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Soundbar/Amp Advice for AppleTV System

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
There are a number of similar threads out there, but I'm not entirely clear how to hook up a system consisting of a TV, AppleTV, amplifier, and soundbar. If a receiver was subbed in for the amplifier, I would be able to hook everything using HDMI. I haven't ruled out a receiver, but I wouldn't be using most of its features.

Here's what I'm looking for:
- Amplifier or Receiver + soundbar for about $1000
- Mostly listen to music, but will be used with TV as well
- For a good size bedroom
- Would prefer to not get separate sub (this is mostly for music, but also some tv/movie watching)
- Somewhat limited on space -- I have built a drawer unit that is under the TV and the space is 6" tall, 49" wide, and about 20" deep -- this mostly limits receivers that will fit, but there are some out there b/c the soundbars are fairly thin and i could use an IR passthrough if needed so that it sits behind the soundbar
- Would like to control just about everything from iPhone/iPod

I have considered a Yamaha or ZVOX type powered soundbar, but it seems like those aren't as good for music and are mostly focused on improving TV sound. If that is the best option, I'm open to suggestions for the best unit under $1000.

I am very intrigued by units like the Russound R35LS and Parasound ZAmp -- in particular, I like their ability to essentially turn themselves off when there is no signal (I like the idea of just setting it up, and never having to touch it again). The main thing that I'm not clear on is how I would connect the cable box, AppleTV, TV, and amplifier together based on the limited connections of the amplifier. I would like to connect everything using HDMI cables, but I'm not sure that's realistic if going the amplifier route.

The Marantz NR1501 is a receiver that would fit my space. However, I would prefer to spend less on the "amplification" of the sound so that I can spend more on the speakers.

Speakers that have looked interesting from other posts are:
- Definitive Technology Mythos SSA-42 (the SSA-3 coming out in 2011 looks good, but will it be out soon? any ideas on price?)
- Monitor Audio R one HD
- Paradigm Millenia 20 Trio
- Pinnacle QP 7
- saw really good things said about TruAudio and PhaseTech, but it looks like I would have to go through an installer to get those brands, and I would prefer to do it myself.

If I have to go over $1000 a bit, that's fine... just would like to keep it close b/c I'll need budget to get the TV as well!

I would appreciate any advice anyone has! Hoping to make the purchase sometime this week.

post #2 of 7
If memory serves me correctly, the Parasound amp is strictly an amplifier. You would need some type of pre-amp to amplify the fixed level signals from your various sources as well as controlling volume. Most modern TV's offer only fixed line level (1v) output. I was also thinking that the Parasound amp is 2-ch (maybe I am thinking of a different unit). In that case, you would need at least three of these for a soundbar like the Def Tech which is 5-ch.

For your needs, you would probably be better with a 5.1-ch receiver. You would have inputs necessary for best sound from your components as well as a way of properly controlling volume. A decent receiver for your needs from Onkyo, Yamaha or Pioneer would probably give you everything you need sonically.
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the help. Now it looks like I'm in the market for a small receiver! In looking at other posts, this seems to be a bit of a challenge. I appreciate the advice, and if there are any specific soundbar LCR speakers you recommend, I'm all ears.
post #4 of 7
Of the models that you mention, the only one I have heard is the Def Tech. Excellent sound on both audio and video sources. I heard a passive L-C-R from Infinity several years ago that had sound that may have been the equal of the DT but don't really trust my sonic memory plus not sure if Harman Intl is trying to phase out the Infinity brand.

For music at moderate volume levels, there are several inexpensive alternatives. None of these approach audiophile quality sound. The Sony CT-350, self-powered, no receiver required has good audio if not pushed. The Vizio VSB-200 (2009 model - less than $100) does well on audio. Bass rolls off below about 150hz so no weight for heavy symphonic or kick-butt rock at high volumes. Tone is good.

I have tried a number of sound bars with music and most leave me underwhelmed. I had considered the Def Tech and had permission from the Mrs. to purchase if I would remove my hi-fi from our sun-room allowing her to completely remodel. I use a soundbar with TV in the family room. Soundbar is a major improvement over built-in TV speakers. Current unit from JVC is 4.1 and has the best detail of any unit I have come across including one of the expensive Yamaha's I owned for two years. Surround is mediocre, soundstage is pretty good. For music, I enter our sunroom where I listen to ten year old Infnity Beta 50's mated with a Boston Acoustics sub and Onkyo receiver set up for bi-amp. These are still the best sounding monkey coffin speakers I have found. If the Mrs. were not so picky about decor, I would probably consider Magneplanar ribbon speakers as I prefer the sound of bi-polar units.

If I were seeking audiophile quality for the bedroom, I would probably audition book shelf speakers to mate with a decent receiver. I have been auditioning book shelf speakers for two years in the hope of finding one solution for the family room for both music and video, but have not found anything that tempted me to spend money. Still too picky when it comes to music.
post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
David, i appreciate all of the advice. You mentioned bookshelf speaksers... I've had my eye on a pair of Sierra-Ones from Ascend Acoustics for over a year now. Hoping to get those for my living room setup in the not-too-distant future.

Leaning heavily toward the 5.1 receiver + LCR speaker option for the bedroom. anything more is overkill... this is probably overkill, but at least i'll feel good about it!

Thanks again!
post #6 of 7
I bought a Paradigm Millenia 20 Trio last week for my home office (room size14'6x12') but only got played with it for one evening before my receiver went on the blink, a replacement should be here tomorrow.

For a first impression of the Trio it's nice, well built with good binding post that are easy to get too a big plus for my ten thumbs Sound quality for TV and music was also very good for my limited exposure and a huge improvement over the speakers in my LG LD550 TV. In my small room it had no problem reaching a more than adequate volume level without sounding strained being driven by a Denon AVR-1911, Audyssey set the L & R speakers as large and the center as small.

I will let you know a little more after I get it up and running again and spend some time with it.
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
I went ahead and ordered the Definitive Technology SSA50 from bajawaverunner on eBay -- I will report back how the unit sounds once I get it set up. Now trying to decide on the receiver... leaning toward the Marantz NR1501, but not completely sold on it. Definitely pay a premium for the smaller size of the unit vs features.
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