Last year we reviewed the best soundbar across the entire market, however like many things technological these days, our top model was rather expensive. This year we’re again looking at soundbars, however we’re setting a price limit of £200 and thus looking for the best soundbar under £200.
Soundbars are effectively a home theater sound system that fits into a single unit and saves cluttering up your room with speakers and cables. Typically they will drastically improve the quality of sound coming from your TV and allow you to almost have a cinema experience at home.
Typically an average sound-bar will have a three speaker layout consisting of an upper, mid and lower sound range, with many of the better models coming with a separate subwoofer.
As technology has increased over the last few years, soundbars are getting slimmer and using better quality speaker to improve the sound quality. We’re also see additional features such as HDMI inputs and bluetooth allowing you to connect your smartphone directly to your soundbar and play music off your smartphone.
Whilst soundbars create a fantastic sound, they will never be able to replace a surround sound speaker system that has been designed to bounce noise off the walls creating that surround sound effect that you know from the cinema.
The Best Soundbar Under £200
If you don't want to read the whole review and simply want to know what you should be buying if you're looking for the best soundbar under £200 then check out the Sony HT-XT100 SoundBar below.
Sony HT-XT100 SoundBar
Our Rating -
The Sony HT-XT100 is our favorite cheap soundbar priced at under £200 for a few reasons, but the most important of them all, you're buying a Sony which is a buy-word for quality sound system. Over the years we have bought, tested and used hundreds of Sony products and whilst they are often better products on the market in the same category, buying a Sony will never be a bad buy.
The HT-XT100 is no different. As example, it doesn't come with an external subwoofer, however its speakers are set up towards the lower end of the sound range to compensate for this.
In the case of the HT-XT100, I love the fact that you can rest your TV directly on top meaning there are no problems with your TV's infrared controller getting blocked as with so many of the latest models, the bluetooth also works especially well meaning that you play music directly from your phone and the sound quality is great even when you turn up the volume.
Unfortunately you cannot have everything for under £150 and it does a great job of being a professional soundbar, however what does annoy me is there are no ports to add to the speaker set-up meaning that you cannot add further speakers to create a surround sound. However these are small things when considering the quality product you're buying.
Sound Bar Vs Surround Sound
Before we start looking the your soundbar options in the under £200 category, there is one thing to remember. We're looking at soundbars and not surround sound. Whilst i often get critised for my product recommendations, its usually because i have recommended a product that does not do exactly what they want. In the case of soundbars, I have been critsed a few times over the last year because my top choice of soundbar did not provide a surround sound.
Even if you spend thousands on the top of the range soundbar, it's never going to give you that surround sound cinema experience. It has not been designed to do this and whilst the sound will be brilliant, its not going to be a good as surround sound. Sound bars have been designed to provide sound from the front of your TV that is of better quality than the sound that comes out of your TV.
So many times you read the online reviews for a specific sound bar and they have a poor user review. Nine times of ten, the reviewer was expecting a surround sound and did not get it.
Soundbar's - The Recommended Range
Below we have outlined the recommended range of soundbars under the £200 price target. These are the models that we have tested over the years and the majority of which we recommend, however there are a few that we would highly recommend that you stay away from. These have been given a lower star rating. Check out the below recommended range of for more details.
Soundbar Under £200 Reviews
As we found out in our last soundbar review, the best sound bars can cost upwards of £1,000 and come with a range of features designed specifically for your sound experience. In this review we’re looking the best soundbar under £200.
That’s not to say that we’re simply going to accept noise quality that is lower and a product that comes with less features, but we need to seriously think about what we’re looking for in a soundbar.
Do you want the sound quality, is the size important or are you looking for the most features. Unfortunately buying a soundbar that comes with all three, simply means that it’s features will not work as well as expected and may cause you problems.
Sony HT-XT100 2.1 Speaker with Built-in Subwoofer
Our Rating -
The Sony HT-XT100 soundbar is a great option for those looking for a quality soundbar for under £200. Firstly, it’s a Sony, meaning that you know you’re buying a quality product that has been designed and tested extensively before it’s been released to the market. Most importantly, you know its going to work as you expected it to do so.
The design is great and you can tell some real thought went into the design of this sound bar. As an example, it sits on feet, half an inch above the ground to allow the dual bass woofers to extract sound directly under the unit. The top of the unit is reinforced glass allow you to place your TV directly on top. It supports TV’s up to 30kg without a problem and is very easy to hook directly to your TV and even simpler to operate.
Whilst this is one of the cheaper models that Sony manufacture, it still comes loaded with extra features to include three HDMI inputs, built-in Bluetooth with NFC support. I found the Bluetooth pairing worked especially well and quickly found my mobile phone.
