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Best soundbars to enhance TV dialogue

Want to make speech easier to understand on your TV? Here are a few soundbar options starting at $150.

Whether it's too-loud commercials or mumbly dialogue, sometimes the speaker in your TV just can't cut it. While there are some things you can do to make your TV sound better without spending a dime, buying a soundbar designed to improve vocals is a sure-fire fix. Bonus, a soundbar costs a lot less than larger home theater speakersAV receivers and subwoofers

Most brands offer soundbars with a speech mode, but some do it better than others. One company that really stands out is Zvox -- it specializes in dialogue, and most of its products have at least one voice enhancement mode (and as many as 12). Competitor Polk is also notable for its excellent VoiceAdjust feature, while Yamaha makes an affordable option too.

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Read more: Best home theater systems of 2021

Whether you are looking for a budget speaker or something a little more premium, these are the best speakers for making your TV more understandable.

Best soundbar for TV dialogue

Zvox SB500

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you're looking for a soundbar that offers plenty of bass as well as crisp dialogue without using a subwoofer, then the Zvox SB500 is a great buy. Since I reviewed the SB500 the company has added more levels of sound enhancement, which should make it even easier to dial in the dialogue the way you want it. 

Read our Zvox SB500 review.

 

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

The Zvox AV357 may not have many features as the larger SB500, but it is an excellent performer nonetheless. The speaker comes in a wood-grain veneer, and the remote control is friendly. If you want to connect more than just a TV though -- like a phone via Bluetooth -- the other options here are better for that.

Read our Zvox AV357 review.

 

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

The Polk React is a follow-up to the Command Bar -- the first soundbar that had Amazon Alexa on board -- and it offers an excellent mix of features and performance. Polk's VoiceAdjust is one of the better dialogue enhancement systems, and it's put to good use on this speaker. 

Read our Polk React review.

 

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

The Zvox soundbars are great, but they lack HDMI connectivity. The compact Yamaha SR-C20A not only offers the ease of HDMI ARC hookup -- which is found on most newer TVs -- but also has a dedicated Clear Voice mode to make dialogue a little easier to understand. It's also the least-expensive option on this list.

Read our Yamaha SR-C20A review.