Best Soundbar Under £100 UK – Battle Of The Budget Bars

Modern, slim-profile TVs are great for all kinds of reasons, but while their visual quality can be excellent their sound quality can be rather less so. There are various ways you can address this, ranging from soundbars to sound bases to surround-sound systems.

best sound bar under £100

Soundbars

Soundbars, as their name suggests, are long bars, which contain speakers and supporting electronics. Generally th,ey are positioned horizontally in front of a TV but they can also be mounted to a wall or put on a shelf (again horizontally and preferably below the TV). Where soundbars really come into their own is making dialogue crisper, clearer and easier to hear, especially to the left and right of the room. Basically instead of continually turning the sound up to try to hear quiet dialogue (or effects) soundbars will do a better job of reproducing it.

Sound bases

Sound bases tend to look like chunky boxes and are usually placed either under the TV itself or on a shelf directly below it. Because sound bases are deeper than soundbars, they have more room inside them for equipment and hence they are usually better at both amplification and base, however the fact that they are narrower than soundbars means that the field of sound is narrower. Sound bases, can be a better option if your main interest is music, but even here, the fact remains that soundbars do a decent job at a much more affordable price.

Surround-sound systems

In a home environment, a decent surround-sound system would be something along the lines of a stand-alone amplifier and at least 5 speakers (one center, one each left and right, two rear) plus a subwoofer. The sound may be as good as it gets but the price is steep and you need to sacrifice a lot of your useable space to your speakers (and accessories).

budget soundbars

Budget soundbars

For many people budget soundbars are the best way to go, especially if you like to watch TV in a group as they do stereo rather better than sound bases (because they’re wider). They might not be the best there is, but they are plenty good enough for most people and excellent value for money (and space).

It’s also worth noting that although budget soundbars are most effective at improving dialogue, they also do a pretty decent job on music, especially music created for film and TV and also pop music with more limited dynamic ranges. They can therefore be reasonable options for streaming music from your mobile device and are great for audio books and podcasts or for YouTube videos which are mainly based around one or more people talking.

tv with soundbar

The Basics of Budget Soundbars

Here are the points to consider when buying a soundbar.

  • Size

In general big is better when it comes to audio, as it means there is more space for the technical wizardry which maximizes sound reproduction, however, in practical terms there will presumably be a limit to how much space you have available for your soundbar, so we suggest checking the dimensions early to remove the danger of you setting your heart on a soundbar which is just too big for your space.

  • Connectivity

Similar comments apply here. These days, even budget soundbars will typically have multiple connectivity options and if you have a fairly modern TV, you should be fine with just about any soundbar, however, it’s always worthwhile checking and if you have an older TV, then you definitely want to double-check that you can actually connect any soundbar you are considering purchasing.

NB: even though everything seems to be going wireless these days (and many budget soundbars will support Bluetooth and/or WiFi), we still think that there’s a lot to be said for physical connections, especially in the case of audio, in fact, we’re partial to optical cables ourselves and we’re happy that even budget soundbars will generally support them along with USB and HDMI. If you have other physical connections, such as VGA, then you will probably be fine if you purchase an adaptor. Generally, these are very affordable.

  • Ease of use

Even budget soundbars will tend to have remote controls (in fact some can now be controlled via smartphone app), some will have physical control panels as well, these days there are only a very few which are only controlled by physical buttons. Budget soundbars can also have very simple user interfaces, although this is more variable, hence the importance of trying them out in person and/or checking out reviews.

Speaking of remotes, if you place your soundbar in front of your TV, you may interfere with the signal from your TV remote. There are various ways to deal with this however our favourite solution is the low-tech option of just raising your TV slightly by putting it on a monitor stand.

best soundbar uk

  • Active or passive sound

If a soundbar has its own built-in amplifier, then it is considered an active soundbar and hence if it does not it is a passive one. Top-of-the-range soundbars tend to be passive because the assumption is that you will connect extra, stand-alone components for amplification. When you move into more budget-friendly options, however, active soundbars generally offer the best value for space and money.

  • Number of channels

In an audio context, channel is just shorthand for audio outputs, and the number of channels can be a useful indicator of the quality of your soundbar. Basically at the budget end of the scale, you should really only expect two channels. Mid-range models would have around five and premium ones can have up to nine, although to be honest, the fact that a soundbar has speakers in a line rather than distributed around a room does rather limit the usefulness of high numbers of channels.

It also has to be said that, the issue of channels for soundbars (or any other audio) is a bit like the issue for megapixels for digital cameras. They are certainly a factor in the level of quality but because consumers often associate higher numbers with better performance, they can be over-emphasized. Basically, there are a number of factors which will influence sound output of which channels are just one.

In this context, it’s worth noting that some manufacturers of budget soundbars do not even mention the number of channels they support. We’re guessing this is because most people will just be looking for a decent, “plug-and-play” solution and are more likely to be influenced by reviews than by long lists of technical specifications.

