CNET: Best sound bars under $300

The affordable Polk MagniFi Mini is capable of a much bigger sound than its minuscule size suggests. The package is compact and will fit easily into most living room setups. (Handout/TNS)
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The affordable Polk MagniFi Mini is capable of a much bigger sound than its minuscule size suggests. The package is compact and will fit easily into most living room setups. (Handout/TNS)

While you can spend as little as $80 on a sound bar, the sweet spot for this kind of speaker is around $300. For this price you can expect features such as Bluetooth and even a wireless subwoofer. Dialogue will sound so much clearer than you ever heard from your TV, and most bars include a dialogue-boosting mode as well. Here are our current favorites.

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Yamaha YAS-106

Product Review: https://www.cnet.com/products/yamaha-yas-106/review/#ftag=CAD187281f

CNET rating: 4.0 stars out of 5 (Excellent)

The good: The Yamaha offers a wide-open sound that is great for movies and surprisingly good with music. The connectivity is up there with some of the best sound bars, regardless of price.

The bad: The YAS-106 doesn’t include a subwoofer. Even better sound can be had for an extra $100 or so.

The cost: $199.95 to $199.99

The bottom line: The Yamaha YAS-106 raises the bar for sound quality at ultra-budget prices.

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Polk MagniFi Mini

Product Review: https://www.cnet.com/products/polk-magnifi-mini/review/#ftag=CAD187281f

CNET rating: 4.0 stars out of 5 (Excellent)

The good: The affordable Polk MagniFi Mini is capable of a much bigger sound than its minuscule size suggests. The package is compact and will fit easily into most living room setups. The ability to Cast directly from your phone simplifies music streaming.

The bad: The Wi-Fi connection on my test unit was unreliable, and the ARC-only HDMI input limits connectivity somewhat.

The cost: $265.00 to $299.99

The bottom line: The Polk MagniFi Mini’s mix of features, performance and compact size makes it one of the best sound bars for the money.

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Fluance AB40

Product Review: https://www.cnet.com/products/fluance-ab40/review/#ftag=CAD187281f

CNET rating: 4.0 stars out of 5 (Excellent)

The good: The Fluance AB40 delivers great sound for the money, outperforming many sound bars at the same price or more. Bass response was excellent.

The bad: If you have a TV with feet on each end you won’t be able to use this unit. The deep-set controls on the unit may also limit the placement of your TV. There’s no HDMI connection.

The cost: $249.99

The bottom line: The Fluance AB40’s sound base offers significant performance advantages over competitive sound bars, but you’ll need a TV that fits on it.

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JBL Boost TV

Product Review: https://www.cnet.com/products/jbl-boost-tv/#ftag=CAD187281f

CNET rating: 3.5 stars out of 5 (Very good)

The good: The JBL Boost TV is simple to set up and gives you better sound than almost any television. The unit is compact and includes the most-used connections. The speaker sounds better than many portable Bluetooth speakers at the same price.

The bad: The Boost can sound shouty at high volume or with bright music. There’s little stereo separation. You can buy a full sound bar and subwoofer system with streaming features for the same money.

The cost: $149.95 to $199.95

The bottom line: The JBL Boost TV offers a simple, effective upgrade to your existing television sound with the option of Bluetooth streaming thrown in.

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The following CNET staff contributed to this story: CNET contributor Steve Guttenberg, Senior Associate Editor Ty Pendlebury and Senior Editor Laura K. Cucullu. For more reviews of personal technology products, please visit www.cnet.com.

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