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Soundbar or home theater, which is better?

Soundbar or home theater, which is better?

2022-12-14 18:58:00 461 20

The desire to get high-quality surround sound when watching movies or favorite TV shows for many users poses a dilemma - what to choose, a relatively new type of audio equipment - a soundbar or a time-tested home theater. To solve this question is called the presented comparative analysis of these devices.


Recently, audio technology has been developing in three directions in general. The first is to improve digital technologies to produce the purest possible sound with a minimum of nonlinear, frequency, phase and dynamic distortions. The second is the expansion of the functionality of the equipment. And finally, minimizing the size of the devices themselves and simplifying their management. The consequence of these trends in the development of audio technology was the emergence of sound projectors, the so-called "soundbars", as well as new models of multifunctional cinemas with stunning acoustics. These two types of device perform almost the same function – they improve the sound of the TV and make it spatial. That is why the question often arises, what is better soundbar or speaker system? In order for every buyer to give himself an answer to this question, you should consider the features and characteristics of these devices.

What is the soundbar for?

Initially, sound projectors were positioned as substitutes for standard speaker systems of LCD TVs, because it's no secret that even in premium TVs, the possibilities of standard acoustics are very limited. Therefore, the appearance of sound panels that are installed directly in front of the TV and give a better, and even surround sound is fully justified. The soundbar for the TV is a narrow long soundbar, in the body of which are built-in:

  • motherboard;
  • integrated audio decoder;
  • audio processor;
  • multi-channel amplifier;
  • equalizer;
  • balance sheet regulator;
  • FM tuner;
  • speakers - sound emitters, the number of which, depending on the class of equipment, may be different.

Modern soundbars are able to support all existing audio formats, reproduce sound in the widest possible frequency range and with sufficient power, demonstrating high sound quality. Many panels are equipped with a separate subwoofer. There are also soundbars with built-in amplified bass and without a separate subwoofer in the kit. This type of equipment is developing very quickly, you can even say, avalanche-like, embodying all the latest achievements in this area, implementing innovative technologies and turning from simple additions to TVs  into multifunction devices. Today, soundbars can work independently with support for mobile connections and external drives for listening to music, and in many respects even surpass home theaters.

The principle of operation of sound panels is based on the reflection of sound waves from the walls and ceiling of the room.


Each speaker built into the soundbar is positioned at a certain angle, which generally ensures that the sound is reflected and hit exactly to the listener. The result is an imitation of a multi-channel speaker system with high-quality surround sound. And the word "imitation" has a key meaning. The fact is that in small rooms of regular shape, the spatial sound from these two devices is absolutely identical. In this case, the advantages are on the side of soundbars, because they are compact, which means that they save space and, thanks to their stylish design, are suitable for any interior. Such premises are, for example, small living rooms in apartments, kitchen-studios, bedrooms, children's rooms.

As the area of the premises where the film or other video content is viewed increases, the quality of the surround sound of the soundbar decreases somewhat. In these cases, it is better to stop the choice at home theaters.

Features of home theater

Unlike soundbars, home theaters are entire systems of devices. They include playersAV-receivers, subwoofers, as well as acoustic speakers, which, depending on the model of the DC, can be 5 or more. All acoustics are systematically placed around the perimeter of the room to provide real surround sound - as in a cinema.

Previously, when there was no alternative to home theaters, fans of high-quality sound installed them even in small rooms. Huge audio equipment looked awkward there, and of course, never adds comfort. Today, fans of surround sound are given the opportunity to replace this equipment with compact sound panels. And absolutely without loss of sound quality. And home theaters should be used for their intended purpose - in specially equipped rooms.


Today, home theater systems are chosen for spacious cinema rooms equipped in country houses, where high power, causing the walls to shake, gives a lot of pleasure and does not interfere with neighbors. They are in demand by music lovers who set themselves the goal of obtaining sound of the highest quality, both when listening to rock music and a concert of symphonic music.

Today, each of the devices has occupied its own niche. If the task is to improve the sound quality of a TV installed in a small room and make surround sound, then here the advantages of the soundbar in the form of compactness and serious sound are obvious. And if you set a goal to create conditions at home for watching modern films and for this purpose a special room of impressive size is allocated, then your choice is a home theater system that will provide surround sound with all its subtle shades.

How to choose a soundbar?

When it is clear how and where to use the soundbar with maximum efficiency, the question may arise about the rules for choosing it. It's as simple as that. It is necessary to evaluate its power and other technical characteristics, functionality and a number of additional criteria. And then compare them with the tasks that the soundbar faces and the price of a particular model. The most effective ratio of these parameters will be the desired option.

It is easier to explain this on specific models of soundbars.

Denon DHT-S316 is an excellent and inexpensive soundbar with a wireless subwoofer.

The main advantages of this model, in addition to the price available to a wide range of consumers, include the sophistication of the soundbar with the possibility of mounting on the wall, a sufficiently high subwoofer power - 80 W and a truly theatrical sound, which is provided by dual mid-frequency drivers and especially accurate tweeters for high. Collectively, the sound is no different from the sound of a 5.1 home theater.

The device supports Dolby Digital and DTS formats. Use HDMI cable with eARC support to connect it. It is possible to connect other devices to it via an optical connector, as well as play music from a smartphone or tablet via a Bluetooth connection.

Polk Audio Magnifi Max SR - a model that includes, in addition to the soundbar, a separate subwoofer and two rear speakers, which makes it actually a home theater 5.1 with the appropriate quality of surround sound.


This soundbar stands out for its ease of setup, versatility and high communication capabilities. The subwoofer and satellite speakers are wireless. They automatically find each other and interact clearly and coherently. It is also easy for the system to find the incoming signal from the TV itself and the AV receiver. The high power of the subwoofer and satellite speakers - 400 and 60 W, so the possibility of fine tuning to create an impeccable sound picture, the abundance of functions and an acceptable price for this class of equipment bring this model to the best.

Polk Audio Magnifi Mini is a system with a wireless connection, which is a real godsend for limited space.

Underneath the rounded grid of this device are a 150W D-Class amplifier, two tweeters, and four high-frequency drivers that create a really big sound in a small package.

Functionality and communication capabilities are also impressive: the built-in surround sound decoder in Dolby Digital 5.1 format, the function of training remotes, Bluetooth and Google Cast. Wi-Fi, Internet radio, ARC feedback signal. And at the same time low price. Excellent choice!

Yamaha YSP-5600 is a premium panel, which with full confidence can be called a dream.

This soundbar delivers 7.1 sound with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support, reproduces crystal clear surround sound, and can compete with high-end home theaters. Its sound can be adjusted to the specific conditions of the room. It surrounds, envelops and creates the very effect of presence that fans of high-quality professional cinema, as well as music lovers, expect from modern equipment.

The undoubted advantages of the YSP-5600 include a wide range of features, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirPlay, four HDMI inputs, a multiroom Yamaha MusicCast. An additional active subwoofer can be connected to the soundbar via an RCA cable. As disadvantages, we can note a solid design, especially when using an external subwoofer and, of course, a high price.

As you can see, it is now quite possible to choose a soundbar with serious sound as an alternative to home theater. This is facilitated by a wide range of models, different functionality and different price segments, which for the most part are available to a wide range of buyers.