AV Receiver Vs Soundbar – Which is Better? (2022)


Because of the rapidly evolving technology and the ability of companies to meet the needs of consumers, there are now different kinds of sound systems that can be used at home. 

This technology makes it hard for buyers to determine what equipment will be best for them. They have better alternatives for choosing the audio system that can suit their needs.

So, we will introduce you to two types of sound systems: AV Receiver and Soundbar. An AV receiver and a soundbar are two devices used to boost your TV’s sound.  

The AV receiver has been a traditional component for decades, while the Soundbar is a more recent invention. At first glance, both may look like boxes that you plug speakers into, but their similarities end there.

For real audio enthusiasts who want the absolute best, you should go with an AV Receiver. However, if you just want something small, with decent audio, and if you’re on a budget, just go with the soundbar. It’s practical, and if you pair it with a soundbar, you can get some real mileage out of it. It really comes down to personal preference and goals.

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Receiver vs soundbar

What is an AV receiver?

An AV receiver (or audio/visual receiver) is a component that combines the preamp, amplifier, and tuner in one device. If you desire to dive into the world of home theater, it’s an essential piece of equipment for your setup. It’s the heart of your system — all of your speakers connect to the receiver, which connects to your TV and other video components.

An AV receiver is often compared to a stereo receiver, but there are some key differences between the two. A stereo receiver only deals with analog signals from radio stations or CDs, while an AV receiver has inputs for multiple video sources and analog sources.

In the AV receiver, instead of having three different cables running from each device to three other inputs on your TV (and then switching between them), you only need two for video and one for audio. You can then control everything using the receiver’s remote or connect it with a smartphone app (more on that later).

An AV receiver also has multiple speaker channels to accommodate surround sound systems. Samsung HW-K950 is one example of this. Receivers generally get used to powering the surround sound speakers in an entertainment setup.

It handles multiple high-definition video sources at once. Some models even include 4K Ultra HD pass-through features, allowing ultra-high-resolution video to be passed through the device without losing picture quality.

What is a soundbar?

A soundbar is a speaker enclosure that contains multiple speakers, usually a combination of woofers (for bass) and tweeters (for treble). Soundbars often get used as front speakers in home theater setups, but they can also serve as the only speakers in your system.

The idea behind soundbars is simple: They combine multiple drivers in a single chassis to create more bass response and wider sound dispersion than you can achieve with a single speaker. You can think of it as a “mini home theater.”

While many people still prefer using 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound systems for their home theater setup, others want a simpler solution for getting great sound without all the hassle of setting up multiple speakers.

Some models feature HDMI inputs and outputs, allowing them to pass through the high-definition video signal from a Blu-ray player or other source component while decoding surround sound formats such as Dolby TrueHD.

Soundbar is better for casual listening

Soundbars have grown in popularity throughout the years because of their convenience and simplicity. It is a good option for smaller rooms or if you don’t want to deal with the hassles of multiple speakers. 

The compact size and simple setup mean you can avoid fussing with many speakers and wires to get great audio from your TV. It’s generally used to supplement TV speakers or as a replacement for them, and it works by bouncing sound off the walls of your room. 

They’re also great for casual listening since they can get hooked up to any device with a headphone jack, including laptops, tablets, and smartphones. 

Soundbar or AV Receiver for Home theatre setup?

An AV receiver is the best choice for a multi-channel speaker system. This is because it can decode Dolby Digital and DTS (Digital Theater System) surround sound formats which are the most common surround sound formats in movies, music, and television shows.

AV receivers are a complete home theater package. They not only give you all of your inputs, but they also provide the amplification to power your speakers, as well as video switching so that you can connect multiple video sources and easily switch between them with one remote control.

It implies that instead of having a separate amplifier and video switch, you can run all of your components through a single box. It makes AV receivers an excellent choice if you want to keep your rack or cabinet neat.

Pros and cons of Soundbar

Pros

Slim size

The main reason why people buy soundbars is that they have a slim design. It makes them great for smaller homes or apartments where you might not have much room to work with. 

They’re also great for mounting on the wall underneath your TV, saving space in the entertainment center and keeping your living room neat and organized.

Easy installation 

Placing several speakers in a room requires more effort because they all need to be connected separately. 

A soundbar has multiple speakers in one device, making connecting them easier than connecting separate speakers. You can easily achieve surround sound with a soundbar, which is impossible with normal television speakers.

Inexpensive 

The main advantage of a soundbar is that it’s very cheap compared to multi-speaker systems and looks much better with your flat-screen TV.  

