Am i crazy to ditch 5.1 system for soundbar? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 02-04-2012, 02:55 PM - Thread Starter
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I have a nice Sony 5.1 system hooked up to a ps3 and it plays true hd and dts hd codecs. However I just had my tv mounted and really prefer a minimalist look. As you can see in the picture my receiver and ps3 sit on a side table. Front speakers sit to each side. I want to eliminate the entire table, receiver and ps3. Lose all those cables and just go with a soundbar (maybe Vizio 215) and a small blu ray player (Samsung with 3d) next to directv box.

I know it won't be the same but everything will look much cleaner and the sound should still be pretty good. Won't be hd audio but I only get that when watching a blu ray anyway.

Thoughts?
LL
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post #2 of 19 Old 02-04-2012, 03:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elroy12 View Post

I have a nice Sony 5.1 system hooked up to a ps3 and it plays true hd and dts hd codecs. However I just had my tv mounted and really prefer a minimalist look. As you can see in the picture my receiver and ps3 sit on a side table. Front speakers sit to each side. I want to eliminate the entire table, receiver and ps3. Lose all those cables and just go with a soundbar (maybe Vizio 215) and a small blu ray player (Samsung with 3d) next to directv box.

I know it won't be the same but everything will look much cleaner and the sound should still be pretty good. Won't be hd audio but I only get that when watching a blu ray anyway.

Thoughts?

This is my minimalist setup (pictured below) 80" Sharp with a Bose 1SR soundbar,,,sounds amazing and a very stealth look.

Going with the "right" soundbar is going to be what will make you happy or unhappy dumping your 5.1 system,,,, all soundbars react differently in different rooms,,,,, if you have walls to reflect the sound then a "good" soundbar will make you happy.

The Vizio 215 is not bad,,,, some others to consider would be the Bose, Sony CT150 or CT550, Polk 6000 or a JVC BA1 (if ya can find one).

Cheers
Davyo

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post #3 of 19 Old 02-04-2012, 03:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks! I'm all for the stealth setup. I do have side walls fairly close by and I'm sitting about 10-12' away from the tv. I'll check out the other models too.
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post #4 of 19 Old 02-04-2012, 03:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elroy12 View Post

I have a nice Sony 5.1 system hooked up to a ps3 and it plays true hd and dts hd codecs. However I just had my tv mounted and really prefer a minimalist look. As you can see in the picture my receiver and ps3 sit on a side table. Front speakers sit to each side. I want to eliminate the entire table, receiver and ps3. Lose all those cables and just go with a soundbar (maybe Vizio 215) and a small blu ray player (Samsung with 3d) next to directv box.

I know it won't be the same but everything will look much cleaner and the sound should still be pretty good. Won't be hd audio but I only get that when watching a blu ray anyway.

Thoughts?

Here's the other side of the coin: which is most important to you, true 5.1 audio or the minimalist look? After using a Sony CT350 soundbar for going on two years, I packed it away and set up a 5.1 system a couple months ago. I could not be happier. Although the soundbar sounded good, I just didn't realize how much I was missing, particularly with movies that make good use of surround.

As Davyo said, the right bar in the right room may sound awesome, but finding the combination that is right for your environment could be quite a task.
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post #5 of 19 Old 02-04-2012, 03:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Possumgirl View Post


Here's the other side of the coin: which is most important to you, true 5.1 audio or the minimalist look? After using a Sony CT350 soundbar for going on two years, I packed it away and set up a 5.1 system a couple months ago. I could not be happier. Although the soundbar sounded good, I just didn't realize how much I was missing, particularly with movies that make good use of surround.

As Davyo said, the right bar in the right room may sound awesome, but finding the combination that is right for your environment could be quite a task.

Good points. Maybe I should buy a soundbar, watch some movies and tv, and see if it works for me. If not, could just return it.
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post #6 of 19 Old 02-04-2012, 03:37 PM
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post #7 of 19 Old 02-04-2012, 04:41 PM - Thread Starter
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After watching LOTR for a bit I think I'm gonna make my current setup work also saves me a few hundred dollars.

