Pros and Cons of Soundbars: A Comprehensive Guide

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When it comes to enhancing your home theater experience, you may have heard about soundbars.

Soundbars are an increasingly popular alternative to traditional surround sound systems, offering a more compact and streamlined solution for improving your audio quality.

But what are the pros and cons of soundbars?

One of the biggest advantages of soundbars is their simplicity and ease of use. They are also very affordable and blend well in a home’s overall aesthetic.

One of the biggest disadvantages of soundbars is the sound quality, you cannot compare them to a traditional surround sound system.

In this blog post, I will go into more detail regarding the pros and cons of soundbars and if you should consider buying one to enhance your home theater experience.

Advantages of Soundbars


If you are looking for a home theater audio system that is compact, easy to use, and provides excellent sound quality, then a soundbar might be the perfect solution for you.

Here are some of the advantages of using a soundbar:

Space-Saving Design

One of the most significant advantages of a soundbar is its space-saving design.

Unlike traditional home theater systems that require multiple speakers and a large receiver, soundbars are compact and can be mounted on the wall or placed on a TV stand.

This means that you can enjoy high-quality audio without sacrificing precious space in your living room.

They are also much less of an eyesore, you don’t have to sacrifice the look of your home if you want high-quality audio.

Ease of Use and Setup

Another advantage of a soundbar is its ease of use and setup.

Most soundbars are designed to be plug-and-play, which means that you can set them up in just a few minutes without any complicated wiring or installation.

Many soundbars also come with a remote control or can be controlled using your smartphone, making it easy to adjust the volume, change the input, or switch between different sound modes.

Brands like Sonos really excel at this. Personally, it took me 5 minutes to set up my Sonos Beam on my smartphone. I haven’t really had to touch it since.

It automatically syncs to the TV and is the default audio system. It also has excellent sound quality, I can’t recommend it enough.

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.
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Smart Device Integration

Many soundbars today offer smart device integration, which allows you to control your soundbar using your voice or a mobile app.

Smart device integration can be a convenient way to control your soundbar, and it can also offer additional features like access to streaming services.

Some soundbars offer integration with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple AirPlay 2, while others may offer Spotify Connect or Chromecast.

One of the advantages of smart device integration is that it allows for hands-free control of your soundbar, which can be useful if you’re busy cooking, cleaning, or doing other tasks.

However, one of the downsides of smart device integration is that it may not be as reliable as traditional controls.

If your internet connection is slow or unreliable, you may experience dropouts or other issues with your smart device integration.

Additionally, some users may prefer traditional controls over voice or app-based controls.

Sound Quality and Performance


When it comes to soundbars, the audio drivers and channels play a crucial role in delivering high-quality sound.

Soundbars typically come with multiple built-in drivers, including tweeters and woofers, to produce a balanced sound.

The number of channels in a soundbar determines the audio output and can vary from 2.1 to 5.1 or even higher, providing a more immersive listening experience.

Audio Drivers and Channels

The number and quality of audio drivers in a soundbar significantly impact the sound performance.

A soundbar with dedicated tweeters for high frequencies and woofers for low frequencies can deliver a more comprehensive audio range, enhancing your overall listening experience.

Generally speaking the longer the soundbar the more channels it will have.

Surround Sound Capabilities

Many soundbars are equipped with advanced technologies such as Dolby Atmos and DTS, which create a virtual surround sound experience.

These technologies attempt to simulate a multi-speaker setup, providing a more immersive and spatial audio experience, making you feel like you’re in the center of the action.

However, if you want to feel truly immersed I recommend getting rear speakers to pair with your soundbar.

I use two Sonos Era 100’s (affiliate link) with my Sonos Beam but pretty much any soundbar will come with rear speakers.

A popular budget option for those wanting a soundbar with rear speakers and a subwoofer is the Vizio V Series 5.1.

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.
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Bass and Frequency Response

A soundbar’s bass and frequency response are crucial for delivering deep, rich lows and crisp highs.

Unfortunately, sometimes the bass response in soundbars is not all that great.

Luckily, most soundbars come with a separate subwoofer to enhance the low-frequency performance, creating a more robust and impactful sound field.

Additionally, a wider frequency response ensures a more detailed and dynamic sound output across various audio content.

Just be careful that you don’t disturb your neighbors with your subwoofer.

