Soundbars can be a good upgrade from your TV speakers, especially if you have trouble understanding voices in TV shows and movies. It’s also a great way to enhance your listening experience when listening to podcasts or audiobooks, especially when you want to cast that content wirelessly.
Some soundbars make dialogue clearer and easier to understand, while others can make voices sound more muddy and cluttered. So how do you know which is the best soundbar for voice clarity? You’ll need something with a well-balanced stereo frequency response, and having a dialogue enhancement feature can help.
We’ve tested over 130 soundbars, and below are our recommendations for the best soundbars for speech. Also, make sure to check out our picks for the best soundbars, the best Dolby Atmos soundbars if you watch a lot of movies, and the best budget soundbars if you’re on an even tighter budget.
Today we are having a look at what is the best soundbar for dialogue. Truth be told, modern TV speakers are all pretty much far from great. Anyway, their biggest complaint was that they had to have the sound up really loud to hear people talk, but then when a commercial or an action scene would happen it would be way too loud!
The Power of Clear Voice
Many soundbars will have a dedicated feature that is called clear voice and usually, this has its very own button on the remote control. While I would say as we are looking for the best soundbar for dialogue that you want to make sure this is a feature that the soundbar you are looking at has. I would also say, it is not the be all and end all, and most soundbars even if they do not have a dedicated button for it will have some kind of clear voice mode.
Top Soundbars for Dialogue Review
As I wrote this with my grandparents in mind, I decided on two things. First of all, I need to keep this clean as I do not need a phone call lecturing me about how I talk on the internet! Also, I wanted to keep this relatively simple, so I made sure to only select soundbars that I am familiar with and would feel comfortable recommending to my own grandparents. Spoiler alert, one of these is sitting in their living room right now!
1. SAMSUNG HW-S50A 3.0ch Soundbar
First up on our quest to find the best soundbar for dialogue we have this fantastic SAMSUNG HW-S50A 3.0ch Soundbar. Samsung for me usually makes great stuff and this soundbar is a prime example of that, this is part of a series and this is the smallest version and also the cheapest as it comes in at just under 200 bucks. The dimensions of this soundbar are, 4.9 x 30.1 x 2.7 inches so it does not take up much space at all. The design of this is very cool.
While it is mainly made from plastic, it does have this kind of grey fabric covering that takes up a large portion of the soundbar. I think this is a very nice effect, but you do have to think about it attracting dust and it also getting damaged easily. It offers you HDMI and optical connectivity which is great and you also have a USB port if the soundbar ever needs to be updated.
As far as the sound goes, the SAMSUNG HW-S50A 3.0ch Soundbar is pretty impressive. It has a very easy to use sound mode button on the remote control that lets you move through the different presents, one of which is all about having clear dialogue. This is a 3.0 setup, so you have that center speaker that is there to hit you in the face which is pretty neat.
I do think that it is lacking a tad in the bass department, but to be fair if it is dialogue that is your main want from a soundbar I do not see that being an issue. I do have to say that if you do decide to add a subwoofer or extra speakers, make sure you do your homework as Samsung are sometimes known not to play well with others.
Overall, I was pretty impressed with the SAMSUNG HW-S50A 3.0ch Soundbar. I think it does what it does very well and granted the bass may be lacking a bit for me personally. However, for someone that is looking for a soundbar that is going to offer them enhanced dialogue, I do not see them being disappointed. I also feel that the under 200 bucks asking price makes this extra attractive too.
- This is not going to take up a ton of space
- I like the way that this thing looks
- The dialogue is nice and clear
- I think that the asking price is more than fair
- The fabric covering might get damaged easily
- It is lacking a tad in the bass department
2. VIZIO M-Series 5.1 Home Theater Sound Bar
Next up we have this fantastic VIZIO M-Series 5.1 Home Theater Sound Bar which is more than just a soundbar! This is actually a full home theatre set and this goes that step further by offering Dolby Atmos as well. You get the actual soundbar, but you also get two satellite speakers and a subwoofer as well.
