2023 Best Dolby Atmos
Welcome to Audio Advice's top picks for the best soundbars with Dolby Atmos in 2023! We've spent countless hours in our home theater lab testing hundreds of soundbars to provide the most reliable and informative recommendations.
This article will introduce you to our top picks in various categories and guide you in choosing the right soundbar for your needs and budget. Whether you're looking for the best overall soundbar, the best value, or the best for a specific application, we've got you covered. So, if you're in the market for a new soundbar in 2023, read on to find the perfect one for you!
Best Soundbar Under $500
Sonos Beam Gen 2
The Sonos Beam Gen 2 is a compact and classy-looking soundbar that aims to enhance your TV sound. It offers a range of features and excellent sound quality for this price category. You’ll get full voice control, Apple Airplay 2, and the outstanding Sonos app.
Like each soundbar on this list, we set up the Beam Gen 2 in our home theater lab to run it through its paces. At Audio Advice, we believe the sound quality is extremely important, but the user experience has to be just as pleasing to make you want to use it repeatedly.
Upon setting up the Beam Gen 2, we used the Sonos app to get everything set up in just a few minutes. We then ran TruPlay, Sonos’ in-app Room Calibration that uses the microphone on your phone to measure your room's acoustics and tune the bar to your environment. Music streaming services, sound modes, and everything else is all right inside the app. We think the Sonos app sets the gold standard for user experience with how painless and straightforward it is.
Sonos was able to pack in support for Dolby Atmos in this incredibly compact, six-pound soundbar. However, no physical drivers sit on top of the bar aimed toward the ceiling for the sound to bounce back to you for dedicated height effects. Instead, Sonos uses psychoacoustic HRTF (head-related transfer function) technology to give the impression of height. We’ll give props to Sonos for this cool feature, but it wasn’t a very convincing atmos experience. If Dolby Atmos effects are what you’re after, we recommend stepping up to the Sonos Arc.
Where the Sonos Beam Gen 2 shines is its dialogue performance. We tested a few dialogue-heavy scenes from The Irishman and Caption Philips and were extremely impressed with how full and realistic the voices sounded. While it may not be the best home theater experience with a soundbar, it is certainly a huge step up from your TV sound with its crystal-clear dialogue performance. Hearing the subtle nuances in the performer's voices in these movies created a much more captivating experience.
If you’re looking to upgrade your TV speakers, we think the Sonos Beam Gen 2 is an outstanding deal for the price! Bundle the Sonos Beam Gen 2 with two Sonos One SL speakers as surrounds and Sonos Mini or Gen 2 wireless subwoofer for an even more immersive experience. A bedroom or small living room will suit this bar the best if you want to hear it at its full potential. If you want a compact soundbar with all the latest tech included and outstanding dialogue performance for movies, the Sonos Beam Gen 2 is the one for you.
Best Soundbar Under $1,000
Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3
The Panorama 3 soundbar is designed to offer great sound from a single, elegant component with no option for additional rear speakers or a subwoofer. It offers the classic, high-quality Bowers & Wilkins listening experience with music and movies, complete with all the room-filling benefits of immersive Dolby Atmos sound.
With 13 perfectly positioned drivers, including twin subwoofers powered by 400 watts of amplification, it allows the Panorama 3 to deliver incredibly detailed and spacious sound.
Two up-firing drivers have their own acoustic chambers, which make its Dolby Atmos even more convincing with the way it can position the sound to bounce off the ceiling and back down to your ears.
About five minutes into The Irishman, there is a scene with Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci outside on a highway with dialogue and insects chirping in the atmos channels. The Panorama 3 did an amazing job at shooting the atmos effects up at the ceiling and back down to us. It created a soundscape that enveloped you and was totally convincing for a soundbar of this size. Dialogue and other mid-range frequencies sounded effortless and natural to our ears for a very pleasing experience.
