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audiowarrior 04-15-2019 04:40 PM

If Money Is No Object, What Are The Top 3 Soundbars?
 
If money is no object, what are the top 3 soundbars in 2019? I've seen the reviews on AVS, but I would also like to hear from the audiophiles on this forum.

I'm looking for the best soundbar for movies and tv series'. The dialogue should be clear, the bass awesome, and hopefully the sound will feel like surround sound. The room is 16 feet by 13 feet.

I am not an audiophile (no technical knowledge), but I appreciate great sound from theaters like IMAX, Arclight, and TCL. I know I sound like a noob, but I'm just giving you my perspective.

Thank you in advance for your help...

Brandon F 04-15-2019 05:11 PM

My room size is a bit bigger than yours, but not by too much.

I bought the Sony Z9F 2018 soundbar a few weeks ago along with the optional wireless rear speakers and I think it’s utterly outstanding, especially Atmos sources. Total was ~$1100 bundled.

It supports every current standard for Dolby and DTS. Has eARC support, and is reviewed very highly...but a few minor wrinkles I wish were ironed out.

1) I often find the virtual sound modes(like Vertical S.) don’t come across as well as the Dolby Virtualization. You need to ping through way too many menu layers to switch. Should be a remote button toggle!!

2) My TV remote(also Sony with Bravia sync) has heavy lag handling volume control. So I often use the soundbar remote now for that. Not a big deal, but cmon Sony!

Beyond that stuff it’s really a great soundbar.

The Sony HTST5000 may be more premium from the company with full 7.1.2 drivers stuffed together, but no rear satellite support kind of blows if you ask me.

mdavej 04-15-2019 05:15 PM

If money is no object, get an actual amp and speakers. Skip the soundbar.

appelz 04-15-2019 05:23 PM

https://www.theoryaudiodesign.com/

I heard the system at CEDIA last year, and I could have easily been convinced that I was listening to a traditional surround sound system from Paul Hales other company, Pro Audio Technology.

zeuspaul 04-16-2019 12:45 AM

I wanted to upgrade my daytime TV speakers and I thought a soundbar would be perfect. I spent a couple of weeks researching and couldn't find one I liked. I didn't want to add a subwoofer to this setup and the connection options were limited.


I ended up talking myself into a Slimline Marantz receiver and a pair of Monitor Bronze 2 small bookshelf speakers. I am glad I went the separates route. These speakers have a 42-30,000 Hz FR. They sound real good with the daytime/news shows I watch. However I was watching a daytime Game of Thrones show and kerzowee!! I was blown away with the bass response.:) I would characterize this setup as a super duper soundbar.


Sorry for posting off topic. I just wanted to post my experience looking for a soundbar.




Quote:

Originally Posted by mdavej (Post 57906956)
If money is no object, get an actual amp and speakers. Skip the soundbar.


taichi4 04-16-2019 08:07 AM

Sennheiser
 
I'm surprised no one has mentioned the Sennheiser Ambeo
with its 4 inch Neumann drivers (no other soundbar has drivers that large), which gives convincing 5.1.4 with bass response down to 30 Hz. It's slated to be released in May for $2499.


Neumann drivers are top notch, and their large diameter will likely trump anything else out there.


One of Sennheiser's demos played it alongside the uber expensive 8.2 channel Neumann Studio Monitor system, and there were surprising similarities in voicing and other characteristics.

LDBetaGuy 04-16-2019 03:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by zeuspaul (Post 57908136)
I wanted to upgrade my daytime TV speakers and I thought a soundbar would be perfect. I spent a couple of weeks researching and couldn't find one I liked. I didn't want to add a subwoofer to this setup and the connection options were limited.


I ended up talking myself into a Slimline Marantz receiver and a pair of Monitor Bronze 2 small bookshelf speakers. I am glad I went the separates route. These speakers have a 42-30,000 Hz FR. They sound real good with the daytime/news shows I watch. However I was watching a daytime Game of Thrones show and kerzowee!! I was blown away with the bass response.:) I would characterize this setup as a super duper soundbar.


Sorry for posting off topic. I just wanted to post my experience looking for a soundbar.

It's funny you mentioned that. I have a 3.0 setup in our living room/viewing area; a pair of Polk S20 bookshelf speakers and the matching S30 center. I've also always referred to it as a "super soundbar"!

bgaviator 04-20-2019 09:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mdavej (Post 57906956)
If money is no object, get an actual amp and speakers. Skip the soundbar.

