Best Soundbar Without Subwoofer in 2021 – Reviews & Buyers Guide

If you want to upgrade your TV-watching experience, it might be time to invest in a soundbar. Soundbars are not only affordable speakers, but they are so easy to set up and offer improved sound quality over your built-in TV speaker. That’s why soundbars are more popular than home theater speakers, AV (audiovisual) receivers, and subwoofers.

There are many soundbars in the market right now, and they are bound to offer better audio quality than your current built-in speakers. That’s because they offer clear sound, more than one sound mode, and can even work with your existing smart speakers. So, yes, you can talk to your soundbars through Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

With many soundbars to choose from, finding the best one that suits your home can be challenging. But this guide will surely help you narrow it down to the perfect soundbar for your living room or even your home theater system.

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Choosing the Best Soundbar

Center speaker close-up

To test the quality of the best potential soundbars in 2021, we compared them against similarly priced models with a combination of movies and music.

Product specs were also considered, as well as account features like multiroom capabilities, the number of HDMI ports, high-resolution audio, Bluetooth connectivity, surround sound, or Dolby Atmos.

We considered the following factors in terms of choosing the best soundbars:

  • Sound Performance
  • Design
  • Connectivity
  • Device Controls

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Here Are Our Picks for the Best Soundbars of 2021:

Listed below is our shortlist for the best soundbar without a wireless subwoofer.

1. Sony HT-S100F

Sony HT-S100F

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The Sony HT-S100F is a prime choice for those working on a budget. Sony HT-S100F is a good soundbar with a 2.0 setup that has a very clear and accurate reproduction of voices. I was impressed at the maximum volume because this soundbar can get pretty loud while still performing well.

But it did struggle to produce some low bass frequencies. It has trouble reproducing the deep rumble and punch of bass which affects its performance with the bass-heavy music and movies. While it offers always-on surround sound, it will not give you the most immersive experience.

It lacks support for DTS and does not have any HDMI In inputs which can be frustrating for some users. Also, the HT-S100F is battery operated. The box comes with two AA batteries.

Overall Rating: 6/10

  • Sound Performance: 8/10
  • Design: 8/10
  • Connectivity: 5/10
  • Device Controls: 5/10

Pros

  • Great for dialogue content
  • Performs well at maximum volume
  • Very affordable

Cons

  • Lacks bass
  • No wireless connectivity
  • Runs on AA batteries

Sony HT-S100F Specs

Dimension:37.8″ x 14.7″ x 9.2″ (W x H x D)
Weight:6 lbs
Warranty:1 year
Wireless Connectivity:No
Dolby Atmos:No
DTS X:No
DTS Virtual X:No

2. Sonos Arc Wireless Sound Bar

Sonos Arc Wireless Sound Bar

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The Sonos Arc soundbar packs an immersive Dolby Atmos experience into a slim package. You will surely be impressed with the performance as it has 11 built-in speakers that envelop you in the sound, thanks to the positioning of the top and side speakers. The bass response is tight and deep because of the dual bass drivers within the Arc’s design. Everything is easily controlled with the Sonos S2 app from your mobile device.

Reviews are pretty good for the Sonos Arc, and you will understand why. Sonos Arc Wireless Sound Bar is the perfect smart soundbar that has all-in-one features. Customers also commended the easy setup: plug it into the wall with the supplied power cable and into the TV with the supplied HDMI cable and you’re all set. So if you really want to upgrade your sound quality at home, this is a great choice worth every dollar.

Overall Rating: 9/10

  • Sound Performance: 10/10
  • Design: 10/10
  • Connectivity: 10/10
  • Device Controls: 9/10

Pros:

  • Built-in Google Assistance, Alexa, Apple AirPlay 2
  • Easily connected
  • Sonos is designed for music systems

Cons:

  • Higher price point
  • Relatively heavier and larger, not ideal for wall mount brackets

Sonos Arc Wireless Sound Bar specs

Dimensions: 3.4″ x 45″ x 4.5″ (W x H x D)
Weight:24.6 lbs
Wireless Connectivity:Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Dolby Atmos:No
DTS X:No
DTS Virtual X:No

3. Bose Soundbar 700

Bose Soundbar 700

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The Soundbar 700 contains four mid-range drivers, as well as a single-center channel driver. It is custom designed using Bose’s proprietary engineering, so the low-profile transducers provide exceptional clarity without requiring a bulky outer shell. Bose Soundbar 700 weighs 10.5 pounds, so it can sit on your entertainment center or TV stand or be mounted on the wall. Measurements are at 4.25 x 38.5 x 2.25 inches.

