A blessing gamers have come to enjoy is enhanced sound design in every genre. Naturally, gamers want to take advantage of these advancements in video game technology, especially in first-person shooters. If you don’t like using headphones, you may want to get a soundbar instead; but is it worth it?
Soundbars are worth getting for gaming. Soundbars give gamers a more immersive experience, thanks to the improved sound quality and surround sound feeling. However, depending on your preferences, a set of traditional high-quality speakers or a pair of gaming headsets may be a better fit.
In this article, I’ll take a deep dive into the pros and cons of soundbars and compare them to traditional speakers and gaming headsets to help you make the right purchase. I’ll also explain what type of soundbar works best for gaming and suggest a good gaming soundbar.
Soundbars vs. Speakers vs. Gaming Headsets
You want to weigh all your options before making a purchase. After all, audio equipment can cost a pretty penny.
Let’s go over the pros and cons of soundbars, speakers, and gaming headsets to see what you should get for your gaming setup.
Pros and Cons With Soundbars for gaming
Let’s first go over soundbars since this is why you’re here. If you’ve never used one before, you’re probably wondering what it sounds like and whether its surround sound technology really works.
The consensus is that soundbars provide a simple, aesthetically pleasing all-in-one solution that can match or even outperform a basic speaker setup.
They come in a variety of sizes, some made for large TVs and some made for gaming monitors. They also come in a wide price range, some are definitely a great bang for the buck! However, they are not the best for every situation.
Soundbars have a few distinct advantages over speakers and headsets. Depending on your gaming habits, these pros may be why you want a soundbar:
- Soundbars are usually more portable than speakers. Since soundbars are all in one piece, it’s easier to transport them than a multi-speaker setup.
- Soundbars are better for couch co-op than a headset. If you’re using a soundbar, everyone in the room can hear your game audio.
- Easy setup. This is a major advantage for soundbars over multi-speaker setups. Generally, your soundbar will only require a couple of cables to set up and can connect wirelessly frequently.
- Soundbars take up little space. Compared to a multi-speaker setup, a soundbar is space-efficient. Soundbars typically have a sleek design that makes it easy to find space on your desk or TV stand to place it.
- Can achive great sound. A good soundbar is almost always much better than the built in TV-speakers or some cheap desktop computer speakers. Some are actually very good.
Read more: Why Are Soundbars So Popular? 7 Reasons
Soundbars are great at saving space, ease of use, and portability. Unfortunately, some of its advantages also impact how good soundbars are. Let’s move on to the top cons of a soundbar:
- Inferior surround sound. Since soundbars sit in a fixed position, achieving the surround sound immersion that a multi-speaker setup or a headset offers is virtually impossible, even though some more expensive models does a really great job.
- Limited interface. Unfortunately, most soundbars don’t come with the range of I/O ports you want in an audio device. Most soundbars only include a couple of HDMI ports and sometimes an optical audio port. If you’re using your soundbar for gaming, this won’t be a problem. However, it’s a deal-breaker if you want to use the soundbar with other devices.
- Poor upgrade options. If you want to obtain a surround sound experience with a soundbar, you’ll need to upgrade. Upgrading a soundbar comes as a challenge because you’ll need to purchase a full speaker setup to go with your soundbar to get directional audio.
The biggest drawback is the lack of surround sound. Directional audio is essential for an immersive gaming experience, which soundbars struggle with.
There are some surround sound soundbars on the market, but they’ll never compete with a multi-speaker setup or a gaming headset.
If you want much better sound than the built-in TV speakers or the desktop computer speakers in the same price range, a soundbar is worth it. They are compact, reasonably affordable, and very easy to set up. However, if you only game alone and want private listening, the ability to use a microphone when gaming, and even more bang for your buck, a gaming headset might be the better option.
With soundbars’ top pros and cons in mind, let’s dive into some alternative options.
Pros and Cons With Multi-Speaker Setup for Gaming
A high-quality multi-speaker setup can add an immersive surround sound audio experience to your gaming. Let’s see why.
Speakers have a few distinct advantages over soundbars that may affect your purchasing decision:
- Speakers have superior surround sound. A multi-speaker setup offers a fantastic directional audio experience that soundbars struggle to achieve. No soundbar can simulate rear surround sound speakers.
- Speaker setups are the best for couch co-op. A speaker setup is the only way to achieve a directional audio experience that more than one gamer can enjoy.
- Upgradability. Speaker setups offer fantastic upgradability. Once you purchase a speaker system, you can add subwoofers, additional speakers, and even a soundbar with ease.
A traditional multi-speaker setup offers a few impressive advantages over a soundbar. However, there are some drawbacks to consider before purchasing:
- Speaker setups aren’t portable. A multi-speaker setup is a headache to transport; a gaming soundbar or headset offers far superior portability.
- Difficult to set up. A multi-speaker setup can leave your living room littered with cables. Even with a wireless speaker setup, it’ll take a lot of time and effort.
