Soundbars compared? (Sony, Yamaha, Denon, Polk) - AVS Forum
View Poll Results: Which soundbar should I buy?
Yamaha YAS-71BL ($279 at Amazon) 0 0%
Sony HT-CT500 ($389 at Amazon) 0 0%
Denon DHT-FS3 ($419 at Amazon) 0 0%
Polk SurroundBar360 ($450 at Amazon) 0 0%
None of the above (I'll recommend an alternative) 0 0%
Avoid soundbars altogether 0 0%
I don't care / I don't know / you're on your own, bub 0 0%
Voters: 0. You may not vote on this poll

Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
post #1 of 16 Old 11-29-2009, 03:19 PM - Thread Starter
Newbie
 
iRobogeek's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 5
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Howdy,

Preemptive apologies for being a newbie here, but I've been having a bear of a time trying to find comparative soundbar reviews, and was hoping I could get some informed, expert advice from you kind folks.

I already have a decent Klipsch THX 2.1 system, but want to upgrade to surround - although with my room configuration (not to mention a toddler and a cat) prohibits me from running wires all over. So alas I need a soundbar.

I don't want another analog 2.1 solution, so I've ruled out the ZVOX and Vizio systems. I want to be able to monitor full 5.1 mixes from HD cable, Blu-Ray, PS3 and such - ideally with some sort of surround emulation - or there's no point. So I need optical or HDMI, with at least Dolby Digital and DTS decoding.

One other caveat: I'm in a weird space, with the TV consigned to a corner (no way around this), in a fairly open/long room with a vaulted ceiling - open in the back to the dining room, and to one side to the master bedroom via double doors. So I can't rely on a standard four-wall reflectivity configuration with the TV centered against one wall. I need a system that works without having to bounce off equidistant walls.

So I've been reading up on the forums and various reviews online, and so far am considering these options...

- Yamaha YAS-71BL ($279 at Amazon)

- Sony HT-CT500 ($389 at Amazon)

- Denon DHT-FS3 ($419 at Amazon)

- Polk SurroundBar360 ($450 at Amazon)

...but I haven't been able to find a decent comparison review of all four anywhere online to see how they stack up against each other.

Oh, and I ideally don't want to spend over $500, but I could be persuaded to go up to twice that (say, for a Yamaha YSP) if it was demonstrably worth it.

Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated!
iRobogeek is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 16 Old 11-29-2009, 03:33 PM
Member
 
blue comet's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 133
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Liked: 13
Spend more and get a YSP ..
blue comet is offline  
post #3 of 16 Old 11-29-2009, 04:32 PM - Thread Starter
Newbie
 
iRobogeek's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 5
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
blue comet - thanks so much for your speedy reply, but per Yamaha's website, don't all the YSP's require wall-bouncing? (In contrast, Amazon's page for Yamaha's YAS-71BL says that cheaper model "does not require walls to bounce sound off of".)

I'm more or less missing a normal rear wall (it's wide open to the dining room) and have a big hole in one side wall (double doors to the bedroom) in my living room - and my TV's in a corner. Doesn't this rule out the YSP's for me?
iRobogeek is offline  
post #4 of 16 Old 11-29-2009, 04:49 PM
Member
 
highdefdrifter's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 189
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
In your situation, I'd go with straight up quality sound in either a soundbar or stereo system. You say you already have a 'decent' 2.1 already, if it's decent enough then you'll probably see no gain in moving to an HDMI enabled soundbar(at least not enough to justify the cost). It'll probably turn out to be a lateral move at best.

Bottomline, quality stereo beats faux surround in my opinion. When you factor in the situation of you not really having the necessary room elements in place to create the faux surround in the first place, well...

edit: Wires are not a valid problem, you can hide them or use something like a Rocketfish to make the rears wireless. Placing rear speakers can be a valid problem, since if you can't place the speakers properly then there really is no point in having them.
highdefdrifter is offline  
post #5 of 16 Old 11-29-2009, 05:45 PM - Thread Starter
Newbie
 
iRobogeek's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 5
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
highdefdrifter - thanks very much for your response. Per your first point, do any of these soundbars offer appreciably good overall/stereo sound quality to be worth it, above and beyond the virtual surround aspect? But again - a key priority for me is to be able to monitor the full 5.1 surround mixes (esp. of Blu-Ray films), not just the stereo mixes, even if it's not perfect.

And per your edit: respectfully, wires are indeed a valid problem in my situation; you haven't seen my place, or met my toddler and cat. ;-) I cannot practically place surround speakers not hide wires here without suspending them from the ceiling in weird places, which is not an option.

Also, to reiterate to all - what I could really use is informed perspective from someone (or a publication/website) that has directly experienced/reviewed ALL FOUR different soundbars I've listed.

Thanks again.
iRobogeek is offline  
post #6 of 16 Old 11-29-2009, 06:08 PM
Member
 
highdefdrifter's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 189
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
All I meant about wires is that they CAN be dealt with, one way or another. Whether you want to do it is another question. Placement of speakers though, that's not really something you can fudge. Either they are where they need to be or they aren't.

I bet there are a few people around here with experience on all those soundbars, getting them to post in your thread- that's going to be the trick.