Distortion is virtually eliminated because of their “QuietPort Technology,” and their “PhaseGuide” allows for accurate sound directions. When tested, it gave us the full range of tones and sounds. It offers a wide array of input ports and connectivity alongside Bluetooth technology and Wi-Fi features. Lastly, it has built-in voice controls through Alexa and Google Assistant and additional remote control.

Most buyers give this Soundbar 700 a full five out of five stars. We really loved the customizable settings on the Bose app, so you can adjust it to sound like a full-on movie theater, even if you are just in your living room.

However, some customers found it tricky to set up. Reviews included comments like this was not a simple plug-in set up because you do need the app on a smartphone or tablet or voice control through a smart speaker. In addition, some experienced crashes and bugs on the app while starting.

The Soundbar 700 is a great high-end product for people looking to boost their home theater audio for an affordable price without purchasing a full surround sound system.

Overall Rating: 9/10

  • Sound Performance: 9/10
  • Design: 9/10
  • Connectivity: 8/10
  • Device Controls: 8/10

Pros:

  • Easily integrates with other Bose products, taking this from a 2.0 soundbar to full 5.1
  • Well-built to ensure durability over time
  • Supports Dolby and DTS series inputs, among others
  • Easy to set up

Cons:

  • Does not include full HDMI ports
  • The sound may become slightly distorted in larger spaces
  • Only upgrades through compatible Bose products

Sound Bar 700 Specs

Dimensions:31.5” x 1.75” x 4” (W x H x D)
Weight:7 lbs
Warranty:1 year
Watts:600
Wireless Connectivity:Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Dolby Atmos:No
DTS X:No
DTS Virtual X:No

4. Sonos Beam

Sonos Beam

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The Sonos Beam is the smart, compact soundbar perfect for a rich, detailed sound that will fill your room – all for an affordable price. Sonos Beam offers easy control through a remote, your voice, or the Sonos app.

Sonos Beam is a light product at 6.2 pounds and 25.6 x 2.7 x 3.9 inches. What makes this unique is its part of a buildable surround sound system. You can add more Sonos products for a fantastic sound system – like Sonos One SLs for a surround sound system or Sonos Sub for added bass.

Customer reviews average 4.6 out of five stars, and with good reason. It already comes with an HDMI cable and has complete HDMI inputs, so you can use this to connect converters or analog audio for a better listening experience. The app even allows for settings such as “Ambient” surround setting or adjusting in between music and TV use.

The Sonos Beam offers a wealth of convenient features and produces exceptional sound for smaller rooms. Despite being a compact soundbar, you don’t have to worry about compromising audio quality or lacking Alexa voice control.

Overall Rating: 8/10

  • Sound Performance: 8/10
  • Design: 9/10
  • Connectivity: 7/10
  • Device Controls: 9/10

Pros:

  • Includes HMI ARC, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connectivity
  • Exceptional sound in a compact, sleek design
  • Vocal Enhancement mode helps to optimize dialogue outputs
  • Great technology for smaller spaces

Cons:

  • Does not support Dolby Atmos
  • Complicated set up without HDMI ARC

Sonos Beam Compact Smart Sound Bar with Voice Control Specs

Dimensions:25.625” x 2.7” x 3.94”(W x H x D)
Weight:6.2 lbs
Warranty:1 year
Wireless Connectivity:Wi-Fi
Dolby Atmos:No
DTS X:No
DTS Virtual X:No

The best overall product is the Sonos Arc – it is the smartest all-in-one soundbar for surround sound right in your home without breaking your bank account. Next to the Sonos Arc, I can definitely recommend the Bose Soundbar 700 for surround sound speakers right at home.

Meanwhile, the Sony HT-ST5000 is the best choice for a premium soundbar. That is, of course, if your budget and space permit. Otherwise, you would already be satisfied with the budget-friendly Sonos Beam.


Buyers’ Guide

Finding the perfect smart soundbar for your sound system at home depends a lot on your personal preferences. This includes the physical space you are working with, your budget, and your objectives with the speaker use.

