Creating the perfect home theatre experience inevitably places you before the sound system dilemma: Should you get a soundbar or speakers? Both options have clear benefits and drawbacks. This soundbar vs. speakers comparison guide is here to assist you in making the right decision for your home theatre.
What Is a Soundbar?
A soundbar is a type of speaker used to improve television sound quality. Soundbars are slim and compact, making them ideal for placement in front of or beneath your TV. A variation of a soundbar is a soundbase, whose platform-style low-profile design makes it suitable to place beneath a TV set.
Some soundbars include a subwoofer, which enriches the audio by adding bass and depth. Many models also come with Bluetooth, allowing you to stream music wirelessly from your smartphone or tablet.
Soundbars are increasingly used in conjunction with other home theatre systems and are not limited to television. Because the speakers in a soundbar are typically oriented towards the listener rather than away from them, soundbars can provide an immersive and realistic audio experience that is ideal for watching movies or TV shows.
Types of Soundbars
When choosing a soundbar, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is whether you want an active or passive model.
Built-in amplifiers power the speaker drivers in active soundbars. As a result, they can typically produce higher volumes without distortion. However, active soundbars generally are more expensive than passive soundbars, and they usually require an AC power connection, which limits where you can put them in your room.
Passive soundbars, on the other hand, lack integrated amplifiers. This means that the speaker drivers are powered by the amplifier in your TV or receiver. Passive soundbars are more versatile in terms of placement because they don’t need to be near an electrical outlet. Passive soundbar speakers cannot produce volumes as high as active models and may exhibit more distortion at high volumes.
When purchasing a soundbar, the number of channels is an essential factor to consider. The majority of soundbars have two to five channels, with the following options available:
- Two-channel soundbars
- Three-channel soundbars
- Five-channel soundbars
- Seven-channel soundbars
- Dolby Atmos soundbars
Although two-channel soundbars are typically the least expensive option, they may not provide the same level of surround sound as the more expensive models. If you want a more immersive audio experience, a five-channel or seven-channel soundbar is a better choice, with Dolby Atmos soundbars providing the best sound quality.
Speakers for Your Home Theatre
There are numerous options when it comes to speakers for your home theatre, including bookshelf speakers, satellite speakers, floor-standing speakers, and subwoofers, each with their own set of advantages and disadvantages.
Bookshelf speakers are small and compact, making them ideal for smaller rooms or areas with limited floor space. They can be set on a shelf or hung on the wall. However, due to their small size, they typically do not produce as much bass as other types of speakers.
Satellite speakers are small speakers that, when placed to the side or back of the main listening area, can significantly improve the quality of a TV sound system. They are intended to supplement a larger home theatre sound system. Despite the fact that satellite speakers require a separate woofer/subwoofer for optimal performance, they do not produce low-quality sound.
Floor-standing speakers are larger and more powerful than bookshelf speakers, making them ideal for larger rooms or those who prefer a deeper bass. They do, however, take up more floor space and may not be suitable for smaller rooms.
Subwoofers are designed specifically for low frequencies, making them necessary for experiencing the full range of sound in movies and music. They are, however, bulky and costly. When selecting subwoofers, make sure they are compatible with the rest of your speakers. Otherwise, you may not benefit fully from their sound quality.
Speakers vs. Soundbar – Setup
Soundbars are generally much easier to install than speakers, as they’re usually much lighter, making them easier to transport and maneuver. Additionally, soundbars typically come with all the mounting hardware, eliminating the need to search for the correct screws or brackets. They normally have only a few connections (power, HDMI, etc.), making it simple to connect everything.
Installing speakers, on the other hand, can be a bit more complicated. Speakers, in addition to being heavier and more cumbersome, frequently require specialized mounts or stands. And because they must be placed in a specific configuration around the room, it can be challenging to get everything just right; fortunately, many helpful resources online on speaker setups, such as speaker placement calculators and similar tools. So, a soundbar is usually the way to go if you are after a simple installation.
Soundbars vs. Speakers – Sound Quality
Sound quality is where soundbars and speakers differ most. Although a soundbar’s audio quality will undoubtedly surpass that of your TV’s built-in speakers, nothing can compare to a full surround sound system.
Even only a decent 2.1-channel speaker setup will provide better audio than a top-tier soundbar. The possibilities for improving the quality of sound coming from speakers are endless. The physical dimensions of a speaker can vary greatly, with options including large-driver speakers and a powerful subwoofer.