Disadvantages of Soundbars


While soundbars offer several advantages, they do come with some drawbacks that you should consider before making a purchase.

Here are some of the disadvantages of soundbars:

Audio Limitations

One of the main disadvantages of soundbars is that they have limitations when it comes to audio performance.

While some soundbars offer good sound quality, they cannot match the performance of a full surround sound system.

Soundbars are limited in their ability to produce surround sound, especially 3D audio, which requires speakers placed at different locations in the room.

Lack of Upgrade Options

Another disadvantage of soundbars is that they have limited upgrade options.

While most soundbars come with a subwoofer, you cannot add more speakers or subwoofers to the system.

This means that you may not be able to upgrade your soundbar to a full surround sound system in the future.

If you want to upgrade your sound system, you may have to replace the entire soundbar.

This dilemma is why I chose to buy a soundbar from Sonos, I wasn’t sure if I wanted a sub or rear speakers but wanted to have the option to add them later.

Unfortunately with other brands, you are not able to do this most of the time.

With Brands like Sonos, you can add new speakers or subwoofers to your Sonos system but you can’t yet make a full surround system.

Sonos only lets you use its speakers as rear speakers and not surrounds.

I can see this changing in the future though as people will be demanding more and more out of their Sonos Systems.

Considerations for Purchase

When purchasing a soundbar, there are several factors to consider to ensure you get the best value for your money.

In this section, we’ll discuss some of the most important considerations to keep in mind.

Evaluating Size and Features

As previously said, the bigger the soundbar the better.

Some people often ask why soundbars are so long and this is because to get high-quality audio you need to have more space to put drivers/speakers/additional components.

This is why bigger soundbars are often better quality and higher performance.

However, you want to make sure the soundbar is optimal for your living space and some people prefer to go with smaller soundbars.

When it comes to features you want to consider the ability to bundle your soundbar with a sub and/or rear speakers as well as how many channels it produces.

Typically, I recommend people get at least a 5.1 soundbar with rear speakers as I think you can get a feel of surround sound with that setup.

As mentioned before the Sonos Beam, and Vizio V Series are good options.

However, for larger rooms with higher ceilings, you may want to get a more high-powered soundbar. The Polk Magnifi Max AX SR is an affordable soundbar for large rooms that I recommend for people on a budget.

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
  • COMPLETE WIRELESS HOME ENTERTAINMENT - Create a whole-home audio solution & enjoy high-quality music streaming directly from your smart TV or phone, tablet or computer via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirPlay 2, Chromecast, Spotify Connect, and Alexa MRM
  • QUICKLY AND EASILY SETUP THE SOUNDBAR SYSTEM IN SECONDS using the Google Home app on your Android or iOS devices. This soundbar for TV & home theater systems connects in a jiffy. Includes a Polk soundbar remote to unlock MagniFi Max AX SR's full potential
  • NUMEROUS CONNECTION OPTIONS - (3) 4K HDMI inputs, (1) HDMI w/eARC output for connecting your smart TV and other devices, and an Optical port for Blu-Ray players. In addition, you can connect a multitude of devices using Bluetooth, USB, and the Internet
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Budget and Cost Effectiveness

Soundbars can range in price from very affordable to quite expensive.

While it may be tempting to purchase the cheapest soundbar available, keep in mind that you get what you pay for most of the time.

Cheaper soundbars may not provide the same level of sound quality as more expensive models.

Additionally, consider the cost-effectiveness of a soundbar. A more expensive soundbar may have a higher upfront cost, but it may save you money in the long run by providing better quality and lasting longer.

Generally speaking, you can get a very high-quality soundbar from anywhere from $200-$800 dollars. Cream of the crop models can get up to $1,300.

Brand and Model Comparisons


There are many brands and models of soundbars available on the market. Some of the best soundbars on the market come from brands like Sonos, JBL, Vizio, Klipsch, LG, Polk, Samsung, and Sony.

Bose is also a popular brand but I recommend avoiding them as their soundbars are too expensive for the sound quality they produce.

When comparing different brands and models, consider factors such as sound quality, features, and price.

By doing your research and comparing different options, you can find the best soundbar for your needs and budget.

If you want to learn more about some of the brands I mentioned I encourage you to read some of the dedicated articles I have written on them.

Additional Reading:

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