Common beliefs might lead you to think that soundbars and surround-sound systems are just different names for big and loud.
Well, be ready to change your mind.
There are many components and features to each. We could write a thesis on how to compare the sounds that a soundbar and surround systems reproduce.
We deal with speakers all the time.
Consequently, this article is more than only practical information to understand how the sounds around us are reproduced.
You will know what to look for next time you buy a speaker. After going through our checklist, you’ll be able to weigh the characteristics of each sound system and make an informed decision.
We want to share with you a how-to guide that comes in handy when it’s time to decide which kind of device is the best for your home setup.
Comparing Sound Bars And Surround-sound Systems: What Am I Looking At?
1. Power check
The power of your speaker is rated in watts. These will let you know how much volume the speaker can produce.
Since we measure volume in dB[Resource], then there’s a simple rule to follow when comparing the watts a soundbar or a surround system may offer.
10 watts = 10 dB
100 watts = 20dB
The more watts, or power, the louder your party.
If you’re looking for a system that will make your neighbors call the police, then you’ll find more wattage in surround systems. The reason behind it is the size. Larger and less-integrated systems offer more power.
2. Compare Sensitivity
Just like in life, power and sensitivity are well interconnected.
The sensitivity of your loudspeaker is how efficient it is when it transforms the power into sound.
When we talk about power, we refer to the SPL (Sound Pressure Level). This is how much volume the speaker produces.
The sensitivity rate of your sound system is the relationship between the sound output (dB) and the power (watts).
To measure the sensitivity, you need to check how much power (watts) is required to produce a certain amount of volume (dB). An efficient system is one that needs less power to reproduce more sound.
3. Demythify Impedance
Impedance is fundamentally the measurement of how a speaker reacts. To some extent, the speaker resists the electrical current it receives.
In English: Impedance tells you how much it takes to power the speaker.
Although the less impedance, the higher the efficiency, we should worry less about this aspect.
Unless you are increasing your volume at the maximum level and keeping it there, the impedance of your system should fall into the category of secondary features. Well, a good soundbar for gaming will have these capabilities crafted at its best possible level as 3D sound is the key to your next-level gaming experience.
4. Frequencies speak of details
The range of frequencies your loudspeaker can produce will determine the acoustic experience you have.
Frequencies are measured in Hertz (Hz), and they let you know the range of sounds your speaker can reproduce. If your speaker has a wide range, the more detailed the acoustics you’ll receive.
Why is frequency important?
The clarity of the sound comes from the mix of high, low, and mid frequencies. If your speaker is able to reproduce more frequencies, the acoustics will be more similar to the original sound.
Some Other Things You Might Like To Consider
Just like everything in life, soundbars and surround systems have both positive and negative aspects.
We’ve taken the liberty of putting together a list of advantages so you can compare the positive aspects of each sound system.
This will be particularly useful when it’s time to decide. The features of one may be more fitted to your requirements than the characteristics of the other.
Advantages of soundbars
- Soundbars are more compact. It makes them easier to transport, mount, place, and even move with them. Surround systems have more artifacts and cables, taking up more space. And yeah, if you’re living in an apartment and looking for a piece of best-fit sound equipment then soundbars should be your definite bet.
- Setting up a soundbar tends to be a couple of steps. There’s a minimum amount of wiring, and the placing of the device is pretty straightforward. When it comes to home theater systems, there are more wires involved. You also need to think of the positioning of the different speakers that make up the surround system.
- The price. Soundbars tend to be more affordable than complete surround systems.
Advantages of surround systems
- The ability to connect to everything. Because of the size and the intended functions of the surround systems, they allow more connections. You’ll have a more extensive range of options when it comes to setting up your system and even adding extra speakers if you wish to do so.
- Although soundbars can be good, the sound quality a surround system can offer will always be superior. The simple reality is that home-theater systems have more devices, each one dedicated to producing certain sounds.
- The amount of speakers and amplifiers that can make up a surround system grants you the ability to place them where you see fit. As a result, the sound will be more customizable as you change positions and mix and match different brands to build your system.
1. What’s better, a soundbar or home theater?
The answer to this question will depend solely on the dimension and location of the space you’ll be placing your speaker.
Soundbars can deliver excellent sound quality, but if you’re looking to fill a spacious room, surround systems will have more power to fulfill the task.
However, if you’re looking to boost the acoustics of your bedroom’s TV or PC, then a soundbar could be enough to get the job done.
2. Can a soundbar have surround sound?
Soundbars can be the base structure for creating your own surround system. Some soundbars come with an external subwoofer. If you pair rear speakers with them, you can get a home-theater system.
Even if single-piece soundbars don’t have external speakers for a more immersive experience, they can mimic the sensation of a surround system. Depending on the soundbar’s design, it could possess formats that produce what it’s known as Virtual 3D sound.
3. Is 5.1 or 2.1 surround sound better?
2.1 sound is produced by dual speakers and a subwoofer for the low frequencies. 5.1 sound systems have 5 channels, most times separated in independent speakers, to produce an enclosing acoustic experience. 5.1 will always offer more acoustic clarity and deeper sounds.
Which one are you getting?
We told you so.
Comparing sound bars and surround systems can be like trying to choose between wine and beer. It’ll boil down to the kind of dinner you’re having and the expectations that come with it.
If you’re still indecisive about which is the best for you, here’s some piece of advice.
Soundbars will always be an upgrade from the built-in speakers of your TV or PC. If you’re looking for a simple enhancement, soundbars are your thing, especially if the dimensions of your room are smaller.
If you want to throw a few parties and are ready to turn your living room into a cinematic experience, then you’ll definitely want to look for a surround system for your home.