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Do Soundbars Need to Be Plugged In?

To improve your listening experience, so you can enjoy great cinematic sounds, you definitely need a soundbar. Relying on the sounds from your TV alone won’t suffice because its size can’t really contain a good speaker within.

First, to answer your question about if soundbars need to be plugged into a power source, the answer is dependent on the class of speakers it falls under. For most of them, yes you can directly plug them into a power source because they are active soundbars. So for it to function, it requires electricity to make its electronic components work to produce sound. But for some others, you can’t directly plug them to electricity because they are passive soundbars. 

A detailed discussion on the difference between these two classes is found below, within this article. You’ll also find answers to how much power a soundbar needs? And if it can be connected to your TV? You’ll find the answers to these and more in this article.

Does a Subwoofer Need to Be Plugged In?

Of course, every subwoofer requires a power source to be able to reproduce sound. But does it mean all subwoofers can be directly connected to a power outlet? No is the answer. While some subwoofers are designed in a way that allows you to plug them into a power source, others are not designed that way. So it depends on the type of subwoofer you have. They are usually classified into two groups. These are:

  • Passive Subwoofers: These are subwoofers that can only function when they are connected to an external amplifiers or Audio/Video (A/V) receivers. The external amplifiers or A/V receivers will serve to provide the needed power required to power the subwoofer. With the low-frequency sound produced from a subwoofer, it requires more power to function compared to the other sound system units. So, this will mean that, it is vital you check that the amplifier or A/V receiver is capable of sending enough power to sustain the subwoofer’s sound reproduction. The amplifier or A/V receiver should withstand such power outage without getting drained.
  • Active or Powered subwoofer: For this type of subwoofer, they can be plugged into a power outlet for its power source. You are not required to plug them into an external amplifiers or A/C receiver because they have both the speaker and their own amplifier built into a single subwoofer sound unit. Because the amplifier is now housed into the subwoofer unit, any external amplifier will be free of the burden of producing the high power output required by a subwoofer. So they can be used to power other mid-range and tweeter speakers.

With this grouping, do well to identify the class of subwoofer yours or the one you intend buying falls under. It will be wise to know the power required to run it, if it belongs to the passive group of subwoofers. This will enable you determine the type of amplifier that can sufficiently carry the load without breaking down.

Can You Plug Speakers Directly Into a TV?

Technically speaking, you can’t connect speakers through a wired connection directly into a TV. This is because, the connection outputs provided on a TV doesn’t include those that support direct speaker connection. Speakers usually require some sort of an amplifier to drive them into sound reproduction and if these are absent in their build, ordinary TV outputs doesn’t have the capacity to power the speakers. 

TV outputs are usually classified into analog and digital. So with the connection output you’ve got on a TV set, you can directly connect an amplifier, or a computer self-powered speakers that’s got in-built amplifiers or a home stereo. Analog outputs are used to connect virtually almost all types of audio amplifiers, receivers with RCA or powered speakers. While for digital signals, before it can drive speakers, it ought to be converted into analog using a converter box or a home receiver.

With this understanding, provided your speaker has got built-in amplifiers like a powered speaker, you can establish a wired connection directly to your TV. In fact, for TVs and speakers that provide wireless connection support in form of Bluetooth or WiFi, you can establish wireless connectivity between the both devices. 

So yes, with your Bluetooth speakers, you can directly connect to your TV to stream sounds wirelessly from your connected TV device. And if your TV and speaker provide support for a smart virtual assistant like Amazon’s Alexa, Siri, and Google assistant, you can even voice control them. So without any form of stressful movement, you can voice control these devices to play music from the cloud from music supporting services like Pandora, YouTube music, and so on. The channels and programs can be changed by simply issuing a voice command. And as the smart assistant becomes smarter, so your cinematic sound experience is enhanced. 

How Much Power Does a Soundbar Need?

Really, after going through some major brands of soundbars, the answer to this question is simple. There’s no specific wattage used by all companies. In fact, wattage has been a unique selling point marketers have capitalized on in promoting and selling their brand. 

At least, one vital importance of understanding the amount of power required to power your speakers has been discussed above. If you recall, passive soundbars do not have built-in amplifiers to power their speakers. In that case, external amplifiers are required to perform it function. So, understanding the amount of power required by your soundbar will enable you determine the type of amplifier that can effectively match-up. Else, the soundbar will drain the amplifier completely. 

But when making purchasing decisions, the number of wattage is pretty irrelevant in relation to the quality of sound produced. Instead, you should watch out for other factors like: 

  • Sensitivity specification: How efficiently a speaker converts power into decibels/volume is referred to as the sensitivity. So it is determined by taking the measurement of decibels produced from one meter away after one watt has been inputed into the speaker. And usually, whenever the amount of wattage doubles, the volume will gain additional increase of 3 dB. 
  • Frequency range: This is the difference between the highest frequency and the lowest frequency a speaker is capable of producing. The low pitch sound making up the bass falls within the range of 20Hz – 200Hz. A frequency range of close to 200 Hz to 2000Hz makes up the midrange frequency. While higher frequency ranges from about 2000Hz  to 20000Hz. 

The low-frequency range is usually produced by a subwoofer, the midrange frequency by woofers and the higher frequency sound are produced by tweeters. Now, all these types of speakers most times struggle to live up to their lowest and highest frequency within their range. So if a soundbar claims to offer sounds that makes it unique, a measure of its frequency will tell if its claims are true. 

  • Soundbar channels: These channels are mostly 2 or 3 channels in a soundbar. A 2 channel soundbar has the channels on the left and right channel speakers. While a three-channel speaker has the channel at the right, middle and left speakers. With increased channels and addition of other units to the system such as a subwoofer and the likes, the sound produced instantly becomes better. So this is another important feature to watch out for, depending on what you desire.

Take Away From This Article

When it comes to plugging devices like soundbars and subwoofers directly into an electrical outlet for power, the basic determining factor is the class of device they fall under. We’ve seen that although active subwoofers and soundbars can be directly plugged into a power outlet, the passive group of these devices can be connected that way. As stated above, the passive group doesn’t have built-in amplifiers to aid that connection. With that said though, a comparison of the prices of these two groups of devices reveals that passive group of speakers are more expensive than the active group. This is because the quality of sound is perceived to be better when compared. 

These speakers, especially the most modern ones, do come along with special features that enable them establish wireless connection. With this support, other enticing features like the smart virtual assistants are incorporated to enhance your listening experience. With that, voice commands can even be used to control your TV set to stream music from the cloud. 

We also took a look at the power requirements of a subwoofer and saw that there is no specific wattage used by all brands of soundbars. While some have got very high specification of wattage, others are quite on the low side. But regardless of the power value, placing your purchasing decision solely based on the power requirements of your subwoofer would be unwise. Other important factors like its sensitivity, frequency range and more should be considered. So with all these information contained here, you’ll definitely make a informed decision when deciding to make purchases.

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