What is a soundbar for TV? Well, if you want a better audio experience for your flat panel TV but don’t want the added clutter and loss of space that comes with large speakers and sound systems, a soundbar may be a good solution. Soundbars offer high-quality audio, are surround-sound capable, and can be easily mounted to your TV. they will improve the viewing experience of even the top-rated TVs on the market.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Standard soundbars offer excellent audio quality for stereo sound at the lowest cost
  • 7.1 offer the best surround sound performance, but take up more space and are far more expensive than other models
  • Soundbars are Bluetooth-enabled and are great as music players using your mobile device

There are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to soundbars, so it’s a good idea to do your research before taking the dive.

Warning

Flat-panel TVs offer excellent image fidelity and room-filling screen sizes but their built-in speakers are often anything but room-filling when it comes to sound

What Do Soundbars Do?

Flat-panel TVs offer excellent image fidelity and room-filling screen sizes but their built-in speakers are often anything but room-filling when it comes to sound, lacking deeper bass response and stereo or surround-sound image realism and focus. Often people turn to dedicated audio systems with large speakers as a solution, but not only are such systems often quite expensive, they also take up a lot of room, and it’s not always possible to place external speakers optimally, especially if you have a large TV that’s already hogging a lot of space.

Soundbars solve this problem by offering superior sound quality and response in a compact, ergonomic package that can integrate seamlessly with a flat-panel TV or smart TV. Not sure if you have a smart TV, you can easily check what is a smart TV and if your model makes the cut.

There are many options when it comes to soundbars depending on your TV model and the level of performance you’re looking for, but most soundbars are Bluetooth-enabled and made to be mounted with a dedicated mounting bracket directly underneath or on top of the edges of your TV, and are easily removable should you wish to mount them to a wall separately- or to a different TV.

Stereo and Surround Sound

Before investing in a soundbar, you’ll want to consider a couple of things including what your TV is made out of. That is, whether you’ll be using stereo or surround sound settings for your viewing experience. There are various classes of soundbars, some of which will offer far superior performance in emulating the surround experience (as opposed to the multi-speaker setup required for “real” surround sound.

Insider Tip

Before investing in a soundbar, you’ll want to consider a couple of things including what your TV is made out of. That is, whether you’ll be using stereo or surround sound settings for your viewing experience.

  • Standard soundbars offer the most economical and ergonomic option, but lacking a subwoofer, may not produce deep and focused enough bass frequency for some
  • 2.1 soundbars are built with an additional subwoofer and can offer a good emulation of surround sound at a reasonable price point
  • 3.1 soundbars have three channels (left, right, and center) as well as a subwoofer and offer even more realistic surround emulation, but are more expensive
  • 5.1 and 7.1 soundbars offer the truest surround sound performance, having left, right, and center channels, an external subwoofer, and two to four additional left and right surround speakers. The downside is that they’re considerably more expensive than 2.1 or 3.1 systems, and their additional external surround speakers and subwoofer mean they take up more space (though still often less than a dedicated separate audio system.

If you’re simply looking for a space-saving, easy-to-use step up from your TV’s built-in speakers and don’t use surround sound settings, a standard soundbar model may be your best choice.

F.A.Q.

Are soundbars more effective than built-in TV speakers?

While soundbars can vary quite a bit in performance and surround sound capability, they’re almost always a noticeable upgrade in quality from a TV’s built-in speaker.


How many channels do I need in my soundbar?

If you’re only going to be watching with stereo sound and don’t need a lot of extra bass response, a two-channel (left and right) soundbar is more than adequate for greatly improved sound over your TV speakers.


Are soundbars good for music?

Most soundbars are Bluetooth-enabled, meaning they can be controlled and integrated with your smartphone or tablet easily to play music, so they’re a good option for music, especially a 3.1 or higher model with an additional subwoofer for better bass reproduction.



STAT: 7.1 soundbars generally have 8 separate channels for optimal surround sound performance (source)

STAT: Soundbases function similarly to soundbars but are designed to have TVs placed on top of them instead of bracket-mounted to the top or bottom (source)

STAT: Most soundbars are self-powered and Bluetooth enabled for mobile device integration (source)

Jed Smith

I'm a musician and recording engineer and live in Queens. I have a cat. Her name is Elsa. I love to write about consumer tech and musical instruments.

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