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 new soundbar designed to improve vocals is a sure-fire fix.
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. These are three of CNET's favorite soundbars for making your home entertainment all that much more intelligible.
Best soundbar for TV dialogue
CNET TAKE: 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 we 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.
Best for features, including Alexa
CNET TAKE: 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.
Best for tight budgets, newer TVs
CNET TAKE: 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.
The following CNET staff contributed to this story: Editor Ty Pendlebury and Copy Editor Jim Hoffman. For more reviews of personal technology products, please visit www.cnet.com.
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