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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,


This is my first post here, but I have been following this forum since August, first to select a TV, which I bought couple of months back, and now, to select a soundbar.


Basic background: Apartment living room, 12x14, an LG 42lv5500 tv (first HDTV).


Current viewing pattern*:

70% Netflix Instant over LG Smart TV app (80% TV shows 20% movies),

10-15% Cable - TV shows / news / weekend football,

10-15% Youtube/Online video/Online sports stream from Laptop over HDMI.

Play DVDs on laptop.

No dedicated DVD / Blu ray player, game console yet - Planned for late next year, or maybe not if we are satisfied with current setup. We do not spend a lot of time watching TV.


First off, I found the reviews and discussions here very useful while choosing a TV. I had no knowledge about the HDTV market and this helped in preparing a shortlist and things to lookout for before going to the showrooms for a demo. I am very happy with my TV purchase!


I am looking for a soundbar not > $400. I have not had any soundbars before, neither have I had any home theater, nor enjoyed watching movies / music in any home theater setup. All I have been exposed to is stereo from my old Creative Inspire 2.1 on my PC from 11 years back (which I enjoyed!).


What I am looking for :

1. Clear dialogues at normal volume level - was always a problem with the Creative speakers as far as I can remember - so this is a must. Also, on current TV, I have to crank up volume only for the dialogues.

2. Very good improvement over TV / laptop speaker.

3. Should also play music from my iPod - my usage pattern will change drastically once I get a soundbar - expecting 40-50% usage for music. Would be great if the sound fills the room and does not sound muddy when I move away from the front stage.


What I am not too worried about:

1. Big bass - I usually set it at low level either with my 2.1 or in the car.

2. Connectivity - I might just plug in output from TV to the spkr.



What I have done so far:


1. Listened to PolkAudio 3000, 6000, sony 150, BA tvee 25, panasonic ht10, jvc th bc3, JBL (forgot model name - it was priced at $599), bose soundbar and bose cinemate 2.


2. Out of the above, both me and fiance liked the JVC BC3 (was connected to a venodyne woofer) - This was at Frys inside a demo room. It sounded loud and dialogues were clear while standing in front. However, it sounded muddy once I moved 30 degrees+ left / right. Is this to be expected from every soundbar? I would really like music to sound the same or atleast close to the same at any angle. Am I expecting too much from a soundbar for this? I couldn't test all other soundbars from different angles as they were kept in the open and their sound was drowned by outside noise. Besides this concern, we really liked the sound from this soundbar! The Frys guy (very nice person!) was surprised we liked the JVC as they were not as established as Polk/JBL/BA in home theater segment. We still think it sounded best amongst the others.


In short, this sounds good for watching TV, but might not be good for music.


2a. The BA TVee 25 sounded good for TV/movie. However, it almost felt like the volume was turned waaaay down when we plugged in the iPod. The Frys guy tried a couple of things but the volume remained pretty low with iPod for some reason. Now we are not convinced with this. Does anyone know if it really behaves like this with every BA 25 model? I liked this model otherwise!


3. Sony 150 had good sound / surround effect, but was not loud enough even at max volume. Was not convincing for either of us.


4. Panasonic was not very impressive when played at home - returned it already. Bought this during Amazon BlackFriday sale, impulsively.


5. Polk 3000 was louder than Sony 150 but was not as good as the JVC. 6000 was very loud but we were not able to test it well at BB. Fiance thinks it is very loud though. And it sells for 400+ at the moment. Slightly over budget. Not very convinced with either. Even the Frys person was not a big fan of both.


6. Bose Cinemate II sounded good for music, but it is expensive and I have read it is not great for movies and well, it certainly does not fit my budget.


7. The JBL was very, very wide - wider than my 42" TV. And expensive. It sounded great though!


8. Soundbars I am interested in, but not been able to test - Zvox 555 (really interested with what I read, can't decide until I test it), Yamaha S400 and S401 (this is expensive), BA Tvee 30 (a bit expensive though), JVC TH BA1/3 - doesn't look like they make these anymore



9. I wouldn't mind bringing home one of the above and testing them before returning (assuming I do not like what I hear), but had to pay for return shipping when I returned the Panasonic to Amazon. The boss won't be happy if I repeat this
So, I need to be double sure that anything I am going to purchase purely for trial basis wont cut me short for return shipping / repackaging.


