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Sound Bars vs. Speaker Systems: What’s Best for Your TV?

from the Gumtree Team

24 Jan 2024 4 mins read

Upgrading your home sound system can give your entertainment experience a significant boost. Whether you love binging the latest Netflix series, immersing yourself in action blockbusters or gaming for hours on end, upgrading your sound system can really add to your experience. 

When doing your research on home audio solutions, you’re probably wondering which kind of setup is best for you: a sleek sound bar or an immersive home speaker system? With technology constantly evolving, choosing the best TV audio setup becomes a crucial decision in crafting your home entertainment space. And don’t forget, it’s not just about loudness—it’s about quality, clarity, and how sound immerses you into your favourite shows and movies. 

Whether you’re a casual viewer or a cinephile, understanding the difference between home audio set ups is crucial. This guide aims to give you an honest breakdown of TV sound system comparisons, helping you make an informed decision on the audio equipment for TV that best suits your needs. Read on to find out everything you need to know about sound bars vs. speaker systems. 

Understanding Sound Bars: The Basics You Need to Know

Sound bars are the sleek, modern answer to traditional home audio systems. Essentially, these are long, slim speakers that sit just below your TV, offering a compact yet powerful way to enhance your TV’s audio. They are designed to mimic the surround sound effect without the need for multiple speakers and wires.

Sound bars are a great choice for anyone who has minimal space in their lounge room, but still wants to invest in high-quality audio for their TV. A sound bar setup will usually include the sound bar itself, as well as a subwoofer. 

Exploring Home Speaker Systems: The Essentials

When we talk about traditional speaker systems in the context of a home audio selection, we’re talking about to a set of separate speakers placed around a room to create a genuine surround sound experience. This typically includes front speakers, rear speakers, a centre channel, and often a subwoofer.

Speaker systems are renowned for their superior audio quality, offering an immersive experience that is hard to match. They are often the preferred choice for audiophiles and home theatre enthusiasts.

Should I Buy a Sound Bar?

Sound bars have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their slim design. They’re a convenient solution that can significantly enhance your TV audio, rather than simply relying on the built-in speakers of your television. If you’re weighing up the benefits of a sound bar and want to find out whether or not a sound bar is the right choice for your lifestyle needs, here are a few questions you can ask yourself first: 

  • Do I have limited space in my lounge room or living area where a full speaker system would be impractical?
  • Do I prefer a clean, uncluttered audio setup with minimal wiring and fewer components?
  • Am I looking for a simple home TV audio solution that’s easy to install and doesn’t require technical expertise?
  • Am I seeking an affordable way to enhance my TV’s audio quality without the higher cost of a full speaker system?


The Pros of Sound Bars

  • Space-Saving Design: Ideal for smaller rooms or spaces where a traditional speaker system could be too bulky or overwhelming.
  • Ease of Setup: Most models can be easily connected to the TV with minimal cables, or even wirelessly, making installation a breeze.
  • Integrated Features: Many sound bars come with built-in subwoofers and Bluetooth connectivity, enhancing their functionality without additional equipment.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: Their sleek, unobtrusive design complements modern TV setups and living spaces.
  • Improved Audio Quality: Sound bars offer a significant upgrade over standard TV speakers, providing clearer and more robust sound. Some sound bars also include revolutionary Dolby Atmos, a feature that can provide the depth and clarity you’d expect from a speaker system. 

The Cons of Sound Bars

  • Limited Audio Depth: While sound bars improve TV audio, they often can’t match the rich, immersive quality of a full speaker system.
  • Directional Sound Projection: The audio from sound bars is typically more directional, which can affect the overall surround sound system experience.
  • Less Customisable: Unlike speaker systems, sound bars offer limited customisation in terms of sound settings and placement.

Do I Need a Surround Sound Speaker System?

Investing in a home theatre audio upgrade can be a big decision. This purchase is often something you’ll have for many years to come, so you want to make sure you’re going with the right choice. 

If you’re trying to decide on whether a home speaker system is the best option for you, our home theatre speaker guide can help point you in the right direction. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself first before making a decision:

  • Am I a movie buff or avid gamer who wants an immersive surround sound experience that makes me feel like I’m part of the action?
  • Am I an audiophile who enjoys customising audio components and settings for the perfect sound?
  • Do I have a large living area or a dedicated entertainment room that can accommodate a comprehensive speaker setup?
  • Am I looking for a high-quality, durable home TV audio solution that I plan to use for many years?
  • Do I frequently host movie nights or parties where powerful, room-filling sound is essential?

