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In case you’re wondering what soundbar wattage you should be looking for, you desperately need our article! A lot of manufacturers highlight the wattage of their products as if it’s a measure of the quality of their audio equipment. So, is it? Well, to put it simply – no! Therefore, today we’ll show you how relevant the wattage is for soundbar specifications, and what you should actually look into if you want to buy a high-quality, durable soundbar. Let’s begin!
Table of Contents
What is a soundbar? Do you need it?
Soundbars are considered to be a smaller, cheaper alternative to home theaters. Since they have a multi-speaker setup but are pretty tiny compared to their alternative, they are sometimes thought of as TV speakers with better quality. However, soundbars nowadays can come with multiple speakers, various setup options, and can produce a high-quality sound that will be more than enough for any household. So, if you want the enhanced sound but you don’t have too much space or money, a soundbar is a way to go.
What Soundbar Wattage actually means?
Are you having trouble finding the exact wattage of a certain soundbar in specifications? Some manufacturers don’t state the wattage of their devices because it doesn’t really tell you much about the product. In general terms, the wattage represents the power that comes from an amplifier. So, the watts demonstrate the amount of power output. Since most soundbars have a built-in amp, the watts you see in the specs are for that amplifier.
On the other hand, you will be able to find the exact wattage of regular passive speakers. That’s because they present the amount of power input. Thus, that number will show you how much power a speaker will be able to hold before it breaks.
But, do more watts mean you’ll get a better sound? Not exactly. It means that you will get a louder sound, but that doesn’t tell you anything about the actual quality of the sound.
Other important specifications for soundbars
Since we already covered the topic of wattage not being what you need to look into when buying a soundbar, the question still remains – what is actually important then? It is no secret that the specifications of soundbars don’t have the same meaning as with many other devices. Therefore, finding a good device usually includes informing yourself about different specs that are equally important for ensuring durability and quality. So, we will explain to you which specs you should focus on. Furthermore, we will show you what the crucial aspects of today’s soundbars’ specifications actually mean.
The frequency range (or frequency response) of a soundbar
To put it simply, the frequency range is the difference between the highest and the lowest possible frequency a speaker can produce. Speakers’ frequencies can range anywhere from 20Hz to 20,000Hz.
Soundbars are usually not capable of producing good low-end frequencies. If for some reason, that ability is important to you, it’s better to find an external subwoofer for the lower frequencies, and connect it to your soundbar instead.
Soundbar/subwoofer combos are pretty common nowadays
The sensitivity of speakers
The number that’s followed by “dB” (decibel) shows the efficiency at which a speaker is able to convert power into volume. Besides dB, it is marked with SPL on some speakers, which is a sound pressure level. It is calculated by giving a device an input power of a watt and measuring the loudness from a distance of one meter.
The difference between the wattage and the sensitivity is simple: watts measure power and decibels show the loudness. Those that need a pretty high volume would have to look for a soundbar with both – high power output and high sensitivity.
If you need a soundbar for your home, the sensitivity range from 85 to 88 decibels will be enough for you. The sound will be equal to, for example, heavy traffic or a leaf blower. You can even go as high as 90dB for a bit more powerful sound. The loudness will be equivalent to the noise that a welder produces. But, you shouldn’t go any higher than that because your movies and music could sound a bit distorted in case you choose a device that’s too powerful and place it in a small area.
The number of channels
Most soundbars without any additional subwoofers or satellite speakers have two or three channels. Two-channel soundbars usually have left and right speakers that represent those two channels while soundbars with three have a middle one as well. Two and three-channel soundbars can also have multiple speakers but they will be arranged in two or three channels. For example, a soundbar can have 6 speakers built inside and it can still be a two-channel soundbar (three speakers on the left and three speakers on the right side) or a three-channel soundbar (two speakers on the left, two in the middle, and two on the right end).
There are also advanced soundbars with four-channel or five-channel speaker arrangement. They often have side-firing speakers or up-firing Atmos speakers and are supposed to simulate surround sound experience. However, you must be aware that such an experience comes with a steep price tag.
VIZIO SB36512-F6 5-channel active soundbar
Even if you don’t need too much fancy equipment, you probably shouldn’t opt for a device with only two channels. Wanting a soundbar usually means that you are looking for a better, louder, and more refined sound and you won’t find that in a device with only two channels. A soundbar with a three-channel speaker arrangement has a dedicated center channel that’s in charge of midrange and dialog reproduction, which is very important for your movie-watching experience. So, we recommend that you choose a unit with at least three.
The soundbar type
There are two main types of soundbars – passive and active. Passive soundbars don’t come with built-in amplifiers and need external processing and amplification. You’ll usually need to connect them to an AV receiver. You can place passive soundbars wherever you want. They have more cords, which means that they will require a bit more space and time. A big upside to choosing a passive soundbar is their performance. They usually sound better than active soundbars. And you can also combine them with all kinds of speakers to make a surround sound system.
Both of these two passive soundbars are three-channel soundbars
On the other hand, active soundbars are usually a cheaper and more popular option. They already contain amplification and processing for powering the built-in speakers. Active soundbars are much easier to set up and configure. Just like with the passive ones, you can put them wherever you want. You can mount them on the wall or place them on a TV shelf.
You can connect a soundbar to your TV using regular cables. But, nowadays, many soundbars have additional connection options. They can make the job of connecting them to other devices so much easier. For example, optical and coaxial cable ports will give you more possibilities to connect your soundbar to a TV. Furthermore, an HDMI ARC port is a must for every soundbar today. With this port and the HDMI cable, you will be able to connect your device with the TV and have high-quality video and audio.
Nakamichi soundbar (9.2 Ultra) is one of the most versatile soundbars on the market
Numerous soundbars also have wireless connection options. The most common one is Bluetooth. It is pretty easy to use, it doesn’t require cables, and works with almost any modern device. Therefore, you can use it to connect any Bluetooth audio source to your soundbar. You can even pair it with personal devices such as desktops, laptops, tablets, or your phone. However, if you can’t find a good soundbar that also has Bluetooth, you can buy a Bluetooth adapter and add it to your device.
In addition, many devices today come with a Wi-Fi connection. With Wi-Fi, you will be able to connect your soundbar to your home assistant or your favorite platform for music streaming in a matter of minutes.
Bose Soundbar 500 is not as versatile as Nakamichi but it supports Wi-Fi connectivity and has an Ethernet port
The size of a soundbar
Just like with a lot of devices, you can find soundbars in almost any size you need. In most cases, a larger device means better quality of audio. That’s because it can contain more drivers or larger drivers. But, if you want a smaller device that will look aesthetically pleasing when you place it under your TV, you won’t have a problem finding a high-quality soundbar that’s not too big.
There you have it – a full explanation of what soundbar wattage actually means and how important it really is. We also made sure not to leave you completely in the dark when it comes to which soundbar specs you should look into when making your decision. Hopefully, you now have all the information to make a well-informed decision. We also recommend you to create a shortlist of the best products. Then, read their reviews to check how truthful the manufacturers’ statements were. Good luck!
Hello, my name is James Longman.
I’m a writer and editor at AudioReputation. I disassembled my first portable AM/FM radio when I was only 8. At the age of 11, I burned the circuit board on my old boombox cassette player. I’m not going to explain how but it was reckless and stupid.
Since then, I have become much more careful around radios, boomboxes, and other audio devices (at least, I like to think so) but I have never lost the passion for audio equipment. Throughout 20 years of my professional career, I’ve been working for various audio equipment manufacturers and even started building speakers on my own in my little workshop.
I love the work we do here at AudioReputation. Testing, comparing, and evaluating all kinds of audio devices (speakers, soundbars, headphones, home theater systems, etc.) is something I truly enjoy. I try to be unbiased and give you my honest opinion on every piece of equipment I test. Still, you should take my reviews with a pinch of salt and always be just a little bit skeptical. The fact that I liked some speaker or soundbar doesn’t mean that you are going to love it. If you have the opportunity, you should test it/hear it before buying it.