Why are receivers so terrible vs. sound bars? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 12-29-2013, 05:41 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm trying to improve the sound out of my TV. I know the market wants me to use a sound bar for this, but I'm having a hard time getting around a sound bar's awkward shape and (seemingly) small drivers of not-very-well-specified quality.

 

It seems like the way forward is to use bookshelf speakers. I have never owned bookshelf speakers but when I see them in the store they seem great: big drivers, exotic materials, famous brand names, relatively low prices, etc.

 

Of course I can't plug bookshelf speakers directly into my TV so what I would like is something that's equivalent of the electronics in a sound bar, but for bookshelf speaker use, i.e., small footprint, optical and analog inputs, subwoofer out, small and simple remote control, and ideally Bluetooth. This is all standard fare for all but the very cheapest of sound bars.

 

But here's what I typically see when I search for receivers and amplifiers online: a HUGE device, no optical input, no subwoofer out (unless it's a "home theater" receiver and handles video, which I don't need or want), huge remote controls (with a million buttons for a radio tuner that I don't want) or no remote control at all in the case of the amplifiers, and definitely no Bluetooth.

 

Am I looking at this completely wrong? Is there no convenient way to use a pair of bookshelf speakers for TV sound?

 

I am thinking about the Denon D-M39S... seems expensive for what it is (60W mini system)... not sure how much bass I'm gonna get from 4.75" drivers... but otherwise it seems like the closest option for what I'm looking for. Or should I just give up and get a nice sound bar...? Thoughts? Thanks in advance. :)

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post #2 of 17 Old 12-29-2013, 06:07 PM
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Separate speakers will be miles better than any sound bar, especially for the price. Have you seen the Marantz slimline receivers? They are about the size of a cable box and are quite good!
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post #3 of 17 Old 12-29-2013, 06:19 PM
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Try one of these.

http://www.crutchfield.com/p_642NR1403/Marantz-NR1403.html?tp=179

http://www.crutchfield.com/p_642NR1504/Marantz-NR1504.html

http://www.crutchfield.com/p_022RXS600/Yamaha-RX-S600.html

These are all MSRP. Can be purchased for less with some searching or a refurb from accessories4less. Bookshelf speakers will sound much better than all but the most expensive soundbars.
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post #4 of 17 Old 12-29-2013, 07:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you for the replies guys. I just looked at those Marantz receivers. They look nice although still much larger than what I would like, since I will just be plugging in power, optical input, and two speaker-out connections. I have no need for video-anything. Seems like I should be able to get a device that does this and is about 1/5 the size. I see that some Chinese companies make small amps but with very questionable quality and hardly any of them have remotes.

 

If I'm going to buy something that's the width and depth of standard AV cabinet equipment, I would probably go with something like a Denon AVR-E200. At that point, the height doesn't matter to me that much. Thoughts?

 

Seems like this $199 receiver and a $100 pair of bookshelf speakers (I listened to some Polk T15s at Best Buy and liked them) should give me a nice "3-box" setup for $300, i.e., the price of a midrange sound bar.

 

I think the only thing I would be giving up is a subwoofer, i.e., deep bass. But with ~5" ported drivers, it seems like these bookshelf speakers might give me as much bass as a cheap sound bar's subwoofer? I live in an apartment and I don't need furniture-shaking bass but I would like to not have those lower frequencies cut off completely.

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post #5 of 17 Old 12-29-2013, 07:56 PM
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What about a desktop DAC that has an optical input and a pair of Mackie powered studio monitors?

I use this combo for my desktop computer. Something similar might work for you.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004H7SO46/ref=pe_175190_21431760_cs_sce_dp_1

http://tamaudio.com/store/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=145
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post #6 of 17 Old 12-29-2013, 08:35 PM
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If optical isn't needed and analog will suffice (which with stereo I don't see why not), a Klipsch 2.1 could be an option. I have it for my computer set up and the sound is terrific!

http://www.amazon.com/Klipsch-ProMedia-Certified-Computer-Speaker/dp/B000062VUO
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post #7 of 17 Old 12-30-2013, 01:55 AM - Thread Starter
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I think computer speakers are a great idea but ones with remote controls are few and far between. The Klipsch speakers don't have one, as far as I know.

 

I am currently using Sony's SRS-DB500 computer speakers. I have been trying to convince myself that they are good (or at least fine) for a few years now. But the character of the subwoofer output is frankly just an annoying rumble. At the system's default bass setting, any male speech triggers this rumble. (Distracting.) When I turn down the bass, there's a hole in the lower midrange such that a small portable Bluetooth speaker produces richer sound. :(

 

I'm surprised that nobody seems to make a "volume controller" with a remote control that you can plug between an audio source and whatever it's going to. That way you could add remote control to whatever computer speakers you want.

