Help me choose! 2.1 versus soundbar - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 06-15-2012, 06:28 AM - Thread Starter
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Looking for some advice and opinions. Here is my dilema.

I ordered the following 2.1 System from costco.com for $499 [currently being shipped]. . .

Harman Kardon BDS 2 DVD / 2.1 Receiver
Pair of JBL 2-way dual 5" Floorstanding loudspeakers
Pioneer 8" 100W subwoofer
ttp://www.costco.com/Browse/Product.aspx?Prodid=11683547&whse=BC&Ne=4000000&eCat=BC|90607|80|2190&N=4047273&Mo=15&pos=2&No=2&Nr=P_CatalogName:BC&cat=2190&Ns=P_Price|1||P_SignDesc1&lang=en-US&Sp=C&ec=BC-EC37917-Cat80&topnav=

Here is my concern, the unit has no HDMI inputs; it has one HDMI-3 output for its internal blu-ray DVD player. It has 3 digital inputs [2 optical] so I believe it would work for me now as I could run by cable box and PS3 via optical cable. 3-D is not important to me so I'm not concerned wtih HDMI3 versus HDMI4. My brand new Samsung 55" LED TV does not output 5.1 sound when receiving from HDMI so I don't think running everything through the TV would be optimal even to a simulated 2.1 System. Would it make a big difference if I ran everything through the TV since I'm only using 2.1 setup? I'm guessing that it would hinder the Systems attempt to simulate 5.1 sound, but I'm not sure. Anyway, my only reservation on this System is the connectivity does not appear to be future proof, but I'm guessing the sound will be good.

Since my concern is growing over the connectivity, as an alternative, I'm considering the Yamaha-401, which I can purchase from buy.com for $449. I'm guessing the sound will not be as good as the Harman Kardon system above, but the connectivity does appear much better as it has 3-hdmi inputs plus one digital optical input.
http://www.buy.com/prod/yamaha-yht-s401-3-1-speaker-system-250-w-rms-glossy-black-35-hz-20-khz/225808683.html

So what is more important, connectivity or sound [assuming Harman Kardan will have better sound]? I'm not space constrained but I don't want to run wires needed for true 5.1 sound. Also, trying to keep within approx. $500 budget. I would appreciate any and all input. I should note whatever I end up with is replacing an old Bose 321 System.

Thanks for your help.
Scott
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post #2 of 11 Old 06-15-2012, 07:55 AM
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The 2.1 will be far better than the soundbar for quality of audio. The only down side I see is you would have more devices to switch when changing sources. A good universal remote that can automate this would be suggested if you have other people that use the system. I wouldn't use the TV for switching and only feed 2 channel to the receiver. You will get better quality by letting the receiver downmix the 5.1 signals.
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post #3 of 11 Old 06-15-2012, 08:12 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks. I do have Harmony One Remote so that should help.
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post #4 of 11 Old 06-17-2012, 01:31 PM
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$500 can get you a 5.1 system such as the Yamaha YHT-595 - the RX-V471 receiver has 4 HDMI-in, 2 digital optical in, 2 digital coax in, YPAO automatic room setup w/mic, on-screen GUI via HDMI-out, and has non-proprietary connections so you can upgrade speakers/subwoofer as you like. The included speakers/subwoofer are good for a starter system - I used the YHT-595 in a 2880 cu ft space for 6 months and it worked very well. I kept a compact 16gb flash drive plugged in to the RX-V471 for quick music when I didn't want to stream from my PC.

The YHT-595 speakers aren't as full-bodied as the JBL floorstanders, but you get 5.1 vs 2.1.

The YHT-S401 is more compact than than the YHT-595 but it's only 3.1 vs 5.1.
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post #5 of 11 Old 06-18-2012, 05:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for your reply. I'm not interested in having rear speakers in my setup. However, you do bring up an interesting point as I could alwasy buy a receiver and then configure 3.1. Not sure if that would work as well as a system setup to optimize 2.1, but I would be able to purchase a receiver with better connectivity.
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post #6 of 11 Old 06-18-2012, 07:44 AM
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Any suround receiver can be configured to do many combinations of speakers. They can easily do 2.1, 3.1, 4.1 etc. However, I don't think you will find something for $500 which will have better sound quality that includes the receiver and blu-ray as the Costco deal. If you are raising the budget or plan to add to the system in the future than it is certainly possible.

