A good audio system can completely change the way you watch movies or listen to songs.
Home Theaters are the go-to audio systems for true surround sound, but Soundbars claim to offer the same surround effect with just a bar and subwoofer.
So, for a better audio experience, should you get an older and more reliable Home Theater system or an easy-to-install Soundbar?
Let’s find it out in the Soundbar vs Home Theater comparison.
Do Home Theaters have good sound?
The sound quality of a home theater depends on its type. So let’s talk one by one.
⦿ Basic Home Theater (2.1) System: It’s an audio system that has two channels (speakers) and one subwoofer. You can place one speaker in one corner and the second speaker in another corner.
The sound quality from this system will be great, but with no surround effect. It means the audio will come only from the left or right speaker, even if any person is talking from behind in a movie scene.
If you buy a 2.1 system from a reputed brand, you will be impressed with the audio output because such brands provide enjoyable audio quality. However, you should not expect too much from such audio system.
⦿ 4.1 Channel Home Theater: It’s the best value-for-money audio system. Because you have two extra channels, you can place them behind your sitting place and experience the surround sound.
Now if someone talks from behind in any scene, you will feel that someone is right behind you. It’s a next-level experience.
Such Home Theaters don’t cost too much but still deliver a surround sound effect. Sony SA-D40 4.1 is an excellent 4.1 speaker.
For an even better experience, you can get the 7.1 Home theater system, but we think 4.1 maintains a balance of all factors like cost, sound, and convenience.
⦿ Proper Home Theater System: A proper Home Theater System can have 5.1, 7.1, 9.1, or even more channels.
But remember, to manage these many channels, you will need an AVR (Audio Video Receiver), which is expensive. Later you have to buy channels (speakers) separately, which increases the cost further.
But when you have more channels, you can place them in the ceiling, and the audio experience you will get is on another level. Such a setup will give the best audio experience.
You can hear the sound coming from every direction. It takes the audio experience to another level and makes the whole experience immersive.
So overall, what we were trying to say is that Home Theaters sound amazing. Just make sure to get a proper system that meets your requirements.
Problem with Home Theaters
The biggest problem with a proper home theater system is its installation.
It’s manageable up to a 4.1 system, but beyond that, it’s not that easy to manage because a lot of wiring needs to be done.
Further, if you want an Atmos surround sound effect, you will have to install channels in the ceiling, which requires an expert.
Also, it’s a fixed set-up. So if you decide to move your TV from one location to another, then the whole wiring needs to be done again.
So we advise you to plan everything before installing a proper Home Theater set-up.
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Do soundbars have good sound?
Soundbars have evolved a lot with time. Now the Soundbars have become so good that you can get your desired sound quality from them. Even the budget soundbars are getting improved with time.
In Soundbars, all the channels are placed in one bar, so the sound will feel coming from the front.
However, there are a lot of Soundbars that create the illusion of a surround effect.
Well, half of the total channels are tilted at a particular angle. For example, if a Soundbar has four channels, then two will be tilted at an angle of 45°.
Now the sound waves from these channels will hit the ceiling, then reach you. In a small room, these sound waves hit the wall behind you after hitting the ceiling.
It will give you the illusion that the sound is coming from up or behind. So that’s how these Soundbars create an illusion of surround sound.
However, the surround effect is not as good as Home Theaters because Home Theaters have dedicated channels sitting in the back.
To overcome this, some soundbars, like Sony HT-S20R, provide an extra pair of wireless speakers that you can place behind you to get a better surround effect.
Now you might be wondering, how is the actual sound quality on Soundbars?
If you buy a good quality sound bar with a subwoofer, then it can deliver impressive sound quality. The clarity and bass will put a smile on your face.
This experience is further enhanced if any Soundbar has extra speakers to put behind.
Overall, the sound quality on the Soundbars is just impressive. You can know more about Soundbars here.
Problem with Soundbars
Soundbars solve the biggest problem of Home Theaters. Just put a Soundbar near the TV, connect it, and that’s it. You don’t have to mess around with wires.
Even if a Soundbar has extra speakers, they will connect wirelessly to the Soundbar.
But the problem with Soundbars is the price. Yes, there are a lot of inexpensive Soundbars that sound really good, but when it comes to true Atmos sound effects, you have to spend a lot.
Soundbars like JBL Bar 1000 Pro (7.1.4) are true Dolby Atmos supported and deliver mind-blowing sound quality. But it costs more than one lakh, which is very expensive.
For a true audio experience, you have to spend a lot, but inexpensive soundbars also deliver great sound quality, so you can pick any of them and save money.
Pros and Cons of a Home Theater
- These are unmatched for pure sound quality.
- Watching movies is a mind-blowing experience in a proper Home Theater.
- You can get a surround effect even on a budget Home Theater system.
- You can decide how many channels you want on a system.
- If you have a dedicated room just for watching, then these make more sense.
- Installing a proper Home Theater system requires a lot of wiring.
- Even on 4.1 systems, you have to deal with wires.
- When fixed in walls or ceilings, you can’t change the positions of the channels.
Pros and Cons of a Soundbar
- Compared to a Home Theater, these are super easy to install.
- Not as good as Home Theaters, but still, the Soundbars sound amazing if chosen wisely.
- These are the best options for the majority of users.
- Some Soundbars come with external speakers, creating a surround effect.
- You can move a Soundbar from one place to another easily.
- For a true Dolby Atmos surround sound, you need to spend a lot.
- Some budget Soundbars don’t sound good, so you have to choose wisely.
Soundbar vs Home Theater, which is best?
Till now, we know that Home Theaters deliver better sound quality, but that doesn’t mean Soundbars are inferior.
What we have noticed so far is that the difference between the audio output of a Soundbar and a Home Theater is not significant for most users.
For those who are not concerned much about the surround effect and simply want to enjoy the audio, the Soundbars make more sense. As many users prefer bass, Soundbar with a Subwoofer can fulfill those needs too.
Home Theaters, on the other hand, are specifically for those who want a top-class audio system and have a dedicated room or hall for that.
The final audio output is better on Home Theaters, but still, we would pick the soundbars.
Because whatever Soundbars deliver is more than expected for most users. Also, managing it is super easy. You will be happy with a Soundbar by the end.
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Which is best for surround sound?
For pure surround sound, Home Theaters are better than any Soundbar.
If the cons of a Home Theater don’t matter to you, then you can simply go with a proper Home Theater system for a next-level audio experience.
Both Soundbar and Home Theater serve the same purpose but with a different approach.
Now the buying decision depends on the individual and his needs.
We prefer a Soundbar because of the convenience and sound quality, but you may prefer a Home Theater for even better sound.
Whichever audio system you pick, just be sure it fulfills all your requirements, and you don’t feel disappointed in the end.
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So this is the Soundbar vs Home Theater comparison. Do you agree or disagree with this comparison? Do let us know.
If you still have any doubts, feel free to ask us in the comment section. We would love to help you out.