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post #8 of 17 Old 12-30-2013, 07:17 AM
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post #9 of 17 Old 12-30-2013, 08:06 AM
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For your budget you may be better off with the soundbar for now. The one below gets good reviews and will fit your budget. Good luck.

http://www.soundandvision.com/content/soundbar-roundup-vizio-s4221w-c4
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post #10 of 17 Old 12-31-2013, 09:47 AM - Thread Starter
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I have been reluctant to go with a sound bar since I basically just don't like the idea... (usually) two small speakers with several feet of basically empty plastic between them? And then (often) a wireless subwoofer that people have problems keeping connected? And the shape means that it needs its own (long) shelf or my TV needs to be on some kind of stand that props it up above the sound bar? Awkward. But then again, getting speaker stands for some bookshelf speakers isn't super ideal either.

 

In the end I think I might go with a ZVOX sound pedestal. The shape is very convenient and these devices get great reviews. I'm only reluctant because it seems like a lot of money for the specifications. $200 for 40W + three 2" drivers + a 5" sub? Those are specs that I would expect to see for a $35 set of computer speakers... of course specs aren't everything, but...

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post #11 of 17 Old 12-31-2013, 10:02 AM
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Just got this in the mail

http://www.jr.com/boston-acoustics/pe/BA_SWXSDCB_hy_RB/?JRSource=chemail.YearEndClearance.12312013

very highly reviewed, seems like a screaming deal

Noah
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post #12 of 17 Old 12-31-2013, 10:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Looks good... how do you think a setup like this would compare vs. a $100-$150 pair of bookshelf speakers? I assume more bass from the subwoofer, but after my experience with the Sony subwoofer I'm hesitant to pull the trigger on something like this (with a huge subwoofer and small satellites)....

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post #13 of 17 Old 01-01-2014, 01:43 PM
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no idea

dunno what your budget or bass requirements are, but there are these

http://shop.emotiva.com/collections/speakers

Airmotiv prices are per pair

oh you said $150 oh well

you could look for used ones

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post #14 of 17 Old 01-01-2014, 01:53 PM
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How about something like the paperback book-sized Topping TP21? Run the analog outs from your TV (if it has them) to the TP21, put the TP21 on max volume, and use the TV's remote to adjust volume. Leave the amp on and stuff it in your TV stand behind other components/photos/etc. If your TV doesn't have analog outs then add a small DAC. Those are anywhere from $20 to $100, depending on whether you need Dolby Digital decoding in the DAC.
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post #15 of 17 Old 01-01-2014, 04:33 PM
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I don't think you'll be selling your soul if you get the Andrew Jones one: http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/PUSA/Home/Speaker+Bar

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post #16 of 17 Old 01-01-2014, 06:38 PM
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This is what I use, 15 watts per channel, $45. This produces GREAT sound, it just doesn't have all the bells and whistles (or cost) of an AVR or stereo receiver. Just run the line out or headphones out with the 1/8th inch mini-jack from your TV to the amp, then use regular speaker wires to the bookshelf speakers of your choice. You can find GOOD bookshelf speakers for cheap in the Audio Classified section on AVS.
http://www.parts-express.com/dayton-audio-dta-1-class-t-digital-ac-dc-mini-amplifier-15-wpc--300-380

If you want a ready-to-go setup with more power than what I referenced above, then consider this:
http://www.parts-express.com/salesflyer/index.html#/5/zoomed

Then just add a small sub to either amp/speakers if you want a 2.1 system.

Symmetry pleases the eye, but it usually offends the ears where low frequencies are concerned. -Yoda Fitzmaurice
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post #17 of 17 Old 01-24-2014, 09:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the feedback guys. Ultimately I decided to go with a sound bar. I'm sure that in some ways an amp + bookshelf speakers would have sounded better, but they would give me less bass than a 2.1 sound bar, and I do value the Bluetooth feature that almost every sound bar has these days.

 

If you're curious, I ended up with the Vizio S4221W. I had the budget (and the initial inclination) to buy the Pioneer SP-SB23W but in every head-to-head comparison between the two, reviewers seemed to think the Vizio sounded better. I listened to the Pioneer briefly in a store and the midrange did seem a little "boomy" to me, although that's hardly scientific.

 

The Vizio actually has a very similar configuration to the Pioneer (two 3" drivers and a tweeter per channel) and its subwoofer crossover frequency is actually a little lower (90Hz vs. 110Hz). I'm very pleased with how it sounds so far.

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