5 Best Budget Sound Bars for your Big Screen TV

We know what big screen HDTVs sound like, tinny and literary nothing in the low sound range. Who could blame them, ultra slim and super narrow or near invisible bezels are sexy and bulky big screen TVs with huge speakers are not. Manufacturers are creating great screens with compromises made in the sound department. In order to produce good enough sound, the drivers and sound chamber in the speakers need to be sufficiently big, there is simply not enough room in today’s the flat screen HDTVs to satisfy those criteria. Enters the sound bars.

Big screen flat panel HDTV manufacturers such as Sony are squeezing front firing stereo speakers into the screen. The result is. bigger side bezels and thicker screens to accommodate the speakers. This radically changes the TV screen from the slimline and near zero bezel look that we have come to appreciate. See Sony X9005 series (KD-65X9005, KD-55X9005) and X9305 series (KD-65X9305) below. The best solution would still be to complement the big screen LCD display with a proper sound system.

Sony KD-65X9005

What if after you have spent you budget on a big screen TV but still want high quality sound to go with your favourite action movies and TV shows. There are some amazing sound bar speakers and home cinema systems that will do the job yet cost no more than a mini Hi-Fi system.

Low cost cinema sound bar systems come either on its own as a sound bar or with a wired or wireless subwoofer unit. Naturally, we favour systems with dedicated subwoofer for better and fuller sound reproduction with deeper bass and enhanced audio space that fills the room. While there are sound bars with built-in subwoofers, it is plagued by the same issues faced by HDTV sound systems, the lack of space and the size of its drivers.


This is not to say that all standalone sound bars are rubbish. A well designed sound bar will still give you detailed high and powerful low offering the full range of sound from whatever you are watching, just do not expect room shaking and earth moving bass at high volume. If you have a small living room or are tight on space then a sound bar would be ideal.

The other caveat is that while these low cost and some ultra cheap sound systems are great, they lack the HDMI pass through option and typically only have Analog and or Optical input apart from Bluetooh and NFC for mobile devices. This is not necessary a problem as most flat screen TVs have optical sound output.

Top 5 Best Budget Sound Bars

Without burning another hole in your pocket, here are five of the best budget sound bars and 2.1 home entertainment systems that will go nicely with your big screen TV.

1. Samsung HW-J355 120W 2.1 Channel Wireless Soundbar Speaker SystemSOUNDBAR + SUBWOOFER, BLUETOOTH

2. Sony HT-CT80 80W 2.1 Channel Sound Bar with Virtual SoundSOUNDBAR + SUBWOOFER, BLUETOOTH, NFC


AlsoSony HT-CT180 100W 2.1 Channel Sound Bar with Wireless Subwoofer – SOUNDBAR + SUBWOOFER, BLUETOOTH, NFC

3. Panasonic SC-HTB18 120W 2.1 Channel Dynamic SoundbarSOUNDBAR + SUBWOOFER, BLUETOOTH

Also: Panasonic SC-HTB8 80W 2 Channel Dynamic SoundbarSOUNDBAR, BLUETOOTH

4. Philips HTL2163B/05 120W Dolby Digital Soundbar Speaker – SOUNDBAR + SUBWOOFER, BLUETOOTH

AlsoPhilips HTL2111A 40W 2 Channel Sound Bar with Virtual Surround SoundSOUNDBAR, BLUETOOTH

AlsoPhilips HTL2101A/05 2.0 Channel Soundbar Speaker with Bass Reflex SystemSOUNDBAR

5. Samsung HW-J250 80W 2.2 Channel SoundbarSOUNDBAR, BLUETOOTH

BONUS: ULTRA LOW BUDGET SOUNDBAR

Goodman GDSB04BT50 50W 2.1 Speaker Bar Theatre SystemSOUNDBAR

Also: Goodmans GDSB02BT20 20W 2.0 Speaker Bar Theatre System – SOUNDBAR

Now for a closer look at each of these sound systems.

1. Samsung HW-J355 120W 2.1 Channel Wireless Soundbar Speaker SystemSOUNDBAR + SUBWOOFER, BLUETOOTH

The Samsung HW-J355 Soundbar with Subwoofer offers the convenience of Bluetooth and a wired subwoofer for rich, dynamic bass.

With a compatible Samsung TV with TV Sound Connect, you can connect wirelessly to the soundbar. You can also stream from your mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets via Bluetooth.

There is an accompanying remote control but you also have the option of controlling the settings of the Soundbar from a mobile device with the Samsung Audio Remote app.

