Soundbar vs Speakers For Music – Which Is Better?

Are you looking to improve your sound system to create a concert-style immersive experience at home?

Soundbars are ideal for listening to music for people who don’t mind a lower audio quality. However, if audio quality is non-negotiable, you are better off with a surround sound speaker system. Strategically placed speakers fill a room with sound better than a soundbar can.

With entertainment technology embracing space-saving designs, the audio quality of sound systems has been sacrificed to enable ultra-thin and slick TVs and sound stereos. This is why many people today need high-quality sound speaker sets or soundbars to compensate for the low audio quality of sleek and slim modern devices.

Here, we examine everything you need to know about a soundbar vs. speakers for music to upgrade and set up your home theater system correctly for the best sound experience.

Soundbars Vs. Speakers: What Are the Differences?

What Is A Soundbar?

A soundbar is a bar-shaped device containing speakers. This device is used in combination with a digital device such as a TV, tablet, MP3 player, smartphone, or PC to boost sound quality.

Soundbars have fewer wiring requirements, making them easier to install than surround sound speakers. These devices offer Bluetooth and Wi-Fi compatibility, making them easier to connect.

Most soundbars can connect to TVs via a High-Definition Multimedia Interface or HDMI cable. But, soundbars almost always come with one HDMI connection, which means you can connect, at most, one soundbar to your TV.

If audio quality is your priority, surround sound speakers offer better sound quality with more connection and upgrade options. You can also get the same connection features with surround sound speaker systems, provided you have the correct spec AV receiver.

Related article – Can You Hack A Bluetooth Speaker?

Black soundbar

What Is A Surround Sound Speaker?

A speaker is an electroacoustic transducer or a device that changes electrical audio signals into sound waves. You can use a speaker to boost the audio quality of a TV, public address system, and in some cases, PCs.

There are two main types of speaker systems available in the market:

  • Bookshelf Speakers
  • Floor-standing Speakers

The type of speaker you should get for your home depends on the audio quality you want and the space available in your home. Bookshelf speakers provide a cheaper, space-saving option instead of superior sound quality.

To install your speaker system to the digital device you’re using, you’ll need to wire each speaker to an AV receiver. Then you’ll need to connect the AV receiver to your digital device – e.g., TV.

Speakers are also very easy to upgrade. To begin with, you only need an AV receiver and two stereo speakers when setting up this audio system. Over time, you can add a center channel, subwoofer, and other speakers, enabling you to upgrade a 2.1 surround sound system to a 3.1, 5.1, and 7.1 audio system without much effort. 

Remember, as you upgrade your surround sound system, you’ll need to upgrade your AV receiver to handle all your channels.

Related article – Computer Speakers vs Studio Monitors

Black bookshelf speakers

How Do Soundbars Produce Sound?

Soundbars do not work in the same way as speaker systems. These devices contain multiple speaker drivers and electronics that power them. This construction enables soundbars to produce a sound effect when connected to a digital product such as a TV, without the need for an AV receiver.

While soundbars may seem like they produce a surround sound effect, this is not really the case. These devices bounce sound waves off the walls in your home to give a faux surround sound effect.

Due to advancements in technology, newer soundbar models are more effective at producing surround sound effects. However, for a genuine surround sound effect, nothing beats a proper surround sound speaker system.

How Do Surround Sound Speakers Produce Sound?

Speakers convert electrical energy (sound recording) into mechanical energy (sound wave or sound pressure level).

Electric currents that move through a wire coil induce a magnetic field. In speakers, this coil is known as the voice coil. It produces an electric field, which interacts with a permanent magnet’s magnetic field. This permanent magnet and the speaker are connected.

As the electric audio signal passes through the voice coil, the musical waveform oscillates, and the permanent magnet attached to the speaker attracts and repels the voice coil. This oscillation moves the voice coils on the speaker cone back and forth, creating pressure waves, which we perceive as sound.

Related article – How To Balance Bass And Treble

How Do Soundbars And Bookshelf Speakers Compare?

Bookshelf speakers are actually much superior to soundbars in terms of audio quality. What’s more, they cost much less than a traditional soundbar.

However, when watching movies, the opposite is true. Soundbars perform better because they anchor movie dialogue to the stereo image center, creating a consistent sound experience.

Related article – Best Bookshelf Speakers For Home Music

What Are The Best Soundbars Vs Speakers For Music?

Looking into getting a soundbar or speaker for your home? Here are just a few of our favorite soundbars vs. speakers recommendations based on our personal experience and testing:

SONOS BEAM SMART TV SOUNDBAR

  • Speaker Type: Soundbar
  • Connectivity Technology: Wireless
  • Recommended Use: TVs, Surround Sound Systems

The Sonos Beam provides a stylish and sleek sound option for watching TV, listening to music, and more.

