Soundbars

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  • Widge Moderator 2 Jan 2013 10:59:05 13,676 posts
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    Anyone got any experience of these? Ones that are good, can fake surround sound to a reasonable degree?

    FED UP of my one box Home Cinema thing that is more faff than pleasure.

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  • nickthegun 2 Jan 2013 11:06:21 60,159 posts
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    The high end yamaha ones are really good and are pretty convincing. The cheap ones are basically tarted up TV speakers.

    If you are willing to spend the money, its worth taking the plunge but, as always, try before you buy.

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  • Widge Moderator 2 Jan 2013 11:09:46 13,676 posts
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    Ok, I'll try and get my head down to Richer Sounds or something, do a bit of sifting through AVF.

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  • smoothpete 2 Jan 2013 11:10:51 31,536 posts
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    I was going to say Yamaha too, but really they're all a big compromise. The decent ones are not cheap either. Note that it's not just the soundbar, it will likely come with a subwoofer. What are you finding faffy about having a 5.1 system?
  • Deleted user 2 January 2013 11:24:34
    @Widge

    The best sound bar (emphasis on bar) I've encountered was on my friend's newly bought Sony KDL-55HX953 TV, we installed just before Christmas. Compared to my ageing 5.1 AMP/speaker setup it was doing a great job for audio, when he tried Piranha 3DD film and some youtube HD music videos.

    It is the first TV I've encountered since the days of good CRTs, where I'd consciously thought the sound was good enough to make the need for a dedicated amp overkill for at least 50% of potential customers.

    When I come to replace my existing setup, I'll probably be getting just a good set of 3.1 speakers and a good tuner that can create virtual 5.1, etc (which is essentially what he best sound bars do anyway).
  • LeoliansBro 2 Jan 2013 11:25:01 44,420 posts
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    Colour me shocked that it was a Sony product.

    LB, you really are a massive geek.

  • Widge Moderator 2 Jan 2013 11:28:49 13,676 posts
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    @smoothpete I bought a 5.1 home cinema system, so the speakers are bespoke to that particular box. Its subwoofer has had a distant hum since day one and the thing isn't really suited to behaving like an amp.

    Either I have to buy a whole new 5.1 setup or do something else. Getting a proper amp and speakers will be pricey, and I'm not overly fond of the cable hell it creates.

    I was looking at a soundbar that can fake a bit of surround, or I might consider a 3.1 setup.

    I also have a 2.1 effort upstairs that will be redundant since my front room TV is now going to be my PC. Might try that out.

    While I like Dolby Digital, I'd rather reduce on boxes and cables now.

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  • Widge Moderator 2 Jan 2013 11:30:47 13,676 posts
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    @vizzini I'd have to get the TV with that? Much as I want to get a new TV, I'd only ever go with Philips Ambilight now. They have their failings, but I just can't do without my glowy corner of front room now.

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  • kalel 2 Jan 2013 11:31:39 87,933 posts
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    Get a lamp.
  • smoothpete 2 Jan 2013 11:34:16 31,536 posts
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    Fair do's, I can dig the cable hell thing, it can be a right old pain in the arse.

    FWIW I am currently going through the process of upgrading my 5.1 system bit by bit. On monday I ordered the centre speaker, for example. So far I am still using the centre, sub, and rears from an old one-box system but with a new receiver. You can mix and match them without anything blowing up.

    But yeah if you want to avoid cable hell then go soundbar + sub. general rule of thumb is to choose one from an electronics manufacturer rather than a speaker manufacturer, as the internal ampy gubbins is likely to be better / higher quality, and matters more than speakers nuances.
  • Ultrasoundwave 2 Jan 2013 11:36:00 3,319 posts
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    We picked up this Samsung soundbar about 6 months ago.

    It can be split in two and put either side of the TV, or left as one piece and put underneath it.

    I think its absolutely excellent - we've got quite a big living room but it does a great job of blasting the sound out.

    "The worst part is, I'll have to have the break-up sex with myself!"

  • Deleted user 2 January 2013 11:36:15
    vizzini wrote:
    @Widge

    The best sound bar (emphasis on bar) I've encountered was on my friend's newly bought Sony KDL-55HX953 TV, we installed just before Christmas. Compared to my ageing 5.1 AMP/speaker setup it was doing a great job for audio, when he tried Piranha 3DD film and some youtube HD music videos.

    It is the first TV I've encountered since the days of good CRTs, where I'd consciously thought the sound was good enough to make the need for a dedicated amp overkill for at least 50% of potential customers.

    When I come to replace my existing setup, I'll probably be getting just a good set of 3.1 speakers and a good tuner that can create virtual 5.1, etc (which is essentially what he best sound bars do anyway).
    You suck at A/V advice too.

    There aren't any soundbars I've heard that are better than individual speakers, the cost of decent ones isn't worth it for anything other than space. It's a big compromise either way.
  • Deleted user 2 January 2013 11:50:32
    @Widge

    I wasn't saying to buy that TV, just giving an opinion on a large soundbar(hence having a chance of being good) and its relative performance for people prioritising lounge practicality over sound.

    In most cases, 3.1 (instead of a sound bar) will be the safer option. As it gives you the option to change your mind if required, without throwing away the whole investment.

    @Aargh

    Read your comment, then re-read mine. I never said better. I framed the sound quality with quite specific wording.
  • Widge Moderator 2 Jan 2013 12:26:48 13,676 posts
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    These are the efforts I have upstairs:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Creative-I-Trigue-3400-2-1-Speakers/dp/B00069BTP0

    Might do me as a go between. Getting rid of my home cinema will free up steambox room.

    Still, thanks all, I think the best thing is to stick my head down Richer Sounds on a jaunt round town so I can check out audio in general for the future.