- High price. With upgradability options comes a high price tag. Unlike a soundbar or a gaming headset, a speaker system can cost over a thousand dollars after upgrades.
Multi-speaker setups have a lot going for them. However, they also have some major drawbacks. If portability, ease of use, and price are important to you, it’s best to stay away from them.
Pros and Cons With Gaming Headsets
Gaming headsets combine some of the pros of a soundbar and a multi-speaker setup. They offer a different listening experience because they sit directly on your ears. Let’s see if headphones are for you.
Here are the advantages of gaming headsets:
- Best audio quality. A high-quality gaming headset will offer the best audio quality among these options. A multi-speaker setup can technically reach comparable audio quality but at an extremely high price tag.
- Most immersive audio. Most gaming headsets have active or passive noise canceling, creating an immersive gaming experience.
- Easy to transport. Much like a soundbar, headsets are easy to transport. Gaming headsets have all their audio wrapped up in one small package.
- Built in microphone. Headsets if definitely the way to go If you want to speak with your teammates during a game.
Every piece of audio equipment has some distinct disadvantages. Gaming headsets are no exception:
- Unusable for couch co-op. Unfortunately, only one gamer can experience the audio of a gaming headset at a time. Headsets are best for a solo gaming experience.
- Connectivity restrictions. Just like soundbars, headsets suffer from connectivity options. If you’re using a wired headset, you’ll only be able to connect to one device at a time.
- Comfort issues. Some people experience discomfort with gaming headsets. Comfort can be a problem, especially if you wear glasses.
Headsets are the best combination of portability and high-quality audio, but with serious drawbacks. Specifically, if you like couch co-op or use multiple devices for gaming, you may want a soundbar or multi-speaker setup.
Read our buying guide!
What to Look For When Buying a Gaming Soundbar?
Soundbars have become more popular in the last few years, and there are now a large number of models to choose from.
The most time-effective way to get a good-sounding gaming soundbar is to buy one of the most popular and highly-rated models many experts recommend.
However, audio quality, connectivity options, and ratings are not the only things to look for when buying a new soundbar for gaming. Before you go on and buy one, there are some more things to consider when choosing which gaming soundbar to buy. Here are two things you have to decide yourself:
PC gamer or console gamer?
Are you going to use the soundbar under your TV or under your gaming monitor? A soundbar made for a big TV isn’t going to be the best alternative for you PC gamers out there, but a perfect choice for console lovers gaming on the couch.
The problem is not only that the soundbar might not fit on the desktop, large soundbars aren’t made for such a shallow listening distance. Therefore, the sound experience might not be as good, and you waste money on a more expensive soundbar that sounds bad.
Size and Design
The size can be very important. Of course, the soundbar must fit in your location, and some models can be very long. But you must also consider its height. The last thing you would want is the soundbar to block a bit of your TV or monitor.
The monitor’s stand can also be problematic when choosing a soundbar, as some stands take up a lot of space, making it harder to fit a soundbar under the monitor. This won’t be a problem in most cases, but it is good to have it in mind.
What’s a Good Gaming Soundbar To Buy?
I know it can be hard to choose which one to get, so I have helped you narrow down the selection to a few great options. Which model you should choose depends on your needs and budget.
Anyway, here are some of the best options to choose from if you consider buying a soundbar for gaming.
A popular and well-regarded all-round soundbar that fits perfectly under a PC monitor and will greatly improve your gaming audio. Together with the included subwoofer, you will get an impressive sound for a relatively low price.
This soundbar is absolutely good enough for the vast majority of gamers and is a great bang for your buck.
A nice-looking premium soundbar that will work perfectly for a TV. The sound is impressive, which is why this soundbar has gotten a lot of fantastic reviews and is often recommended to both movie lovers and gamers.
It has features like Dolby Atmos, Apple Airplay 2, Amazon Alexa voice control, and the ability to use Sonos app and connect with other Sonos devices and speakers. Unfortunately, the price reflects the premium quality, which makes this quite expensive.
Sound BlasterX Katana
This popular gaming soundbar from Creative offers programmable RGB lighting with 16.8 million colors available. It’s perfect for all the gamers who really are into RGB lighting in their setup.
The size is perfect for the desktop and fits nicely under the gaming monitor. It also comes with a separate subwoofer to give the sound some extra bass, and a small remote control, which is perfect if you use the soundbar for anything other than gaming as well.
Redragon GS560 is a cheap alternative to Katana for gamers with a low budget. It may not give you the best possible sound, but it’s still a great update from useless in-built speakers. And it looks fantastic.
It’s no wonder that so many gamers like the Reddragon GS560. It’s affordable, has a dynamic lighting bar, and offers a better sound.
If you’re looking for a convenient gaming audio experience for your TV or PC, a soundbar is a solid option.
However, if the lack of real surround sound is a deal-breaker, consider a multi-speaker setup or gaming headset as an alternative.
Gaming headset is also the best choice if you would like to speak with your friends using a microphone when you are gaming.