Can a Sound Bar Replace a Subwoofer? A Simple Answer

Who would have thought that long tubes with several speakers built into them would contribute to an exceptional sound experience? Currently, soundbars are some of the most sought-after audio devices for all kinds of uses, but primarily for use in home entertainment. However, the question remains on whether a soundbar can replace a subwoofer or not.

A soundbar can replace a subwoofer on some aspects such as mid and high-frequency performance, space efficiency, and pricing. However, when it comes to reproducing low-frequency effects in movies and gaming, the job is better left to a dedicated subwoofer.

If you’re looking for reasons to replace your subwoofer with a soundbar, you’re in the right place. This article answers common questions about soundbars and subwoofers and what makes them different. I’ll also touch on the benefits of using both, so let’s get into it. 

Soundbars vs. Subwoofers

Apart from the sound output given off by each device, there are several notable features unique to a soundbar and subwoofer. 

A subwoofer only has one massive driver in a vented or sealed port, for starters. However, a soundbar has two to five smaller speakers encased in a single unit.

Other notable differences include:

  • Size: Subwoofers have bigger enclosures (sealed and ported) to house the vast speakers and play delightful low-frequencies. Soundbars are best suited to play mids and highs because of their moderate size.
  • The number of channels: Subwoofers have multiple channels ranging from 2.1, 3.1, 4.1, 5.1, and 7.1. Soundbars come in single units, while others come with a subwoofer for the full-range effects.
  • The power: Soundbars are designed to replace your TV speakers. They don’t draw much power since they focus primarily on highs and mids. For this reason, some models can use battery power. On the other hand, subwoofers draw some serious energy to move the massive bass driver and provide power to the different channels.
  • Audio quality: Sound Bars produce decent quality sound, and it’s usually way better than your TV speakers. Subwoofers produce an even better quality sound depending on the manufacturer and the kind of setup.
  • Placement: Soundbars fit perfectly right below the TV. On the other hand, subwoofers are best placed on the ground. Other speakers in a subwoofer system perform best when placed around the sitting area.

You probably think that a subwoofer is better than a soundbar with this information. However, that’s not always the case. 

First of all, some subs are made from cheap materials that sound bad, even on a high-quality audio track. A high-end soundbar can outperform such a subwoofer.

Are Soundbars Good for Bass?

Sadly, the sound quality of smart TVs has been getting worse as technology advances. 

New, thinner TV models are lighter than the old CRT TV sets and lack the essential space for decent quality speakers. That means that if you want better quality audio for your movie night or daytime channel surfing, then there’s no way all of those electronics are going to fit into one box. 

You need two electronics sets– one set will power up the display. Another shall provide the sounds. Soundbars do a great job of replacing the factory TV speakers, but just how good are they with bass?

Soundbars are good for bass, although some lower-quality soundbars may have difficulty playing deeper, lower notes. Still, soundbars with subwoofers can reproduce low-pitched frequencies and, at the same time, cover the mids and highs. 

Other soundbars come with additional bass tech that helps tune the bass level to your preference and eliminate the need for extra subs.

Although not all soundbars come with built-in woofers, some have additional external subwoofers and bass speakers which produce the bass. 

Other soundbars are sold as stand-alone units but are compatible with some subwoofers. If the need arises, you can always buy additional subwoofers compatible with your soundbar for the extra bass.

Are Soundbars Good for Surround Sound?

Surround sound systems provide immersively thrilling cinema sounds that take your entertainment to another level. 

However, a home-theater system can get quite expensive. In addition, if you try to keep the kind of setup you’ve always wanted, you’ll have to put the work in while installing it. As a result, audio fans have opted for other speakers for surround sound effects.

Soundbars are good for surround sound. The built-in speakers are evenly placed at the soundbar’s left, right, and center, producing full-range coverage for movies and entertainment. When adequately placed, the left and right speakers aim at the room sides, giving off a room-filling sound effect. 

The only disadvantage of relying on a soundbar to produce the surround sound effects is that it only works for small rooms. If you plan to use a soundbar for a spacious room, you’re in for a setback. Larger rooms require bigger subwoofers.

Today, many manufacturers are producing soundbars that support the latest visual and audio tech. Premium soundbars have an average of 10-12 built-in speakers that provide an all-around experience. Others are compatible with Dolby Atmos, DTS.X, and newer sound formats. 

Dolby Atmos soundbars use object-oriented surround sound technology to add extra juice to your entertainment audio and video quality. It uses upward-firing speakers, enhancing sound from every corner of the room.

The Best Soundbars For Surround Sound

Speaking of surround sound, here are our top 3 best soundbars for surround sound at a glance:

JBL Bar 5.1 Soundbar

The JBL Bar 5.1 (available on Amazon.com) offers the ultimate Surround Sound experience with 510W of power and wireless capabilities that will take your movies and gaming to a whole new level. 

The detachable, battery-powered wireless surround speakers make it easy to set up wherever you want. 

The thrilling bass from the 10 Inch (250 mm) wireless subwoofer immerses you into your movies and series. Plus, with Bluetooth streaming, you can enjoy your favorite tunes without ever having to leave the comfort of your seat. Last but not least, the JBL bar’s true 4K connectivity features 3 HDMI in/1 HDMI out (ARC) ports.

