Can A Soundbar Replace A Stereo? (Which is better?)

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The soundbar and stereo are two different things in the home theater, but they do nearly the same job. The job of providing you with nice sound with minimal setup. But can a soundbar replace a stereo?

At A Glance: Soundbar can never replace a stereo because the stereo setup has a wider and better stereo transition from the left to the right speaker. The only thing good about the soundbar is that it can throw dialogues straight at you, but again those will not be deeper and tighter as the stereo will deliver.

Keep reading to know about the stereo transition and how it can affect the movie or music experience for you. You will also know why the dialogue will not sound tighter and deeper with the soundbar.

Soundbar Vs Stereo: Which is better? (Head-on Comparison)

FeaturesSoundbar RatingsStereo Ratings
Stereo Transitioning of Sound3/1010/10
Bass depth1/1010/10
Dialogues Depth and clarity1.5/1010/10
Budget friendliness8/106.5/10
These ratings are only for the competition of Soundbar Vs Stereo.

Let me explain each feature to you. You won’t be confused anymore after reading this. In a few areas, I will let you set the ratings by yourself and I will just keep the facts in front of you. That’s why I must read it.

Which Provide Better Stereo Transitioning of Sound?

The stereo transitioning of sound is a phenomenon when you can feel the actual movement of the sound from the front left speaker to the right speaker and vice versa. 

This stereo-transitioning gives a realistic touch to the action on the screen. When the train moves from one side of the screen to another. You need to feel that moving into your home theater. The wider the stereo transition, the more realistic it will feel.

Again, I am the guy to feel the characters and things on the screen right in my room. But if you want to limit the stereo transition to the edge of the TV and sync it with screen visuals, then you can give a point to the soundbar. 

But I want to feel the train in my room. That’s why I will give a point to the stereo.

This was the comparison with a stereo system. Read the comparison results of the soundbar Vs speakers. I have compared it in many more areas in this guide.

Which One Provides Deeper Bass?

Every stereo setup has a subwoofer with it. The subwoofer size starts from 6 inches at the minimum end. The 6-inch subwoofer is a norm with a stereo setup. You can have systems that will have double the size of a subwoofer or will have dual subwoofers.

This subwoofer can give a bass with which you can never compare a soundbar by any means. I will say it will be a stupid idea to compare the bass of a stereo system with a soundbar. Don’t say it. I know I am stupid. I compared it anyway.

Let’s unplug the subwoofer and put it aside. I just want to make it even clearer for you. But still, the soundbar can’t come closer in the bass to the stereo system.

There is a valid reason. The built-in speakers in the soundbar have a smaller driver size than the stereo system. The bigger the driver’s size, the deeper bass will be. Let’s close the argument here. 

But remember, I am comparing high-end stereo with high-end soundbar. Of course, if you pick a cheap brandless stereo system to compare it with a branded soundbar then yes this statement can be reversed. It’s like my wife picks a soundbar because that is longer than mine. It’s idiotic.

Read my this guide to know. Does the size of a subwoofer matter? You will know more about the size effect of the sound quality.

Which One Delivers Clearer Dialogues With Depth?

If there is no good bass in the system, then how can anyone say there is depth in the dialogue? This is the case for the soundbar. A lot of soundbars come without a subwoofer, and 100% of the stereo system has a subwoofer. The stereo system means to be 2.1. The “1” at the end represents the subwoofer.

But if you want to bring a subwoofer with the soundbar then I can say you might compete with the bass depth but again don’t expect the clarity of dialogue’s same as a stereo system would deliver.

Because the dialogues come out of the soundbar’s built-in speakers and not from its subwoofer. And I have told you there is a great difference between the drivers of the soundbar built-in speakers and the stereo system’s speakers. The stereo speakers’ drivers are bigger and 3 out of 5 stereo systems have better build quality because brands have their best minds after tower and bookshelf speakers.

I have written another article where I have compared a soundbar without a subwoofer vs a soundbar with a subwoofer. You will know which is better for you in this guide.

Which One Is More Convenient To Use?

The soundbar is the most convenient option for sound. You can set up a soundbar within minutes. You will need one wire to connect it to the TV or projector and one cable to plug it into the power outlet.

The case is different for the stereo system. You will have to wire the speakers. Connect it properly to the TV or projector by keeping the stereo receiver in the chain. You will have to connect the subwoofer and find the best spot for it. The subwoofer can’t sound the best in every spot of the room. After that, you will have to calibrate the speakers too.

Now you know which option is more convenient and newbie friendly. Of course, a soundbar is a more convenient option for a newbie.

Which One Is Budget-Friendly?

You can find a good soundbar within a budget, but you will have to spend more for the stereo if you are serious about it.

I am not talking about cheap and brandless stereo systems. But you can find a branded soundbar in the same price range as a brandless stereo system. Read my this guide about the best soundbar for home theater. I have reviewed the top 7 under $300.

Final Verdict: Can a soundbar replace it and which one is better?

When it comes to the quality of the sound then the soundbar can never win over the stereo, but if you love the convenience and want a sound source on a budget then the soundbar can deliver well in these two areas only. 

I hope I have answered your question. If you still need an explanation, then post your comment in the comment section below. I will get back to you.

Did you get something out of this soundbar guide? Hold On We Have Something Exciting To Share.

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Can you play a stereo through a soundbar?

You can play a stereo sound through the soundbar because it is designed in the same layout as a stereo system. The stereo system has two speakers for the left and right and the soundbar has the same along with its built-in center speaker.

Stereo is the most used format of audio, that’s why a lot of devices are designed around it. Like the headphones, they too play stereo. 

Can I use a soundbar just for music?

You can use a soundbar just for music. You can use it for any purpose. The soundbar is designed for convenience. That’s why it is the most convenient sound source on the market.

You are the ruler of your man cave, woman cave, or their cave. Bear with me on these long titles. LOL! I have to take care of every gender. You can use a soundbar for anything in your cave.

Are cheap soundbars worth it?

It is worth it if you want to just upgrade from the built-in TV speakers. But if you want great and deeper sound then you should go for the mid-range and branded soundbar.

The cheap soundbar is worth it when compared with the TV’s built-in speakers. Because the drivers of the TV’s speakers are smaller than the drivers of the soundbar’s built-in speakers.

Does a soundbar act as a receiver?

A high-end soundbar with many HDMI ports can act like a receiver on a small scale. You can connect your media devices such as a Blu-ray player or gaming console to the soundbar and can pass-through their signals to the TV via the soundbar.

It can act like a receiver when you just want to pass through signals of media sources to the TV through it. But you can’t connect additional speakers to it. Here it can’t be used as a receiver because the soundbar doesn’t have a preamp, amplifier, and audio video processor built into it.

Helpful Resources For The FAQs To Read More

  1. This was my opinion. Know how to get the best out of a stereo system from this LifeWire Blog. (Resource for the first answer)
  2. I have compared the cheap Vs expensive soundbar. You will know from this guide, which is better for you. (Resource for the second answer)

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Ayaan Khan
Ayaan Khan

I'm Ayaan khan, a freelancer and a Computer Science degree holder from P.E.S. College. After my degree, I started an internship with my father in his home theater showroom. After working for a month I realized that this is the best job in the world for me and it could be turned into a passion. Fast forward to when my internship ended, I joined my father as a full-time home theater equipment tester. I test new equipment and approve it before it can be installed in the customer's house. I love to test equipment and sometimes love to install it by myself in the customer's theater room. I have the right experience and knowledge to learn from my articles. In my Free time I write & answer questions here on AVSFORUM. Every Article on Homelytainment is curated according to Homelytainment's Editorial Policy and Sponsorship Policy. If you have any questions for me. Reach out to my email (Support(AT)

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