Soundbar is an interesting idea. Will have to look into that. From what I gathered previously was that good soundbars were expensive and they'd probably stick out a little bit from the wall (if it's in the 2-3" range, no big deal but any more than that and it become an issue). Good monoprice speakers are about $80 for a pair and I really don't mind the way my receiver does a phantom center. You're right though, it's a small spread.
Onto some soundbar research.