What Is The Difference Between 2.1 And 3.1 Sound Bar

What Is The Difference Between 2.1 And 3.1 Sound Bar

With the majority of modern TVs getting thinner and thinner, you probably have noticed built-in speakers are no longer delivering the best sound quality at all. That’s where a 2.1 or a 3.1 soundbar for improved TV sound watching comes in. But, what is the difference between 2.1 soundbars vs 3.1 soundbars?

The main difference between a 2.1 and 3.1 soundbar is that the 2.1 soundbar comes with a left and right channel as well as a subwoofer while a 3.1 comes with three channels, one on the left, another on the center, and the third one on the right plus a thumping bass subwoofer too. 

 Lackluster TV speakers are no help to anyone, so the best thing to do is to get that perfect soundbar so you can elevate your entertainment sound system. My TV set is connected to the Taotronics Sound Bars which delivers amazing quality sound for our tv. But, on my work station where I spend a lot of time writing, recording and editing YouTube videos, I have a pair of these monitoring bookshelf speakers for a perfect audio setup!

A little About Sound Bars

Soundbars also known as a media bar are types of loudspeakers that project the audio from a wide enclosure. Its appearance is very different from the loudspeakers as it is wider than it is tall. And the reasons for this being for acoustic enhancing purposes. Soundbars can be perfectly mounted below or above a display device such as a computer monitor or a television set.

In a soundbar you will find multiple speakers placed in one cabinet, this in fact helps to create a sound that is surround (though coming from one direction) as well as stereo effect.Usually you will also find that a separate subwoofer is also included within or may just be used to supplement the sound bar.

The most popular sound bar manufacturers are the following yamaha, Sonos arc, Vizio,Bose, Roku smart,Polk magnifi and Dolby atmos.

Benefits Of A Soundbar System

Sound bars are an all in one system that is meant to deliver high quality audio without taking a lot of space in your home as some external speakers would do.Sound bars are very good for people who place an importance on cable management as well as home decoration as they can be placed right under the tv set and connected wirelessly via bluetooth.

Sound bars have become very popular in the last 20 years ever since they were first created,not only because they are stylish and sizeable but also because they are budget friendly compared to speakers and home theaters.

What Is A 2.1 Soundbar And What Is 3.1 Soundbar?

2.1 Soundbar

A 2.1 sound bar is a soundbar with two speakers and one subwoofer,usually a left and right channel.The purpose of the extra speakers is not just to add some extra volume but it is instead to create a more truer surround sound experience.

With this soundbar those two or more speakers will provide you with a clear left and right channel of audio,giving you a great building block for your sound system although it will not improve the listening experience in a meaningful way.

3.1 Soundbar

The 3.1 channel soundbar has got a center channel,it comes with a separate speaker in the middle of it on top of its additional left and right end speakers.

This in fact provides much better dialogue as well as clarity to the sound as most of the dialog  or voices come from the speaker that is in the middle.

Difference Between 2.1 And 3.1 Soundbar

Before I go deeper into the differences between these two systems the main obvious difference you will notice first is the size,the 2.1 soundbar being slightly smaller than the 3.1 soundbar.The size not necessarily in height but in width as the 3.1 has to accommodate a third speaker for the third channel.

A 2.1 channel soundbar is slightly smaller because it has got only two channels and one subwoofer,it comes with only two built in speakers.On the other hand a 3.1 soundbar is considered an upgrade for most because it includes three channels  which is left,right and center as well as a subwoofer.

The other obvious difference between these two is that when you are listening the 3.1 soundbar  you will have a much clearer dialogue because its center channel focuses primarily on dialogue audio.

However the 3.1 sound bar is not necessarily the better choice for everyone and both these soundbars have got their own benefits when it comes to setup.

Setup of 2.1 Soundbar And 3.1 Sound Bar

 2.1 Soundbar Setup

2.1 setup is basic,you have got a left and right channel that are built into the soundbar with an external subwoofer.This will give you a clear left and right speaker sound although the sound wont be as great as a more advanced setup would be.

3.1 Soundbar Setup

This sound bar is a little bit different from the 2.1 soundbar when it comes to setup.Since you are adding a center channel speaker within this soundbar it will automatically add a more dynamic sound.

This one will not require you to add any rear speakers in order to get true surround sound like in 5.1 channels or the above sound systems.

With this 3.1 system you are adding more room filling sound as well as dimension with that one particular extra channel.This is the closest you will get to that surround sound feeling.

Basically as i mentioned above the 3.1 soundbar will give you much better sound quality as well as clarity with dialogue since the dialogue comes primarily from the center channel speaker.The 2.1 soundbar system will be a lot less clear and crisp because it will be mixed with sound effects as well as music.

SoundBar Channels Explained

2.1 Sound Bar Channels

You get the left and right channels in this soundbar with a external subwoofer,these soundbars are usually at the lower end units on the market and therefore are the baseline.

3.1 Sound Bar Channels

This soundbar has got left,right as well as center channels with an external subwoofer.These are certainly a step up from the 2.1 soundbars as they include a center channel for dialogue that is enhanced as well as some better background audio effects.

Pros And Cons Of 2.1 Soundbar


  • 2.1 soundbars are very much cheaper than their counterparts
  • Most 2.1 soundbars have got a bluetooth which makes it easier to connect them to the tv or other devices
  • 2.1 soundbars use a technology that is called a virtual surround sound.This virtual surround sound system can trick your brain into thinking that sound is coming from a certain direction by bouncing sound waves at certain angles.
  • 2.1 sound bars come with fewer speakers which means that there will be less clutter as well as wires,these are very easy to set up and because of its bluetooth you can play music from other devices such as a cell phone.
  • 2.1 soundbars are not far behind as they also deliver very good experience.
  • 2.1 soundbars are a bit smaller in width than the 3.1 soundbars so this means they can easily fit into your display.


  • With this sound bar you rely solely on virtual technology in order to get surround sound,this might not be good for everyone.
  • The sound is not as crisp clear.

Pros And Cons Of 3.1 Soundbar


  • It provides great sound that is clear and crisp because of its third center channel
  • This soundbar is also very easy to setup and it does not take up much space in your home
  • It offers a very powerful bass which is a major plus for music lovers
  • Compared to the 5.1 channel or the above this soundbar comes at a very reasonable price
  • This soundbar will not require you to add any additional rear speakers in order to get real surround sound like the 5.1 channels and the above


  • This sound bar is a bit expensive compared to the 2.1 soundbar
  • The 3.1 channel is a bit bigger in width so that may not be good for everyone as not everyone has got enough space to accommodate its size


A 3.1 channel sound bar is considered a step up from the 2.1 channel soundbar but considering all the differences they are not too different.

Either one can be good depending on the consumer needs and preferences.Both these systems are equally very easy to use for anyone ,they have got great modern designs that fit perfectly with your living room setup and can be mounted anywhere under the tv or anywhere you prefer.

Depending on your budget you can start with the more affordable one the 2.1 soundbars and then add on later some other components if your soundbar allows it or you can upgrade to the 3.1 soundbars when you feel you are financially okay.

Recent Posts