Soundbars are great. If you want to get a decent audio experience with your television, you need to invest in an external speaker setup. My personal setup is a soundbar with a wireless subwoofer. Before that I was using my television’s built in speakers, and when I got the new setup it was a night and day difference.
The truth is that very few TVs come with passable built in speakers. And basically no TVs can provide an auditory experience that have a strong bass sound.
With the right sound system, you can create a new and significantly improved experience that allows you to become more immersed in your movies, shows, games and music. And nothing pulls you into those worlds more than a powerful bass.
Today I’ve got five different soundbars at different price ranges (above $1000, below $1000, below $300, below $200 and below $100). Each of these systems standout among their competition as having excellent bass. And they are all a great overall value for their price.
What Makes a Soundbar Great, and Have Great Bass?
Before we start looking at the soundbars with the best bass, I want to take a minute to talk about what makes for great sound, and also what makes for great bass sound.
I’m not sure if this is obvious or not, but it’s just not possible to have truly high quality speakers that are also tiny. Your speakers need space to operate. So your higher end soundbars are typically a bit bigger than the cheaper ones. This is even more true of the low range of sound. The best subwoofers are all at least 10 inches in diameter.
A wider soundbar can also help fill a room with sound better and create a better surround sound experience.
You can imagine that a 10 foot wide soundbar would do surround sound better than a 2 foot wide bar.
Of course, you can’t just look at the size of a soundbar and determine which one sounds better. So the size isn’t something I’ll be mentioning much in this article, but you should be very suspicious of any speakers that are very small.
We often refer to the different frequencies in sound as highs, mids and lows (meaning high freqencies, middle frequencies and low frequencies).
When listening to music or TV, you want to be able to clearly distinguish a person’s voice from a police siren if both sounds are happening at the same time. Sound systems that can clearly distinguish between all kinds of sounds have good balance.
In music recording and mixing, you use two primary tools to accomplish good balance.
First is called “panning.” this is comparable to surround sound. If you play one sound of the left speaker and a different sound out of the right speaker, it is easier to hear each individually. That’s why surround sound typically makes for better sound, there are more speakers to use to separate different types of sounds.
Second is called “EQ.” EQ is when you specifically increase or decrease the volume of specific frequencies for a given recording. Let’s say hypothetically that a male speaking voice mostly happens between 200 Hertz and 300 Hertz. When you record a male voice, you could cut back the volume on all frequencies below 200 Hertz and all frequencies above 300 Hertz. This will allow the recording of the male speaking voice to not clash with other sounds which happen at a different frequency.
So in a soundbar you will look for surround sound, which means more ability to do “panning,” and you will look for some type of EQ control. Sometimes EQ comes in the form of a phone app that literally lets you control volume of sound at different frequencies coming from different speakers (usually in very expensive systems). Or it may come in the form of bass boost or more granular controls.
I don’t need to write much to convince you that louder is typically better.
I rarely use my speakers at full volume because it can be hard on the system and it can sometimes lead to mild distortion of the sound. So the main reason I like louder speakers is that it means they are louder at 60% volume. And almost every speaker you can buy sounds pretty good at 60% volume.
Has a subwoofer
If you want a soundbar with excellent bass, you will need a subwoofer. Like I mentioned before, the best bass almost always comes from a subwoofer that is at least 10 inches in diameter. Good luck squeezing a 10 inch speaker into a soundbar.
Those low frequencies just don’t really come through on smaller speakers, plain and simple.
Soundbars with the Best Bass: The JBL Bars
In my opinion, the best soundbars on the market today are the JBL bars. There are several models at various price points, but they all have incredible sound quality and loud, deep bass provided from their wireless subwoofers. And they all provide some level of surround sound.
Best Bass: JBL Bar 9.1
- 300W, 10″ powered, wireless subwoofer that stands out from other comparable systems
- Built-in Dolby Atmos that tweaks the sound depending on what you’re watching
- Detachable battery powered speakers to create 5.1.4 channel surround sound
- Connect via Bluetooth or HDMI
The JBL Bar 9.1 is the flagship product for JBL soundbars. This is a top of the line soundbar, and as such it doesn’t come cheap. So what are you paying for?