  • Warranty

Our philosophy is to buy a reputable brand from a retailer you trust and you probably won’t need to call on the warranty, but if you do, you’ll be able to rely on it.

best sound bar

Best Soundbar Under £100 UK

Here is our pick of the best soundbars under £100 on the UK market

Sony HT-SF150 2ch

Sony HT-SF150 2ch

You may not be surprised to learn that this soundbar from Sony only just falls into the category of soundbar under £100, but it’s there and, as you would expect from anything with the Sony brand on it, it’s very high quality.

This being a Sony soundbar, it has S-Force virtual surround sound technology. Honestly, if you buy this expecting cinematic surround sound, you’ll be bitterly disappointed, but if you accept the name was created for marketing purposes, then you’ll probably be perfectly happy with it (given the size and price) and the bass reflex is pretty decent (again given the size and price).

On that note (no pun intended) one point we should make is that the slimness of this soundbar means that there is literally no room for a subwoofer worth the name, hence the bass is definitely on the lighter side. We’d say it was fine for TV and for general chart music, but obviously if you’re looking for a soundbar to play drum and bass, then you’ll have to move along, there’s nothing to see here.

Given Sony’s approach to technology, we’re actually quite impressed that they added optical in and USB ports to the HDMI and Bluetooth connectivity. Speaking of HDMI, you either need to use an ARC-enabled HDMI port or a TOS Link if you want to connect via HDMI.

As a final point, while for the most part, we’d class this soundbar as being really easy to use, we have heard of one quirk, which we couldn’t test ourselves. Apparently, on at least some Sony Bravia TVs, you need to turn on Bravia Sync mode in order for the TV to recognize the soundbar, but this isn’t mentioned in the manual. So if you try connecting one of these soundbars to a Bravia TV and it doesn’t work, you may want to check for this before returning it.

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Sony HT-SF150 2ch Single Soundbar with Bluetooth and S-Force Front Surround -...

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£96.31 £150.00

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Majority Skiddaw II Slim Soundbar

Majority Skiddaw II

This soundbar really does have a slim profile, which makes it even more impressive that Majority have managed to squeeze in a 120W output and a subwoofer. The remote control, however, is unexpectedly large and this is on purpose, basically helps to make it easier to grip and use, as does the intuitive interface. In addition to Bluetooth, you can also connect your soundbar via AUX link and optical cable.

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Majority Skiddaw II Slim Soundbar Built-In Subwoofer Surround Sound, 120W Wireless Bluetooth...

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Majority Snowdon II Soundbar

Majority Snowdon II

This is the bigger sibling of the Majority Skiddaw II above. Basically the extra size and money gets you more options for customizing your audio, especially the treble and bass. If you are really into films then we’d say it was definitely worth it as you definitely notice the difference with certain effects (especially gunfire and explosions).

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Majority Snowdon II Soundbar with Built-In Subwoofer Surround Sound, 120W Wireless 5.0...

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£41.95 £119.95

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MEGACRA TV Soundbar

MEGACRA TV This soundbar from MEGACRA comes in three versions, 28”, 34” and 40” (also known as 70cm, 85cm and 100cm), the price increases as you go up in size but even the 40” version comes in at comfortably under £100. Each of these soundbars feels hefty for its size, which is an indicator of the technology they contain and of the quality of the output.

While we’d happily recommend each of these soundbars in their own right (and the core functionality is essentially the same for all of them), the simple fact of the matter is that the bigger soundbars have more space for internal components and hence the quality of the output goes up with the size (and price), so it’s important to set your expectations accordingly.

The single biggest difference between the 28” version and its bigger siblings is that the bigger versions both have the ability to set different sound modes (specifically movie, music and dialogue), whereas it doesn’t.

This may be an issue if you want to play audio from a variety of sources, but if you just want to improve on standard TV speakers then the smallest version may be more than adequate.

As with all the soundbars on our list, core functionality is all present and correct including all main connectivity options (Bluetooth, line in and optical).

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Soundbar, MEGACRA TV Sound Bar with Dual Bass Ports Wired and Wireless...

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TaoTronics soundbar

TaoTronics soundbar

In many ways, this budget soundbar from TaoTronics is quite simply a solid, reliable, mid-budget-end soundbar, however it does have a couple of unique touches.

The first point which makes this soundbar a little different is that it has both a remote control and physical buttons, so if you’re the kind of person who regularly loses their remote, then this could be the soundbar for you. Similarly, the Bluetooth connectivity is supported by 3.5mm, optical, coaxial, and RCA AUX input, which is pretty impressive at this price point.

Last but by no means least, this soundbar can be placed above the TV rather than needing to go below it (although that is generally the preferred option). This allows for a bit more flexibility in use.

