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Best Sound Bar Deals for Black Friday 2019

James K. Willcox

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If you want to add some sonic oomph to a TV with anemic sound (and that covers a lot of TVs), a sound bar speaker is an easy, cost-effective way to do it.

Like TVs, sound bars get discounted during Black Friday sales, and most of the retailers we've checked will have a least a couple of sound bar deals. The models run the gamut from simple stand-alone units to pricier, more elaborate products that can create a true multichannel surround-sound experience.

Most sound bars these days are long, thin enclosures that sit below or above a TV set. Many come with a separate subwoofer, usually wireless, and a few have rear speakers to create a full surround-sound system. There are also pedestal-style sound bars called sound bases that can serve as a base for a TV.

If you simply want to enhance your TV sound, a sound bar with 2.1 channels (two front channels and a separate subwoofer) could be enough. If you want true surround sound, buy a sound bar with a subwoofer and rear speakers—preferably wireless—for multichannel sound.

Some new models may include Dolby Atmos, a newer immersive sound technology that adds the element of height to speaker systems. With sound bar speaker systems, this is usually accomplished by having upfiring drivers in the main enclosure, but some pricier models may come with rear speakers that also have upfiring drivers.

Last, if you're a CR member who's checking our sound bar ratings, you should be aware that we hold these speakers to a higher standard than TVs. So a sound bar with a Good score for sound in our tests will sound better than a TV with a Good score.

Sound Bars for $100 or Less

Vizio 2.0-Channel Sound Bar
The deal: $49 at Walmart
CR's test results: Vizio SB2020n-G6
This smaller sound bar, which lacks a separate wireless subwoofer, did fine in our tests, with decent sound quality. It normally sells for just under $80.

TCL 2.0-Channel Sound Bar
The deal: $50 at Target
The TCL Alto 5 is another low-priced sound bar that doesn't come with a separate wireless subwoofer. We didn't test this specific model—and right now we can't find it on the Target site even though it's being advertised—but we did test the TCL Alto 7, which could be similar. Based on that model's below-average performance, we'd recommend the Vizio that Walmart is selling for about the same price, listed above.

Insignia 2.1-Channel Sound Bar
The deal: $80 at Best Buy
This is the Insignia NS-SBAR21F20, from Best Buy's electronics house brand. We didn't test this model, but it's inexpensive for a sound bar with a separate wireless subwoofer.

TCL 2.1-Channel Sound Bar
The deal: $100 at Target
This model is the Alto 5+, which comes with a wireless sub. You'll save about $30, because this model usually sells for around $130. However, we didn't test this sound bar.

LG 2.1-Channel Sound Bar
The deal: $100 at Walmart
We saw this model, the LG SL3D, at last year's Walmart Black Friday sale for the same price. We don't see it anywhere else, so it's hard to compare current pricing, although Walmart currently has it listed for $200.

Vizio 2.1-Channel Sound Bar
The deal: $100 at Best Buy
CR's test results: Vizio SB3621N-E8M
This sound bar speaker system did well in our ratings, with decent overall sound quality. It usually sells for about $180.

Vizio 2.1-Channel Sound Bar
The deal: $100 at Costco
This model is the Vizio SB3621n-G8. We didn't test this model, but one difference between this sound bar and the similarly named model above is that it comes with a slim-design subwoofer that can be positioned horizontally as well as vertically, so it can slide out of sight under a sofa or media center. It's already selling at this price now, which is about $50 less than usual.

Sound Bars for $100 to $250

LG 2.1-Channel Sound Bar
The deal: $120 at Best Buy
CR didn't test this model, the LG SL4Y. However, it's being offered at a big discount from the usual selling price of about $180. It seems to be available only at Best Buy.

Samsung 2.1-Channel Sound Bar
The deal: $130 at Target
We didn't test this model, the Samsung HW-R40M. Right now you can buy this model for just a few dollars more at several retailers, including Walmart, so it's not an especially great deal.

Samsung 2.1-Channel Sound Bar
The deal: $140 at Best Buy
Best Buy is offering a good deal on this sound bar, the Samsung HW-M435/ZA—the retailer has been selling it for $280. It's another Samsung model we haven't yet tested.

