If you are looking for an immersive sound while watching movies or playing games on your TV, the built-in speakers don’t cut it anymore. Adding a soundbar to your setup is one of the best ways to get an immersive experience. The experience doubles when the soundbar supports Dolby Atmos. These audio devices with Dolby Atmos ensure better quality audio from TV speakers for an immersive experience – like you’re living the visuals and not just watching it.
However, the word ‘affordable’ tends to have a different meaning when we talk about soundbars with Dolby Atmos. A reasonable unit price starts at around $200-250 and goes upwards of $1,500, such as the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Stage.
In this post, we will focus on the ones the cost less than $500 yet deliver a great experience. So, without further ado, let’s get started. But before that,
- Here are the best aptX HD headphones that you can buy.
- Looking for quality HDMI cables? Here are the top 7 HDMI cables for 4K UHD TVs.
What Does Dolby Atmos Bring to the Table
By default, you’d usually use a 5.1 channel stereo system to create an immersive soundstage. All the units or satellites are generally placed around the main sitting area to deliver the surround sound effect.
However, this system has some limitations. For one, this set up not only needs more work but also requires plenty of space. Dolby Atmos tries to digitally recreate this 3D audio immersive experience like a typical 5.1 or 7.1 channel setup.
Usually, a soundbar packs a couple of front-facing speakers for clearer vocals (and dialogs) and a couple of upward-firing speakers to bounce the ceiling’s sound. Simultaneously, some soundbars pack left and right channels to give you a 360-degree sound. In a conventional setup, you can achieve the same with dedicated speakers.
A speaker or a soundbar attempts to decode the object-based Dolby Atmos audio to give you a wider and bigger soundstage, which would eventually mean an immersive sound experience.
1. TCL Alto 8i 2.1 Channel Dolby Atmos Soundbar
The biggest highlight of this soundbar is the Dolby Atmos functionality. This gives you a surround sound effect with greater depth than a standard soundbar. The fact that you’re getting it on an ultra-low budget is what makes this soundbar special. Since the subwoofer is built in, you won’t get extreme bass.
But you get different sound modes for Movies, Music, and TV. There are three ways of connecting devices to this soundbar — HDMI, optical, and Bluetooth. Most reviews for the product are positive, which is reassuring. Some users mention connectivity issues with HDMI Arc, but a quick glance at the user manual will sort them out.
Why should you buy: Many of you may not be audio enthusiasts and have a fixed budget for a soundbar. This is a good budget soundbar with Dolby Atmos support for such users.
2. Philips B8405 Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer
The TCL soundbar is quite nice but is also limiting in many ways due to the lower price tag. The Philips B8405 introduces a host of new features to the package and makes the deal sweeter if you’re willing to shell out slightly more. For starters, there’s a dedicated wireless subwoofer for that extra bass punch.
You also get DTS Play- Fi support that lets you hook up additional speakers and connect them for an even more immersive effect. There’s also a Stadium EQ mode that’s useful while watching sports. If you have an Alexa speaker, you can link that to the soundbar.
As per the reviews, some users have a problem with volume levels. The soundbar doesn’t get as loud as other options. So if you like blasting music at high volumes, look for other options.
Why should you buy: A slightly more expensive soundbar, but with additional features like a dedicated subwoofer and voice assistant support.
3. Sony HT-G700
Sony’s HT-G700 soundbar brings three audio technologies in one soundbar. This soundbar brings Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and Sony’s Immersive AE to the table to simulate a surround sound experience. The latter allows you to mix audio to 7.1.2 or 5.1 audio. This soundbar has a peak power of 400W and can produce decent 360-degree sound.
It has three channels to simulate 3D surround sound. However, it lacks a physical upward-firing driver. Instead, the dimension of height is achieved by virtual 3D solutions. This solution is less than impressive in real life. It leaves a lot to be desired.
For the connections, the HT-G700 presents two HDMI ports, a USB port, and a Toslink optical digital input. On top of that, you can also play audio wirelessly using the built-in Bluetooth connection. Furthermore, one of the HDMI supports eARC. With eARC, you can experience lossless audio formats such as DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD.
Being an affordable option means you will lose out on some features. In this case, it’s Wi-Fi, Apple AirPlay, and Chromecast. The absence of Wi-Fi means you can’t stream songs directly through the soundbar. At the same time, it doesn’t support Google Assistant or Alexa voice commands.
