Kaotoxin Soundbars The Best Soundbars Best Soundbars For Voice Clarity

Best Soundbars For Voice Clarity

Do the dialogues sometimes lack clarity as you watch movies, news, shows, or listen to podcasts? Sometimes it even feels that they intentionally turn the speeches down. But while you can not grasp what people on the screen say, the effects and music don’t give you the impression you want to see. It’s because not all built-in TV speakers are created to keep the voices properly tuned. Therefore, opting for the right soundbar will save the day and let you enjoy all types of content. In this review, I will look at the best soundbars for dialogue to match you with products that can seriously impact your emotions and experience of watching any modern video content.

Our pick
Sonos Arc
Sonos Arc
Best soundbar for dialogue
The Sonos Arc brings all your entertainment and dialogues to life with breathtakingly realistic sound and the 3D experience of Dolby Atmos. Read the full review.

Soundbar for dialogue comparison table

Name Built-in channels Amplification type Separate speaker connections Wi-Fi/Bluetooth Review
Sonos Arc best overall 5.1 active yes yes/no Review
VIZIO M512a-H6 also great 5.1.2 active yes no/yes Review
Sonos Beam Gen 2 compact option 5.1 active no yes/no Review

Best soundbar for dialogue reviews

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Sonos Arc – best overall

Back in 2020, Sonos made a statement on the soundbar market by releasing its flagship Arc. It replaced Playbar and also PlayBase. Later, it inspired the emergence of the Beam series, more compact bars with Atmos support.

Sonos Arc is a huge soundbar, both literally and figuratively. It is packed with multiple features that remain relevant these days. My Sonos Arc review will help you to get into all subtleties of this device, and besides, I will share my personal impression of this soundbar. And we will start with the appearance of this model.

Build and design

Sonos Arc

The Sonos Arc doesn't look like any other soundbar. As you look at it, you immediately realize that it wants to be noticed.

First, its size is in the spotlight. This soundbar is longer than the Sonos Beam and Beam Gen 2. It measures 45 x 4.5 x 3.4 inches (that's impressive!), though it weighs manageable 13.78 pounds. Even though it is large, you can easily transport it or set it up in any desired location.

Second, just look at its form. It is not rectangular like most soundbars. Its curved, elliptical shape makes the Arc model truly stand up among other Sonos soundbars.

When it comes to materials, Sonos Arc has the same plastic casing and perforated grille on the sides. There is a mesh between the grille and the top sides of the bar. This device is available in white and matte black variations. You will find the Sonos logo in the center along with a tiny LED indicating the microphone status. Volume and pause/play sensor controls are on the top of the Arc soundbar.

Setup and connectivity

To connect the Sonos Arc to the TV, use the HDMI eARC/ARC port with the HDMI cable. There is no optical port, but you can use the included Sonos optical audio adapter. To hardwire to your router, you may want to utilize the 10/100 Ethernet port. With the infrared receiver (IR), you will sync the soundbar with your TV remote for streamlined control.

Wireless connectivity is also available in the Arc bar. It works with any 2.4 GHz router, though 5 GHz is not supported. For wireless audio streaming, you may use the Apple AirPlay 2.

All soundbar adjustments are made via a Sonos S2 app. There is no way to go wrong with the setup as all the instructions are given in the app. Just follow the suggested steps, and here you go. Using the app, you can connect the streaming services and transmit audio content to the soundbar.

Tuning the sound is simple. With the Trueplay technology, you can be sure that the audio waves reach all walls, even in rooms with high ceilings or off-center soundbar placement. The degree of calibration may surprise audiophiles, for sure. I like that the bar automatically adjusts the playback based on the audio input and the acoustic room profile.

Features and specs

In my opinion, Dolby Atmos support is the most important feature of this model. The surround sound will immediately bring your movie viewing to a whole new level. But I think you realize this yourself.

As you turn on Speech Enhancement in the Sonos app, you will get greater clarity for character dialogs. When they whisper or the action intensifies, this feature ensures you will grasp every word. The Night Sound mode is also available. It tempers loud effects and makes them less prominent.

With the Sonos voice control, you can play music and control your system hands-free. Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are also here to let you manage your smart home devices, set timers, check the news, and more.

