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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,

So I've done enough research to be able to understand the basics of Home Theater Sound but beyond that, I'm lost as to how to make an informative decision.

Goal: Have a 3.1 setup (Left, Right, Center, Sub) with each separate speaker OR have a Soundbar (says 3.1 or 5.1) and Sub.

TV: Samsung 55" JU7100. Used primarily for movies, PS4, streaming shows.

I love some good quality sound but don't need to have the full immersed experience a 5.1 or 7.1 would likely deliver. I live in an apartment now so maybe I would like to be able to expand upon the setup I purchase in the future. Also would like the cleanest setup possible (wireless? This is where SoundBar might have advantages).

Budget: Around $300-$350 to start out. If purchasing separate speakers + receiver then I could see $400+.

Questions:

1. Is it better to purchase separate speakers or does a modern SoundBar get very close/same in sound quality

2. If purchasing the separated speaker 3.1 setup, is a receiver necessary? Does it provide much better sound than a modern TV can process?

3. Any issues with wireless 3.1 separated speakers?

4. I am not seeing many 3.1 setups being sold. Is it likely I'll need to buy 2.1 setup and buy center speaker separately?

Thank you for any feedback.
 

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Take a look at the Vizio wireless 5.1 soundbar. Bought one for my daughter at Christmas and she loves it. Highly rated in the online reviews to. Soundbar connects to TV via hdmi, optical, or headphone plug (all cables provided). Subwoofer is wireless, and the small wired satellite speakers connect to the sub. Great bang for your buck at $300. Here's a link.
http://www.vizio.com/audio/home-theater/s4251wb4.html
 

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I'm wary of Vizio after seeing friends' experience with one of their TVs going bad after only 9 mos and Vizio dodging the responsibility of repairing or replacing. Costco ended up taking it back for a full refund.

I've played with Vizio, Samsung, and Yamaha sound bars ant Costco, and the Yamaha model impressed me the most. No, I didn't use their demo music, I streamed my own choices via BT. Yamaha just sounded more musically vibrant. < $200.

Yes, if you want to build up a true 3.1 system with option for 5.1 or more later, you'll have to get a receiver. Accessories4less.com is linked to a lot from these forums, a refurb model like a Yamaha 375/475 or similar will suffice. < $250. Then, buy some basic speakers and a sub from Monoprice, You'll get what you pay for (i.e. you won't get $700 sound out of a $250 bookshelf pair) though some of the sets get very good reviews (and for this you'll need to shop around).

If your budget could swell a bit more to accommodate SVS or HSU bookshelf+ sub sets, you'd get some very good sound for your bucks. $300 $400 for an AVR and better-than-budget-line 3.1 speakers is just not going to get you anything of superior quality unless you find some exceptional deals on Craigslist or local pawn shop. I wouldn't buy used speakers that way because you have no idea if someone's blown out speakers at a party (or series of parties). But an AVR, maybe -- when money's tight, some people dump their consumer electronics first.

So, if your budget is truly that limited, go with a soundbar now and realize that you're at the end of an upgrade cul de sac. A little more is required to start building something that you can improve upon later.

Happy hunting!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you all for the feedback.

I'm going to continue researching and try to get to a HT store to listen firsthand this week. Sounds like soundbar is the way to go unless I find that building a separate speaker setup is worthy of the extra money that would be needed. Another caveat of the soundbar is that it seems the JU7100 TV has 2 1/4" clearance between table and bezel (not going to wall mount). So, nice business decision by Samsung as their soundbars meet this height restriction whereas most others do not (excluding pedestal soundbars).
 

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2.25" isn't a lot to fit a speaker/sound bar into. Consider finding a riser for your TV so that you're not limited in what kind of bar you get. IMHO soundbars are a 50% improvement from TVs' built-in speakers. It's like an accessory for your TV, NOT the beginnings of a hi-fi or home theater.

If you're (edit) near a Costco store or are a member,[1] remember that you have a 90 day return period on soundbars bought there. You can take one home, and audition it at a relaxed pace, then decide if the following is a better option...

