Soundbar Vs Receiver: Which Is Better For You?

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Receiver vs. Soundbar: Which is better? That’s the question you’re wondering! The surround-sound systems bring phenomenal sound quality, an excellent listening experience, and useful features. However, their high price and low accessibility may make you get gold feet. 

So, you may be looking for a more compact and budget-friendly soundbar as a substitution. But will it bring better sound quality than the AV receivers? Each category comes with its unique advantages and setbacks, which I shall discuss further in this post. Now, let’s read on to discover!

An Overview Of Receiver

receivers stereo

An AV (audio/video) receiver is an electronic gadget that is prevalent in home theater systems. This device can receive video and audio signals from multiple sources, such as phones, laptops, and TVs. 

The device will then process these signals and produce power amplifiers or video routes to loudspeakers and displays (TVs, projectors). You can pair the receiver with different inputs like radio, computer, or video game consoles. 

Most receivers feature a lot of settings, allowing users to adjust the volume, bass, frequency, and speed, for instance. They also come with remote controllers for easier maneuverability. 

An Overview Of Soundbar

The Soundbar

The soundbar is not a complete surround-sound system like the AV receiver. It’s only a type of loudspeaker that is capable of receiving and delivering audio signals. 

As the name suggests, the soundbar features a wide rectangular shape (looking like a bar) due to aesthetical aspects. This design allows users to mount the soundbar under gaming consoles, TVs, or a home theater system easily. 

There are multiple built-in speakers inside a soundbar’s cabinet. They can produce different surround-sound effects and audio. Most soundbars also come with a supplementary subwoofer to enhance their power. 

Receiver Vs. Soundbar: What Are The Differences?

To compare the sound quality of the two audio gadget types, I have set up an Atmos-equipped and premium soundbar system. I will compare it with a surround-sound system with an AV receiver through a blind listening test.

How Did I Setup The Test?

I have chosen some top soundbars from leading manufacturers, such as Vizio. However, the price of the soundbars combined is just half of the surround-sound system (with AV receiver) cost. 

Then, I will play the audio from two systems in random order to feel and compare their audio quality regarding volume, bass, and vibration. The systems are placed in the same listening room with medium space. 

Dialogue And Lyrics

soundbar vs recevier

The difference in the audio quality of the two systems is very apparent.

The receiver surround-sound system provided more transparent and more comprehensible voices. 

Meanwhile, the voices from the soundbar system may get twisted or become a little hard to comprehend at times. Therefore, I can conclude that the AV receiver is a better option for radio listening. 

soundbar vs recevier

It can also deliver clearer dialogue and voice, making the device an excellent option for movie-watching. This superiority is predictable since the soundbar’s speakers are not large enough to produce outstanding low-frequency audio. 

Sound Vibration

Best Soundbars Under 400

I have to admit that the spacious sound and loud volume from the soundbar system impressed me. However, the surround-sound system with the receiver gave out more natural and finely-developed sound quality. 

I can feel the sound transitioning and bouncing from one speaker to another when listening to the receiver-based system. Meanwhile, the soundbar system didn’t deliver as amazing vibrating sound effects as the receiver. 

The audio feels more like coming from a front-and-back sound system rather than the immersive listening experience the receiver brings. 

Audio Dynamic And Quality

Last but not least, I deduced from the test that the audio quality from the receiver-based surround sound system is more dynamic, bringing me more mood pumps and excitement. 

The soundbar system brings impressive bass when I listen to music, but the sound quality seems weaker when switching to movie-watching. It’s clear that the soundbars struggled to produce high-quality audio in lower frequencies. 

Therefore, you may feel the distortion in the audio when playing movie soundtracks at high volumes. And the receiver-based sound system rarely feels strained or distorted. 

If you need more detailed information, follow this video to check it out!

Final Verdict: Which One Should You Choose?

I can agree that the receiver built in a complete surround-sound system brings better audio quality and listening experience than a soundbar. Yet, soundbar manufacturers have made substantial technological advances, making notable improvements in their products’ sound quality and features. 

If you’re not a hardcore audiophile, the sound quality of soundbars is still acceptable, if not enjoyable. Most premium soundbars nowadays can even outperform a low-budget surround-sound receiver system. 

You have to pay more money with the receivers and deal with a more complex setup. In addition, the receivers are much more space-consuming and ideal for small rooms with limited space. 

So, only choose the receiver and a pair of high-end speakers, plus a subwoofer, if you want to get a dynamic, immersive, and cinematic listening experience. It will bring the optimal experience that no audiophile could complain about. 

However, a soundbar is more than sufficient for regular users who just want a speaker to enjoy their favorite soundtracks and movies. It’s much more affordable and easier to set up. 

Final Thoughts

Those are the comparisons between a receiver and a soundbar. I hope the information provided can help you decide on your favorite audio system by now. Thank you for reading!

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