Listening experience

Sonos Arc photo

Even though the Arc soundbar is just one element of the whole Sonos system (you can improve it with a sub and two speakers), it proved to deliver a decent sound quality.

This model offers an even sound, especially in the mids. All thanks to the room correction feature. The vocals and lead instruments are detailed and crisp, though there is a touch of extra brightness in the treble. Naturally, for a standalone soundbar, you don't get extended low bass. You can adjust the bass, but do not hope these settings will change the low-frequency extension. For more rumble, you need a separate sub.

The Arc's stereo sound is great, and, in my opinion, it is much better than the Sonos Beam soundbar. The side-firing speakers make you feel that the sound is larger than the soundbar itself. When listening to Atmos content, the soundstage feels wider and diffused. However, the sound objects come from the front of the TV rather than from overhead. So, the sound of a helicopter flying above doesn't seem to be coming from overhead. But again, for a standalone bar, the Sonos Arc does a great job at delivering a tolerable surround sound.

Key specs
  • Built-in channels: 5.1.
  • Amplification type: active.
  • Output power, W: N/A.
  • Separate speaker connections: yes.
  • Wi-Fi/Bluetooth: yes/no.
  • Multichannel surround: Dolby Atmos.

The Sonos Arc is a perfect solution for those who want more clarity for dialogue reproduction. This single unit is the best soundbar for dialogue, letting you grasp the quietest whisper and follow voices. And in addition to the basic features, having smart features like speech enhancement, TruePlay room correction, and voice assistant support make using this soundbar a breeze.

VIZIO M512a-H6 – also great

The VIZIO M512a-H6 soundbar is a 5.1.2 setup that entered the market in 2021. It is a surround system made up of the main soundbar, two wired rear satellites, and a subwoofer. It inherited some of the high-end features from Vizio Elevate, premium speakers, yet remained on the affordable side of the price spectrum. I know that this sounds a bit vague, so in this VIZIO M512a-H6 review I am going to extend upon the performance of this soundbar. All information in this review is based on my personal experience.

Build and design

VIZIO M512a-H6

The soundbar is pretty much the same as other similar devices - it is 40 inches wide and 2.68 inches high. The satellites are 5.71 x 2.24 x 3.54 inches, while the sub measures 8.30 x 9.92 x 11.69 inches.

The main grille of the soundbar is made of fabric. It hides three sets of mid-drivers and tweeters. Another grille covering up-firing drivers is made of perforated plastic. Up-firing drivers are placed toward the center of the soundbar, which is hardly the perfect location. Nevertheless, they do a great job of filling the room with 3D surround sound by projecting audio signals off the ceiling.

There are 11 speakers in the VIZIO M512a-H6 sound system in total. Every speaker has its own woofers and tweeters for gaining fidelity across the whole sound spectrum.

You will find controls on the top of the VIZIO 5.1 2 soundbar. The number of controls is rather limited and includes power, volume, input, and Bluetooth. That's why you may want to consider using a remote control, which features a backlit screen that shows setup options.

Setup and connectivity

VIZIO M512a-H6 offers four different types of physical connectivity. On the back left side of the soundbar, you will find an HDMI in/out with eARC. There is also an optical digital audio connection and a USB port in this model. Additionally, as you look at the back right side, you'll see a standard 3.5 mm input along with an Aux VA input to hook a voice-enabled speaker. For a wireless connection, you are free to use Bluetooth. It's a pity that Wi-Fi connectivity is absent here and you lose an opportunity to use a Chromecast system.

Connecting VIZIO M512a-H6 to the TV is fairly simple. Just plug the soundbar into the TV using an HDMI, and you are all set. The wireless sub gets easily paired with a soundbar. Though note that you will need to connect speakers to the subwoofer with provided wires.

While there is nothing complicated in physically connecting all the devices, the real work begins when you adjust the sound to please your ears. The lack of calibration is not that critical, but it means that you've got to adjust driver levels manually. To get the most out of VIZIO M512a-H6, you can optimize the settings of the center channel, speakers, sub, and height channels.

Features and specs

The most prominent feature of VIZIO M Series M512a-H6 is the support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. Thanks to this, the sound is realistic and multi-dimensional.

