AV Receiver vs Soundbar – Which One is More Convenient?

The never-ending supply for excellent content is probably why you always stay glued to your TV screen. Unfortunately, the audio quality from the TV speakers rarely matches the video quality from its big screens. This is because as the TVs become slimmer, the quality of their internal speakers keeps reducing gradually.

Therefore, to get the most refined sound, you’ll need to buy a soundbar or AV receiver as an upgrade for your TV’s sound. Both are packed with exceptional features such as Dolby Atmos, wireless music streaming via WiFi or Bluetooth, and voice assistant controls (Google Assistant or Alexa).

Soundbars are budget-friendly and allow you to conveniently connect them to your TV wirelessly, thus saving on the cost of buying speaker wires. On the other side, AV receivers deliver premium sound quality but consume much of your floor space and the bucks.

We’ve created a detailed guide that will break down the convenience offered by a soundbar or AV receiver for your TV and movie enjoyment. So, let’s fire it away!

What is a Soundbar System?

A soundbar speaker is an elongated, narrow rectangle speaker usually placed beneath your TV set. Its elongated design serves two purposes: allowing easy mounting of the soundbar below your TV and for acoustic reasons.

As we shall see later, the soundbar’s ability to be fitted in small spaces makes it a perfect pick for smaller rooms.

Let’s get to the features that make a soundbar a worthy competitor in the global market.

Easily Fits in Small Spaces

Before settling on where to place your soundbar or sound base, always consider the available space around your Television. Despite their small size, soundbars can provide high-quality sounds that make you yearn for some more.

All you need to do is place the soundbars in the space between the TV stand and the table and let the sound crank up your soundbar speakers.

Offers Varied Placement Options

A soundbar offers several placement options in your living room. You can mount the soundbar or sound base on the wall below your screen. Or choose to place the soundbar on top of your media cabinet or credenza. Whichever method you choose will guarantee you excellent sound for your movie and music.

Provides Different Soundbar Lengths for Your TV Screen Size

Speaking from a technical point of view, the TV screen size won’t dictate the sound coming out of your speakers. But, aesthetics of your room matter, right? In any case, who wants the matching of their soundbar and TV screen to be uneven? We’ve provided a table just in case you’re unsure of the length of the soundbar to use for your TV.

TV Screen Size (inches)Recommended Soundbar length (inches)
Below 4212
42 – 5038 – 45
55 – 6550
Above 7060

Any Connection Option You Choose is Available.

Soundbars in the market today come with multiple connectivity options such as the HDMI (audio return channel), USB port, optical input, or wireless connectivity.

So what’s HDMI ARC? In simple terms, this refers to connecting your soundbar or sound base to your television’s ARC input via an HDMI cable. HDMI inputs make this connection an excellent choice for multi-channel soundbar systems.

Wireless connectivity via Bluetooth or WiFi is a good option if you want to avoid messy cables all over your room. Just connect wirelessly via Bluetooth and play your favorite music right from your phone, tablet, or computer. Or connect via WiFi and stream music from Spotify, Pandora, or Tidal with much ease.

Always go for the optical patch cord option for easy, simple, and reliable connections between your soundbar and TV.

Channels are Fused into One

Channel refers to the number of speakers available. The difference between a soundbar vs home theater speaker system is that all the speakers stand embedded into one single unit in a soundbar system.

To achieve surround sound, you’ll have to go for a 5-channel soundbar system consisting of 5 speakers (left, right, two rear speakers, and center channel speakers.)

For an immersive experience, the Dolby Atmos soundbar is the way to go. This soundbar consists of upward-firing speakers that mirror sound off your ceiling for a pleasing sweet sound.

What’s your Preference: Passive or Active?

A passive soundbar needs a receiver or amplifier to work, while an active soundbar comes with inbuilt amplifiers and channel processors that split its center, right, and left speakers. Active soundbars are perfect for simple upgrades to your TV’s audio, while passive soundbars make your custom installations worth a memory.