Well first of all you’re paying for more power. This speaker can just get louder than others in lower price ranges. Even if you never intend to use the soundbar at full power, the extra wattage means this device won’t be working as hard at lower levels and will typically sound clearer.
The JBL bars stand out from other sound bars because of the quality of the subwoofer. These soundbars don’t do everything better than the competition, but they definitely do bass better.
You’re also paying for 5.1.4 channel surround sound capability. This means that there can be up to 5 channels at ear level, 1 subwoofer and 4 upward channels.
There are plenty of other features on the JBL bar 9.1.
The sound levels are very customizable. You can adjust the bass volume independent from the rest of the system, and you can also adjust other aspects of the surround sound individually. This means you will have much better balance. Although it’s important to know that the JBL 9.1 doesn’t have an app that connects to the soundbar. This means that you can’t fine tune every aspect of the sound. For example there’s no EQ on the system.
This soundbar also has two detachable, battery powered speakers that can be moved around the room to create a true surround sound experience. The detachable speakers are supposed to last 10 hours, but most will see more like 6-8 hours before they will need to attach them back to the main sound bar to charge.
As you can see, the subwoofer in this soundbar is just a notch above the rest of the system. The bass is what sets this product apart from others.
Overall, the JBL bar 9.1 has the best bass of any soundbar around. It does almost everything else very well, but the one place where it truly beats the competition is in the bass.
Best Bass Under $1000: JBL Bar 5.1
- 10″ powered, wireless subwoofer that stands out from other comparable systems
- Detachable battery powered speakers to create 5.1 channel surround sound
- Connect via Bluetooth or HDMI
The JBL Bar 5.1 has a lot in common with the 9.1, but it is about half the price. Two things that stay the same are the standout bass and the detachable battery powered speakers for surround sound.
This system still has a subwoofer speaker that is 10 inches in diameter, and as far as I know you can’t find a cheaper soundbar that can compete with the bass quality of this product.
Again, the 5.1 has a pretty good amount of customization in terms of volume/EQ. You can individually control the volume of the soundbar, each of the detachable speakers, and the subwoofer. And again, all this is controlled from the remote control, not a JBL app. This means that you still don’t have the finer EQ control that you can find on some systems that pair with a Bluetooth app.
This soundbar has 5.1 channel surround sound (5 channels at ear level plus 1 subwoofer), which is what I would call the most standard form of surround sound.
The detachable speakers are rated for the same 10 hour battery life (but you’ll still likely only get 6-8 hours), and they take 3-4 hours to charge.
So you can see there’s no doubt that the JBL Bar 5.1 delivers in terms of high quality, loud bass. It’s probably not the best all around sound for under $1000, but you’ll have a hard time finding a soundbar in this price range that has better bass.
Best Bass Under $300: JBL Bar 2.1
- 6.5″ powered, wireless subwoofer that stands out from other comparable systems
- Soundbar plus subwoofer creates 2.1 channel surround sound
- Connect via Bluetooth or HDMI
Once you slip below $500 in the soundbar market, you start to lose lots of features that allow for great balance of all sound frequencies. You start to lose the surround sound, which allows for more “panning” of sound. And this also results in less control over your EQ. Since you don’t have as many speakers, more frequencies are pushed onto the same speakers and you won’t be able adjust them as precisely.
The JBL Bar 2.1 may seem a little underwhelming when you compare it to the 5.1 and 9.1, but it’s also going to cost less than half of the 5.1 and about 20% of the price of the 9.1.
So now that we have that out of the way, the bass on the JBL Bar 2.1 continues to outperform other soundbars in its price range. We get a subwoofer with a 6.5 inch diameter, which means it just can’t physically get as loud as the 10 inch subwoofers of the 5.1 and 9.1. But just like the other JBL bars, the bass just outperforms other soundbars in the price range.
One unfortunate reality of the JBL Bar 2.1 is that you lose a lot of EQ customization. You basically get to control the volume on the soundbar and the volume on the subwoofer. That’s it. Lots of soundbars in this price range (and below) will have at least 2 or 3 different EQ presets, but this one does not.