Bowers & Wilkins placed two dedicated subwoofers in this soundbar, but no subwoofer out option to add a dedicated sub. We watched a few action scenes in The Adam Project, and while it sounded good, it didn’t have the deep bass slam we were looking for. Because of that, we wish they had given us a subwoofer out to add our own sub. But this may be a great option for someone looking for a standalone soundbar or where you cannot fit a subwoofer in your space.
The Bowers & Wilkins Music App lets you control the Panorama 3 to play hi-res music and integrate it with your multi-room system to share the content room-to-room with other B&W products. Bowers did a great job with the app, and it made the setup process extremely quick and easy. The Panorama 3 also boasts HMDI eARC, Alexa, Bluetooth AptX Adaptive, and Apple Airplay 2.
If you’re looking for a sleek and elegant soundbar with the trusted Bowers & Wilkins effortless, natural sound signature, the Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 Dolby Atmos soundbar is likely the one for you.
Best Dolby Atmos Soundbar
The Sonos Arc has 11 speakers inside the unit, making it capable of filling an entire room with premium Dolby Atmos surround sound. The custom elliptical woofers in each driver provide left, center, right, and surround channels with a five-channel phased array. Two height channel speakers fire sound upward, adding Dolby atmos' height dimension for an immersive cinematic sound.
The Sonos Arc has all the same great features as the Sonos Beam Gen 2. Voice Control, Airplay 2, TruPlay Room Calibration, and of course, the Sonos app are the highlight features of this soundbar for us.
But where the Sonos Arc truly shines is its Dolby Atmos effects. We played the same movies we had previously watched when reviewing the other soundbars, and the Arc showed a clear advantage in creating a 3D soundscape around us. It felt like there were speakers in the ceiling and rears behind us that no other soundbar on this list could do by itself.
Not only were its Atmos effects the most natural and convincing on this list, but it also performed pretty well in the low end. The Sonos Arc would be acceptable for a cinematic movie-watching experience in a smaller room if you don't have room for a subwoofer. However, when you pair a Sonos Sub with the Arc, we’d argue it’s the most immersive and full-sounding soundbar setup at that price point. The sub will bring that deep bass slam you’re looking for in those action movies and even makes the music sound much more dynamic.
You can add the Sonos One SL’s as a pair of surround speakers, but if you have an ideal room for the up-firing atmos effects, definitely go with the sub first. The Arc does a great job at Atmos, and you will hear the most improvement with their Sonos Sub Wireless Subwoofer. But, if you do add the One SL’s, Sonos engineered the Arc’s surround channel drivers to automatically adjust to extend the bass drivers accordingly, which is just another example of what sets Sonos apart from other brands.
The Sonos Arc paired with the Sonos Sub will be an excellent choice for almost anyone. If you love watching Dolby Atmos movies but can’t have rear speakers or in-ceiling atmos speakers, then the Arc will be great for you. We were one of the first in the country to test the Sonos Arc soundbar even before it launched and did an extensive video review which is now one of the most-watched reviews in the world.
Best Wireless Soundbar
JBL Bar 1300X
At the time of our original review, the JBL Bar 9.1 was JBL’s flagship soundbar. Their latest 11.1.4 flagship soundbar, the JBL Bar 1300X, takes the listening experience to the next level. With advanced audio technologies like MultiBeam™, Dolby Atmos® and DTS:X 3D surround sound, and a 12" subwoofer, the JBL Bar 1300X delivers powerful and immersive sound for music, movies, and gaming. The detachable battery-powered surround speakers provide even more versatility than before for different listening needs.
After calibrating the soundbar, we carefully placed the detachable surrounds on the nightstands, ready to enhance the movie-watching experience. We eagerly put on two films that never fail to test the sound quality of any system: The Irishman and Captain Phillips. In The Irishman, a scene featuring four characters conversing in a car immediately showcased the depth and naturalness of their voices. Meanwhile, in Captain Phillips, the chaos of a ship under attack led to a barrage of gunfire and other noises, typically causing Tom Hanks voice to get lost in the mix with other low-end sounds. However, JBL's 12-inch subwoofer expertly handled the bass, leaving his dialog very easy to understand. The PureVoice technology used in the soundbar proved impressive, but it lacked any adjustment options, leaving us to assume that it was working properly. We only wish there were an option to turn it on or off or adjust its settings to our preferences.