I still think that if you can spend up to $400, getting an entry level refurb receiver from accessories4less and some bookshelf speakers to start (Monoprice's 10565 set is < $200, 8247 is < $100), so you COULD meet your budget, or just get two 8251 bookshelf speakers, and one of their subwoofers for even less). Yes it's not as facile and "clean" as a single soundbar and wireless sub, but the quality of sound definition and separation, not to mention your ability to control and tweak, is better. The best part: when you get a $ windfall (got your tax refund yet?), instead of reselling the soundbar and starting from where you are now, simply sell the speakers (or use them for surrounds) and get better front speakers and a center.

I'm repeating myself, I know. I feel strongly that making the choice to get an AVR and bookshelf speakers is more practical.



[1] Members can order online at costco.com.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
2.25" isn't a lot to fit a speaker/sound bar into. Consider finding a riser for your TV so that you're not limited in what kind of bar you get. IMHO soundbars are a 50% improvement from TVs' built-in speakers. It's like an accessory for your TV, NOT the beginnings of a hi-fi or home theater.

If you're a Costco or are a member, remember that you have a 90 day return period on soundbars bought there. You can take one home, and audition it at a relaxed pace, then decide if the following is a better option...

I still think that if you can spend up to $400, getting an entry level refurb receiver from accessories4less and some bookshelf speakers to start (Monoprice's 10565 set is < $200, 8247 is < $100), so you COULD meet your budget, or just get two 8251 bookshelf speakers, and one of their subwoofers for even less). Yes it's not as facile and "clean" as a single soundbar and wireless sub, but the quality of sound definition and separation, not to mention your ability to control and tweak, is better. The best part: when you get a $ windfall (got your tax refund yet?), instead of reselling the soundbar and starting from where you are now, simply sell the speakers (or use them for surrounds) and get better front speakers and a center.

I'm repeating myself, I know. I feel strongly that making the choice to get an AVR and bookshelf speakers is more practical.

Now you've got me thinking...

Hypothetical:

Buy AVR: http://www.crutchfield.com/p_022RXV377/Yamaha-RX-V377.html?tp=179

2 bookshelf speakers: http://www.crutchfield.com/p_107TL1B/Polk-Audio-Blackstone-TL1-Black.html?tp=186

I would then have a much better setup than a soundbar in your opinion with flexibility for future additions.

Also, I thought I read that I would need to get a center channel otherwise the dialogue would be too low and I could be switching volume when going from action scene to straight dialogue which I'd hate.

If that's the case I would need to add a center like:

http://www.crutchfield.com/p_107TL1CC/Polk-Audio-Blackstone-TL1.html?tp=189

Most of these centers are too tall for the TV so would have to raise on a platform or fit under shelf below.

Thanks again for the feedback.

EDIT: Will need to find AVR that is HDCP 2.2 compliant

Also, would have to get wireless capable AVR in order to have speakers connected wirelessly (instead of have a cord run out to rear speakers if that's what I bought in the future...)
 

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www.accessories4less.com/make-a-store/item/yamrxv373bl/yamaha-rx-v373-5.1-channel-av-receiver/1.html

http://www.accessories4less.com/mak...htr-3066-5.1-a/v-receiver-like-rx-v375/1.html

www.accessories4less.com/make-a-sto...-5.1-channel-a/v-home-theater-receiver/1.html

http://www.accessories4less.com/mak...x-v475-5.1-channel-network-av-receiver/1.html

(I only picked Yamahas because I know that brand and the functions. Denon would be okay, I'm just not familiar with the models.)

You're getting my signal loud and clear.

Wireless speaker tech is going to be a) out of your budget and b) subject to contention as to practicality or quality. Just run some cable. KISS. Someone here might know of a good way to do it, but it will add cost to a budget that's already pretty modest.

