Sound(bar) Advice

I'm looking for a soundbar. My wife and I are tired of not always understanding dialogue coming out of the rear-firing speakers of our Panasonic ZT.

Cnet leads me to believe that the thing to get is the Sharp HT-SB602. It is the update to their longtime favorite that adds Bluetooth.

I heard a friend's Vizio soundbar this weekend and was impressed with how much better his sound (just dialogue in this case) was than mine. I'd consider Vizio, but reviews seem to indicate that this Sharp bar is much better and especially so if I ever want to play any music through it - which is doubtful, but games and movies have music, as well.

Thanks in advance for any feedback.

At the risk of being "GWJ guy", does it have to be a soundbar? If you want good sound, discrete speakers are usually the best option.

For this kind of thing, I generally defer to the Wirecutter, because they're thorough, and awesome.

http://thewirecutter.com/leaderboard/soundbars/

(That said, I personally have a Sonos soundbar and love it, but we've bought into the Sonos ecosystem. If you don't care about such things, it's nice but a bit pricey.)

Malor wrote:
At the risk of being "GWJ guy", does it have to be a soundbar? If you want good sound, discrete speakers are usually the best option.

Doesn't *have* to be, but I want dead simple, and the fact that these soundbars basically act as receiver/speakers/wireless subwoofer combos is very appealing to me. Good sound that I can't mess up trumps great sound that's more complicated, for me.

And no worries on the "GWJ guy" front.

Good sound that I can't mess up trumps great sound that's more complicated, for me.

OK, well, that's soundbar territory, but be aware that you can get absolutely dynamite sound for fairly reasonable amounts of money if you go with a receiver/separates/subwoofer.

Setting those up is much easier than building a PC, but way harder than a soundbar.

I'd go with the soundbar if simplicity is the top priority. Even a simple discrete setup is a fair bit more wiring and figuring out what speakers will work best for you. Not to mention the price for a decent 2.1 discrete setup is going to be north of $500, especially if you want a subwoofer.

As far as soundbars go, I'd say that as long it comes with a sub, it'll probably do just fine. Just spend as much as your budget allows.

Yeah, that's true, I was assuming a good-sized budget because of the TV, if you're trying to stay down in the cheap seats, a soundbar might very well be better.

What I kind of had in my head was a small receiver, a Hsu Research sub, and the clever little Hsu Ventriloquist speakers.... total cost of about $1K, quality sound from small satellites, and bass that will blow the doors off.

Chairman_Mao wrote:
as long it comes with a sub

Just want to emphasize this. More than anything else, don't go without a sub. A sound bar without one won't sound much better than your tv speakers.

FYI my TV is in my living room, and the couch isn't against a wall. I have small kids. Hence, no surround interest right now. Also, I'm in no position to crank the volume at any time, for the most part. Maybe someday I'll have a different setup.

Ranger Rick wrote:
For this kind of thing, I generally defer to the Wirecutter, because they're thorough, and awesome.

http://thewirecutter.com/leaderboard/soundbars/

(That said, I personally have a Sonos soundbar and love it, but we've bought into the Sonos ecosystem. If you don't care about such things, it's nice but a bit pricey.)

Btw my brother likes The Wirecutter as well. The Vizio they suggest is a step up from the one my friend had, and one I was considering. The Cnet reviewer preferred a Sony bar to it, and this Sharp bar to both. I rely on others in these matters I know nothing about.

I'm in this boat too but only because I don't have room for speakers. Soundbars seem to be the only form factor I can get.

Fed, what actually is your budget?

You can get a pair of Pioneer SP-FS52-LR's or BIC DV64's (or some other similar pairs of floorstanding towers) for about $260. The DV64's in particular get all the way down to ~29hz or so on the bass front, which is as low or possibly lower than the cheapest of the cheap sub that comes with that soundbar will manage. You can hook them up to any receiver, set them to full range, and be on your way. The FS52's probably less so, on the bass end of things. But either set has great stereo imaging. Just as an experiment, I've sat people down in front of my DV64's, set the receiver to 2.0 only, and then turned on a TV show. People will steadfastly insist that dialogue is coming from my center channel, right up until the moment that I prove it to them by unplugging it.

The downside to this route is that, as Mao pointed out with the 2.1 route, even going budget getting a good receiver (Yamaha's RX-V377 is the budget model in this range I point to most often) will run $250 and put you at $500, and bass while surprisingly respectable out of the DV64's will not get as thumpy as even a cheap dedicated powered sub. Also they'll take up more space, so of course there are tradeoffs. And you'll have to buy speaker wire of course, as the receiver and speakers neither one are going to come with it. So there's a little bit of added cost there too.