Next, we cued up The Adams Project, which boasts an epic fight sequence with immersive height and surround sound effects. With the detachable rears positioned behind us, the difference was immediately palpable - we were fully absorbed in the scene as if the atmos effects were bouncing off the ceiling and enveloping the entire listening area. The sound of a passing ship overhead was especially impressive, as we could hear it approach before it even came into view. The bass rumbled the room and was fast and tight with massive power. We were thoroughly impressed with the overall performance during any action movie we tested.
After putting it through its paces, we can confidently say that we would recommend it over the Bar 9.1 any day. The surround sound features and versatility set it apart from its competitors. We recommend it to anyone looking to upgrade their home theater experience that may not have the perfect room and needs the flexibility of detachable surrounds.
Best Soundbar with Sub & Rears
The Sony HT-A7000 is a complete 7.1.2 channel Dolby Atmos system that makes immersive surround sound extremely simple. The A7000 gives you the Dolby Atmos and DTS:X 3D surround sound experience, plus a built-in subwoofer that will reproduce pretty good bass.
The built-in subwoofer inside the bar features Sony’s special X-Balanced speaker tech, which maximizes the diaphragm area of the woofer to reproduce better, punchier, and clearer bass from just the bar with minimal distortion.
In our testing, we found the bass to go slightly lower than the Sonos Arc but wasn’t quite as deep as the Devialet Dione.
We love this soundbar because of the ability to upgrade to more speakers and create a really killer setup. This is the one soundbar we recommend going all out and adding on the SA-SW5 wireless sub and the SA-RS3S Wireless Rear Surround Speakers for a truly immersive home theater experience in a larger room. The immersion from this expanded 9.1.2 Dolby Atmos system is fantastic and puts this soundbar on our list.
With the larger Sony SA-SW5 wireless sub in the mix, you will get a deeper bass extension for more impactful sound effects that hit you in the chest on movies and TV shows. Add the SA-RS3S speakers behind you, and it will immerse you even more with effects like footsteps that the director intended to sound like they’re coming from behind.
For music, there’s even a special digital enhancement engine (DSEE Extreme) that will analyze your music for lost harmonics and restore the quality of compressed files to near-high-resolution quality in real-time. And with USB, Wi-Fi, LDAC over Bluetooth, Spotify Connect, Apple AirPlay 2, Chromecast, and support for wireless multiroom streaming with either Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, there’s no shortage of ways to playback hi-res music wirelessly throughout your house.
When you add on the sub and wireless rear speakers, this complete setup is not cheap, but it's what we recommend if you go for the HT-A7000. Or if you are just starting, it is the perfect soundbar to start with and build onto later to upgrade your sound depending on your room size and needs. Watch our full review of the Sony HT-A7000 to learn more about what it has to offer.
Best Sonic Performing Soundbar
Powered by more high-end drivers than most traditional soundbars, DIONE delivers an impressive 5.1.2 channels of Dolby Atmos immersion from a completely standalone, sleek-looking piece of audio equipment that will also acoustically adapt to its position when wall-mounted for an optimal soundstage and a striking look. It has seventeen autonomous high-end drivers and eight built-in SAM®-powered subwoofers, making Devialet Dione a truly all-in-one soundbar without needing a sub or rears.
But how does it sound? Phenomenal.
Many brands treat their design and technologies separately, with separate departments for each part of the product development process. Not Devialet. Devialet is one of those distinct brands that add a unique purpose to everything they do. With more than 200 patents filed, Devialet’s DNA for innovation has trickled down across all of its products.
