A Sound Bar or a Home Theatre System? A complete decision-making guide

With the continued expansion of the tech industry, sound consumers now have the option of choosing either a soundbar or a home theatre system.

A Soundbar or a Home Theatre System. Which way to go
A Soundbar or a Home Theatre System. Which way to go [Photo/ Courtesy]

In Brief

– Choosing your speaker for your home entertainment is no little decision.

– With the continued expansion of the tech industry, sound consumers now have the option of choosing either a soundbar or a home theatre system.

In this series of our continuing publications of cool gadgets (#coolgadgets), we are going to examine in great detail the features that set soundbars and home theatre systems apart.

To make the entertainment experience more appealing to the ear, most people tend to look for external sound systems that will complement and enhance the audio qualities of their smart devices like TVs and Smartphones. There is absolutely no fun in having great screen displays for movies and games while your sound quality is terrible. Mantra: Do to the ear what you do to the eye.

This brings us now to crossroads in the form of the question posed in the title; do we buy soundbars or home theatre speakers? Before we delve into the debate, it is prudent that we sufficiently understand the two audio output devices.


Also Read: With KES 700, 000, would you build a house or buy this Home Theatre?


What is a Soundbar? 

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A soundbar or a media bar is a type of a loudspeaker that projects audio from a wide enclosure. For acoustic reasons, it is built with more width than length, and this feature also helps when mounting it either above or below a display device. In a soundbar set-up, multiple speakers are placed in a single cabinet and this helps generate a stereo effect. Soundbars are primarily designed to produce strong sound with great bass response.

What is a Home Theatre System?

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A home theatre is basically a combination of electronic components designed to recreate the experience of watching visual content in a theatre. In other words, the term ‘Home Theatre’ has got no specific definition save for the fact that it is just a vague term used to refer to a particular approach of home entertainment.


Also Read: Bluetooth Speakers – Enjoy Quality Sound Anywhere


What are the main differences between a soundbar and a home theatre?

While a soundbar is a single, long rectangular device that is placed horizontally on a surface for use and that can contain any number of speakers from two to seven, home theatre systems come in sets that consist of a receiver, a subwoofer, and five speakers. One speaker is placed at the center, two on either side of the front, and two on the backside.

Sound quality

Home theatre systems are better suited for the most realistic surround sound experience, based on the fact that the speakers are strategically situated in a spread-out form as opposed to soundbars. The separation of sound sources could however mean that there is a likelihood of distortion as high volume levels are decreased.


When making considerations in terms of setup space requirements, soundbars are the thing to go for as they take much less space than home theatre systems. Additionally, multi-speaker home theatres setups are much more complicated and time-consuming.


Also Read: What is an Android TV?


A case for a soundbar

So, why would you pick a soundbar over a home theatre speaker?

+ Pros

  • Easy to set up
  • Minimal wiring required
  • Compact
  • Better sound than TV speakers

A case for a home theatre system

Here’s why you would consider buying a home theatre system over a soundbar;

  • Exceptional surround sound experience.
  • Different surround options based on room size.
  • Customizable setup.