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Tundracat
08-18-2009, 02:02 AM
I have recently bought a new flat screen 720p 32 inch Panasonic tv to watch standard definition programming on Dish Network using my Dish model 508 pvr. As I only can view the 119 satellite, I do not subscribe to HD programming.

My question is I am thinking about putting in some kind of speaker system to enhance my tv viewing experience. I have never looked into or have had anything other than the speakers that come with the tv. I am looking for something simple to install that has 5.1 sound. I came across this Amazon.com: Polk Audio AM1805 SurroundBar SDA Instant Home Theater (Black): Electronics@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/21b86wigPxL.@@AMEPARAM@@21b86wigPxL.

Has anyone ever heard how these sound? I live in Fairbanks and as far as I know no one up hears sells this. By the looks of this, I do not need a receiver to connect this to. Also I noticed for the first time that there is this dolby digital output on the back of my 508. What kind of cable do I need to buy to use this feature and what do I connect it to especially since this surround bar connects directly to the t.v. and not to an a/v receiver.

My tv has one component inputs and 2 video inputs and 3 hdmi inputs.

Does somebody have a better suggestion on what I should buy. I do not want to spend much more than $600.00. Any help would be appreciated.

jvc
08-18-2009, 07:50 AM
I am looking for something simple to install that has 5.1 sound.
Not possible to get real 5.1 surround sound from a sound bar. You'll be much better off with this one:
Amazon.com: Onkyo HT-S5200 7.1-Channel Home Entertainment…@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/31Wfl4QSHFL.@@AMEPARAM@@31Wfl4QSHFL
It is actually a 7.1 system, but if you don't have room for the twoo surround back speakers, you can set it up as a 5.1 system, and it should still sound great.

Right now, it falls well under your $600 limit, at $494, with free shipping.
Good luck with whatever you get.

jayn_j
08-18-2009, 11:05 AM
I have recently bought a new flat screen 720p 32 inch Panasonic tv to watch standard definition programming on Dish Network using my Dish model 508 pvr. As I only can view the 119 satellite, I do not subscribe to HD programming.

My question is I am thinking about putting in some kind of speaker system to enhance my tv viewing experience. I have never looked into or have had anything other than the speakers that come with the tv. I am looking for something simple to install that has 5.1 sound. I came across this Amazon.com: Polk Audio AM1805-A SurroundBar SDA Instant Home Theater (Black): Electronics (http://www.amazon.com/Polk-Audio-AM1805-SurroundBar-Instant/dp/B001QCYHXC/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top#moreAboutThisProduct).

Has anyone ever heard how these sound? I live in Fairbanks and as far as I know no one up hears sells this. By the looks of this, I do not need a receiver to connect this to. Also I noticed for the first time that there is this dolby digital output on the back of my 508. What kind of cable do I need to buy to use this feature and what do I connect it to especially since this surround bar connects directly to the t.v. and not to an a/v receiver.

My tv has one component inputs and 2 video inputs and 3 hdmi inputs.

Does somebody have a better suggestion on what I should buy. I do not want to spend much more than $600.00. Any help would be appreciated.

I've been meaning to write a soundbar tutorial for awhile now. There are several big advantages to a soundbar and one giant drawback. The advantages are that the switching and configuration are very straightforward. Easy to figure out. In addition, it provides a very clean profile on your wall under the set. If you choose carefully, it ends up looking like it was part of the TV.

The big disadvantages are that you don't get very good separation. The "5.1" they advertise relies on the surround signals being aimed at and bouncing off the side walls and then the rear wall. If everything is perfect, it can work --- kinda. If you are like most of us, little stuff like furniture, shelves, dead stuffed pets, etc will diffuse and block the surround signals.

Some soundbars are available with wireless surround speakers. This will provide a better solution, but a lot of folks have problems getting a reliable wireless connection with these things.

A soundbar is designed to fit under the TV. I always recommend that the main speakers be placed wider apart than that, generally about 1/2 a screen width away from the edge of the screen. The net effect is that you hear an ambience of stereo, but you won't get the true stereo effect at that distance.

Finally, a soundbar is designed to be small and unob trusive. This means small speakers, and that generally means tinny sound without a lot of lower frequency content. Those of us who have invested money in serious subwoofers will tell you that a lot of the HT experience is in the low bass.

I have seen some soundbars where the speaker quality is inferior to the built in speakers of some of the better sets. Again, shop carefully. I would suggest you find a somewhat taller unit, and one that has a subwoofer output.

