What’s your TV without the best sound?
When you want to improve your TV’s sound so that you can turn your living room into a home theatre for fun movie nights with the family, you will have to consider if you want to make use of a soundbar or speakers.
Can these systems do similar things?
Both a soundbar and speakers will enable you to stream music via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, and they can be controlled via Alexa or Google Assistant.
But, there are many things to know about soundbars and speakers.
So, let’s explore them in greater detail to help you choose the best one for your home setup.
Soundbar Vs Speakers: What Are They?
Before we look at how they compare, let’s define a soundbar and speakers.
- A soundbar is a type of loudspeaker that is wider than it is tall, to enable better sound quality. This also means that you can install it above or below your TV.
- By comparison, speakers can be connected to your TV via audio outputs. Home theatre speakers usually come in sets so you can ensure greater surround sound.
How Do They Compare?
It’s not easy to know if you should opt for a soundbar or speakers. So, let’s explore how they differ when it comes to various factors.
One of the factors you’ll have to take into account when you want to purchase a soundbar or speakers is their cost. This is where soundbars shine because they are cheaper than speakers.
A soundbar can be purchased for less money than speakers because if you choose the speaker route you’ll have to assemble a minimum of two speakers and you’ll also need an AV receiver to connect them, which will bump up the cost.
Generally, you can find a soundbar for under £100 all the way up to and over £1,000. Avoid getting anything too cheap as that won’t give you a high amount of quality. You should opt for mid-range or premium soundbars.
Building A Home System
If you want a sound system that enables you to add more audio accessories to it in the future, then you need to consider that a soundbar might not be the best choice.
This is because it works on its own and can’t always be connected to other speakers.
However, one way around this is to ensure that you purchase your soundbar and speakers from the same brand so that you can add rear-channel speakers or surrounds in the future.
This is something to take into account before you go shopping for a soundbar.
By comparison, choosing speakers instead of a soundbar means that you can add different accessories to your home theatre system at a later stage without having to worry about sticking to a certain brand.
This makes speakers much more practical.
Which type of sound system will give you better sound quality?
It’s been said that speakers achieve this, as a result of how you can put one on either side of the TV to make the sounds feel more immersive.
Another advantage of speakers when it comes to sound quality is that they are compatible with surround-sound technology, such as Dolby Atmos.
Best of all, as long as the AV receiver is compatible with them, the speakers will be able to provide quality sound.
Finally, separate speakers will give you better surround sound. This is because of how you can set up different speakers in different areas of the room, helping you to produce the perfect result.
Note that if you want to get surround sound with your soundbar, you will have to choose higher-end models which create the feeling that you have speakers all around the room.
On the other hand, if you just want to achieve the audio quality that’s better than what your TV speakers will achieve, and nothing more, a soundbar will be fine for you.
A soundbar wins when it comes to portability. This is because of how these units are self-contained and don’t require a receiver. So, if you have to move the soundbar from one room to another, or you’re moving to a new house, you can easily reconnect it without a hassle.
By comparison, if you want to move your speakers to a new room, you’ll have to set them up all over again. This takes more time and sometimes speakers can be a bit complicated to set up.
When To Choose A Soundbar
While both soundbars and speakers have their benefits, there are some things to take into account that will motivate you to choose a soundbar.
That is a good choice for you if the following points apply to you:
- You just want an improvement in the audio of your TV for regular viewing purposes. This is because soundbars will give you great audio quality but they don’t have the same depth as what you’ll experience with home theatre speakers.
- You like the sound reaching you from the front. If you want the sound of your TV to reach your ears from directly in front of you, a soundbar will achieve this.
- You want an easy-to-install and compact solution. Soundbars are plug-and-play by design, which is easy for anyone to install. They’re also very compact because they’re just a bar that gets placed underneath your TV.
- You don’t have a lot of space in your lounge or living room, so a compact soundbar makes more sense than trying to fit and install speakers. It can fit perfectly underneath your TV on a shelf without you having to worry about space constraints.
