In-Wall Speakers Vs Soundbar: Which Sound System is Better?

soundbar

Every television set comes with in-built speakers of its own, and most people (I mean non-audio fans) are probably okay with just that. 

After all, why incur additional expenses, right? Not to mention the work of maybe having to create space for speakers. 

But all these worries always fade away when you’re in a room properly conditioned with dedicated speakers.

Whether soundbars or In-wall speakers, you’ll know what you’re missing. 

The question most sound lovers are plagued with is, what speakers to get. Soundbars come with its advantages, ranging from ease of installation to friendly or relative price range.

In other words, there is a soundbar for whatever budget. 

On the other hand, In-wall speakers are quite appealing. Installation is also easy, but a bit more complex than that of soundbars.

Hence, longer installation time. Also, with In-wall speakers, you can upgrade without having to change the entire kit. 

Why Get A Soundbar

I am a simple guy, with a simple apartment, and I went for soundbars when I was looking at speakers in late 2018, because it was simple and involved less work, compared to In-wall speakers. 

soundbar

With proper soundbars, you are a popcorn away from getting the cinematic experience with movies and shows.

Soundbars offer enhanced sound systems that allow you to enjoy sound to the fullest. Look at it as soundbars bringing the cinema to you. 

You can get as comfortable as possible while watching movies in the comfort of your home. Enjoying the cinema experience without the restrictions that usually come with it. 

If you are one of those that gets uncomfortable sitting next to strangers in a cinema, you need a home sound system that gives you the cinema feeling.

This way you don’t need to sit next to an unfamiliar face if you don’t want to.

Additionally, soundbars eliminate the need for wires hanging all over the place, keeping your home looking good and clean. 

You can place your soundbar literally anywhere, on your wall, or beneath your TV set.

Soundbars are heavy, so once you’ve chosen a place to set it, you might want to leave it there for a while.

I did mention earlier, how simple soundbars are. I refer to sound bars as simple because it takes up very little space. 

Flat-screens are the norm nowadays, and soundbars would make your flat-screen look even better.

Clear sound, no disruptions, and great surround sound effects are perks of soundbars. 

Soundbars are easy to set up and most come with wires that are color-coded, making the setting up even more easy. And as earlier mentioned, soundbars are quite affordable.

Is that enough reason to go for soundbars? Well let’s breakdown its advantages for you to find out more. 

Advantages of Soundbars

1). Easy Installation

This is becoming a cliche in this article right? I mean the ease of installation of a soundbar. Well, that ‘s how easy it is to set up.

All you have to do is connect your soundbar to a power source, and then connect the soundbar to your TV, projector or whatever display you own with an HDMI cable

However, most recent soundbars have provision to connect to smartphones and other small devices via Bluetooth or use the soundbars as a Chromecast. 

2). Space

You can place soundbars on walls and anywhere practically. Regardless, it takes up very little space. For in-wall speakers you need to make holes here and there in your walls or ceiling. 

However, with soundbars, you don’t have to go through all that, even though a soundbar might involve extra pieces.

An in-wall system on the other hand will most definitely take more time, wall or ceiling space, and cable management. 

3). Price

Just as our fingers are not equal, so are our budgets very different. Well, that’s the good thing about soundbars, it can go from expensive to really really expensive. 

Therefore, regardless of your budget, you can set up your soundbar.

Depending on what you want and what your budget is, you don’t necessarily need to spend too much. 

If your aim is to just better your TV speakers, you can get very good options for $100 or less. In-wall speakers on the other hand are not as expensive as In-wall speakers. 

Why Get An In-wall Speaker

Previous In-wall speakers have been tagged cheap, lightweight, and plastic pieces. However, this notion of In-wall speakers should not be what defines the whole category. 

In-wall speakers are not bad, bad speakers are bad. And on the contrary, In-wall speakers have its advantages.

There have been improvements in previous produced In-wall speakers. 

in-wall speakers

In-wall speakers were produced with the aim of providing in-room sound without being visibly intrusive. Not until recently, In-wall speakers had no enclosure, and some do not still have enclosures. 

Quite a few laws of physics and electro mechanical parameters are ignored by these rather inexpensive speakers. 

Cheap In-wall speakers have advantages, but playing as loud as you would expect is not one of them. 

These speakers are mostly weak in bass. And for most people, the price and aesthetic advantages make up for the low sound quality. However, recent In-wall speakers are not as cheap but produce better sound quality. 

