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Old 07-31-2012, 12:52 PM - Thread Starter
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I recently moved and just got a 60" Panasonic Plasma (ST50) for my new entertainment room. I will be putting my previous TV, a 46" Samsung (LN46A860), in the living room for casual viewing. I'm looking for the cheapest way to upgrade from just the TV speakers. No need for anything super fancy, just an improvement because the tv speakers are terrible. And I'm not looking to spend a lot since this will likely be unneeded in a year or two when I upgrade my current setup and can then use the leftover receiver/speakers here. l don't really need surround sound, but would take it if I could. My living room area is about 12x15 feet with an open side towards the rest of the apartment. I basically have 3 options:

1. Get a set of powered 2.1 speakers hooked up to my TV's audio out. I can get a decently rated set of computer speakers for $50

2. Get a budget 5.1 HTIB. The problem here is that most of the cheap ones (~$100) are just DVD based surround systems, and only have stereo audio inputs for other components, which isn't much better than the above. Getting into the $150 range solves that, but then that's pushing the limit I was wanting to spend.

3. Get a soundbar system. I don't know much about soundbars but it appears I could get one with digital input for around $100. Not sure if its worth twice the amount for virtual surround versus just getting the computer speakers, or how well it will work with only have 3 walls. However this does look like an appealing option for the simplicity and minimal amount of space used (will keep the girlfriend happy)

Thoughts?
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Old 07-31-2012, 12:59 PM
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get a cheap sound bar, take a look at the one from vizio
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Old 07-31-2012, 01:34 PM
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But if you're going to upgrade your setup anyway, then the soundbar will end in thrash ? $100 lost.
if $150 is the limit, then I'd go with Pioneer SP-BS21-LR ($99) + find $50-$60 receiver on Craigslist. Also, Pioneer floor-standing ones sometimes go on sale for $100-$130, imo, it'd be a no-brainer if you catch this deal.
Of course, the receiver probably won't have HDMIs, but your Panny must have optical audio output.
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Old 07-31-2012, 01:57 PM
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I disagree that the soundbar would be a bad idea. Way better than the 2 inch drivers in the back of the TV set and some can even simulate, to some degree, surround sound. Not nearly as good as a speaker based setup, but not a bad idea if you have reasonable expectations and are light on cash!

Set up #1: EMP e5ti, e5Ci, and EMP e5Bi surrounds, Outlaw LFM1 Plus sub, EMP 10i10i sub
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Old 07-31-2012, 03:27 PM
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Amazon has the VIZIO VSB200 sound bar for $59.95 refurbished. It has four 3" speakers plus two tweeters. It should be a decent upgrade from the stock TV speakers.

It has both optical and analog audio inputs and even a subwoofer output!

It is quite a bit cheaper than its original price, and may be considerably better than most soundbars.

You could probably find a small subwoofer used for cheap and add that if you wanted.
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Old 07-31-2012, 03:37 PM
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Doesn't your TV have a variable-level audio output?
If it does, then you just need powered speakers; no need for a remote.

If I were you, I'd be patient and keep an eye out for newegg.com deals on the Pioneer FS51 / FS52 speakers - sometimes you can get a pair for ~$100

Just power them off a cheap external amplifier (like this http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?partnumber=300-380). The limited amp might not go as loud as you might want, but it should be fine at medium-levels and a HUGE upgrade over tv speakers. Let your TV, or digital cable box, handle output volume.

Another choice is a powered studio monitor:

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/B1030A/

They might be over your budget but they're something you could keep and re-use in the future to some capacity on account of being... good! You could even hang them up as surround speakers.
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Old 07-31-2012, 04:43 PM
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Quote:
Doesn't your TV have a variable-level audio output?
If it does, then you just need powered speakers; no need for a remote.

The Panasonic doesn't haven't RCA outs, just an optical output so no variable level setting.

Soundbar is probably the cheapest option.

Afro GT
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Old 07-31-2012, 04:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by afrogt View Post

The Panasonic doesn't haven't RCA outs, just an optical output so no variable level setting.
Soundbar is probably the cheapest option.

