Soundbars vs. Soundbases: Which One Should You Pick?
Updated: September 30,2022
Do you want superb TV sound quality and room-filling surround sound without having to dedicate an entire room to an audio system? Do you hate clutter and don't want a bunch of boxes taking up space in your living room?
You're in luck—both soundbars and soundbases are great options for those who want solid audio quality without the bulk and fuss of multiple external speakers. This article will examine each option and help you decide which is best for your needs.
Soundbars vs. Soundbases
What do you get when you put a soundbar and soundbase in the same room? A sonic standoff! Okay, so maybe that’s not quite what happens, but there are definitely some differences between these two types of audio components. Before we get to the difference, let’s first explain each and how they work.
What Is a Soundbar?
A compact soundbar fits perfectly in front of or below your TV, making it a great option if you have limited space. Additionally, soundbars are very easy to set up, since they usually only have a few cables that need to be connected. And, since they come in different shapes and sizes, you can find one that perfectly matches the look of your TV.
Soundbars often include many input options, allowing them to be used with various audio sources. For example, many soundbars have both HDMI and optical inputs, which allows you to connect them to your TV’s audio return channel (ARC), Blu-ray player, or gaming console. Some soundbars even have Bluetooth, so you can wirelessly stream music from your smartphone or tablet.
As its name suggests, multiple drivers (small internal speakers) are generally positioned horizontally inside the bar-shaped enclosure of a soundbar. The drivers work together to create a virtual surround sound, which gives the illusion that the audio is coming from all around you, even though the device is only in front of or below the TV.
The price of the soundbar's compact design is that it can’t produce powerful sound and bass. For a fully immersive 5.1 or 7.1 surround system, you’ll have to get a separate subwoofer and additional speakers and set them up correctly in the room. Additional external speakers enhance the surround sound quality, while a wireless subwoofer provides a richer bass experience.
What Is a Soundbase?
A soundbase is similar to a soundbar in that it is a speaker meant to be placed under your TV. Soundbases, on the other hand, are generally rectangular in design and include built-in bass drivers (subwoofers) as their additional space can accommodate them.
Since it’s designed to support your TV, it’s usually made from heavy-duty materials like wood or metal. This sturdy foundation means it won’t vibrate as much when playing bass-heavy audio, and can reproduce deeper bass frequencies than soundbars, which results in a fuller, more immersive sound.
Like soundbars, soundbases typically have multiple input options you can connect as various audio sources. Additionally, many soundbases come with Bluetooth connectivity and built-in amplifiers, which allow you to stream music from your phone or tablet easily.
The Difference Between Soundbase and Soundbar
Now that we’ve gone over the basics of each type of speaker, let’s take a more in-depth look at the key differences between them.
As mentioned, soundbars are long and thin, with a few internal speakers and a weak subwoofer, while soundbases are typically rectangular and come with a stronger bass drive.
This gives soundbars a sleeker look, which is why they are often chosen to complement the design of a TV or be hidden entirely. Soundbases, on the other hand, are designed to be sturdier, support the weight of your TV, and practically look like a piece of furniture.
Soundbases have an advantage over soundbars when it comes to subwoofer sound quality. This is because soundbases have built-in subwoofers, which allow them to reproduce deeper bass frequencies, which results in a fuller, more immersive sound.
The disadvantage of the soundbase is that it lacks any surround sound system capacity on its own; on the other hand, the main benefit of the soundbar is the ability to simulate a 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound.
As you can see, both systems have their own strengths and weaknesses, which you’ll have to weigh before deciding which one you want. It should be noted that both systems can be further enhanced with the addition of speakers and an external subwoofer in the case of the soundbar.
Both soundbars and soundbases are relatively easy to set up. However, soundbars have an advantage due to the ability to be mounted below the wall-mounted TV, which is something the soundbase can’t do on its own.
The TV soundbase should always be placed underneath the TV. In the case of a wall-mounted TV, you’ll have to mount a stand for the soundbase to stand on.
Soundbars typically have up to seven speakers and one subwoofer positioned horizontally inside the bar-shaped enclosure. The drivers work together to create the illusion that the audio is coming from all around you, even though the soundbar is only in front of or below the TV.
