The soundbar is a home cinema product that is becoming increasingly popular. Almost all major manufacturers have included several soundbar systems in their range that fit perfectly with the TVs of the brand and that save space without sacrificing quality. But, exactly what is a soundbar and what are important points that you should take into account before buying one?
What is a soundbar?
A soundbar (also written as a sound bar) is a slim speaker that can provide a wide sound field through the integration of a few small speakers. The soundbar is generally developed for and used in combination with a flat screen TV. Manufacturers often adjust their design to the design of their own flat screen TVs. The soundbar can be placed under the TV, but can also be mounted on the wall with the right accessories.
Types of soud bars
Sound bars come in different shapes and sizes. You have sound bars of 50 cm in width and sound bars of one meter wide. In addition, there are sound bars in various configurations. So you have sound bars that offer Virtual Surround. This means that the soundbar itself provides surround sound, without having to place speakers in the back of the room. Another type of soundbar is the Full Surround soundbar. With sound bars of this type, extra speakers are still needed in the back of the room and a subwoofer is also required. The soundbar takes on the pure task of the front speakers and the center speaker.
You also have active and passive sound bars. The active version has its own amplifier (and / or receiver) and often also has a built-in Blu-ray or DVD player. You can also connect external equipment such as a set-top box or a game console to this. This can be seen as an all-in-one system since you are completely ready with this set in terms of audio and image reproduction. The passive variant must be connected to an external receiver or amplifier. Passive sound bars are often combined with multiple speakers, especially for the surround effect. The soundbar itself then takes care of the audio reproduction of the left, right and center speaker.
Since 2013 there are also variants that are not placed in front of the TV but can be placed under a TV. These systems are designated differently by each manufacturer. Some call it a Sound Plate or a Base Speaker, others call it a Speaker Plate. However, the principle is the same; a sturdy and flat speaker on which you can place a TV. The speaker contains everything you need, sometimes even a Blu-ray player, and is therefore actually a standard for your TV with integrated speakers. Read more about the difference between a soundbar and a SoundPlate or SoundStand .
Advantage of the soundbar
The big advantage of the soundbar is of course that it saves space, since several speakers that normally have to be placed separately are now in one housing. You do not have to lay extra cables to other speakers and you have a single beautiful speaker that can be placed under or near the TV. It also saves you costs since you have to place fewer speakers.
Downside of the soundbar
Yet such a system is not all beneficial. If you are looking for a real surround experience, a soundbar will quickly disappoint. You have systems in which physical speakers are added to the rear and this significantly improves the surround experience compared to stand-alone soundbar systems. Still, many people opt for the latter option as you do not have to install extra speakers and run cables.
Manufacturers often claim that these stand-alone systems provide a realistic surround experience from this one speaker. This works through a special placement of the speakers in the housing and the sound is reflected in the room. Unfortunately, the surround effect with these soundbar systems is minimal and certainly not comparable with systems where speakers are actually placed behind the listening position. The minimal surround effect that can be achieved depends on the shape of the room and obstructions the audio may encounter. This is therefore far from optimal.
It is also important to pay attention to the bass reproduction of the speaker. When the soundbar is delivered without a subwoofer, chances are that the really deep tones are missing in the sound. An external subwoofer or a system with accompanying subwoofer is then desirable. In addition, it is important that you take into account the limited number of connection options of a soundbar system.
When to buy a soundbar?
A soundbar is no substitute for a physical 5.1 or 7.1 home cinema system and is especially suitable for those who want to improve the sound that the TV produces, have a smaller budget and have a small room. In addition, the speaker is interesting when the surround effect is not a must for you and you simply want a better sound than you have now. Although it does not achieve the quality of a full surround system, the size and convenience makes the speaker ideal for smaller rooms. If you want the real surround experience when watching movies and your budget is slightly larger, a full 5.1 or 7.1 home cinema system is recommended. As always, it is wise to listen to a speaker before purchasing.