Why does there always have to be someone that comes along to state this? I think most of us get it, that a dedicated AVR and speakers will be better. Maybe the OP wants a soundbar for other reasons. Sometimes it's not always purely about the sound....lots of us take aesthetics and the layout of our rooms into account. I would love to have a dedicated AVR and speakers....but with an open floor plan with multiple open archways there is no way to run wires across without having to run them up through the attic and into the drywall.

agincourt 04-20-2019 10:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bgaviator (Post 57932064)
Why does there always have to be someone that comes along to state this? I think most of us get it, that a dedicated AVR and speakers will be better. Maybe the OP wants a soundbar for other reasons. Sometimes it's not always purely about the sound....lots of us take aesthetics and the layout of our rooms into account. I would love to have a dedicated AVR and speakers....but with an open floor plan with multiple open archways there is no way to run wires across without having to run them up through the attic and into the drywall.

Needed to be said

Shadowed 04-20-2019 11:07 PM


m0j0 04-21-2019 05:32 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by taichi4 (Post 57909196)
I'm surprised no one has mentioned the Sennheiser Ambeo
with its 4 inch Neumann drivers (no other soundbar has drivers that large), which gives convincing 5.1.4 with bass response down to 30 Hz. It's slated to be released in May for $2499.


Neumann drivers are top notch, and their large diameter will likely trump anything else out there.


One of Sennheiser's demos played it alongside the uber expensive 8.2 channel Neumann Studio Monitor system, and there were surprising similarities in voicing and other characteristics.


If I needed a sound bar and had the money, that Sennheiser Ambeo would be at the top of my list!

agincourt 04-21-2019 07:40 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Shadowed (Post 57932198)

Huge. Wouldnt that cover some of the tv screen of most stand mounted TVs?

taichi4 04-21-2019 07:40 AM

I also agree with bgaviator. Soundbars can fit in environments that separates cannot,
and there are soundbars that do approach or even match separates, as a reviewer of the Ambeo
stated. Further confounding these kind of statements is that there are different levels of soundbars,
and the huge variety of combinations of separates that range from average sounding to great.



The Theory Audio Design that was reviewed as sounding as good as separates costs over $10,000, so saying that it
sounds as good as separates isn't really saying much. But saying that the Ambeo was in the ballpark of the
Neumann discrete system is saying a lot.


If if I had the dough for it, I would already have preordered the Ambeo.

Ricoflashback 04-21-2019 07:52 AM

Try this link from Dolby Laboratories: https://www.dolby.com/us/en/categories/sound-bar.html

The Creative X-Fi Sonic Carrier looks interesting to me with “on-board” processing. There are other soundbars in this collection, as well.

I totally get the need for a quality soundbar when space limitations, aesthetics or wanting to downsize are key objectives.

Ted99 04-21-2019 08:04 AM

Do not forget that for a soundbar to work, there must be walls and a ceiling to reflect from. That means a square or rectangular room of more or less "normal" size, with a flat ceiling at "normal" height and no missing or half-walls. I've seen soundbars in L-shaped rooms with no wall on the right or left, rooms with cathedral ceilings and rooms where the MLP is well forward of the rear wall. If one has any of these characteristics in their room, a soundbar will not give optimum results and separates are needed.

taichi4 04-21-2019 02:00 PM

It's definitely true that you need a room that approximates a rectangular box when a soundbar utilizes significant reflection, but a certain amount of deviation from the ideal is quite doable, as evidenced by many owners of the Yamaha systems. Sophisticated systems typically come with a microphone which measures and analyzes a room acoustically, and then configures the soundbar to that room.


What sets the Sennheiser apart for me, besides its sophisticated sound processing, are its 4 inch Neumann drivers. Not only are Newman some of the very best drivers made, but the 4 inch diameter is really unusual in a soundbar

Ricoflashback 04-21-2019 03:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by taichi4 (Post 57934412)
It's definitely true that you need a room that approximates a rectangular box when a soundbar utilizes significant reflection, but a certain amount of deviation from the ideal is quite doable, as evidenced by many owners of the Yamaha systems. Sophisticated systems typically come with a microphone which measures and analyzes a room acoustically, and then configures the soundbar to that room.


What sets the Sennheiser apart for me, besides its sophisticated sound processing, are its 4 inch Neumann drivers. Not only are Newman some of the very best drivers made, but the 4 inch diameter is really unusual in a soundbar

***Sennheiser makes good products but I’d have two concerns with the Ambeo setup: (1) Size in height. Maybe not a problem if you wall mount a TV but definitely a concern with most stands that accompany today’s sets or even separate stands available for purchase. (2) Sound processing. I’d prefer native decoding like a Dolby Atmos Digital Decoder, on board, that works with DD+ lossy Atmos and DTS (to a much lesser extent). Especially for streaming.

Of course, in the end, it’s really a matter of how it sounds to you.

taichi4 04-21-2019 06:51 PM

Well, if you're going to use four inch drivers, you need to compromise on size. But these large drivers give this soundbar an edge over the vast majority of soundbars. You'll get better midrange, which is critical, and higher crossover, both of which are the real imitation of most soundbars.

