So I'm in the market for a sound bar. I don't want to spend more than $800. I have been reading so many reviews on amazon and cnet I am getting sick. I have narrowed it down to these 2 links that I am posting. Hopefully some guys that can help me make a decision will post.
I initially was very sure I was going with the Polk Audio IHT9000. Seems awesome for what it is. Great reviews, great specs. etc. However, there is one big red flag in my opinion. I say my opinion because maybe I'm wrong and this isn't a red flag but just me being too picky. The Polk is lacking ANY HDMI inputs/outputs. You have 2 optical audio jacks to deal with. This became an issue when I realized that the DirecTV and Apple TV would be plugged into the Panasonic ST60 via HDMI and then use the optical OUT on the TV to go IN to the Polk sound bar. Now correct me if I am wrong, but I imagine that the Panasonic ST60 does NOT pass 5.1 through its optical out correct? Wouldn't it be down converted to 2 channels? I cannot get anyone at Best Buy or even Panasonic or Amazon customer service to verify that the ST60 will pass 5.1 from the optical out.
Since the sound bar isn't a true surround sound system but does decode 5.1, am I being too picky? From a sound bar, will I notice a meaningful difference between 2 channel being put out through this system to make it sound like surround sound versus using a sound bar with HDMI directly from my DirecTV box and not being down converted?
This is the only negative I can think of with the Polk. Hell, pretty much all other sound bars that are not $1500 plus dollars do not have HDMI.
Now the JBL. Seems comparable to the Polk IHT9000 doesn't it? Maybe it isn't and I am not educated enough in the field of sound and specs. to realize the differences. Can someone educate me? I like this unit because of the HDMI. I also have read that with the HDMI, volume adjustments and other queues show up on screen for visual verification. With the optical setup connection, you're left to wonder where the controls are set at as well as making source switching a pain in the rear. Does this JBL lack in the sound processing and overall sound quality production when it comes up against the Polk IHT9000 sound processing technology? I'm just not sure so I hope some of you that read this can help me.
I am asking for clear and detailed responses that I can understand as to why one is better than the other.
Anything else you can ad that I haven't thought of or that can help this discussion is greatly appreciated. I'll post a link to the review of the IHT 9000 as well as links to each of the bars I'm considering.
Information from Amazon:
Information from each products website:
Review of the IHT 9000: