The best Dolby Atmos soundbar in 2022

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Wireless subwoofers and Bluetooth connectivity are great, but the most requested by CNET readers sound bar there is a feature Dolby Atmos audio. I like it DTS:XDolby Atmos differs from standard surround sound by adding height to your music and movies for a more dynamic and immersive listening experience.

Dolby Atmos soundbars are now more affordable than ever, especially compared to a traditional Atmos receiver and surround sound speakers. These soundbars are also more compact and easier to set up than a home theater system, with the tradeoff being that they can’t deliver the same level of performance.

The Vizio M512a this is my favorite Dolby Atmos soundbar under $500 – it offers both dedicated treble channels and surround speakers, and quality sound. Some competitors for the price — such as Sonos Beam Gen 2 and Sony HT-G700 — can only offer simulated height speakers, while you can hear the difference in dedicated height speakers Bose Smart Soundbar 600 does.

​​​​​​While you can easily stop at the $500 mark, the more expensive models have advantages: improved sound quality, streaming music, and voice assistants like Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa. For example, 900 dollars Sonos Arc it’s an all-in-one soundbar that delivers great sound, great build quality, and great multi-room capabilities.

These are my favorite Atmos soundbar options from $400 and up, updated periodically as I review new products. Please note: some of these items are currently out of order, so please check back periodically to see if a specific model is in stock.

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The Vizio M512a improves on it predecessor in almost every way: looks better, sounds better and is easier to use. While it retains Bluetooth capability, it loses Wi-Fi streaming capability. If you’re looking for the most cost-effective way to add Dolby Atmos to your TV, this is it.

Read our Vizio M512a-H6 review.

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The Polk Signa S4 is the cheapest soundbar with Dolby Atmos on board, but it doesn’t sacrifice performance to lower the price. It’s a 3.1.2 soundbar with lots of useful sound modes and Bluetooth streaming. The wireless soundbar and dedicated height help play Atmos soundtracks and sound great with music.

Read our Polk Signa S4 review.

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If you like a little “high tech” in your tech, check out the Vizio Elevate. It’s a 5.1.2 soundbar that uses motorized drivers to switch between Atmos and regular surround sound. It’s not just a gimmick – it sounds good too! Plus, the Elevate includes everything else you’d want in a modern soundbar, including multiple HDMI inputs and Wi-Fi music streaming.

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Many companies have tried to create a compact, affordable soundbar that can also play Atmos, but only one company seems to have succeeded so far. The Bose Smart Soundbar 600 offers dedicated tweeters in a compact soundbar and top-notch sound quality. The speaker also adds multiroom music and the Alexa voice assistant.

Read our Bose Smart Soundbar 600 review.

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Ty Pendlebury

If you want the ultimate in Dolby Atmos sound from a single panel, but don’t want to pay $1,000 or more, the Sonos Arc is for you. This soundbar is a little finicky because you’ll need a 2019 or newer 4K TV to get the most out of it, and yet it performs better than most. The Arc also offers plenty of great features, including a choice of voice assistants and Sonos’ excellent streaming architecture.

Read our Sonos Arc review.

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Want to get the most out of your one-box Atmos Audio home theater sound system? It may be a lot bigger than the Sony, but the Sennheiser Ambeo standalone soundbar delivers the best immersive sound we’ve ever heard. Google Chromecast and Bluetooth connectivity are integrated for seamless use. The absence of a subwoofer in the Ambeo, although it sounds full, should be especially attractive for apartment dwellers.

Read our Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar review.

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How I test

At CNET, I test audio equipment from compact soundbars to surround sound speakers, but regardless of the device, my methodology is largely the same. I always compare products against one or more benchmark devices that offer better performance at a similar price.

When it comes to soundbars, I want to see how well the system does with both music and movies, as most people will want both. I watch a few test scenes from a 4K Blu-ray or streamed from a 4K streaming service (Vudu, for example) and evaluate aspects such as bass performance and dialogue clarity. I also use a number of test music tracks and evaluate any streaming features like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. It’s the systems that can work well with both types of entertainment that inevitably get the highest scores.

Other soundbars I’ve tested

Check out mine soundbar buying guide to learn more about the features and things you should consider when looking for a new system.

FAQ

Do I need HDMI 2.1 to listen to Atmos?

Dolby Atmos can be played over a regular HDMI ARC connection with streaming services that use the Dolby Digital Plus codec, and when it works, it’s great. If you want the full Dolby Atmos experience, you may need to upgrade to a new TV with an HDMI 2.1 port, as this will allow better quality Atmos streaming from Blu-ray players and game consoles.

Is it worth paying extra for a Dolby Atmos soundbar?

If you’re a gamer or enjoy watching the latest blockbusters, then yes, it’s worth paying more for a Dolby Atmos soundbar. But you have to make sure you have a TV with HDMI ARC port (for Dolby Digital Plus) and Dolby Atmos-enabled source, for example Xbox Series X or the latest Roku streamers.

Which connection is best for a Dolby Atmos soundbar?

The short answer is HDMI. The long answer is that there are two ways to get Atmos into one of these speakers – the first and best is to have a TV with an eARC (HDMI 2.1) port. This port is a feature of many new TVs and allows you to stream Atmos information from your TV (via smart apps or another connected device) to an external speaker. For some, regular HDMI ARC will do streaming services that offer Dolby Atmos.

On the other hand, if you have an older TV and an Atmos source like a Blu-ray player, you’ll need a soundbar with more than one HDMI port. The Vizio M512a allows you to connect external devices directly via HDMI.

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