Bookshelf Speaker vs Soundbar: 7 Differences

Bookshelf speaker vs soundbar? Most audiophiles have a hard time deciding between bookshelf speakers and soundbars. Grabbing a pair of quality speakers is essential to complete the home theater setup. Soundbars and bookshelf speakers have a number of benefits and immersive sound quality.

The said audio devices can be a perfect choice for a home theater or music room. The final decision to pick one depends on the user’s demands and requirements.

Before you make any decision, this comparison between bookshelf speakers and a soundbar will help you find the right fit.

Bookshelf Speakers

These small, compact, sleek, and standalone speakers can be placed on a speaker stand, desk, or bookshelf. This conventional 2-way speaker system has two main components: tweeter and woofer.

Typically, a bookshelf speaker set comes without a subwoofer. That’s what makes it a top pick for a home theater setup. These speakers are powerful and versatile and produce superior-quality audio with utmost clarity.


Soundbars are a somewhat new addition to audio devices and becoming immensely popular for all the right reasons. They have a unique rectangular shape, not identical to other speakers in the market.

Soundbars have multiple main components: a driver, several tweeters, and a subwoofer.

These audio devices are affordable and a go-to choice for superior surround-sound functionality. It is the best substitute when you can not invest in a high-end surround sound system.

Bookshelf Speaker vs Soundbar

bookshelf speaker
Bookshelf Speaker
SpecificationsBookshelf SpeakerSoundbar
Sound PerformanceBetter Frequency RangeLag behind in Frequency
DesignNot Attractive in DesignAttractive and Elongated
Sensitivity Rating88dB to 92dB86dB to 88dB
ConnectivitySupport All DevicesMostly for smart TVs
CostMore ExpensiveLess Expensive

The main differences between the bookshelf speaker and soundbar are the audio performance, design, connectivity, placement, and price. Both these devices promise nothing short of excellence when it comes to sound quality.

It is undoubtedly a tough game, therefore, would be fun to watch which audio device takes the lead. Let’s delve deep and compare the technical side of the two.

Sound Performance

It is an overstatement to say that bookshelf speakers are better than soundbars. Instead, both devices are capable of yielding high-quality and dynamic sound. Read on to know which one is better at producing quality audio.

In general, bookshelf speakers have powerful, louder, and higher-quality audio due to larger drivers and cabinets.

They beat soundbars in premium sound quality and produce the best quality sound with an external amplifier and subwoofer.

In comparison, soundbars lag behind and have slightly thinner audio. Generally, users are satisfied with the audio experience, and can be an enticing choice for home theater.

Soundbars only fall short when compared with bookshelf speakers in terms of sound quality and frequency range. Furthermore, these audio devices are designed for providing superior surround sound.


Next, these audio devices have an entirely different appearance. Bookshelf speakers are nearly identical to each other in design, only smaller.

Made from high-quality material, they are built to last and withstand constant use and abuse. There are several types and designs of bookshelf speakers available in the market.

In contrast, soundbars have a generally attractive design with an elongated, flat, and thin appearance. This compact and stylish audio equipment blend in well with any decor.

Sensitivity Rating

For users who do not know, speaker sensitivity or speaker efficiency determines the loudness and clarity of the sound.

Speakers with a minimum of 90dB sensitivity rating ensure premium sound quality.

As stated above, bookshelf speakers have superior sound than soundbars. One of the reasons is the high-efficiency rating.

Bookshelf speakers have a sensitivity rating varying between 88dB to 92dB.

Comparably, soundbars have a sensitivity rating of 86dB to 88dB. Some high-end models have a higher efficiency rating, however, they are a lot more expensive.


Once again, bookshelf speakers take the lead here by supporting all devices. Pair them with your phone, smart TV, computer, or any other device. Bookshelf speakers have a diverse input interface and support wired and wireless connections.

In contrast, soundbars are specifically designed to be connected to smart TVs. They can be connected to a number of devices using input options like HDMI, RCA, and optical out.

Input Impedance

It is advisable to not buy audio equipment with either low or high impedance. Ideally, the impedance level should be between 4 and 8 ohms. Bookshelf speakers have an impedance level within the said bracket.

Conversely, soundbars either have either low or high impedance levels.

Speaker Placement

Correct placement ensures immersive sound quality. These speakers can be placed according to the listening position for optimum audio.

Follow a clock hand rule and make a standard triangle to get the most out of the audio experience.

On the contrary, the ideal placement for the soundbar is under the TV. Placing it anywhere else would lead to a considerable drop in sound quality.


Both bookshelf speakers and soundbars are sold at a wider price range. Some models of soundbars and speakers are available at a roughly similar price.

Generally, the price of a bookshelf speaker is a bit higher than the soundbar. The higher cost has something to do with large drivers and premium audio quality. Buying a subwoofer and an amplifier adds to the cost.

On the other hand, soundbars are generally not as expensive as bookshelf speakers. You will get more features at a lower price, also, there are no additional costs involved.

Bookshelf Speaker vs Soundbar – Which One is Better?

On the whole, bookshelf speakers offer top-notch audio performance as compared to the soundbar. There is a lot that goes into the correct bookshelf speaker placement. Most users find it difficult to set up and position them at the right angle.

Similarly, soundbars are affordable and easy to set up, however, may not produce the desired level of sound similar to bookshelf speakers. The decision to choose any of the audio devices depends on the specific needs of the user.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are bookshelf speakers better than soundbars?

Bookshelf speakers have an overall better audio quality than soundbars thanks to large drivers and efficient woofers. Contrarily, soundbars are designed to be used as TV speakers and do not offer an over-the-top audio experience.

Can bookshelf speakers be connected to the TV?

Yes, bookshelf speakers can be connected to nearly all devices including TV. Use a Bluetooth connection or an adapter to establish a connection between the two devices.

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Cian has 7 years of experience in the musical instruments industry. His press and research articles are published in many well-known journals. Cian is part of our product testing team so he knows the criteria for the best products. Here at sound keen cian covers how to set up instruments and selection criteria for new products.

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