Do Soundbars Need Receivers?

When you think of premium sound and TVs, you begin to think about huge surround sounds with large speakers. It would be easy for someone to think, if they want to best quality audio while watching TV or listening to music, they should include a receiver.

I’ve seen this question “Do soundbars need receivers” asked across different forms, and today, I’m going to answer the question.

In short, no, you do not need a receiver with a soundbar. A receiver and soundbar do much of the same thing, and having both together will not provide any tangible benefits.

Continue reading as I cover what a sound bar and receiver are, how they are similar, how they differ, and which is better.

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What is a receiver?

In short, a receiver (also called an A/V receiver) is a piece of equipment that directs audio and video from various sources. The receiver is responsible for directing the audio and video signals to the appropriate places. In addition, the receiver may be responsible for adjusting audio and video settings.

What is the Purpose of a receiver?

As I mentioned, the purpose of a receiver is to route audio and video traffic to the appropriate place. Let’s look at a few examples.

Let’s pretend you have a ton of audio and video equipment, you own and what to connect the following:

  • 5 speakers
  • 1 subwoofer
  • 1 Xbox
  • 1 cable box
  • 1 PlayStation
  • 1 Blue-ray player

You have a total of 4 video devices and 5 audio devices. you want the ability to change inputs easily, and have different audio settings for each device.

The above example is the perfect example for a receiver as this device can make all of the necessary adjustments with the press of a button. Just by pressing 1 preset button, you can change from cable box to Xbox, adjust the volume up or down and change the bass setting.

What is a Soundbar?

A soundbar is defined as a box or enclosure that includes 2 or more speakers. A soundbar is used to project audio for a device, like a loud speaker. Soundbars can emulate surrond sound and other popular feaures through the use of technology. Many soundbars include wired or wireless subwooters.

Soundbars are usually positioned infront of, or near the TV. Soundbars can be mounted and provide a cheaper alternative to surround sound

What is the Purpose of a soundbar?

Soundbars are designed to enhance the audio lost when the speaker quality reduced in TVs. As I’ve mentioned before, soundbars gained popularity when TVs became thinner and flatter. As the TVs became thinner and flatter, other components had to be removed. Eventually, the speaker size, and included drivers, were reduced or eliminated.

Soundbars take the audio from the TV, and other devices, and increase the decibel level. Soundbars are great if you wanted increased audio quality but not the cost you may incur with a surround sound.

How are Soundbars and Receivers Similar?

Both soundbars and receivers produce high quality sound when compared to TV speakers. In addition, they both provide a higher decibel level than the speakers included with a TV.

Another common trait soundbars and receivers share is the routing and rerouting of audio and video signals. Soundbars use pass-throughs to send video signals to a TV. A/V receivers use similar technology.

Both soundbars and receivers may have multiple inputs for multiple devices. A soundbar may have 2 ports labeled ‘HDMI IN” while an A/V receiver may have a few more.

Now that we’ve seen how they are similar, let’s take a look at how they differ.

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How are Soundbars and Receivers Different?

While there are a few similiarties, there are several differences. Those differences include:

  • Receivers have more device inputs
  • Receivers can adjust the bass, equalizer, and other features
  • Receivers may include a DVR / Blue-ray player
  • Receiver remote can control other devices
  • The receiver may have AM/ FM radio included
  • The receiver doesn’t have any speakers included
  • Receivers are designed to be the center of your entertainment center

Let’s spend a few minutes discussing some of these differences.

Receivers Have More Inputs

While most soundbars have 1 or 2 inputs, an A/V receiver can have as many as 6 inputs. These inputs are any devices that send audio/ video out. These inputs are then redirected to the correct place.

Receivers Can Adjust the Bass, Equalizer, and Other Features

Most receivers have the ability to manipulate the levels of the bass and equalizer. in addition, the receiver can control the audio level of each connected speaker. Something a soundbar may not be able to do.

Receivers are Designed to be the Center of Your Entertainment Center

The best way to describe the difference between a soundbar and a receiver is their purpose. Soundbars are designed to enchance your watching experience. Receivers, on the other hand, are designed to control your entire experience. An A/V receiver may inlcude additional features like

  • CD players
  • Radios
  • DVD playrs

Also, you can easily switch inputs with the use of the receiver remote, something you are unenable to do with a soundbar.

Which is Better, Soundbars or Receivers?

This depends on the end user. If the end user simply wants to enhance the current viewing experience, then a soundbar may work just fine. However, if you want a command center for watching tv, listening to music, and listening to the radio, an A/V receiver may be the better option.

Another thing to consider is the cost associated with each device. A receiver is going to be more expensive than a soundbar. Then when you start adding speakers, the cost of the entire setup can be 3 or 4 times . the amount of a soundbar.

What Happens If You Connect a Soundbar to a Receiver?

A few things can happen if you connect the two together. The first, and most likely, is that the device will act like a pass-through for each other. Basically, the last device in the link will play the audio begin sent from a connected device.

Another possible option is an error of some sort. This can happen if one of the two devices is attempting to play an audio file that the other doesn’t support.


To conclude, soundbars don’t need A/V receivers because they basically do the same thing. Both soundbars and receivers router audio and video. The major difference is an A/V receiver is designed to be at the center of your listening/ viewing experience, while a soundbar is designed to enhance your current watching experience.

Additional questions

Do You Connect a Soundbar to TV or Cable Box?

You can connect a soundbar to both a TV and cable box. While there are benefits to either method, I personally connect my sound bar to the TV. The reason I choose this method is I can receive audio from the soundbar regardless of the input I’m using/

If you connect your soundbar to the cable box only, then you will not have the benefit of the soundbar on other inputs. For example, if you have a gaming system, DVR player, and a streaming device (Roku, Amazon Fire TV, etc.) you will not be able to use the soundbar on the other inputs.

If the cable box is the only input, and you have no other devices, then is should be ok to connect the soundbar directly to the cable box.

Are Soundbars Better than Speakers?

This comes down to personal opnion. Audiophiles will say speakers are far and away better than soundbars. However, you will find others that believe soundbars are equal to, if not better than, speakers. I believe the answer lies in intended usage, features, setup, and associated costs.

The answer probably is it’s even, but the two sides would never agree to that. Soundbars have been gaining in popularity in recent years, but I believe there is a higher percentage of homes that use surround sounds than soundbars.

How do You Connect a Soundbar to a TV Without HDMI or Optical Cable?

There are two ways you can connect a soundbar to a TV without HDMI or optical cable. First, you can connect the two using bluetooth. Bluetooth is a short range technology that sends data bidirectionally. If your TV doesn’t have bluetooth onboard, you can purchase aftermarket adapters to plug into your TV.

The second way is to use converts that have one connection type on one end, and a different connection type on the other end. For example, you can find cables that convert optical to auxiliary. Note: sometimes these cables will not work as expected.

Also, Optical cables have been around since the early 1980s, every TV that still works should have an optical cable input.

Can You Use Samsung Soundbar With Any TV?

As I mentioned in this post, any soundbar can work with any TV. For the most part, all soundbars are the same. The only difference is the included features, speaker quality, and the name of the box. The way soundbars are connected to speakers is set by the industry as a whole, not one brand like Samsung.

Samsung may have additional features if you connect a Samsung soundbar and TV, but the Samsung soundbar itself will work with any TV.

Soundbars connect to TVs in the following ways:

  • HDMI
  • Optical Cable
  • Bluetooth
  • WIFI

If your TV was made after 1983 (year first optical cable was produced) your TV has at least one of these options. Also, as I mentioned earlier, even if you don’t have at least one of the above, there are ways to connect your soundbar to any TV.