Did you buy the wrong speaker? – CNET


A sound bar or separate speakers, which kind do you need?

Steve Guttenberg/CNET

OK, you fell out of love with your speaker(s). I’m just surprised it doesn’t happen more often. After all, speaker choices are bewildering, though reading reviews can help, and in-store listening before you buy can narrow the field. Home auditions are even better, but even then it sometimes takes a while to know for sure you’ve found exactly what you’re looking for. It’s not easy.

So you did the best you could and took the plunge with a sound bar that fit your budget and size requirements. You loved the sound at first, it really was so much better than your TV’s built-in speakers. The sound was great for most movies and TV, but over time you came to realize the bar wasn’t cutting it with music, it sounded too thin or bright. Or maybe the sound bar didn’t have enough muscle to make Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom rock your world. Maybe you need a different type of speaker!

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OK, so you put that sound bar in your kid’s room, and now you’re on the prowl for something better, and seriously considering buying a pair of speakers and a receiver, or maybe even a surround AV receiver, with five or more speakers and a subwoofer for your living room.

Take a gander at my Audiophiliac best-sounding bookshelf speakers list, it presents a wide assortment of speakers at different prices. They are stereo speakers, which might be all you need, but if you want to go further, many of these speakers can be matched with the same brand’s center channel and surrounds. Ditto for the brand’s subwoofers. Then check out our best AV receivers of 2018 list. 

As an example try ELAC’s Debut 2.0 B6.2 bookshelf speakers which can be paired with ELAC’s C6.2 center speaker, Debut 2.0 B5.2 speakers for the surround channels, and the ELAC S10 powered subwoofer. That system, with a Sony STR-DN1080 receiver, would be a huge step up from any sound bar I’ve heard to date!

Then again, some folks are going the other way, and downsizing from their surround-sound systems to maybe a stereo rig. If that’s you go, ahead and peruse the best bookshelf speaker list I linked to above — or do you want to ditch all of that and get a sound bar? We have lots of great ones to choose from on our best sound bars of 2018 list.

As for hard-core audiophiles, they have been known to fret over a spectacular speaker they haven’t yet heard and chase perfection for years. If that describes you, I hope you enjoy the process of flipping speakers and going from one to the next, and you’ll definitely learn a lot about sound. That, or just get frustrated and lose interest in the audiophile pursuit altogether. I’ve seen it go either way.

Or you may come to realize your present speaker (or speakers) are perfectly fine after all.