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To Soundbar or not to Soundar, that is the question...

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hello AVSers!

I'm currently on the fence with Soundbars. I live in an apartment and I want nice clear sound for my living room when watching a movie. The goal is to have a sound system that is good to move to my bedroom when I move in a more permanent location. I started off trying a Martin Logan Motion Vision soundbar because it was the best soundbar Best Buy had to offer me. It cost me $1,500 and to be honest, it's nice but I'm not very impressed for that price as I find myself constantly changing the bass levels during movie playback all the time. I don't want to have to do this while I'm trying to enjoy a movie.

I started doing more research and looking into sound bars that cost up to $2,000 then started circling around with the idea of just getting a true surround sound setup because my initial goal was to just spend about $700 on a Sonos sound bar. How did I start looking at $2,000 sound bars to put in my bedroom later? Am I just getting too picky?

I really want to experience TrueHD sound with my setup since I've gone all out on the rest of my setup. My research has been showing me that optical cables aren't capable of this and the sound must come from HDMI. With that said, I'm guessing I want a soundbar that connects to my pre-amp via HDMI and has an HDMI output to send the video signal to my TV instead of having an HDMI cable to my TV with an optical cable to from my TV to SoundBar which makes the Martin Logan not a good option.

While on the topic of my setup, here it is:


Inputs:
Boxee Box -> Marantz AV7701 pre-amp (Lives in office rack)
Roku -> Marantz AV7701 pre-amp (Lives in office rack)
PS3 -> Marantz AV7701 pre-amp (Lives in office rack)
XBox -> Marantz AV7701 pre-amp (Lives in office rack)
Network RAID NAS (This is where all ISO movies are served from)

Outputs:
Marantz AV7701 pre-amp -> Panasonic 58" VT25 (Living room)
Marantz AV7701 pre-amp -> Panasonic 54" VT25 (Bedroom)
Marantz AV7701 pre-amp -> Some crappy HDMI TV (Lives in office rack)

Future Configuration:
Marantz MM7055 -> Sound System in the LIVING ROOM that will shake the house


My original goal was somewhat of a surround sound feel which is why I was considering the Sonos route however the sales reps told me that the Martin Logan sound would blow it away. I feel this is true with music but I have not tried the Sonos since I just took their word for it. Now with my research, since Sonos doesn't support TrueHD then it's probably not something I should get even though I can easily make it a surround sound system by adding some Play 3 speakers.

I was then considering a Bowers & Wilkens Panorama 2 soundbar but another sales rep told me that it has HDMI issues with the handshaking sometimes so I guess that's not a really a good choice if a sales person isn't trying to make a few more bucks on that.

Next was the Yamaha YSP-4300. A few more hundred than what I've already spent and people are saying that it offers a believable surround sound experience. I've seen a few complaints about it online but generally a lot of people like it. It makes me scared to order it though because I haven't found any complaints about the Martin Logan soundbar I still have and I'm not really impressed with it which is why I'm here writing this post.

Lastly, I started looking at actual 5.1 surround systems. The prices here seem to be a lot less that sound bars. I think I can get a decent receiver and surround system for $1,500 but this defeats the purpose of simplifying my home setup because now I will need a receiver in my living room and I already have an expensive pre-amp in my office. And when I move out the issue is I have to connect all this equipment in my bedroom somehow while making it look good. Ideally I don't want to have to figure out how to hide a subwoofer and receiver in my room. A sub might be easy to stick under or behind something but a receiver is more complicated.

I need some guidance here for a solution. If I should just get cheap receiver for the living room that can be moved to the bedroom with a good surround sound system then should I do it? If so, is connecting a receiver to a receiver weird since all my media devices are served from my office with the Marantz pre-amp or is this actually a common thing? Secondly, what receiver and surround system are good for about a $1,500 price tag? My max is about $2,000 but of course the lower the better for this case as I initially thought I was going to spend $700.