I'm either going to find a new piece to house the receiver and ps3 so it's more hidden, or I will put the receiver under the tv, get a new blu ray to fit above the directv in the center and that eliminates the items on the left side. And I'm going to get two speaker stands to put the fronts off to the side.
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post #8 of 19 Old 02-04-2012, 06:45 PM
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One thing that can be said for a soundbar vs a 5.1 setup is for me, I personaly prefure the sound of a bar over a 5.1,,, reason being is with a 5.1 the speakers are very directional, you know what sound is coming out of what speaker,,, with a "good" soundbar the sound is non-directional and is all around you, its like being in a sound bubble,,, to me it sounds more natural than a 5.1 setup.

Just my taste/opinion.

Cheers
Davyo
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post #9 of 19 Old 02-05-2012, 10:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davyo View Post

One thing that can be said for a soundbar vs a 5.1 setup is for me, I personaly prefure the sound of a bar over a 5.1,,, reason being is with a 5.1 the speakers are very directional, you know what sound is coming out of what speaker,,, with a "good" soundbar the sound is non-directional and is all around you, its like being in a sound bubble,,, to me it sounds more natural than a 5.1 setup.

Just my taste/opinion.

Cheers
Davyo


That is a really interesting point. I have been looking for a soundbar that would have a rich sound with a wireless subwoofer. I tried the Sony CT550W but the unit I got had a loud fan in the receiver so I never gave it a chance. The sound from the bar sounded very tinny, not like speakers in a wooden enclosure which I always seem to like. Perhaps the right settings would improve the sound.

In another thread the Vizio 510 sound bar was reviewed. It had rear speakers and a wireless subwoofer. Was the sound from it rich? Better than the Sony 550w?

The only negative with the Vizio on paper seems to be the lack of hdmi and problems with the led indicators.

So the question is whether you have an opinion of the relative strengths of the Sony vs the Vizio? HDMI would be nice but perhaps not essential. There is also the Bose ( I have a CineMate system which sounds great but the Bose sound bar is quite a bit more expensive).

philip
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post #10 of 19 Old 02-06-2012, 12:25 AM
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Originally Posted by pmcd View Post

That is a really interesting point. I have been looking for a soundbar that would have a rich sound with a wireless subwoofer. I tried the Sony CT550W but the unit I got had a loud fan in the receiver so I never gave it a chance. The sound from the bar sounded very tinny, not like speakers in a wooden enclosure which I always seem to like. Perhaps the right settings would improve the sound.

In another thread the Vizio 510 sound bar was reviewed. It had rear speakers and a wireless subwoofer. Was the sound from it rich? Better than the Sony 550w?

The only negative with the Vizio on paper seems to be the lack of hdmi and problems with the led indicators.

So the question is whether you have an opinion of the relative strengths of the Sony vs the Vizio? HDMI would be nice but perhaps not essential. There is also the Bose ( I have a CineMate system which sounds great but the Bose sound bar is quite a bit more expensive).

philip

If you "need" HDMI's for the way you are hooking up a system then yea, the HDMI inputs are important.

If you have a panel with enough HDMI inputs and your panel can pass a 5.1 signal via the optcial or coax out,,, then having HDMI's on the soundbar is really not needed.

I have owned the Cinemate's in the past and now own the Bose 1SR soundbar,,, I can say from personal experience the 1SR kills the Cinemate,,, its not even a fair battle,,,, the Bose bar wins hands down.

I also had the Vizio 510 and that is a great system as well, if ya can get one with working LED's.

Cheers
Davyo
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post #11 of 19 Old 02-10-2012, 05:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davyo View Post


If you "need" HDMI's for the way you are hooking up a system then yea, the HDMI inputs are important.

If you have a panel with enough HDMI inputs and your panel can pass a 5.1 signal via the optcial or coax out,,, then having HDMI's on the soundbar is really not needed.

I have owned the Cinemate's in the past and now own the Bose 1SR soundbar,,, I can say from personal experience the 1SR kills the Cinemate,,, its not even a fair battle,,,, the Bose bar wins hands down.

I also had the Vizio 510 and that is a great system as well, if ya can get one with working LED's.

Cheers
Davyo

Went to hear the Bose 1SR. Really, really nice. Would get it in a second if the price were a bit more wife friendly. The 4 digits are a downer for now. Perhaps I should save up.

This whole audio hunt is turning out to be very complicated (because of the price of the 1SR). Have a post in the beginners' soundbar thread trying to outline what we want and don't want and the geometry of our setup.

