Not everything has to be the best of the best, and very often the right solution for one situation is not right all the time. For example, I have a top-of-the-line laptop. It has 16GB of RAM, 1TB SSD, i7 chip, and weighs about 3 pounds. It is an awesome computer and handles everything I throw at it with ease. And while I’m sure my kids would love a similar computer, they’re not getting $1,500-plus laptops. They’re not getting some barely useable Chromebook either. They’ll likely get “desktop replacement” laptops. They will weigh 6-7 pounds, have i3 or i5 chips, spinning hard drives, and 4-8GBs of RAM. Their computers will handle everything they will need to use them for—schoolwork, research, and I’m sure the occasional game or two.
A similar pattern holds with our clients. Very often the main living room or family rooms get the 65- or 75-inch TV (or better yet, two-piece projection) with 5.1, 7.1, or even 5.1.2 or 7.1.2 surround sound or Dolby Atmos. It is finely calibrated and sounds and looks absolutely amazing for family movie night or watching the game on Sunday. This is not an inexpensive solution, however, and certainly not something most clients are going to invest in for every room in the home. And I also have many clients who either don’t have a lot of space for hardware (this is NYC after all) or just don’t watch enough TV for it to matter that much.
Polk Audio soundbar
This is where the soundbar comes in and can be a great fit. Those secondary rooms like the master bedroom or the kids’ playroom don’t necessarily need a huge investment in a sound system, but they need something. The speakers in today’s TVs are so bad that not putting any amplification in the room is going to lead to a sub-par experience. And who gets blamed for that in the long run?
While soundbars do not sound great, they do sound infinitely better than the tiny 10W rear-firing or down-firing speakers built into the TV you just mounted. As I tell my clients, if a surround sound system is a “10” on the sound/experience scale and the TV speakers are a “1,” then a soundbar alone is probably a “4,” and a soundbar/subwoofer combo is probably a 6 or 7. It definitely will not replicate or compare to the sound quality of a good AVR and multiple, well-positioned speakers, but it will improve their listening and watching experience dramatically.
So why are so many integrators against the soundbar? Are you able to sell full surround systems into every room in the home that has a TV? If so, then kudos to you and please share your strategy with us! If not, why not sell at least a soundbar and gain the additional margin while offering the client a far superior solution to what they would otherwise experience? Many times when clients leave one or two TVs without a soundbar (maybe their bedroom or the kids’ den) they often come back to us a few months later for a soundbar solution because the sound quality is just so poor from today’s TVs.
We have only recently begun offering soundbars to our clients, and the additional revenue and profit being generated on jobs is much appreciated, and our clients are happier as well. Soundbars will never be our go-to product offering for a living room or family room; we will always specify at least one traditional surround sound system in a home. But for those secondary and tertiary rooms, don’t lose the additional revenue and profit potential and don’t leave your clients with a listening experience that they will regret.