Or should I stop going around in circles with possible configurations and get a soundbar? I think the Yamaha YSP-4300 (or even YSP-3300) won't create the best virtual sound experience because I don't have a left wall to bounce the sound off from the TV because the dining area is there and my sofas all lean against the wall so there isn't much room to bounce music back for the ideal setup. What other high end soundbar solutions are recommended? Are there better soundbars for less?


Other Soundbar Considerations
Yamaha YSP-5100 - This looks stellar but my living room tv is currently not wall mounted because of the type of wall behind it.
SoloCinema XTR Sound Bar
JVC Wireless Surround Soundbar
Harman Kardon SB 30 Sound Bar
post #2 of 8
There are new soundbars coming out that include actual rear channel satellites and a subwoofer.

Vizio has already released a 42 inch version , where the surround speakers connect by wire to the wireless subwoofer. I'm not sure if the larger 50+ inch model has the same wired arrangement. They are supposed to be very musical, and capable of relatively low distortion high output sound. And they are both inexpensive,

The Philips (link below) is completely wireless, with satellites and subwoofer.

The surrounds work on battery for 10 hours, then plug back into the soundbar for recharging. In that mode the Philips automatically switches to virtual surround. The price is supposed to e $800.00.

http://www.slashgear.com/philips-unveils-sound-bar-with-wireless-detachable-speakers-for-true-5-1-sound-at-ces-08264086/

I believe that they all have HDMI capability.
post #3 of 8
Save your money , grab a Polk 9000 sound bar for $800 it pounds and has a huge front stage. Yamaha 5100 if you can get one.
post #4 of 8
I just read that the 54 inch Vizio 5.1 soundbar will have HDMI connectivity. The 42 inch does not, according to Vizio's website..
Edited by taichi4 - 4/30/13 at 8:47pm
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Interesting. I will do further reviews and see if I can test these out!
post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
Just to follow up, I found a deal on a Yamaha YSP-4300 for 33% off and went with that. It's not exactly a Yamaha 5100 but pretty close and I like the fact that it comes with a sub. I've been reading good reviews on them and the biggest downfall was the price tag of $1,900. With a deal for $1,300, who could argue right? It should be arriving in the mail shortly and I'll be adding to the reviews smile.gif Thanks guys for your suggestions smile.gif

(Hope it blows the Martin Logan away)
post #7 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by rsumi View Post

Just to follow up, I found a deal on a Yamaha YSP-4300 for 33% off and went with that. It's not exactly a Yamaha 5100 but pretty close and I like the fact that it comes with a sub. I've been reading good reviews on them and the biggest downfall was the price tag of $1,900. With a deal for $1,300, who could argue right? It should be arriving in the mail shortly and I'll be adding to the reviews smile.gif Thanks guys for your suggestions smile.gif

(Hope it blows the Martin Logan away)

I'm jealous, love my ysp -2200 but the 4300 has to be amazing with the larger woofers and additional small speakers. Do yourself a favor and go through manual setup. First sit in your main seating area. Adjust the angles of each channel until they sound like they are coming from where the speaker would be if it was a 7.1 or 5.1 setup with physical speakers (hopefully you have side walls to bounce sound off of). Once you have sound coming from the correct locations, adjust focal length of each channel.

Also before doing the above, download the full manual to see the illustrations of the beam angle and focal length adjustments to understand what you are targeting. A good manual setup on yamaha's sound projectors with adequate walls to utilize can produce a fairly solid 5.1. If your seating area is a few feet away from the back wall you can create pretty good 7.1 sound.

I found the auto setup to be woefully lacking.
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
I set it up last night! I got home late so I was only able to through the auto setup with barely enough time to enjoy playing 1 level of Bioshock and 1 movie which was going good till I fell sound asleep haha. With the auto setup I'm already loving the sound bar and I can only imagine how awesome it's going to sound after a manual setup. Hopefully it's not that hard to figure out how to do a manual setup but that's my goal for tonight. Unfortunately my living room setup doesn't work so well with the diagrams in the manual but nonetheless because I'm missing a wall to bounce off the right sound from but I think I'm already happier than with the Martin Logan Vision I previously had for 2 weeks before returning.
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