When I was looking into getting a soundbar, I wanted to know if you can use it with other speakers. So, I looked into it and put together this article to explain what I found.
So, can you use a soundbar with other speakers? Soundbars are made to be compatible only with speakers which are the same brand. If you use speakers that aren’t made by the same manufacturer the sound quality will be sub par and is not recommended. It is also too difficult for an average person to configure.
Exactly why needs some explaining, as well as, how you would go about connecting speakers together that aren’t the same brand. So, below I will explain it, as well as, some other tips about soundbars and home theater setups.
Is it Possible to Use a Soundbar with Other Speakers?
Soundbars are designed to be used with other speakers such as subwoofer, and tower speakers. But, you should ideally use a soundbar and other speakers which are the same brand. Because each manufacturer has their own way of wiring and configuring their speakers.
Soundbars receive inputs only. So, when you are connecting other speakers to it they must go through an AV receiver, called a receiver for short. The receiver translates the sound information on the show, movie, or concert to the speakers. It outputs the information in a way that the speakers can understand so that they play the different parts of the soundtrack of what you are watching.
A typical home theatre system will include a soundbar, a subwoofer, and tall tower speakers. The different speakers handle different parts of the sound spectrum.
- Soundbars – high end of the sound range
- Other speakers (tower speakers, mid-sized speakers) – middle range
- Subwoofer – bass
Some people use only a soundbar and subwoofer system which gives a fairly good sound experience. But, to get the full surround sound experience mid-range speakers are used. The tower speakers are placed behind you on each corner.
This makes sound come from behind you which gives you the 3D sound experience and makes the show, movie, or concert way better.
The soundtrack for what you play on your speakers is made to be separated out by the sound engineer. When you have only some of the speakers it puts more strain on them and makes them wear out faster.
So, there are a few disadvantages of using only some of the speakers. The first is that the sound isn’t as good, and the second is that it puts more wear and tear on the speakers you do have.
Using Speakers From the Same Manufacturer
In general, you can only use speakers for a full home theater system from the same brand. This means if you have a Sony subwoofer, you should use a Sony soundbar.
This is because they are designed to work well with each other. When you use two different brands they are often not compatible, and when they are it requires a lot of sound engineering know-how to get it work. Which is more trouble than it’s worth for a non-sound engineer or electrician.
This means that if you want to use a soundbar with other speakers you should get the same brand. But, you may be a person who has an interest in it and will make the effort to learn how it all works.
Do You Need Speakers with a Soundbar?
A soundbar subwoofer combination gives good sound quality which suits many use cases. Such as using a soundbar and subwoofer on a desktop computer. In general, you don’t want to use a soundbar for a laptop unless you use a separate keyboard.
Because, when you use a soundbar it sits directly in front of you. This makes it problematic because there is nowhere to put the soundbar to give a good sound quality as the keyboard and screen needs to be directly in front of you.
Also if you have a screen in a spare room, or a secondary setup for watching shows, movies, or concerts. Then a soundbar and subwoofer combo is sufficient. When you don’t have room for a full home theater setup, or, don’t want such a high-quality sound experience.
If you use a soundbar on its own it works ok and better than the speakers that come standard with a flat-screen, but, it is dramatically improved by at least a soundbar, and the more speakers you add the better the sound quality gets.
A subwoofer soundbar combination that I like is the Polk Audio Signa S2 Ultra-Slim because of The excellent sound and value.
Does Soundbar Replace TV Speakers?
Soundbars were originally designed to replace TV speakers. Traditional TVs that were large and heavy had big speakers that provided good sound quality.
As flat screen technology became better and better, TV’s became thinner and thinner. So, the speakers had to get thinner, and a good sound quality could no longer come from such small speakers.
This led to sound bars as stand alone speakers to make up for the small thin speakers on modern flat screen TVs.
Soundbars are also part of a surround sound system. Soundbars provide sound which comes directly from the front, whereas other speakers provide sound from other different directions.
This way of separating out where the sound comes from gives the 3D experiences that we all know and love. Similar to what you experience in a movie theater.
So, soundbars were created to replace TV speakers. I wrote a complete article about it so that you can check it out titled: Does a Soundbar Replace TV Speakers?
Is a Soundbar Better than Speakers?
Better sound quality is achieved by larger speakers up to a certain point, and smaller speakers give you inferior sound to bigger speakers.
But, very large speakers are called subwoofers and only handle the bass, where you won’t hear any of the low sound such as voices of people speaking, and ambient environmental sounds.
So, if you are deciding between a soundbar or speakers you should look at the physical size of the speakers on each. A soundbar typically has speakers that are smaller than mid sized speakers and so the mid sized speakers will give better sound quality.
Soundbars and speakers, however, are designed to be used together and to get the best sound quality you should use both. The sound from a flat screen TV is significantly improved by using either a soundbar or speakers.
So, it would depend on what speakers you already have and the specific sound experience you are trying to create.
A subwoofer speaker, the large square looking ones, aren’t better on their own, relative to soundbars. As previously mentioned, subwoofers wont play the full sound spectrum and the TV show or movie gets only slightly improved using a subwoofer.
If you have to make a choice between a subwoofer or a soundbar you should always go with a soundbar because a subwoofer doesn’t play most of the sounds made in a show, movie, or concert.
Soundbars and subwoofers are sold together, and one of these combos is fairly inexpensive, where you can often find deals where you can get both for the same price as buying each of the speakers on their own.
You can use a soundbar with other speakers, but you should go with the same brand as the other speakers you have. This is because most soundbars and other speakers are not compatible with each other by default.
An electrician or sound engineer can make adjustments to get them to work, but is beyond most people’s ability.
Soundbars were designed to replace the speakers of TVs because of the advancements in flat screen technology. This left no room for speakers that could give good sound quality, and thus soundbars were created as stand alone speakers to be used with modern LCD and flat screen TVs.
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