  • Power: 120 Watt (2.1 channels) with wired subwoofer (60W) and soundbar (60W)
  • Connectivity: USB, Bluetooth, TV Sound Connect, Optical, remote control unit and Samsung Audio Remote app support.
  • Soundbar Length: compact 94 cm (37-inch) wall mountable

Samsung HW-J355

2. Sony HT-CT80 80W 2.1 Channel Sound Bar with Virtual SoundSOUNDBAR + SUBWOOFER, BLUETOOTH, NFC

Sony is the only manufacturer that offers not only Bluetooth connectivity but NFC for ease of pairing. Start streaming straight away by tapping your mobile device on the speaker to pair it. Most high-end smartphones from Sony, Samsung, LG and HTC support this. Apple however choose to restrict Near Field Communication technology for Apple Pay only. The cheap and affordable Sony HT-CT80 pumps out a total of 80 Watt of power with a dedicated sub-woofer. A bigger and more powerful, therefore more expensive model is also available below, the Sony HT-CT180. Like the Samsung, it also supports music playback from USB stick.

  • Power: 80 Watt (2.1 Channels) from soundbar and wired subwoofer with S-Master Digital Amplifier and ClearAudio+
  • Connectivity: USB (wma, mp3, aac, wav), Bluetooth, NFC one-touch pairing, Analog Audio (one mini jack), Optical In/Out/TV (CEC), Remote Control.
  • Soundbar Length: 90.1 cm (35-inch) wall mountable

Sony HT-CT80

Also Sony HT-CT180 100W 2.1 Channel Sound Bar with Wireless Subwoofer – SOUNDBAR + SUBWOOFER, BLUETOOTH, NFC

A higher model with bigger sub-woofer, the Sony HT-CT180 pumps out 100Watt of power from the soundbar and the wireless subwoofer. There is an advantage to having the subwoofer wireless as it means you can place it anywhere in the room. However, it would still require its own power source.

  • Power: 100 Watt (2.1 Channels) from soundbar and wireless sub-woofer with S-Master Digital Amplifier and ClearAudio+
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth Reception (Ver. 4.0 ) / NFC, Analog Audio In (Inc TV CEC) (one mini jack), Remote Control
  • Soundbar Length:  90.1 cm (35-inch) wall mountable

Sony HT-CT180

3. Panasonic SC-HTB18 120W 2.1 Channel Dynamic SoundbarSOUNDBAR + SUBWOOFER, BLUETOOTH

Equally impressive in power and sound production is the Panasonic SC-HTB18. It features a stylish Delta Form Design that complements any living room and large screen TV with its flat, low profile body. Bluetooth connectivity with app support doubles up the functionality of the sound bar both as a high quality 2.1 channel home entertainment system as well as a Bluetooth speaker for streaming music and sound from smartphone or tablet. The soundbar and subwoofer pumps out 120Watt of power, one of the highest on this list. A soundbar only option from Panasonic is available in the form of Panasonic SC-HTB8 below.

  • Power: 120 Watt (2.1 channels) from soundbar (30 + 30 Watt) and wired subwoofer (60Watt) with Clear Voice
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, Optical Digital Audio input, Pin Jack (BD/DVD), Remote Control and Panasonic Music Streaming App support.
  • Soundbar Length: 75cm (29.5-inch) Low Profile Delta Form Design with inclined top panel for extra space inside and to be able to accommodate larger speakers. Wall mountable.

Panasonic SC-HTB18

Also: Panasonic SC-HTB8 80W 2 Channel Dynamic SoundbarSOUNDBAR, BLUETOOTH

If you are short on space, then a sound bar only option is also available from Panasonic, the cheaper SC-HTB8EB is actually a more powerful standalone soundbar using the same Low Profile Delta Form design with included to panel that allows for the use of larger speakers, multi-angle speaker layout and more space in the speaker chamber. It uses a more powerful 40 Watt per channel drivers offering a full range of sound from its 8cm cone type speaker and a single passive radiator.

  • Power: 80 Watt (2.1 channels) from soundbar (40 + 40 Watt) with Clear Voice
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, Optical Digital Audio input, Pin Jack (BD/DVD), Remote Control and Panasonic Music Streaming App support.
  • Soundbar Length:  75cm (29.5-inch) Low Profile Delta Form Design with inclined top panel for extra space inside and to be able to accommodate larger speakers. Wall mountable.

Panasonic SCHTB8

4. Philips HTL2163B/05 120W Dolby Digital Soundbar Speaker – SOUNDBAR + SUBWOOFER, BLUETOOTH

Another powerful 120 Watt 2.1 channel soundbar and dedicated sub-woofer combo, this time from Philips, the HTL2163B lets you enjoy your film and music with Virtual Surround Sound and deep bass from a single HDMI ARC when used with TVs, BD/DVD players, gaming consoles and MP3 Players. While the price is a little on the high side, what makes the HTL2163B stands out is the availability of EasyLink, a HDMI-CEC system with Audio Return Channel, automatic audio input mapping, one touch play, one touch standby and remote control pass through with compatible devices.

