Do I Need Rear Speakers With a Soundbar? Is It Worth It?

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Many consumers want a full surround sound experience with a soundbar so naturally they are interested in buying rear speakers.

Rear speakers are often bundled with a soundbar and subwoofer but are not required to have a good listening experience.

In fact many opt to not buy rear speakers with their soundbars.

So the question becomes, do you need rear speakers with a soundbar?

Having rear speakers with a soundbar is optimal for pretty much any soundbar setup

Instead of bouncing sounds off walls like an all-in-one soundbar rear speakers will give you some level of surround sound and immerse you in the movie without distorting the audio before it reaches your ears.

Rear speakers fill up your room with more sound and replicate a surround sound experience much better than a single soundbar can.

However, you do not have to get rear speakers, in fact, if you want to skip ahead, I give my picks for the best soundbars without rear speakers later in this article.

With that being said if you are interested in rear speakers I will go into more detail about the best soundbar with rear speakers as well.

Rear speakers go together perfectly with a soundbar


Rear speakers add background noise and other sound effects that soundbars struggle to emulate.

They will make you feel more immersed in the film than a traditional soundbar.

Leaving out rear speakers means the only noticeable improvement over normal TV speakers is improved bass and dialogue clarity with the soundbar.

Personally, I recommend the Sonos Beam Gen 2 (amazon link), Sonos Sub mini and Sonos ones (rear speakers) for a solid surround sound system that doesn’t break the bank.

This is similar to what I use, as I have the Beam and two Era 100s, but no subwoofer as that will disturb my neighbors.

Although If you want to go even cheaper Vizio makes a great budget soundbar with the Vizio V series 5.1

This is the best budget surround sound experience you will get with a soundbar. You get a subwoofer, rear speakers, and soundbar for an insane price. Nothing on the market comes close to this for the price.

Budget Pick
VIZIO V-Series 5.1 Home Theater Sound Bar
  • Low-Profile Modern Design - Clean silhouettes, subtle textures, and matte finishes seamlessly blend into any environment.
  • Powerful Performance - Brilliant clarity, thunderous bass, and Dolby Audio and DTS Digital Surround support combine for performance beyond its size.
  • Simple Setup, Streaming & Control - Get setup and listening in minutes with HDMI ARC and Bluetooth connectivity for unparalleled ease of use, control, and access to your content.
  • 5.1-Channel Sound - Experience a powerful room-filling, surround sound experience.
  • 6 Total Speakers - Full-range drivers deliver coherent sound and brilliant clarity.
Best Value
JBL Bar 9.1 - Channel Soundbar System
  • 820W Output power
  • Built-in Dolby Atmos and DTS: X decoding
  • With detachable, battery powered surround speakers you can enjoy real surround sound without the wires
  • Experience deep bass with a 300W, 10" powered subwoofer
  • Ultra HD 4K Pass-through with Dolby Vision
  • Use the built-in calibration to ensure the best possible sound no matter what the room
Best Overall
Polk Audio MagniFi Max AX SR 7.1.2 Channel Sound Bar
  • A 7.1.2 CHANNEL SOUND BAR SYSTEM - The 2022 MagniFi Max AX SR includes Polk's flagship MagniFi Max Soundbar with 10" Wireless Sub and SR2 surround sound speakers, which together give you a room-filling sound in every corner, including over your head.Waterproof : No
  • A SUPER IMMERSIVE SOUND EXPERIENCE - MagniFi Max AX Soundbar features an 11-driver array with 2 up-firing drivers for virtual height effects, left/right tweeters & woofers & a dedicated center channel, delivering immersive sound & clear dialogues
  • CAPTIVATING SURROUND SOUND WITH POLK's PATENTED SDA 3D AUDIO TECHNOLOGY - This home theater system delivers certified Dolby Atmos and DTS:X cinematic surround sound with impactful bass & an expansive 3D soundstage for next-level music & movies experience
  • HEAR EVERY WORD CLEARLY - Polk's patented VoiceAdjust speech-clarifying technology works with MagniFi's integrated center channel speaker to bring up the voice levels without affecting the rest of the soundtrack. Enjoy clear dialogues and balanced audio
  • SOUNDBAR WITH SUBWOOFER SYSTEM - Includes a powerful plug-and-play 10" down-firing Wireless Subwoofer that connects instantly to the sound bar the moment you power it on. It delivers deep, effortless bass, at volume levels that are surprising for its size
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Why a soundbar without rear speakers is inferior

