passive sound bar - is it worth the money? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 16 Old 07-21-2018, 11:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Post passive sound bar - is it worth the money?

Hi

following this thread: https://www.avsforum.com/forum/89-sp...subwoofer.html
I've decided to go with a passive sound-bar solution

Question is now if investing the extra money on the more expensive options would be worth it?
Or it will never give me a good stage for music (only for movies/dialogs)?

The options for the expensive ones are:
-Martin Logan Motion SLM X3
-GoldenEar Supercinema 3D Array
-PSB Imagine W3

The more cheaper ones:
-Monitor Audio SB2 (soundbar which I couldn't find any comments or review on)
-Versa SB3 soundbar

It will be paired with a sub as well SVS SB2000 or something similar.

Would love to hear opinions from owners of such soundbars.
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post #2 of 16 Old 07-28-2018, 06:55 PM - Thread Starter
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any owners of the Martin Logan maybe?
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post #3 of 16 Old 07-31-2018, 12:29 PM
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I purchased the GE 3D Array XL almost 4 weeks ago and I couldn't be happier with the soundbar. I already had a 2017 Denon AVR for my space and a subwoofer that I could relocate. The subwoofer is 100% necessary.

I wanted flexibility in my setup to expand the sound stage and have the ability to add another zone for my back deck. I purchased a new home earlier this year and will slowly be upgrading my home audio. My TV is mounted above my fireplace and I use a Mantel Mount to lower the TV for viewing with the soundbar mounted to the Mantel Mounts soundbar bracket. A soundbar was the best/only option for me as I'm not willing to go the custom route at this time.

It took me a few listens to tweak each listening mode to what I thought sounded best but overall the speaker has really impressed not only myself, but also my wife enjoys the soundbar, as well as my friends who have had a chance to experience the GE 3D XL. We are probably 80% HT and the other 20% music. Music sounds really great head on but the HT is where I think the soundbar shines.

I never had the chance to listen to the Martin Logan SLM X3 as I was considering that speaker and the GoldenEar heavily. Once I heard the GoldenEar on it's own paired with a sub I made my decision in the store and took it home with me.

I'll add some surrounds before the year is up, just need to convince the wife on the least obtrusive option for our room setup. Pretty sure I need to buy her a purse after I brought home this bar. If you have any questions, I'd be happy to help. I'm really looking forward to getting more hours under these speakers to truly break them in.
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post #4 of 16 Old 07-31-2018, 01:57 PM
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What are the dimensions and weight of the Golden Ear?
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post #5 of 16 Old 07-31-2018, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by aohurst View Post
What are the dimensions and weight of the Golden Ear?
https://www.goldenear.com/products/s...nema3d?gktab=2
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post #6 of 16 Old 08-01-2018, 01:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sleezboe View Post
I purchased the GE 3D Array XL almost 4 weeks ago and I couldn't be happier with the soundbar. I already had a 2017 Denon AVR for my space and a subwoofer that I could relocate. The subwoofer is 100% necessary.

I wanted flexibility in my setup to expand the sound stage and have the ability to add another zone for my back deck. I purchased a new home earlier this year and will slowly be upgrading my home audio. My TV is mounted above my fireplace and I use a Mantel Mount to lower the TV for viewing with the soundbar mounted to the Mantel Mounts soundbar bracket. A soundbar was the best/only option for me as I'm not willing to go the custom route at this time.

It took me a few listens to tweak each listening mode to what I thought sounded best but overall the speaker has really impressed not only myself, but also my wife enjoys the soundbar, as well as my friends who have had a chance to experience the GE 3D XL. We are probably 80% HT and the other 20% music. Music sounds really great head on but the HT is where I think the soundbar shines.

I never had the chance to listen to the Martin Logan SLM X3 as I was considering that speaker and the GoldenEar heavily. Once I heard the GoldenEar on it's own paired with a sub I made my decision in the store and took it home with me.