You are probably dreading hearing how much this costs, but this is currently listed on Amazon for $328! That is an absolute steal in my opinion and this makes this one of the best home theatre sets I have seen in quite some time. I knew this had to be on our best soundbar for dialogue list and truth be told, I have been looking for an excuse to talk about this for a while. As far as the connections go, you have HDMI, optical, and also a USB port for any potential updates as well.
The design is cool and the soundbar and the satellite speakers have a similar style where they are made with plastic, but then have a fabric grille. In terms of the sound, I want to start by talking about the way dialogue sounds with the VIZIO M-Series 5.1 Home Theater Sound Bar as that is what we are looking at today. Dialogue sounds fantastic when coming out of this thing.
It is nice, clear and just the perfect volume, even if you are watching an action heavy scene with a ton of stuff going on, the dialogue is still nice and easy for you to follow. As this has satellite speakers and a subwoofer, thanks to the Dolby Atmos this has, you get a nice cinema style sound from this that is truly very impressive, even more so when you consider the asking price of this thing.
When I was first sent the VIZIO M-Series 5.1 Home Theater Sound Bar to test out I went into it not expecting much. How good could a Dolby Atmos setup at this price really be? Well, more fool me as this thing is fantastic and a great way to bring the magic of Dolby Atmos to your home at a very good price. The dialogue through this is crisp and clear, but this handles pretty much every kind of sound you could imagine!
- I cannot believe the asking price for this!
- I like the overall design is very stylish
- This has Dolby Atmos!
- It comes with satellite speakers and a subwoofer
- Dolby Atmos is great, but it is as most basic as you can get to be honest
- The fabric grille they have used could be damaged easily
3. Sonos Beam
I have yet to come across anyone that has used the Sonos Beam and not fallen in love with it. I knew that we had to have something from Sonos on our best soundbar for dialogue list. The design of this thing is just awesome, it comes in at 25.6” x 2.6” x 4.0 so it is ideal if you are short on space, but still want a soundbar.
This does cost $399.99, but I have found it closer to the 300 bucks mark so be sure to shop around if you like the look of this. Sonos do offer this in both black and white so that is a nice touch. I am a big fan of the curvy design of the Beam and think it gives it a real elegance.
It does have a fabric grille, but that seems to be the style that many other companies are going for these days. As far as connections go, the Sonos Beam has an HDMI port on the back and no optical! However, they do give you an HDMI to optical cable in the box so you are covered.
I have never used a Sonos product and have not been impressed with the dialogue quality. This offers dialogue enhancement which is great for someone that struggles to hear when people are talking on a TV show, movie, or whatever. Sound, in general, is very impressive through this and it does offer more bass than you would think, which is impressive considering it is lacking a subwoofer.
While the sound is great, Sonos no longer include remote controls with their soundbars! You have to control it all via their app on your phone. The app is great, but for people like my grandparents that would make this an instant no buy. This is a shame as if this did have a dedicated remote, this probably would have been my suggestion for them to be honest with you.
Apart from the remote control, I do not think I have ever not sung the praises of the Sonos Beam. It is just a fantastic soundbar and I think the compact size of it and the fact it produces a great sound, even at that smaller size is a huge reason as to why it is still one of the most popular soundbars around. I cannot wait to see what Sonos offer next in this size, I would love them to make a Sonos Beam II and have Dolby Atmos with it!
- I love the curvy design that this has
- If you shop around, you can get it closer to 300 bucks
- The clarity of dialogue through this is amazing
- It packs way more punch than its small size suggests
- The lack of a remote will be an issue for some people
- I am sure the white version will be a massive dust magnet!