A soundbar will try to mimic overhead effects, surround sounds, and replicate a bunch of different sounds but it comes up short in comparison to having 2 additional dedicated speakers.

When making your purchase I recommend finding a bundle that will include the additional subwoofer and rear speakers to go with your soundbar.

Do not try to buy these by yourself and add to your current soundbar as it can produce mixed results.

I will discuss this more below.

How many rear speakers do you need with a soundbar?


Generally speaking, 2 rear speakers come with a soundbar bunlde.

However, do not try to add your own surround/rear speakers when you have a soundbar.

Unless the soundbar you bought comes with additional speakers I would stay away from it.

Some soundbars are meant to be standalone and do not come with a sub or speakers.

Also, rear speakers are not always compatible unless they are Sonos, which is why I recommend them.

Any Sonos speakers will pair with a Sonos soundbar which is why the company is so popular.

To my knowledge, the soundbar with the most additional speakers is the Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra which comes with 4 separate speakers with the soundbar.

What is the best position for rear speakers with a soundbar?


The best position for rear speakers is at ear level and slightly behind the listener at an angle.

Rear speakers can work with any room but they are considered not optimal for small rooms as having both of them close to each other can drown out the sound.

However, I have rear speakers in a small bedroom and its been no problem.

I would recommend using them as surround instead of rear if your seating position is up against a wall.

Place them somewhat parallel to your ears but slightly behind them.

Generally speaking, this will definitely be the optimal position if you are in a bedroom.

If you have space behind you, have them 2 feet above the listener’s ear and 6-10 feet behind the listener.

You can mount them on the wall or put them on a stand or anything really.

Avoid placing speakers in the corners as the sound can be louder but the sound quality is not as good.

Can you use a soundbar without other speakers?


You can absolutely use a soundbar without other speakers.

A lot of soundbars come with no speakers and have 5 channels built-in or 3.0, 2.0.

This basically means there are five speakers built into the soundbar, whatever number corresponds is how many speakers/drivers it has.

Your best bet is a 5.0 soundbar which will try to mimic some level of surround sound and usually has a built-in subwoofer.

These soundbars often have side-firing and up-firing drivers that attempt to play Dolby Atmos content, which is good being that most movies utilize Atmos.

A great soundbar that fits this bill is the JBL Multi-Beam

This is a perfectly fine option if you do not want to deal with the additional rear speakers which will take up space.

One of the biggest perks of a soundbar is its sleek design and easy storage in your home, it can go in pretty much any room and it is not an eye sore.

Best Soundbars without rear speakers

Here are the top 3 soundbars I know of that are great even without any rear speakers.

I am biased towards the Sonos Beam (amazon link) as I own one but I truly believe it is the best soundbar for the price and for most living situations.

It works great in small to medium-sized rooms.

You can also add rear speakers or a subwoofer at any time which cannot be said for most brands. This was huge for me as I chose to get two Sonos-era 100s (amazon link) a couple of months after buying the beam.

Most soundbars you have to purchase the rear speakers with the soundbar.

The JBL Bar 5.0 (amazon affiliate link) is another great soundbar especially when it comes to bass, it can produce 250 watts.