How To Choose A Soundbar
Before purchasing a soundbar, you should consider these points to make the best buy:
- You have to ensure that you purchase an active soundbar instead of a passive one. A passive soundbar needs external amplification, such as via an AV receiver, which is more of a mission to set up. Active soundbars, by comparison, don’t need separate receivers – they are a plug-and-play option that gets connected directly into your TV. However, make sure your soundbar supports HDMI ARC so it can plug into your TV via the HDMI ARC port. As a bonus, this enables you to adjust the soundbar and TV volume with one remote control.
- Make sure you purchase a three-channel soundbar. It will have three separated drivers in it, for the centre, right, and left, and this allows for more immersive sound.
- Think about connectivity. Many soundbars on the market will be Bluetooth and/or Wi-Fi enabled. This means you’ll be able to stream music from your device and computer. It’s great for you if you want your soundbar to become like a stereo, but might not be something you need if you’re looking for a more basic home setup.
What About Sound Bases?
When looking for soundbars, you might have heard about sound bases. These are similar to soundbars in that they improve the audio your TV produces, but they have different size and power to offer.
Sound bases are shorter in width than soundbars and are very compact. They have a deeper design than soundbars, which means that they have more amplification and bigger bass drivers. This means you don’t need a subwoofer for them.
However, there are some drawbacks to consider when thinking about purchasing sound bases.
- Sound bases are not as widely available as soundbars, which is a result of soundbar technology that is making soundbars very versatile and popular.
- Another important thing to consider is that sound bases don’t do stereo sound, as well as soundbars, do. Since they’re larger, soundbars have speakers which are further apart, therefore achieving greater stereo channel separation. Therefore, your best bet is to go for a soundbar instead.
When To Choose Speakers
If you want greater flexibility when it comes to setting up your audio system at home, such as the ability to position speakers all over the room so you can get the best immersive experience, you should make use of speakers.
Here are other situations in which choosing speakers is a good idea:
- If you want to reduce sound distortion, choosing speakers is a good idea because the fact that they’re separate from each other and put in different places means that higher volumes won’t produce as much distortion.
- One of the biggest reasons to purchase speakers instead of soundbars is if you want to grow your home theatre system in the future, such as with additional speakers, and you want the flexibility to be able to do this across brands.
- You want to listen to music. If your priority is listening to music, choosing speakers is a better bet than a soundbar. They produce a more immersive experience because of how the sound comes from individual speakers that are placed around the room, which means you’ll feel surrounded by the music you’re listening to.
How To Choose Speakers
When shopping for speakers for your home theatre system, consider these important tips:
- When setting up your home theatre system, make sure you buy your speakers first. This is because the type of speaker you choose will enable you to choose the best receiver. Basically, large speakers require a lot of power while smaller speakers need less.
- Consider how many speakers you want. The more speakers you want to have in your home theatre system, the more channels you’ll need on your receiver, so that’s also something to consider when shopping for speakers.
- Get speakers that make use of the latest technology. Dolby Atmos is a prime example of such technology that will take your speaker quality to the next level, and it will make the sound from your speakers much more immersive.
- Think about how many speakers you want. It’s worth knowing that a traditional home theatre system will have the following speakers: left and right speakers, a centre speaker, two back left and right speakers, and a subwoofer.
- Knock it with your knuckles before you buy it. While this might sound strange, it will help you to determine the quality of the speakers. When you knock the speaker, it should feel solid. A speaker with a thick, strong cabinet will give you a solid sound that will reduce unwanted sound disruptions.
- How much power do you (really) need? Generally, larger speakers produce higher volumes, more bass, and better dynamics. But think about if you need to play your music at a high volume. If not, then these speakers will be a waste.
Why are subwoofers important?
Subwoofers help to smooth out the bass in music and also amplify low-end frequencies so you won’t miss a thing.
What does Dolby Atmos do?
Dolby Atmos is an audio format that distributes sound in a room in a way that makes it much more immersive.
If you want to improve your home’s sound system, you’ll have to choose between having speakers or a soundbar.
In this article, we’ve looked at the soundbar vs speakers debate to help you decide which one is best for your home setup and audio needs, analysing their advantages, features, and what you should look for when shopping for soundbars or speakers.
While soundbars are more compact, they don’t offer the same quality of sound as you’ll achieve with speakers.
However, speakers can be a bit more complicated to set up.