> What should I expect from a sub-$300 soundbar?
I have a 5.1 setup with Ascend speakers, but I really don't want to run wires under the floor/through the walls in a 1780 colonial, so I am considering a soundbar instead for the living room. (I'll install the Ascend speakers in the great room/home theatre room). So, how does a soundbar sound compared to a dedicated 5.1 speaker set? I notice the Yamaha YAS-101 is mentioned a lot- is this the best one to get in this price range? What other soundbars do you recommend in the $200-300 range? Can I hook up the soundbar directly to the TV, or do I need to buy another receiver? I'd love it if I could hook it up directly and skip buying a new receiver (currently have a Denon 2310 AVR). Is a sub recommended with a soundbar?
You can expect off the shelf, older technology components. That's not always a bad thing. You have decided what you need it for. I'd recommend getting a zvox, it has a subwoofer output. Then get a quality subwoofer later with another wad of money. That should keep you happy for a while.
Are there any Yamaha's you'd recommend? How will the 7.1 sound compare to my Ascend speakers?
How about the Vizio VHT 510? You can get them priced just south and north of $300. Though it is rumored they're being replaced, it's a pretty good solution given that it actually has two discrete rear speakers. It apparently works best (opening up the front soundstage) in one of the surround modes.
Check out the reviews...they're good.
Do you have to place the rear speakers in the rear, or do you leave them up by the TV? I would like to avoid running any wires to the rear. Thanks!
That's the interesting thing about the VHT 510. The rear speakers are connected by wires to the subwoofer. The subwoofer, in turn, is connected wirelessly to the soundbar. The subwoofer is, then, placed in the rear which shouldn't hurt anything since low bass is omnidirectional.
So you avoid running wires from the front to the rear. And the whole thing is self amplified.