Finding a smart soundbar with exceptional sound quality but no external subwoofer can be tricky, but hopefully, this buyer’s guide will be a big help. We tested out the most popular speakers in the market to come up with this short guide.

Before purchasing, here are some things you should know.

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Choose a soundbar with 3 or more channels.

With 3 or more channels, you can simulate surround sound for a more immersive experience without breaking your bank account. There are still 2-channel soundbars out there, but at this point, they are no more than glorified mini-stereos. So instead, opt for the soundbar with 3 or 5 channels and get as close as possible to a surround sound environment right in your home.

Consider where you want to place your soundbar.

Placement is essential because this will dictate the appropriate soundbar for you. For example, is it light enough to be wall-mounted or placed on the TV stand? Will it block the signal between your TV and remote?

In terms of aesthetics, your new soundbar shouldn’t be wider than your TV. We have tried and tested, and the perfect spot for the soundbar is centered beneath or above your TV!

Go with an active soundbar over the passive one.

Active soundbars come with built-in amplifiers, so it is definitely worth it as you’ll be saving space and not worrying about the power sources.

Passive soundbars do not have a built-in power amp, so you need an external receive or amplifier to work. However, they have better speakers, resulting in a great sound. However, these are more expensive, and you will have to connect more components, such as a traditional sub, if you want extra bass.

Getting an active soundbar will be sufficient to upgrade your audio at home. Passive soundbars are better suited for custom installations, like a full-blown Dolby Atmos system.

Pay attention to connectivity.

Most soundbars today come with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to easily stream music, shows, or podcast from any gadget. Your soundbar is now a stereo, too.

Always check for HDMI switching so you can switch sources without re-routing your HDMI cables.

In the past few years, soundbars are now equipped with voice controls. As a result, you can use Alexa or Google Assistant to control your listening experience, which is an absolute convenience.

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Buy from an authorized dealer.

The soundbars we have recommended all come from reputable brands that are leading in the field of consumer electronics. Buying from an authorized dealer is the right move because you will get the manufacturer’s warranty, service, and support.

Don’t glaze over this because purchasing gadgets can get tricky, and you’ll want security if there is a problem in your unit.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are customers’ most common questions, answered all in one place.

Can you add a subwoofer to a soundbar?

Many wireless soundbars ship with a wireless sub. The ones that don’t usually incorporate a woofer port allow you to add your own. However, if you want an even more immersive experience, you shouldn’t skip this!

What are Dolby Atmos soundbars?

Some newer soundbars in the market come with Dolby Atmos technology, which bounces the audio off ceilings to simulate a surround sound effect. It’s pretty good because it mimics the theater right in your house, but of course, it is not the real thing.

What is “Cinema Sound”?

Most soundbars have the “cinema sound,” “movieplex sound,” or “virtual surround sound” feature – which manufacturers claim will mimic actual home theater sound. In reality, this cinema sound adds a digital delay like reverb or echo. It is not the authentic home theater clear audio, but you feel that you are in a bigger room. Some soundbars perfected this, but it comes with a cost.

Can a soundbar be used as a center speaker?

Yes and no – some can, and some can’t. For example, a passive soundbar could potentially be used as a center channel speaker, but we don’t recommend this. Passive soundbars are not designed for this purpose, so they won’t shine if you force them to function as a center speaker in your home theater.

Conclusion

Thanks to the impressive technology for sound quality, you will find many soundbars and subs in the market. Take it from us that you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars for excellent sound quality in your home theater system.

Soundbars have built-in features that you will surely enjoy and easily customize through the remote control, voice controls, and mobile app. You don’t have to spend hours adjusting the wires or standing up and down from the couch to fix the connections.

Most importantly, you can certainly achieve a fantastic sound experience without a subwoofer. Choose the best soundbar that suits your needs and calibrate it so you can make the most out of your purchase.

Don’t Miss Out!

We can share an expert tip to do a full assessment of your needs and the room you are working with before making a purchase. These factors basically dictate the soundbar that you should get and how you can use it. So please don’t make the mistake of buying the soundbar you like and discovering later that it does not fit your home theatre.

Another thing to remember is to leave room for scaling up! For example, you can easily add an external or wireless subwoofer to build your speaker system for a full-blown entertainment center at home.

Amazon Recommends:

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