I don't know if we need HDMI. If it makes things less complicated then it's a bonus. But I don't think it's a priority. A clean look and rich digital sound would be nice. I keep thinking we are missing certain sounds because of our analogue Cinemate 2.1 system.

Philip
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post #12 of 19 Old 02-10-2012, 09:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davyo View Post

One thing that can be said for a soundbar vs a 5.1 setup is for me, I personaly prefure the sound of a bar over a 5.1,,, reason being is with a 5.1 the speakers are very directional, you know what sound is coming out of what speaker,,, with a "good" soundbar the sound is non-directional and is all around you, its like being in a sound bubble,,, to me it sounds more natural than a 5.1 setup.

Davyo,

I think you are missing the point of 5.1 surround. You should have a directional feel for the sound. For example, in a movie when a sound is behind you and to right, it should sound that way, it's the whole concept of surround. The sound engineers will mix the sound to create depth in the sound track. If you listen in a "sound bubble" you are losing the whole effect. I agree that a sound bar is a huge improvment of the TV speakers, but the best sound bar can not hold a candle to a properly setup 5.1 system.

Bose doesn't even claim the SR1 will create a surround experience, what they claim is to produce a "wide" sound (read artificial stereo) from one central speaker. Watch the performance video on the SR1 Amazon page, you will not see any reference to reproducing surround or 5.1. It could be considered a 3.1 system at best.

A sound bar is a good solution to some specific problems/situations, but it is not the ideal solution for any home theater.
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post #13 of 19 Old 02-11-2012, 01:16 AM
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To answer the OP's question, I would have to say "Yes"

Strong or weak in the end we are all dead
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post #14 of 19 Old 02-11-2012, 05:59 AM
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Originally Posted by TedO View Post

Davyo,

I think you are missing the point of 5.1 surround. You should have a directional feel for the sound. For example, in a movie when a sound is behind you and to right, it should sound that way, it's the whole concept of surround. The sound engineers will mix the sound to create depth in the sound track. If you listen in a "sound bubble" you are losing the whole effect. I agree that a sound bar is a huge improvment of the TV speakers, but the best sound bar can not hold a candle to a properly setup 5.1 system.

Bose doesn't even claim the SR1 will create a surround experience, what they claim is to produce a "wide" sound (read artificial stereo) from one central speaker. Watch the performance video on the SR1 Amazon page, you will not see any reference to reproducing surround or 5.1. It could be considered a 3.1 system at best.

A sound bar is a good solution to some specific problems/situations, but it is not the ideal solution for any home theater.


I have had more 5.1 systems than I can even remember and most of the time nice'er systems,,, Onkyo, JBL, Yamaha, Energy to name just a few,,, for my taste I like the non-directional sound of a "good" soundbar more than a 5.1 directional system,,, everyone has different taste.

As far as a soundbar not being able to hold a candle to a true 5.1 system I would have to STRONLY disagree, in the right shaped room and set up correctly a GOOD soundbar can sound just as good if not better than a 5.1 setup.

Living in Las Vegas I go to CES almost every year,,, the one year that blew me away was the first listen at the Yamaha booth of the new/first YSP 1,,,,, it was a life changing experience hearing the YSP demo at CES in a perfect room and set up correctly by Yamaha,,, that demo showed me that it is possible for a soundbar to rival a 5.1 setup.

Soundbar's these days are getting better and better with each generation and the need for a perfect room is getting less needed than when the YSP's were first introduced.

In the right room there are some soundbars that can totaly fool most people into thinking they are hearing speakers all around the room,,, the YSP's actually sound pretty directional if one is lookiing for that directional type sound.

Another soundbar that seems to be a top choice is the Panorama,, although I have never heard the Panorama all the reviews lead me to believe it is the KING of all soundbars.

The YSP's and the Panorama and now the Bose are the bars that can get that true surround sound,,,,,, before I purchased the Bose bar I had listened to the demo at my local Frys and was completly blown away,, I was checking all the other speakers in the demo room to make sure they were not on,, thats how convincing the surround effect was with the Bose demo.

While I own the Bose and it does sound amazing in my house I will admit it does not sound as amazing in my house as it did in the Frys demo room,, reason being is my room is not a "perfect" soundbar friendly room,,,,,, but my point is,, in a "perfect" shaped room the Bose, the YSP and the Panorama can sound amazing and as good if not better than a true 5.1 setup.

