Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Newport Beach, California
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There's a few issues to consider. In the most general of terms, and I'm sure there are exceptions, soundbars are designed to be a limited substitute for an A/V Receiver (AVR). They have fewer connections, and as advanced as the sound processing may be, they don't surpass a good AVR with discrete speakers. But do they have to? It depends on what you want for your listening experience, and here's some other factors to consider.
Is your bedroom setup a sitting room area, or for watching in bed?
This determines your component and speaker locations, and what makes sense to use. A soundbar with a wireless subwoofer should be a very simple and clean looking setup. An AVR will require the same setup complexity as your living room, and you may not be able to put the speakers where they need to be.
How much of a WAF (wife acceptance factor) is there?
Are there going to be wires running all over the place? Is that an issue? Are the components exposed, or will they be tucked into a cabinet or rack? Do you want all of the wires running into the TV, then a soundbar, or all of them running to the AVR, then to the TV? Are the speakers pretty? Soundbars can be pretty slick looking.
How big is ease of use?
There are very few soundbars as of today that accept a large number of inputs. Most of them are designed to be an expansion to the TV sound with just an optical connection. So you may need to hook up some components to the soundbar, and others to the TV. Many TVs have a lot of inputs now, but the best of them can only output 5.1 Dolby sound, and usually not from the digital inputs. Many of them only output stereo. That all makes for some complicated remote juggling.
What's your budget?
I'm not going to recommend any system over the other, but a low to midrange AVR and discrete speakers is going to provide as good or better sound than a high end soundbar for a lower price. But consider all of the factors I've mentioned, and price shouldn't be the determining factor. My determining factor was I replaced my living room AVR, and used the perfectly good old AVR for the bedroom. But until then, I was considering a soundbar.
You want the best solution for you. Figure out whether a soundbar or AVR is best suited for your needs, then focus on getting the best deal.