Are the speakers that come with your new HDTV good enough quality, or do you need auxiliary sound?  In a word, yes, you will need a Soundbar or a Sound System for good sound quality.

Here’s why

HDTV’s these days have large screens, are very slim and light, they have amazing pictures and are very inexpensive. However, the typical HDTV has speakers the size of a pair of headphones mounted to the bottom of the TV. They sound terrible! It makes trying to hear clear dialogue and great music & sound effects impossible.


Soundbars are relatively new, having only proliferated in the last few years as a simple solution to better entertainment center sound systems.

Technical note: the key to having “good sound” is achieving an appropriate sound pressure level (SPL) in the room. Not to be confused with volume, achieving an appropriate SPL in a room has to do with how efficiently a speaker can move the air in reference to the size of the room. Larger speakers such as a 6.5” or 8” speaker can move more air than a 3” speaker. The goal is to be able to hear good sound dynamics such as bass and treble at lower volumes which are attainable with better SPL. A larger amplifier assists the speakers in moving the air more efficiently.

  • Soundbars range in price from $100 to $2000.
  • They are designed to sit on a piece of furniture under the TV or mount to the wall under the TV.
  • These devices typically incorporate (2) or (3) small speakers (3” drivers) powered by a 20-watt internal amplifier and sometimes a wireless subwoofer.
  • High quality soundbars incorporate technology to enhance dialogue for better speech intelligibility.

Our Favorite Soundbars

We believe that the best-sounding soundbars are made by speaker manufacturers such as Sonos, JBL, and Definitive Technology. We featured the Sonos Arc soundbar in a previous blog post. With the optional Sonos Sub bass unit, this system costs $1,650, near the upper end of soundbars. It is extremely well built, sounds amazing and incorporates Sonos’ music streaming app.

What Rooms Are Appropriate for Soundbars

In general, we recommend soundbars for smaller spaces such as bedrooms and gaming systems. With their relative small size it is still a challenge to get good sound dynamics and clear speech in large and/or noisy rooms. There is also an aesthetic consideration in that the soundbar needs to be mounted above or below the TV to be effective. This may not be preferable when the TV is over your fireplace or in a room where interior design is king!

Sound Systems

Sound System Price Ranges

Sound systems can range in price from $900 to well into the $10,000 + price range. We feel the best value is in the  $2000-$4000 price range.

What Rooms Are Appropriate for Sound Systems

Sound systems are better for larger rooms.  The technology integrates into your room by using in-wall and in-ceiling speakers, and even in-wall subwoofers. Typically they use (5) speakers and (1) subwoofer built by speaker manufacturers such as Definitive Technology and Klipsch. These speakers usually feature large 8” drivers. Receiver amplifiers typically will have 75-125 watts of power built by manufacturers such as Denon and Yamaha. All these nerdy specs mean awesome sound dynamics and very clear speech intelligibility. Aesthetically, sound systems are a good choice because the speakers can be integrated into the room design, and the receiver has sound-optimizing technology to compensate for speaker placement.

Sound systems are the choice for large and /or noisy rooms or outdoors. They are great for watching TV, movies & sports, and especially for listening to music. Music streaming apps like Sonos can also be integrated into a sound system easily.

Conclusion:  In the end, the best thing to do is to request a free in-home visit so we can look at your space and ask all the right questions to produce a sound experience that will fit your design, your budget, and your ears!