Polk Audio 2.1-Channel Sound Bar
The deal: $140 at Best Buy
CR's test results: Polk Audio Signa S2
The sound bar, among Polk's least expensive models, did well in our tests, with decent overall sound quality. It is selling for about $10 more at Amazon and a few other retailers right now.

Sony 2.1-Channel Sound Bar
The deal: $150 at Best Buy
CR's test results: Sony HT-S350
You'll save about $50 on this sound bar during the Best Buy Black Friday sale. However, we tested this model and it didn't do all that well, with below-average sound quality.

Samsung 3.1-Channel Sound Bar
The deal: $189 at Walmart
Given that this model, the Samsung HW-R60M/ZA, usually sells for close to $300, this is a good Black Friday deal. It'll be at both BJ's and Costco's Black Friday sale for $200.

LG 3.1-Channel Sound Bar
The deal: $200 at Best Buy
It looks like you'll really save about $100 on this LG SL6Y model, because it's close to $300 at most other retailers right now. We didn't test this model.

Samsung 3.1-Channel Sound Bar
The deal: $210 at Best Buy
CR's test results: Samsung HW-R650/ZA
This model did well in our tests, with decent if not exceptional sound quality. But it looks like a pretty good deal because it's selling for just under $330 now at several retailers. (Try searching for just the Samsung HW-R650; it's the same model.)

Vizio 5.1-Channel Sound Bar
The deal: $150 at Costco
CR's test results: Vizio SB3651-E6
This model is $200 right now at Costco but $250 at a few other retailers. It's another model that did well, if not exceptionally so, in our tests. Thanks to the included two small rear satellite speakers, which connect to the subwoofer, it can create a true surround-sound experience.

Sound Bars for $250 and Up

Samsung 5.1-Channel Sound Bar
The deal: $270 at BJ’s and Costco, $280 at Best Buy
CR's test results: Samsung HW-Q60R/ZA
This 3.1-channel sound bar system performed decently in our ratings; it can be expanded into a full 5.1-channel sound system when paired with an optional wireless rear-channel amplifier/speaker kit. This is a really good deal, because this setup usually sells for about $430. It's $379 at Costco right now but will drop to $270 during its Black Friday sale.

JBL 3.1-Channel Sound Bar
The deal: $300 at Best Buy
CR's test results: JBL Bar 3.1
This is another good deal on a decent-performing sound bar, because it usually sells for about $500. Plus it comes with HDMI and analog cables. At Best Buy, it goes by the model name JBL BAR31BLKAM.

Vizio 5.1.2-Channel Dolby Atmos Sound Bar
The deal: $300 at Costco
CR's test results: Vizio SB36512-F6
This model will be at a great price for a Dolby Atmos sound bar, which can produce a sense of height as well as traditional surround sound. It usually sells for about $450 to $500.

Sonos 3.0-Channel Sound Bar
The deal: $320 at Best Buy
CR's test results: Sonos Beam
This fine-performing sound bar, near the top of our sound bar ratings, usually sells for about $400, but we expect to see it at this price at several retailers on Black Friday. For example, Costco will have the Shadow edition of the Beam for $300 online Nov. 28. The Beam has Amazon's Alexa and Google's Assistant digital assistants built in; it also includes support for Apple AirPlay 2.

Samsung 3.1.2-Channel Dolby Atmos Sound Bar
The deal: $470 at BJ’s, $480 at Best Buy
CR's test results: Samsung HW-Q7CR/ZA
This Dolby Atmos sound bar system, which can produce an element of height as well as conventional surround sound, normally sells for about $650. It did well, though not exceptionally so, in our tests.

Sonos 3.0-Channel Sound Bar
The deal: $600 at Best Buy
CR's test results: Sonos Playbar
This pricier Sonos sound bar, also near the top of our ratings, usually sells for about $700. We also expect to see it for about this price at other Black Friday sales.

Sony 7.1.2-Channel Dolby Atmos Sound Bar
The deal: $1,200 at Best Buy
CR's test results: Sony HT-ST5000
Given its price, we were a bit disappointed in the performance of this Sony sound bar, which didn't do very well in our tests. This model, which supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X immersive sound, usually sells for closer to $1,500. It does have a lot of features, including built-in Google Chromecast.

What Makes a Great Speaker?

Do you know the difference between good speakers and excellent speakers? On the "Consumer 101" TV show, Consumer Reports' expert Elias Arias explains to host Jack Rico the art of identifying quality devices.



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