2.0 vs 2.1 Soundbars

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Updated September 27, 2022

Choosing the best speakers for your home theatre setup can significantly improve the audio experience, and soundbars are increasingly becoming popular among consumers. But when selecting the best soundbar out of the many available options, it’s hard to determine which is ideal for you if you haven’t done your research. Because there is such a wide range of soundbar models, we’ll compare 2.0 vs 2.1 soundbars below and get you one step closer to owning the speaker your ears have always dreamed about.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Soundbar systems are titled for their number of the main driver and subwoofer channels.
  • 2.0 soundbars have two main drivers and no channel for an extended subwoofer.
  • 2.1 soundbars have two main drivers but an additional channel to connect a subwoofer.

And don’t worry, we have articles covering 2.1 vs 3.1 soundbars and another comparing 3.1 vs 5.1 soundbars for those who want to continue their research. If you aren’t yet sold on the idea of a soundbar, we have an article that compares soundbars vs home theater systems.

Insider Tip

In some subwoofer models, you’ll see the third number. For example, you might see 7.1.2, where the third number represents the number of channels for ceiling speakers.

2.0 vs 2.1 Channel Soundbar

What’s the difference between these two sound bar models? Unlike most things in life, the answer is quite simple: a subwoofer channel (or lack thereof).

When looking at soundbars, it’s essential to know that the first number is the number of main speakers. So, for our purposes, understand that both soundbar models come with two main drivers, one on the left and the other on the right.

The second number signifies how many subwoofer channels the soundbar has. You may have already connected the dots: the difference between 2.0 and 2.1 is that the latter has a channel to support a subwoofer. While it might be obvious which will give the fuller sound, there are nuances to consider before going all in. And that’s also not to mention the price difference.

Sound Experience

The critical question here is this: what situations call for a subwoofer? First, remember that a soundbar without a subwoofer still produces adequate sound and delivers a sizeable audio range.

Warning

If you’re searching for the most dynamic range of sound, experts recommend using surround speakers rather than a soundbar.

That being said, if you enjoy the cinematic quality of a rumbling bass frequency — whether it be an avalanche, explosives, or a dramatic musical score — purchasing a soundbar that connects to an external subwoofer might be for you. The subwoofer creates the actual bass frequency, which helps enjoy music and movies as the creators intended.

STAT: Subwoofers typically come in four sizes: 8, 10, 12, and 15. (source)

Affordability

2.0 soundbars start at around $50, reaching up to a few hundred dollars for a premium quality option. As you might imagine, the separate subwoofer with 2.1 soundbars raises the price. The cheapest options will begin at around $80. However, typically, you’ll find the starting price range closer to $120-$150, with more expensive options getting closer to $500.

2.0 vs 2.1 Soundbar FAQs

Is there no bass presence in 2.0 soundbars?

The driver speakers still give off a sound that replicates a bass frequency through what scientists call bone conduction. But it's not the actual bass levels provided by a subwoofer.

What is Dolby Atmos?

Dolby Atmos is a technology developed for surround sound systems that use speakers throughout a room to accurately match the spatial sound of what's taking place onscreen.

Do wireless subwoofers have a lower audio quality than wired speakers?

Wireless subwoofers are subject to losing power, which affects the audio quality. Generally, wired subwoofers give a more consistent and powerful performance.
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