You may have seen their famous Devialet Phantom wireless speaker, an all-in-one uniquely shaped speaker that can put out sound rivaling normal speakers 20 times their size. Curved like the speaker cabinets used in Devialet’s ultra-high-end Phantoms, the Dione has a proprietary central ORB® that is based on a similar acoustic design principle called the “Olson curve,” which allows Phantom speakers not to break or diffract the sound waves coming out of them. In DIONE, the main idea behind the sphere is to spread voices and vocals into the central area of the room, where listeners will be seated, for a crystal-clear mid-range reproduction of movies & TV shows.
This was the case when we were watching Captain Philips. Tom Hanks' voice sounded warm, natural, and elevated outside the bar, making you feel like you were actually on the ship with him while it was being attacked. When they raised the alarms and went full speed ahead, the crash of the waves had deep bass that you could feel in your chest. This is unique from any soundbar on this list, as it felt like a separate sub was in the room. Devialet even added a bass reducer in their app if you find it overwhelming. The overall sound was effortless and big for only a single soundbar.
The atmos effects weren’t quite as pronounced as the Sonos Arc, but we thought it handled them well and was quite convincing. Even though this soundbar handled the bass well, we do wish there was some flexibility to add a separate subwoofer which could elevate this soundbar to another level.
Devialet’s Intelligence Processor, SPACE™, AVL™, SAM®, and ORB® technology are all packed into this slim, beautiful design. To learn about each of these technologies and the additional features included, watch our full in-depth review of the Devialet Dione. But take it from us, all of this high-end tech pushes the boundaries of what a soundbar is capable of. We are awarding the Devialet Dione as the new King of soundbars.
While not quite the same immersion as a full home theater installation with separate speakers all around the room, Atmos-enabled soundbars with upward-firing speakers built in & a wireless subwoofer is a fantastic way to experience Dolby Atmos in a living room or any bedroom. A full surround sound installation requires careful planning for the layout of all your speakers for the best sound. Our Home Theater Speaker Layout Options will guide you, but If you want to play around with some options, check out our free Home Theater Design Tool. You can also chat with us to explore all of your options.
We spend hours in our lab testing many soundbars, and we are confident that you will be impressed with any of the picks on this list. We are consistently updating our lists as new soundbars come to market, so be sure to check back if you’re not quite ready to upgrade. And if you need more help choosing which is best for you, watch our reviews for each soundbar to learn about every feature and how we thought they performed.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a soundbar?
If you’re still using your TV audio, a soundbar is a great first start to better audio! They are also great choices for smaller places where you don’t want big speakers taking up too much space. All the soundbars on our list will give you an incredibly immersive experience.
Can I use my TV remote to control my soundbar?
Yes, if the soundbar has HDMI Arc or HDMI eARc, you can use your TV remote to control your soundbar. All of the options on our list of the best soundbars have this option.
What makes a soundbar better?
A soundbar has dedicated speakers that are much larger than the ones on your TV. They are also perfectly positioned to shoot into your room and envelope you with a much more immersive sound that is higher quality than your standard TV audio. When you add Dolby Atmos capabilities like the ones on our list, you are stepping into a new world of audio that will blow your mind!
How do I choose a soundbar?
Soundbars can be tricky to decipher which is best for you. There are a lot on the market today that have similar features. That’s why we created a list of our favorite ones that we have rigorously tested to ensure anyone who chooses them will be happy. You will need to consider your room size and other factors when choosing, so we also give you examples of the ideal person to buy each one.
Do soundbars need an amplifier or receiver?
All the soundbars on our list DO NOT need an amplifier or receiver. This is because they are all self-powered. Some passive soundbars on the market will require an amplifier or receiver. If you’re interested in that option, it’s best to discuss it with one of our audio experts first.
Is HDMI or optical better for soundbars?
HDMI allows you to pass higher resolutions to your soundbar than optical will. All of the soundbars on this list have ARC or eARC, which are capable of high-resolution sound and the ability to control your soundbar with your TV remote.