Soundbars Vs. Surround Sound Systems: Which is Better for You?

Soundbars Vs. Surround Sound Systems: Which is Better for You?


Who wouldn’t like watching a movie at home with theater-like experience and amazing sound quality on your TV? So, if you are looking for the best sound system speakers then you might be having this issue of choosing between the soundbar and surround sound. Why would you to the cinema if you have your own theater system at home.

But the problem is that not all of can afford those expensive sound systems. To make it easy for you, we have provided you a detailed comparison of sound bar vs. surround sound system in this article to make the right choice according to your preference, budget, and size of the room.

If you want the best sound quality from your TV then you have to make a decision between sound bars and surround sound. Yes, there are differences between these two sound speaker systems. But, first, you need to know what they actually are to decide which is better for you.

What is a sound bar?

A sound bar is a loudspeaker type which is a solid solution for your needs by audio projecting from a large enclosure. Having a very sleek slim design with more width than being tall, they can be easily placed in front of or near your TV and computer. The sound bar will produce a good quality audio that your TV with an HD display can’t on its own. The small inbuilt speakers of your flat screen TVs make it difficult to hear dialogues clearly. This is the reason why sounds bars also known as media bars were made to ace the sound quality of these skinny Televisions what we all have in our homes.

The aim of the soundbar is therefore to present a better sound experience that matches the life-like images of our TVs. The long, slim cabinet of a soundbar contains 2 or 3 speakers and can provide a surround sound or stereo system experience. Soundbars also have a subwoofer to produce deep bass, which makes film soundtracks and music more impressive. Almost all the sound bars at present are active or self-powered that is they have their in-built own amplifiers integrated.

Why you need a sound bar?

The most popular option to upgrade your TV that sucks in sound quality is to buy a soundbar. You need a sound bar because of the many reasons listed below:

1) Affordable

No matter how less your budget is, you can always buy a sound bar to enjoy the pleasure of high-quality sound. You can easily get a sound bar in less than 100 dollars and this makes them extremely affordable. They can be expensive depending on the brand and features it has, but you can find an affordable sound bar with many features, corresponding to your budget.

2) Easy setup and installation

Once you buy a sound bar, you would not worry about its installation as it is very easy to set up. It requires the minimal use of wires for set up. All you need to do is just plug in the power cable of the soundbar, and HDMI or 3.5mm optical cable in your TV's display then you are all set to experience a high-quality sound. Its easy installation is not at all time consuming and you can do it yourself in just a few minutes.

3) They take less space

The great advantage of buying a sound bar is that you don't need to move your things in order to place it. A sound bar having a slim design will take so less space, they can be placed in front of the TV or above on the shelf. Sound bar’s certain types can be used as a TV platform known as sound bases. You should put the soundbar in front of your TV if it has surround speakers or subwoofer. Most subwoofers are wireless usually with only the outlet source that allows a very easy installation and neat look.

4) Music players

The sound bars can also act as your music players. Most of the sound bars now have built-in Bluetooth that connects wirelessly with your phones. You can enjoy your favorite songs stored on smartphones with loud high-quality music. Furthermore, it works with several music apps. This is not it! Some soundbars are also equipped with a Wi-Fi feature for online music streaming. A few soundbars also include wireless acoustic systems such as Play-Fi that allows you to have a multi-room audio system to play music seamlessly throughout the house.

5) Practical

The sound bars are only affordable, they are very practical to use. Sound bars are a good replacement for your TV speakers allowing you to hear much clearer and louder. They occupy very less space as compared to the surround sound speakers. You save lots of space as sound bars can have a maximum of 3 attached elements. There's no mess and can be installed in any smaller room 13x12ft easily.

What is a surround sound system?

You may feel a small separation between the TV screen actions and the sound that comes to your ears. However, with the surround sound system, you can easily solve this problem. The surround system works by using multiple speakers each contributing to a different audio channel or an original recording component. It allows you to hear the full range of clear sounds by 360 ̊. A surround sound system will give you a theater experience at home. They come in sets which mean you require at least five speakers to have a full surround sound experience. Basically, the surround sound system consists of 5 speakers with a subwoofer for the thrashing bass. This gives it a configuration of 5.1 where 5 is the speaker numbers and 1 is for the additional subwoofer. If you add more speakers, the configuration of surround sound will change. e.g. 7.1 and more

You need two or three speakers in front and 2-3 speakers on your backside for a complete immersive surround sound experience. Audio signals are divided into several channels which make sound information to come out from different speakers. You need more speakers for a higher surround sound effect. The surround sound speakers will surely make your movie nights more fun and exciting.

Why you need a surround sound system?

There are so many reasons you would want to have a surround sound system. They give you that theater feels with rich and deep bass that is not possible with a soundbar. Surround Sound system is a great option for home entertainment.

1) Sound quality

When it comes to sound quality, nothing can beat a surround sound system. They come with separate large subwoofers providing you full bass. The system is so accurate that you not only hear the low-frequency sounds but also feel it. The speakers will be everywhere, in front of you, side and back, this will give a feeling like you are participating in the movie with all the action scenes and songs or sports. The sound will come to you from every angle. Watching normal TV shows or movies will give you an immersive experience. Surround system provides you with richer and better tones, bass and treble that can be adjusted according to your preference. The clarity of dialogue and songs is unbelievable. You can nearly hear every single instrument.

2) Ideal for big houses

If you have a big or house, then you definitely require more speakers for better sound. A sound bar is not powerful to deliver in a huge room with its small speakers which will give a poor sound quality. So, if you have a big spacious lounge or room, surround sound system will work perfectly and gives you a concert feel while listening to music.

