Bookshelf Speakers vs Soundbars: Which is Best for Your Home Theater?

Do you want to set up a home theater but don’t know which type of speaker system to choose?

You might be wondering if you should go with bookshelf speakers or a soundbar. Both have their pros and cons, which we will discuss in this article.

Ultimately, the decision depends on your specific needs and preferences so read on to learn more about the differences between bookshelf speakers and soundbars, and find out which one is best for you!

What are soundbars?

A soundbar is a slim horizontal speaker that is usually used to improve the sound quality of a television or home theater system. Soundbars are typically much narrower than a traditional speaker, making them easier to mount on a wall or place in front of a television.

Most soundbars include multiple speaker drivers, which helps to create a wider soundstage and improve the audio quality of music and movies.

In addition, many soundbars come with built-in subwoofers, which helps to create a more immersive listening experience.

Soundbars are an excellent way to improve the audio quality of any home theater system.

What are bookshelf speakers?

A bookshelf speaker is a speaker designed to fit on a bookshelf or other small surface. However, bookshelf speakers can also pack a punch, providing clear sound and powerful bass. While they may not be able to fill a large room like floor-standing speakers, bookshelf speakers are a great option for smaller spaces.

Bookshelf speakers are simply smaller speaker units that are designed to sit on a bookshelf or other surface rather than being mounted on the wall or ceiling. They are typically used in home theater systems and music setups, as they take up less space than floor-standing speakers.

While they’re not as powerful as floor-standing speakers, they offer a number of advantages.

A great thing about them is that they are much more affordable than a larger speaker, making them a great option if you’re working with a tight budget. Usually bookshelf speakers are self powered so you don’t need to spend additional money on an amplifier.

Another thing I like about bookshelf speakers is that they’re much easier to set up and move around, so you can experiment with different locations until you find the perfect spot.

Many people tend to prefer the look of bookshelf speakers, as they tend to be more aesthetically pleasing than larger speaker models.

Bookshelf Speakers vs Soundbars: Which is better for you?

Things to take into consideration when deciding which choice is best for you:

  • How will you be using the speakers, for music or TV, or both?
  • What is your budget?
  • What aesthetic look are you going for in your room?
  • What level of sound quality do you desire?

Keeping these questions in mind, let’s look at the benefits and cons of both soundbars and bookshelf speakers.

Powered speakers or Soundbar – Which one looks better?

Soundbars are a simple bar shaped speaker that blends in really well with a living room configuration, you hardly notice it’s there. Aesthetically this is great as it does not change the overall look and feel on the living room space that you already spent effort designing.

Bookshelf speakers generally have a sleek design, however they do take up much more space and need a platform to be placed on both sides of your home theater set up. If you like the aesthetic look of the powered speaker design and have space to place them, then they are a great option for you.

They are both good looking speaker set ups, in the end it depends on if you want a more stealth looking setup or if you want to make the speakers a more focal point of your room design.

Bookshelf Speakers vs Soundbars – Which has better sound quality?

On the whole, bookshelf speakers tend to offer better sound quality for music and movies. This is because they have separate and larger drivers for high and low frequencies, which results in a wider frequency range and better sound reproduction.

In addition, bookshelf speakers generally have a higher impedance than soundbars, which means they can handle more power and produce louder sound.

Soundbars, on the other hand, tend to have poorer sound quality than bookshelf speakers due to their smaller size and fewer drivers.

That said, some high-end soundbars can come close to matching the sound quality of bookshelf speakers, but when comparing against each other at the same price level, the bookshelf speakers knock soundbars out of the water with their sound quality.

Bookshelf Speakers or Soundbars – Which is Easiest to Connect and Use?

Soundbars are generally much easier to connect and use than bookshelf speakers because they usually have HDMI or optical connecyions.

Soundbars only have one cable that needs to be connected to the TV, whereas bookshelf speakers require two separate cables for each speaker and then a third cable to connect to the TV.

In addition, soundbars usually have a more advanced remote control system, so you can easily adjust the volume or change the sound settings without having to get up from your seat.

Bookshelf or Soundbar Speakers – Which costs more?

The cost of soundbars and bookshelf speakers can vary depending on the brand, model, and features.

Generally speaking, soundbars tend to be more expensive than bookshelf speakers because they offer more convenient setup and more delicate and expensive components in order to fit everything in a small package.

Dollar for dollar you will get more sound value for your money with bookshelf speakers, but again it really depends on your specific needs and preferences.


Are bookshelf speakers good for music?

Yes, bookshelf speakers are amazing for music. Bookshelf speakers usually have a great spectrum of audio delivery that allows you to enjoy your favorite music with hard hitting bass and high notes as well.

Are bookshelf speakers good for surround sound?

Bookshelf speakers are generally only 2.0 speaker systems, meaning that there are only two speakers included in the set. Additionally, they usually do not support the addition of additional speakers that would be needed to complete a surround sound system.

For a surround sound system it is better to buy an amp and the other required speakers to complete a surround sound system and then put it together yourself.

Do soundbars sound as good as surround sound?

Soundbars sound great but you will not be able to get the same sound effects that you can get from a surround sound system.

This is mainly because you don’t have the rear speaker effect of a surround sound system that completes the 3D sound experience.


I hope this article helped you decide if you want to purchase a bookshelf speaker or a soundbar.

Sometimes the “it depends” answer can be frustrating but this in one of those true cases where it really depends on what you need.

When shopping for your speaker system, make sure to take into account the points we mentioned above and you should be well equipped to make the right decision. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to