Probably your best bet for quick answers is to read through the threads for each individual soundbar. You are bound to see someone mentioning their impressions on the issues you are concerned with.

"do any of these soundbars offer appreciably good overall/stereo sound quality to be worth it"

That's a quesion only you can answer. Because it'd only be worth it if the sound quality increase is a big enough improvement over what you have now, and only you know how good what you have now is(to your ears).

What I'm getting from your posts is that you really want some kind of surround sound effect. It'd be a bummer for you to spend your money only to realize all you did is go from a 2.1 system to a 3.1 system.
highdefdrifter is offline  
post #7 of 16 Old 11-29-2009, 06:18 PM
AVS Special Member
 
ickysmits's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 1,413
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
When you say you have a Klipsch THX 2.1 system are you referring to their ProMedia computer speakers?

I’ll agree with HDD’s comments above and say a pair of good bookshelf or floorstanding speakers will beat those choices. A good 2.1 system isn’t all that bad plus you can actually use them to listen to music and they’ll sound good.

I’ve heard two of your choices, and they’re fine for what they are, but what they are are just glorified center speakers…but kind of interesting. The YSP might be better in the right conditions, I don’t know about that one, but none of the soundbars I’ve heard actually make me feel like they create a surround sound. The main benefit to these things as I see it is that they’re simple, inexpensive, and aesthetically pleasing…just better than TV speakers. They might seem like they sound like surround sound but they don't quite - if that makes sense.

…but you said you want surround sound. In lieu of larger bookshelf speakers, which sound better by the way, I’d be more inclined to try something like this by Pinnacle and get a Rocketfish wireless kit for the surrounds. It’s left/center/right speakers in one bar and it might keep with what I think you might be trying to achieve in design. The subwoofer doesn’t look all that hot but it’s no worse than the other choices you have. At least it would create a real surround effect. You’d need a receiver though.
ickysmits is offline  
post #8 of 16 Old 11-29-2009, 07:42 PM
AVS Special Member
 
drfreeman60's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Memphis TN
Posts: 1,805
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 47
I have owned one of the pricier Yamaha sound projector sound bars, Sony CT-100 (little brother to the one you're considering), and currently am using a Vizio soundbar.

I have tried the various surround modes on each and felt all were quite lacking (added quite audible processing and artifacts for my ears). To me they all colored the sound.

I have also used each as a 2.1 or 3.1 type system and found the sound very good from all.

Main disappointment from both Yamaha and Sony were lack of dynamic range. And I don't mean just the ability to play loud, but the ability to make the loud portions sound correct in relation to the quiet portions. The cheap ($127) Vizio outshines either of the other two and the Yamaha with sub-woofer was close to 10 times the cost. I'm continuing to use my Yamaha sub with the Vizio, the Yamaha sees duty at my son's home.

In my mind, the idea of a soundbar is to bring the sound while viewing closer to high fidelity than the built-in speakers. Any of those choices would do a credible job of decent sound. This is a category, based on my experiences at home and the homes of others where the quality of sound bears no relationship to the price paid.

David Freeman
drfreeman60 is offline  
post #9 of 16 Old 11-29-2009, 09:13 PM - Thread Starter
Newbie
 
iRobogeek's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 5
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
highdefdrifter - Thank you.

ickysmits - Yes, admittedly all I'm using now is the humble Klipsch ProMedia THX 2.1 system, which is pretty basic, but quite decent for what it is. Alternately, I have considered moving up to the beefier Klipsch CS-700 2.1 Home Theater System ($1,300 MSRP / $599 Amazon), which does process Dolby Digital and DTS via "Dolby Virtual Speaker technology, which simulates the effect of a five-speaker surround system" - but it includes a 1080i-upconverting DVD player I have no need/use for (much like the Polk SurroundBar360)...

http://www.klipsch.com/na-en/products/cs-700-overview/

The Pinnacle / Rocketfish combo option you mention looks interesting, but surrounds/satellites are simply out of the question for me. Space/geography is an insurmountable issue in my case, and I generally need to contain my A/V setup as much as possible anyway (an added incentive for a soundbar over even a 2.1 system; honestly, if a ZVOX Base processed a 5.1 Dolby Digital / DTS signal, I'd probably grab that to stick under my TV).

drfreeman60 - That's very interesting/illuminating, thanks. Wow, I never would've imagined the Vizio soundbar would top the Yamaha and Sony. But the Vizio only handles/supports two-channel stereo audio input, right? So I wouldn't be hearing any of the 5.1 Dolby Digital / DTS mix data, which seems to rule it out for me (along with the ZVOX, for instance).