I'll add some surrounds before the year is up, just need to convince the wife on the least obtrusive option for our room setup. Pretty sure I need to buy her a purse after I brought home this bar. If you have any questions, I'd be happy to help. I'm really looking forward to getting more hours under these speakers to truly break them in.
@Sleezboe
I also have the Mantlemount supporting my TV and a Sony HT-ST5000 soundbar.
I am trying to figure out if the Mantlemount soundbar attachment will work with the GE SD 3D XL.
Are there threaded posts on the backside of the GE?
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post #7 of 16 Old 08-01-2018, 04:44 PM
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a) Is it worth the money? Read on, but probably it is.
b) I can't find what I want, which is a soundbar without a bunch of digital crap inside trying to somehow simulate surround sound while instead sucking the life out of voice, music, and special effects, like happens with all cheap to medium priced digital equipment.
In fact, I want a soundbar that receives analog audio from my DAC and uses its analog amplifiers to send a reasonable quality two-channel signal to good quality speakers.
No one makes one; it seems what I really "want" is a passive soundbar?

My sad experience (sad is what happens when you hear something that sounds significantly better than the what-you-thought-was-decent equipment/speaker you currently own):
I had a cheap Boston Acoustics sound bar, the TV2, purchased maybe in 2009. Ultimately I let my parents have it as I moved to the second-from-top ZVOX sound base. Coming from a cumbersome but terrific two-channel system, but now with no room which would accommodate it, I wanted a simple one-piece solution, the looks of which pleased my wife, that sounded pretty good.
About a year ago I purchased a myDAC, running a digital coaxial cable from my DirecTV box and an optical cable from my Blu-Ray player. A nice improvement in sound. The DAC purchase is kind of an aside, but not entirely because the outboard DAC did offer an improvement over the DACs in my cable box and Blu-Ray player.
Recently I began my quest for a sound base or soundbar upgrade; I can find a hundred soundbars that have all the bells and whistles, like bluetooth, faux surround, and HDMI digital pass through (OK, maybe that isn't completely unnecessary). Sadly, I feel like each review should say, "It doesn't sound that great, but it sure has a lot of the extras you "need" or want. While the $600 soundbar sounds better than the $300 soundbar, this is what I have concluded, and why perhaps the passive soundbar, along with the abhorred but required separate surround processor/amplifier, is the solution:
You shouldn't expect the current crop of $600 soundbars to have anything near "good" sound (by good I mean lifelike and accurate, but bass light because by definition, without a subwoofer, expecting bass extension is unreasonable). Manufacturers have been trying to make the CD sound as good as an album for 30 years now without success, and my premise remains that cheap digital just sucks the life out of music, or movie soundtracks. And what kind of quality should you expect out of a $600 component that includes tweeters, mid-range speakers, digital amplifiers, a DAC, Bluetooth receiving capability, an Ethernet input and associated hardware that lets one update the firmware, some surround encoding capability, and some electronics that try and give some sense of spaciousness, which might possibly make you think a few sounds might be coming from behind, or at least from your sides?
The answer is, the more stuff you try and pack into a $600 component the cheaper you have to make each component. For me, listening to cheap digital components is unbearable.

OH, yes, the sad part is (the reason for my tirade), my Mom's getting a new OLED television which has (supposedly) an adequate sound system for someone in her 80s. By my standards, adequate is when you see a bass player in a band, on the television, and you also hear most of the bass notes he is playing. (The TV is the LG OLED E8; next week we'll see if the sound is tolerable). So when I visited over the weekend I brought home my old $299 Boston Acoustics TV2 soundbar with el-cheapo wireless subwoofer. No audio or video outputs, no HDMI in or out. WAIT!, no digital anything, only one set of analog RCA jacks for its sole audio input. I set the soundbar in front of my television, on top of my soundbase, and plugged it into the wall outlet, along with the subwoofer. Then I simply removed the (expensive) RCA interconnect from the back of my soundbase, coming from my tiny outboard DAC, and plugged the interconnect into the TV2, just to verify that the soundbase was more articulate and offered tighter bass (but not extending lower, since the soundbase has a built-in and smaller "sub" woofer) than my simple ten year-old soundbar.

That was a mistake.

The old cheap analog soundbar had width and depth and air and spaciousness to it, whereas the soundbase is like every digital soundbar I've ever heard: lifeless with a narrow soundstage, offering little in the way of an illusion that anything I'm hearing might be real, or somewhere in front of me. (Truth in advertising, or complaining, I've not heard the more expensive soundbars.) Now we aren't talking about high fidelity here, and the width I'm suggesting is six or at the most eight feet wide, compared to the 12" on either side that the soundbase offers. Additionally, where the soundbase offers 12" of depth (perceived), the old cheap soundbar extends (in some cases) to more like 12 feet. Listening to some live Blues on the DirecTV music channel was enlightening - a live recording played on the soundbar gave the illusion you were really watching the band, and singer, at a bar - albeit from the front porch, looking through the door, because no soundbar offers much width. But the depth of the halfway well-reproduced music was stunning (compared to the soundbase, not to a high-end two-channel system).

So, gasp, finally, in response to the OPs original question:
It seems very hard to get anything digital to sound "real", in a room, for small amounts of money.
There seem to be zero active soundbar or sound base offerings that allow for an analog input signal to be amplified by an old-fashioned analog amplifier, and thus sending the signal to decent quality speakers.
While I abhor the thought of having to buy a processor/amp, and spending another grand on a (though with an extremely high WAF) Martin Logan soundbar - and then adding a subwoofer, that if less expensive and not theirs may or may not mate up well - there seems to be no other option.

Conclusion:
- If looks are important but you are particular about sound, a passive soundbar seems a great solution.

- If you can get by with a small quality attractive speaker (or three), for a 3.1 system, Gallo and Orb make not unattractive round speakers, the former for sure being of quite high quality. (The Gallo A'diva round speakers, or the A'diva SE, come to my mind.) Two price points, realistic holographic sound either way.

- I think, at the $800 price point (and with the backing of a large established speaker manufacturer), I could design a 50" wide 2.1 soundbase (all 55" TVs are about this wide) that would require nothing to get good sound but that a person send an analog signal via RCA interconnect from their cable box and/or Blu-Ray player. It would be tolerable to those discerning but realistic if used without a subwoofer. It would have one or two analog RCA input pairs, two decent (L and R) analog amplifiers, some good "regular" small speakers, along with two or three good short-throw (truthfully named) "mid-woofers" which would easily extend to 150 Hz or so, while passably attempting to go another 100 Hz lower. Perhaps we should offer two RCA subwoofer audio out jacks. No processing, no Bluetooth, no Ethernet connection to update the (non-existant) firmware. It would easily would trounce anything on the market for detail, accuracy, and soundstage - and wouldn't require an outboard amplifier, just plug in your cable box and Blu-Ray player and be done.
It would be spectacular for its price with unrivaled sound; but without digital inputs and Bluetooth and faux surround options we'd sell... a couple dozen.

Last edited by DelsFan; 08-01-2018 at 05:02 PM.
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post #8 of 16 Old 08-02-2018, 07:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aohurst View Post
@Sleezboe
I also have the Mantlemount supporting my TV and a Sony HT-ST5000 soundbar.
I am trying to figure out if the Mantlemount soundbar attachment will work with the GE SD 3D XL.
Are there threaded posts on the backside of the GE?
There are 2 threaded posts and also 2 slots for wall hanging. I actually used all 4 to attach it to my mantel mount.

If I remember correctly, the threaded holes are ~11" apart. The wall mount slots where ~28" apart. I used my own hardware for this (see attached pics).

edit: maybe it was 11" and closer to 23" for the wall mount slots. I'm just going off memory as I'm not currently behind the TV. I believe the total extent for the mantel mount bracket is 28.5". But the GE 3D Array XL fit all 4 with ease and that's the important part.
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post #9 of 16 Old 08-02-2018, 07:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sleezboe View Post
There are 2 threaded posts and also 2 slots for wall hanging. I actually used all 4 to attach it to my mantel mount.

If I remember correctly, the threaded holes are ~11" apart. The wall mount slots where ~28" apart. I used my own hardware for this (see attached pics).

edit: maybe it was 11" and closer to 23" for the wall mount slots. I'm just going off memory as I'm not currently behind the TV. I believe the total extent for the mantel mount bracket is 28.5". But the GE 3D Array XL fit all 4 with ease and that's the important part.
Excellent. Thank you
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post #10 of 16 Old 08-02-2018, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by aohurst View Post
Excellent. Thank you
no problem. it's a very secure setup and a super simple install.

