3.1.2 Vs 5.1.2 Soundbar: Which One is better in 2024?

The soundbar is an indispensable item for audiophiles in setting up a high-end home theater system. It is not only compact and convenient to place, but also delivers excellent sound quality and features. 

So, which is the better option between 3.1.2 and 5.1.2 soundbars? What do these numbers mean, anyway? If you are struggling between these two options, don’t skip this 3.1.2 Vs. 5.1.2 soundbar comparison. 

I will highlight the core features and advantages of each category to help you make the wisest purchase decision. Keep scrolling down to learn more!

What Is 3.1.2 Soundbar?

Regular users usually get confused with the 2.0, 4.1, or 3.1.2 labels on audio devices like stereos, speakers, and soundbars. When put simply, this number indicates the number of channels and speakers inside the soundbar. 

In the case of the 3.1.2 soundbar, the device’s system possesses 3 front channels, one LFE channel, and two additional speakers on the side. The number on the front shows how many front channels a device has. 

Meanwhile, the number behind the first colon is the rear speakers, and the last one indicates the number of rear channels in total (called LFE channels). The strength of the 3.1.2 soundbar lies in its clear audio. 

As a result, the lyrics and dialogs feel crystal clear when using a 3.1.2 soundbar, making it an ideal option for watching films and listening to music. 

3.1.2 soundbar
A 3.1.2 soundbar

What Is 5.1.2 Soundbar?

The soundbar functions like a surround sound system with multiple speakers and channels to provide a complete listening experience. Therefore the 3.1.2 or 5.1.2 labels are used to indicate the number of channels and speakers. 

Similarly, a 5.1.2 soundbar uses a 5.1.2 surround sound network with 5 speakers, including two at the front, one in the center, and the other two at the back. The 1 number means it has one additional subwoofer for deep bass sounds. 

And finally, the 2 number represents the two upward-firing speakers. They produce more ambient sound around the space, creating a lively and deep listening experience. 

Nowadays, 5.1 and 5.1.2 soundbar devices are getting more popular and are currently the most common category. They can produce sounds that bounce off the objects, walls, and ceilings in your room. 

5.1.2 soundbar
A 5.1.2 soundbar

What Are The Differences Between 3.1.2 Vs. 5.1.2 Soundbar?

Features3.1.2 Soundbar5.1.2 Soundbar
CostGenerally more affordableSignificantly more expensive
Features– It has 3 audio channels.
– May have an integrated subwoofer or not
– Include up to 5 separate audio channels
– Have a built-in subwoofer
PerformanceCan produce dialogues and lyrics very clearlyProduce more immersive, deeper, and more ambient sound
Design For– Dialogue-heavy content, music listening. 
– Watching films
A great match for the surround sound systems in large rooms and space
Pros– Excellent for dialogue and lyric sounds
– More affordable 
– More impressive and immersive sound quality 
– No need to purchase an additional subwoofer
Cons– You may need a subwoofer to achieve the best audio
– The inferior sound quality in general
– Higher price
– Not the best value for money if you prefer a small audio theater


The 5.1.2 soundbars are designed to fit in surround sound systems. They have up to five separate audio stereos to create an ambient and immersive listening experience. 

Meanwhile, the 3.1.2 soundbar only has three audio stereos, including 2 on the side and one in the center. 3.1.2 soundbars work like the regular speaker, but they will produce more clarity for dialogue and lyrics. 

For these reasons, the audio quality of 3.1.2 soundbars cannot compare with what 5.1.2 products deliver. The 3.1.2 soundbars cannot bring as immersive and vibrating audio as the 5.1.2 devices. 

Related: Active Vs Passive Subwoofer


Since the 5.1.2 soundbars have more channel speakers to produce better audio quality, their prices are significantly higher. For example, the 3.1.2 soundbars from top brands like LG or Sony cost between 200 to 300 dollars. 

Meanwhile, the 5.1.2 category from the same brands can go up to 600 and 700 dollars, which will hurt your pocket. 

3.1.2 Vs 5.1.2 Soundbar
A Simple Home Audio Setup

3.1.2 Vs. 5.1.2 Soundbar: Which One Should You Choose?

In summary, it boils down to your user’s needs and budget. The 3.1.2 soundbars come at significantly lower prices and can accommodate your listening needs decently. 

For example, if you want a soundbar to watch movies and media or listen to music, a 3.1.2 is sufficient. Meanwhile, the 5.1.2 soundbar is suitable for audiophiles who possess a large home theater setup. 

The sound quality it brings is optimal, ensuring a satisfying and immersive listening experience. If you simply desire the best quality and don’t care about budget, choose the 5.1.2 category. 

Related: Dolby Cinema vs Imax


What Type Of Sound Bar Do I Need?

A 2.1 soundbar with two channels is sufficient for improving the TV sound with its clearer audio. If you want to listen to music or watch movies with true surround sound, choose the 3.1.2 or 5.1.2 products.

What’s The Difference Between A 2.1 And a 3.1 Soundbar?

A 2.1 soundbar only has left and right audio channels, while the 3.1 device has an additional one in the center. This center audio channel focuses on producing dialogue audio, thus bringing a better experience to dialogue-intense content. 

Are Standard Tv Speakers As Good As Outer Speakers? 

The audio quality produced by standard TV speakers is inferior compared to the separate audio stereos. Nowadays, TVs have to come in very tight bezels and thin sizes to accommodate users’ demands. 

Therefore, the tiny built-in speakers cannot produce excellent sound quality, but they are not bad either. The TVs can still bring you a decent media surfing experience. 

Final Thoughts

So, those are the basic differences between a 3.1.2 and 5.1.2 soundbar. I hope that this 3.1.2 vs. 5.1.2 soundbar can help you pick the best option for your budget and preferences. Thank you for your precious time!

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