Oh yeah, standard disclaimer from everyone here: stay away from Bose. They are way overpriced for what you get. You can generally equal the Bose sound for half the price.

You asked about the digital audio output on the 508. That is an optical audio cable often referred to as TOSLINK. You should have an optical audio input on anything you buy these days. Cable tends to run around $10 and is available everywhere (wal-mart, target, etc) I took a look at the unit you referenced and it doesn't seem to show a optical audio input. Only the red and white l/r analog. This will severly limit the audio quality you will see as you will only get dolby pro logic matrix sound. This is a technology that dates back to the '70s. It is bandwidth limited and only provides a small amount of surround info.

Bottom line: I would second JVCs suggestion and look for a decent HTIB solution for about the same price. I think you will be happier, especially when you decide to add a DVD or BluRay player.

Tundracat
08-19-2009, 01:43 AM
Not possible to get real 5.1 surround sound from a sound bar. You'll be much better off with this one:
Amazon.com: Onkyo HT-S5200 7.1-Channel Home Entertainment Receiver/Speaker Package (with Dock for the iPodŽ) Black: Home Audio & Theater (http://www.amazon.com/Onkyo-HT-S5200-7-1-Channel-Entertainment-Receiver/dp/B001VEI2OA/ref=sr_1_13?ie=UTF8&s=aht&qid=1250599545&sr=1-13)
It is actually a 7.1 system, but if you don't have room for the twoo surround back speakers, you can set it up as a 5.1 system, and it should still sound great.

Right now, it falls well under your $600 limit, at $494, with free shipping.
Good luck with whatever you get.

Thanks for the input. Is the center speaker attached to the receiver? Is there a manual somewhere that gives the dimensions of each component. I have limited space.


I've been meaning to write a soundbar tutorial for awhile now. There are several big advantages to a soundbar and one giant drawback. The advantages are that the switching and configuration are very straightforward. Easy to figure out. In addition, it provides a very clean profile on your wall under the set. If you choose carefully, it ends up looking like it was part of the TV.

The big disadvantages are that you don't get very good separation. The "5.1" they advertise relies on the surround signals being aimed at and bouncing off the side walls and then the rear wall. If everything is perfect, it can work --- kinda. If you are like most of us, little stuff like furniture, shelves, dead stuffed pets, etc will diffuse and block the surround signals.

Some soundbars are available with wireless surround speakers. This will provide a better solution, but a lot of folks have problems getting a reliable wireless connection with these things.

A soundbar is designed to fit under the TV. I always recommend that the main speakers be placed wider apart than that, generally about 1/2 a screen width away from the edge of the screen. The net effect is that you hear an ambience of stereo, but you won't get the true stereo effect at that distance.

Finally, a soundbar is designed to be small and unob trusive. This means small speakers, and that generally means tinny sound without a lot of lower frequency content. Those of us who have invested money in serious subwoofers will tell you that a lot of the HT experience is in the low bass.

I have seen some soundbars where the speaker quality is inferior to the built in speakers of some of the better sets. Again, shop carefully. I would suggest you find a somewhat taller unit, and one that has a subwoofer output.

Oh yeah, standard disclaimer from everyone here: stay away from Bose. They are way overpriced for what you get. You can generally equal the Bose sound for half the price.

You asked about the digital audio output on the 508. That is an optical audio cable often referred to as TOSLINK. You should have an optical audio input on anything you buy these days. Cable tends to run around $10 and is available everywhere (wal-mart, target, etc) I took a look at the unit you referenced and it doesn't seem to show a optical audio input. Only the red and white l/r analog. This will severly limit the audio quality you will see as you will only get dolby pro logic matrix sound. This is a technology that dates back to the '70s. It is bandwidth limited and only provides a small amount of surround info.

Bottom line: I would second JVCs suggestion and look for a decent HTIB solution for about the same price. I think you will be happier, especially when you decide to add a DVD or BluRay player.


Really great info here. Thanks so much. I was really hoping this would work as my space is limited. Not having an optical audio input will be a deal killer.