In order to compare In-wall speakers to soundbars, it is only right that corresponding speakers use high-quality components and are in a similar price range. For example, android to android. 

There are high end In-wall speakers. And a high quality In-wall speaker will more components, such as;

  • Quality drivers
  • Proper crossover network 
  • Fully-engineered and braced enclosure. 

The problem with In-wall speakers in that most are cheap, lightweight, and open back.

And this open back attribute ensures that you get annoying sounds from these speakers. An open back In-wall speaker bleeds sounds to adjacent rooms. 

Therefore if your aim is a sound system that covers the whole house, then In-wall speakers are your best options. 

Another problem with open back speakers is the choice of where to to install it.

If the place of installation is a stud or joist space, there will be no enough space behind it, therefore you won’t be maximizing the full sound quality of the speaker. 

Generally, for better quality, an In-wall speaker with an engineered enclosure is your go to option. 

The fact that an In-wall speaker might not produce enough bass is not entirely the speaker’s fault.

What is behind the wall directly affects the quality of sound. One can not predict the performance of the bass, from an open back speaker in a wall. 

The problem with In-wall speakers when comparing to Soundbars, is the fact that one goes into the wall, why the other doesn’t. 

Although there are In-wall speakers with open backs that perform well enough, let’s focus on the more quality speakers with engineered enclosures with acoustic properties. 

Up next is a breakdown of the advantages of In-wall speakers, albeit, in comparison with soundbars, we will be focusing on similar products that differ in the fact that one has to go in the wall. 

Advantages of In-Wall Speakers

1). Cleaner Look

No matter how simple a soundbar system looks, the whole system is visible in a room. However, In-wall speakers are far less intrusive. 

Installing an awesome In-wall speaker would mean that the room decoration is maintained. Making this speaker type a very good option in a bid to not compromise room decor. 

Although you might be tasked with more cable management work than in the case of a soundbar, In-wall speakers are as clean as it gets.

Additionally, most speakers come with an external perforated or expanded metal grill, that helps hold the speaker in place. 

This metal grille can be painted to match the wall color, maintaining the original clean decoration look with the added aesthetic look of having a beautiful speaker in the wall. 

To make the installation process even easier, most In-wall speaker producing companies run a build-to-order package. With some offering custom grill painting. 

2). Eliminate A Wall Reflection

Freestanding speakers like a soundbar interact with the wall it hung’s on, or the floor on which it is placed. 

Reflections affect the sound quality such speakers produce.

More specifically, 360 degrees radiating patterns of lower frequencies affects the bass output and lower midrange response. 

Because In-wall speakers go in the wall, this effect is eliminated. Mitigating the trouble of experiencing irregular peaks and dips in sound quality. 

3). More Gain

Installing really good speakers in walls brings about bass gains, although this contradicts an earlier statement in this article, remember that these advantages are for high quality In-wall speakers. 

Mounting a speaker in a wall, which becomes a baffle, increases bass. With most speakers recording a 6db increase in frequencies. 

New In-wall speakers now utilize auto-EQ, which results in pulling down the frequency gained by boundary effect to a flat, more desired response. 

This lowers distortion, increases headroom, and increases the energy efficiency.

Note: Boundary effects refer to the frequency increase as a result of a hard boundary, (that is, a wall). 

4). Surround Speaker

Great In-wall speakers make for an awesome surround speaker effect.

If speakers flanking the seating area of a theater can be moved off the floor and into the walls, the possibility of a wine-induced mishap is greatly reduced. 

Speakers on stands next to seating in a dark theater is a recipe for disaster. 

There are many brands of enclosed in-walls that market direct-radiating, dipole, bipole, and surround speakers suitable for Dolby Atmos.

So, Which Is Better

The best thing about making decisions, is the availability of viable choices. Making the right choice concerning what speaker is the best totally depends on the individual.

What works for one might be good for another. 

In other words, a soundbar or In-wall speakers might work for particular living room layout or individual circumstances. 

You might prefer the aesthetic features an In-wall speaker comes with. Or you might be all about simplicity and go for a soundbar.

Whichever suits your lifestyle, and budget, both produce quality sound experience. 

Conclusion

I was a bit disappointed or should I say underwhelmed, with the soundbar I went for in my current home, I wanted more channels and I get more benefits with In-wall speakers. 

I’m moving apartments in about a year’s time, so I need to know how my potential living room is arranged before making decisions on which speakers to go for.