Soundbar vs Bluetooth Speaker: A Tough Choice Made Simple

bluetooth speaker vs soundbar choice top best recommended gizbuyer guide

Over the last couple of years, video quality for TVs has made amazing improvements. However, there is one problem. TVs have been getting flatter and flatter, which means that they don’t have much room for a proper audio system. Here’s where Bluetooth speakers and soundbars come to the rescue. However, this poses the question: Which one is better?

Are Bluetooth speakers better than a soundbar? Bluetooth speakers are generally better than Bluetooth soundbars when it comes to sound, size, and price. Speakers seem to offer better audio while taking up less space than soundbars. However, Bluetooth speakers are more expensive than soundbars with similar wattage.

This certainly doesn’t mean that you should completely avoid soundbars. There are many differences between speakers and soundbars, and the right choice for you may vary depending on your situation. However, before outlining the differences between the two and ultimately deciding what’s the best choice, we need to dissect their pros and cons.

Why Bluetooth?

First off, why are we discussing Bluetooth? This is because Bluetooth has so many advantages over cable and traditional cords, and new audio devices are starting to only feature a Bluetooth connection.

We all hate having a mess because of cables going from one side of the room to the other; this is especially true with speakers. If you purchase multiple speakers to create a surround-sound system, you would need to place them all over the room, meaning that this will not only cause a mess but might also involve the need to purchase cable extensions.

Besides, Bluetooth is incredibly easy to operate. You can pair your gaming TV to a speaker or soundbar by just having the devices close together. Just go to your TV settings, give it a few seconds, select your device, and that’s it: no cables (except electricity cables) and no mess.

Now that we covered why I have specifically compared speakers and soundbars with Bluetooth functionality, let’s take a deeper look at each device.

What’s the Difference Between Bluetooth Speakers and Soundbars?

Although both speakers and soundbars are audio devices that can be an extension of the TV’s audio and enhance it in multiple ways, they are, in fact, very different sides of the same coin.

Bluetooth Speakers

Bluetooth speakers are very compact audio devices. They can be placed anywhere in the room, and you can connect multiple to your TV to create a surround-sound system, making you feel as if you are right in the middle of the action.

Newer brands of Bluetooth speakers also tend to be weather-resistant, have a rather long battery duration, and are portable, allowing the user to have them indoors and outdoors.

Another feature of Bluetooth speakers is that you can mix and match different brands of speakers, so if you already own one or two, there is no need to buy an entire set to create a surround-sound system.

Bluetooth Soundbars

Bluetooth soundbars are basically long speakers that go right below your TV or sometimes even above it. The sound from soundbars with Bluetooth capability can sound more direct than the built-in TV speakers themselves, as the sound pushes straight out from the TV’s direction.

Soundbars are designed to operate either on their own or with a subwoofer. They have the purpose of creating enough sound to fill the room and have their own design to emulate a surround system.

Now that you’ve captured a brief description of the two, let’s compare and contrast them to decide whether a Bluetooth speaker or a soundbar is the right choice for you.

Bluetooth Speakers vs. Soundbars: What’s Better?

bluetooth speakers

So far, it’s been established that speakers and soundbars have the same purpose. The factors where the real difference lies are price, audio quality, and practicality. Practicality simply refers to whether having the devices is easy or troublesome.

When it comes to price, speakers tend to be somewhat cheaper than their soundbar counterpart. Even if a single soundbar is more expensive than a single speaker, the main advantage of speakers lies in having many of them, so in the end, soundbars do tend to be more expensive. Speakers are the definite winners when it comes to price.

Now when it comes to audio quality, speakers and soundbars can both sound amazing, but soundbars will most likely produce a more powerful sound (and bass) due to their increased size over Bluetooth speakers.

Bluetooth speakers can be used to create a surround-sound system. Since they can be placed at all four corners of the room, the speakers will try to emulate the direction of each sound on the TV, making you feel as if you are part of the action; this also allows speakers to fill the room with noise, giving off that ‘rumble’ that you feel and hear in cinemas.

Finally, when it comes to practicality, which choice is better for you truly depends on your situation. Both speakers and soundbars are easy to set up and require no more than a power cable to plug them in or to charge them.

However, the real difference is in space. Soundbars being singular and much longer take up more space from a single area above or below your TV. Speakers, on the other hand, only need a small space to set up, but they need many small spaces if you are planning on taking advantage of their surround-sound system functionality.

So, in the end, speakers and soundbars seem to have an equal number of pros and cons, which only makes deciding between the two all the more difficult. To find more variation, let’s look at some of the best individual speakers and soundbars to help you decide.

4 Best Bluetooth Speakers for TV and Travel

For choosing and describing these speakers, we will be looking at price, special features, and size. The following are the top recommended Bluetooth speakers for TV:

1. Bose SoundLink Revolve (Series 2) Portable Bluetooth Speaker

Bose soundlink revolve top best recommended bluetooth speaker gizbuyer guide
source: Bose

The Bose SoundLink Revolve Speaker may have a slightly higher price than most portable units its size. However, it would not have this cost if it could not justify it. It offers a wireless range of up to 30ft (9.1m). It has a built-in microphone, giving it the capability to be paired with your smartphone to take calls and to operate it through voice commands with your smartphone’s virtual assistant. It has a battery life of over 12 hours.

