If you are a music lover and sound enthusiast, and you are setting up your home entertainment, then you must have faced these questions. Should I buy a sound bar or a home theater system? Are sound bars better or home theater? Which is the best sound bar out there? Or Which is the best home theater these days?
This is a very broad topic and a lot aspects comes into play like, desired sound effect, purpose, space and budget. But I will try to answer all these questions for you in an objective manner to help you make the right decision.
On one hand a sound bar looks clean, stylish and more or less a part of the TV. A home theater is a lot of gadgetry that needs proper setup.
Also Read: Best Soundbar in India
Most of the LED TVs claim to provide a great sound experience, but very less are capable of doing that. Primary reason, not enough space inside the TV unit. TV manufactures are vying to come up with the thinnest of TVs resulting in tight space of TV speakers and other components. The customers end up feeling a lack a good quality sound especially when they are watching movies, streaming videos or playing games.
A soundbar is meant exactly for this purpose. It can serve as an extra set of speakers to boost the sound output of your TV. But then it exactly just that – “speakers to boost the sound output”. It can provide you with that high decibel sound, extra bass and to an extent a surround effect at a budget.
However, if you are setting up a Home Entertainment System and looking to have a mini theater like experience then you should definitely opt for a Home Theater System. It will give you the real effects of stereo surround sound and will take you TV viewing experience to the next level. But this will not come cheap and a good home theater will burn a big hole in your pocket.
Another important aspect when it comes to choosing between a Sound Bar vs Home Theater is practicality. By this I mean taking into consideration the space availability, the TV setup you have, kind of output you need and how often do you really watch movies at home.
When it comes to space, a sound bar is a clear winner. I personally like the bar design of sound bars. It doesn’t look like conventional cuboid like speakers. They are sleek and almost merge with the slim design of the LED TVs. Because they are so sleek they can fit very easily below the LED TV, no matter your TV is wall mounted or kept on a console. Soundbars just blend in.
On the other hand, the Home Theater is a multi-unit setup. So a 5.1 channel will have one main unit and 5 sub-woofer speakers that is a total of 6 units. Similarly, a 7.1 channel will have 8 units. To have a full-blown experience, you will have to place the speakers around the entire room. Don’t get me wrong, as I am not trying to discourage you from buying it, but if you want to enjoy your home theater to the fullest, you need to have it setup as recommended. Few years back I had a mediocre 5.1 channel Home Theater system. I placed the speakers as recommended and even that was another experience all together. So imagine what a good quality Home Theater unit would do. If you are a serious sound enthusiast, then nothing else will do.
Gone are the days when TV units were a part of the living room furniture. Now a days, I have seen people having an entertainment room with all the gadgets installed. I personally like that idea. If you have guests then TV units do tend to be a distraction in the living room. In your entertainment room though it will be a different experience all together. Imagine watching a football or cricket match on your TV with the sound effects of a Home Theater. You will certainly feel like being in a stadium. Bet you on that!!
See now you cannot blame me for taking sides with the soundbar. Well honestly Home Theaters are a different experience but not without a good TV set. TV unit is an important factor in your buying decision. If your TV does not have good quality sound, then as I said earlier, go for a sound bar. It will enhance not just the sound but the quality of it as well.
With a Home Theater the idea is not about improving sound quality, but the overall viewing experience. If you really want to take your TV viewing to another level then don’t just invest in a Good Home Theater, but also go for a big screen TV. That will give you the real “Theater” experience at home.
Our shopping bucket-list depends on the “bucks” we have in our pocket. Prices of Soundbars start as low as Rs 2000 and go all the way up to Rs 1 lac. But you will find a decent sound bar between Rs. 10,000 – Rs. 20,000 price range.
Home theaters start at around Rs. 3000 and can go up to Rs. 1.5 – 2 lac and even more. If you are really looking to setup a Home Entertainment System, then you will have to at least spend anywhere between Rs. 20,000 – Rs. 50,000.
Whatever you choose, my recommendation would be to buy a good brand. It’s as if I am telling a secret no one knows! but what i mean is, that these gadgets are not something we buy very often. So whatever your budget, try and go for a good brand. So if your budget is anywhere under Rs. 20,000, then go for a Sound Bar, because you will not find a good Home Theater in this price bracket. But if you don’t mind spending beyond the Rs. 20,000 range, and you have a mid-sized to large-sized living room, then you should make that investment in a 5.1 Channel Home Theater system. You will certainly not regret it.
I hope my analysis help you in making the right decision but if you have any other questions, do let me know in the comments section.