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ABOX 2.1 Channel Soundbar & Subwoofer

ABOX-2.1-Channel-Soundbar-&-Subwoofer

This option from ABOX is described as a “soundbar system”, which basically translates as a soundbar plus a subwoofer.  This means that you’re trading a bit of extra space for a lot of extra depth to your sound.  If you love listening to musical scores at least as much as you love listening to dialogue then you may think this is a fair trade-off.

We’re going to have to say upfront, that, while the soundbar itself is nicely slim and will probably fade discreetly into the background (visually), the subwoofer part has the potential to be a bit of an eyesore.  You could, however, try putting it in a decorative cardboard box with holes cut out for the speakers, basically a variation of the old trick for concealing cable clutter.

This soundbar gets bonus points for its ease of use, including its multiple connectivity options.  In addition to the headline Bluetooth, you can connect via optical, coaxial, AUX and, of course, USB.  We should probably point out that this soundbar is clearly designed to be operated with the remote.  You can only change the volume on the bar itself.  This is relatively large, which, according to the manufacturer, was intended to make it easier to use.  It should, also, hopefully, make it harder to lose (and easier to find if you do)!

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ABOX 2.1 Channel Soundbar & Subwoofer Surround Sound, 120W RMS, Bluetooth 4.2...

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£79.99 £99.99

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Fityou Soundbar for TV

Fityou Soundbar-for-TV

The Fityou is another soundbar and subwoofer combo, only in this case the subwoofer is fairly small.  Obviously, this limits the amount of power it can offer, but it also limits the amount of space it needs and makes it generally a bit more discreet.  This means that the Fityou could be a good option in households where one person is a big film fan and wants to enjoy the scores which go along with them and the other isn’t.

If connectivity is important to you, then this soundbar is just about as good as it gets.  As well as the standard Bluetooth, you can connect via optical, RCA, ARC, HDMI ARC, USB and coaxial.  This soundbar is very simple to install and just as easy to use.  The remote control is a decent size and all the buttons are both clearly-labelled and sensibly laid out.

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Soundbar, Fityou Soundbar for TV 2.0 Channel Bluetooth 4.2 Wireless Sound Bar...

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£79.99 £159.99

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GooDee Soundbar

GooDee Soundbar

The GooDee Soundbar is the odd one out on our list because, in principle, it’s battery-operated.  Specifically, it uses a lithium ion battery with a maximum playtime of 2 hours.  Obviously, that’s away from the mains.  Leave it plugged in and it will play for as long as you like.  You can connect your devices over Bluetooth, RCA and AUX and there’s also a slot for a TF card.

You can actually control a lot of the functionality via buttons on the soundbar.  We’re guessing this is because the GooDee was intended for portable use and the manufacturer is covering for people who forget to bring the remote.  The remote itself is – interesting.  It looks like an old-school calculator (in our opinion) but, to be fair to whoever designed it, the buttons are easy to press and the layout is perfectly intuitive.

As you’ve probably guessed by now, the GooDee is small and slim (since it’s designed to be portable) and doesn’t have an external subwoofer.  This means it isn’t the most powerful option there is, but it is surprisingly good for its size and price.  In short, if you’re really on a tight budget or you want one soundbar for your main TV and to use portably, then this option from GooDee could be the one for you.

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Soundbar, GooDee 2.0 Channel Speaker for TV Sound bar 22 Inch Wired...

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Meidong Soundbar

Meidong Soundbar

Visually, the Meidong Soundbar is one of the sleekest and chicest options on our list, but it’s the sound that matters and the good news is that it delivers nicely.  It’s definitely best at dialogue and, while this is probably a niche market, this would probably be our choice if you were in the habit of using your TV for voice calls, particularly conference calls.  There are better soundbars for music, but this is pretty decent, especially given the price and the bass was quite a bit deeper and stronger than we’d expected given how slim this soundbar is.

Connectivity is reasonable (Bluetooth, optical, RCA and 3.5mm audio), installation is very simple and using this soundbar is a breeze.  We were pleasantly surprised to discover that you can actually operate this soundbar by physical buttons as well as via the well-designed remote.

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【2019 New Version】Meidong Soundbar, Sound Bars for TV 36 inch Bluetooth Wireless...

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TaoTronics 40-Inch Sound Bar

TaoTronics 40-Inch Sound Bar

This is essentially the big brother of the other TaoTronics soundbar, so basically the same comments apply.  The extra size gets you a bit more power and, in particular, a bit more depth to your base.  You have to decide for yourself whether or not the trade off is worth it.

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Soundbar, TaoTronics 40-Inch Sound Bar with Display Screen, Wired and Wireless Bluetooth...

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Best budget soundbar under £100 UK overall

As always, best is a matter of definition. If your definition of best is a combination of aesthetics and functionality, then the Sony soundbar has to be the clear winner.

If you’re just interested in functionality, then we’d make a case for the MEGACRA soundbars. The TaoTronics soundbar has some unique features, which might make it the best option for some people regardless of what the other budget soundbars have to offer and the two budget soundbars from Majority have decent functionality and offer excellent value for money.

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