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. :)
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.
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.
I use this combo for my desktop computer. Something similar might work for you.
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.
GE Supercinema 3D Array X
Paradigm Millenia CT
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...
very highly reviewed, seems like a screaming deal
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)....
dunno what your budget or bass requirements are, but there are these
Airmotiv prices are per pair
oh you said $150 oh well
you could look for used ones
If you want a ready-to-go setup with more power than what I referenced above, then consider this:
Then just add a small sub to either amp/speakers if you want a 2.1 system.
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.