  • Power: 120 Watt soundbar (30 + 30 Watt) and subwoofer (60 Watt) with Virtual Surround Sound, Treble and Bass Control, Dolby Digital and Night Mode.
  • Connectivity: USB, Digital Coaxial in, Aux in (3.5mm), Digital Optical in, Bluetooth, HDMI 1.4 output ARC,  EasyLink to control all HDMI-CEC devices via a single remote
  • Soundbar Length: 84.3 cm (33-inch). Wall mountable.

Philips HTL2163B

Also: Philips HTL2111A 40W 2 Channel Sound Bar with Virtual Surround SoundSOUNDBAR, BLUETOOTH

At just under half the price of the HTL2163B above, this 2000 series soundbar-only option from Philips offers virtual surround sound from your TV with only one cable. The system produces rich and immersive surround sound using advanced spatial algorithms that replicate the sonic characteristics of a 5.1 channel surround all from one sound bar. The bar also supports Dolby Digital for the ultimate movie experience.

  • Power: 40 Watt (2 Channel Bass Reflex System) sound bar (20 + 20 Watt) with Virtual Surround Sound and Dolby Digital from 2 x 2-inch full range woofers. Also Treble and Bass control.
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, Audio in jack, USB, digital optical in, digital coaxial in. Remote control included.
  • Soundbar Length: 85 cm (33.5-inch) wall mountable

Philips HTL2111A

Also: Philips HTL2101A 40W 2.0 Channel Soundbar Speaker with Bass Reflex SystemSOUNDBAR

Also from the 2000 series, the Philips HTL2101A is even cheaper and have all the features of the higher HTL2111A model minus Bluetooth connectivity. It does offer a analogue audio input for mobile devices via 3.5mm socket. For those of you looking for a simple sound bar at

  • Power: 40 Watt (2 Channel Bass Reflex System) sound bar (20 + 20 Watt) with Virtual Surround Sound and Dolby Digital from 2 x 2-inch full range woofers. Also Treble and Bass control.
  • Connectivity: Audio In, AUX in, Digital Coaxial In, Digital Optical In, USB. Remote control included.
  • Soundbar Length: 845 (33-inch) wall mountable

Philips HTL2101A

5. Samsung HW-J250 80W 2.2 Channel SoundbarSOUNDBAR, BLUETOOTH

The J250 offers a great audio experience in a compact format. The perfect companion for you big screen TV, it creates a great sound whatever you’re watching. Two built-in speakers provide a crisp, high and well-balances mid-range, while another two built-in woofers take care of the bass.

  • Power: 80 Watt (2.2 Channels) 2 full range drivers and 2 woofers with DTS, Dolby Digital, 3D Sound Plus and DSP with Voice and Sports mode.
  • Connectivity: Connect to compatible Samsung TV wirelessly (via TV Sound Connect), Bluetooth, USB, Optical Input, Audio In, Auto Power Link. Remote Control included.
  • Soundbar Length: 72cm (28.3-inch) Wall Mountable

Samsung HW-J250

BONUS: ULTRA LOW BUDGET SOUNDBARS

Goodman GDSB04BT50 50W 2.1 Speaker Bar Theatre SystemSOUNDBAR, BLUETOOTH

  • 2.1 CH Speaker system
  • Built in Bluetooth receiver
  • 3 Band equalizer
  • Wall mountable
  • Output Power: 2 x 10w + 30w Sub = Total: 50W RMS

Goodman GDSB04BT50

Goodmans GDSB02BT20 20W 2.0 Speaker Bar Theatre System – SOUNDBAR, BLUETOOTH

  • 2.0CH Speaker system
  • Built in Bluetooth receiver
  • Cloth speaker grille
  • Full function remote control
  • Wall mountable with mounting clips

Goodmans GDSB02BT20
JVC TH-W513B 2.0 Sound Bar 100W – SOUNDBAR, BLUETOOTH

JVC’s budget sound bar is capable of pumping out a 100W of power for better sound quality so you can enjoy your favourite movie. There is no separate subwoofer to speak of, just your straight forward soundbar. We are quite impressed with both the sound quality and the sturdy design. No cloth that can collect dust or mark easily, just solid metal grill and hard plastic shell with tactile buttons and a simple LED display. A wall mount bracket is also included should you wish to mount the speaker. Here is an easy way to boost the sound of your TV without hurting your wallet.

JVC THW513