My Pick
Sonos Beam Gen 2 - Black - Soundbar with Dolby Atmos
  • Enjoy vibrant bass, crystal clear dialogue, and a panoramic soundstage.
  • Experience a 3D surround sound effect with Dolby Atmos.
  • Stream music, radio, podcasts, and audiobooks from all your favorite services when the TV is off.
  • Control with the Sonos app, your TV remote, Apple AirPlay 2, and your voice using Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
  • Breeze through setup with only two cables, step-by-step guidance from the Sonos app, and smart Trueplay tuning. Easily expand your Sonos system over time to enjoy true surround sound and multi-room listening. Everything connects over WiFi.
Budget Pick
SAMSUNG HW-S60B 3.1ch Soundbar
  • DOLBY ATMOS / DTS Virtual:X: Elevate your favorite content; Dolby Atmos creates realistic 3D sound by projecting it from all around you, including from above, while DTS Virtual: X expands your listening experience without having to add extra speakers*
  • TRUE 3.1ch SOUND: Enjoy a cinematic audio experience, with 3 channels, 1 subwoofer and 2 up-firing channels combined to put you at the center of the action
  • Q-SYMPHONY: Perfectly synchronized, fully immersive audio floods your room all at once, using every speaker in compatible Samsung TV and soundbars**
  • ADAPTIVE SOUND: Enjoy dynamically optimized audio with enhanced voice clarity so you can follow along with action-packed games and blockbuster films
  • GAME MODE: Optimize your gaming experience with synced, directional audio that moves with the onscreen action and eliminates distractions***
  • BLUETOOTH MULTI-CONNECTION: Connect two smart devices simultaneously and share the sound tower with ease; No more jumping back and forth, just deciding what’s next*****
Best Bass
JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam
  • Achieve enhanced sound compared to your display's speakers with the JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam 250W Virtual 5-Channel Soundbar. It delivers up to 250W of power to deliver room-filling audio. Wi-Fi connectivity is onboard with support for Apple AirPlay 2 and Chromecast built-in audio streaming. Bluetooth is also built into the soundbar for wireless audio streaming from compatible devices such as smartphones and tablets.
  • The Bar 5.0 MultiBeam is equipped for wired connectivity as well, with HDMI, optical, and USB inputs. The HDMI output is eARC-compatible, so compatible TVs will require just one cable to connect; to expedite setup, the soundbar system includes an HDMI cable. In addition to tabletop placement, the soundbar can be wall mounted with the included hardware.
  • Built-in virtual Dolby Atmos helps provide an immersive and exciting 3D sound experience, while JBL MultiBeam technology creates a wide soundstage by projecting sound to every corner of the room, so you'll hear every detail from your favorite music, movies, TV series, and games without the need for multiple speakers. Four built-in passive radiators help enhance and intensify the bass to provide a dynamic audio experience.
  • With AirPlay 2, Alexa Multi-Room Music, and Chromecast built-in, you can stream all your favorite online content in enhanced sound quality with a simple finger tap. Chromecast and Alexa MRM enable you to create a multiroom setup, so you can listen to the same music in every room or different music in each room. Coupled with Dolby Vision HDR and 4K UHD pass-through, you will enjoy pristine audio quality to match your video.
  • What's in the box: 1x Soundbar, Remote control, Power cords (up to 8pcs depending on region SKUs), 1x HDMI cable, 2 x L-shape Wall-mount bracket with screws, Quick start guide, Warranty card, Safety sheet.
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Although all-in-one soundbars are a good upgrade over traditional TV speakers they fail in comparison to a dedicated 5.1 soundbar setup.

Having a good quality soundbar with 3 drivers (left channel, center channel, right channel) plus two additional speakers and a subwoofer will beat a 5.0 all-in-one soundbar any day.

You will get higher and lower frequency sounds with the subwoofer as well as clearer surround sounds from the rear channels.

Of course, your living situation and the acoustics of your room will have a huge impact on the decision you make.

It is really up to you, whatever you choose will certainly improve your current home theater experience.

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