The Pros of Speaker Systems

  • Superior Audio Quality: Speaker systems deliver a depth and richness of sound, providing a more comprehensive audio experience.
  • True Surround Sound: One of the biggest speaker system advantages is their immersive sound experience. The ability to position surround speakers around the room makes you feel like you’re right in the heart of the action. 
  • High Customisability: You can tailor your setup with specific components to suit your preferences and room acoustics, from compact bookshelf speakers to impressive floor-standing models.
  • Long-Term Investment: High-quality speaker systems can offer durability and timeless performance, making them a worthwhile long-term investment for serious audio setups.

The Cons of Speaker Systems

  • Space Requirements: A full speaker setup requires more space, which might not be feasible in smaller or more crowded living areas.
  • Complex Setup and Wiring: Installing a speaker system involves more effort, with careful planning needed for layout and managing wiring.
  • Higher Initial Investment: Building a comprehensive speaker system, especially with high-end components, can be a significant financial investment.

Understanding these pros and cons can assist in making an informed decision about whether a speaker system is the right choice for your home audio needs, balancing exceptional sound quality against practical considerations of space and setup.


Sound Bars vs. Speaker Systems: Which is Better?

Now that we’ve looked at the benefits, advantages and drawbacks of sound bars and sound systems, let’s directly compare some of their qualities. When it comes to sound bars vs. speaker systems, each has its merits and drawbacks, particularly concerning sound quality, ease of use, and cost.

Sound Quality Comparison

The heart of the TV sound system comparison lies in the audio quality. Speaker systems, with their multiple components, deliver a rich, immersive audio experience, accurately reproducing the highs, mids, and lows of sound. They provide a spatial sound that envelops the listener, essential for a true home theatre experience.

In contrast, sound bars, while significantly improving upon your TV’s sound, often can’t match this level of audio depth. However, higher-end sound bars have begun to close this gap, offering advanced features like 3D sound and virtual surround sound.

Ease of Use and Setup

In terms of installation and user experience, sound bars are the clear winner. Their plug-and-play setup, requiring minimal wiring and space, makes them a hassle-free audio equipment for TV option. This simplicity extends to their usage as well, with straightforward remote controls and fewer adjustments needed. Speaker systems, while offering a more customisable setup, require more effort in installation and calibration to achieve the perfect sound balance.

Cost Comparison

Cost-wise, sound bars generally offer more budget-friendly options compared to speaker systems. While you can find sound bar benefits in even the most economically priced models, a comprehensive speaker system can be quite an investment, especially if you’re looking for high-quality audio components. However, the longevity and audio quality of a well-chosen speaker system might justify the higher initial cost for serious audiophiles.

Benefits of Buying Second-Hand Electronic Items Online

If you’re thinking of upgrading your current sound system, but are concerned about the cost of a brand-new system, then looking at second-hand sound systems online might be the best choice for you.

Opting for second-hand electronics, like sound bars and speaker systems, can be a smart choice for several reasons.

  1. Cost Efficiency: Purchasing second-hand electronics often means significant savings compared to buying new. This allows for access to higher-end models and features within a more affordable price range.
  2. Environmental Impact: Buying second-hand contributes to reducing electronic waste. It extends the life cycle of products, lessening the demand for new manufacturing and the associated environmental costs.
  3. Tested Durability: Second-hand items have a track record of performance. Products that have been used without issues for a period are likely to be reliable.
  4. Unique Finds: Shopping second-hand can uncover unique or discontinued models that are no longer available on the regular market, offering a wider variety of choices.
  5. Reduced Depreciation: Electronics depreciate rapidly. Buying second-hand means the item has already undergone its most significant drop in value, which can be an advantage if you decide to resell in the future.

Gumtree is one of Australia’s largest and most popular online marketplaces, connecting buyers and sellers all across the country. With such a huge community to draw on, you’re sure to find a TV audio solution that matches your budget and lifestyle needs. 

Considerations When Buying Second-Hand

Key factors to consider include the condition of the item, its age, and any signs of wear and tear. Inquire about the availability of the original packaging, manuals, and whether the item is still under warranty. For sound bars and speaker systems, ask about any previous repairs or modifications. It’s also wise to understand the return policy, in case the item doesn’t meet your expectations post-purchase.

By being thorough in your research and purchase process, buying second-hand can lead you to quality home audio selection options that offer excellent value for money.

What are you waiting for? Start browsing Gumtree today to find your perfect home sound system setup! Search for surround sound home theatre systems, stereo speakers and soundbars with Dolby Atmos sound.