3) Customization options

It doesn’t matter if a surround sound system is a bit expensive. You can always start from the front speakers. Buy front speakers and a receiver and install them in your room. When you have enough money, add a subwoofer and the back speakers. A good thing about the surround sound system is that it’s not necessary to have the speakers or components from the same brand or manufacturer. This is not the case with sound bars.

4) No more going to the cinema

If you love watching movies in cinemas, but don't like the experience of people chatting or moving around the screen creating lots of disturbance, then surround system will overcome all these problems. Having 5 to 6 speakers near, you hear sound from all angles just like cinema. It gives clear, loud, detailed and balanced sound. It is even better than the cinema because you can adjust the speakers according to you.

5) Ports option

If you have many devices that are to be connected via HDMI such as gamer consoles and you don't have many HMDI ports on your TV, then the receiver will become a useful hub for HDMI.

Soundbar vs. surround sound system: The comparison

If you still can’t make up your mind, refer to the comparison table below. So, you can see which sound system suits you better.


Things you need to consider when choosing between soundbar and surround system

#1- Sensitivity

Sensitivity is an important factor when it comes to buying speakers as sensitivity determines how loud the speakers would be. Choose the one with high sensitivity but requires less power to produce crystal clear loud sounds. We recommend you to buy speakers having a sensitivity of 92 dB for a great quality of sound.

#2- Impedance

    It is the electrical resistance that speakers have when the current is flowing. Impedance fluctuates because the speaker produces sounds at different frequencies. Speakers with low impedance need less power than speakers with high impedance but manufacturers publish a figure of impedance. 8 ohms is the standard impedance range, although some speakers handle a load of 4 ohms. Make sure this load matches your receiver.

    #3- Frequency response

      It is the frequency response that your ears hear. The audible frequency range for us is between 20 Hertz to 20 KiloHertz. Some low frequencies like 35 Hz below are just felt but not heard as they are not audible. The subwoofer is responsible for all these low-frequency tones. The highest frequency tells you how high the speakers can reach. If the frequency response is larger, then sound quality will be better too.

      #4- Power of speaker

        The power of the speaker, expressed in watts, tells you that how loud and powerful your speaker can be. If you have a big room or live a huge house, then it is recommended to buy speakers with more power. The sensitivity of the speaker also depends on its power. So, in order to attain a loud sound, you should buy a powerful speaker.

        Compare the two sound system devices in terms of

        • Sound quality

        When you talk about the sound quality of sound bar, it will deliver you clear and loud dialogues with deep bass producing a booming effect of sound towards you. They offer virtual surround sound as it mimics real sound by bouncing off the sound waves from your room walls and ceiling to give an impression that sound is coming from various directions. You might be surprised to note that these only create an illusion of surround sound and do not actually offer a complete surround sound system. They are ideal for watching your favorite TV shows and dramas where you need to concentrate much on dialogues.

        Now let’s talk about the sound quality of a surround sound system. The set of speakers, usually five, delivers you a very crisper clearer sound with every little detail in HD. Each and every sound will be heard with precise high pixel imaging. You will even hear the speeding of the car, gunshots, rustling of dry crumbled leaves etc. Each sound comes from the direction the action takes place on your TV screen. The bass is more powerful here as compared to sound bar. The sound is louder, words and voices are more understandable.

        The surround sound system is synchronized with the actions on the TV screen. If in a movie, a bird flies over the head, you will also hear the sound of its flapping wings from above. There are more drivers, tweeters, and woofers in surround system than in a soundbar. It is ideal for watching movies full of actions and adventures.

        • Sweet spot

        The whole 5.1 channel surround speaker system can maintain the accuracy of sound positioning throughout the sound spectrum. The sweet spot can be moved around your room when you have a surrounding sound system but not with a soundbar. A sound bar will create a specific sweet spot that can be adjusted. You have the freedom to adjust the angling and positioning of your speakers in the surround sound system, to any viewing or hearing position that you prefer or like.

        • Room size and setting

        The size and layout of your room are equally important when choosing between the two sound systems. If your room is open and also spacious with no separate corners with the walls being far from your TV, then the best option is a soundbar. Although a sound bar works best in smaller rooms of 12 by 13 feet or even smaller, making your TV sound loud and clear. Soundbars will project the sound in front of your TV at a central position or area.

        In addition, a sound bar is an excellent option if you are thinking of mounting the device on one of the walls. If you have a big room or lounge with defined wall corners, then a 5.1 surround system is a perfect choice. They can be installed in rooms that are 15 by 20 feet or even larger. Lastly, the subwoofer and speakers are placed at defined corners of the room to create a surround resonating sound effect.

        • Price

        The sound bars are much cheaper than the surround systems. They are really affordable starting at just $70. There are expensive sound bars in the market but a low-cost sound bar is also satisfactory for the creation of clear audio.  The surround sound systems are expensive and they start at $400.

        • Physical Design

        The sound bar is a single device with a slim sleek bar-like design with amplifier and speakers placed inside. They have steel or aluminum body with the front panel made of solid gorilla glass. Some also have a plastic body. For deep bass, the majority of the sound bars have a separate subwoofer. A surround system consists of multiple devices which include many speakers, a receiver (AV) and a subwoofer.

        Decide which one is right for you

        The choice of a sound device for your room depends on a number of factors. If you really want a theater-like an experience at your own home, then invest in a surround system to have a more immersive and realistic experience while watching movies. If you are looking to upgrade your TV's sound, so go for a sound bar as it is very affordable and have a sleek design. Buy a sound bar and take the TV watching experience to next level. It is definitely your individual preference.


        Many of you are a victim of bad sound quality of the TV, which needs more enhancements. Therefore, we believe that after reading the ‘sound bar vs. surround sound system’, you have finally made your mind to upgrade your TV.  So, what do you think which is better for you: a sound bar or surround sound speakers?


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