What Is a Soundbar and Do I Need One?

If you want to enhance your home theatre, one crucial aspect to consider is the sound system. Television speakers simply don’t cut it anymore; they provide much lower sound quality than specialist speakers. Unfortunately, those can get very pricey, which is why today we’re going to talk about soundbars.

Soundbars have grown in popularity in recent years as audio systems have evolved. You can now effortlessly improve your TV audio without worrying about space and cables by installing a soundbar. But what is a soundbar and should you get one? This article will tell you all you need to know.

What Is a Soundbar Speaker?

A soundbar, often written as sound bar or media bar, is a type of loudspeaker with a broad enclosure; it’s very wide and only a few inches tall. It’s designed this way both for acoustic reasons and so that it fits snugly above or below a visual display. For instance, it’s usually placed below a television or home theatre screen.

Multiple speakers are housed in a single cabinet in a soundbar, allowing for surround sound or stereo effects. Soundbars often come with a standalone subwoofer, which supplements the soundbar’s audio quality with its rich bass frequencies.

Soundbar vs. Speakers

When comparing soundbars with speakers, soundbars are typically a far less expensive alternative that can significantly increase audio quality in your living room, home theatre, or office. Soundbars are simpler to install than surround sound speakers because they’re usually made up of only one or two components.

Surround sound speakers, on the other hand, usually have greater audio quality and allow you more options, as well as the potential to upgrade your sound system over time. Because of their smaller size and lack of positioning options, soundbars do not fill a room with sound as well as a surround system.

However, multichannel soundbars with 5.1 or 7.1 systems that can provide a three-dimensional sound field are already available.

How Do Soundbars Work?

The latest soundbars include a range of connectivity options and features, so be sure that the inputs on the soundbar match the outputs on your source components. Keep an eye out for the following essential connections:

HDMI – Some soundbars offer one or more HDMI inputs, as well as an HDMI output to the TV, allowing you to switch between video source components using the soundbar. Many HDMI connections now have audio return channels (ARC or eARC), which allow a TV to send audio back to the soundbar.

WiFi – Wireless soundbars allow you to connect to music streaming services like Spotify and TIDAL directly, meaning you can stream music in high fidelity. Some home audio soundbar models may include an Ethernet port for wired connection to your home network.

Bluetooth – Most soundbars nowadays offer Bluetooth, allowing you to wirelessly transfer music from mobile and desktop devices to the soundbar. Some soundbars enable near-field communication (NFC), which is used to quickly establish an initial Bluetooth connection.

Streaming – Some soundbars allow you to watch movies or TV shows from streaming services like Netflix, as well as giving you access to social networking sites and online radio stations.

Audio inputs – The majority of soundbars now receive digital audio data via HDMI cables. Some media bar models, particularly those lacking HDMI compatibility, will have optical or coaxial digital audio inputs, as well as analog stereo RCA (white and red) or minijack connectors for connecting older TVs, record players, and other equipment. Optical digital audio inputs and outputs have become quite popular in recent years.

Surround speakers – Most speakers and subwoofers are plug-and-play devices, so installation is a breeze, especially if your TV already has an HDMI ARC connector. Insert the cord from the soundbar into the port. Enable either external speakers or CSC from the TV’s audio menu. If the HDMI ARC port is unavailable, connect the analog and optical cables to the relevant ports on the television and soundbar.

Types of Soundbars

Nowadays, most movies and TV shows have five separate audio channels integrated digitally. As a result, soundbars with different channel options are available. We’ve been discussing soundbars that are long and thin. However, there is another type: the platform-style soundbar, sometimes known as a sound base. We’ll look at the differences between the two styles now.