    Edited by Widge at 12:27:24 02-01-2013

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  • PatrickEwing 2 Jan 2013 13:25:36 2,141 posts
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    I got the Yamaha Yas 101 soundbar for Christmas and all I can say is it's alright! At first I was completely underwhelmed but I'm growing to like it more and more. I don't use it all the time but obviously a massive improvement over the tv sound but in now way can you expect it to compare to a 5.1 system that I'm replacing it with (don't want subwoofer and speakers littered around the room with respective wiring anymore).
    I feel we have to ramp up the volume a fair bit to get any decent clarity which is a bit of a problem as despite 'univolume' it still gets mighty loud at certain times which can be a problem with 3 under 4's sleeping directly above the lounge.
  • Deleted user 2 January 2013 14:01:34
    @Widge

    Not that it matters, but for correctness the model number of the TV above wI stated was wrong, naturally it was a HX8 model with the soundbar I was meaning.
  • smoothpete 2 Jan 2013 14:14:30 31,536 posts
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    widge what's your budget?
  • UncleLou Moderator 2 Jan 2013 14:49:10 35,606 posts
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    vizzini wrote:

    When I come to replace my existing setup, I'll probably be getting just a good set of 3.1 speakers and a good tuner that can create virtual 5.1, etc (which is essentially what he best sound bars do anyway).
    That's not really correct. The best ones - namely, the better Yamaha ones - do *not* create "virtual 5.1" (like the virtual suround setting on the TV you mentioned), but they use sound reflections on the walls around you - which means that a sound that is supposed to come from behind you *is* actually coming from behind you (as opposed to tricking your brain into only thinking it does), and which is exactly why they sound considerably better.

    You really can't compare that to Sony's TV stand/speaker combo, unless you're talking about an accessory I am not aware of.

    Edited by UncleLou at 14:49:54 02-01-2013
  • nickthegun 2 Jan 2013 14:54:50 60,159 posts
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    UncleLou wrote:
    That's not really correct.
    Uh oh. Youve done it now.

    But, yeah, the Yamaha ones are actually quite a sight to behold with the front grill off. The speakers angle themselves with regard to the acoustics of your wall and calibrate themselves using, basically, echo location.

    They dont trick the ear so much as project the sound off things, so you need fairly plain walls with no tapestries and whatnot hanging off the wall.

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  • smoothpete 2 Jan 2013 15:22:36 31,536 posts
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    Nooooo not my tapestries... :(
  • Deckard1 2 Jan 2013 15:30:47 28,262 posts
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    Yeah if I have to choose between crystal clear reflective 5.1 audio or my tapestries, the tapestries are going to win every time. Its no contest.
  • UncleLou Moderator 2 Jan 2013 15:31:08 35,606 posts
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    Tiles. Tiles are the solution. They also nicely balance out what you gain in coziness by not setting up speakers everywhere.
  • Deleted user 2 January 2013 15:51:12
    @UncleLou

    I was using the word virtual surround to encompass all those techniques that create a virtual surround sound stage irrespective of (patented named technology or) number of physical speakers or technique. I hadn't realised s-force doesn't physically bounce sound like other techniques until you mentioned it, so that is slightly different.

    All I can say is that I was fooled in to believing I was listening to sound from behind me in the film, just like any 5.1 or virtual 5.1 surround, and was impressed by the clarity and quality of the audio reproduction at high and low volume in the film, general TV and listening to streamed music.

    It is a very large sound bar; the width of the 55 TV, so I expected the sound to be quite good like you would from any large speakers at half their maximum. But was probably a little surprised at just how close to a full 5.1 system experience it was.
  • Widge Moderator 10 Jan 2013 15:10:05 13,676 posts
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    Oh now this is an alternative, soundbar avec 2 wireless back speakers.

    http://reviews.cnet.com/home-entertainment/vizio-s4251w-b4/4505-6449_7-35560754.html

    $330 I think the mooted price is, much cheaper than the proposed $800 Philips effort.

    Edited by Widge at 15:11:39 10-01-2013

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  • smoothpete 10 Jan 2013 15:30:14 31,536 posts
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    How are the speakers powered? Does each have a mains adaptor?
  • THFourteen 10 Jan 2013 15:45:45 33,623 posts
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    they have wires running to the centre speaker
  • Trafford 10 Jan 2013 16:37:45 5,807 posts
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    I'm thinking of picking up a JBL 200, its at the top end of my budget but I can stream my walkman through it using Bluetooth.
    Similar features on one made by John Lewis 50 cheaper.

    @Widge, agreed on the Ambilight. The dynamic setting is a lovely touch, bought a 6900 series last month
  • Widge Moderator 15 Jan 2013 19:04:49 13,676 posts
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    As far as I know, rear wireless tend to run from their own mains or batteries.

    @Trafford

    That 6900 (6903?) is the frameless one of the one I'm looking at, 6007.

    It just adds an extra dimension to viewing. It is in no way essential, but once you have it you grow to love it.

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  • Widge Moderator 25 Apr 2013 09:57:34 13,676 posts
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    Ok, my 5.1 system just died, so I am going to do this regardless!

    An on the off chance scan on Ebay threw up someone pretty much local who had this for a buy it now of 75:

    http://www.whathifi.com/review/yamaha-yht-s400

    Considering they tend to go for about 300 (or did before getting succeeded), I thought that was a doozy!

    In sadder news, looks like I got stung for a chuffing TV off there :(
    The bod has been promising postage for most of the month and dates keep getting missed. It got set to shipped on Friday and despite my "where are the shipping details? tracking number? should it not have arrived yet?", his patchy comms continues.

    No choice other than to raise a case as the timeline has started to drag on.

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