Most modern TVs comes with built-in speakers that leaves you with an unsatisfactory sound quality, and a surround sound system with 5 or 7 speakers placed around the room might not be something that you’d like to have, of various reasons. This is when a soundbar or a soundbase would be a good option, as these are easy to use and set up, affordable, small in size yet are still able to offer great sound-quality. If you don’t know which one of these (soundbar vs soundbase) that might be the best choice for you, we will hopefully be able to give you a better idea of which of these to choose, as we will take a closer look at what features they offer, and what their similarities and differences are.
What is a Soundbar?
A soundbar is a slim, oblong-shaped device that contains individual speakers (the majority has 3 or more) lined up side by side inside the cabinet, and it can either be wall-mounted beneath the TV, or placed flat on the TV stand, in front of your television.
Often, soundbars come with a separate subwoofer (these are wireless usually) that’ll provide extra bass, while some models come with the subwoofer built in inside the soundbar cabinet. Soundbars can be used with a TV-set, home projector setup, or any other type of playback source, (smartphones, tablets, etc) as long as they have got Bluetooth connectivity, which is a standard feature for pretty much all soundbars these days.
What is a Soundbase?
A soundbase is closely related to the soundbar when it comes to the design, but instead of being bar shaped, they come in a box-like appearance, as they are designed to sit underneath the television.
These unit’s come in different sizes and they are generally rated by the weight that they can hold. The fabric-covered front of a soundbase contains the main speaker drivers, while the back of the unit often contain a bass port for extra bass, meaning it will usually not require the addition of a subwoofer.
Which Type Should You Choose?
When it comes to picking the best alternative for your TV-set, there’s a few things that you need to take into consideration. Soundbars are usually wider in dimensions, and because of that, the sound field will be a bit wider than with soundbases, which will make them a bit better for playing stereo music. Depending on the soundbar, they will also sound a bit better when in virtual surround mode. Most soundbars are also versatile, as they can be placed on the stand in front of the television, or mounted on the wall. However, sometimes large soundbars can block the IR sensor of the remote when placed on the TV stand.
As previously mentioned, some soundbars comes with an external subwoofer (usually wireless) that will require a little space, and if you would rather have the height of the TV being raised by a couple of inches, instead of having a separate subwoofer, then a soundbase would probably be the best option.
As a result of the large room inside the soundbase cabinets, they tend to have better built-in amps, larger drivers, and also the ability to include bass drivers, which makes them capable of reproducing deep bass in a good way, without having an additional subwoofer. As a soundbase is built for sitting underneath the TV, it will obviously not be the best alternative if your plan is to hang the TV on a wall.
What Features To Look For?
Basically all soundbars and soundbases comes with an optical digital input that will connect to your TV’s audio return channel (ARC). They will also have analog RCA inputs, and higher specs models will have digital ins and outs featuring both the coaxial and optical variety. If your plan is to connect a super-high definition source, like a HD-TV or Blue-ray, you should look for units that features HDMI connections, as they offer the best audio resolutions. Some soundbars and soundbases also comes with a subwoofer output, USB-ports and network/ethernet ports.
Bluetooth connectivity is a standard feature on all soundbars and soundbases these days, and it allows you to stream music wirelessly from your mobile devices. Some also come with Near Field Communication (NFC) that’ll make it even easier to pair devices.
When it comes to the sound quality, normally devices with more speakers will sound better, but it is not a given and also depending on other things. If you want the best sound possible (who doesn’t), you should make sure that the unit has separate drivers for all the 3 channels (bass, middle and treble).
A lot of soundbars and soundbases also comes with a dialogue-enchancement feature, that will make any dialogue sound crisp and clear, and some will have apps that will allow you to control the audio via your smartphone or tablet.
Some of these units comes with a front display panel that will tell you about what mode, input, volume level and so on, that the speaker is on. The reason it’s not more widely used is because some users find the light of the display a bit distracting, while some finds it to be very useful.
Soundbar vs Soundbase – Conclusion
When you compare a soundbase to a soundbar, you should take into consideration some of the things that has been mentioned above. An expensive soundbase will be better than a cheap soundbar and vice versa, so you should figure out a budget and compare similarly priced products. Both these speakers are ideal for smaller rooms, and they won’t fill your room with speakers and wires. But, if sound quality is the most important thing for you, a soundbar or a soundbase will not be a perfect replacement for a proper surround sound system because of the absence of the powerful audio processing of an audio/video (AV) receiver, and the several speakers that are detailedly placed around the room.
However, if the addition of a multi-speaker surround sound system isn’t your preferred option, a soundbar or soundbase will improve the overall audio experience significantly, and they will typically be a much less expensive option as well.
If you need any help to find a good soundbar (or soundbase) for a reasonable price, you should check out the video below, or read our buyer’s guide with reviews of the best budget soundbars on the market (under $400).