Soundbases, on the other hand, have up to three speakers and one subwoofer. You’ll have to get additional external speakers for total surround sound system immersion.
Additional Features To Consider
In addition to the design, sound quality, speaker configuration, and ease of setup, there are a few other features that you might want to consider before deciding between soundbases vs. soundbars.
Most soundbars and soundbases come with various input options, so you can connect them easily to different audio sources. In most cases, you’ll need only a sound source cable and a power cord.
At the very least, you can expect an audio return channel or an RCA connector. The more expensive the model is, you can expect to see many different coaxial and optical connection variants. If you are looking for HD audio support, ensure your system has an HDMI connection.
Additionally, many soundbars and soundbases come with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, which allows you to stream music from your phone or tablet easily. Some of the newer models of soundbars and soundbases come with smart features like voice control, or connection to virtual assistants, like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
Another nice feature is multiple sound modes to enable superior sound for gaming consoles, movies, or voice programs like the news. However, do not try using either device for PC gaming. They were never designed for such a role, and getting dedicated PC gaming speakers would be far better.
Of course, the best soundbases and soundbars will contain most, if not all, of these functions, but the device's price will rise as a result. You will have to decide which features are the most important to you and factor that into your decision.
Every speaker is made to serve a specific function. With that in mind, soundbar and soundbase speakers aren’t ideal for a day at the beach; you’ll be much better off with inexpensive Bluetooth speakers you can pair with your smartphone. The same goes for taking out your soundbar or soundbase anywhere - use wireless speakers specifically designed for outdoor usage, instead.
However, if you want to enhance your TV viewing experience or upgrade from your television's built-in speakers, a soundbar or soundbase speaker would be an ideal purchase. Most people would prefer the former over the latter, due to its virtual surround sound capabilities, ease of setup, and wall-mounting option.
A soundbase, on the other hand, is an excellent alternative if you want a speaker that can also serve as a TV stand, takes up less room than a whole audio system, and has a more powerful bass. As you can see, there are some differences between a soundbar and a soundbase.
No matter which route you choose, do your research before committing to a purchase to ensure you are getting the best possible product for your money. Take the time to read product reviews and get an idea of what features are most important to you. With a bit of effort, you should have no problem finding the perfect soundbar or soundbase speaker for your home theater setup!
Frequently Asked Questions
In most cases, yes. TV speakers are designed to be small and discreet, so they often lack the power and clarity that soundbars can provide. Additionally, soundbars typically have more speakers than TV sets, creating a more immersive audio experience. However, some high-end TVs have great built-in speakers, so it depends on your specific TV model.
It depends. The best soundbars can provide an immersive surround sound experience, which your speakers alone aren’t capable of achieving. You’ll need to get an amplifier, at least five speakers, and a subwoofer to be able to get 5.1 surround sound.
As you can guess, such a setup is expensive, but it provides a high-quality sound experience compared to soundbars. It really comes down to your specific needs and preferences.
Yes, you can put a TV on a soundbase. In fact, they are usually rated by how much weight they can support, so check the specifications before purchasing.
The main difference between a soundbar and a soundbase is the design. Soundbars are typically long and thin, while soundbases are usually short and wide. Soundbars can be wall-mounted, while soundbases must be placed on a flat surface. Additionally, soundbars typically have more speakers than soundbases.
However, both types of devices can improve the audio quality of your TV. For more details, you can check out our "Soundbars vs. Soundbases – Which One Should You Pick?" article.
Some soundbars have a built-in subwoofer, while others have separate subwoofers that must be connected wirelessly or via an audio cable. Additionally, some soundbars have multiple speakers that create the illusion of surround sound, while others only have one or two speakers. Therefore, it depends on the specific soundbar model you choose.
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With a degree in humanities and a knack for the history of tech, Jovan was always interested in how technology shapes both us as human beings and our social landscapes. When he isn't binging on news and trying to predict the latest tech fads, you may find him trapped within the covers of a generic 80s cyberpunk thriller.