I'm curious to know your thoughts on the ST5000 being mounted on the MantelMount and if you had any issues here. The mount truly is amazing once set up and the soundbar attachment works great. I felt lucky that I didn't have to modify the soundbar bracket as I think with some bars you may have to do some modifications.
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post #11 of 16 Old 08-02-2018, 06:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sleezboe View Post
no problem. it's a very secure setup and a super simple install.

I'm curious to know your thoughts on the ST5000 being mounted on the MantelMount and if you had any issues here. The mount truly is amazing once set up and the soundbar attachment works great. I felt lucky that I didn't have to modify the soundbar bracket as I think with some bars you may have to do some modifications.
I had to buy two brackets to extend the width of the MantleMount bracket to accommodate the ST-5000.

The threaded inserts on the back of the ST-5000 were too widely spaced for the OEM bracket.

It did work and is discrete enough.

I am just underwhelmed with the ST-5000 sound.
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post #12 of 16 Old 08-06-2018, 11:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sim_c View Post
Hi

following this thread: https://www.avsforum.com/forum/89-sp...subwoofer.html
I've decided to go with a passive sound-bar solution

Question is now if investing the extra money on the more expensive options would be worth it?
Or it will never give me a good stage for music (only for movies/dialogs)?

The options for the expensive ones are:
-Martin Logan Motion SLM X3
-GoldenEar Supercinema 3D Array
-PSB Imagine W3

The more cheaper ones:
-Monitor Audio SB2 (soundbar which I couldn't find any comments or review on)
-Versa SB3 soundbar

It will be paired with a sub as well SVS SB2000 or something similar.

Would love to hear opinions from owners of such soundbars.
In the passive soundbar marketplace, suggest you consider the Artison with its surrounds. I have run two different Artisons [46" soundbar and their 'sketch,' mounted HDTV screenside], with their high quality ceiling mounted surrounds [the LRS], off a now-10+ year old Onyko 606 a/v receiver, with a wired Hsu sub. Excellent quality 'living room' sound, if not reaching the home theater level. I considered a Golden Ear option when I did the latest set up and went back to the Artison. A quality product in the passive soundbar space.
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post #13 of 16 Old 08-08-2018, 06:18 AM - Thread Starter
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After much consideration of design and sound quality and with all the limitations of ordering equipment to Tel Aviv & limitations of not being able to hear demo for most of the speakers.
I jumped on the Martin Logan sale, and ordered the SLM X3 Passive Sound-bar with a 15% discount through Amazon.com as I had a bunch of gift cards loaded there.
Will report as soon as everything is setup and connected.
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post #14 of 16 Old 08-12-2018, 09:32 AM
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Active versus passive soundbars

I visited my local audio consultant yesterday. He recommended a Sonance SB46 passive sound bar coupled with an Integra DRX 3.2 receiver. I own a SVS SB2000 subwoofer which can be connected wirelessly to the receiver. This setup will support a 4K LG 65" OLED hung over a fireplace with Hulu streaming service/Apple TV 4th generation, Comcast internet with "Blast" speed, a Sonos Connect Music Player & Amazon Echo Alexa enabled speaker.

Sonance SB46 is a 4 year old passive speaker. Is this soundbar still better than a Martin Logan Cadence 3-channel active soundbar, not to mention the Yamaha HW-K950 ranked #1 by Consumer Reports in their September 2018 issue?
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post #15 of 16 Old 10-09-2018, 08:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sim_c View Post
After much consideration of design and sound quality and with all the limitations of ordering equipment to Tel Aviv & limitations of not being able to hear demo for most of the speakers.
I jumped on the Martin Logan sale, and ordered the SLM X3 Passive Sound-bar with a 15% discount through Amazon.com as I had a bunch of gift cards loaded there.
Will report as soon as everything is setup and connected.
Any update on the SLM X3?? Currently looking at one and would love to hear your opinion.
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post #16 of 16 Old 10-09-2018, 10:39 AM
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I just picked up the Martin Logan SLM X3 as well. I'm going to set it up tonight. I'm coming from a Bose Soundtouch 300 with the subwoofer

psn id- jibbyjeep
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