What do you think of soundbars compared to speakers?


I'm interested to hear your thoughts about the benefits of modern day soundbars compared to the days of surround sound speakers and other inventions.

For me personally, growing up in the surround sound era, it was a neat little thing to have surround sound to show off to people when they came round to watch a movie or tv show. However, I think nowadays soundbars are my personal preference purely because of a lot less clutter and also multi functionality with the fact a lot of them can also play music etc through bluetooth. 

What do you guys think? Do soundbars create enough of a room filling audio for your tastes?
soundg159
I have both, each in a different room.

Soundbars  "work" in that they improve on the tinny sound produced by internal TV speakers and are comparative compact, fast installation, and thus convenient add-on as an initial step up from the crap cheap TV internal soeakers 

However, soundbars simply don't compete performance-wise with a quality build 7.1 surround system.... not even close.... full stop.
A good sound bar and subwoofer is better than the inexpensive speaker system that comes with todays flat screens.
One doesn't have the additional expense of the compoientry, speakers and set up space.
Soundbars with a subwoofer can fill a room but cannot compete with a quatity system as akg_ca stated.

Do skateboards of today compare with the cars of "the car era"? Sure cars provide more speed, more safety, more comfort, room for passengers and amenities, but I often prefer the lack of clutter in my garage from having just a skateboard. And on a smooth road, it's quieter. Okay, I jest a little harshly...Cheers,
Spencer
Sound bars are speakers as far as I know. Just small speakers that are inadequate for anything except a small improvement on most poor quality TV built in speakers. For every day listening I think they provide an excellent option but when watching a movie or a music bluray, I prefer to have adequate (large) L and R speakers.
The only soundbar I know that sounds ok by hi-fi standards is Naim Muso.

I have one in my office. I'm using it as an all in one solution.
What do I think of soundbars compared to speakers?

Not much.
Soundbars probably help keep the cost of TVs down but are essential to having decent sound for your TV. Other than that.....

Not long ago we moved our 75” TV and it’s sound bar into our listening room. I use the sound bar when watching movies, TV programs or listening to music while cleaning and such. The sound bar does a fine job at lowering the oppressive heat generated by my tube amps during the summer months and of course adds a little longer life to my pricy tubes and related components.
if I couldn't have surround for movies, to reduce clutter I would go 2.1 or 2.0 with an integrated amp 
Sound bars are OK - I use one in the master bedroom.
In our family room we use a 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos system & there is no comparison. 
They sound better than the speakers in the tv for sure . Anyone hear Paradigms or Legacy's ? Any real high end one ?
One of the most maddening things. I really like the Sonos sound bar, but it turns out to have very limited inputs. You can find the problem in the reviews online. Arrrgh. :)

Best,


Erik
Yes i popped my cookies on my Bose sound bar just use it for movies and tv.
For me a sound bar is perfect but I don't watch action adventure films so a 7.1 system is a waste of money. TV and movies to me are brain dead activities that don’t require a lot of money invested to be satisfied.
There is a wide enough range in soundbar quality, size, and price points that sweeping generalizations aren't particularly useful. Sure, if you get a $200 self-powered internal matrix TV add-on, it will have limited power and range, but not so for the ones above $1K designed to mate with a real subwoofer that rely on an external AV processor to feed it the surround signal.

Sure, there are plenty of little self-contained soundbar/sub/rear channel combos for $200-300 for people who don't want complexity and wires. They aren't up to the standards we're used to, but they're a major improvement over the built-in speakers on an ultra-thin flat panel display.

On the other hand, several reputable speaker companies make some excellent-sounding soundbars. A few years ago I heard a factory rep demo of the Goldenear 3D Array XL combined with its Forcefield 5 Subwoofer. That's a $2600 rig that also needs an external surround processor and amplification. It has eight 4.5" mid/bass drivers and three folded ribbon tweeters.

From the moment sound came through this system I didn't pay any attention to the form factor, because is simply sounded *right*--full-range, great tonal balance and clarity, and equally adept at music and dialogue.

