Soundbar vs 2 active speakers? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 10-26-2013, 03:27 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi im after some speakers for my lounge and the girlfriend doesnt want all the bulk of an amp receiver and wires so i thought my options were a soundbar or 2 active speakers.

Would the 2 active speakers be better than the soundbar?

I want to spend maxium £350
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post #2 of 15 Old 10-26-2013, 05:22 AM
 
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For sound quality decent active speakers trump any sound bar I have heard. I wrote about this here.

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1493871/soundbar-vs-2-1#post_23812831
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post #3 of 15 Old 10-26-2013, 07:03 AM - Thread Starter
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Interesting. So atleast with active speakers you dont need an amp. How would these be for using with my tv?

Roth oli power 5

http://www.m.richersounds.com/product/standmount-speakers/roth/oli-powa-5/roth-oli-powa-5-blk
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post #4 of 15 Old 10-26-2013, 06:42 PM
 
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They look like they would work fine but I've never heard of that brand so I can't say how they perform.
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post #5 of 15 Old 10-27-2013, 01:24 PM - Thread Starter
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So maybe a well known make active speakers would be better than a soundbar
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post #6 of 15 Old 10-27-2013, 06:13 PM
 
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They might be fine I just don't know. The biggest problem with sound bars is they can't overcome physics. First is size, you are not going to get good bass at any volume with a speaker, sound bar or whatever that uses small drivers <4" in a small enclosure. Some of the bigger sound bars do have bigger drivers like 5 or 6 inches but i don't know of any on your price range. In general something with a 5", 6" or bigger woofer/midrange is going to give a 'fuller' sound and most sound bars do not have that.

The next big problem is they just don't have good stereo separation with the left and right speakers being close together, so speakers have an advantage if you have the capability to place them further apart. You don't want them too close to the corners though. This will be somewhat room and WAF dependent. Some sound bars try to angle their speakers outward or use phase tricks to emulate a bigger soundstage but it is just not as good as the real thing.

The other problem is how speakers disperse sound without getting too technical (I can't anyway). When you have a woofer( aka midrange) and a tweeter they will have better off axis response if placed vertically. When the speaker is placed horizontally they won't have as good of an off axis response and the left and right off axis response will be different. If you have a horizontally placed speaker or sound bar with a woofer/tweeter/woofer (aka midrange/tweeter/midrange) arrangement it will have poor off axis response but the left and right off axis response will be equal. Either way speaker drivers have better off axis response when placed vertically.

I did a LOT of research and tried a LOT of speakers and sound bars and none of the sound bars beat a decent pair of speakers. NONE! The sound bars do sound better than a TV but that is not hard to accomplish. For active speakers you might try looking at some pro speakers in a music store. The pro speakers tend to have more of a selection for active type speakers. The pro models won't have bluetooth or a digital connection though.
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post #7 of 15 Old 10-28-2013, 05:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Well after that excellent reply i think i have changed my mind.
I looked at some pro speakers today at my local bose store. They had a soundbar called the solo which i listened too but it lacked all round sound. Then i listened to the bose cinemate 2 with a subwoofer and the 2 small speakers fixed on the wall either side of the tv and it sounded pretty good to me. So im thinking of that kind of setup now instead of a soundbar.

Even the girlfriend said the soundbars are rubbish compared to the other bose setup (cinemate 2) any other suggestions i could take a look at because i always hear bose is not very good.
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post #8 of 15 Old 10-28-2013, 08:14 PM
 
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Bose having small drivers suffers from some of the same problems as many of the sound bars with small drivers. I don't think Bose is bad per se but not a very good value. Here would be some systems that would compete for about the same money. You can make your own combos.

JBL LSR305 with Dayton Audio sub-1200

JBL LSR308, no subwoofer. The 8" woofers in these will beat he Bose but is a larger speaker.

M-Audio BX5 D2 with Dayton Sub

Mackie MR5mk3 with Dayton sub

M-Audio BX-8d2 no sub.


For smaller speakers

Audio Engine A2 + S8 sub

Focal XS Book with Dayton Sub-800


For less money that would compare to Bose
Klipsch Promedia 2.1 THX
Harman Kardon HKTS 200BQ 2.1 System
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post #9 of 15 Old 10-29-2013, 05:40 AM - Thread Starter
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thanks for your reply, i like that harmon kardon set but it looks as if i would need to buy a receiver as its not got one built in like this onkyo one i found here

 

another 2.1 set i have seen similar to the harmon and klipsch is the onkyo LS3100 have you any experience on this

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post #10 of 15 Old 10-29-2013, 08:42 AM
 
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Yes the Harman Kardon would require a small 2 channel amp, doesn't have to be a receiver though and would still be less expensive than Bose with similar performance. You can do this with any speakers as well like the Pioneer speakers which are decent for the money and the 2.1 system would be in your price range. I haven't heard the Onkyo but it can't defy physics either.