As I already said, M512a-H6 has preset EQ modes to optimize gaming, music, movies, or TV content. Additionally, you can customize all the audio settings for a perfect sound every time using a remote. A dual stereo mode will shake your house. It distributes a stereo signal across all 11 high-performance speakers, elevating audio for maximum impact.

This soundbar doesn't have built-in voice assistant support, but there is an Aux VA input for letting you connect your voice assistant speaker. Or you can pair your devices via Bluetooth.

Listening experience

VIZIO M512a-H6 photo

Here is my honest verdict - Vizio M512a-H6 is not as immersive as higher-end Dolby Atmos soundbars. But giving the credit to the price, I didn't expect much from this product. And that's natural.

What I want to stress is the amount of bass the wireless subwoofer delivers. It is space-shaking, yet it harmoniously integrates into the whole soundstage. When listening to music, the lows, mids, and highs are fine. The vocals and instruments sound bright and clear.

In movies, you can grasp every note of the bassline. The surround speakers give extended dimension and better immersion - I bet I heard how bullet casings fell to the floor with a more defined tinkle. Yet, this model doesn't reproduce the level of height you will find in more sophisticated soundbars.

The voice preset would have become a significant improvement to Vizio M512a-H6. It lacks this mode, in my opinion. I did not get enough clarity in some hard-to-decipher dialogs, so crisper and clearer voices will only improve the overall TV-watching experience with this soundbar set.

Key specs
  • Built-in channels: 5.1.2.
  • Amplification type: active.
  • Output power, W: N/A.
  • Separate speaker connections: yes.
  • Wi-Fi/Bluetooth: no/yes.
  • Multichannel surround: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X.

The VIZIO M512a-H6 setup is a great soundbar for dialogue clarity. You will have no trouble comprehending speeches with this soundbar. It will also give dimension to the sound, no matter what content you watch. If you feel like the sound requires customization, with VIZIO M512a-H6, it’s easy to make the adjustments using a remote control or voice assistant.

Sonos Beam Gen 2 – compact option

The Sonos Beam Gen 2 is an improved version of the previous soundbar model - the Sonos Beam. This device shares the same compact design as its predecessor but now comes with the support of Dolby Atmos. Yet, this is not the only novelty in this soundbar. So, keep reading my Sonos Beam Gen 2 review to get to know what makes this item superior to its previous model.

Build and design

Sonos Beam Gen 2

The sleek design is one of the key parameters of the Sonos Beam Gen 2. If you are familiar with Sonos products, then the fact that Beam Gen 2 blends Sonos Arc and the original Sonos Beam will give you a hint of how it looks. The soundbar maintains an elongated shape with a slightly convex top of the Beam and gets a perforated polycarbonate grille from the Arc. There are volume and play/pause controls on the top.

The Beam Gen 2 soundbar is compact - it measures 45 x 4.5 x 3.4 inches, so it is suitable for smaller entertainment spaces as it will easily fit 50-inch TVs or smaller. It comes in two casing options - white and black to accompany your interior.

Under the compact housing, this soundbar conceals five class-D amps that power a central tweeter and four elliptical mid-woofers. There are also three passive radiators to deliver a balanced sound by enhancing low frequencies.

Setup and connectivity

At the back of the Sonos Beam Gen 2, you will find an HDMI eARC/ARC port to let you benefit from high-definition audio formats. There is also an Ethernet 10/100 port to give you an option for connecting to your router. USB, 3.5 mm, or AUX ports are not available in this model. Though you can connect to Wi-Fi with any 2.4 GHz 802.11/b/g/n broadcast-capable router.

Setting up Sonos Beam Gen 2 is easy. You just hook the soundbar to the TV using an included HDMI cable and proceed with the settings through the Sonos App. The app will provide step-by-step guidance so you won't go wrong with the settings. Additionally, you can connect streaming services or customize settings via this app. To make things easier, the soundbar syncs with your existing TV remote to let you control everything using a single device.

The soundbar works with Apple AirPlay 2, so you can stream audio directly from your iPhone, Mac, or iPad. If you have an Android-powered phone, the Sonos App gives access to hundreds of streaming services, so there will be plenty of audio content for you to enjoy.

Features and specs

The Sonos Beam 2 is a smart soundbar with a 40% faster chip than in the previous model. Thanks to this, this device gives you more capabilities and allows the entire listening experience to be configured in as much detail as possible. For instance, the Trueplay technology initiates a series of test tones to adapt to the speaker settings depending on a specific room layout.

