The home audio setup is usually bulky, with a lot of components. Even if you go on the soundbar route, most of them are wider than 55-inch TV models. But what if people want a more compact offering? Thankfully, many brands understand that and offer products that are not long and difficult to accommodate.
If you think that these compact bars sound similar to your tinny TV speakers, we would love to tell you that it isn’t the case. They store a lot of audio trickery in their small bodies and create a much more immersive audio experience.
1. Sonos Beam
- Looks modern and feels sturdy
- Dedicated center channel to improve dialogue delivery
- Lacks DTS and Atmos support
- Misses out on Full HDMI In slot
The Sonos Beam is a 3.0Ch offering neutral sound making it suitable for most audio genres. By default, the setup doesn’t have a dedicated subwoofer, but the brand sells it separately. The basic bar fails to generate enough bass and it doesn’t have height channels, but it won’t bother people looking for a compact form factor.
Sonos Beam has side-firing speakers, which enables it to create a good soundstage, and its loudness is not an issue. There is a dedicated center channel on board, which makes it well-suited for vocal content. There is Wi-Fi and Room Correction, which surprised us in the right way. If you do not like the sound out-of-the-box, there are many sound enhancement features to let you tweak the output.
Even though there is HDMI ARC, it doesn’t support Atmos, which is a downer. It supports Dolby Digital, allowing you to connect Blu-ray players and OTT platforms easily.
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2. Vizio SB3220n-F6
- Compact and lightweight
- Well-balanced sound profile
- Decent build quality
- Lacks sub-bass
- Compression creeps in at higher volumes
The Vizio SB3220n-F6 is a compact 2.0Ch configuration with a minimalist design and a well-balanced sound profile. It doesn’t come with a subwoofer but lays enough emphasis on voice to make the movie-watching experience immersive.
The bar performs exceptionally in terms of stereo soundstage, and the output somehow feels wider than the length of the bar. The focus is mostly on point and carries a decent frequency response too. It isn’t boomy but starts creaking at higher volumes, and the lack of subwoofer means that it isn’t excellent at reproducing bass.
It has a pretty non-existent sound enhancement side. Still, users can tweak the bass and treble individually, and there are some EQ presets to automatically adjust according to the content you are going to play.
3. Yamaha YAS-109
- Alexa support
- Supports DTS Virtual:X
- Dual integrated subwoofer
- Sound output has a bit of sibilance
- Lacks enough bass
Yamaha is known for following a minimalist design for their soundbars and the YASA-109 won’t disappoint its fans. It looks simple yet elegant and doesn’t disturb the connection between you and your screen.
It has many features that none of its competitors can boast of, like having Full HDMI ports to Alexa built-in, and it even houses a second HDMI input port. It has support for 4K Passthrough and is a pleasantly right sounding bar. It has clear mids, good bass and performs amicably well at high volumes. There are several modes for users to tweak the sound, and the wide soundstage ensures an immersive experience throughout.
It’s compact form results in it not being overly loud but good enough for small rooms. The dialogue-delivery is excellent here, and it is a massive improvement over your TV speakers.
4. Bose Solo 5
- Sturdy design
- Good sound for its size
- Acceptable stereo frequency response
- Lacks bass
- Limited soundstage
The Bose Solo 5 is a 2.0 soundbar with the signature-Bose build and sounds decent for its size. It is neutral-sounding but lacks bass, mainly due to the missing subwoofer. It is a significant upgrade over your TV speaker, but do not expect too much from it.
It produces mids and treble accurately and is an excellent buy if you are into podcasts and audiobooks. It is not for gamers or action-movie lovers. It is one of the smallest soundbars in the market and gets the job done for small rooms with reasonably good sound reproduction and lets you connect your smartphone to it via Bluetooth. On the downside, it doesn’t have support for DTS and lacks sound enhancement features.
5. TCL Alto 5+
- Impeccable build for the price
- Compact form factor
- Good stereo dynamics
- It doesn’t get loud enough
- Dark sounding
The TCL Alto 5+ is a 2.1Ch configuration soundbar that fits in even in the smallest of rooms with utmost comfort. It doesn’t get too loud, and also with the wireless subwoofer, it remains compact. It has a bass-heavy dark sounding output and an excellent frequency response making it a decent choice for action lovers.
It is built well but is an okayish choice for mixed usage. The mid-range is accurate, which allows it to reproduce dialogue-based stuff pretty well. It also comes with a dialogue-enhancement feature to add some more clarity. But it doesn’t offer manual EQ, and the soundstage is pretty small owing to the overall size of the bar. If you are a bass head and prefer compact soundbars, the TCL Alto 5+ is a perfect choice.
6. Sony HT-S200F
- Doesn’t distort at max volumes
- Solid build quality
- Reproduces voices well
- Loudness is average
- Doesn’t support DTS.
The Sony HT-S200F is a 2.1Ch soundbar with an integrated subwoofer and offers a neutral sound profile. The build quality is very good for the price, and it has a compact form factor stretching 22.8-inches. The bar is mostly plastic and has a large metal grille at the front.
Even though it has an integrated subwoofer, the crammed space means that there isn’t enough bass. It does nothing to widen the soundstage and isn’t best at creating an impressive listening experience. It misses out on height channels and surrounds speakers, which isn’t unexpected given the compactness that users need.
It doesn’t have Full HDMI In port, which means that it cannot support major audio codecs. It only supports Dolby Digital, but with the given hardware, it has to downmix the content to accommodate it.
7. Bose Soundbar 500
- The build belies its price tag
- The dedicated center channel produces voice content accurately
- Balanced overall sound
- Average loudness
- Lacks Full HDMI In port
The Bose Soundbar 500 is a 3.0Ch configuration with a neutral-ish sound profile and is well-balanced. It is made of plastic and surrounded by a metal grill on three sides. It feels robust to hold and will fit under most 55-inch TVs easily.
It comes with room correction but lacks enough sub-bass due to the missing subwoofer in the package. It has an okay stereo frequency response but has an excellent Total Harmonic Distortion level. The soundstage is wider than the length of the bar due to the side-placement of the speakers. It doesn’t get too loud and has compression artefacts at max volumes, which worsens the case.
As the technology progresses, we see compact products that pack a lot of tech which wasn’t the case even a decade ago. Soundbars have always been accepted as a cheaper and more convenient sibling of home theatre speaker systems but it is quickly establishing a niche of its own.
Most soundbars are too wide to settle below your TV screen or PC. It calls for compact bars, but they don’t sound as good. Nevertheless, they are easier to carry and manage, and you can set them up within minutes.