Since you have a sony TV a nice pair of Active monitors with a sub is a great way to go and will beat any sound bar for sound quality. Sony TVs have an analog output that will connect with any Active monitors/speakers with an analog input, so you have a lot more options with that TV. The nice thing about it is you will be able to control the volume with the TV remote or cable/sat remote if you have your TV codes in it.
Under $500 look at a pair of JBL LSR-308, Mackie MR824, M-audio BX8, Behringer Truth 2031. The 8" woofers in these will give better bass than most under $500 sound bars subwoofer and the mids and highs will be much better with the speakers than a sound bar.
if you can up the budget a little the JBL LSR-305 with the LSR310 sub is an awesome combo. Under $500 2.1 system, the Presonus Eris 5 monitors with the PreSonus sub. Most of the time with active speakers you are better with the sub designed for the speakers because the sub is optimized for that brands speakers.
BTW, I work in this industry and get to hear a LOT of sound bars and speakers. I also get a good discount on equipment and I mention that because I could easily get whatever I want. On my 3 TVs in my home I have either a 2.0 or 2.1 speakers system with them and I could have easily used a sound bar on any one of them. But, like I said none of the sound bars compare to a decent pair of speakers. Now if you want some simulated surround sound a sound bar has some advantages but trades off sound quality over the speakers. None of the stand alone sound bars do surround sound as well as systems with surround speakers.
Sound bars do have their place in the audio world. While not as good as a decent speaker system they are still a huge improvement over the TVs built in speakers. They also meet many people's aesthetics but if the spouse acceptance factor is open to a pair of speakers on a shelf or nice speakers stands it is a better way to go for sound quality.