Are you still using your built-in TV speakers? Even when you make a great deal on a new TV, poor sound quality from the built-in speakers comes along with the deal. While the flat screen design generates amazing possibilities for viewing options that same design is detrimental to the audio quality.
Simply put there is just no space or depth, to put high-quality speakers into something so thin. Your new TV was specifically designed for great viewing. But what about great listening?
Shoppers regularly make their TV purchase decisions based solely on the size and quality of the screen. Therefore, manufacturers have no incentive to solve the audio problem.
That changed in the late 1990s and the market was finally ready for a new invention – the soundbar.
What is a Soundbar?
A soundbar is a type of loudspeaker that is wider than it is tall for acoustic and practical reasons. Multiple speakers are placed in a single cabinet, which helps to create surround sound and or stereo effect. This integrated box consists of speakers, subwoofers, and sometimes additional supportive elements. For example, oftentimes a separate subwoofer is part of the sound system.
So your new TV looks amazing hanging on the wall. And there is almost no bezel (the space around the edge of the screen) because you bought the biggest screen you could fit into your available space. But why doesn’t it sound as good as it looks?
Sound is recorded in multiple channels, but oftentimes that sound is played back through one or two channels. In the simplest terms think 1 channel equals 1 speaker. A soundbar contains multiple channels, with each speaker dedicated to delivering sound recorded from a unique channel.
History of Soundbars
Soundbar history started in 1998 when Altec Lansing introduced the first multichannel soundbar, which deserved the expressive name: Voice of the Digital Theatre or ADA106. This all-in-one modular soundbox was initially designed to generate strong sound with a good bass response. This device offered stereo, Dolby Pro-Logic, and AC3 surround sound with the soundbar and included a separate subwoofer.
Later, other manufacturers have followed with their alternatives offering similar setups and designs, all varying enough to create an extremely competitive market and drive innovation.
The perfected version of this invention was Hannaher’s Zvox 315. It appeared in 2003. After investing lots of free work in his one-person company, the hard work had finally paid off. The combination of amazing sound and the easy set up of this device led to the first significant success of the soundbar.
Soon Pioneer offered digital sound from a single-source speaker. It also provided a 5.1 digital surround sound packed with power.
Another major player was Yamaha’s YSP-1 Digital Sound Projector. With multiple drivers of varying sizes, a smart setup feature that allowed the sound to adapt to your specific space, you could finally get great sound to match your great view.
Variations by Philips’s split soundbar and HEOS’s HomeCinem have created an array of options for customers to choose from.
Why are Soundbars so Popular?
This was not always the case with this sound system, but the market is currently riddled with this device. The main reason is how affordable have they become compared to full size home theatre systems. In addition, some of the best budget sound bars out there now manage to deliver a great sound improvement compared to TV speakers.
Soundbars are popular among those who search for good sound quality while they have limited space in their homes or do not want to surround themselves with speakers for aesthetic reasons. Three important factors lead to their popularity – cost, aesthetics, and interior design. Easy setup and convenience also drive the desirability.
The price range is wide as are the options regarding audio quality. Soundbars are available for less than $100. That introductory level price is well worth increasing your Tv’s low audio quality and provide slightly better sound. The most expensive options are can be more than $3000 but they also provide a home theater experience with the highest quality surround sound.
In all cases, the design is also a big part of their popularity. They blend in with the most home decor. A soundbar is a single unit device that perfectly fits under or above the TV screen or monitor while consuming much less space than the traditional home theater would. In the case of smaller rooms, soundbars may serve better than speakers without consuming as much space. If you have a small home but still want high-quality audio experience, there is no need to search any longer. Choosing a soundbar does not have to be a sound compromise, because most systems can be expanded with additional wireless speakers and a subwoofer later on.
The ease of set up is also a significant factor when it comes to anything digital. Soundbars simply plug into the wall for power and plug into the TV for the data connection. If the sound system comes with a separate subwoofer, they are usually wireless. There is no need for an amplifier as it is built into the bar’s body.
Some soundbars come with a built-in voice assistant so you can easily play music. You can also use Bluetooth streaming in most cases.
How are Soundbars Powered?
Another great feature of a soundbar is the elimination of cords. A simple glance behind a TV stand often resembles a tangled mass of spaghetti rather than a few simple cords connecting your devices.
A soundbar is powered by a single power cord. No separate power cords for every speaker. No wires behind walls or across floors. And in most cases, they can connect through a single HDMI connection and serve all your purposes from there. Some may even connect via Bluetooth and allow you to use only the power cord.
While soundbars were invented with one purpose, to better your TV’s sound, they now offer so much more. You may connect multiple devices, add additional speakers, and even talk to your virtual assistance using the soundbar. Whatever your current system is a soundbar will get your audio quality to match or surpass the quality of your TV.