Can A Soundbar Replace Surround Sound?

Last Updated on January 13, 2023 by

Can A Soundbar Replace Surround Sound?

Generally speaking, yes. A soundbar is straightforward, affordable, and easier to install in comparison with the time-consuming process of installing individual speakers in the room setup required for surround sound. They offer powerful quality and flexibility without breaking the bank.

On the other hand, a surround sound system brings limitless audio power, versatility, and clarity with its multi-channel setup (5.1 or 7.1), but it costs more money initially and can take longer to set up properly.

So when making your decision, make sure to consider factors like the size of your space, budget, and current tech set-up that you want to integrate into your system before choosing one over the other.

A soundbar may offer enough features for some people's needs while others may require more from their audio experience which can only be found in a well-developed surround sound setup.

Did you know that the first time surround sound was used was at a screening of Fantasia, a Disney animated film, in 1940?

Why Use A Soundbar Instead Of A Surround Sound System?

Soundbars are a cost-effective substitute for surround sound systems. These elements will help you make a good choice.

Soundbars Are Extremely Easy To Use

Soundbars are designed with ease of use in mind, and they make it incredibly simple to set up your home audio system. From plugging in the components to controlling them through your smartphone or Bluetooth, soundbars are an exceptionally smooth option for those who want a quick and easy setup.

Moreover, you don't ever have to worry about compatibility issues with your TV, smart device, or cell phone when using a soundbar. The software that is used to control these systems is regularly updated so you can always be sure that you’re getting the latest technology. This also ensures that soundbars remain incredibly simple to use as new technology becomes available.

Soundbars Are Typically Smaller In Size Than Conventional

Soundbars are typically much smaller in size than a conventional surround sound system. This makes them perfect for smaller living rooms or apartments, where floor space is at a premium. They also save you the hassle of wiring up a complex system with multiple speakers, as soundbars can often have wireless components which are conveniently hidden away.

Not to mention that they look great too – manufacturers create them to be stylish and eye-catching, almost like a decorative piece further adding to the aesthetics of your home. They blend in seamlessly and fit into your room like a glove, so you don't have to worry about unsightly floor speakers taking up space.

Surround Sound Systems

Surround sound speaker systems are a great way to get truly immersive cinematic audio. With multiple speakers placed in various locations around your room, you can enjoy a full range of surround sound and maximum bass levels. But just setting up these kinds of systems can involve running wires from the receiver to each individual speaker, which can be difficult and time-consuming. Plus, they take up more space and cost more.

On the other hand, soundbars are an attractive alternative. They may not provide quite the same impact as a dedicated surround-sound setup, but they do give you a theater system-like presentation in your home theater with immersive sound quality. Installation is much simpler and they don't require as much space either!

Soundbars Are Very Inexpensive

If you're looking for an affordable way to upgrade your flat screen TV's sound system, then soundbars are the affordable products. The great thing is that you no longer have to sacrifice powerful sound quality over affordability - with the soundbars of today, you can get both! Not only are they very reasonably priced, but they come in a wide variety of options.

Whether you want a solo-play unit with just one soundbar or a full surround sound package like 5.1 or 7.1 systems with wireless subwoofers and sound speakers, there are plenty of excellent choices at the right price. We even have an article that goes into detail on what would be the best investment for your budget!

Not only do soundbars provide great value for money because you don't need to buy extra components for them to work, but their cost when compared to a conventional home theater system is also incredibly cheaper overall

They Are Beautifully Designed

When it comes to soundbars, manufacturers are now taking design seriously. They understand that users aren't just looking for a device that can produce effective sound - they're also looking for something that looks good and fits into their décor.

That's why many of the soundbar models currently on the market have been created with an eye toward aesthetics. Manufacturers are taking into account modern needs and tastes - creating intuitive design elements, low-profile speaker systems, and gorgeous materials. Furthermore, these soundbars are usually compatible with both 4K TVs and future-proof upgrades, which means you'll be able to enjoy your speakers for years to come!

Whether you want a sleek, modern look or you want something classic or luxurious, there are plenty of beautifully designed soundbars available today. And since these devices now integrate easily with smart home devices, you won't have to worry about messing up your carefully curated décor when it comes to controlling your sound speaker systems either!

Soundbars Provide Less Flexibility

When it comes to soundbars, there is one big downside - flexibility. If you opt for a soundbar or soundbar system over a traditional surround sound setup, you are limited in expanding your setup with additional components. You're stuck with only the soundbar's built-in speakers as your front speakers and often don't have the option of buying extra components outside a certain range.

This means you won't be able to upgrade or add elements to your setup down the line. This can be incredibly frustrating if you're looking for something more comprehensive and long-lasting from your audio setup.

Soundbar vs Surround sound system

It Is Difficult To Match The Sound Quality Of A Traditional Surround Sound System

It is difficult to match the ideal sound quality of a traditional surround sound system with a soundbar. While manufacturers work hard to create a truly amazing home audio experience with their soundbars, they cannot beat the carefully crafted components of a complete surround sound system.

