Labor Day is coming, which means a break from the scorching heat of summer and the start of fall fun. We’re talking crisp air, orchards flush with autumn leaves, and of course, the start of football season. And speaking of football, if you’ve been looking to upgrade your TV room with one of the best soundbars around, this year’s Labor Day sales are another reason to applaud summer’s close.
There are bound to be a lot of great soundbar models on sale Labor Day, but there’s no need to fret if you haven’t been following the latest audio trends. Here at TechRadar, we spend all year testing the top soundbars with the best TVs, keying in on the best value for your money so you don’t have to. Below, we’ve collected our favorite picks at a variety of price points to keep an eye on during this year’s Labor Day sales events.
All of the options on our list feature top-flight performance and the latest features like Wi-Fi streaming, simple setup and connection, and support for Dolby Atmos. No matter which you choose, you can be sure you’re getting excellent performance to enhance whatever you’re watching, from the NFL season opener to your favorite horror flicks.
Samsung’s flagship HW-Q990C is the unofficial king of the soundbars, serving as one of the very best models you can buy, bar none. With 16 discrete audio channels, including powerful surround sound speakers and a subwoofer, the HW-Q990C is more like a full home theater system than a soundbar, with multiple components, extra HDMI inputs, and the performance and features to back it all up.
The HW-Q990C is the latest in Samsung’s flagship evolution, and when it comes to surround sound performance, you simply can’t beat it. Part of that is due to the bar’s excellent software processing, with features like Q-Symphony that matches the sound with that of select Samsung TVs, and a sound analyzer that optimizes the performance in real time for whatever you play.
But it’s really all those speakers working in concert that puts the Q990C over the top – especially when it comes to 3D audio formats like Dolby Atmos (and its rival, DTS:X). With up-firing and side-firing speakers in both the soundbar itself and the satellite surrounds, the system not only offers fabulous immersion, but also seamless transition between speakers for the different effects and “sound objects” that bring Dolby Atmos films and TV shows to life.
That’s matched by surprisingly full and clear sound in the bar’s front-firing speakers for everything from sitcoms to jazz, and cinematic bass from the included subwoofer. When you’re not enjoying the latest action flick or drama, the HW-Q990C supports multiple ways to stream music, including AirPlay 2 and Chromecast, and allows for settings adjustments with Samsung’s SmartThings app.
Read our full Samsung HW-Q990C review.
Bose Smart Soundbar 600
If you’re looking for something more compact and elegant, look no further than Bose’s masterfully musical Smart Soundbar 600. This relatively tiny bar is able to disappear on the majority of consoles or TV stands, but its sound performance is anything but small.
Thanks to Bose’s clever use of digital signal processing, up-firing and side-firing drivers, and a moderate helping of bass, the Smart Soundbar 600 sounds much bigger than its compact profile suggests. Its sound signature is also clear and lyrical, lending a sophisticated touch to everything from Spotify tracks to prestige dramas.
If you’re looking to upgrade, you can also add wireless speakers to the bar for a true surround sound configuration and/or a subwoofer for beefier bass down the line, all of which will be controllable through the Bose Music app. The app goes further, too, allowing you to group Bose speakers for multi-room audio, as well as stream music directly to the bar from a variety of services.
Outside the app, the Bose Smart Soundbar 600 supports Wi-Fi streaming over services like Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, and Chromecast, and it has built-in support for Amazon Alexa. It’s a whole lot of goodies in a small package, making this a great pick for those looking to keep things simple without skimping on extras.
Read our full Bose Smart Soundbar 600 review.
Another ringer from Samsung, the HW-Q700B sits somewhere between our other two picks, offering a more compact system than the massive HW-Q990C and fuller sound than the Bose Smart Soundbar 600 thanks to an included wireless subwoofer. That all puts it in the sweet spot, especially if you’re looking to maximize performance and features on a tight budget.
Like those other bars, the HW-Q700B includes up-firing drivers to extend sound effects overhead with 3D audio formats, though its lack of side-firing drivers limits its virtual surround sound immersion to some degree. Still, it strikes a nice sonic balance, with clear and full performance that’s relatively expansive. Unlike Bose’s bar, it offers both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support, and it has a spare HDMI input that allows you to plug in a Blu-ray player or other device directly.
The Q700B’s Q-Symphony feature lets it integrate with some of the best Samsung TVs, and it has room calibration to adapt the sound to your listening space. It also offers high-quality streaming over Wi-Fi with support for AirPlay 2, Google Chromecast, and Spotify Connect. It even includes Tap Sound for easy pairing over Bluetooth with supported phones.
But it’s really the smooth and clear sound profile that brings this one home. Excellent performance in an affordable package makes Samsung’s HW-Q700B a great deal – especially when it’s on sale.
Read our full Samsung HW-Q700B review