A Quick Primer On Soundbars

Surround sound adds an exciting dimension to your home theater experience. However, in many instances, it’s not possible to accommodate the satellite speakers needed to create surround effects. There might be difficulties in running wires to the speakers, or perhaps there isn’t enough space to integrate them all. Without surround sound, you’re able to enjoy only half the experience. This is where soundbars step in.

A soundbar is a specially designed loudspeaker enclosure that creates a stereo effect from a single cabinet. They are much wider than they are tall. This is partly due to acoustical reasons and to get the convenience of being able to mount the speaker unit right above or below a display, usually flat panel TVs. Due to space constraints many HD TVs often have smaller speakers, leading to poor audio quality and intelligibility.

How do soundbars achieve this?

A single soundbar replaces multiple speakers. A regular surround sound system incorporates three speakers in the front (Left, Center, & Right) and 2 or 4 speakers in the back, for surround effects. A three-channel soundbar replaces all three front speakers. However, you still need the rear speakers for certain EFX.

A 5-channel soundbar can do it all-full surround sound from an easy to install a single speaker. Soundbars use multiple speaker arrays & sophisticated electronics signal processing to simulate surround effects, including the rear channels. It is truly remarkable how a single unit speaker can reproduce audio with great fidelity.

What does powered or unpowered mean in soundbars?

A powered/active soundbar is a totally self-contained surround sound system that is connected directly to your home theater TV, DVD, Blu-ray player, and video game. There are two main advantages of a powered soundbar. Firstly, there’s no need to buy and install more equipment. Everything you need is shipped in the box. This is a pretty strong advantage. Secondly, the built-in amplification and processing is specially tuned for the soundbar’s enclosure design, boosting its sound performance to higher levels.

An unpowered/passive soundbar connects to a home theater receiver, just like regular speakers, but there’s only one of them. If you already own a home theater receiver, an un-powered soundbar might make the most amount of sense. And even if you don’t already own a home theater receiver, an un-powered soundbar lets you purchase a separate receiver that may accommodate your room and your components better than a powered soundbar.