The main upside is that if at some point down the road you decide to upgrade to 5.1, you have a clear and easy upgrade path. You buy some more speaker wire, matching center and rear speakers, and a sub and you're ready to go.

But again, to concede the other point, none of this is at all as simple as buying the soundbar, plugging things in and going. It's going to cost more money and be at least slightly more involved to set up. You'll be figuring out how long you want to cut speaker wiring, for example

***

Fedaykin98 wrote:
FYI my TV is in my living room, and the couch isn't against a wall. I have small kids. Hence, no surround interest right now. Also, I'm in no position to crank the volume at any time, for the most part. Maybe someday I'll have a different setup.

It took me too long to finish up my post so I missed updates to the thread. Another downside to any towers is that they can be easy for kids to knock over. Probably wouldn't work out so great.

Fedaykin98 wrote:
FYI my TV is in my living room, and the couch isn't against a wall. I have small kids. Hence, no surround interest right now. Also, I'm in no position to crank the volume at any time, for the most part. Maybe someday I'll have a different setup.
make kids singular and I'm in the same boat! (And I still went with discrete 5.1). Going to post my sub in the silly purchases thread when it arrives.

Edit: it's not that silly, but far more than I've ever spent on a sub before.

What did you get?

Malor wrote:
What did you get?
on the bus so posting a link is hard. The brand is Reaction Audio, a startup internet direct seller. I got the BPS 212, a 12" dual driver sealed sub. Got it at 10% off during their memorial day sale for 449. Very cheap as far as quality subs go, but early customer feedback has been very positive and the company founder has been outstanding with customer service.

Chairman_Mao wrote:
Malor wrote:
What did you get?
on the bus so posting a link is hard. The brand is Reaction Audio, a startup internet direct seller. I got the BPS 212, a 12" dual driver sealed sub. Got it at 10% off during their memorial day sale for 449. Very cheap as far as quality subs go, but early customer feedback has been very positive and the company founder has been outstanding with customer service.

Sounds like a similar deal to the early days of Epik when they gave people great deals just to get their name out there. Although Epik has since closed shop and gone out of business.

Reaction Audio Website wrote:
In home 30 day trial! If you are not satisfied you can send it back!

That's awesome.

Yeah people mentioned these subs look a lot like the Epiks. I'm new to premium subs but have been learning a lot at home theater shack and avsforum

Caveat is you pay return shipping (2 man operation, it's understandable), but yeah it's a nice feature. SVS probably has the best policy, 45 day trial free shipping to return.

Since this conversation is a bit OT, I made a thread

Thin J - I definitely think your approach makes sense, but I won't be out of the "kids are definitely knocking towers over" danger zone for a long time now. I have a plastic fence set up around my TV and cabinet now, but I don't think I can squeeze towers in there.

This is definitely a purchase for the present time. Someday, I may invest in surround and all that. Right now, I need something that fits my room and my family.

Sony HTST7?

Ranger Rick wrote:
That said, I personally have a Sonos soundbar and love it, but we've bought into the Sonos ecosystem. If you don't care about such things, it's nice but a bit pricey.

After unloading the enormous PA speakers I'd been using at our last place, I spent years talking about sorting out a new audio setup for our living room and my wife surprised me with a Sonos Playbar. To be honest, I thought we'd be picking up a sub immediately, but the bass response in that thing is really incredible. So I figure that can wait until we're ready to setup a second zone or get outdoor speakers or whatever.

For any soundbar setup though, I strongly recommend going to your local audio place and listening to them to find the right balance of price vs. sound quality. Depending on your watching and listening habits, an expensive setup may not actually be worth it.

Malor wrote:
At the risk of being "GWJ guy", does it have to be a soundbar? If you want good sound, discrete speakers are usually the best option.

I agree. We have a sound bar and sometimes it's great but others it really muddies the output and the actual TV speakers are better to understand dialogue.

If you're going to get one then get one with a lot of options and control. Be able to separately control bass and treble at a minimum.

Ideally, I think it's best to get a cheapish set of PC speakers + subwoofer with 8mm jack/optical and a good fine-tune bass/sound volume control to boot.

I have the Sonos sound bar in my living room...big fan of the Sonos tech as I have them all over the house..as a sound bar goes it works well enough that I don't notice it

Nothing beats a quality set of speakers for surround but in areas where you can't realistically do that I can recommend this unit 100%

Yep. Sonos even has a mounting setup to mount the playbar on the wall. Mine is on the mantle (TV is on the wall above the mantle), but it amounts to the same thing. If I had a TV cabinet or already had a HiFi system, I might have gone a different route though. Also, I like the iPhone app, but have no idea what the Android one is like so that may be an issue. Still, it's great being able to stream music to my home audio system from my phone.