When it comes to enjoying immersive sound in the living room, the question can very quickly arise: should you opt for a soundbar or a 2.1 speaker system set? Both have their advantages and disadvantages: it’s time to take stock!
That’s it, you’ve invested in the 55-inch 4K Ultra HD TV of your dreams, with the goal of bringing you movie nights worthy of the name on your couch. But something is still missing: an immersive sound system, adapted to your interior so as not to spoil anything. But what to choose? A sound bar or a home cinema set?
This question is a little more complex than it looks, because it has no easy answers: the choice depends mostly on your desires, where you live and where you live. And there are alternatives to both of these options: let’s see all of this in detail!
Soundbar, compact and powerful
If you want to limit cables in your environment and above all want more powerful sound than your TV, then the sound bar comes in handy.
A simple connection
The sound bar is simply connected to your Ultra HD or Full HD TV via a single HDMI cable. Ideally, you should use an HDMI ARC output offered by the TV. Most soundbars have other connections, including optical digital audio or analog. Once the soundbar is connected to the TV, all you have to do is connect it to the mains and position it in front of the screen to enjoy it.
NB: Some brands (including Bose) also offer the TV speaker base which is an alternative to the sound bar.
There are generally two types of soundbars: either 2.0, which means they deliver stereo sound from both ends; or 2.1, which implies the presence, in addition, of a subwoofer. The latter is ideally positioned on the floor, near the television. It is intended to offer an enriched sound depth. The subwoofer is connected by a cable directly to the sound bar. If this makes an additional wire in your installation, there is no additional connection to the mains. There are also models with wireless housing.
A more economical choice but less immersive
Opting for a sound bar is therefore practical, rather aesthetic, but also economical, since the prices charged are often much lower than those of Home Cinema. The main drawback is that the immersion is not as interesting as that of a home cinema which multiplies the speakers.
The soundbar may be designed to simulate surround sound, but it all comes from the same place… but it is still of much better quality than the sound that comes directly from the TV. Note, however, that some high-end sound bars manage to create the impression of surround sound that envelops the spectator but we will not be able to precisely identify the origin of each sound as in a system with rear speakers. .
Home Cinema, total immersion
As its name suggests, the Home Cinema aims to transform your living room into a real cinema room. When watching a movie, the picture is essential, but the sound is of the utmost importance too.
Installation and number of speakers: 5.1, 7.1, …
To understand this, nothing better than a 5.1 installation in the living room. It consists of a subwoofer and five satellite speakers: three are to be positioned in front of and to the sides of the television, while the other two are to be installed behind the sofa, to create a true sound cocoon. Everything is completed by an amplifier, to be installed in the TV cabinet, and which allows you to manage the different sound tracks. There are also 7.1 models, in particular, which allow the inclusion of Dolby Atmos speakers for an even more intense experience.
The aesthetic constraint of cables
While a Home Cinema installation can be spectacular in terms of immersion, it requires planning your living room accordingly: each speaker is connected by a cable to the amplifier, which means a lot of wires to run. If your sofa is in the middle of your living room, then you have to find an effective way to hide it all! Note that there are home cinema models where the rear speakers and even the subwoofer are wireless, but in this case, you have to connect each speaker to the mains, which is far from solving all the problems.
Succumbing to a Home Cinema set, therefore, requires thinking about how to make the most of it, because, beyond thinking about the aesthetic positioning of the speakers, it is also necessary to think about the best way to restore the atmosphere. sound. Most home theaters come with a calibration tool to help you with this process, but it takes some time to do it.
In short, the Home Cinema offers total immersion to enjoy the movies, series, video games, and even the music you love. But that does require a few logistics and a higher budget than for a soundbar.
If the soundbar and the home theater are known solutions to create sound immersion in your living room, we can also cite multiroom systems as an alternative. Popularized in particular by Sonos products, multiroom consists of the synchronization of several wireless speakers, to create a complete sound environment. This can be used to play music synchronously in multiple rooms in the house, but also to set up stereo sound in one room.
As the speakers are connected to each other over Wi-Fi, if you have a compatible TV or amplifier, you can create a sort of wireless home theater for yourself in this way. Besides Sonos, brands like Yamaha MusicCast, Harmon Kardon, Denon Heos, and Bose offer this type of speaker. But beware: the unit price is often high, and setting up such an installation can be expensive. On the other hand, the sound quality is generally there.
What is the difference between a 2.0 and 2.1 soundbar?
The main difference between the soundbar and 2.0 is soundbar has 2 channels for stereo audio reproduction, soldered inboard within the soundbar itself. Probably not High fidelity, as that tier of tech usually comes at a higher price point, in a 3.1 or higher soundbar package.
The soundbar also includes a subwoofer, as.1 or.2 delineates the number of subsonic woofers present in the (Home audio) setup. Interestingly, many theories exist as to the necessity of a subwoofer, if one has to surround sound satellite speakers, or if they also employ medium/high-tier bookshelf speakers for better mid-bass reproduction.
This is a most common question, and one that leads to other significant topics; re., basic Home Theater setups.
- One (2.0) sound bar has 2 channels for stereo audio reproduction, soldered inboard within the soundbar itself. Probably not High fidelity, as that tier of tech, normally comes at a higher price point, in a 5.1 or higher soundbar package.
- The other (2.1) soundbar also includes a subwoofer, as .1 or .2 delineates the number of subsonic woofers present in the (Home audio) setup. Interestingly, many theories exist as to the necessity of a subwoofer, if one has to surround sound satellite speakers, or if they also employ medium/high-tier bookshelf speakers for better mid-bass reproduction.
Both soundbars and conventional 2.1 speakers are compromises. Both systems share the concept of using small speakers to cover the majority of the sound spectrum, but using a single subwoofer to handle the low frequencies. A soundbar places the main speakers under the TV screen in a single enclosure. This creates a convenient way to place the speakers but severely restricts the stereo spread available. It’s generally agreed that the left and right speakers should approximately form an equilateral triangle with the primary listening position for the best stereo effect. In a surround system, the left and right speakers are placed with an even wider angle between them.
All things being equal, the conventional 2.1 system will probably provide somewhat better sound quality and stereo effect, while the soundbar will provide a more convenient and attractive installation.