In recent years, soundbars have seen a rise in interest from consumers of home audio. Such technology offers an alternative means to experience surround sound content compared to conventional discrete multichannel systems. This paper presents a subjective comparison between two soundbars—a discrete 5 channel surround system and a discrete stereo system for a range of content and listener experience—in order to evaluate how soundbar technology compares to conventional discrete systems. A mixed methods approach, Open Profiling of Quality, was used in order to deeper understand preference ratings for the various reproduction systems. The results show that the discrete surround system was significantly preferred to the soundbars for all content due to a combination of timbral and spatial factors.
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