Classic Soundbars

What distinguishes a soundbar from a standard home theatre setup is that all channels and speakers are contained in a single unit. Here are a few examples of soundbar specs:

  • Soundbar with two channels: two speakers, one on each side.
  • Soundbar with three channels: three speakers (centre, left, and right).
  • Soundbar with five channels: all of the speakers listed previously with two additional rear speakers.
  • Soundbar with seven channels: a seven-channel soundbar is essentially the same as the five-channel one with a bit extra; by splitting surround and back-channel information into four channels, you get seven in total.
  • Dolby Atmos soundbar: upward-firing speakers are located in the soundbar, reflecting sound above you for a more immersive, three-dimensional experience.

When setting up your home theatre, you may be wondering how many channels you need. In truth, that decision is entirely up to you and your budget. The more channels stereo soundbar systems have, the better the sound and overall experience they provide.

Sound Bases

A sound base is a platform-style soundbar. This wide, low-profile design works well with televisions. If you’re thinking about getting one of these, make sure it can withstand the weight of your TV. Also, make sure the sound base is wider than the base of your television so the TV doesn’t fall off.

If you don’t have much space between the bottom of your television screen and the top of your stand, a sound base might be a better option. It’s also a good choice if you want full-range sound without the need for a separate subwoofer. Sound bases feature much larger cabinets, which allows the speakers to “breathe” more and hence produce more bass.

Where Should You Put a Soundbar?

Soundbars come in many sizes, ranging from less than 30 cm to more than 150 cm in length. The size of your bar will be determined by the size of your TV, the size of your room, and your own preferences. If you know where you’re going to put your soundbar, you’ll be able to narrow down your options and make an easier decision.

The key to deciding where to put a soundbar is to position it so that it fills the room with as much sound as possible. Another factor to consider regarding soundbar positioning is that you shouldn’t obstruct the sound by putting anything in front of it. You want the sound to emanate from the same direction as the television, but you don’t want the soundbar blocking the screen.

If your TV is on a cabinet or a stand, you can put the soundbar in front of it, but make sure the soundbar doesn’t stick out by measuring both the television’s base and the stand or cabinet’s base.

If you’re putting the soundbar inside a cabinet, it should be pushed as far forward as possible so sound emanating to the sides isn’t blocked.

If your television is mounted on the wall, you may place the soundbar speaker just beneath it for an uncluttered and clean look, or you can mount it to the wall. Sometimes, soundbars are placed above the TV if there’s more space there, although this is less common.

Bottom Line

For many, installing soundbars is the easiest way to improve the audio quality of a television or home theatre. They’re easy to set up, as they don’t require all of the speakers and connections that come with a surround-sound system. While most soundbars won’t sound quite as nice as surround speakers, they’re still far superior to your TV’s built-in speakers without being prohibitively expensive.

Even if you want true surround sound, you can always upgrade your soundbar system with surround speakers, and you’ll have no trouble setting it up if you do.


What is the difference between a speaker and a soundbar?

Soundbars sometimes include a subwoofer. If this is the case, you’ll only need to install two devices and there will be no wiring clutter. This is, in fact, one of the most significant benefits of a soundbar. Home theatres have many speakers and a primary unit with all of the controls in one place, and they typically provide the highest audio quality.

Where should I put a soundbar?

You can install a soundbar beneath or above a wall-mounted television. The sound is better directed to the listener if it’s mounted beneath the TV. Many soundbars include installation hardware or a paper wall template.

Do soundbars replace TV speakers?

Soundbars are intended to replace your TV speakers; the two should not be used in combination. If you use your audio soundbar with your TV speakers, you’ll get an unpleasant echo.

Is it worth getting a soundbar?

If you’re looking for an affordable option for your home entertainment system that still delivers amazing sound, then soundbars are definitely worth it. They’re simple to use and set up, and are intuitively built to operate with all the latest technologies.

What does a soundbar do?

What is a soundbar, exactly? A soundbar is an all-in-one speaker system that produces high-quality TV audio while taking up less space than a home theatre surround sound setup and receiver, and it’s almost always less expensive. A soundbar’s slim cabinet includes two or more speakers that offer stereo or surround sound, and it may also include a separate subwoofer.

Milica Milenkovic
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