10. Another doubt I had was regarding remote control - will any of these work with my LG Magic Remote?


11. Also, I observed most of the soundbars are 2.1, some are 3.1 (sony) and 4.1 (JVC BA1). I understand from these forums, in a true HT setup, the Center channel is what reproduces dialogues. Does it mean, I need to look for soundbars with dedicated Center channel if I want to enjoy crisp dialogues? How will this impact playing music? Can someone enlighten me regarding this as well?


Any help from the experts would be really appreciated!


PS: I keep digging these threads for one person's comments - "Davyo" :p
 

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i can't answer to all of your questions, as i am working, but regarding Q8, i have the s400 and it is quite good; the thing is that on many movies i still have difficulties hearing dialogue (on reference bluray movies!!!); on games things are much better as voices are lound and clear.

the thing is that on SD dvd's sound on voices seem to be more balanced and lounder compared to bluray



go with a 3.1 product, as i will be harder to hear with only 2.1 speakers....
 

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Have a look at the Vizios too - you get a lot for you $. Costco sells them and has a very no-nonsense returns policy so you can test it in your home setup.
 

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Well first off there are several things you should know about sound bars before making your purchase.


Some sound bars have the receiver built into them. Some come with a subwoofer (may be passive or powered depending on brand)


Some sound bars are only made for 2.1, but there are also 3.1, 5.1, and 7.1 sound bars out there. 2.1 and 3.1 sound bars only consist of the front channels of an HT system. 5.1 and 7.1 sound bars actually create a surround sound effect by having seperate speakers/channels for surround duty all built into one bar and they may also aim the speakers at different directions/angles.


Some of the bars don't come with any of the components needed. Generally these will be the best sound bars but they will also be the most expensive. The reason is because you will need to buy a receiver and a powered sub seperately.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by cynation /forum/post/21337747


Hi,


Any help from the experts would be really appreciated!


PS: I keep digging these threads for one person's comments - "Davyo" :p

I will try and be of some help.


First off,, Im sure you already know this but dont judge any soundbar by what it sounds like in the store.


Hate to say this but really the best way to find the bar that is right for you is by taking a few of them home and tring them out at home and returning some of them,,,, trial and error.


To narrow it down look at the connections and features you need first,, if you need HDMI inputs then the top bars are the Sony CT150 or CT350 or the new Vizio VHT215.


If you dont need HDMI inputs then the Polk 6000 or the Vizio VHT210 and the JVC BA1 or JVC BA3.


I have owned or demoed at home all the bars I mentioned (plus many more) but ALL the ones I mentioned are my personal favorites.


The Zvox I demoed was not impressive at all for me and the Bose Cinemate's did sound impressive but the lack of features, connections and the HIGH price's are deal beakers for me with Bose.


Hope that helped a tiny bit.


Cheers

Davyo
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you everyone for the response! I will test the Vizio and PolkAudio 6000 soundbars at home this weekend. I also contacted the Zvox support and was informed about their new series of speakers launching mid-Jan. They are supposed to be between the 325 and 555 in terms of features and capabilities.
 

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Let us know how the test goes. Its always good to read another direct comparison review as everyone's ears are different.
 

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My gf recently got the ZVOX 555 and could not be happier with it. It has great features that allows its sound to be tweaked to your tastes and it is programmable to any remote control. It is extremely easy to set up. I was very impressed with it while watching a James Bond movie on Blu-ray. There are other soundbars that may sound somewhat better but none of them are as well-designed and un-intrusive as the ZVOX.


If you don't get a ZVOX then Polk would be my next choice in that price range and if you have room for it.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by cynation /forum/post/21345284


Thank you everyone for the response! I will test the Vizio and PolkAudio 6000 soundbars at home this weekend. I also contacted the Zvox support and was informed about their new series of speakers launching mid-Jan. They are supposed to be between the 325 and 555 in terms of features and capabilities.

My personal taste keeps me away from the sound of the Zvox products I have heard (not many). I have not heard the Polk units except in the store at BB and was not impressed there, but if Davyo says they sound good, you can usually rely on his assessment. Almost all JVC, Vizio and Sony products have sound that is more than acceptable to very, very good. Yamaha typically does not sound bad, but never seems to reach the level of clarity of some of the other names mentioned here unless you go much more expensive (YSP-2200).


I personally would stay away from any device made by Phillips, Samsung and LG as I have yet to hear decent audio from any of these. Also, Panasonic and Pioneer are a really mixed bag when it comes to home audio at a reasonable price.