This compact smart device is easy to install and produces a high-definition sound that fills the whole room, providing you with rich and detailed sound. Use the Sonos Beam to watch TV and movies, play music, listen to the radio, audiobooks, and podcasts, and play video games.

It comes with an easy control panel that works with your voice, the remote, or the Sonos app and supports full HD playback and video recording, depending on, among other factors, the host device and file attributes.

At a compact 25.6 inches, this is a stylish addition to your home theater system. You can add the Sonos Sub for additional bass and the Sonos One SL for surround sound, giving you an even more immersive sound experience.

SONY SOUNDBAR WITH WIRELESS SUBWOOFER

  • Speaker Type: Soundbar
  • Connectivity Technology: HDMI, Bluetooth
  • Recommended Uses: TVs, Surround Sound Systems, Tablets, Smartphones

This soundbar-subwoofer combo from Sony will take your home theater sound experience to the next level. It comes with a 320W total power output that delivers superior clarity and volume and a powerful subwoofer for a rich and deep bass sound.

There are seven convenient sound modes, including Cinema, Auto Sound, Games, Music, Sports, News, and Standard and Bluetooth streaming for the ultimate ease of operation and device compatibility.

In addition, the Sony Soundbar Audio System has voice enhancement capabilities, which means that it can isolate and amplify individual voices prioritizing their projection over background noise. This is especially useful when watching movies.

The in-built S-Force Pro Front Surround technology enables sound to project from all directions, providing a surround sound experience that immerses you into whatever movie you’re watching without the need for additional rear speakers.

The Sony 2.1 channel soundbar system is also easy to upgrade, as it comes with a wireless subwoofer for optimized audio.

BOSE SURROUND SOUND SPEAKERS

  • Speaker Type: Surround Sound
  • Connectivity Technology: Wireless, Bluetooth
  • Recommended Uses: TVs, Surround Sound Systems

Bose has long been a name of quality in the audio and sound systems industry. These speakers are some of the smallest available (4 inches tall), blending effortlessly into your home so you can focus on your movie or music and not your speakers.

These compact yet powerful speakers come with bass modules with an impressive wireless range of 30 feet.

Installation is a breeze; simply connect the adapters into a power source and then connect the receivers to the soundbar wirelessly for home entertainment in minutes.

The Bose Surround Sound Speakers offer an immersive surround sound on their own. However, for added sound quality, they are also compatible with Bose soundbars, including the Soundbar 500, Soundbar 700, and Sound Touch 300 soundbar.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Is Easier To Install – Soundbars vs Speakers?

Soundbars are easier to install than sound speakers and much cheaper to purchase. However, if audio quality is a priority, speaker systems give you more options and the chance to upgrade your sound system at a later date.

Is A Soundbar As Good As A Surround Sound System?

Although a soundbar provides a simulated surround effect, it only works for a small space. To get a better and more immersive experience in a larger room, you’ll need to add side and rear speakers to boost the sound quality.

Related article – How To Connect Additional Speakers To My Soundbar

Can You Use A Soundbar As The Only Speaker?

Yes, you certainly can. To use your soundbar as the main speaker, connect it to an AV receiver using an optical cable. Do this by connecting one end of the cable to the optical in-port on the soundbar device and the other end of the cable to the digital optical out-port on the AV receiver.

What Are The Four Main Types Of Speaker Systems?

The four types of speakers found include ceiling or in-wall speakers, traditional speakers, subwoofers, and soundbars. Each speaker system serves different applications and purposes and comes at various price points, with the most affordable being soundbars.

What Makes For A High-Quality Speaker?

A high-quality speaker recreates the audio quality of sound accurately without altering it. This is determined by how similar the pressure wave (or waveform in the air) is to the sound recording (or electronic signal) sent into the speaker’s amplifier. Higher-quality speakers have a more accurate frequency response, fewer distortion, and better sound dispersion or directionality.

Wooden bookshelf speaker

Soundbar Vs. Speakers – Which Should You Choose?

The decision of whether to get a soundbar vs. speakers for music lies purely with your personal preferences, space availability, design preferences, and usage requirements.

In a nutshell, soundbars provide high-quality and minimal sound quality solutions on a budget. They are also the better option when watching movies on a TV and excellent for minimal design requirements.

On the other hand, speakers provide a higher audio quality option, albeit at a higher cost. Bear in mind that even when choosing speaker systems, there are marked differences.

Floor-standing speakers have a higher capacity for higher frequencies and are more adaptable, but you’ll have to provide a great deal of space for them than bookshelf speaker systems.

Whichever you choose, make sure that you consider quality above all else; a high-quality soundbar or speaker set guarantees you years of enjoyment without needing a replacement. 

Hi, I am Jayden. I have a strong interest in the latest hearing electronics including headphones, earbuds, headsets and speakers. I love to research and write information about them on a part-time basis sharing some tips for beginners looking for the perfect device.