The key problem with the Sony HT-XT1 is that it does not come with a separate subwoofer. You also cannot add one later which is annoying, however what’s great is that it’s been designed this way meaning that speaker set-up has been directed toward the lower end of the sound-wave to compensate for this lack of sub-woofer. Does it work? It all honesty, other than a few screeches, it does a very good job of introducing base into the sound wave.
It does’t support WiFi or have an Ethernet port, however for the price you’re paying, this is a quality soundbar that should be at the top of your shopping list if you’re in the market for a great soundbar.
The sound quality is perfect for special effect laden movies that require a wide sound range and the lack of sub-woofer is really not a concern unless you’re going to be listening to drum&bass all day.
Yamaha YAS-93 Soundbar with Built-in Subwoofer
Our Rating -
The Yamaha YAS range of Soundbars now has a YAS-93 and and YAS-103. Unfortunatly the YAS-103 is slightly out of our £200 budget, however if you can stretch an extra £30, its well worth it. They YAS-93 is a 2015 soundbar from Yamaha that has been reviewed extensively across the internet. Again, like the Sony above, it follows the principle that soundbars don’t need an external sub-woofer, and can instead rely on an internal built in sub-woofer to provide base.
The YAS-93 has been designed as a separate unit meaning that it sits on feet much like the Sony above, however it does not come with the ability to place the TV ontop and given it sits almost an inch above the ground, it’s not possible to place the soundbar in-front of the TV as it will block the infrared receiver in your TV.
More bad new, the Yamaha does not come with any HDMI ports or USB connections, however it does come with Bluetooth, analogue inputs and two optical ports which you don't often find on these bottom end soundbars.
The speaker set-up consists of two 2.5 Inch full range cone speakers on either side of the unit and two 3-Inch subwoofer speakers located in the middle of the design. Unfortunately there is no separate tweeters however this does not effect the sound quality. Overall power is quoted at 120Watts with 30w coming from each side speaker and 60w coming from the subwoofers.
Overall sound quality is actually very good. There is a slight straining when the volume is turned up at the upper end of the sound wave but it’s within acceptable limits and the mid-level performs very well. One interesting point, the sound loudness may go up to 50, however there is really very little difference in decibels between levels 40 and level 50.
LG 320W Bluetooth Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer
Our Rating -
Right at the top of our £200 target sits the impressive LG320W soundbar and really proves how far technology has come over the last few years. We do like the LG 320W and love the fact that it comes with a separate wireless subwoofer, however it is suited directly for those wanting to watch TV and quite frankly, if music is your thing, there are better models on the market.
The LG has been design to sit on a flat surface below your TV and therefore is approx 45 inches long and about two inch high, whilst the separate subwoofer is a small unit that only requires an AC power cord given that it connect wirelessly to soundbar. Connectivity includes not only Bluetooth wireless but also digital optical, analog, Ethernet and WiFi networking options to include multi-room streaming although it does not work, or at least we could not get it to work correctly.
One thing we do like is the fact that the LG is able to pair with other wireless LG speakers meaning that if you want to connect the soundbar to an array of different speakers and thus create a surround sound, it’s all possible. Whilst it a bit of a gimmick and I have no idea how long we would actually use it for, the LG Bluetooth remote app allows you to install it on your smartphone and control the app directly from your phone.
Overall performance is very good, however we do think that it’s more suited to TV rather than music.
Difference Between A £100 Soundbar and A £200 Soundbar
Technology has substantially increase over the last few years to the point that soundbars are now widely available for under £100, however there is still a massive jump between those at £100 and those at £200. It’s generally considered that soundbars priced under £100 come with the bare minimum of features and speaker quality.
They may provide more noise than your TV, but whether they actually provide a better sound quality is debatable. It’s true that you can buy a soundbar with bluetooth for under £100, however we have tested a few over the years and have had numerous problems with their connectivity which either means they don't connect, or the connection is variable and often does not hold during any form of movement.
Power is very limited meaning that as soon as you crank up the volume, the sound starts to distort. The difference between the lower end of the scale and upper end of the scale is considerable. If you look at the majority of soundbars that we have recommend above in the under £200 range, the majority are right at the top of this range.
This is where speaker which are limited to two in the cheaper models become three of four and the power available to you increases substantially up to around 300 watts. In addition to more, and better quality speakers, subwoofers are introduced into the range either internally or externally as a separate unit.
Whilst the sub-£200 range does not allow for quality speakers, it does allow for the beginnings of useful features such a optical inputs, HDMI, Bluetooth and in some cases expansion paths meaning that you can add more, better quality speakers as you go.
TV’s are becoming thinner and thinner which limits what built-in speaker can actually provide in the way of sound. Whilst the days of having to spend thousands on a top of the range sound-bar, it’s a great idea to shop around, read reviews and choose a model that is going to forfill your needs.