Soundbar vs Bookshelf Speakers: Which One Should You Get?

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Soundbar vs Bookshelf Speakers

Sound whether it may be in any form of music, audio, or entertainment is becoming a staple in our daily lives. People just cannot seem to get enough of it and therefore are purchasing more and more audio equipment.

This is great for the industry but due to the demand, we have seen so many different types of speakers and audio products lately that choosing the right one for setup is becoming challenging. On top of that the spec sheet jargons that are used now by manufacturers do not help either.

These days it is just a game of providing more on paper functions for the price of the competitor product to get an upper hand. The quality factor that differentiated products in the past is slowly fading away.

The rising popularity of soundbars has also sparked a debate on whether you should get a sound or a bookshelf speaker. There are mixed opinions online and people seem to be divided on the matter. In this article, we will provide all the necessary details so that as a consumer you can make a more informed decision and not get entangled in the soundbar vs bookshelf speakers debate.

What Is a Soundbar and a Bookshelf Speaker?

Let us start unwrapping everything about this topic with the basics first. A soundbar is a loudspeaker that is shaped like a rod or a pipe. The enclosure that houses the drivers takes a lot of horizontal real estate but not much vertical one.

On the other hand, a bookshelf speaker has a traditional box speaker enclosure. The drivers and the mechanism are also different in a bookshelf speaker as it still operates on the year’s old formula of air producing sound.

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Benefits of a Bookshelf Speaker Setup

The key benefit that the bookshelf speaker has when compared with a soundbar is the sound quality. Due to having larger drivers bookshelf speakers can put out much stronger sound. The difference is not only in volume but also in the detail of the sound.

The sound out of bookshelf speakers is also much more dynamic and alive. Good bookshelf speakers by having a wide soundstage can also produce much more airy sound. The other major benefit of the bookshelf speakers stems from their mounting flexibility.

Although being large these speakers can be used in any position and orientation. They can be placed beside your Tv or wall-mounted. When placing bookshelf speakers creativity is your best friend.

Another major benefit of bookshelf speakers is their ability to allow upgrades. If you folk out for a 5 channel or a 7 channel receiver you can easily add more speakers down the road to upgrade your setup. While on the topic of channels, with the right receiver bookshelf speakers can also be used in a true 7.1 surround sound setup.

Drawbacks of a Bookshelf Speaker Setup

The main drawback of bookshelf speakers is their size. Most people just do not want to deal with or have the shape to use bookshelf speakers in their setup. Due to being large and, heavy bookshelf speakers are also not easy to handle and their integration into a room is also not as seamless as a soundbar.

The other drawback which keeps people away from bookshelf speakers is the tedious process of setting them up. Since most good-quality bookshelf speakers are passively powered they require a receiver to function. Purchasing a relevant receiver for the speaker also requires a lot of digging so due to the hassle people just instantly close the bookshelf speaker tab.

The amount of money that needs to be spent on a bookshelf speaker setup is also comparatively high. The main factor driving the price upwards is the purchase of a separate amplifier which is required for bookshelf speakers to function.

Benefits of a Soundbar Setup

The reason people flock for soundbars is due to their convenience. Due to the small size, they not only require a limited desk surface but also fit right into the setup. They also provide a clean aesthetic and do not interfere in the design flow of the room.

Another major benefit of the soundbar is that they do not require any additional equipment to work. Everything that is a necessity is included in the box from the manufacturer. Soundbars also take the cake when it comes to pricing.

Since soundbars are a hot commodity now in the market there is a lot of competition among manufacturers. This competition drives the prices low and ensures that the consumer gets a better product for a low price.

Drawbacks of a Soundbar Setup

The main drawback of the soundbar is the sound quality. Due to being compact manufacturers are forced to put small drivers in a soundbar. As we all know by now, the bigger the driver is the more sound it can produce.

Since soundbars have small drivers they are not able to produce deep and detailed sound. Despite how good the tuning is on the soundbar they are restricted by design therefore bookshelf speakers will always a better sound quality than soundbars.

The other drawback is that there is no upgrade path with soundbars. Once you get your desired soundbar you will have it until it breaks down or you sell it. This is a major negative for people looking to build a proper surround sound home theatre setup.

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Soundbar vs Bookshelf Speakers: Which One Should You Get?

There is no right or wrong when it comes to buying soundbar or bookshelf speakers. It entirely depends on what kind of experience you are going for. Whether you are looking for superior sound quality or a hassle-free experience.

If sound quality is your main priority and you have ample space on your desk and are not afraid of buying an external amplifier then bookshelf speakers are no brainer while on the other hand if you are someone with a tight budget and prefer the ease of functionality over sound quality then a soundbar is for you.

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2 Comments

  1. I bought the soundbar from the Tech&Sound System website and am now undecided whether to buy the bookshelf speakers too. However I have read that if the soundbar is on the speakers are better off, is that so?

    1. Yes, that can be the case and you will get better sound out of the speakers. But do bear in mind that we are dealing with two separate audio devices here. So integrating them in a single 2.1 setup is a bit of a chore and you will need a good receiver as well.