Are 5.1 Systems (With five separate speakers) and Passive Soundbars On The Way Out?


Active Member
Last week, I was in a PC World. I noticed that they didn't sell any 5.1 systems with five separate speakers. I asked why this was the case, and the customer service advisor said that they just didn't have any demand for systems with separate speakers. Apparently, most customers want a soundbar, because they are more convenient (in terms of space) and easier to set up. I also asked about passive soundbars, but he said there is very little demand for those, because customers want all-in-one solutions, which means soundbars with built-in amps.

So, does this mean that 5.1 systems (with five speakers) and passive soundbars are on their way out? For some time now, I have been looking to upgrade my soundbar to a 5.1 system, but I'm now thinking I might go with a Dolby Atmos soundbar.


PC World and Currys know their customers and their market. They will push soundbars as hard as they can, my grandson works for Currys, as soon as someone shows an interest in a TV the next question is 'would you like a soundbar with it?'

I would think that for people that are interested in surround sound, even at an entry level, then PC World/Currys would be last place they'd look.


Active Member
My home cinema journey started when I went to curry's and they had a non plus attitude towards home cinema setups and just insisted on showing me soundbars. Only then did I realise how crappy curry's was and it opened my eyes to more specialist companies. I wouldn't take their word for anything.


Distinguished Member
The AV products sold at Currys like places have evolved from 5.1 all-in-one speaker packages to Soundbars for some years now. However that's also evolving as soundbars started with just the single main unit, then they added the .1 for extra bass and now they're adding the surrounds. So one might say a bit of devolution going on.

The "Atmos" soundbar packages being sold now are in effect 3.1 in terms of the number of individual components but are being labeled and sold as Atmos speakers due to their internal driver arrangement and DSP wizardry. There is a demand for these things.
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Active Member
For the record, I've already been to Richer Sounds, James Morrow and Sound Counsel. All three were relatively helpful, but they didn't have much in the way of choice.

I went to PC World / Currys in order to be thorough. The customer service guy certainly didn't try to sell me a soundbar, and he was quite open about the fact that I would get a better quality of sound from a 5.1 system with separate speakers, which I already knew.


Active Member
I suppose Curry's sells what sells and what makes them profit.

Most people, especially younger just starting out types, will have more limited budgets. This probably means smaller rooms too or rented properties.

A soundbar, even a low end one might sound wowie if you have only ever heard a TV. Additionally it will only take up a small amount of that real estate compared to pursuading someone that you need two small fridge size subwoofers.

In wall speakers and ceiling speakers might be impossible in rented. Horses for courses and all that. Some people don't really appreciate the benefits of the better tech and sound or have different priorities for their cash. Why is dvd on sale still?

I'm sure 8k is better and I would love a real 8k projector with full HDR and when they get within my budget, which might be smaller than yours I'm sure I'll get one. Hopefully a new car won't be needed at the same time.

Some people have both and it's only when you have experienced really good systems that you start to wish for one and a budget to match. Yes it's true you do need that interconnect more than the kids new shoes...... Just listen to the improvement in sound!


Active Member
I had a demo of the Monitor Audio Mass System (gen 2) and a Sonos Arc. The Monitor Audio was better, but I wouldn't say it was night and day. I also listened to Monitor systems with bookshelf speakers and satellite speakers, and I couldn't tell the difference.

As a result, I want a system that has a soundbar for the front three (or a passive speakerbar) and two satellite speakers behind me. I want this system to be allow for an upgrade to true dolby atmos, unless there is a soundbar system (with dolby atmos) that is close enough to true dolby atmos sound.

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