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Can You Use a Soundbar As a Central Channel Speaker

Picking the best sound system for your home theatre that is up to your expectations and delivers high-quality sound is difficult. The built-in speakers of the TV do not give the most thrilling experience which is why most people turn towards soundbar systems and other speaker channels.

The central channel speaker is responsible to convey the dialogs while the ones on both sides provide music and sound effects. Soundbars promises better performance than the built-in sound system of your video devices but is it an ideal fit to be used as a central channel speaker? The answer is no.

If you’re aiming for high-fidelity sounds, using a soundbar might not fulfill your expectations. It not ruins the sound quality but also can damage your audio equipment.

Read below to find out what soundbars are and how they work.

What is a Soundbar?

A soundbar is a long, rectangular-shaped bar filled with speakers. It uses multiple speakers for multi-channel sound projection. A soundbar usually has 2 speakers and is about as wide as your TV. It connects to your TV and claims to improve the sound. A 3.0 and 3.1 soundbar adds another speaker to the channel which works as a central channel speaker.

People love soundbars because they are inexpensive, take less space, and eliminate the wiring hassles. A slim soundbar makes the room look nice as compared to the separate speakers but is unable to provide sound quality as good as the separate speakers.

How Does it Work?

Soundbars are not speakers. They amplify the sounds by using some audio tricks. The front left and right speakers are slightly tilted, whether it is a 2.0, 3.1, or a 5.1 soundbar. This helps the speakers direct the waves at the walls instead of the listeners. The sound bounces off the walls and makes the listeners feel like the voice is coming from around them, rather from the TV. This is for the music mode.

In the surround sound mode, the listeners can hear the voice from multiple directions. The placement of the soundbars matter in this regard. A soundbar with elevation speakers or the speakers that create an overhead sound effect by bouncing sound waves off the ceiling can allow listeners to have a more convincing surround sound experience.

Soundbars are an all-in-one sound solution that receives amplified speaker level signals.

Why You Shouldn’t Use a Soundbar As a Central Channel Speaker?

If you are planning to use a soundbar as a central channel speaker, that might not be a good idea.

A central channel set is a part of the speaker set that acts as a standalone speaker with a sound where all the speaker channels are mixed. Center speakers require an amplified signal, just like a soundbar. A central channel speaker allows the listeners to have other speakers as a part of the sound system too.

A soundbar comes with three channels, and there are two ways to make them work.

  • You can use it as a true center by hooking up all the three channels to the center channel of your receiver. This approach would allow the left and right-angled speakers to amplify the center signal around the room. This would blend both the effects and dialogues together. The dialogues and the effects both would be unclear because of the center sound mixing with the right and left channels.
  • You can also go with the three-channel approach, by wiring up the channels with left, right, and center signal to the soundbar. The left and right speakers would not be connected with the surround sound system because the sound travels in waves and mixing of waves causes interference. This results in sound cancellation in some areas of space while sound amplification in the other.

This is why it is not a good idea to use a soundbar as a central channel speaker. Connecting the soundbar as a single channel would diminish the surround sound experience while connecting it as three channels would cause less sound in some areas and more in others. Connecting soundbars directly with a surround sound receiver can cause permanent damage to the speakers. Even if you are using a passive soundbar, you will experience sound quality problems.

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