A high-quality soundbar is one of the most convenient ways to instantly upgrade your TV’s audio. But like any other piece of tech, it will age to the point where a replacement is all but inevitable. So, when should you upgrade your soundbar?
You should upgrade your soundbar when its tech becomes obsolete. Most people upgrade their TV every 5 to 6 years, and it’s a good idea to upgrade your soundbar along with it. You should also upgrade your soundbar if the old one isn’t working correctly or lacks important features like surround sound.
The rest of this article will explain the best time to upgrade your soundbar, how often and why you should upgrade, how long a soundbar typically lasts, and how to make your soundbar sound better.
Also read: 13 Best Soundbars Without Subwoofer
If your soundbar is more than 5 years old and lacks modern features like Dolby Atmos, it is best to upgrade to a newer model and improve your movie-watching experience.
A new soundbar can be a surprisingly beneficial upgrade. If you’ve been using the same soundbar for years, you’ll notice the difference immediately, especially with virtual surround sound.
Although it depends on the individual, you should probably upgrade your soundbar every 5-10 years to keep up with modern tech. A more expensive soundbar will need to be replaced closer to the 10-year mark, and something cheap might break after just a few years.
If you notice that your soundbar audio isn’t significantly better than the TV’s stock speakers, you should upgrade it immediately. Even the most basic of soundbars should be miles better than the built-in stuff.
Unfortunately for non-audiophiles, there are several things that you must be careful with when shopping for a new soundbar.
You will need to pay attention to:
- The number of loudspeakers within the soundbar.
- Whether the soundbar is active or passive.
- The I/O interface (HDMI eARC, optical audio, RCA).
- Surround sound effects.
- Wireless functionality.
If you bought a new TV and it’s not compatible with your old soundbar due to a lack of RCA or optical audio, that’s a telltale sign you should get a new one. Additionally, keep in mind that a large TV accompanied by a small soundbar doesn’t sound very good (especially with upward-firing speakers).
You should upgrade your soundbar every 5 to 10 years. High-quality soundbars can sound good even after 10 years, but rapid advancements in technology favor frequent upgrades. A good rule of thumb is to upgrade your soundbar when buying a new TV.
A poll conducted by Android Authority reveals that most people (37%) upgrade their TV after 10+ years. However, people who watch TV regularly upgrade it every 4-7 years.
If you own a soundbar, you probably fall into the latter group. Incidentally, that schedule is also a pretty good way to know when to swap out your old soundbar for a new one – when you’re buying a new TV.
People typically opt for larger TVs nowadays, and you should get a soundbar to roughly match the width of your TV. Not only does it look better, but it’ll also sound more natural.
However, it’s worth noting that the width alone isn’t a good indicator of sound quality. This YouTube video from Techquickie explains that some extremely wide soundbars only have two loudspeakers in the following video:
It’s worth noting that passive soundbars often outlast their active counterparts. If you own a passive soundbar, you probably use it as a center/front channel speaker for your surround sound system. In that case, your passive soundbar will last as long as the rest of your home theater.
You should upgrade your soundbar to get better audio, high-quality surround sound, and additional connectivity. Newer soundbars typically come with Dolby Atmos, voice assistants, Bluetooth, 3D sound, and more.
Although an old soundbar is always better than no soundbar, there’s something to be said about modern creature comforts. Soundbars have evolved into a true audio media center in the last couple of years.
Not only do you get surprisingly immersive surround sound, but you also get a smart wireless speaker on top of it.
A soundbar from 5 years ago probably can’t double as a Google Assistant or Alexa speaker from the box. Although not all-new soundbars support virtual assistants and Bluetooth, many do.
If you’re in the market for a new soundbar, look no further than the Yamaha YAS-109 Soundbar (Amazon.com). It’s a gorgeous minimalist soundbar with Alexa, a built-in subwoofer, and virtual 3D surround sound to bring your movies to life.
You can make your soundbar sound better by adding a dedicated subwoofer. Soundbars typically provide clear vocals and a clear treble but can sound thin because of the lack of bass. Adding a subwoofer will instantly transform how your TV sounds.
Speaking from experience, a subwoofer is the best way to improve any audio setup that lacks it. Even soundbars with built-in subwoofers can’t match the depth and punch of a dedicated driver with a matching enclosure.
This is because low-frequency sounds require large, powerful drivers with even larger enclosures to amplify the bass further.
You can check whether your soundbar supports subwoofers by referring to the manual. Some lack an output jack altogether; others only support subwoofers up to 50 or 100W.
A powered wireless subwoofer is your best bet. You don’t want to have wires hanging on your living room walls. Instead, I’d suggest getting the Polk Audio Signa S2 from Amazon.com to kill two birds with one stone. It comes with a fantastic wireless subwoofer, supports wireless music streaming, Dolby Digital Decoding, and it’s easy to set up.
You should upgrade your soundbar every 5 to 10 years, depending on how often you watch TV. It’s best to buy a new soundbar together when swapping out your TV to stay on the bleeding edge of tech.
Ultimately, the quality of your soundbar determines when it’s time for an upgrade. If you have a brand-new soundbar with Bluetooth, Dolby Atmos, and a voice assistant, you’ll be happy with it for many, many years to come.
- World Wide Stereo: Sound Bars: How to Choose the Right One for Your Home
- Wikipedia: Virtual surround
- MacRumors: Soundbars vs stereo speakers
- Home Technology Association: What Is the Life Expectancy of Your Electronics?
- Wikipedia: Subwoofer
Jason is a home theater expert with over 10 years of experience in setting up home cinema rooms and systems. What started out as a hobby soon transformed him into an authority in the audio-visual field. He is passionate about providing readers with accurate and up-to-date information on the latest audiovisual technologies and their applications for home theaters. Read more about Jason.