With any of these small systems you are sacrificing performance, there is only so much sound you are going to get out of a speaker with 2" or 3" drivers. It doesn't matter if it is Bose, Onkyo, Harman Kardon, Klipsch or whatever other brand. I know sometimes aesthetics take a precedent over sound but if you can use a little bigger speaker as in a small book shelf speaker with at least a 5" woofer it is a BIG step up in sound. 4" drivers can be OK but you have to crossover the sub higher which makes it more localizable. When the speaker drivers get too small it is like trying to pull a trailer with a smart car, it might do it but it isn't going to do it well. The same for small speakers they just can't perform as well. I'm just saying if you are going small don't waste your money on Bose or something similarly priced for this level of performance.

I would also suggest using a speaker that has a woofer (midrange) and a tweeter. These speaker systems that have small "full range" drivers are trying to do too much with one size of driver even if they use 2 of them. 2" or 3" drivers will have trouble with high frequencies and don't push enough air for low frequencies at normal volume levels. The old saying about Bose "No highs, no lows, must be Bose" holds true for any of these small "full range" driver systems. While the Klipsch 3" driver is too small for lower midrange/ upper bass range frequencies it at least it uses a separate tweeter for the highs. Something the Bose or Onkyo doesn't do and is 1/3 the price.

Bose has made a fantastic business by selling speakers that appeal to many for their aesthetics but that size has sonic compromises. Sometimes I think it would be better to be ignorant but once you have heard better you want it:D You have to decide which trade offs you are going to make.
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post #11 of 15 Old 10-29-2013, 04:01 PM
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If you are expanding the parameters of your search I would suggest looking at the range of lower priced speakers by Pioneer that have been designed by Andrew Jones- they have been universally lauded by audio critics in audiophile publications (Stereophile, etc.). I have the $400 speaker bar...and I have to say that for me (primarily listen to classical and jazz music), I never thought I would achieve this level of performance at this price level....imho
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post #12 of 15 Old 10-30-2013, 03:02 PM
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I will chime in here also. I have tested for two years various small speakers in an attempt to replace a pair of four-way floor standing speakers and a pair of sub-woofers. Not a single bookshelf speaker sounded acceptable to my ears including those from B&W, Def-Tech, KEF and a few other rather notable brands.

However, the Pioneer Speaker Bar has been a revelation. Not as good as my floor standing Infinities, but close enough that I have been satisfied for listening to all types of music.

If true stereo with a wide sound stage is important, a sound bar is not the way to go. If you care more for good accurate sound, you should consider the Pioneer Speaker Bar. Designed by Andrew Jones and possibly his best design so far under the Pioneer name.

As info, I prefer good one-channel or two-channel sound to mediocre or acceptable multi-channel, so my criteria are quite possibly different than most people.

David Freeman
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post #13 of 15 Old 10-31-2013, 03:36 AM - Thread Starter
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Great info thanks. The pioneer soundbar by andrew jones keeps getting recommended but i dont think its available in the uk so i cant go down that route which is a shame
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post #14 of 15 Old 10-31-2013, 10:33 AM
 
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I recently listened to the pioneer sound bar and speakers. They were set up in a room at a dealer and the speakers were paired with a Pioneer Elite receiver, I forget the model number but I'm sure it was more expensive than the speakers. I didn't listen too critically as I already bought my system but I wanted to see what all the fuss about Andrew Jones is and spent about an hour there. I will say before I give my opinion is that both the speakers and sound bar are an outstanding value.

The sound bar suffered from the same things all sound bars suffer from and that is a very narrow soundstage and little separation. Off to the side it was not very good either, so if seating is to the side it might not be a good choice. It did have a good sound and while I have heard better sound bars none within a few hundred dollars of this one. This sound bar easily beats the Sony, LG, Samsung, Panasonic, Yamaha, Vizio and JVC sound bars I heard remotely close to this price range.

The speakers are even a better value, the books shelves lack that punch and fullness but do very well for a 4" midrange. Better than the sound bar for off axis seating and was surprising very good for this price range. The towers do great too but still need a sub.

If comparing the bookshelves to the ones I mentioned I would take the Mackie, JBL or M-Audio over the Pioneer. The smaller ones I would have to listen to again to compare. The Pioneers are not the best speakers I have heard. But let's be fair for less than $100 a pair street price they are very good, even when you factor the cost of a small amp. If someone is looking for passive speakers I wouldn't hesitate to pick these up and add a good sub.

Neither of these products defy physics but they are well designed for their intended use. Small speakers lack punch/ fullness and sound bars can't overcome that separation/ soundstage. While these products might not be the best, they are an unmatched value in their respective categories and I understand why people rave about them.
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post #15 of 15 Old 10-31-2013, 02:06 PM
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Good post. I have yet to hear the Pioneer speakers. I have only seen them in a box at Wal-Mart. As someone who has spent weeks listening to various audio componenets, it blows my mind that you can pick up speakers this good for a c-note at a big box discount store.

David Freeman
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