Just my 2 cents.

Cheers
Davyo
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post #15 of 19 Old 02-11-2012, 08:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Well I ended up ditching the 5.1 system and went with a Yamaha yht-s401 soundbar. However, I still have the best of both worlds. This bar allows the hookup of rear speakers for true 5.1 surround. My goal was to simplify my setup as I prefer a more "minimalist" look. I'm over the clutter and all the wires. With this Yamaha, I get just a sound bar up front that contains three speakers. And in the rear, I hooked up two rear speakers, but wireless using a Rocketfish wireless kit. Works great and I still have true 5.1 sound with a minimal look. The Yamaha also decodes dts hd and true hd codecs which were also two priorities for me.

Attached are two photos of my setup. Before, which was pretty clean but wanted to lose all the gear and stand on the left and speakers on the right. And after with the Yamaha soundbar under the tv. Very happy with my setup now (I may even put the sub/receiver under my ent center to further clean up the look)
LL
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post #16 of 19 Old 02-11-2012, 10:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davyo View Post


I have had more 5.1 systems than I can even remember and most of the time nice'er systems,,, Onkyo, JBL, Yamaha, Energy to name just a few,,, for my taste I like the non-directional sound of a "good" soundbar more than a 5.1 directional system,,, everyone has different taste.

As far as a soundbar not being able to hold a candle to a true 5.1 system I would have to STRONLY disagree, in the right shaped room and set up correctly a GOOD soundbar can sound just as good if not better than a 5.1 setup.

Living in Las Vegas I go to CES almost every year,,, the one year that blew me away was the first listen at the Yamaha booth of the new/first YSP 1,,,,, it was a life changing experience hearing the YSP demo at CES in a perfect room and set up correctly by Yamaha,,, that demo showed me that it is possible for a soundbar to rival a 5.1 setup.

Soundbar's these days are getting better and better with each generation and the need for a perfect room is getting less needed than when the YSP's were first introduced.

In the right room there are some soundbars that can totaly fool most people into thinking they are hearing speakers all around the room,,, the YSP's actually sound pretty directional if one is lookiing for that directional type sound.

Another soundbar that seems to be a top choice is the Panorama,, although I have never heard the Panorama all the reviews lead me to believe it is the KING of all soundbars.

The YSP's and the Panorama and now the Bose are the bars that can get that true surround sound,,,,,, before I purchased the Bose bar I had listened to the demo at my local Frys and was completly blown away,, I was checking all the other speakers in the demo room to make sure they were not on,, thats how convincing the surround effect was with the Bose demo.

While I own the Bose and it does sound amazing in my house I will admit it does not sound as amazing in my house as it did in the Frys demo room,, reason being is my room is not a "perfect" soundbar friendly room,,,,,, but my point is,, in a "perfect" shaped room the Bose, the YSP and the Panorama can sound amazing and as good if not better than a true 5.1 setup.

Just my 2 cents.

Cheers
Davyo

Davyo,
I couldnt agree with you more. Actually, that is actually what is achieved in good movie theater. Because it is not just 5 speakers or 7 speakers , but many.. you get a sound bubble. Most of the time.. not always, when I go to a store and hear 5.1.. I hear.. Ok.. Back left. Space ship.. Back right.. Howl. I'm very aware of the isolated directions. ( It's not always, through. I remember hearing the mirage omnis( only 5 of them), and most recently, Golden Ears new smaller speakers, and was utterlt impresed and felt.. yes.. amazing. No gaps and breaks in the soundfield. Nothing sticking out. Just immersive. Sound everywhere.)

Hope you enjoying the Bose. It is a real winner.
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post #17 of 19 Old 02-12-2012, 05:51 AM
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Originally Posted by frostylou View Post

Davyo,
I couldnt agree with you more. Actually, that is actually what is achieved in good movie theater. Because it is not just 5 speakers or 7 speakers , but many.. you get a sound bubble. Most of the time.. not always, when I go to a store and hear 5.1.. I hear.. Ok.. Back left. Space ship.. Back right.. Howl. I'm very aware of the isolated directions. ( It's not always, through. I remember hearing the mirage omnis( only 5 of them), and most recently, Golden Ears new smaller speakers, and was utterlt impresed and felt.. yes.. amazing. No gaps and breaks in the soundfield. Nothing sticking out. Just immersive. Sound everywhere.)

