Difference Between 2.1 Soundbar and 5.1 Soundbar

While media consumption is a common activity, various accessories to it like soundbars have become exceptionally famous nowadays. 2.1 soundbars and 5.1 soundbars are two commonly used soundbars by people for their television, home theatre, computers, etc. Although they both provide good quality audios, there are key factors that differentiate them from each other.

2.1 Soundbar vs 5.1 Soundbar

The main difference between 2.1 soundbars and 5.1 soundbars is that 2.1 soundbars produce left and right stereo output while 5.1 soundbars produce a more surrounded output than 2.1 soundbars. The purpose of all soundbars including 2.1 and 5.1 soundbars is that they too are loudspeakers designed into a relatively compact form factor.

2.1. vs 5.1. Soundbar

A 2.1 soundbar is a soundbar that works on 2.1 channel audio. It has a right channel speaker and a left channel speaker for providing right and left audio output respectively. Additionally, there is a woofer included with a 2.1 soundbar that is specifically made for low-frequency to provide clear and sharper audio.

A 5.1 soundbar is a soundbar that works on 5.1 channel audio. It has a 5 channel setup including a minimum of 3 speakers for the right, left, and center channels and 2 extra satellite side speakers for surround sound feature. Additionally, there is a dedicated subwoofer included for low-frequency audio.

Comparison Table Between 2.1 Soundbar and 5.1 Soundbar

Parameters of Comparison2.1 Soundbar5.1 Soundbar
SizeMore compact in size and needs less space.Since it has more speakers, it needs more space.
Set-upEasier to set up and installCan be a bit challenging to set up as there are more wires.
Sound QualityOffers good quality audio but no surround sound featureOffers immersive experience with 2 additional speakers for the surrounding sound feature.
Extra FeaturesDolby Atmos, compatible with HDMI, Bluetooth, wifi, etc.Multiple connections, extra satellite speakers, dialogue clarity, Bluetooth, wifi, etc.
Recommended For music listeners.For a realistic experience in videos such as movies and tv shows.

What is 2.1 Soundbar?

A 2.1 Soundbar is a multi-channel soundbar that has one left, one right channel speaker, and an additional woofer. A single soundbar is not enough for a satisfactory experience, but the woofer is used to clarify the low-frequency audio to promote sharper sounds in the digital content. As a result, the sound experience is a deep and immersive experience.

They were originally designed to generate excellent sound output with good bass quality. Since the world has started using flat-screen displays, people have gotten used to a bigger screen placed in a lesser area. This factor makes 2.1 soundbars a perfect fit for televisions today. Most 2.1 soundbars use a technology called virtual surround sound which in some scenarios can create a cinema-like experience. Since they are compact in size and easy to install, they are high in demand.

Most 2.1 soundbars come with remote control and some even come with a dedicated mobile application. They support wireless connection to a device and even voice control can be built in like Alexa, Google Assistant, etc. Some common 2.1 soundbars include JBL BAR21 Dolby digital, Sony HT-S350 2.1, and BOAt Avante Bar 2000 T 160W Bluetooth Soundbar. All of these 2.1 soundbars support Wifi and Bluetooth connectivity.

What is 5.1 Soundbar?

A 5.1 Soundbar is a multi-channel soundbar that has 5 channels including one right channel, one left channel, a center channel, two satellite speakers for surrounding the audio. All 5 speakers are of exactly the same size and are kept at equal distances for the best sound quality. Not only that, a dedicated subwoofer converts low-frequency audio into high-frequency for crisp and clear dialogue output. 5.1 Soundbars are a type of Surround Sound Audio System.

5.1 soundbars are usually believed by many people to be modern technology. Although it was invented way before, the home setting of 5.1 surround sound technology developed in 1982 with the introduction of Dolby Surround Technology. Initially, the company created a 3-channel setup where they identified the bouncing of sound waves off the wall creating a surrounded sound. With the same idea, they created a 5-channel setup that could recreate a cinema-like immersive experience at home.

Most 5.1 soundbars also come with remote control. They support wireless connection to multiple devices and build in voice controls like Google Assistant, Alexa, etc. Some common 5.1 soundbars include JBL BAR 5.1, SONY HT-540R, and Samsung HW-Q60R 5.1, etc. All of these 5.1 soundbars support Wifi and Bluetooth connectivity feature.

Main Differences Between 2.1 Soundbar and 5.1 Soundbar

  1. While the sound quality of the 2.1 soundbars is not bad by any standards, the 5.1 soundbar offers much better bass quality and the surround sound makes it an immersive experience.
  2. 2.1 soundbars are very easy to install. While the 5.1 soundbars offer a superior sound quality, the setup and installation can be a complex process as they have more components.
  3. 2.1 soundbars are supported by all the devices including televisions, laptops while 5.1 soundbars are not compatible with all the devices. For older generation devices, the output would still be 2.1 even on a 5.1 soundbar setup.
  4. 2.1 soundbars are recommended to music listeners since there is not much need for extra satellite speakers. On the other hand, 5.1 soundbars are recommended for home theatres in big spaced closed rooms.
  5. 2.1 soundbars have lesser power consumption than 5.1 soundbars because of more components in the 5.1 soundbar setup.


2.1 soundbars provide excellent sound quality and hence, it is picked mostly by people. But 5.1 soundbars do still have their advantages over every other soundbar. They are the most recommended for home theatres. Since home theatres offer a visually cinematic experience, 5.1 soundbars are an easy choice to make this cinematic experience complete. The depth in sound, the treble’s sweet spot, and the surround sound feature definitely make it superior in terms of overall audio quality.

2.1 soundbars still do have their advantages over 5.1 soundbars. It is a much more compact setup and can be installed almost anywhere with little to no complications. On the other hand, 5.1 soundbars offer the best value in a closed space only. In open space, there is not much difference between the two as the surround sound feature is not possible outdoors, which is the highlighting point of 5.1 soundbars.

Even though both 2.1 and 5.1 soundbars have several differences between each other, getting either one of them is not a bad choice at all. With today’s software optimization, 2.1 also offers a worthy experience while 5.1 is not designed for everyone. In the end, it depends on the factor if the user needs that level of experience.


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