This soundbar has 2.1 channel surround sound, which means 2 speakers and one subwoofer. I wouldn’t exactly consider 2.1 channel to be true surround sound. It’s more like stereo sound with a subwoofer. It dedicates a speaker to the bass, but if you take that away the sound will basically be the same as wearing headphones.
Once again the JBL Bar proves to have incredible bass volume and quality. And once again the JBL Bar proves to have excellent overall sound. Just keep in mind that these soundbars seem to be best when playing games and watching TV/movies, and they may not stack up against other soundbars when playing music.
After re-reading my writeup on the JBL Bar 2.1 I feel that I may be coming off a bit harsh. I think that’s really just because you lose a lot between the 2.1 and the 5.1/9.1. The reality is that this sound bar is right in the mix with other soundbars in this price range in terms of overall quality. And just like the other JBLs it stands out as having top tier bass.
I like the JBL bars when it comes to getting the best bass for your money in a soundbar. However, if you want to spend less than $200, you’ll need to look elsewhere. Here are my picks.
Best Bass Under $200: Samsung A550
- 6.5″ powered subwoofer
- Bass boost function to increase the volume of the subwoofer
- Dolby Digital 5.1 channel virtual surround sound (mimics 5.1 channel surround sound)
- Connect via Bluetooth or HDMI
As we go into the sub-$200 price range, we start to see a trend. The size and quality of these speakers drops noticeably again, so brands will try to make them sound better with fancy software features.
In the case of this Samsung A550, they are advertising this soundbar as 5.1 surround sound. But it’s not. You won’t be getting 5.1 channel surround sound for under $200. This speaker has 2.1 channel surround sound like the JBL Bar 2.1. Samsung is just trying to mimic the 5.1 channel surround sound experience with two speakers and a subwoofer.
Actually, when it comes to features the Samsung A550 is actually very close to the JBL Bar 2.1. You can control the volume of the entire system, but you can also turn on the “bass boost,” which gives the subwoofer some extra volume.
This system also has a game mode which changes the EQ and the virtual surround sound settings to get better performance for gaming.
It also has “Adaptive Sound,” which is supposed to be a sort of smart EQ that recognizes characteristics of the current audio signal and adjusts EQ accordingly to get better sound. This sounds nice, but you don’t have any control over it and the actual EQ changes are mostly negligible.
Overall, the Samsung A550 gives you a competent overall sound with a strong, high quality bass compared with other soundbars in the price range.
Best Bass Under $100: RIOWOIS SaiYin
- Has a subwoofer
- 3 different EQ modes: Music, Movie and News
- Connect with Bluetooth or 3.5mm input cable
For less than $100 it actually becomes difficult to find a soundbar with a subwoofer. So in this price range anything with a subwoofer is going to outperform just about everything else in terms of bass.
The RIOWOIS SaiYin does come with a subwoofer, albeit a small one compared with everything else we’ve looked at. While the size isn’t officially listed, the bass speaker is about 4 inches in diameter.
You’re obviously not going to have the features at this price point, so what we get in terms of EQ is three different sound modes. One for music, another for movies and a third for news. It’s not much, but many systems in this price range don’t have any EQ adjustment at all.
My best guess is that the music mode will have the most bass and the mids and highs should be somewhat balanced with everything else. The movie mode likely has a bit less bass and similar volume from your mids and highs. But you’ll have very little bass on the news setting, mostly just mids.
Again, for under $100 you’re not going to be getting a huge bass and you’re also not going to be getting a top tier sound quality. But I can promise you one thing, you’re going to get way more volume and balance with this RIOWOIS SaiYin than you can get from your TV’s built in speakers. And it will get you a better bass sound than anything else under $100.
We’ve seen five different soundbars at five different price points. All five came with a subwoofer, and all five are among the soundbars with the best bass at their price points.
The JBL Bars stand out from the competition as having simply the best bass in their respective price ranges. While they typically fall in the middle of the pack in terms of overall sound quality, there’s no denying the power and quality of the subwoofers in these sound systems.
We also looked at two soundbars below $200 that provide very competent low end sound.
All five of these sound systems will create a more immersive experience for your TV/movie watching and your gaming.