Built-in TV speakers are notoriously not very good. You don’t have deep bass, you’ll miss the high notes of songs in movies, and voice can sound muffled. This is all because most TV speakers either fire toward the wall (most common) or downward, and not out toward you. Pair that with the ever-slimming TV thickness, and speakers just don’t have much room to move. With Super Bowl LIII just around the corner, you’ll want to make sure that you have the best sound bar or audio system for the big game.
Whether you have a limited budget or the sky’s the limit, we’ve got a great sounding audio system for you. There are many more choices than the ones listed below, however. You can always swing by our home theater roundup, which is highlighted by a massive Sonos sale from $349 and a nice 5.1-Channel Polk Audio system for $399 right now.
Nomad Base Station
Going All Out — Onkyo 5.1.2-Channel Dolby Atmos Home Theater Package: $849
Onkyo’s HT-S7800 5.1.2-Channel Dolby Atmos Home Theater Package is one of the best systems on the market without going to the professional level. You’ll get built-in Dolby Atmos, which will bring movies and TV shows to life like never before. Atmos gives upward firing speakers, placing audio that should be above your head at the ceiling. So, when that rocket takes off and flies overhead or you have a helicopter buzz the tree line, it’ll actually sound like it’s above you.
On top of that, you’ll have 8 HDMI inputs and two HDMI outputs. There’s 4K HDR (HDR10 & Dolby Vision) support, AirPlay, Chromecast, and a total of 1,190 watts of power output to the speakers. You will receive five speakers (front/height, center, surround) and a subwoofer, making for an incomparable experience to other sound systems on the market. This really is one of the best ways to enjoy the Super Bowl.
If setting up a system like this is a bit outside of your scope, Best Buy can easily do that with its Total Tech Support program. The program itself is $200 and then install is another $49 with the system, but you’ll also receive a lot of other benefits with Total Tech Support. Learn more in our announcement coverage.
All-in-one simplicity: LG SK9Y 5.1.2-Channel Dolby Atmos Sound Bar: $597
For a simpler package, LG has the SK9Y 5.1.2-Channel Dolby Atmos Sound Bar. Though it doesn’t quite have the input/output options of the above Onkyo system, it’s a bit easier on the budget and leaves some more room to pick up a new TV for the big game.
This sound bar still features Dolby Atmos and HDR10/Dolby Vision, but in an easier to set up package. Instead of having to pay Best Buy to install this system (or install it yourself), it’s much more self-contained. The front of your room will just have the sound bar, and then at the rear, you’ll have a wireless subwoofer. Wireless rear speakers can be added at a later time, as well, should you want an even more immersive experience. They’re on sale for $130 at Best Buy right now and are a great add-on to get the most out of your system.
LG has built-in Chromecast with this sound bar as well as other smart features, allowing you to enjoy content from any service easily. This sound bar also works with Google’s Assistant, meaning that you can play music, skip tracks, and even adjust the volume of your SK9Y with just your voice.
Budget-friendly surround: VIZIO 36-inch 5.1-Channel Sound Bar System: $250
If Dolby Atmos and 4K HDR aren’t huge deals to you, then this VIZIO 36-inch 5.1-Channel Sound Bar System is a perfect choice. At well under half the cost of the above LG system, you’re still getting things like 5.1-Channel surround sound, VIZIO’s SmartCast technology with built-in Chromecast and Dolby Audio, plus solid bass response allowing you to be fully immersed into your movies or shows.
The sound bar itself here is three channels, giving you left, center, and right channels in one sleek package. Then you’ll also get a wireless subwoofer where the rear speakers plugin, allowing you to enjoy a fully immersive experience without spending a fortune.
Budget-minded: AmazonBasics 2.0 Channel Bluetooth Sound Bar: $68.50
Amazon’s own AmazonBasics 2.0-Channel Bluetooth Sound Bar is a great option for the person who wants better audio than their built-in TV speakers but doesn’t quite have the budget for the higher-end systems above. You’ll still get much better audio quality than your TV provides with this 31-inch sound bar, and there’s plenty of money left in the bank for snacks and accessories for the big game.
When it’s time to just listen to tunes, you can hook your phone or computer up via Bluetooth and play music, and then easily switch back to TV mode when the game comes back on. There’s no dedicated subwoofer here, and no add-on rear speakers, so what you see is what you get. But for the person on a tighter budget, it’s a great option.