4. Bose Smart Soundbar 700
I had to put the Bose Smart Soundbar 700 on our best soundbar for dialogue list as the Bose Smart Soundbar 700 is one of my all time favorite soundbars, pretty much only surpassed by the 900. Ok, so let us start with the obvious and that is the near 800 bucks price tag which puts this way higher than anything else we have looked at today, but this is such a high end soundbar.
Also with the release of the 900, I have seen this go as low as 650 bucks. It has a very cool look and the top of it is covered in glass and the front has a metal grille, there are not many (if any) soundbars that I think look cooler than this. It does come in at 4.25 x 38.5 x 2.25 inches so it is a pretty decent size. Connectivity is nice and easy thanks to offering HDMI, optical and it even has Bluetooth if you want to stream music from your phone through this thing.
Sound wise there is pretty much nothing this thing cannot do. Dialogue is great through here and you have many different sound options so that you can get the dialogue just the way you want. This soundbar has a crazy remote control that gives you so much control over the sound you are getting through this.
I think that the bass is great, the mid-range is superb and it does pretty much everything except offer Dolby Atmos, which the follow-up the 900 has taken care of. I really do not think that there is anyone who could test this thing out and not be blown away by the sound that they experience.
I have talked about the Bose Smart Soundbar 700 so much on this site that I am sure some people are sick about it. Truth be told, I know that this is expensive, even with it being discounted thanks to Bose releasing the Bose Smart Soundbar 900, this is still by quite some margin the most expensive soundbar on this list! I love this thing and it right now is the soundbar that I have in my living room and it will be until I can figure out a way to weasel myself a 900!
- This is the coolest looking soundbar around
- The whole thing just has a real quality about it
- Dialogue and sound in general, is amazing
- You can find it for a fair bit under the $799.99 RRP if you shop around
- This is the most expensive soundbar we have looked at today
- It has been surpassed by the Bose Smart Soundbar 900
5. Klipsch Cinema 800
The Klipsch Cinema 800 is a simple 3.1 setup. Unlike the Klipsch Cinema 600, it supports Dolby Atmos content, though it has to downmix it to stereo to play it. Its neutral, balanced sound profile makes it suitable for listening to many different types of audio content. You can also upgrade it to a 5.1 setup by purchasing a separate set of satellites from the manufacturer. Unfortunately, its surround and Atmos performances aren’t very impressive.
The best soundbar for dialogue that we’ve tested is the Klipsch Cinema 800. It’s a simple 3.1 setup that’s suitable if you listen to a lot of stereo content like TV shows and podcasts. This content isn’t designed for use with satellite speakers, so a 3.1 setup helps you save space and money compared to more movie-centric models. Right out of the box, its sound profile is neutral, with a balanced mid-range that ensures voices reproduce with clarity and detail.
Unfortunately, it’s not as versatile as other setups on the market. It has to downmix surround sound content like Dolby Digital and DTS into stereo to play it, which doesn’t sound as immersive. If you watch a lot of movies on streaming platforms and Blu-rays, you’ll want to check out other setups like the Samsung HW-Q950A, but if you mostly watch TV shows, Cinema 800 is a solid pick.
The Klipsch Cinema 800 is great for music. This soundbar has a very neutral, balanced sound profile suitable for lots of different music genres. Thanks to its dedicated sub, it can reproduce an accurate, thumpy low-bass for fans of bass-heavy genres like EDM. There are lots of sound enhancement features available, including a graphic EQ and presets. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get as loud as some of the other bars we’ve tested.
- Graphic EQ and presets.
- Extended low-bass.
- Adjustable dialogue enhancement feature.
- No room correction.
- Poor surround and Atmos performances.
6. Sonos Arc
The Sonos Arc is a good overall soundbar from 2020. This standalone soundbar can be easily upgraded into the Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers with the addition of a wireless subwoofer and surround satellites for an even more immersive experience. It’s a versatile bar, although it slightly lacks low-bass, and there are compression artifacts at max volume that can hurt the clarity of your audio. Overall, the soundbar sounds a bit bright, even after using the room correction feature. On the upside, it’s a very well-built bar that has a sleek design and features built-in Google Assistant and Alexa.
