Home Theater catch-all

Soundbars have taken over the market but I still don't see them as a reasonable alternative to discrete speakers especially since I use my system for a lot of music listening as well.

I still don't see soundbars as good choices outside of for secondary TVs. I tried replacing the very old speakers I have in my living room with a soundbar, and I gave up and moved that soundbar to a secondary TV the same day. Ended up getting some Klipsch tower speakers, which I'll eventually add onto for a more complete setup.

People can’t afford homes so for many Sound bars are an easy and affordable upgrade over the crappy built in speakers on TV’s. I’ve always had people very happy with my Sounbar recommendations.

Yeah.

Soundbars are a big flawed compromise if you want surround sound, but when all most people want is to just something that works a lot better than whatever built in audio their TV has, and they genuinely don't care about and aren't effected by the compromises...

It's kind of the obvious choice.

And some people really don't like more cords. My wife is very happy with a little less left/right definition for a cleaner look

When my old Onkyo died in my home office, I replaced it with a baseline Sony receiver, even though it's "only" stereo. Because of the still working speakers, but just as much because it's so easy to plug everything (consoles, PC, Plex server) below desk into the receiver and have one cable to my monitor.

But in our apartment at the Belgian coast I got a second hand Yamaha soundbar for 50EUR, as everything runs through the Chromecast anyway and loud volumes are more of a handicap than a boon.

Thin_J wrote:

Yeah.

Soundbars are a big flawed compromise if you want surround sound, but when all most people want is to just something that works a lot better than whatever built in audio their TV has, and they genuinely don't care about and aren't effected by the compromises...

It's kind of the obvious choice.

There's also the remote control aspect. As much as I detest that Logitech is killing Harmony, a lot of folks don't want to mess with the complexity of having many devices to control with a button-festooned remote.

EDIT - Speaking of which: Anyone here tried Sofabaton? Our Harmony remote has some dying buttons which I've been unable to revive by taking it apart and cleaning the contact surfaces. I'm loath to buy another with the future of their service in question, and am looking for a decent alternative.

What I've got: Pioneer receiver for video and sound switching/processing and bluetooth. Roku, Chromecast, Steam Link, PC, and console inputs. TV only in use as a dumb display with a single video input.

Wirecutter reviewed Sofabaton:

https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/r...

The tl;dr from that and the Amazon reviews seem to be that it can theoretically replace a Harmony remote, but:

The IR beam is really narrow/finicky.

It does IR and Bluetooth, but not RF or WiFi.

It can only pair with 1 Bluetooth device at a time.

You can setup Activities/Macros similar to Harmony but it's harder to program and the documentation isn't great (even the Amazon listing has some confusing grammatical errors, so I imagine that extends to the documentation as well). One of the Amazon reviews wrote out their own instructions to help other folks and they recommend keeping track of what buttons you're programming by writing it down, which seems non-ideal.

You need an iOS or Android device to program it. There's no desktop software. You also have to pair the phone/tablet with the remote via Bluetooth to program it which sounds like... you have to re-connect the Bluetooth if you were using it for anything else, every time you want to program something.

It kinda seems like right now it's not a great replacement, but it could be eventually. But it's also only $50.

I have a Logitech Harmony Touch that I love (the screen is great for feedback in those instances where you can't tell if the signal is being sent or the activity is running) but the battery life has gotten awful. I ordered a replacement, so fingers crossed I don't mess it up (the ifixit seems straightforward).

It does make me want to buy a replacement on eBay just in case (just the remote is $25-50, since I already have a hub) but I suppose if one day Logitech shuts down all their servers that won't help us. Whomp whomp. Hopefully by then Sofabaton and competitors will have smoothed out some of the above issues.

TheGameguru wrote:

People can’t afford homes so for many Sound bars are an easy and affordable upgrade over the crappy built in speakers on TV’s. I’ve always had people very happy with my Sounbar recommendations.

Thin_J wrote:

Yeah.

Soundbars are a big flawed compromise if you want surround sound, but when all most people want is to just something that works a lot better than whatever built in audio their TV has, and they genuinely don't care about and aren't effected by the compromises...

It's kind of the obvious choice.

I live in a studio so I just don't have the room for a full surround setup. Like it'd be theoretically possible, but the amount of space you'd need to sacrifice would be comical, or you'd have to design your entire living situation to revolve around speaker placement.

So a soundbar has been helpful for being better than my TV speakers but also compact.

TheGameguru wrote:

People can’t afford homes so for many Sound bars are an easy and affordable upgrade over the crappy built in speakers on TV’s.

Bookshelf speakers can be just as cheap as soundbars.

And I've hardly ever gone into a Goodwill without seeing a bunch of audio receivers and a stack of beefy speakers. If I were back in college and trying to get some decent audio for bottom dollar, that's where I'd be shopping. Hell, that's basically what the equipment I'd been using for the last 15 years was, until I started getting new speakers this past year.

I'll buy the convenience (form factor + relative ease of use) argument for soundbars, but I'm not really buying the cost one.

I was thinking less cost and more about space and hassle of wires and running speakers for surround. In the end you can’t beat a soundbar for not just overall cost but ease of use.

Like so many things tech wise… Good enough is usually a winner.

LouZiffer wrote:

There's also the remote control aspect. As much as I detest that Logitech is killing Harmony, a lot of folks don't want to mess with the complexity of having many devices to control with a button-festooned remote.

I haven't touched any of my receiver remotes in... honestly I'm not sure I remember?

HDMI CEC has just kind of worked. I control volume with my shield TV remotes, it auto switches HDMI inputs if I turn on a console, or blu ray player, or whatever else, etc.

Granted, YMMV. I will only speak for Denon, as I've had an two X series receivers and one S series, and all three have been flawless despite a mishmash of other brand devices. An LG TV, a Samsung TV, an Epson Projector, and a Vizio TV all have worked exactly as they should with the HDMI control features.

The only exception I have to the nicely functioning HDMI control stuff is... kind of hilariously the Vizio soundbar paired with a Vizio TV from the same year. It's sh*t. It sounds pretty good for the price, but HDMI control is so trash I gave up and just turned it off. So whenever someone wants to use that setup they have to use the soundbar remote. But I don't use it myself really, it's just for houseguests.

But my receiver remotes more likely than not have dead batteries in them because I haven't touched them in so long.