The primary distinction between soundbars and surround systems lies in the placement and flexibility of the front speakers. With a surround system, you can pick and place your front speakers wherever sounds best for your room, giving you an immersive full-room experience.

On the other hand, when using a soundbar, your front speakers are integrated into the bar itself, resulting in more front-heavy audio rather than direct room immersion. However, it is possible to add side and rear speakers and position them however desired - although still not as expansive as having total control over every speaker's placement.

Smaller Rooms Have A Better Sound

If you have a smaller room, using a soundbar instead of a surround sound system is the best way to go. Soundbars and soundbar packages create a more directed sound in smaller spaces as opposed to multi-directional audio that may not fill larger rooms properly.

This is due to the speaker placement being closer together, which gives users an immersive yet comfortable experience with speech and music sounds around the room. In addition, due to the length limitations of soundbars, it is difficult to generate high-quality audio beyond 2 wireless surround speakers for bigger rooms.

Why Should You Opt For A Traditional Surround Sound System Rather Than A Soundbar?

The following factors should be taken into account before deciding if a traditional surround sound system is right for you.

Traditional Surround Sound Systems Have An Infinite Amount Of Power And Quality

Traditional Surround Sound Systems have limitless power and quality when compared to soundbars. You can customize the system based on your tastes and preferences, as you get to purchase individual components - including various channel options (5.1, 7.2, 9.1, etc.), powerful amplifiers, and built-in speakers for top-notch audio quality.

Plus, if you need any help with recommendations regarding which speakers are best for your system, there are great resources available from reputable audio companies or our article about surround sound channels can assist you in this decision-making process.

They Have Improved Overall Sound

When it comes to improving the overall sound in your home entertainment setup, there's no fantastic option than opting for a traditional surround sound system. Not only are you able to get top-of-the-line products from renowned entertainment manufacturers with decades of history crafting great audio products, but you also have the flexibility of upgrading and adding components to create your own crystal-clear sound.

Plus, since these systems are not limited by size or configuration, you can easily move their components around the room to suit your specific seating arrangements and room layout. This allows you to enjoy an improved overall sound at all times.

Traditional Surround Sound Works Well In Larger Rooms

Opting for traditional surround sound in a large room gives you an advantage over a single soundbar system. Not only can it provide an amazing sound experience throughout the entire room, but it also allows for accessories that can be used to further enhance and personalize the audio experience.

For example, having additional components such as subwoofers, amplifiers and speakers enables you to upgrade and improve the sound quality in each seating area. You can purchase high-quality products to ensure that no matter where viewers are seated they will get the most immersive and best possible sound experience.

They're A Lot More Complicated

When it comes to traditional surround sound systems, there's no denying that they are a lot more complicated than a soundbar. From figuring out the compatibility of different equipment brands to setting up and integrating each component, there is no doubt it takes a lot of work.

Researching the various impressive product lines and brands involved with putting together your system can be time-consuming and you may have to enlist some help in deciding which one-star products are best for you.

On top of that, getting everything connected and working properly may require some outside assistance - especially if you’re unfamiliar with how the system operates or need help optimizing the settings.

The Cost Of Surround Sound Systems Is Higher

A traditional surround sound system will naturally cost more than a soundbar. Although you get higher-quality audio and more variety with the former, it often comes at the expense of your pocketbook. The price of components by high-end manufacturers can quickly add up, with one piece costing as much as an entire soundbar system.

However, this doesn't mean that you have to give up on your dream setup. If you're willing to wait for better prices or look for different solutions, then there are ways to get the surround system you want without breaking the bank.

Not As Neat And Much More Difficult To Install

When it comes to traditional surround sound systems, one thing is clear - they are not as neat and tidy as a soundbar setup would be. You won't achieve sleek, stylish looks here. Additionally, you may have to consider different flooring options to get the best sound out of your system.

Installing a traditional surround sound system can also be much more difficult than installing a soundbar. You'll need to figure out how to hide all the wires while making sure your components don't overheat or take away from the overall home entertainment experience.

And if you're looking for something on the smaller or wireless side, these components will likely cost significantly more than what you'd pay for a soundbar.


If you're looking for the best solution for your audio needs, it really comes down to your own preferences and needs. If you want a simple, straightforward, and high-quality sound experience that won't break the bank, then a soundbar is the way to go.

But if you're willing to put in some extra work and think ahead of time, a custom surround sound system can deliver mind-blowing audio results.

At the end of the day, it's important to take into consideration room size, budget, desired components, and overall goal while making this decision - you'll be much happier with the outcome no matter which option you choose.

Article Written & Fact Checked By


My name is Nathan Walters and I used to be a Mystery Shopper in my previous life. I love pizza, my 3 cats and fine wines! I also have a strange yet satisfying addiction to Netflix binges :) I am the Director of Best Reviews. I'm blessed to have a team of professionals in most fields who review and test products. Feel free to send me a message using the contact page!
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