Can You Add Speakers to a Soundbar?
You want to start upgrading your home theater experience. You’ve dipped your toe into the home theater world by buying a soundbar and you are ready for the next step. Your big question is where do you go from here? Can you add speakers to your soundbar for a start? What can you do? Let’s discuss!
The Bad News
Generally speaking, soundbars are designed to hit a certain price point. Most of the time, that price point is very, very low. To make money with their products, manufacturers will pare down the features to save money. The first thing to go is expandability. Most people don’t want it so why include the ability to add speakers to their soundbars?
This leaves someone like you in a very unfavorable situation. You want to upgrade, but the soundbar is designed to be a standalone audio solution. You can’t add an AV receiver and you likely can’t add additional speakers. This means that you are stuck either selling or gifting the soundbar and starting over. That feels like a waste. Unfortunately, it is often the only solution.
When Can You Add Speakers to a Soundbar?
Wait a second, we said, “Often.” That means that it is sometimes possible to add speakers to a soundbar solution. When is that the case?
Some soundbars come with the ability to expand to full surround sound. This often comes in the form of “wireless” surround speakers that will only work with that particular soundbar. While you will now have “real” surround speakers, they are linked inextricably to that specific soundbar. This very much feels like throwing good money after bad. You may be happy with your surround speaker upgrade for now, but what will you do if you want to add Atmos speakers in the future? Or swap out your soundbar for something else? Those proprietary speakers are unlikely to work with your new system.
Much in the same vein as the speakers, many soundbars come with subwoofers (we’d call them bass modules) that will work only with that specific soundbar. Many of these solutions are wireless. Even the ones that aren’t wireless often aren’t compatible with other audio solutions. They’ll have speaker-level inputs or proprietary connections. Often the amp for the subwoofer will be placed in the soundbar rather than in the subwoofer enclosure. This will make them impossible to integrate into a traditional home theater system.
There are some soundbars that do allow expanding to additional speakers. You can figure out if your soundbar qualifies by glancing at the back. You’re looking for an RCA connection labeled Subwoofer. If you see that, you are one of the lucky few. You can add a real, standalone subwoofer to your soundbar. Get one that can pressurize your room. This will be a purchase that you can use with any future system.
Unfortunately, adding additional speakers that aren’t proprietary to a soundbar is very, very uncommon. You may find a subwoofer output, but that’s about it. Our suggestion is to enjoy your soundbar for what it is, add a real subwoofer if you can, and upgrade to a whole new system when you are ready (using your upgraded subwoofer if you added one).