Why should you buy: One of the most affordable soundbars with Dolby DTS:X, which provides an even more immersive experience. Plus, you get the expertise of Sony.
If you can extend your budget to around $600, you can check out the Sony HT-Z9F. It delivers clear and crisp dialogue and music, along with immersive sound effects.
4. Sony HT-X9000F
Another Sony product with Dolby Atmos support is the HT-X9000F. This is a full 2.1-channel soundbar and shares some great features with Sony’s flagship soundbar—the HT-Z9F—mentioned above. Compared to the HT-G700, this one simulates 360-degree surround sound better. While the peak power of 300 watts is good enough for small to medium-sized rooms, the bass can be underwhelming.
Like the soundbar above, the HT-X9000F also simulates the Dolby Atmos experience using Sony’s new Vertical Surround Engine. It attempts to create a virtual vertical firing speaker to give you an enveloping effect, and thankfully, the effect is convincing.
Apart from the above, there are a couple of special modes—Cinema, Music, Game, News, and Sports, among others. The Sports mode and the News mode help deliver a clear voice, while the game mode emphasizes the sense of distance and motion through well-established points.
For connectivity, the HT-X9000F has almost the same shortcomings as the HT-G700. There’s no Wi-Fi or ethernet port, though you can connect wirelessly over Bluetooth. Apart from a single USB port, there is a duo of HDMI ports, out of which one supports HDMI ARC.
Why should you buy: If you’re looking for a 360-degree sound experience, this soundbar from Sony will fulfill your needs.
5. VIZIO SB36512-F6 5.1 Soundbar
When it comes to affordable soundbars, the Vizio SB36512-F6 is perhaps one of the most popular ones out there for its immersive and large soundstage. Unlike the two soundbars above, this one has three forward-firing and two vertical-firing drivers. This setup does its best to provide you with an impressive 360-degree surround sound, synonymous with Dolby Atmos.
The front presence is considerably bigger, and so is the height presence, provided your house’s ceiling isn’t too high. If your media room is an average-sized room with standard height, the odds are that you will be impressed. The vocals are clear, and the subwoofer amps the bass just right.
Apart from supporting Dolby Atmos, the SB36512-F6 also supports other formats like Dolby Digital and DTS. However, it doesn’t support DTS:X.
When it comes to connection, you will find HDMI options with ARC, USB, 3.5mm audio input, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Chromecast.
Why should you buy: The Vizio soundbar is accompanied by additional speakers and a dedicated subwoofer. This results in three speakers that fire forward, along with two of them with a vertical throw.
6. Samsung HW-Q70R
If you are looking for a soundbar that can plow through both movies and games, then you can’t go wrong with the Samsung HW-Q70R. It has a big and wide soundstage and delivers the immersive experience you’d expect from a Dolby Atmos system. It’s also a 3.1.2-channel speaker with three forward-firing speakers, a pair of upward-firing speakers, and an 8-inch side-firing driver. Did we tell you that it also has support for DTS:X and pass-through 4K HDR video?
While the speakers at the center translate into crisp and clear voice and dialogue, the upward-firing speakers do their best to bounce the sound off the ceiling. Again, the ceiling shouldn’t be too high. Overall, the soundbar has a peak power of 330W.
Unlike the ones above, Samsung does away with the clichéd sound modes. Instead, it packs four modes—Standard, Game Pro, Surround, and Adaptive Sound. The latter does the magic and blends the music and sound per the content you are watching. Sadly, there’s no dedicated mode for music. On the bright side, the system switches back to the Game Pro mode connected to a gaming console.
When it comes to connectivity, it bundles a single HDMI input. No HDMI eARC here. You will get support for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Last but not least, the Samsung HW-Q70R supports several lossless audio formats, including AAC, WAV, and FLAC.
Why should you buy: This one’s for those of you who want to go all-in on their audio setup. You also get a gaming mode, so this can be a good option if you have a console.
Users browsing from the United Kingdom can also check out the new Sharp HT-SBW800.
The Helicopter Effect
You can build goodbye to flat soundstages with these soundbars and instead welcome object-based audio to the plate. So, which of the Dolby Atmos-compatible movies will you watch first? How about a re-run of Our Planet or a peek into The Irishman?
Last updated on 15 February, 2023
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