You can go 2.0 or 2.1, in which case the Center content will be created as an old style "phantom" center. You won't miss anything or have to adjust, the AVR will do it for you. (Those Yamahas with YPAO will setup the speakers for you automagically.) You can add a Center speaker now or later, and it simply gives better directional/localization for dialog.

Not sure why you think you have to find HDCP compliance...? Should be in basically every recent AVR, unless this is something new and peculiar.

Q: can you find in your TV manual if it supports HDMI-ARC (audio return circuit over the HDMI output from the AVR to the TV)?


// Posted from Tapatalk 3.2.1 for iOS - later versions are pfft //
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
www.accessories4less.com/make-a-store/item/yamrxv373bl/yamaha-rx-v373-5.1-channel-av-receiver/1.html

http://www.accessories4less.com/mak...htr-3066-5.1-a/v-receiver-like-rx-v375/1.html

www.accessories4less.com/make-a-sto...-5.1-channel-a/v-home-theater-receiver/1.html

http://www.accessories4less.com/mak...x-v475-5.1-channel-network-av-receiver/1.html

(I only picked Yamahas because I know that brand and the functions. Denon would be okay, I'm just not familiar with the models.)

You're getting my signal loud and clear.

Wireless speaker tech is going to be a) out of your budget and b) subject to contention as to practicality or quality. Just run some cable. KISS. Someone here might know of a good way to do it, but it will add cost to a budget that's already pretty modest.

You can go 2.0 or 2.1, in which case the Center content will be created as an old style "phantom" center. You won't miss anything or have to adjust, the AVR will do it for you. (Those Yamahas with YPAO will setup the speakers for you automagically.) You can add a Center speaker now or later, and it simply gives better directional/localization for dialog.

Not sure why you think you have to find HDCP compliance...? Should be in basically every recent AVR, unless this is something new and peculiar.

Q: can you find in your TV manual if it supports HDMI-ARC (audio return circuit over the HDMI output from the AVR to the TV)?


// Posted from Tapatalk 3.2.1 for iOS - later versions are pfft //
The TV is a Samsung JU7100 released this year. It should provide support for HDMI-ARC although forum posts in the TV section are mentioning that a firmware update is needed - not too worried about it if its just a matter of time.

My audio plans are becoming clearer thank to your help.

Current plan:

1. Research and possibly stretch budget to purchase an AVR (likely YAMAHA)
2. Purchase 2 bookshelf speakers for front left and right next to TV.
3. Purchase a sub to place next to TV on floor.

Then, I'll have a 2.1 audio setup and not mess with lower audio quality of a soundbar for virtually same price.

Next purchase would be a center channel which you mentioned is a plus and not a must have at first.

Then later on down the road I could add two rear speakers and mess with wiring then.

In the end I would only have one HDMI wire to TV from AVR and one wire from each speaker/sub to AVR.

Devices (PS4, chromecast, etc.) would be directly connected to TV via HDMI and work fine I'm assuming but possibly not (I'm totally new to additional audio outside TV speakers). Would just probably have to get a universal remote to control both the TV and volume rather than splitting between two.
 

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The TV is a Samsung JU7100 released this year. It should provide support for HDMI-ARC although forum posts in the TV section are mentioning that a firmware update is needed - not too worried about it if its just a matter of time.

My audio plans are becoming clearer thank to your help.

Current plan:

1. Research and possibly stretch budget to purchase an AVR (likely YAMAHA)
2. Purchase 2 bookshelf speakers for front left and right next to TV.
3. Purchase a sub to place next to TV on floor.

Then, I'll have a 2.1 audio setup and not mess with lower audio quality of a soundbar for virtually same price.

Next purchase would be a center channel which you mentioned is a plus and not a must have at first.

Then later on down the road I could add two rear speakers and mess with wiring then.

In the end I would only have one HDMI wire to TV from AVR and one wire from each speaker/sub to AVR.

