The picture quality of today’s TV’s is nothing short of incredible. The speakers in your TV however, haven’t kept pace and may not offer enough power to fill your living room with sound. Soundbars and powered speakers are two of the most convenient options for improving your TV audio experience. However, each option comes with separate pros and cons.
Here is what you should know to decide between a soundbar or powered speakers for your living area.
What Are Powered Speakers?
Powered speakers contain an amplifier and require a power source. As with soundbars, powered speakers come in a variety of styles, including bookshelf speakers and floorstanding speakers.
You can connect powered speakers directly to your TV without needing a separate receiver, thanks to the built-in amplifier. One speaker contains the amplifier and connects to the second speaker with speaker wires. Powered speakers often include RCA analogue inputs for connecting a turntable or other piece of analog gear, and possibly bluetooth streaming options.
How About Soundbars?
Soundbars are all-in-one speaker systems. A soundbar is technically a set of powered speakers, as it includes one or more amplifiers. The design often resembles a long tube and can be mounted just below the TV.
Soundbars tend to provide superior audio compared to the small speakers found in a typical TV. They are also available in a variety of configurations. Some soundbars include just two speakers while others include two or more speakers and a subwoofer. For example, the Sonos ARC replicates the sound of a five-channel surround sound system by using a total of 11 drivers. It comes equipped with eight woofers and three tweeters.
Soundbar vs. Speakers: What Offers the Best Sound?
The quality of the sound depends on the quality of the speakers. You can find high-end soundbars that outperform powered speakers and vice versa. It also depends on the type of content you are listening to. Music is mixed in 2-channel stereo, whereas movies may have a multichannel audio track designed for surround sound.
Advantages of Using a Soundbar in Your Living Room
Soundbars are often easier to set up and configure. Instead of dealing with multiple speakers, you just need to find a spot for the soundbar below your TV. If your TV is mounted, you may be able to attach the soundbar to the brackets securing the TV to the wall.
Many soundbar packages also include a wireless subwoofer. This can be placed anywhere in the room, and can make watching movies with dynamic soundtracks much more exciting.
Soundbars are discreet. The slim design blends with your home decor. A soundbar also takes up less space. Instead of requiring floor space, you simply set it below the TV.
Premium Soundbars are also more likely to support the latest technologies, such as Dolby Atmos, Q-Symphony on Samsung TVs, or smart voice assistants like Alexa or Google Assistant.
Advantages of Using Powered Speakers in Your Living Room
The main advantage of powered speakers over a soundbar is the stereo imaging they can provide. While some soundbars do a great job of stereo imaging, generally, because all the speakers are together in the soundbar, it will not be as good as a pair of powered speakers that you can move around the room to get the sound just right.
Music lovers will love a powered speaker setup, as almost all music is mixed for a stereo 2-channel speaker system.
Powered speakers also have multiple connection options. You can connect your TV through an optical input, and also have a turntable connected through a built in phono preamp, and stream music wirelessly through bluetooth. It’s a nice option to be able to listen to music without having to turn the TV on.
Soundbar vs. Speakers: Which Should You Choose?
If you are mainly looking for a cinema like audio experience when watching shows or movies, a multi-channel soundbar with an included subwoofer is likely your best option, especially in the $500 or under budget range. Good options would be the Samsung 3.1 Channel HWT650 or the Sonos Beam.
If you listen to a lot of music, have other devices to connect, and prefer the wider stereo field, then you will be more happy with a pair of powered speakers. The Kanto YU4’s and YU6’s are great options that come in a variety of colours to blend in with your home decor.
If you have a larger budget (Over $1000) we wanted to point out some premium options for both soundbars and powered speakers.
The Sonos ARC is a premium soundbar that includes Dolby Atmos, and the ability to expand your system with other Sonos speakers and Subwoofer to create a 5.1.2 surround sound system (pictured above).
Samsung also has a 9.1.4 channel Dolby Atmos enabled system, the HWQ950T.
A comparably priced powered speaker system would be the Kanto TUK’s, which can be expanded with a wired subwoofer.
Do you have any questions about choosing a soundbar or speaker system for your living room? Contact us, we are happy to help!