Time to up(down)grade to a sound bar? - AVS Forum
Soundbars > Time to up(down)grade to a sound bar?
MartyNg's Avatar MartyNg 06:46 PM 09-07-2010
My wife and I have a baby on the way and are looking to simplify our lives and baby proof ahead of time. One of those tasks is to possibly replace my current 5.1 setup with a soundbar.

I have hearing damage from my younger days and can hear reasonably well, but I have trouble hearing dialog over background noise. Because of this, I rarely watched movies without subtitles on until 5.1 sound came out. That was great because I could pump up the center channel and actually hear the dialog! Now that I'm looking at soundbars, I'm getting nervous about the center channel. Have you folks generally found dialog from the center channel of soundbars to be clear and easy to hear?

I am looking to spend as little as possible but still have HDMI support, maybe Sony CT 150, or even better, a used CT 100 for cheaper.

Thank you!

drfreeman60's Avatar drfreeman60 07:55 PM 09-07-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by MartyNg View Post

My wife and I have a baby on the way and are looking to simplify our lives and baby proof ahead of time. One of those tasks is to possibly replace my current 5.1 setup with a soundbar.

I have hearing damage from my younger days and can hear reasonably well, but I have trouble hearing dialog over background noise. Because of this, I rarely watched movies without subtitles on until 5.1 sound came out. That was great because I could pump up the center channel and actually hear the dialog! Now that I'm looking at soundbars, I'm getting nervous about the center channel. Have you folks generally found dialog from the center channel of soundbars to be clear and easy to hear?

I am looking to spend as little as possible but still have HDMI support, maybe Sony CT 150, or even better, a used CT 100 for cheaper.

Thank you!

I think that you are on the right track. The Sony soundbars have adjustable center channel levels and should give you what you are looking for. My experience with soundbars is that most will outperform a basic HTIB 5.1 or 7.1 system. They will not outperform a good hi-fi system whether 2 channel or more. If you mount your soundbar hi, over the TV if possible, you will probably have better dispersion, improving your voice problem, plus keeping the soundbar away from little hands.

If you don't require HDMI, you should also consider the JVC TH-BA1. Everyone says it is probably the best low cost unit out there with the CT-150 close behind. I owned a CT-100 briefly and was impressed with the sound, but it left something to be desired for dynamics in an admittedly overly large space. If you don't ask to much of either Sony you should be quite satisfied.
laurandavid's Avatar laurandavid 09:04 AM 09-08-2010
If you want to bump up the dialog and stuff I would maybe avoid the cd100. You could only move the center and sub. With the 150 or 350 you can adjust the bass, treble and sub. So the CT100 may not fit your bill.
munroe's Avatar munroe 10:20 AM 09-08-2010
I would check out the soundbars by Phase Technology. I have a hearing loss problem too & the PT soundbars have an enhanced voice technology feature that seems perfect for me.
I'm going to pick up the V3.0 next week & do a mini review on it for all those non-believers. By the way, this is a passive unit with L/C/R speaker connections & would require a reciever or amp to drive. I decided against an active soundbar, since any built in amps couldn't match the quality & power of a good reciever.
laurandavid's Avatar laurandavid 10:58 AM 09-08-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by munroe View Post

I would check out the soundbars by Phase Technology. I have a hearing loss problem too & the PT soundbars have an enhanced voice technology feature that seems perfect for me.
I'm going to pick up the V3.0 next week & do a mini review on it for all those non-believers. By the way, this is a passive unit with L/C/R speaker connections & would require a reciever or amp to drive. I decided against an active soundbar, since any built in amps couldn't match the quality & power of a good reciever.

Having a receiver kind of defeats the purpose of the soundbar. The soundbar is a way to get way better sound with less clutter.
HDvids4all's Avatar HDvids4all 12:34 PM 09-08-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by laurandavid View Post

Having a receiver kind of defeats the purpose of the soundbar. The soundbar is a way to get way better sound with less clutter.

Well, you're half right...less clutter, yes, but to say having a receiver defeats the purpose of a soundbar is an extremely opinionated statement. I'm investigating soundbars that only have discrete connections for each speaker since I already have a receiver that will output HD audio and video, and I know it'll do that much better than a cheaper all-in-one solution.

Plus, having a separate receiver gives you much more flexibility regarding your component selection.
laurandavid's Avatar laurandavid 12:47 PM 09-08-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by HDvids4all View Post

Well, you're half right...less clutter, yes, but to say having a receiver defeats the purpose of a soundbar is an extremely opinionated statement. I'm investigating soundbars that only have discrete connections for each speaker since I already have a receiver that will output HD audio and video, and I know it'll do that much better than a cheaper all-in-one solution.

Plus, having a separate receiver gives you much more flexibility regarding your component selection.

In my opinion if you are going to use a receiver, might as well have a full surround sound.
MartyNg's Avatar MartyNg 06:57 PM 09-08-2010
Thanks for you input folks! I definitely want less clutter, so no receiver for me. I'm thinking that all I will have in the end is the TV, soundbar, XBOX 360, and HTPC (or Boxee Box or something like that)

I'll keep my eyes open for some local used systems. Do you guys ever buy stuff on these forums that has to be shipped? I'm guessing that it's not worth it a lot of the time, especially with heavier items.

Oh - and while I've got the ears of the experts, I have a Samsung S5087W DLP. It has optical audio output, but no have HDMI output, so I'll probably have to put all the HDMIs into the soundbar then back to my TV. OR, do you guys know if TVs can usually send over optical output when the input is HDMI, or is there some conversion that it won't do? Thanks again.
drfreeman60's Avatar drfreeman60 08:45 PM 09-08-2010
Marty

Depending on the age of your TV you may receive complete 5.1 from the TV as well as all connected components. On newer TV's, since 2005 I think, any native content from the TV, OTA or cable without converter box, will output the full 5.1 signal if available. All components connected to the TV via HDMI will output only dolby digital stereo. This is a DRM issue that all TV manufacturers selling in the US have consented to, not a problem with the TV.

If your TV does not have HDMI, then perhaps one of the Sony units or the Yamaha would best suit your needs.

Also, as far as the receiver goes, any decent receiver is going to more than double your initial outlay amount. If you go with an inexpensive receiver, you will probably end up with about the same quality electroics, maybe worse, than those included with the soundbar.
mogambokhushhua's Avatar mogambokhushhua 09:52 PM 09-08-2010
As David said it depends on the TV.
I have a 2009 W5100 and found out that it outputs DD5.1 Bitstream even for HDMI inputs. I had tested using a PS3 while playing a DVD and a Xbox with a game.
Note though that it was only limited to DD5.1 Bitstream, if i set it to LPCM the TV would pass only certain channels on its optical out. DTS bitstream was not passed and again LPCM only certain channels (and definitely center was missing0

So the best way to confirm anything would be either trying it on or just getting something like the Sony that has HDMI inputs or use the JVC BA1 and have the HTPC and Xbox output via optical directly to the Bar and just a RCA 2 channel input from the TV>
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