Devices (PS4, chromecast, etc.) would be directly connected to TV via HDMI and work fine I'm assuming but possibly not (I'm totally new to additional audio outside TV speakers). Would just probably have to get a universal remote to control both the TV and volume rather than splitting between two.
Why would you connect devices to the tv rather than the avr? Most avr remotes will be able to turn your tv on and off. Or do you still envision using the tv speakers?
 

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HDMI-CEC will let the TV remote control the AVR volume, the need for third party universal remotes is shrinking due to this. I control volume and stop/pause my BD player with any of the remotes, as well as the network app for mobile that higher end AVRs support.

You'll want to plug the PS and Chromecast into the AVR, HDMI-ARC is limited to Dolby Digital and DTS, and won't support the DD+ that services stream to the Chromecast. The point of an AVR is to be an a/v hub for devices and output. The TV is just a display.


// Posted from Tapatalk 3.2.1 for iOS - later versions are pfft //
 

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HDMI-CEC will let the TV remote control the AVR volume, the need for third party universal remotes is shrinking due to this. I control volume and stop/pause my BD player with any of the remotes, as well as the network app for mobile that higher end AVRs support.

You'll want to plug the PS and Chromecast into the AVR, HDMI-ARC is limited to Dolby Digital and DTS, and won't support the DD+ that services stream to the Chromecast. The point of an AVR is to be an a/v hub for devices and output. The TV is just a display.


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IF your implementation of HDMI CEC actually functions correctly. With my stuff it didn't play nice and the Harmony does. The avr remote just can't do as much with other devices either. ARC is a joke mostly IME. Can't even carry all audio signals and with some tv's can't do more than 2.0 with other than OTA. A very poor non-standardized joke is ARC and HDMI-CEC in general.
 

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If you're not going full surround, there's no reason to have a center. Might as well stick with stereo for the time being. This has some advantages. Instead of getting an AVR you can focus on a quality amp. Down the road, rather than buying some jam-packed AVR, you just get more amps & a preamp/processor.

With that budget, I'd get something like a Behringer A500 (only because it has XLR inputs) & a pair of Pioneer SP-BS22s (because they're good) & hold out for a sub (Polk PSW 505s like to go on sail from time to time).
 

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If you're not going full surround, there's no reason to have a center. Might as well stick with stereo for the time being.
As a "second opinion", I'd offer that the center channel is the most important, most use of all channels in any system from 3.0 on up, supplying about 70% of all sound energy in the room with a typical movie track. It's not the one to let go of.
This has some advantages. Instead of getting an AVR you can focus on a quality amp. Down the road, rather than buying some jam-packed AVR, you just get more amps & a preamp/processor.

With that budget, I'd get something like a Behringer A500 (only because it has XLR inputs) & a pair of Pioneer SP-BS22s (because they're good) & hold out for a sub (Polk PSW 505s like to go on sail from time to time).
Outside of the problems that 3.0 or 3.1 presents for a single A500, there are others, no input selection, separate volume controls for each channel among them. XLR inputs mean nothing in most systems, and what would you do about feeding a sub?

AVRs may not be quite up to the performance of a stand alone power amp, but it doesn't matter because we pretty much never use the full capabilities of an AVR anyway/ But, they provide all sorts of important features, not just bells/whistles, like HDMI input switching, and if you get a decent unit, room calibration, plus the ability to deal with a center and a sub, then add on surrounds if you wish later. The market for stereo only amps is tiny by comparison, so AVR manufacturers can build in quite a bit of value for not very much money. If you want to upgrade separate preamp/power amps later, you can pay up for the right gear then and eBay your AVR.
 
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If you're not going full surround, there's no reason to have a center. Might as well stick with stereo for the time being.
Certainly a matter of opinion, but I strongly disagree - if you want home theater sound, the center speaker anchors the action to the screen and greatly improves the intelligibility of the dialog (critically important) - it is the single most important speaker in a home theater.


Instead of getting an AVR you can focus on a quality amp. Down the road, rather than buying some jam-packed AVR, you just get more amps & a preamp/processor.
True that you may get more than you need with a "jam-packed AVR", but for a budget conscience home theater, an AVR will cost 1/10th what a pre/pro and separate amps will cost - $100 to $150 min for an AVR and at least $1000+ for separate components.
 