  • They are convenient and affordable if you need an upgrade.
  • The wireless connectivity does away with irritating wire clutter in your living room.
  • The sleek design ensures easy installation.
  • It’s a perfect pick for small rooms because they take little space to set them up.
  • Provides an option of adding a wireless subwoofer for high-quality sound.
  • Soundbars provide you with virtual surround or stereo sound. Just what you need for your movies and films.
  • Possible to connect a soundbar as a center channel to enhance dialogue in movie scenes.


  • Not preferred for large living rooms.

What is an AV Receiver?

AV receivers, otherwise called home theater receivers, are the core component of home theater and home stereo globally. They decode multichannel signals from 4K gaming consoles, cable boxes, or vinyl turntables and reproduce the sound through speakers.

The main task of the AVR is to amplify sound, switch signals, and decode digital signals coming from the signal source to the speakers. So, to get a formidable home theater surround sound or a HiFi system, an AVR should be part of your budget.

I’m sure you’re buzzing to know what AV receivers have to offer to you. So, let’s get right at it.

Supports Multi-room Function

This function allows an AV receiver to play your favorite music from more than one (multi) room in your house. Therefore, you can enjoy varied playing methods: different songs in all the rooms or the same music across all rooms simultaneously.

And there’s more! Some models also allow the video signals to be transmitted to the other rooms.

Easy to Fine Tune Your Sound

Most AV receivers out there support automatic sound adjustment. This will enable you to effectively fine-tune the time delays in its channels and sound volume to create a high-quality sound.

Premium Features for Sound Spicing

DSP in sound, also called digital signal processing, refers to the digital encoding of audio and video signals. This allows the signals to be stored, edited, manipulated, and moved more efficiently than analog methods. Some of the home theater receiver models support DSP, which allows you to spice up your sound with special effects.

Multiple Input and Output Interfaces

One thing that you’ll notice with the A/V receiver is numerous terminals and interfaces for input and output. The interfaces are categorized according to what they handle, i.e., Audio or sound interface and video interfaces.


  • The AV receivers offer numerous terminals and interfaces for A/V input and output.
  • Perfectly amplifies analog signals to attain high volume or adjust the frequency levels (lows, mids, and highs).
  • Offers full surround sound for an immersive experience
  • Works perfectly for large and spacious rooms


  • Not recommended for a small-sized room
  • Not budget-friendly

Do You Need a Receiver for a Sound bar?

This is probably one of the frequently asked questions, so let’s get it settled once and for all.

Receivers and amplifiers are well equipped with sound conditioning features that will make you cherish every bit of sound coming out of your speakers. This feature places the receivers on top of their game, bearing in mind the exceptional sound quality you get from them for your film and movies experience.

In some cases, you may opt for a passive soundbar if you already have a top-performing receiver in your home audio. However, despite having sound conditioning features and controls, connecting a soundbar to a receiver only makes the passive soundbar mimic the immersive effect of home theater systems. And may not be the best solution for a full surround.

Soundbar or AV Receiver and Speakers| Which is Better?

Choosing between a soundbar or AV Receiver comes down to affordability, convenience, and sound quality offered. Connect a soundbar to your TV and feel the vibe if space is a challenge. Don’t be deceived by their size because the sound quality you get beats its size anytime.

On the other hand, an AV receiver is a massive upgrade from a soundbar. This full-surround sound system always guarantees you a cinematic experience for any room size (for best performance, use AV receivers in large-sized rooms). Although these speaker systems are costly, be assured that the value you get in return saves you unnecessary regrets.

The choice between these two audio components comes down to affordability, convenience, and sound quality. We hope that our guide helps you make an informed decision while choosing between soundbar or AV receivers.

Avatar for Jamie K. Martin

Jamie K. Martin holds a degree in Audio engineering from Husson University, Bangor. Martin spends most of his time testing and trying the technology he writes about to ensure that he provides first-hand information to our customers from all walks of life.

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