The Bose SoundLink Revolve Speaker has a size of 3.30 x 3.30 x 6.00 inches (8.4 x 8.4 x 15.2 cm) and a weight of 1.46 lbs (0.7 kg), which makes it easy to place anywhere.

You can check the latest price of the Bose SoundLink Resolve Series II on Amazon here

2. JBL FLIP 6 Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker

The JBL FLIP 6 Bluetooth Speaker is quite simply affordable and powerful in sound. It offers a strong waterproof design allowing it to be used indoors and outdoors. It has a battery life of up to 12 hours and can be paired with many additional JBL speakers through an easy-to-use smartphone app. It also comes in a wide variety of colors ranging from black to green camo.

The JBL FLIP 6 Speaker has a size of 7 x 2.6 x 2.8 inches (17.8 x 6.6 x 7.1 cm) and weighs only 1.2 lbs (0.5 kg), making it incredibly compact and easy to carry.

You can check the latest price of the JBL Flip 6 on Amazon here

3. Anker Soundcore 2 Portable Bluetooth Speaker 

The Anker Soundcore Boost Portable Bluetooth Speaker has weatherproof protection and a 66ft (20.1m) Bluetooth distance. Alternatively, it can be plugged directly into the device you’d like to hear. It also has a battery life of approximately 12 hours. It has a size of 6.5 x 2.2 x 1.8 inches (16.5 x 5.6 x 4.6cm), making it compact, but the biggest of the three speakers that were mentioned.

You can check the latest price of the Anker on Amazon here

4. Oontz Angle 3 (3rd Gen) Bluetooth Portable Speaker

OontZ Angle top best recommended bluetooth speaker gizbuyer guide
source: OontZ

The Oontz Angle 3 Bluetooth Speaker offers a 100-foot (30.5m) Bluetooth range and is compatible with smartphones, computers, and other Bluetooth devices. It also has a water-resistant design allowing it to function outdoors in the rain or even in the shower. It has a battery life of up to 14 hours.

The Oontz Angle 3 has a size of 5.25 x 2.6 x 2.8 inches (13.3 x 6.6 x 7.1cm), making it very compact and easy to place since it doesn’t need to be plugged in when charged.

You can check the latest price of the Oontz Angle 3 on Amazon here.

4 Best Soundbars for TVs

The following are some of the best and recommended Bluetooth soundbar options for TVs:

1. Bose Solo 5 Soundbar

The Bose Solo 5 Soundbar is the one that I personally own and produces a sound that punches way above its reasonable price. It comes with a remote and a built-in subwoofer for enhanced bass, yet the sound still maintains its clear and true nature, which is reminiscent of other products in the Bose portfolio. It also can be hooked up with Bluetooth or with a Direct Optical Audio out cable.

The Bose Solo 5 Soundbar is quite compact with a length of 21 inches (53.3 cm) and allows flexible placements on a stand or on a wall with the included mounting points.

You can check the latest price of the Bose Solo 5 on Amazon here.

2. Polk Audio Signa S2 Ultra-Slim TV Soundbar

The Polk Audio Signa Soundbar comes with a remote and a wireless subwoofer for enhanced bass quality. If you’ve never heard the extremely clear sounds that Polk can produce before, you sure won’t be disappointed with this purchase. Bluetooth technology allows you to play music from a smartphone from apps such as Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music.

The Polk Audio Signa Soundbar has a size of 3.2 x 35.4 x 2.1 inches (8.1 x 89.9 x 5.3 cm), its slim design makes it ideal for almost any placement and can also be wall-mounted.

You can check the latest price of the Polk Signa on Amazon here.

3. VIZIO 2.1 Soundbar

The VIZIO 2.1 Soundbar includes a wireless, external subwoofer with a range of about 60ft (18.3m) for enhanced bass. The VIZIO 2.1 Sound Bar has a size of 24 inches (61 cm), making it quite compact. It is also capable of being mounted on a wall, giving you more flexibility for placement around the TV.

You can check the latest price of the Vizio 2.1 Soundbar on Amazon here.

4. Yamaha YAS-109 Soundbar

yamaha soundbar top best recommended gizbuyer guide
source: Yamaha

The Yamaha YAS-109 Soundbar has built-in subwoofers for enhanced quality bass. It offers Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity allowing it to be paired with Amazon Alexa with Amazon Music capability for overall operation and even setting up alarms, timers, etc. It can also be controlled and adjusted through its soundbar control app on your smartphone.

The Yamaha YAS-109 has a length of 35 inches (89 cm) making it somewhat longer than other models. However, it can be wall-mounted.

You can check the latest price of the Yamaha on Amazon here.