There are many other soundbars coming from respected manufacturers such as Focal, PSB, Paradigm (self-powered, review here), and several others that perform far beyond what we hear in the Big Box stores.
I utilize a Paradigm soundbar with a REL subwoofer for my secondary viewing area of our home.  Our everyday area is a 7.2 B & W arrangement driven by Parasound amps and separates.  Although the two areas don't compare, I like the simplicity and quality of sound the Paradigm and REL provide.  It does the job!
I don't disagree with anything said here: I think there are more factors than 'just' sound and budget which dictates whether you go soundbar or separates. I have a dedicated listening room with a nice 2ch rig, but we put the TV elsewhere. There 'could be' room for speakers and amps and processors, but I opted for the Martin Logan Vision soundbar for a number of reasons, mostly aesthetics but also ease of use (Btw... I am THRILLED SILLY with it) for their intended use (hooking to TV to replace awful little rear firing speakers). It is seamless to use (auto on when the TV is on); optical pass through of audio signal, from TV (no switching inputs); I tend to think the 'bar is voiced with movies/TV in mind ('fit for purpose'). Now, specific to the ML model I have, it was the best sounding one that I could audition: the ribbon tweeters and woofers are just superb. The bass is excellent without a sub (I may add one later). It wasn't cheap!! But in this case, I feel as though it was worth every dime. The 'simulated surround' even works creepily good on some material. If I were to pick something with no other regard than sound, it would be a pretty complex system taking up LOTS of space. Adding in considerations I mentioned, and then listening to high end soundbars, the soundbar choice provides very little compromise in sound quality!
Base had the original sterne sound bars, the 901 series. Each cabinet had one crappy three inch driver aimed at you. Gratefully, the other eight crappy speakers per cabinet faces back toward the rear wall to mute the sound. Sound bars are cheap 901's, with no rightful place in audio.  They usually do sound better than the crap in flat screen. Before using a sound bar, go to a thrift shop and get a $40 receiver and buy some little speakers such as 35 year old B&W  DM 14's for less than the price of a listenable sound bar.
Ironically motion picture soundtracks are MORE DEMANDING of a sound system than a vast majority of music recordings.  The ideal scenario for both motion picture and music playback, in all but a classic two channel environment, is to have IDENTICAL left, right, and center channel speakers. A well engineered LCR bar connected to a nice outboard multi channel amplifier can outperform may conventional speakers depending on quality. This question may be concerned primarily with the powered soundbar which in general pales in comparison (and cost) to a more conventional amplifier/speaker arrangement.  That said powered speakers have several advantages over outboard amplifiers/speaker arrangements.  Companies like MEYER SOUND and GENELEC, who specialize in powered speakers, are preferred by those in the business of making music, MP Soundtracks, and Live music reinforcement at the highest levels of performance.       
Interesting seeing some of your thoughts here guys. For those that prefer the L&R speakers, why is that? I find that although attempting to give off an immersive feel, it has something missing
Hi boneman, sounds interesting, which model soundbar do you have?
Thanks,
George
jetter - I have the Martin Logan Vision Ultimate. I think it is still available, or at least a similar, more modern version. I bought a factory refurb unit from Audio Advisor for about 1/2 of the MSRP (and what Magnolia was charging) of $1499. I see that Audio Advisor has the Vision (like what I have) as a refurb now for $699 (msrp still at $1495). That may be one of the best deals I can imagine for soundbars, if sound quality-to-dollar is your driver. Do note, that it is not wireless (no BlueTooth or WiFi built in, though modules can be attached). If you want the newer wireless model, those are the Vision X, $1500-$1700.
I heartily recommend it for a TV sound upgrade. My application was "get the best sound possilbe in the most aesthetically pleasing way, and make it seamless to the user (no fiddling of inputs or separate remotes). Turn TV on, and it does the rest".  I have it mounted on the wall, below my 60" flatscreen. All wires run through the wall. I use a TosLink (optical) cable between the TV and soundbar. Works great.
...ok... my comment "TV sound upgrade" totally minimizes what it is. Geez.
Thanks a million boneman, I am looking into it.
Soundbar and sub in my family room with the curved samsung for watching the tube .. my ht room is 7:2 and is great . That being said price is a major factor as is size
good luck
Zvox 555 - one of the best kept secrets in the soundbar business!!!  A flat rectanglar box, my 50" plasma sits on top of mine.  Pulled it out of the box and was listening to it in less than 10 minutes.  Plugs into the wall with one cable to the TV and yr done.  I used to have the TV placed within my main rig and of course it sounded great but I found I'd only use it for 'blockbusters', seemed like dramatic overkill to use for 'talkie' movies or most standard TV fare.  Totally spanks the TV spkrs.  They make them in smaller (and larger) models.  Tremendous bank for yr buck!
Just out of interest for someone who is moving from a 5.1 to a sound bar(wife... dont ask), what do you guys recommend that I pick up? I'm gonna have trouble convincing her past £550.... Want to keep as much as the surround sound as possible.
I'd agree soundbars are one kind of (limited) sound upgrade possible to that which comes out of a TV otherwise. 
a firend of mine has the yamaha yas203, which is <$400, and i was surprised at how immersive it was--seems to get very good reviews as well