Ask an expert: should you get a sound bar or speakers?
The default audio purchase used to be a simple pair of bookshelf speakers and an amplifier. Today, there’s a new option available, the sound bar. Its design makes sense for odd shaped rooms or homes with limited space. But, is it the best option?
The question of whether to purchase loudspeakers or sound bar depends on a number of factors. There is not a one size fits all solution.
The benefits of sound bars are fairly obvious. If you’re looking to find a simple upgrade to the small speakers inside your flat panel, a sound bar will do the job. Since most sound bars come with subwoofers, they’ll have decent low end that would not otherwise be possible from TV speakers.
In addition, while sound bars are primarily designed as TV speakers, they may also have other features. Many sound bars come with the ability to receive a Bluetooth signal from your smartphone or tablet, which allows music to play through the sound bar. If this feature is appealing, than a sound bar may work well for you. On the downside, as new features hit the market, your sound bar could quickly become outdated.
Loudspeakers require a bit more of an investment. You’ll need to purchase a receiver as well as the speakers (unless you buy powered speakers). However, it is much easier to add or upgrade components without sacrificing your entire system. In addition, you will almost certainly get better sound and performance from loudspeakers than a sound bar. The further apart the speakers, the wider the sound stage. Sound bars are great because of the small footprint, but do not provide true stereo separation and imaging. Your left and right channels sound like they’re coming from the exact same place. The beauty of loudspeakers is that no matter your seating position in the room, you will feel immersed in the action or live music experience.
Ultimately, it comes down to a question of performance versus functionality. Sound bars tend to have more functionality, but they won’t provide the high fidelity performance of a traditional pair of loudspeakers.
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