I'm struggling to find a sound solution I'll be most happy with. I have a 2010 50 Panasonic plasma (P50G20) in the living room sitting on an entertainment center that I want to improve the sound. I'm posting this in the sound bar forum because that's the type of solution I've been looking at the most (with some concerns/questions about them noted below), but I am not ruling out something else.
I have a dedicated theatre room with 7.1 for movies, concerts, etc., so I'm not interested having a high-end sound system in the living room, rather just something better than the built-in speakers to be able to watch daily TV shows. A subwoofer isn't required, although I'm not opposed to it.
I have a MythTV PVR frontend connected to the TV through HDMI which provides the video and audio and will need to work with the sound solution.
1. The TV remote IR sensor is only about 2-1/4 inches above the surface of the entertainment center the TV is sitting on and would most likely be blocked by most sound bars. I see where there is a now discontinued IR Blaster (SC_HTB10) for the Panasonic SC_HTB520 sound bar which retransmits the remote IR signal behind the sound bar. Is something like this necessary for any sound bar in order to not block the TV remote IR signal? What is Panasonic thinking by having the TV IR sensor this low but what it will be blocked by most/all sound bars and then discontinuing the IR Blaster on their sound bar? I see where I can get a 3rd party IR blaster that will work with their sound bar if necessary.
2. Do most sound bars have legs/feet to hold the bar up from the table an inch or so? The few sound bars I saw in Best Buy didn't look like they had legs on them at all. My TV has an oval stand that is about 3/4 high that will be in the way if a sound bar sits flush on the table.
3. I wouldn't be opposed to simply getting a couple speakers to sit on each side of the TV if they weren't too big and would connect appropriately. The TV has no speaker or analog audio outputs, rather just HDMI ARC or Digital Audio Out with an optical Toslink cable. Any recommendations on a small 2.0 or 2.1 system that would work? Ideally it would be great to simply have amplified speakers that would connect via HDMI or optical, but I could have a small amp sitting in the entertainment center if necessary. I've thought about buying a relatively low-end 5.1 system and simply using two speakers, but this feels like overkill when all I need is a simple solution and I'm not sure how well that would work if it was expecting all 5 speakers to be connected. My living room isn't conducive for side or rear speakers, nor am I interested in that given that I have the dedicated theater room.
4. I don't particularly want to have to turn on a sound bar or amplifier by using a different remote or having to press extra remote buttons. If I could simply connect external speakers on the TV like you used to be able to do in the old analog days, I would most likely be satisfied with that!
5. I've looked at the Panasonic sound bars the most so far simply because I assumed they might have the most seamless integration with the Panasonic TV, but I'll go with something else if integrates well (i.e., wouldn't require it's own remote or extra key presses on an existing remote, etc.).
I'm leaning toward some sort of sound bar but have concerns about the physical layout due to the TV IR sensor and the TV stand noted above. Thanks in advance for any suggestions!!