn it down just a little.
It also comes with a subwoofer to handle all your bass needs, and with so many input options, it's a great choice for audiophiles, as well as filmmakers who want to really immerse themselves in their work.
03. Q Acoustics M4
Cinephile sound on shoestring, this is the best budget soundbar
Dimensions: 1,000 x 90 x 142mm (W x H x D) | Power: 100W | Weight: 4.9 kg | Speaker configuration: 2.1 channel | Design: Wall mounted or free standing | Wireless: Bluetooth aptX | Inputs: 1 x HDMI, 1 x digital optical, 1 x 3.5mm
If you want to improve your studio sound setup but you don't want to break the bank, the Q Acoustics M4 Sound Bar could be a brilliant choice. Compared to more expensive rivals, its short list of inputs and stereo speaker configuration may seem disappointing, but its sound quality more than makes up for that.
It does have a sightly bulky design, and will stick out a little way from the wall if you decide to wall mount it. However, its odd shape could be perfect for that awkward nook in your studio or home office that you've been struggling to fill, and its low price makes it a great choice for any creative who would rather spend money on materials and tools for their craft than audio tech.
04. Denon HEOS Bar
The best soundbar for music has well-balanced sound and a cool design
Dimensions: 72 x 1100 x 148 mm (W x H x D) | Power: N/A | Weight: 4.8 kg | Speaker configuration: 2.1 channel | Design: Wall mounted or free standing | Wireless: Bluetooth, 802.11ac Wi-Fi | Inputs: 4K HDMI Input and HDMI Output
If you're looking for a soundbar that will do your music justice, the Denon HEOS Bar could be your new best friend. With nine drivers and a virtual surround mode, this soundbar is balanced beautifully, making it a great choice for listening to music while working.
It also features a cool, angular design – although this won't appeal to everyone's tastes, we think it would look stunning in pretty much any space, particularly if your studio has already been decorated with a minimalist aesthetic.
There's one big downside to this musically adept soundbar: its price. At $480 / £569, the Denon HEOS is a hefty investment, and will probably only appeal to the most discerning audiophile creatives for that reason.
Due to its size, it won't suit very small offices or studios, and probably won't work in front of your desktop's monitor – however, it could be wall-mounted above it to lend a striking focal point to your working area.
06. Sony HT-ST5000
The best soundbar for 4K TV is made for Ultra-HD viewing
Dimensions: 1180 x 80 x 145 mm (W x H x D) | Power: 120W | Weight: 8.2 kg | Speaker configuration: 7.1.2 channel | Design: Wall mounted or free standing | Wireless: Bluetooth, 802.11ac Wi-Fi | Inputs: 3 x HDMI inputs, 1 HDMI Out (ARC), analogue audio in/out, Ethernet, optical audio in
The only reason the Sony HT-ST5000 hasn't made the top of our list is because of its price; at $1,500 / £1,500, it's much more expensive than many of its competitors.
However, we think its high price is justified by its exceptional sound quality, support for Dolby Atmos, and built-in Chromecast functionality – this is a great soundbar for anyone who creates (or watches) 4K content.
All four of its HDMI inputs and outputs are HDCP 2.2 ready for 4K passthrough, which means it will work brilliantly with your 4K devices and TV. Its support for High-Res Audio codecs means that it works just as well for music playback as it does for watching film, too.
So, if you eat, breathe, and sleep 4K content in your creative practice, (and you have deep pockets), the Sony HT-ST5000 could be the way to go.
06. Razer Leviathan
The best soundbar for gaming is a mini soundbar that fits on your desk
Dimensions: 500 x 76 x 71 mm (W x H x D) | Power: 30W | Weight: 2 kg | Speaker configuration: 5.1 channel | Design: Wall mounted or free standing | Wireless: Bluetooth aptX | Inputs: 3.5mm audio jack or optical connection
You may not associate Razer with high quality soundbars, but the Razer Leviathan is a fantastic, budget option for the gamer (or any creative) who wants to boost the sound of their desktop PC or Mac.
At around half the size of most soundbars, it's designed to sit in front of your computer monitor, and has an optical input so you can plug it straight into your Xbox or PlayStation, or an auxiliary input for using with your PC or TV.
The Razer Leviathan's size also makes a fantastic option if your home office or studio is on the small size, or if you rent your space and can't wall mount your new soundbar.
The top of the Leviathan features a preset button that means you can switch between game, music and movie modes – perfect if you like to stream TV shows and movies on your desktop when you're not working. And, at $199 / £159, it's wallet-friendly, too.
As it comes with a subwoofer, this diminutive soundbar packs an audio punch well above its small size – although its surround sound capabilities do leave a little to be desired compared to its higher-spec competitors.