Don't be afraid of 2-channel audio on a soundbar. Most allow you to adjust the center channel mix. In some cases, I have heard much cleaner sound when a soundbar is set for 2-ch instead of one of the fake surround modes. But I am kind of a heretic when it comes to disliking processed sound.


Good luck.
 

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cynation,

Did zvox give you any more information on the new releases? Will they be taking the place of the 555 or just as you mentioned the next step down from the 555? I've been vascillating between the 555 and the Vizio VHT 510. Can't find them around here to listen to or at least haven't found them yet.
 

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Well this is the email I received from the Zvox rep Doug.

The ZBOX 555 just came out this past summer and replaced two older models that had been out for a number for years. So there will be no new speaker model coming out anytime soon to replace the 555.



There will be two newer models coming out sometime early next year to replace the smaller ZVOX models that are now discontinued and sold out. However, the newer models will not be as good as the 555 model. These new model will range between $200-$300 dollars which was the previous price points of the two older ZVOX models.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Hello Gened,


I got the same information from Zvox as you did, with a little bit more insight on the new series:




We have a new series of products coming out called the V-Series.

It will have models at $200/$250/$300. All product should be available by Jan 15th or so.

The $300 model will be almost the same size (1" less wide) as the 555, with the same "feature set". Same size drivers (Five main speakers, two bass speakers), Same input configuration, same remote control button features (different remote, same controls).

The differences $300 V-Series 420 vs 555:

The 555 is all digital (signal processing and power amp)

All audio processing and amplification in the 320 is analog.

The Dialog Emphasis and Output Leveling will not be quite as effective.

The 520 has twice as much power (45 vs 90 watts, approximately).

The 555 has glossy black end panels. The 420 doesn't.


The $250 and $200 versions will be smaller, with three speakers across the front instead

of five (LSurround, 3 center, RSurround VS LSurround, Center, RSurround).

All three use the same amplifier and remote.

Both of the two smaller V-Series speakers have better feature sets than the 325 and slightly better sound. We will announce exact dimensions later, but all three are 3.5" tall, like the current 555.


We don't concentrate on establishing brick&mortar retailers. We sell primarily direct. Bjorns in San Antonio is the only retailer in Texas I know of with ZVOX on display.


You have to pay return shipping to Massachusetts if you elect to return a ZVOX Audio product purchased directly from ZVOX Audio. We will accept returns on product purchased in December until Jan. 31st.


Fred at ZVOX Audio




HTH!
 

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Cynation,

"The differences $300 V-Series 420 vs 555:

The 555 is all digital (signal processing and power amp)

All audio processing and amplification in the 320 is analog.

The Dialog Emphasis and Output Leveling will not be quite as effective.

The 520 has twice as much power (45 vs 90 watts, approximately).

The 555 has glossy black end panels. The 420 doesn't."

Could you clarify this please?

I can't tell which numbers pertain to the V series.

There seems to be a 320 a 420 and a 520. Is the top of the line V series $300 version the 420? The 520 "has twice as much power" than what?

Sorry for the confuson just trying to understand.

I just went on the Zvox site and found information that was not on their site as recently as two days ago. There is a 575 model that looks to be a model between the 555 and 580 but using an analog connection. It has two bass speakers but Doug says that it is "not as good as the 555"
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by drfreeman60 /forum/post/21347551


My personal taste keeps me away from the sound of the Zvox products I have heard (not many). I have not heard the Polk units except in the store at BB and was not impressed there, but if Davyo says they sound good, you can usually rely on his assessment. Almost all JVC, Vizio and Sony products have sound that is more than acceptable to very, very good. Yamaha typically does not sound bad, but never seems to reach the level of clarity of some of the other names mentioned here unless you go much more expensive (YSP-2200).

Agreed,,, I tried out a Zvox at home and was less that thrilled abut it.


The problem I had with Zvox is the way they process the sound,, you can either have pretty good surround effect or a pretty good front channel sound but its really hard to have both at the same time,,,, if you adjust for more dialog you get less surround and if you set it for more surround you lose the dialog,, I could never adjust the Zvox to a happy medium of getting both dialog and a surround effect,,, there were other things I didnt like about the Zvox but thats the main issue that stands out for me.


My personal picks/favorites that I have owned or demoed at home and spent time with would be Sony, Vizio, Yamaha, JVC and Polk,,,,, I really wanted to like the Zvox stuff but my experience/ at home demo, kinda put them last on the list for me.