Yet, the most prominent update to the Gen 2 model is the support of Dolby Atmos. Now you can definitely add some drive to your television. There is a Speech Enhancement feature available in the app that will let you always follow the story, even when characters whisper. With the Night Sound mode, you will reduce the intensity of loud sound effects and keep the TV down.

Being created with music in mind, the Sonos Beam 2 soundbar supports the highest-resolution formats, including Dolby Atmos Music. By the way, the other good news is that you can control music playback and other system settings using Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant voice assistants.

Listening experience

Sonos Beam Gen 2 photo

Let me put this straight right at the outset. This is a single-piece soundbar, and it doesn't come with a subwoofer or additional speakers (though you can buy them to extend your sound system). So, it doesn't deliver window-shaking bass or an overwhelming immersive experience.

In general, the sound is clear, balanced, and accurate. You can hear the effects of the surround sound, but they are unlikely to be the same as in a full audio system. The sound effects like explosions, gunfire, footsteps and others may lack the 3D range. Though I want to admit that the returned central channel in the soundbar prioritizes vocal clarity, making dialogs crisper and easier to comprehend.

The Gen 2 provides better depth and height than the original Beam, but it doesn't outperform Sonos Arc in these terms. But considering that this model is smaller than Arc, this fact comes as no surprise. The Beam 2 also does not get nearly as loud as Arc. I would say that its volume capacity is moderate, so you won't get the status of a “noisy” neighbor if you live in an apartment.

As for the music, Beam Gen 2 performs fine. It replicated clear and detailed vocals with accurate lead instruments. Tracks got a little bit of punch in the high-bass sections. Though there was a lack of rumble in the low bass, which may disappoint fans of hip-hop and EDM.

Key specs
  • Built-in channels: 5.1.
  • Amplification type: active.
  • Output power, W: N/A.
  • Separate speaker connections: no.
  • Wi-Fi/Bluetooth: yes/no.
  • Multichannel surround: Dolby Atmos.

The Sonos Beam Gen 2 soundbar is a great space-saving option that will blend easily with your home decor. But, for sure, the most prominent feature of this device is speech clarity. Right out of the box, it neatly reproduces speech-centric content. Then, with the dialogue enhancement and TruePlay room correction tools, you will fine-tune your experience with no effort.

Samsung HW-B650

In this Samsung HW-B650 review, I will introduce a soundbar that was brought to the market in 2022. This is the next generation of Samsung HW-A650 offering minor updates. It looks similar to Samsung HW-B550 and Samsung HW-B450, other products in this lineup, but HW-B650 gets an upper hand over these models with a center channel for improved vocal reproduction. This model doesn't have as many features compared to higher-end Samsung soundbars, though it still boasts Dolby Atmos 5.1 and DTS Virtual:X support, 430W power, 3.1 channels, and 7 speakers to deliver realistic 3D sound. So, what can you expect from Samsung HW-B650?

Build and design

Samsung HW-B650

In general, the HW-B650 soundbar inherits all the Samsung-peculiar design elements that make it look similar to other brand's products within the same category. Though we may trace some changes.

The HW-B650 measures 40.6 x 2.3 x 4.1 inches - a few inches bigger than HW-A650. So, it is fairly wide and will hardly fit between the legs of a 55-inch TV. At the same time, it is not that tall, so won't obscure your TV screen. It is mostly made of plastic. The metal grille covers the front part of the divide and its sides. Also, the top of the soundbar features controls that let you adjust the volume and play/stop the playback. The edges are angled, not rounded, which sets HW-B650 apart from its previous HW-A650 model. There is a small four-character digital display on the front showing the volume level and current input.

The HW-B650 comes with a subwoofer. It is 7.2 x 13.6 x 11.6 inches, and it is mostly made of wood. The front of the sub is covered with fabric. It feels thin and loose, and, unfortunately, collects dust quickly.

Setup and connectivity

The setup of the Samsung B650 starts with connecting the TV or other audio source to the bar. For this, you may use an HDMI connection. The port supports ARC, so you will transmit Dolby Digital and DTS content over the HDMI cable. No Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio pass-through will be available to you with ARC.

