Do sound bars really work? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 02-12-2010, 10:13 PM - Thread Starter
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How well do "phantom" channels work? Is the Dolby 5.1 headphone technology a gimmick, or does it actually do what it claims to do? The same goes for sound bars, can they really trick us into believing that the sounds we're hearing are coming from different zones? If so how?
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post #2 of 9 Old 02-13-2010, 07:15 AM
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Originally Posted by TSD444 View Post

How well do "phantom" channels work? Is the Dolby 5.1 headphone technology a gimmick, or does it actually do what it claims to do? The same goes for sound bars, can they really trick us into believing that the sounds we're hearing are coming from different zones? If so how?

Phantom centers only work if you sit dead center, since the CC info is produced equally by the L & R fronts. Sit anywhere else and the image is pulled off center.

5.1 headphone tech is a gimmick that closely mimicks (rhyme ) surround sound.

I the first time I heard a surround bar I was surprised.....it wasn't as horrible as I thought. I still wasn't satisfied though. It wasn't a very convincing expirience. Your mileage may differ though.
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post #3 of 9 Old 02-13-2010, 07:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TSD444 View Post

How well do "phantom" channels work? Is the Dolby 5.1 headphone technology a gimmick, or does it actually do what it claims to do? The same goes for sound bars, can they really trick us into believing that the sounds we're hearing are coming from different zones? If so how?

If set up properly, they can work fairly well; not as good as hard surround speakers, but still, in the right space, and installed properly, yes, they can provide a good, enveloping surround experience. (This assumes you are talking about "SurroundBars", which use multiple speakers and some phasing trickery to mimic surround sound. There are also "soundbars", which are the 3 front channels in one chassis. These do not use any extra speakers or any phase tricks to produce surround effects. They are just the 3 front speakers, (LCR), in one chassis.)

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post #4 of 9 Old 02-13-2010, 07:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TSD444 View Post

How well do "phantom" channels work? Is the Dolby 5.1 headphone technology a gimmick, or does it actually do what it claims to do? The same goes for sound bars, can they really trick us into believing that the sounds we're hearing are coming from different zones? If so how?

To put it into perspective, if you are multichannel naive (not meant as a derogatory term), then for the most part it will sound great. However if you are a multichannel connoisseur, then you will be greatly disappointed.

Cheers
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post #5 of 9 Old 02-13-2010, 08:14 AM
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I believe that there is an incorrect mixing of terms here. A "Sound Bar" is not a phantom center channel, but an actual speaker that tries to produce the sound similar to 5 discrete speakers. I have never listened to one so I cannot comment how successful this is.

A "phantom" speaker (center or any other) is a missing speaker so the AVR has to reroute the audio that is dedicated to that speaker to other "real" speakers. Many people (based on comments that I have read here and other places) seem to prefer a phantom center channel vs. a full 5 or 7 channel speaker array. They believe that most center channel speakers are inferior to their main L & R speakers, and therefore degrade the total sound presentation.
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post #6 of 9 Old 02-13-2010, 08:20 AM
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A "phantom" image is an image produced from a direction where there is no speaker. When he used the term "phantom", he was referring to the "phantom" surround images produced by "SurroundBars", not a phantom CC image.

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post #7 of 9 Old 02-13-2010, 09:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by craig john View Post

A "phantom" image is an image produced from a direction where there is no speaker. When he used the term "phantom", he was referring to the "phantom" surround images produced by "SurroundBars", not a phantom CC image.

Craig

Thanks Craig,

I understood what the OP meant, but just wanted to try to clarify the terms used. I think phantom image is a good term, but not phantom channel, which has a different meaning at least until the sounds bars were invented.
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post #8 of 9 Old 02-13-2010, 11:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TSD444 View Post

How well do "phantom" channels work? Is the Dolby 5.1 headphone technology a gimmick, or does it actually do what it claims to do? The same goes for sound bars, can they really trick us into believing that the sounds we're hearing are coming from different zones? If so how?

Do sound bars really work? It depends on what you mean by "work". If you don't want a room full of speakers or can't afford a full 5.1 or 7.1 setup then a sound bar can be a decent compromise solution for you. But it will never approach the performance of 5 or 7 discrete channels of sound arrayed in front, beside, and behind you.

In addition, most of these phantom surround schemes depend on psychoacoustics and manipulate phasing to create the illusion of an enveloping sound field. At their best, they can be pleasing. At their worst, they can be just plain weird. And as someone else said, listening position matters a lot since they're manipulating phase (timing) to create their phony sound field. If you move from the sweet spot, their preprogrammed phasing may no longer be effective or just get very weird. If you have a small room with a fairly fixed listening area and you're not hyper-critical about sound quality, they might be a decent solution for some people.
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post #9 of 9 Old 02-13-2010, 11:31 AM
 
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They work alright. As a previous poster stated, if you are a critical listener with experience with real surround systems you will not be satisfied. But they certainly can create a surround effect convincingly, and to many listeners this can be satisfying in situations where it is not feasible to run actual surrounds.
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