Most of us pride ourselves when we are able to be resourceful or come up with a variety of inventive solutions to common problems. When it comes to setting up your sound system, it is important to pay attention to speaker specifications- especially for rear speakers.
While passive Soundbars can be used with other speakers in your surround sound system, they will not work acting as the rear speakers. Using a Soundbar as rear speakers provides minimal distance between audio channels and creates an inverse trapezoid in your setup- not ideal speaker placement.
Of course, if you are just looking to connect a Soundbar and place it in the back of the room, you might be able to connect it wirelessly and make this happen.
However, because of the types of connections that Soundbars require and the limited capacity that they would have acting as rear speakers, it is best to opt for their default use as the front left, right, and center speaker channels. Let’s take a closer look.
Why Shouldn’t You Use a Soundbar as Rear Speakers?
Wanting to use what you already own, you might be placing your trust in your Soundbar to carry out all of your surround sound speaker needs. However, placing this trust can be a bit presumptuous considering the genuine ability that Soundbars (do not) have for use outside of their intended purpose.
Now, a Soundbar might have a high number of audio channels naturally built into its system, or it might have rear speakers that come with it, but it should not be used to replace rear speakers.
Soundbars are only so wide, and rear speakers require placement on the wider ends of the back portion of your room- a dimension that Soundbars simply cannot fulfill. Considering the overall effect that speaker placement has on your surround sound system, it is not recommended to use a Soundbar as rear speakers.
When setting up your home theater room- or at least your surround sound system, it is incredibly important to pay attention to speaker placement. Truly, there are plenty of professionals who specialize in this area and work with speaker placement for a living as they set up a variety of audio systems.
Still, even if you are not a professional, there are plenty of ways that you can follow the recommendations to avoid a mishap with your sound equipment as well as seeing it backfire on you in other ways.
With this, you can follow a variety of speaker placement recommendations depending on the unique accommodations and dimensions that you have in your unique home theater room.
Along with this, you will likely see the same speaker placement recommendations across the board with a few variations available depending on your room’s dimensions, current power sources, equipment, budget, and more.
One of the most common things that you will find included in these recommendations is the fact that rear speakers should be placed near the back corners of your room.
This will help your speakers to more cohesively balance the entire sound that is emitted from all of the speakers in your surround sound system.
Along with this, placement in the back rear will allow the appropriate volume and timing of the audio that will reach the listener’s ears. Even if your rear speakers are placed slightly closer together, this can work as long as they are not right next to each other like they would be in a Soundbar.
If you were to attempt to use a Soundbar for this purpose (to replace rear speakers), you would completely mess up the speaker placement. Instead of wide-sitting rear speakers, your “rear” speakers on your Soundbar would be right in the middle or imbalanced sitting on either side.
This would create an inverted trapezoid in your sound system- the front speakers likely being wider than the rear when it should be the opposite.
Along with this, you will notice that the Soundbar, when connected to your TV, will default as the front left, right, and center speakers (depending on the number of channels that your Soundbar has).
Additionally, if it has a subwoofer this would also need to be placed in front. Removing this and trying to use it in the rear just does not make sense. Plus, attempting to connect it to your receiver could be quite chaotic.
Can I Use a Soundbar with Other Speakers?
So, we have established that a Soundbar should not be used as rear speakers- mainly because of the inability to establish an appropriate connection with the receiver and the poor spacing issues that this would create resulting in an imbalanced sound system.
Still, this might make you wonder if you can then place your Soundbar in the front (as intended) and use the Soundbar with other speakers.
Passive soundbars (that would connect to the receiver and an external amp) can connect with the other speakers in your surround sound system quite seamlessly. You would simply need the right connection cables.
Active Soundbars (with built-in amps) could have difficulty connecting to other speakers unless you have a well-established crossover system.
With that said, there are ways to make a Soundbar part of your entire surround sound system with various connection options, it can just take a bit of workaround.
Many of the specifications on how to do this would depend entirely on the specifications of your Soundbar, your other pieces of sound equipment, and the other equipment in your sound system.
However, there are still several alternative options if you are looking to make the most out of your soundbar. For example, you can use rear speakers that work with your Soundbar to create a cohesive surround sound system.
Or, you can choose your own devices and connect them with the appropriate receiver depending on the specifications of your receiver/specific Soundbar.
Here, it is important to remember that the specifications of your devices truly matter in working with other pieces of sound equipment or trying to initiate a certain capability.
If you neglect the details provided by a speaker (or Soundbar) manufacturer, you will quickly learn that there are reasons that these regulations have been put in place: to use the equipment in a way that is most efficient, safe, and reliable.
What Types of Speakers are the Best for Rear Speakers?
As we have realized and discussed, Soundbars will not make the best rear speakers for a variety of reasons. Still, if you are wanting to create the most high-quality surround sound system for your home theater, you will need to install rear speakers.
Perhaps you will be able to use what you own, or perhaps you will need to invest in some new pieces of sound equipment. Either way, there are options.
There are many designated rear speakers for surround sound systems. You can use many different types including bookshelf, floor-standing, and other types of speakers. To determine if your home theater needs rear speakers, consider the room acoustics and how rear speakers will affect the overall sound.
Again, as you consider which type of speakers that you would want to use as your rear speakers, it is so important to consider the overall sound quality that these resulting speakers will produce.
For instance, if you are in a tiny home theater room (think small room in an urban apartment), then you likely can consider nixing the rear speakers and investing in high-quality front speakers instead.
This all comes down to the science behind speaker placement and what will work with the natural acoustics in your home theater space.
Still, this means that you want speakers that can be placed a considerable distance away from one another and in alignment with the other pieces of sound equipment in your surround sound system.
If you are using bookshelf speakers, for example, you can mount or place them appropriately depending on how you have them connected. These are relatively portable within the context of a home theater surround sound setup and are frequently selected as rear speaker options.
If you are wanting to use your Soundbar in your surround sound system, although you realize that it might not be ideal to use as your rear speakers, you can choose to incorporate other speakers in the rear that will work to create a cohesive sound experience for your listeners.
Interestingly, your rear speakers do not even have to match (or be from the same manufacturer) as long as you establish the appropriate connections with the amp/receiver and connect all of the components in your sound system to work together.
So, as you work to use your soundbar in your sound system, you can choose to incorporate rear speakers that you already own, you can invest in a Soundbar plus rear speakers combination set, or you can invest in new standalone rear speakers.
Either way, you should be well on your way to an impressive sound system setup in your new home theater space.