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Soundbar Vs Surround Sound Systems: Is There A Difference?

Listener Hunt in Columbia, Tennessee wants to know whether there are disadvantages to soundbars when compared to traditional surround sound systems

Surround Sound

Hunt asked: What is the difference in sound quality between a sound bar, located under the TV, and the wireless surround sound systems I’ve seen on the market. Prices are similar, but the sound bar is much more convenient. Wondering what are the advantages/disadvantages of both.

Both soundbar and wireless surround sound systems are great sound devices but both have their pros and cons. Just as you mentioned, the soundbar is more convenient in terms of installation because it only requires a few wires, and a single sound system compared to a surround sound system that has multiples. The main two disadvantages are that the location of the soundbar can affect the sound quality and also it doesn’t produce complete surround sound for large environments.

With a surround sound system, you get a complete full range of sound  and have the control of where the sounds systems are placed throughout the room. Honestly, the appearance of certain surround sound systems give a theater-like appearance which can completely transform the feel of the room. The downfall with the system is that to ensure the best quality surround system, you would need a wired connection between the television and the speakers.  Also, the installation isn’t as easy as the soundbar.

Like always, trust your ears.

One more thing to consider is the type of room and its configuration. If the room is open and there aren’t corners to locate remote speakers in, you might find it better to use a soundbar simply because it’s like regular TV speakers on steroids. For many people, that actually makes the soundbar better, because it’s a more familiar sound, just louder and clearer. Yes, it will never produce true surround sound like a 5.1 speaker system will, but the convenience and the cost mean you shouldn’t rule out a sound bar.

Models such as the Bose units even have positional audio where they listen to the echoes of sound from around the room and determine what sort of delays they need to introduce to give you the illusion of surround sound. Like always, trust your ears. Go to a store that has both kinds of systems set up and give a listen.

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Written by Dave Graveline

Dave Graveline is the founder, Host & Executive Producer of "Into Tomorrow" in addition to being President of the Advanced Media Network".

Dave is also a trusted and familiar voice on many national commercials & narrations in addition to being an authority in consumer tech since 1994. He is also a former Police Officer and an FBI Certified Instructor.

Dave thrives on audience participation!

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