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What is a soundbar?

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Quick Answer

A soundbar is a small home entertainment speaker system that consists of a single rectangular unit housing its speakers and electronics. Some soundbars may also come with additional speakers for bass or surround sound output, but many are entirely self-contained.

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The primary advantage of a soundbar is its small size relative to other home theater sound options. Soundbars do not require a separate receiver and are small enough to be placed in front of a television, so they are ideal for smaller spaces. Many soundbars also feature virtual surround sound technologies that mimic separate surround sound speakers by bouncing directed sound waves off of walls. In addition, many models that include a separate subwoofer for bass communicate with the subwoofer via wireless technology, so they are ideal for those looking to avoid the clutter of speaker wires as well.

Soundbars tend to have poorer-quality sound reproduction as compared to full home entertainment speaker systems, as it is difficult for the smaller speakers in a soundbar to fully replicate the same range of sounds as a large system with multiple separate speakers. Also, while virtual surround sound systems are passable for surround sound effects, they are not as accurate as separate surround sound speakers. Virtual surround sound systems may also work poorly in rooms with many obstructions, or if the soundbar is placed at certain angles relative to the walls of the space.

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