For anyone recomending or pimping a Zvox make sure and ask them how many other soundbars they have compared the Zvox to at home,,,, some people tend to recomend what "they own" simply for the reason they own that product and have not done a fair comparison at home with other soundbars,,,,,,,, and of course we all know judging a soundbar by a "in-store listening" is about the worst mistake anyone can make,,,,,, the greatest soundbar in the world will sound like crap in a Best Buy or a Frys or any other store,,,,, you really have to take a soundbar home to know what it truely sounds like and what it can do.


Cheers

Davyo
 

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I do own both the Zvox 325 and the now-nonexistent Zvox Mini. I use the 325 in my bedroom, and the Mini for my mother, who is hard of hearing. I also own a Yamaha ysp800 and a Vizio vsb200. Each has it's own strengths and weaknesses. The Zvox units are extremely clear for dialogue, but less about immersive sound. If you dial in too much of the surround effect, voices can sound hollow. They are terrific for music, without the digital processing overtones I hear on the Yamaha and Vizio units. The sound is warm and comfortable to listen to. So I'd say that for everyday listening, the Zvox units are the best, whereas for whiz bang surround, the Yamaha (even my outdated one) clearly win.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by clatrell /forum/post/21360651


I do own both the Zvox 325 and the now-nonexistent Zvox Mini. I use the 325 in my bedroom, and the Mini for my mother, who is hard of hearing. I also own a Yamaha ysp800 and a Vizio vsb200. Each has it's own strengths and weaknesses. The Zvox units are extremely clear for dialogue, but less about immersive sound. If you dial in too much of the surround effect, voices can sound hollow. They are terrific for music, without the digital processing overtones I hear on the Yamaha and Vizio units. The sound is warm and comfortable to listen to. So I'd say that for everyday listening, the Zvox units are the best, whereas for whiz bang surround, the Yamaha (even my outdated one) clearly win.

Good post. I agree.
 

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Ok, reading through this thread and research on my own I am now wondering if anyone has any experience with the Yamaha YAS101 (looks like it is the same as the Yamaha 1010) soundbar? It seems to have the bass incorporated into the bar like the ZVox555 and is capable of learning the Timewarner remote and it comes with an optical cable. The Vizio VHT 510 seems to be on the way out and no successor in sight (a bar with a wireless rear sub and satellite speakers) and even the Sony 350 seems discontinued. Anyway now I am interested in finding someone with actual Yamaha esperience with their lower end ($300.00 or so ) soundbars.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gened45 /forum/post/21362076


The Vizio VHT 510 seems to be on the way out and no successor in sight (a bar with a wireless rear sub and satellite speakers) and even the Sony 350 seems discontinued

Yes the CT350 is discontinued but they can still be found on eBay, other places, and sometimes on SonyStyle.com as refurbished, Sony only discontinued the 350 so they could pimp their new'est soundbar 550,,, a very stupid choice by Sony to not make the CT350 anymore,,, its a GREAT soundbar,,,,, if you can find one, grab it !!!!!


Yes,,,Vizio was suppose to come out with a replacement for the VHT510,, the VHT520,,,,but no one knows what happen to that promise by Vizio.


For the record, I currently own a CT350 and owned a VHT510 (along with a few hundred other soundbars)



Question: Why do you say the VHT510 is on the way out,, its selling very well and getting very good reviews in spite of the LED failures on some units.


I have not heard or seen nothing suggesting the VHT510 is on its way out.


Cheers

Davyo
 

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Hi Davyo,

The reason I consider the VHT510 on the way out is because on some sites it is listed as discontinued or unavailable. Even on Vizio's site it is out of stock. I guess from that I infer that it is on the way out.

Saying this, I tried to look for a decent soundbar at a reasonable price. So far the 350 sounded promising. The Vizio 510 sounds like something that would satisfy my need for a system similar to my old 5.1 Sherwood and Bose set up and not have to run wires to the back and only have two remotes. The Yamaha seems to be able to input their soundbar to run off of their programmable remote and also the TV's remote.

Having no experience with soundbars i defer to this forum and people like you that have had the experience and ability to sort out the good from the not so good.

I look forward to your posts .

By the way when we had our current house built I did have wires dropped in the long walls so that I could have rear speakers without wires all over having to hide them in the baseboard or under the rugs. I planned to use my old Sherwood/ Bose set up with my tv (now a 2 year old Samsung 52') but the best laid plans go the way of the better half's desire to KISS. Meaning don't even think about making this system so complicated that one needs three remotes and a manual to run it! Thus my interest in a soundbar.
 
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