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In my opinion, you should only be looking at a sound bar if looks and space are the only concerns. A decent sounding soundbar (if there really is such a thing) will cost much more than a budget / refurbished AVR with L / R front speaker, center speaker, and a sub. And the speakers will BLOW AWAY any soundbar regardless of price.

Not sure what you mean about the sound that a modern TV can process. If you are talking about using the TV to drive external speakers, yes - that can greatly improve the sound. I have some nice bookshelf speakers being driven by a $150 used Parasound Zamp (find them anytime on eBay) and the sound is quite good. Problem is that very few TVs have a variable audio output needed to drive this setup while using the TV remote.

But again, a separate 3.1 speaker setup with a budget receiver will provide MUCH better sound than a soundbar or TV speakers. Just a quick suggestion near your budget:

Budget / refurb Denon AVR suggested in previous post - $150
Polk Audio Monitor 40 Series II Speakers CHERRY - $125/pair
Polk Audio CS2 ii Monitor/TSi BLACK Center Channel Speaker -$100
Dayton Audio SUB-1200 12" 120 Watt Powered Subwoofer - $148
 
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IF your implementation of HDMI CEC actually functions correctly. With my stuff it didn't play nice and the Harmony does. The avr remote just can't do as much with other devices either. ARC is a joke mostly IME. Can't even carry all audio signals and with some tv's can't do more than 2.0 with other than OTA. A very poor non-standardized joke is ARC and HDMI-CEC in general.
Yep, HDMI ARC and TOSlink on my TV only does DD and DTS. Pretty limited. Can't speak to other models, but then a TV shouldn't be the audio hub. I'm burnt out on the idea of smart apps on TVs streaming services that now utilize DD+ because the TVs can't export DD+ over SPDIF/HDMI ARC directly.

HDMI CEC ... works just fine with my Samsung ES6150, RXV775, and Panasonic BDT215. The Yamaha remote brings up several menus and options popups on the BD player. The TV remote controls volume on the AVR, and basic functions on player. Further, the TOOLS button on the TV brings up an HDMI CEC menu for CEC devices connected.

YMMV and apparently does. Maybe older equipment?

Getting stereo only equipment that can't be upgraded economically, for someone considering a sound bar for TV, is like recommending a Honda Odyssey for someone shopping for 2-door sports cars. Complete non sequitur imho.


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Any issues with wireless 3.1 separated speakers?
As others said, wireless is expensive and there really aren't any home theater wireless solutions - most wireless speakers are for music extension to other rooms. Even the largest, most expensive wireless solutions don't have the max SPL to perform well as home theater speakers.

And since you are only doing the front 3 speakers, there isn't a lot of reason to worry about wireless connections. Usually the wiring to the front three speakers is not an issue - the connections are short and usually the AVR is close and there is no need to run wires across the room. The cost and low performance just aren't worth it.
 
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Certainly a matter of opinion, but I strongly disagree - if you want home theater sound, the center speaker anchors the action to the screen and greatly improves the intelligibility of the dialog (critically important) - it is the single most important speaker in a home theat.
As a "second opinion", I'd offer that the center channel is the most important, most use of all channels in any system from 3.0 on up, supplying about 70% of all sound energy in the room with a typical movie track. It's not the one to let go of.
eh... only if you need to spread the sound out over a wider region. otherwise, a pair of speakers with good response from 300-3000Hz would probably do more for the dialog than some mediocre center. Generally speaking, you want all three front speakers to be the same (ie if the center is so important, how come it's the same as the left and right at the cinema?) That's the standard at least. Which was where I was coming from. More importantly, no matter how important you think a center channel is... movies aren't mixed in 3.1. However, they are mixed in stereo. Better to find a good solid speaker that's going to be around a while & slowly amass a complete system around that speaker.
 
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