Which is best for your audio setup? – WAVY.com

Comparison of soundbars and speaker systems

Have you ever found yourself frantically reaching for the remote to lower the volume? This usually happens when a TV show or movie changes from dialogue to music. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence for home viewers using their built-in speakers. Although built-in speaker technology has improved over the years, the speakers still often point down and away from the viewer, making dialogue difficult to understand, even at high volumes.

Fortunately, a solid soundbar or surround sound system can eliminate sudden volume changes and transform your listening experience. While soundbars and speaker systems offer premium sound, the main difference between the two is that soundbars are all-in-one speakers and surround sound systems include several individual loudspeakers. Here’s how to choose the right soundbar or speaker for your budget and space.

Is a soundbar worth it?

The soundbar was designed for customers who wanted a clutter-free entertainment setup in their home. Specifically, those who wanted an ultra-thin TV and great sound without a wired speaker system. Thanks to the soundbar, people can now listen to music and movies at home, regardless of the size of their space.

A soundbar is a hybrid between a compact built-in speaker and a large surround sound system. Soundbars take all the tweeters, subwoofers and drivers normally found in a surround sound system and combine them into an individual “bar”. Many soundbars today are wireless, making them the go-to choice for those interested in a simple sound solution.

Like all speakers, soundbars come in a wide price range, with some high-end models costing well over $1,000. The cost depends on the brand, features and connectivity options. However, you can get an affordable, good-quality soundbar for as little as $120.

Advantages of the soundbar

sound bars are more economical than speaker systems. And they don’t require advanced audio knowledge for installation and operation. Unlike surround sound systems, soundbars are completely self-contained and do not require additional products such as speaker cables and receivers. This makes them ideal for small rooms.

One of the most appealing features of modern soundbars is their versatility. Most offer built-in access to streaming services via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, so you can listen to your favorite tunes

when the TV is not in use. Plus, Wi-Fi capability makes linking them to other speakers in your home a snap.

The disadvantages of the soundbar

Stand-alone soundbars save space, but they can’t produce the same sound quality as a surround sound system. Even a basic speaker system with a subwoofer can outperform a soundbar. Similarly, soundbars aren’t as well-suited to large, open spaces.

Finally, soundbars don’t offer as many sound customization options as speaker systems, limiting your ability to focus on your favorite EQ.

Best soundbar

Samsung HW-S60A All-in-One Soundbar

What do you want to know: This premium all-in-one soundbar features two built-in woofers and a tweeter, so you can pump out big sound for less.

What you will love: The Samsung HW-S60A is packed with handy technologies like voice control, Wi-Fi connectivity, Bluetooth, and HDMI. The HW-S60A is designed to fill the room with immersive 3D sound without taking up much space. This soundbar features a meticulously placed center speaker that works with the side horn to produce crystal-clear dialogue amidst disruptive background sound.

What you should consider: Although the HS-S60A offers better bass than most all-in-one soundbars, it still lacks the thundering bass found in a surround sound system.

Or buy: Sold by Amazon

Is a speaker system worth it?

Any true audiophile will tell you that surround sound speaker system is the only way to go if you want immersive, studio-quality sound. With a receiver-based system, you have full control over your sound and dedicated settings for everything from bass and treble to mids and treble.

Unlike a soundbar, speaker systems divide multi-channel audio into individual speakers. The end result is a three-dimensional soundscape that brings you inside what you’re listening to. This amplifies dialogue without sounding artificial and enhances vital background effects, such as explosions, chase scenes, and crowd noises.

Advantages of the speaker system

Speaker systems can fill a room of any size with meticulously crafted layers of sound. Improved bass depth and dialog clarity are just the beginning of what a speaker system can offer.

Harman Kardon Sound Sticks

If you’re willing to invest in your setup, you can also get speaker systems that look like works of art, like the Bang & Olufsen Beosound 1 multi-room speakers or the Harman Kardon Sound Sticks.

Disadvantages of the speaker system

Even simple two-speaker systems are expensive, and high-quality home theaters can cost thousands of dollars. And they often need expert assistance to get set up.

Speaker systems often sacrifice style for performance, so you may have to deal with potentially intrusive large speakers for a complete system. In addition, the large number of speakers required to equip a 5.1 channel system makes them bulky and difficult to decorate.

Best speaker system

Fluance Elite High Definition Speaker System

Fluance Elite High Definition Speaker System

What do you want to know: The Fluance Elite speaker system is ideal for those making their first foray into high definition surround sound systems.

What you will love: The Fluance Elite speaker system delivers premium dynamic sound through its dual tower speakers, dual rear shelf speakers, and center speaker. It can handle high-end audio software such as Dolby Surround to optimize performance at any volume. This system is also available in a variety of beautiful finishes such as natural walnut and black ash, so they fit easily into your space. To top it off, the Fluance Elite is backed by a lifetime warranty on parts and labor.

What you should consider: The Fluance package doesn’t come with a dedicated AV receiver or subwoofer, adding to the cost of completing the system.

Or buy: Sold by Amazon

Should you get a soundbar or a speaker system?

If you’re looking to do your first audio upgrade, a quality soundbar won’t fail you. Soundbars are designed for ease of use, maximum value for money and versatility. For this reason, they are ideal for people looking for a simple, everyday solution.

On the other hand, if you have the interest and are lucky enough to have the space and the budget, you can’t beat the sound of a full speaker system. Many find the complexity and sophistication of a high definition system intriguing and make a hobby out of purchasing it.

In the end, what matters most is deciding your level of involvement in installing, using, and maintaining your audio upgrade.

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William Briskin written for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their buying decisions, saving them time and money.

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