Among home theater system consumers, the trend toward sound bars in lieu of full surround sound systems is increasing. Sound bars have a number of benefits that are fueling this popularity, and when you plan a new home theater system, you must ask yourself whether these advantages align with your own needs.

Sound bars have a number of obvious advantages: they are sleek, modern-looking, easy to set up and install, less expensive, take up less space and involve running fewer wires through your room. In essence, sound bars are virtual surround sound systems; that is, engineers design them to mimic the effects of surround sound without actually surrounding listeners in speakers. 

However, this type of design does carry a few disadvantages. For one, sound bars are unable to mimic the full bass effects of a subwoofer. They also tend to concentrate sound in sweet spots in the room where the listening is better. Sound bars perform somewhat poorly in large rooms, too. 

Therefore, if you have a small or medium-sized room, a sound bar is a good solution for you. This is particularly the case if your room's dimensions necessitate conserving speaker space. Sound bars provide a perfectly adequate listening experience, but if you are an audiophile, you might find yourself pining for a full surround sound system. You also probably want to invest in the full system if you have a large room to fill with sound and space and the logistics of wiring are not issues.

Before you decide on a sound bar versus surround sound, consider whether the practicalities of your space demand one system or the other. If you are free to choose between them, your selection is likely going to be a product of personal taste and your tolerance for a more complicated installation and wiring process.