Originally Posted by beardawg
Okay, my wonderful wife gave me a 46" Toshiba LED for Christmas and I am now in the market for a sound bar. Congratulations!
I would like to stay in the $200-400 range and have been looking at the Polk Audio HST-3000.
What others are comparable out there, what concerns do I need to have regarding audio.
My plan is to run HDMI from my sat. receiver and Blu ray player to my TV, then run Optical from the TV to the SoundBar, will that work well?
I am confused about this lossless stuff that has been mentioned.There are several good soundbars out there in that price range. The Sony HT-CT150 has received many kudos in this forum, as has the Vizio VHT215. There are a few Polk models in your price range (the SurroundBar 3000 and 4000) as well as a couple of Yamaha offerings (the YAS-101 and the YHT-S400).
Thanks for any and all input!
So, other than finding the soundbar which sounds best to you, what else should you consider? It may come down to inputs: The Sony, Vizio, and Yamaha YHT-S400 have HDMI inputs, plus other digital and analog inputs. With HDMI inputs, your sat receiver and Blu-ray would both connect into the soundbar, and a single HDMI cable would run from the bar to the TV.
The advantage of these over the Polk models and the Yamaha YAS-101 -- which have to take optical out from your TV -- is that HDMI will provide all available digital channels from the source material. If you have a 6.1 or 7.1 DTS-HD MA audio track on a Blu-ray disc, the best that your TV could send over optical would be a 2-channel stereo signal. That's because that is the only format that both your Blu-ray and TV can speak when they negotiated their HDMI connection. If your TV can decode Dolby Digital internally, it may pass that 5.1 signal from your satellite receiver through the TV's optical output, but this seems to be hit and miss with many TVs. Two-channel stereo from your Blu-rays (and probably even from your DVDs) isn't going give you the same audio impression as the native, multi-channel formats.
Lossless audio simply means that the compression algorithm used to condense the audio for storage on the disc does not have to discard (i.e., lose) any of the information. "Lossy" formats like Dolby Digital and DTS actually discard elements in the original audio that most of our ears wouldn't discern. But that said, I can say from experience that the Dolby Digital 5.1 track on the DVD of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1" doesn't have the depth and nuance of the DTS-HD MA track on the Blu-ray copy of the movie.
All this aside, any of the soundbars I mentioned can be a good choice if it sounds good to your ears and provides the inputs that you want to have. You may also want to decide whether it's important to have a separate subwoofer, and if so, if it needs to be wireless.
In my case, I chose the Yamaha YHT-S400, because I was replacing an older, stereo AV receiver. I wanted HDMI inputs for my cable box and Blu-ray, an analog input for my MP3 player, and an optical input so that I could run the audio from our Wii (which connects directly into the TV) from the TV into the soundbar. And with two very active, 30-pound dogs, I didn't want anything on the floor.
Your needs and preferences will lead you to the best choice for you!
UPDATE: After researching a bit more, it is not clear whether the Vizio VHT215 will accept high-definition audio (Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD MA, or multi-channel PCM). As for the "lossy" formats, it can only decode Dolby Digital, not DTS. The only way you will get true HD sound from your Blu-ray is if the unit will accept multi-channel PCM (like the Sony and Yamaha YHT-S400 will), but I cannot find any info online saying whether it will or will not accept this format over HDMI. Does anyone else know?