VIZIO SB36512-F6 Soundbar

The VIZIO SB36512-F6 (available on Amazon.com) is the perfect way to get cinematic surround sound in your home without breaking the bank. It features rear surround sound speakers and two upward-firing speakers for an immersive audio experience. 

And best of all, it’s Chromecast Built-in, so you can easily stream your favorite shows, movies, and music from your phone or tablet. You also get a wireless subwoofer that plays deep bass for a truly immersive experience.

Sony HTX8500 Soundbar

Bring the movie theater experience home with Sony’s HTX8500 2.1ch Dolby Atmos/DTS soundbar (available on Amazon.com). This bad boy has a whopping 7.1.2ch Dolby Atmos/DTS X speaker setup, complete with dual built-in subwoofers for deep bass action. 

Plus, it features seven different sound modes to choose from, so you can always get the perfect audio experience for what you’re watching. And if that’s not enough, it also supports a 4K HDR pass through. So with this soundbar, you can enjoy all your favorite content in glorious high definition.

Are Soundbars Worth It?

Soundbars are the new rage in speaker systems. We can see this by the number of people who buy them, and there’s a reason why – they provide excellent sound quality while not being too bulky or complicated to set up. 

Some soundbar brands even have models specially made for those who suffer from hearing impairments. If you look deep enough, it will be hard not to find a soundbar that fits your needs.

Soundbars are worth it. They are budget-friendly compared to home theater systems and other loudspeakers. Soundbars produce high-quality sound that TV speakers cannot match. They are easy to set up as they only need an HDMI cable to connect to your TV and require less space for setting up. 

Wireless soundbars are also more convenient to set up than wired subwoofers. Other reasons why soundbars are worth it are as follows:

  • Full-range applications: Soundbars have 2-5 built-in speakers inside the enclosure. These speakers and their design amplify the sound from the TV source and enrich it with clearer, higher-quality sound. Some soundbars come with inbuilt woofers to produce low-pitched audio frequencies. Although the performance won’t match up to a dedicated subwoofer, it’s well worth noting that a soundbar can replace a sub.
  • Great value for money: Everybody wants the highest value for their money, right? And it all starts with some good research before settling on the product to buy. High-end soundbars perform great, cover all frequencies, and last long. Mid-priced soundbars also perform decently, while low-budget models don’t perform poorly either.
  • Little space consumption: Subwoofers are outstanding, but they eat up way too much space. With soundbars, you can keep your living space looking clean and uncluttered. Soundbars go right below the TV, while the wireless subwoofer can fit anywhere (since bass is omnidirectional).
  • There’s also no need to invest in a receiver because soundbars have wireless connections that will work with other surround speakers. So, that means you won’t have to break the bank on accessories and extra parts. 

You can find a soundbar from as low as $70 and the high-end ones up to $1000.

One Last Thing: Research Before Buying

Always do some digging before making a purchase. It’s always good to find out if a soundbar has what you’d want it to have. Does it have a long lifespan? Does it come with a warranty? 

When it comes to choosing speakers, there’s a lot more than just what sound quality you want. Are your deep bass preferences cutting through the ground, or do decent volume levels suffice for now? 

Remember why you need the soundbar in the first place. If you just want to use it to replace your TV speakers only, any low-budget model is enough to get the job done.

If money is tight and all that remains is the need for quality sounds, then consider buying something with good onboard audio. 

In the end, electronics will always be costly whether you buy cheap or expensive devices.

Does a Soundbar Require a Subwoofer?

When it comes to sound, not all audio devices are created equal. Some systems need a high-quality subwoofer for deep bass that will shake the room. Others can get by with just an average speaker or even one without any kind of woofers at all.

Soundbars do not require a subwoofer to work. They can function perfectly on their own. The array of speakers found in a soundbar enables the reproduction of medium to high pitched audio frequencies. However, nothing beats a subwoofer if you need a better performance on the low frequencies.

Subwoofers enable you to experience an improved surround sound system with extra bass. They can reproduce the lowest sounds on the spectrum. So, when listening to music or audio with a subwoofer, you will hear sounds that other speakers cannot deliver independently.

Soundbars don’t require a subwoofer to produce good quality sound. Manufacturers are now designing soundbars with over 12 inbuilt speakers that sound great. These soundbars are slightly longer than what we had in the past, but they are still easy to set up.

Is a Soundbar Better With a Subwoofer?

Imagine enjoying your favorite Netflix movie, but with greatly improved sound. The low rumbling and immense sound effects will make you feel like part of the action on screen. Soundbars are an excellent place to start when looking for better audio quality in general – they integrate seamlessly into most rooms, so there’s no need to worry about running wires or installing bulky speakers anywhere else than where they belong.

A soundbar is better with a subwoofer. The two complement each other. While the soundbar focuses on mid-range and high-pitch frequencies, the subwoofer reproduces the low-frequency effects in your audio stream. 

Integrating a soundbar with subwoofers is an excellent way to improve your entertainment experience. With the addition of these speakers, you’ll be able to enjoy movies and high-quality sounds without any distractions from background noise.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re looking for a home theater system or just some good sound, there are many options out on the market. Are your preferences focused on bass-heavy tunes and movies with deep voices? Then go ahead for something like a subwoofer. If not, a soundbar is enough for your everyday use.

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