Sure, you can drop a couple of grand on one that sounds incredible, but a basic soundbar can add more immersion to your movies for less than $100. And if you’re willing to spend a little money, we think the Klipsch R-10B is the best Soundbar for people who want excellent audio without spending an arm and a leg.

Cons

Don’t produce real surround sound 

Soundbars tend to be stereo or 2.1 (two channels plus subwoofer), but some also have surround sound capability. 

They simulate sound by bouncing it off your walls and ceiling, but this doesn’t have the same impact as a discrete 5.1 or 7.1 system with speakers placed strategically around your room.

No Separate Subwoofer 

A disadvantage of many soundbars is that they do not have a separate subwoofer. They often have built-in subwoofers, but these are usually not impressive in terms of reproduction and deep bass sounds. 

If you desire to use the Soundbar for music reproduction and enjoy the deep bass sounds. In that case, it is better to choose a system with an accompanying subwoofer or add an external subwoofer to the system yourself.

Limited Connection Range 

Another drawback of the Soundbar is its limited connection range, particularly compared to a typical receiver or amplifier. Soundbars, especially those in the lower price ranges, come with a limited number of connections. For example, HDMI connections are infrequently installed, disappointing because practically all devices currently use HDMI. 

So, before purchasing a soundbar, make sure you know what you want to connect to and how to link it. Pick a good soundbar that has at least one HDMI input and output, and ideally, at least one digital sound input in any case. The greater the number, the better result.

Pros and cons of AV receiver

Pros

Sound quality 

Soundbars are usually limited to stereo sound, which means that they generally only produce two audio channels. You’ll be able to hear the dialogue, music, and some sound effects, but you won’t experience surround sound effects properly.

AV receivers give you the option of enjoying 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound systems, which can deliver a far more immersive experience. These systems use multiple speakers to create a more theater-like sound where directionality is clearly defined and background noise is far less intrusive.

Expandability 

AV receivers are far more expandable than any other home theater component on the market today. Most modern AV receivers have at least six channels for speakers, but many have seven or even eight channels available for expansion.

It allows you to enjoy an extremely wide range of high-quality surround sound options and configurations without having to replace your entire setup every few years or so.

More Control 

The other major advantage of AV receivers is their built-in controls. You’ll find knobs to adjust the volume, buttons to switch inputs, and a display that shows what components are currently in use. 

It’s all right there on the front panel of your receiver, which is usually more convenient than fumbling with a remote control to change inputs.

Cons of AV Receiver

They take up more space 

The biggest downside to having an AV receiver is the amount of space it takes up. The AV receiver can be bulky and connects to many other devices. 

If you have an AV receiver connected to your TV, you will need to connect other devices such as DVD players to the AV receiver as well. You will also need to set up speakers around the room, which may be difficult if your home theater setup is in a smaller space.

Costly 

AV receivers have only one major disadvantage: their price. They are a bit more expensive than the other home theater systems. The prices of AV receivers vary according to their built-in features. 

They tend to be much more costly than a traditional stereo receiver, but you can find some lower-priced models for less than $300 if you shop around. Although if you want to purchase an AV receiver with excellent sound quality, then it is recommended that you should go for a mid-range model.

Heat Buildup 

AV receivers are electronic devices that generate heat as they work. However, the larger the receiver, the more heat it generates. As a result, AV receivers need to have proper ventilation.

For example, placing your receiver in an enclosed space such as a cabinet or entertainment center can lead to overheating and cause your receiver to fail. Additionally, heat negatively affects AV receivers and other components in your home theater system that can include speakers, amplifiers, TV, and even your subwoofer.

Conclusion

You want to buy a sound system for home theater and music. You’re confused between a soundbar, which offers convenient placement, and a receiver-based surround system, which requires more work to set up but can offer deeper sound quality.

A brief wrap-up to make you aware of the difference between these two terms

Soundbar: 

Soundbars are easy to set up since you only have one cable on your TV. A soundbar is also easier to install than a receiver and speaker system. And because of its slim profile, it’s easier to place in your entertainment center or on a wall mount. 

Receiver: 

A receiver-based surround system will have more channels (5.1 or 7.1) than the typical 2-channel Soundbar. It will also have better processing so that you can get the most out of 4K Ultra HD video sources or Blu-ray movies with Dolby Atmos soundtracks.

Choosing between a soundbar and surround sound speaker system is a matter of personal preference. We hope that our post has been helpful for you.

Shawn Shepherd

Hi, I'm the owner of the Hifi Guide and have been an audio lover enthusiast for over 16 years. I have a Bachelor's degree in Sound Engineering and I work on producing content for the Hifi Guide in my spare time. My love for audio stemmed from my Dad who was an audio technician, and now I share my knowledge here on this website!

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