Soundbar Vs Bookshelf Speakers – Which is Better for PC?

Computer sound systems have so much potential. For example, you can set up your PC with headphones, loudspeakers, earbuds, and even soundbars. But, which alternative is better suitable for your audio needs?

Let’s divide PC sound sources into two segments – Acoustically open and Acoustically contained:

  • Acoustically Open – Loudspeakers, subwoofers, and soundbars reproduce sounds in an open space with significant room interference.
  • Acoustically Contained – Earbuds and headphones feature a closed-back design and reproduce signals on a small space, such as earcups.

Of course, both options have pros and cons and can be pretty competitive at establishing which one is better.

Two desirable options regarding acoustically open sound systems for PC are soundbars and speakers. However, it might be somewhat challenging to decide between these two systems if you’re not well-versed in anything audio-related. To answer the question, bookshelf speakers are better for your PC.

Still, to fully grasp the concept of prioritizing speakers instead of soundbars for PCs, let’s discuss their differences.

Differences Between Speakers and Soundbars

A speaker system is pretty distinct from a soundbar in terms of design, sound quality, and purpose. Although both projects audio in a wide-fashion way, their most significant differences rely on their engineering.


Soundbars are a type of speaker that portrays a wide and thin figure. This system does not have separate left and right monitors to represent the stereo individually; instead, various speakers are arranged inside their single cabinet to promote a spatial field.

Soundbars’ cabinets include three speakers, one in the center, left, and right. Still, similar to loudspeakers, adding a subwoofer to this system is possible and will enhance low-end energy.

An interesting detail about soundbars is that they have a predominantly wider body and commonly lack height. As a result, the equipment can conveniently fit below or above a computer screen, tv, or home theater by featuring this design.

The most major positive points are its convenience to position anywhere in a room and its more affordable price. Unfortunately, this type of system does not produce such a soundstage as loudspeakers for its physical limitations, though soundbars are incredibly rich in bass.

Most of the soundbar usage is on home theater systems and TVs. Still, in the gaming scenario, these would make pretty good additions for genres such as horror and drama for their more robust and impactful low-end.

Bookshelf Speakers

A bookshelf speaker is a loudspeaker that presents a more compact form. The speaker system model will typically offer two small-sized cabinets responsible for one side of the stereo individually. Speakers are usually inside their cabinets accountable for the mid-range and treble.

To increase low-end power, people can also integrate a subwoofer in a bookshelf speaker system. Bookshelf speakers are commonly more affluent in height and moderately broad physical attributes. 

They are not as comprehensive as soundbars, but they can deliver a whole soundscape more effectively. This type of speaker system does not occupy too much physical space and won’t be as heavy as standard loudspeakers, making them reasonably convenient to position around.

The main pros of having a bookshelf speaker are benefitting from its rich soundscape and higher quality of sounds. Suppose you notice how many HiFi systems and even studio setups consist of high-end bookshelf speakers. You’ll take a hint of how superior these can be regarding sound texture and clarity.

Most bookshelf speakers systems fit exceptionally well into home studio settings, home theaters, and mixing/mastering studios. Considering the gaming topic, these can treat all gaming genres pretty well, especially ones that require an excellent notion of what’s happening around you.

Your Setup

Although bookshelf speakers are generally better in the overall scene, you might be intending to have a system for specific uses. For example, let’s talk about possible audio services on a PC and what method might be the best fit.


It would mainly depend on the game’s genre. The setup that would deliver most gaming experiences an above-average sound treatment would be bookshelf speakers.

Looking at each genre individually, we can debate which games better benefit from soundbars.

However, games that require peripheral awareness should become more immersive with bookshelf speakers.

Watching Movies

Many people use their PC to watch movies, me included, especially when the film is not available on any streaming platform, and you have to resort to alternate ways of protecting it. For example, soundbars might deliver a more home-theater experience from their adaptability of sounds and richness in dialogue and low-end textures.

Bookshelf speakers can still operate significantly for this purpose, allowing different arrangements options. But, since you’re watching on a PC which is probably on a desk, you won’t have too much space to make bookshelf speakers stay on a home-theater setup level.

Listening to Music

Concerning music quality, you’ll benefit way better from using bookshelf speakers instead of soundbars. That is because bookshelf speakers will provide a way more precise frequency response and stereo spatialization, enhancing the listening experience greatly.

Soundbars generally don’t have such an expansive frequency range as bookshelf speakers for their physical limitations. This makes their overall performance for music relatively below average.

Mixing or Mastering

Bookshelf speakers are the best suitable option for mixing and mastering activities, which typically require a professional performance. However, since soundbars can’t provide such a critical hearing experience on the frequency range as bookshelf speakers, they are not the best option for this kind of activity.

Additionally, bookshelf speakers work better on stereo imaging, making panning easier during the mixing or mastering process.

Júlio Roque

Júlio is an audio producer and sound designer. His experience and knowledge of audio and music drive him to write exciting articles related to plugins, hardware, and general audiophile gear.

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