Other connectivity options - optical and USB are also available. Along with a physical connection, you can wirelessly stream audio from your mobile devices to the soundbar over Bluetooth. By the way, Bluetooth supports connecting multiple devices - like your TV and phone. Notably, HW-B650 misses any kind of Wi-Fi functionality, which cuts the odds to use Chromecast to transmit audio to the device. The sub connects to the soundbar wirelessly, so the only wire you have to use to sync the bar and the subwoofer is a power cord.

Out of the box, Samsung B650 delivers a neutral sound. Though with different customization options at hand, you can achieve the soundstage to your liking. To calibrate the bar, you can set bass and treble along with the appropriate sound mode. For more advanced settings, you can change specific frequency bands.

Features and specs

Many people willing to elevate their TV-watching experience choose Samsung HW-B650 for its compatibility with Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS Virtual:X. Support for these formats will allow you to move sound around you and recreate a realistic 3D sound performance. With this setup, the soundbar adapts to the content you view. The Adaptive Sound Lite technology dynamically optimizes audio. When the action-packed scene rapidly switches to whispering dialogs, the HW-B650 will fine-tune the settings so you do not miss a thing.

There are multiple sound modes for you to choose from: Bass Boost, Surround Sound Expansion, Game, Adaptive Lite, DTS Virtual:X, and Standard. These are the modes you will also see in the previous Samsung HW-A650 generation. A newer model gets a Voice Enhance Mode, which you may want to use for maximum voice clarity. With Night Mode, you will dim the loud effects and won't disturb your loved ones as they sleep.

Listening experience

Samsung HW-B650 photo

Samsung HW-B650 will give you exactly what you should expect from a basic 3.1 setup - nothing more and nothing less. Compared to the TV speakers, you will immediately notice that the front stage has become more pronounced and enriched with depth. Similarly to the last Samsung HW-A650, the sound is neutral, especially in the mids. Though I should admit that it is a little extra brighter in B650, but not that dramatically. The lack of low bass is still present in this device, which becomes especially noticeable when you listen to bass-heavy genres.

The surround performance is not brilliant, though it's ok for the 3.1 bar. It makes you feel that the sound comes from the speaker placed in front of you, a bit spoiling all the charm of the surround sound.

The soundstage is wide, with the effects localized to accurate locations around you. The stereo dynamics are good - the soundbar is loud enough to fill the room with sound. Though it is a bit compressed at the max volume, especially in the bass range. At a normal volume, I traced no distortions - the sound was pure.

Key specs
  • Built-in channels: 3.1.
  • Amplification type: active.
  • Output power, W: 430.
  • Separate speaker connections: yes.
  • Wi-Fi/Bluetooth: no/yes.
  • Multichannel surround: Dolby Atmos, DTS Virtual:X.

Indeed, the improvements traceable in Samsung HW-B650 play directly into the hands of clear dialogue reproduction. With automatic fine-tuning, you do not have to bother as the scene rapidly changes from voluminous explosions to whisper-quiet scenes. This dialogue enhancement soundbar by Samsung will do the job for you, leaving you no choice but enjoying the content.

Also, if you are interested in budget soundbars for your TV, you may consider the best soundbar under 400.


Does a soundbar help with hearing dialogue?

Compared to built-in TV speakers, many soundbars will drastically improve sound quality, including dialogues. But some do the job of reproducing dialogues better than another, so you may want to consider the best soundbars for voice clarity.

How do you increase dialogue on a soundbar?

Many soundbars have a speech enhancement feature that automatically increases or decreases the dialogue volumes depending on the content. Some are even packed with room correction technology that adjusts the speech reproduction level according to the environment.

How do you fix very low dialogue but very loud sound effects on TV?

To fix low dialogues and extremely loud effect-packed scenes, you need to go to the Sound settings and switch to the Clear Voice or Speed mode. If it doesn’t help, it is better to consider getting a soundbar for TV dialogue.

Why do I hear background noise louder than voices?

This can happen because of the content’s quality or the speakers’ parameters. In the second case, low-fidelity speakers accentuate upper mid-ranges and highs, while the human voice tends to be in the mid-audio range. That is why speakers separate background noises and voices, where the speech gets lost. To avoid this, I recommend getting a soundbar with the ability to customize the dialog parameters.
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About Philip Carrey
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