If you don’t have a lot of space for your setup, a standalone bar like the Sonos Arc is a good option since it doesn’t come with a subwoofer that takes up more room. It’s a really premium bar with a wide and immersive soundstage that makes it seem like your favorite movies are happening all around you, and it’s a great choice for everything from TV shows to Dolby Atmos movies found on lots of streaming services. The bar’s sound profile is slightly bright, with balanced mids that ensure dialogue is clear and present, and higher-pitched voices sparkle in the mix. You can use its bass and treble adjustments to get a more neutral sound.
Naturally, without a dedicated subwoofer, the bar really struggles to reproduce the deep thump and rumble in the low-bass found during action-packed movies. If you change your mind down the line, you can always add a subwoofer and satellites that you can buy separately. Or, if you have the space, you can look at the larger, heavier Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar with an integrated subwoofer.
The Sonos Arc is good for mixed use. This premium standalone soundbar offers versatile performance, and you can use its Trueplay room correction feature with compatible iOS devices to optimize audio reproduction based on your room’s unique acoustics. Its sound profile is a bit bright, but vocals and lead instruments are still reproduced clearly. There’s also support for surround sound and Atmos content, but its performance isn’t as impressive as the full setup.
- Sleek and very well-built design.
- Supports Atmos.
- Great stereo soundstage.
- Compression artifacts at max volume.
- No full EQ.
7. Vizio V Series V51-H6
The Vizio V Series V51-H6 is a budget-friendly 5.1 setup released in 2020. It has a pretty neutral sound profile that’s suitable for listening to many different types of audio content, and there’s some extra boom in the bass. Thanks to its dedicated subwoofer, it can accurately reproduce the deep thump and rumble in the bass range, and its two satellite speakers help create a fairly immersive surround performance. However, it doesn’t support Dolby Atmos content.
The best soundbar for vocal clarity in the budget range that we tested is the Vizio V Series V51-H6. This 5.1 setup is an even more affordable option than the Vizio M Series M512a-H6, and it’s still a good choice overall. It’s a fairly simple setup with a dedicated subwoofer and two discrete satellite speakers. You can use its dialogue enhancement feature to make voices more clear and crisp, as well as its night mode to enhance vocal clarity when you’re listening at night and don’t want to bother anyone around you. When watching movies, its surround speakers help immerse you in sound.
Of course, it’s not quite as versatile as the top picks. Notably, this bar doesn’t support Dolby Atmos content, which is pretty typical for soundbars in this price range. Its soundstage isn’t as wide and immersive-sounding, either. If you’re on a tight budget, it’s a good bar for vocal clarity in both surround sound and TV shows.
The Vizio V51-H6 is good for mixed usage. This soundbar has a pretty neutral sound profile with a little extra boom in the bass range that’s ideal for lots of different types of audio content. There’s a discrete center channel to help with dialogue reproduction and two discrete surround speakers to create a more immersive surround sound. However, there’s no support for Dolby Atmos content. It also lacks some more premium sound enhancement features like room correction and a graphic EQ.
- Dialogue enhancement feature.
- Four EQ presets.
- Doesn’t support Atmos content.
I have to say that all of these are fantastic and deliver immense sound and sound that is about a million times better than what your TV speakers are offering. If clear dialogue is what you are after, you cannot go wrong with any of these, and while the Bose Smart Soundbar 700 is currently my favorite soundbar that is not who I am picking as the winner of our best soundbar for dialogue contest.
In taking everything into consideration I have to give this one to the VIZIO M-Series 5.1 Home Theater Sound Bar. It offers you Dolby Atmos and gives you a full surround sound setup. The vocal clarity through it thanks to the level of clear voice it has is just great, but it is all the extras that you are getting here and the fact that this is coming in at under 350 bucks that make this the winner for me.