Hey, Wait a Minute Before Buying That Soundbar!

Soundbars have surged in popularity over the past decade as the default way to upgrade lackluster TV speakers. With their simplified all-in-one design and affordable price tags, what‘s not to like?

Well as it turns out, quite a lot! While soundbars seem convenient on the surface, they involve substantial compromises in critical areas of sound quality, connectivity, expandability and value. As an industry analyst and home theater enthusiast, I need to warn you – soundbars take more than they give.

This guide will highlight four key reasons why you should avoid soundbars – and instead invest in more advanced audio solutions for true surround sound immersion. I‘ve tested over 50 models so you can benefit from my hands-on expertise!

Sound Quality Simply Suffers

Soundbars consolidate multiple speaker elements into a single sleek bar enclosure barely larger than your TV stand. But this compactness comes at the cost of directional spaciousness and audio fidelity.

Surround sound is based on channel separation and precision directional cues. Sounds pan clearly from front to side to rear speakers, enveloping listeners with an immersive hemispheric soundstage. Soundbars lack proper channel division, cramming driver elements together into a singular forward-facing unit.

Audio SpecificationsSamsung HW-Q990B SoundbarDenon AVR S960H + 5.1 Speakers
Satellite Speakers26
Dolby Atmos EnabledYesYes
Amplifier Power512W195W

This consolidated configuration prevents the life-like soundstage recreation of properly spaced Dolby Atmos or DTS:X systems. Audio expert Chris Boylan notes soundbars are simply "incapable of surround sound" regardless of virtualization tech used to emulate it.

Soundbars also lack the bass presence performance of a dedicated subwoofer. Even premium models with giant cabinet volumes like the $1400 Samsung HW-Q950A struggle to reach the lowest octaves without severe distortion. Physics wins – for thunderous bass immersion you need the surface area of a proper 12" or larger sub.

Placement Causes Problems

Another reason to avoid soundbars is their poor ergonomics when it comes to practical placement. Their compact size can actually introduce frustrations that home theater components avoid.

For starters, larger soundbars frequently block IR sensor reception when placed in front of TVs. This turns your remote control into an infuriating paperweight! No amount of angle repointing resuscitates response either if line of sight is totally obstructed.

Further, the condensed design of soundbars restricts access to input/output ports. Unless kept seperated from other gear, connecting cables becomes a blindness-inducing reach behind random shelves and consoles. Even routine listening volume adjustments are made difficult depending on placement.

Compare this to the full visibility and access offered by seperate home theater components with their dispersed layout.

Ease of PlacementVizio Elevate SoundbarDenon Receiver + Bookshelf Speakers
Remote Control Line of Sight BlockYesNo
Front Panel AccessibilityLowHigh
Cabling FrustrationHighLow

Soundbars also frequently occupy your TVs HDMI ports, starving other devices like video streamers which need ingress. Between your cable box, console and Chromecast, that last open input suddenly becomes critical real estate. Forced port displacement introduces headaches better avoided.

Diminishing Value Over Equivalents

Budget-consious consumers often assume soundbars provide better audio performance per dollar than full home theater systems. But as premium all-in-one models creep past the $1000+ mark, this notion of value advantage diminishes completely.

ModelChannelsAmplifier (Watts)Price
Sony HT-A50005.1.2400$1,198
JBL Bar$1,199
Klipsch Cinema 12005.1.4460$1,249

For the same amount as those upper-midrange soundbars, you could buy an 80W per channelDenon AVR receiver and 6 great Polk Audio speakers for $50 less! That would include better surround immersion and up to 7 channels instead of just 5.

In the high-end category, dropping $1500 on a soundbar nets even worse comparative value. The 11 channel Samsung HW-Q990B packs 512W of amplification into its giant cabinet. But a $100 cheaper Denon receiver and 5 bookshhelf speakers would deliver 195W of power across an equal 7 discrete channels.

You simply get more advanced surround sound technology spendng the same on receivers and speakers rather than consolidated soundbars. The premium prices of higher-end all-in-ones fail to reflect significant performance capabilties beyond cheaper full systems. Diminshing practical value makes them illogical buys.

You‘ve Got Great Alternatives!

Instead of settling for the acoustic and ergonomic limitations of soundbars, why not invest just a little more effort into an advanced home theater system? The payoffs in terms of customizable sound, practical placement and value are enormous compared to audio bars!

Here are just a few fantastic alternatives I recommend across budget levels:


  • Onkyo TX-SR393 – $300
  • Polk T Series Speakers – $250


  • Yamaha RX-V685 – $450
  • Klipsch Reference Premiere Series 5.1 – $650


  • Marantz SR8015 – $1,000
  • Revel Concerta2 Series 5.1 – $1,500

Complete home theater packages allow flexibility in speaker positioning for genuine surround spaciousness that no soundbar can synthesize. Expansive soundstages with pinpoint imaging place you at the scene of films, TV and music for engrossing listening sessions.

Separated components also permit easy TV sensor line-of-sight along with leaving HDMI ports free for all your media devices. You can even start with fewer speakers and seamlessly add more later as budgets allow. Modularity ensures your investment scales gracefully over time.

While initially requiring more effort to setup and wire, home theater systems beat soundbars on customizability, practicality and most importantly, audio performance for equivalent dollars. The risen premium prices of all-in-one bars fails to justify their limited fidelity and connectivity tradeoffs.

I hope this guide has clearly showcased theMulti paragraphs sound quality, ergonomic placement, value and expansion limitations of fancy single-box solutions compared to more flexible component audio. My expert advice? Skip the simplified gimmick and put together a real future-ready home theater system. Surround sound greatness awaits!

Did you like those interesting facts?

Click on smiley face to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

      Interesting Facts
      Login/Register access is temporary disabled