Center Channel Speaker Vs Soundbar

Want to know the difference between the center channel speakers and the soundbar? Well, almost everyone who is planning to build a home theater is curious to know.

It is mainly because the center channel speaker and sound bar both look quite identical. However, this sound equipment can not be used interchangeably.

This makes almost everyone wonder what “really” makes them different. Spoiler alert: there are a lot of differences. Keep reading to be able to know the major differences.

Center channel speaker

The Center channel speaker is the speaker that does most of the work in the surround sound setup.

More specifically, it is the speaker that handles almost 70% to 80% of the dialogues and vocals in the movie. Therefore, it can be said that these speakers are an “absolute” necessity.


As you can judge from the name, the soundbar also happens to be sound equipment. It is bar-shaped equipment that also sits under the TV.

Soundbar contains multiple speakers and delivers an immersive audio experience.

Center channel speaker Vs Soundbar

Center Channel Speaker
Sound Bar

The Center channel speaker and soundbar are two different sound equipment. They are made with different purposes in mind and are used for different needs.

The major differences in the center channel speaker and sound lie in audio quality and many other things. Let’s find these differences out below.

Audio quality

The biggest or major difference between the center channel speaker and the soundbar is the audio quality.

The center channel speaker soundbar might look super identical but their audio quality is poles apart.

The center channel speakers have much better sound than the soundbar. It is because this sound equipment has front, right, and left speakers and a seamless soundstage.

This makes the sound flow precisely, smoothly, and accurately. They produce noticeably crisp and clear sounds that no other speaker can produce.

If you ever get a chance to hear the center channel speaker, the experience would be pleasant.

It would not be like any other speaker you have seen or tried before. In the home theater setup, the center channel speakers are added to get better sound.

If the other speakers could do the job, why would we be spending a lot of money on the center channel speakers?

Now soundbars are also known to provide high-quality sound. However, as compared to the center channel speakers, the sound produced by the soundbar is generally poor.

I have recently heard from an audiophile friend that some newest expensive soundbar models are producing as good sound as center channel speakers. However, it’s hard to believe.

Even if the soundbars produce much impressive sound, they still can not match and compete with the center channel speakers.


The second major difference between these sound equipment is that soundbars are active whereas, the center channel is the passive speaker. The active speakers come with built-in amplifiers.

Therefore, they can be connected to any device directly. The same is the case with soundbars. It can directly be connected to a TV or any other device without any hassle.

However, as you can see the center channel speaker’s case is different. You first have to connect these speakers to a relevant amplifier and then to a home theater setup.

To be honest, this is a bit of a hassle. A center channel speaker just can not work up to your expectation without an amplifier.


The center channel speakers and the soundbars have different purposes, no one can deny that.

The center channel speakers are made to deliver the film dialogue better. Whereas, sound bars are made available to provide an immersive audio experience. It is typically used for TV and music.


The sound bar’s setup is always a breeze. It does not require any professional skills or technical know-how to connect to any device.

There is no need to even read the user manual to figure out anything. All you have to do is connect one wire to the other device and you are done.

Whereas, setting up a central channel speaker is no less than a hassle. It is much more complicated than you think.

The reason is it can not be connected directly to any device. You have to connect the center channel speaker to the left, and right channels, and amplifier first. Sometimes a little technical know-how is needed to get through the installation process.


Lastly, the center channel and soundbars do not cost the same. As you can judge, the center channel is far superior and more powerful than soundbars, it’s expensive.

Moreover, it does require additional speakers, an amplifier, wires, etc to be connected to the home theater system.

All these add more to the cost of the center channel speakers. Whereas, the soundbars comparatively cost less.

Additionally, they do not need any external aid as well. Therefore, it’s a cheaper deal.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the center channel speaker and sound bar the same thing?

No, the center channel speaker and sound bar are not the same things. They are two different sound equipment that can not be used interchangeably.

Can I use the soundbar as the center channel speaker?

No, the soundbar and center channel speaker are made to serve differently. Therefore, you can not use the soundbar as a center channel speaker.

Center channel speaker or soundbar, which one is better?

If we compare the center channel speaker and soundbar by the sound quality, the center channel speaker is better. However, soundbars are not that bad either, they enhance the audio experience as well.

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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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