What about your source? Do you have many different sources or just the one?

I'm sure soundbar is the cheapest option, but way I see it is:

100 dollars on "meh" is essentially throwing it away
200 dollars on something "pretty good" can be kept for a long time and even used to some capacity when you upgrade.

Anyways my advice is to keep an eye on Craig's List / Ebay etc for some decent used receivers. Focus on getting good SPEAKERS more than anything.
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Old 07-31-2012, 05:00 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Detonation View Post

Thoughts?

I'd rather see you put together a 3.1 system than a 2.1 system as the center channel does make a difference in ease of hearing.

Get a receiver that has Audyssey MultiEQ XT in it if just for the "Dynamic EQ." As you lower the volume, Audyssey cranks up the outside edges of the EQ graph so as to maintain the hearability of bass and treble. "Dynamic Volume" is also killer as it raises the volume threshold off the floor and makes dialogue easier to understand.

The problem I found with soundbars was, the darn things get in the way of the television as a properly placed soundbar/center channel in right in front or below the television. The television stands are too darn short to accommodate soundbars and center channels.

With all the above in mind, I saw a $99.00 soundbar at the Shack. I think it was a Vizio. Cheap and not a clue how good it sounds. Looked like it hooked up with RCA plugs.

Hope the above helps.
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Old 07-31-2012, 05:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the responses.

Panny is in the main setup (using optical and hdmi) - the Samsung is the TV in point here, and yes since it has headphone/RCA, I now realize I don't need a remote. For this setup, I'll just have two sources - OTA TV and my Xbox (Netflix, Media Center Extender). So I'll just be needing to run the audio out from my TV to something.

My first plan was actually to buy a receiver and speakers of some sort as some of you are suggesting, but either way I looked at it it was going to be more than around $200, and a lot of that would still be somewhat of a throw away, at least the receiver cost (unless I wait on craigslist and ebay for who knows how long).

As I mentioned, I would be nice to keep it clean and simple, especially since my girlfriend will be using it the most, and its where friends are when they are over. That soundbar mentioned earlier is $55 refurbed on newegg and appears to have good reviews around the web, but I'll have to go to a store and see what soundbars sound like first. My TV stand has a shelf right below the TV (where my center used to bed) so my soundbar could go there, but I'm not sure if that will hurt the sound in that place.

I'm tempted to just grab some logitech computer speakers I have now and see how it sounds haha, like I said, this doesn't need to be audiophile quality, just something to listen to the news, watch shows like the simpsons, and background tv/movie use while also doing something else.
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Old 07-31-2012, 05:50 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Detonation View Post

My TV stand has a shelf right below the TV (where my center used to bed) so my soundbar could go there, but I'm not sure if that will hurt the sound in that place.

As long as it's not buried next to the floor, hidden by a coffee table, next to a carpet you'll be good. Think line of sight.
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Old 07-31-2012, 05:57 PM
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fwiw, onkyo ht rc 330 avr $100 accessories4less
pair of monoprice 8" 3-way speakers $54 or you can wait and get a pair of pioneer bs21 on sale for $50 on newegg coming sometime in august

when ready to upgrade these will be great garage system

i'm so laid back,i'm laid out
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Old 08-02-2012, 06:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Well I tried hooking up the speaker set I had, Logitech x-530s, and was not impressed. While this set is overly muddy to begin with, even with the bass all the way down it felt like I was watching a video on my computer versus actual TV. So I think that option is out. I also realized I have no where to put the speakers unless I use the unnecessarily large stands I already have (which would be an eye sore) or buy new ones. So the sound bar option is looking better and better.
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Old 08-02-2012, 08:01 AM
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Certainly does sound like the soundbar is the best fit for you. There is an AVS forum devoted to soundbars. Better place than the AVS speaker forum to learn about soundbars since everyone here is more interested in separate speaker components. Best to research and ask questions there to make certain you find the best deal on a soundbar that will meet your expectations.

Your questions are answered: Speaker FAQ
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