Imagine you are hosting a night of scary movies. A soundbar just can’t compete with good speaker systems when it comes to delivering a good scare. Think of it this way: The sound quality of your TV’s speakers is average, the sound quality of a soundbar is good, and the sound quality of a speaker system is excellent.
Soundbar vs. Speaker – Price
When it comes to hi-fi equipment, soundbars are among the more wallet-friendly choices. A high-quality speaker system may cost several hundred dollars more. However, a basic speaker system with two stereo speakers and a subwoofer will not break the bank if you shop carefully. Instead, it can cost as much as a soundbar and still provide superior sound.
The speaker system has an advantage because it’s simple to swap out individual parts if something breaks down. By contrast, if your TV soundbar speaker breaks down, you’ll need serious repairs or a new unit.
Can a Soundbar and Speakers Be Used Together?
Some soundbars can be connected to additional speakers, but this is often a complicated process and is therefore not recommended. If you’re unsure which to get, go with speakers because they’re easier to upgrade. Soundbars are intended to function independently, which is one of the reasons they are so popular.
Pros and Cons of a Soundbar
A soundbar is simple to install and takes up very little room compared to a conventional surround sound system. Many models also have integrated subwoofers, which improve the bass and make them great for watching movies or playing games.
There are, however, a few potential drawbacks to soundbars. They are made to work with TVs, so they might not have the same audio quality as a standalone stereo system. Moreover, if you want high-end features like Dolby Atmos support, you may have to spend a pretty penny.
Last but not least, some users complain that a soundbar doesn’t mesh well with the room’s organic acoustics. Ultimately, your listening preferences and financial situation will determine if a soundbar is a good fit for you.
Pros and Cons – Speakers
Compared to a soundbar, a speaker set’s immersive sound is arguably one of its main benefits. A well-designed sound system can place the listener in the middle of the action, creating a fully immersive experience.
The sound quality of a speaker system is often superior to that of a soundbar or a single speaker. This is a must-have for any music lover to hear your favourite songs in crystal clear detail.
However, it’s important to remember that there are drawbacks as well. Installing a new speaker system can be costly and time-consuming, as it typically involves adding an amplifier and running new wires. They may also not be as effective at producing low frequencies as a single subwoofer.
Soundbar vs. Surround Sound – A Summary
It’s essential to think carefully about your needs and preferences when selecting home audio equipment. One popular choice is a soundbar, a long, thin speaker mounted on a wall or placed in front of a TV. Another option is to use separate speakers, which can be placed around the room for optimal sound quality.
So, what is the best option for you? To sum up, here are a few things to consider:
Ease of setup: Soundbars are generally very easy to set up because they only require one power source and can be mounted directly to your television. Separate speakers, on the other hand, require more setup time, effort, and cables.
Sound quality: Soundbars typically provide a much better sound quality than external TV speakers, but separate speakers are the way to go if you are looking for the best possible audio experience.
Flexibility: If you intend to use your audio system for multiple purposes, such as watching TV or listening to music, separate speakers may be a better option because you can move them around the room to suit your needs. In this regard, soundbars are less adaptable.
Cost: Soundbars are usually less expensive than separate speakers. They often come with additional features – such as Bluetooth connectivity and built-in subwoofers – that make them well worth the money.
The Bottom Line on Soundbar vs. Home Theatre
Your specific budget, needs, and preferences will determine the best course of action. A soundbar could be the way to go if you value low cable clutter, simple installation, and high-quality audio.
If you value versatility and amazing sound quality, and are willing to spend a little more money to upgrade your sound system over time, standalone speakers may be a better option.
Do you need speakers if you have a soundbar?
If you have a soundbar, you don’t need speakers. Soundbars are intended to provide the same level of sound quality as a speaker system but in a much smaller and more compact package. Some people, however, prefer the sound quality of home theatre speakers over that of soundbars.
Does a soundbar replace TV speakers?
Soundbars should be used in place of your TV speakers, not in addition to them, as that would result in an echo. When both TV speakers and a soundbar are used simultaneously, they will play the same audio.
Does a soundbar need a subwoofer?
Although not all soundbars come with a subwoofer, including one can significantly improve sound quality because it can produce low frequencies that a soundbar cannot. A soundbar with a subwoofer is the way to go if you want the best sound possible and have the budget and space for it.
Which is better: a speaker or soundbar?
It’s important to consider your needs when deciding on a soundbar vs. speakers. Soundbars are probably the better option if you want a simple setup. Soundbars can be placed almost anywhere in your room. However, soundbars do not provide the same level of sound quality as speakers. Speakers are probably the better option for an immersive home theatre experience.