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Thread: Home audio: Soundbars vs. traditional speaker set-ups

  1. Home audio: Soundbars vs. traditional speaker set-ups

    So, at some point I'm going to need some audio for my TV. The HDTV I had before had speakers that were decent enough to get the job done, but with the new TV I picked up recently it sounds like I'm listening to everything through an AM radio.

    All I really want it something that isn't going to sound like that. Having 7.1 surround sound with super bass is not a big deal to me, because I'm in an apartment where I have enough respect for my neighbors to not crank up the audio to really take advantage of all of that anyhow. I'm also not really sure I want the rear speaker thing, both for having to string wires across the room and for having no real decent set-up for placing those speakers anyhow.

    So, I was looking today at these "soundbar" things, with their promises of "magical surround sound" and a sleek all-in-one design. I'm not expecting them to really do as good of a job as a full-on home theater package, but I do really like the idea of only having one main speaker item to find a centralized location for.

    Anybody here who is using or has used one of these? Is there some drastic downfall to the concept that should keep me away from them?
    WARNING: This post may contain violent and disturbing images.

  2. I'm pretty sure Diff just got one. I've read that they can do a great job in a small sized room. They can run pretty expensive though.

  3. I don't have direct experience with soundbars, but I have heard good things. They obviously are not going to replace a full 5.1 system, but many of them offer quality sound with better than normal stereo quality. That being said, from everything I have seen they are not cheap. I think you are paying somewhat for the convenience and form factor. The thing that has really stopped me from investing them further is that their input options tend to be poor. I need at least 3 HDMI inputs and I have yet to find a bar that provides that. If I were you I'd just find a decent but cheap surround in a box package and then leave the rear speakers disconnected if you prefer. That would probably be cheaper, give you better options, and with some tweaking could give you some quality sound.

  4. I would get a soundbar under one of the following scenarios:

    1) if you have a very small living room, where traditional 5.1 speakers would take up too room or makes the place look unattractive

    2) bedroom use, where some decent surround effects are sufficient

    ----
    For a more impactful home theater experience, I would not get a sound bar.

  5. To be fair, I haven't exactly been around pricing the full range of equipment yet. I happened to be at Best Buy and happened to be looking at them. I know the Sony one that I was looking at was $308, which is what I though your average speaker set-up would cost anyhow (but I could totally be wrong).
    WARNING: This post may contain violent and disturbing images.

  6. I have a Yamaha YSP 1100 that I got a few years back and it is truly amazing. My only gripe is the lack of inputs though I've worked around that by running my HDMI cables to the tv and then a fiber cable from the tv to sound bar.

    Before this I had a really nice 5.1 setup. The sound bar doesn't give you true 5.1 but what it does is pretty mind numbing. When you hear sounds coming from beside and behind you it's crazy because you know that there are no speakers there. I highly recommend them but they are pricey.
    Last edited by Glass Joe; 03 Apr 2011 at 02:00 AM.

  7. I have a SONY HTCT 350. Can't complain. While it won't compete with a true 7.1 system, for the ease of hookup and lack of space/wires it strikes a balance for me. I don't need sound that will shift plate tectonics but it's got enough to hear next door. Also it doubles as a switchbox. 4 HDMI inputs. I used to have each system on it's own tv input with a different calibration for each one since they have differences in how they output the image but to cut down on cords hanging from the tv I know have them all plugged into the sub with one hdmi and fibre cable to the tv. The one bad thing about this is that the switching is not completely passive. I still find myself having to turn on the soundbar and switching the input to get something to display. Also the remote that comes with it is the only one that will work with it. Afaik universal remotes will not work.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mman View Post
    The thing that has really stopped me from investing them further is that their input options tend to be poor. I need at least 3 HDMI inputs and I have yet to find a bar that provides that.
    See my post. The HTCT 350 has at least 3.
    Last edited by Dyne; 03 Apr 2011 at 02:23 AM.

  8. Quote Originally Posted by Rumpy View Post
    I'm pretty sure Diff just got one. I've read that they can do a great job in a small sized room. They can run pretty expensive though.
    Yep, Diff did just get one. A low end Sony CT-HT150. I use it in my "game room" while I have a full surround 5.1 setup in my living room.

    I like the soundbar a lot. It's great for my small room and fills things up nicely. I played through Bioshock 2 with it and it was awesome.

    There's only so much a soundbar could do but the surround effect on mine is pretty decent in many occasions. For games where I really feel like I need positional audio (like Bad Company 2), I have an A40+Mixamp setup. For everything else, singleplayer games and the like, the system is just fine. For movies and TV it is great and far far superior to the built in speaker junk.

    There are systems with even better surround but that requires research. AVS likes one by JVC but I think the company replaced it with a system with unfortunately inferior sound.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mman
    I need at least 3 HDMI inputs and I have yet to find a bar that provides that.
    My soundbar has 3 HDMI inputs.
    Last edited by Diff-chan; 03 Apr 2011 at 02:38 AM.

  9. For smaller to mid sized rooms sound bars are a pretty nice solution and honestly some of the higher end Polk and Sony bars are better bang for the buck than some 5.1 systems based on the geometry and layout of your room even when the square footage gets larger.

    The biggest thing I could recommend is to really evaluate the size of your room and your budget and make a choice based on those things, don't jump right into either a sound bar or a 5.1 system because someone tells you one is better than the other, because anyone who does that without knowing how much money you have to spend and exactly how you'd be setting up a 5.1 system just doesn't know shit. Find a joint that sells sound bars out of a tiny sound room; most high quality places will do this, and you'll be able to pretty accurately judge what you're in for.


  10. I'm pretty sure the CT-HT150 is the exact one I was looking at.

    So, forgive the stupid question, but if I get one that has HDMI inputs, would I basically then go: Game System (or whatever) -> Soundbar -> HDTV? I guess I was thinking I would send the video into the HDTV, and then have the TV send audio out to the audio system, but I suppose it might make more sense the other way. That's also how I used to do it back in the old days when I had a component stereo system (if I'm remembering correctly).
    WARNING: This post may contain violent and disturbing images.

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