Soundbar vs Bluetooth Speaker: Final Thoughts

In summary, speakers are obviously smaller, easier to place, and cheaper. However, this is talking about an individual speaker versus an individual soundbar. When it comes to the surround-sound system of speakers, which involves at least four speakers, the soundbar seems to be the cheaper option.

Additionally, it is important to remember that a speaker’s surround-sound system tends to have more overall sound quality, intensity, and bass than a soundbar. However, this by no means indicates that a soundbar has a bad sound quality. They are good, but a speaker surround-sound system is somewhat better.

Hopefully, this brief list and summary helped you decide whether a Bluetooth speaker or a soundbar is best for you. However, if you are still undecided, then let us discuss the alternatives that exist for Bluetooth speakers and soundbars for your TV.

Alternatives to Bluetooth Speakers and Soundbars

klipsh wired home theater speakers best recommendation
source: Klipsch

In order to find alternatives to Bluetooth speakers and soundbars, we have to go back in time. Before there were Bluetooth speakers and soundbars, there were speakers and soundbars. So the alternatives that we will be looking at are cabled audio devices.

Although they serve the same purpose and operate in just about the same way, there is a huge difference between Bluetooth and cable audio devices for the home. In fact, things can become a lot more complicated.

When it comes to cables, having a single speaker shouldn’t be such a huge deal since you would only need two cables: one for the electricity and another to connect to your TV. However, when you want to set up a surround-sound system, things can get quite tricky—or messy, to be exact.

For a surround-sound system, you would need four speakers at four different corners of the room, meaning that you will need to not only plug each of them into an electric outlet, but you will also have to connect them to your TV somehow. In addition, since there is usually a great distance between your TV and the other side of the room, you might need extensions and will have to arrange them accordingly. 

On the other hand, a cabled soundbar will provide quality sound with only one device, and it is designed to be close to the TV, above or below it, making it incredibly simple to connect to both the electricity and the TV.

The advantage that cable has over Bluetooth is that you don’t need to recharge your audio device and that these audio devices are compatible with just about any TV. However, you have to decide if the cable mess is worth it. Another good alternative is Bluetooth headphones, but they are for one person.

Besides these alternatives, there is yet another very important alternative to discuss which might actually solve the question of whether to purchase Bluetooth speakers or a soundbar. Why not both?

Can You Combine Speakers and Soundbars?

A soundbar is a good replacement for TV audio, and speakers are great for sound and surround quality. So you should get the best of both worlds! The question is, can you? The answer is yes, but you shouldn’t.

As previously stated, a soundbar is already a good replacement for a TV, and it tries to do the best job possible, which is partly the reason why adding speakers would, in fact, ruin the sound. A soundbar is designed with the mentality that it will work alone, maybe with a subwoofer, so it tries to provide surround, quality, and intensity on its own.

Adding speakers to your soundbar is like trying to add more water to a glass that is already full. It simply won’t add up. What it will create is disharmony in the sound of your room since both the speakers and the soundbar were not designed to work together.

On top of that, this might also mean that you will need a receiver to host the signals for both, which is an extra cost. In terms of operation, it is not a huge deal if we are talking about Bluetooth, but if we are talking about cable speakers and soundbar, there will be a huge mess for a sound that you will most likely be dissatisfied with.

There are, however, soundbars that include a surround system that would allow you to have some of the best of both speakers and a soundbar, but for a higher price, of course.

So, in the end, no, you can’t create a good surround-sound system by mixing speakers and a soundbar simultaneously.

So Which One Should You Choose?

In conclusion, Bluetooth speakers and soundbars try to fulfill the same role, to create an audio system that provides better quality than the TV’s own built-in speakers. They both have different ways of fulfilling this role and can’t be combined.

Bluetooth speakers shine when it comes to overall audio quality, especially when it comes to creating a surround-sound system. They are versatile, can work together with speakers from other brands, they are compact, and individual units actually tend to be cheaper than a soundbar.

However, the disadvantages of speakers are that to fully get their worth, you need to have multiple speakers, which are very often more expensive than a single soundbar, it can get complicated to set them up and operate them, and they also take little space in many areas.

When it comes to Bluetooth soundbars, they work as standalone units to replace the TV’s inner speakers and provide a far better intensity, quality, and surround sound than the TV. However, its drawbacks are that they are big, making them difficult to place and that speakers surpass them in just about any aspect.

In conclusion, if you want good sound quality that is a definite improvement to your TV’s built-in speakers for an affordable price, then a soundbar is the right choice for you. However, if you want the best sound quality and surround sound system and are willing to spend a lot of money on it, then you should go for the speakers.

There is a wide market for both speakers and soundbars, so you definitely have room to decide between the two. Hopefully, this guide helped choose what audio device will give you the best sound and feel for your TV.


John Hammer

Hi i'm John Hammer, Founder and Author of Gizbuyer Guide. Ever since the original Xbox, PlayStation, and iPhone I've purchased and worked on all kinds of consumer tech products, gaming gadgets and operating system softwares. To this day my curiosity has never left, and my aim is to guide and share my knowledge on technology as I continue to experience the latest of the consumer electronics industry.

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