Hope you enjoying the Bose. It is a real winner.

Hey Frosty,,,, YES,,, I am very much enjoying the Bose bar,,,, everytime I put on a BluRay or my HD cable 5.1 channels the sound and the surround effect is jaw dropping,,,,, the sad part is that now that I "might" have found soundbar nirvana Im not buying and tring out any more soundbars,,,, and that feels weird not buying and returning soundbars.

Although,,, there is that soon to be released Harmon Kardon SB30 that looks interesting enough to buy and compare against my Bose 1SR.

Tedo posted he does not think a soundbar can hold a candle to a 5.1 system,,, I would guess Tedo has never spent anytime with, or owned, a good soundbar setup correctly in the right room,,,,, what Im getting in my room with the Bose rivals many of the full-on 5.1 systems I have owned.

As I think I had mentioned in a thread somewhere before, I had a hard core audiofile friend come over recently,,, his center speaker cost more than my Bose soundbar,,, anyway, my hardcore audiofile friend was totaly shocked when her heard my Bose bar,,,, he kept having my put on all of his favorite BluRays I have so he could hear how they sounded on my Bose,,, it was pretty funny to watch and hear his positive reactions to my soundbar,,,, it was very entertaining to say the least

Cheers
Davyo
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post #18 of 19 Old 02-12-2012, 08:14 PM
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The point I am making is that it is physically impossible for a sound bar to match a 5.1 or even better a 7.1 system. Just as it is important to have a proper room and setup for a sound bar to sound it’s best , so to for a 5.1 system. The sound bar, any sound bar, works off of wall reflections to widen the sound field. It is impossible for a sound bar, or even a 3.1 system to recreate the mixing done in the studio that creates the intended soundtrack. The reason the theaters use multiple speakers is to overcome the distances or gaps only 5 speakers would create in such a large space. On a well designed 5.1 system, you shouldn’t hear speaker localization unless it was intentional in the soundtrack.
Don’t get me wrong, there are situations where a sound bar may be the perfect solution or preference, and I have never owned one but have heard many, some even sounded pretty good. But when you said “it sounds more natural than a 5.1 setup” I can only believe you have not heard a proper setup in a proper room. Granted it does take a lot of equipment, setup and tuning to work correctly, there is nothing else like it besides being there.
I started with Pioneer, worked my way up to the elite series but was never really satisfied with the sound. When I finally made the jump to a Meridian, I finally heard what I was missing. Your sound bar may sound good, but my 5.1 system will blow you away.
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post #19 of 19 Old 02-12-2012, 10:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TedO View Post

The point I am making is that it is physically impossible for a sound bar to match a 5.1 or even better a 7.1 system. Just as it is important to have a proper room and setup for a sound bar to sound it's best , so to for a 5.1 system. The sound bar, any sound bar, works off of wall reflections to widen the sound field. It is impossible for a sound bar, or even a 3.1 system to recreate the mixing done in the studio that creates the intended soundtrack. The reason the theaters use multiple speakers is to overcome the distances or gaps only 5 speakers would create in such a large space. On a well designed 5.1 system, you shouldn't hear speaker localization unless it was intentional in the soundtrack.
Don't get me wrong, there are situations where a sound bar may be the perfect solution or preference, and I have never owned one but have heard many, some even sounded pretty good. But when you said it sounds more natural than a 5.1 setup I can only believe you have not heard a proper setup in a proper room. Granted it does take a lot of equipment, setup and tuning to work correctly, there is nothing else like it besides being there.
I started with Pioneer, worked my way up to the elite series but was never really satisfied with the sound. When I finally made the jump to a Meridian, I finally heard what I was missing. Your sound bar may sound good, but my 5.1 system will blow you away.

As far as "most" soundbars I will agree they will not do as well as a 5.1 system as far as a surround effect,,,, but as far as it being impossible for any soundbar to compete with a 5.1 system I would have to again strongly disagree,,, my Bose, the Panaorama and the Yamaha YSP's can and do an amazing job of a 5.1 sound in the right room.

Anyhow,,, I guess we will have to agree to dis-agree.

Cheers
Davyo
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