Don't worry about Bose. I found out with their noise cancelling headphones that they were overpriced. I guess it is back to the drawing board. I guess I will check out Sears here locally and see what they got or Radio Shack and then check those systems out on the internet and look at the reviews. If you have any more suggestions, I am all ears

jvc
08-19-2009, 07:16 AM
Thanks for the input. Is the center speaker attached to the receiver? Is there a manual somewhere that gives the dimensions of each component. I have limited space.
Here, on Onkyo's site is the info you're looking, on the dimensions of the pieces.
Onkyo HT-S5200 - 7.1-Channel Home Theater Package with iPodŽ Dock | Model Information | Onkyo USA Home Theater Products (http://www.us.onkyo.com/model.cfm?m=HT-S5200&class=Systems&p=s)
If this page isn't going straight to it, click on the "Specifications" tab, and scroll down. It tells you everything. Also, don't forget, you can always use speaker stands, to get the speakers where you need them.
Good luck!

jayn_j
08-19-2009, 07:52 AM
Really great info here. Thanks so much. I was really hoping this would work as my space is limited. Not having an optical audio input will be a deal killer.

Don't worry about Bose. I found out with their noise cancelling headphones that they were overpriced. I guess it is back to the drawing board. I guess I will check out Sears here locally and see what they got or Radio Shack and then check those systems out on the internet and look at the reviews. If you have any more suggestions, I am all ears

Yamaha was the inventer of the soundbar concept and is the market leader in that segment. This one is in your price range and has 2 TOSLINK inputs:

Amazon.com: Yamaha YSP-1100SL Digital Sound Projector: Electronics@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/31UAyXEUVjL.@@AMEPARAM@@31UAyXEUVjL

If you got this one, you would probably want to budget to add a subwoofer. However, you would get much better sound.

Check out Best Buy as well. They tend to have various soundbars set up for demo.

Tundracat
08-20-2009, 02:43 AM
Thankyou so much for the info jayn_j and JVC. Right now my head is spinning but I am leaning away from the soundbar concept. The system that JVC showed looks very promising although the diagram does not show any optical audio inputs on the receiver. Does this mean I will not be able to get Dolby digital from my Dish Network receiver as per my current setup?

jvc
08-20-2009, 07:00 AM
Under the "Features" tab, it says that it has two optical and two digital coax inputs. It also has four HDMI inputs. This is a good number of inputs, for a receiver that comes in a system like that. If you click on the "Photo Gallery" tab, then click on "See Rear View" in the window that opens, you'll see the two optical inputs on the far left side, above the two orange coax inputs.
You shouldn't have any problems getting digital sound from your Dish receiver. :)

BTW..........
The HDMI inputs are only v.1.3 pass through. Not sure if you could then send the signal out as PCM, or maybe LPCM, and still get the HD audio from the blu ray movies. There is no multi-channel analog inputs on this receiver. So, if getting the HD audio from blu ray movies is important to you, you may need to step up to the next higher model (HT-S6200). It decodes the HD audio.
Amazon.com: Onkyo HT-S6200 7.1-Channel Home Entertainment Receiver/Speaker Package with Dock…@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/21LOQ4-FfoL.@@AMEPARAM@@21LOQ4-FfoL
Right now it's at $588.17 with free shipping. If you can, I'd definitely go for the 6200. Same number of inputs.

These Onkyos also have onboard Audyssey, which is great. It will automatically calibrate your speakers, according to the layout, and acoustics of the room.

jayn_j
08-20-2009, 08:35 AM
JVCs answer probably needs a bit more detail, although he is absolutely correct.

Lower cost receivers, including this one do not read the audio portion of the HDMI signal. You need to connect an optical cable as well as an HDMI one. The HDMI ports are only used for switching the video signal to the TV. This is still a good thing because the receiver will allow you to chose a source with a single button push. It will switch both the HDMI and the optical conection at the same time.

You do get somewhat better audio out of the HDMI connection, but the source needs to be sending the better format. Your 508 only has optical anyway. If you eventually upgrade to a Blu Ray or a DISH HD DVR, you would find that your audio was somewhat compromised and not the best possible. But it won't make a bit of difference with the system you have now.

Systems that do decode HDMI audio cost a couple hundred more. I find that extra cost worthwhile, but there is always a somewhat better system that costs just a bit more. The system JVC recommended fits your budget and is a good choice for where you are today.

jayn_j
08-20-2009, 10:47 AM
One more to consider:

Woot has a Sony system on sale for a good price. It is aimed around the TV sound upgrade. It uses the tiny micro speakers. I have found that these are surprisingly good for their size. As a bonus, it includes a Blu Ray player. This might be the answer to address your space issues.

Woot is selling it today only for $500. (They will sell something else starting at midnight)

Woot : One Day, One Deal (SM) (http://www.woot.com)

Reigster at SatelliteGuys