If sound quality is your first priority a good 2.1 system will beat a less expensive 5.1 system in this price range. If surround sound but lesser quality sound is your first priority than an inexpensive 5.1 or surround bar might be a better bet. Depends what you are looking for.
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post #7 of 11 Old 06-18-2012, 06:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Decided to head down the path of building my own System and will be returning the Harman Kardon to Costco as I think the lack of HDMI inputs is a concern. I have purchased a refurbished Onkyo 609 Receiver for $238 and I also purchased Martin Logan Motion 10 Speakers for the front speakers ($119/speaker). I will need to add a sub -- any suggestions? Also, will probably add a center channel and go initially with a 3.1 configuration with the option to upgrade later. So, I will likely/definitely end up over Costco budget, but it will be reasonably close to budget and much more future proof. Thanks.
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post #8 of 11 Old 06-18-2012, 09:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fletch173 View Post

Decided to head down the path of building my own System and will be returning the Harman Kardon to Costco as I think the lack of HDMI inputs is a concern. I have purchased a refurbished Onkyo 609 Receiver for $238 and I also purchased Martin Logan Motion 10 Speakers for the front speakers ($119/speaker). I will need to add a sub -- any suggestions? Also, will probably add a center channel and go initially with a 3.1 configuration with the option to upgrade later. So, I will likely/definitely end up over Costco budget, but it will be reasonably close to budget and much more future proof. Thanks.

Good for you - I bought an HDTV back in December thinking that its' built-in speakers would be fine, then Amazon.com's sale pricing on Yamaha HTIB's caught my eye and I ended up enjoying the YHT-595 for 6 months. BUT: as I learned more about surround sound, i became more interested in building a better-sounding and more fully-featured separates system, which I'm now in the middle of piecing together. I'm torn between feeling that the money spent on the HTIB is now wasted and knowing that the HTIB experience helped me make a better decision on the separates.

Best to timbre match your center speaker to your mains, so either a single Martin Logan Motion 10 or if they have a center version in the same series.

The Energy 10.3 subwoofer $200 deal just expired, but it should come back soon. There's also a ~$100 Polk that's frequently recommended. You may also want to check the <$300 subwoofer thread in the Subwoofer forum.
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post #9 of 11 Old 06-19-2012, 05:52 AM - Thread Starter
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I ordered Chrysalis by Velodyne 10" subwoofer from costco.com for $150. Not sure if you have any thoughts on that subwoofer, but some preliminary research indicates that it is a good sub in that price range. Thanks for the advice on the center speaker. I'm going to purchase the Martin Logan Motion 6 Center Channel speaker, but the price is $299, so I'm on hold until I can find a better deal. Can't justify paying $119 for main speaker and $299 for center channel.

http://www.costco.com/Browse/Product.aspx?Prodid=11758848&search=subwoofer&Mo=4&cm_re=1_en-_-Top_Left_Nav-_-Top_search&lang=en-US&Nr=P_CatalogName:BC&Sp=S&N=5000043&whse=BC&Dx=mode+matchallpartial&Ntk=Text_Search&Dr=P_CatalogName:BC&Ne=4000000&D=subwoofer&Ntt=subwoofer&No=1&Ntx=mode+matchallpartial&Nty=1&topnav=&s=1
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post #10 of 11 Old 06-19-2012, 06:49 PM
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I don't know the Onkyo 609 or the Martin Logan Motion 10 speakers, but the combination should be able to create a decent phantom center.
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post #11 of 11 Old 02-23-2013, 03:56 PM
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I'm in a similar situation, with a few caveats. We're going to be moving soon into temporary digs while our home undergoes a major structural and interior renovation. I'm not interested in buying a full 5.1 HT rig for the rental place, given that the space will prolly not permit it, so I'm bringing 2 TVs and my sub from the den. I'm leaving the receiver at home and will do my radio/music listening off my iphone. I have an "i-clock radio" for my bedroom, which is fine, but i have been looking for either a sound bar that has a sub-out (not wireless) or powered monitors that will both do the TV and sounds musical enough for a moderate-sized living room.

It seems that the decent sounding ones are 300-400... And up. And I really don't need simulated surround processing - my toshiba tv has a "wide" option that does fine, and music reproduction from my phone is just as important. I've really just started considering s-bars over the last couple of days. But after researching my options, i keep coming back to PSB Alpha PS1 powered monitors for $225. So i've come here wondering if there's a sound bar alternative to the PSB.

Here's a look: http://www.psbspeakers.com/products/powered-speakers/Alpha-PS1-Powered-Speaker

The PSBs are 20W x 2, have a sub out line, can take RCA stereo lines from my tv and a mini-stereo jack from my phone, and provide a USB power port for the phone. So all my input/output needs seem to be covered. And when we move back into our home, I can use them in my desktop. smile.gif

My questions are as follows...

-,the PSBs ARE designed for near-field use. Will they work in a larger space and still be musical?

- it seems that many folks are using their sound bar for input switching, just as I was using my AVR for the same. Given my limited switching (I only use OTA, BD, and will prolly buy a Roku, all of which run through the TV), is there any advantage to having my switching done via the sound bar rather that through the TV? And finally...

Are there any sound bars at a comparable or slightly higher price to the PSBs that will perform as well for TV AND music?

TIA. wink.gif
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