Shadowed 04-21-2019 08:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by agincourt (Post 57932960)
Huge. Wouldnt that cover some of the tv screen of most stand mounted TVs?

Oops... ya, that isn't actually a sound bar.

Yamaha calls it a sound projector... ;)

I have heard these in person and I would rate the sound as Very very Good.
It is very realistic sounding and will go as loud as you need.

They used to be $2500 can. sans subwoofer.

appelz 04-21-2019 08:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by taichi4 (Post 57932962)
The Theory Audio Design that was reviewed as sounding as good as separates costs over $10,000, so saying that it
sounds as good as separates isn't really saying much.

OP stated money no object. And it is a sound bar solution, that will fit where traditional speakers may not. Seems to say plenty. ;)

cjcoops 04-22-2019 05:00 AM

B&W
 
Well... I was going to mention my 'old' B&W Panorama 2... now doing its job with a Sony A8F fed by optical out from TV (tried the Sony audio... and while it may be better than 'standard' tvs it's nowhere near the old Panorama.... and it shouldn't be considering the price.)

However... yes, that Sennheiser Ambeo looks like an interesting option... but Bowers & Wilkins have upped the ante so to speak.

You could start with their new/upcoming Formation soundbar, add a sub etc etc etc with its own ultra low latency wireless system. See the news on this site,,,

Dawn Gordon 04-22-2019 05:12 AM


taichi4 04-22-2019 08:00 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Shadowed (Post 57935652)
Oops... ya, that isn't actually a sound bar.

Yamaha calls it a sound projector... ;)

I have heard these in person and I would rate the sound as Very very Good.
It is very realistic sounding and will go as loud as you need.

They used to be $2500 can. sans subwoofer.


Yamaha's own website categorizes their projectors as soundbars:


https://usa.yamaha.com/products/audi...bar/index.html

taichi4 04-22-2019 08:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cjcoops (Post 57936334)
Well... I was going to mention my 'old' B&W Panorama 2... now doing its job with a Sony A8F fed by optical out from TV (tried the Sony audio... and while it may be better than 'standard' tvs it's nowhere near the old Panorama.... and it shouldn't be considering the price.)

However... yes, that Sennheiser Ambeo looks like an interesting option... but Bowers & Wilkins have upped the ante so to speak.

You could start with their new/upcoming Formation soundbar, add a sub etc etc etc with its own ultra low latency wireless system. See the news on this site,,,


B&Ws are great speakers, so the Formations will be interesting to hear and see.

taichi4 04-22-2019 08:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by appelz (Post 57935662)
OP stated money no object. And it is a sound bar solution, that will fit where traditional speakers may not. Seems to say plenty. ;)


I sincerely doubt the OP was contemplating over $10,000 to spend on a "sound bar solution."

appelz 04-22-2019 06:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by taichi4 (Post 57937026)
I sincerely doubt the OP was contemplating over $10,000 to spend on a "sound bar solution."

I learned long ago not to make any assumptions about what "value" is in this industry. I have clients with $300,000 projectors in fairly modest homes, and clients with half a million invested in Wisdom Audio speakers alone installed in their 3rd vacation home, and many who have as much money in their AV systems as their home is worth. Like other interests/hobbies, passionate individuals will find ways to acquire the best of what they can afford, and find creative ways to do it.

Ricoflashback 04-22-2019 09:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by appelz (Post 57940278)
I learned long ago not to make any assumptions about what "value" is in this industry. I have clients with $300,000 projectors in fairly modest homes, and clients with half a million invested in Wisdom Audio speakers alone installed in their 3rd vacation home, and many who have as much money in their AV systems as their home is worth. Like other interests/hobbies, passionate individuals will find ways to acquire the best of what they can afford, and find creative ways to do it.

Yeah, but can you really get a state of the art system when only spending $300K?

appelz 04-22-2019 10:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ricoflashback (Post 57940782)
Yeah, but can you really get a state of the art system when only spending $300K?

Well, that was only the projector. I couldn't get them to upgrade the Bose surround sound system. :D;)

Ricoflashback 04-23-2019 06:25 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by appelz (Post 57940898)
Well, that was only the projector. I couldn't get them to upgrade the Bose surround sound system. :D;)

***Wow, talk about an equipment mismatch! If they have a $300K projector - - that has to rival or exceed your local theater. But not the sound system! :)

akopperl 04-23-2019 07:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ricoflashback (Post 57933012)
The Creative X-Fi Sonic Carrier looks interesting to me with “on-board” processing.

Does anyone know if the Creative X-Fi Sonic Carrier is compatible with Dolby Vision and HDR?


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