You haven't heard the Denon and/or Polk by any chance? ;-)
iRobogeek is offline  
post #10 of 16 Old 11-29-2009, 10:03 PM
AVS Special Member
 
ickysmits's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 1,413
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
All I can say is get a kickass 2.1 system - not computer speakers or some Klipsch system with dinky 3" drivers. Get a receiver and a substantial pair of bookshelf or floorstanding speakers, add a sub if appropriate. Forget about surround simulation or Dolby Digital - it's not possible with a soundbar. ...or just take drfreeman60's advice and get something decent for your application on the cheap.
ickysmits is offline  
post #11 of 16 Old 11-30-2009, 12:23 PM
AVS Special Member
 
drfreeman60's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Memphis TN
Posts: 1,805
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 47
Have not heard the Denon or Polk soundbars. Based on experiences with other components of theirs, these could be way, way good or a waste of money. Unless I have heard something in a home or very controlled environment, I don't put much credibility into what I've heard. I don't know how anyone could decide on any sound system at Best Buy, Sears, HHGregg the way they are displayed. Also, no one does reviews on Hi-Fi (or Mid-Fi) components anymore. At least not like the old days before hi-def TV. As a former audiophile who still has a relatively good system, listening is still good. My Hi-Fi, still two channels, is in a seperate room from my TV. The wife and I will sometimes sit and listen seriously or other times sit and read while feeling the music wash over us. But as satisfying as that is, it doesn't compare to a big screen TV with a good movie or football or basketball game. Or at least not in the same way.

I am picky and loose at the same time. My old home had a dedicated home theater room with approximately 15,000 worth of audio equipment. I was never satisfied. For watching yesterday's football game, my current 50" Panasonic and Mr. Cheapo Vizio soundbar was 100% as enjoyable as the home theater. Plus I can find great joy in MP-3's played over a really cheap $60 Altec computer soundbar in the bedroom. I believe in accepting the limitations of the room and my budget, which is usually what I want to spend, not what I can afford to spend, sit back and enjoy.

David Freeman
drfreeman60 is offline  
post #12 of 16 Old 11-30-2009, 12:30 PM
AVS Special Member
 
drfreeman60's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Memphis TN
Posts: 1,805
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 47
By the way, the kickass 2.1 system the Icky talks about can be had for maybe double what any of the soundbars in your survey are selling for. Biggest thing is, decide just what type of enjoyment you want from your setup.

Even though the Yamaha soundbar supposedly did discrete 5.1, to me, the sound was very processed. Eventually I removed the optical cable from my DVD player and just let the Dolby Stereo (which does include surround information for those that are unaware), come directly from the TV. Made my life easier doing all of my switching from the TV. And in 2.1 or 3.1 mode, the Yamaha was very clean, probably more accurate frequency response wise than the Vizio. It just didn't breathe with the sound and never really sounded all that open. I know the idea of sound breathing and being open probably sounds like gibberish, but it is one of those qualities I look for that makes sound, whether music, dialog, or special effects sound real to me.

Enough preaching for a Monday. Find something you enjoy that makes your life good then don't worry about it and if you're smart quit looking. I have many audiophile friends that still spend much more than I ever thought about still seeking that holy grail of pefrect sound. I tell them to save their money and go to a few more concerts or plays or out to the movies.

David Freeman
drfreeman60 is offline  
post #13 of 16 Old 12-02-2009, 04:16 PM - Thread Starter
Newbie
 
iRobogeek's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 5
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Thank you all for your insights and advice. I greatly appreciate your time (even those of you who simply voted in the poll I set up). This was a very helpful and constructive addition to my other research.

FYI, I went ahead and snagged the Vizio soundbar from Target for a mere $115 on Cyber Monday (shipped, including tax; how could I not?) and will simply add it to my current Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 set-up (at least the subwoofer) as an interim solution, though longer term I'll probably look at higher-end (i.e. kickass) 2.1/3.1 options. But for now I'm done shopping, as I also just took the plunge on a Panasonic G10 plasma (w. free TiVo HD from Amazon) and PS3 for Christmas.

Thanks again everyone!
iRobogeek is offline  
post #14 of 16 Old 12-02-2009, 04:23 PM
AVS Special Member
 
cavu's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: CANADA
Posts: 6,885
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by blue comet View Post

spend more and get a ysp ..

+100

"The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance  it is the illusion of knowledge." - Daniel Boorstin
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
" - MLK

cavu is offline  
post #15 of 16 Old 12-26-2009, 09:02 PM
Member
 
Topmounter's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 97
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
The problem I've had with using my 2.1 system (B&W CDM1SE speakers, Meridian 2ch analog gear & a Velodyne HGS sub) for my "home theater" is that the dialog still tends to get buried. I can certainly turn up the volume, but I hate the huge dynamic swings between understandable dialogue and actions scenes you get with a full-range 2.1 setup. Whether it be through dedicated speakers or a soundbar, a 3.1 setup seems to be ideal. However the Vizio sound-bar does seem to do a nice job balancing things out and the bang-for-the-buck is crazy good.

--
Topmounter is offline  
post #16 of 16 Old 12-27-2009, 03:32 AM
AVS Special Member
 
davyo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: las vegas nevada
Posts: 4,303
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
After owning a whole bunch of YSP's over the years and then recently the Sony CT-100 and CT-500 I am now using the Vizio with the wireless sub.

If you want the best surround effect and have some walls to bounce off of then get the Sony CT-500.

If you dont have walls to bounce off of and would be OK with a wide soundfield instead of a surround effect then get the Vizio.

Cheers
Davyo
davyo is offline  
Reply Soundbars

User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off