Soundbars have come a long way

lparsons21

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Given the popularity of sound bars, I'm rather surprised that more of them aren't set up to have the TV sit atop them. You can't bury the IR receiver behind the screen anymore and so many of them seem to be blocked by even a modest sound bar.
That really is a problem these days as more TVs are using some very low profile stands for free standing. There may be some soundbars that putting the TV on top of one would be doable, but I have to admit I haven’t found one. What might be more doable would be a furniture design with a TV on a higher level shelf with a lower shelf for the soundbar.

I’m seeing more people wall mount their TVs, especially the ones 65” or bigger as the mounts for free standing are not all that good, or very big themselves. With a wall mount there are some after market things to mount a soundbar as well, especially for the smaller soundbars.

Making a soundbar big enough for some of these TV free standing mounts could be done but I wonder if there is enough of a market?
 

lparsons21

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Most people are not us. The majority think the tinny internal speakers are just fine, and when COSTCO or some other big box store convince them to upgrade, ease of installation is at the top of the list.

I still go to way too many houses where they have a fancy cable box and a nice flat screen, but the two are connected with the RF cable (tune to channel 3). If they can't get past that to get a decent high def picture, how many are worried about flexibility in rear speaker placement? Only on the list for us 3 sigma folks.
I’m seeing more with a simple TV setup and a smallish soundbar setup than I used to. It is an easy upgrade to the system and as TV speakers themselves get worse, almost any soundbar will provide better sound.

BTW, I’ve got a brother in law that bought a big flat screen a number of years ago but wouldn’t watch HD channels on it. He insisted it gave him headaches. I think it was mostly because the way the channel lineups on his crappy cable box were done made it harder for him to remember which channel to go to. :)
 

harshness

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Soundbars definitely have their place. If you are an audiophile they aren’t the solution you would choose, nor are HTIB’s. But soundbars are taking over from HTIB’s because of the simplicity of getting them set up and working. And in the end, they can produce excellent audio without the hassle and fiddliness of a full AVR and discrete wired speaker setup.
The premise of your thread was that there have been many important advances in soundbars but I expect that most were thinking in terms audio reproduction rather than being incrementally easier to install. Yeah, they've added technologies that allow them to claim greater capability (i.e. imaging technologies well beyond their physical capability) but the fact is that they're just taking in signals that they don't have any business processing. They're also taking advantages of stuff like eARC to allow them to economize on packaging so it is perhaps just as much a matter of making them cheaper to build or do a one-time installation as opposed to a performance gain which would be an noteworthy advancement for advancement's sake.
 

lparsons21

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BS! The tech advances in soundbars has been literally amazing. Certainly not for the audiophile or those that think they are one. And soundbars are seldom recommended for those looking for a music solution.

But the tech that allows them to electronically process audio to get close to the performance out of more basic discrete AVR+speaker setups is really amazing to see. Some are taking a nearly all electronic path to doing it while others are using a combination of discrete speakers and electronics to do it.

And a very few are using discrete speakers to do it as in the case of the high end Samsung’s and others.

Are they as good as a discrete setup? Depends on exactly what discrete setup you’re talking about. Certainly better than the HTIB’s which are nothing more than a packaging of AVR+speakers and usually at the lower end of the scale.

But to say audio reproduction in soundbars isn’t all that great and hasn’t made great strides is just utter BS. You’ve got everything available, from stereo, 3.1.2, 5.1.2, 5.1.4, 7.1.4, 7.2.4 and 9.2.4. Atmos, DTS, DTS:X and more. All available at a price.
 

lparsons21

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Well I needed something for the bedroom, or at least I’ve been wanting something. And noticed that Best Buy and Amazon have the Nakamichi 7.1.4 soundbar setup on sale for $649! So I ordered it.

Note this is the bottom of the Nakamichi line, but the difference between the 3 models are:

Here’s a link to Nakamichi and this soundbar:


For all: The soundbar itself is the same. 3 HDMI inputs, 1 HDMI output and a few other connections also. Remote is fully featured and is backlit.

For 7.1.4 - Soundbar, 2 surround speakers, 1 8” subwoofer

For 7.2.4 - (note not on sale), Soundbar, 2 surround speakers, 2 8” subwoofers.

For 9.2.4 - (note not on sale), Soundbar, 4 surround speakers, 2 10” subwoofers.

The soundbar is top rated in virtually all reviews. Surround speakers wire connect to the subwoofer(s).
 

harshness

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But to say audio reproduction in soundbars isn’t all that great and hasn’t made great strides is just utter BS. You’ve got everything available, from stereo, 3.1.2, 5.1.2, 5.1.4, 7.1.4, 7.2.4 and 9.2.4. Atmos, DTS, DTS:X and more. All available at a price.
Have you done an A-B comparison between a sound bar and a regulation multi-channel system? Claiming that they can electronically "simulate" 7.2 or 7.2.4 sound is a whole other can of beans compared to actually doing it. I submit that the only thing they're really claiming is that they can take the signal as an input.

Bose has been claiming "room-filling sound" from a clock radio for years but to suggest that it is technically even stereo sound is folly. Before Bose came to the party, mechanical reverb units were being used with great success to "simulate" a big sound.

The new matrixed sound fields (Atmos and DTS:X) are all about more or less precisely locating where a sound comes from. That's not realistic for a device with only one or two physical enclosures.

Such is not to say that you can't be happy with the sound in comparison to that coming from the frame of a thin TV but it isn't surround sound. If it is all your willing to spend in terms of time or money, that's what you get for what you spent but there may be better solution that you can build from parts (the Monoprice surround speaker sets are a great value) with a little more time invested.
 

lparsons21

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No way for me to do an A-B comparison. But when I bought my new house, I kept the old one.

The old setup was a 7.1 discrete, non-Atmos setup and was excellent. The new house didn’t lend itself to doing that without a fairly major expense, hence the Samsung HW-K950. Since then I have listened to both at different times with the same source material. The setup at the old house sounds a little better and offers more granular control of things than does the Samsung soundbar setup.

To my ears the difference is slight, others with better ears might disagree. And note that the soundbar setups I’m primarily interested in are not just soundbar + subwoofer, but include rear surrounds too. One exception I considered was the Sony HT-G700 for the bedroom since it would be such a simple install with no great needs for true surround/Atmos because of what I would watch there. In the end I just knew that it wouldn’t be good enough as the Samsung has spoiled me.

If I were to go to AVR+discrete speaker setup for Atmos the labor costs would be pretty high and I cannot do that kind of work anymore, age and condition preventing that. I would want all wires fished with wall terminations to almost no wire showing. I even thought about it and got a quote from an installer. Total cost for the work plus the speakers and AVR I would need for a 5.2.4 was around $3500 as I remember.

The Samsung doesn’t play with the audio as much as the Nakamichi as it has true, discrete speakers. At the time I bought it, it would massage stereo to faked DD5.1 and that’s about all, but it does a very good job of it.

I’m looking forward to see how the Nakamichi performs compared to the Samsung and I will be able to do an A-B test of that. Rtings.com did a review of the Nakamichi 9.2.4 that even commented about the differences they noted between that and the Samsung HW-Q90R which is one of the successors to the HW-K950 I have. They tend to prefer the HW-K950, Nakamichi fans don’t agree.

It should be noted that in looking for info and such on the Nakamichi 7.1.4 I just bought that there is lots of old info that is pre-update. You have to look at the date of the info/review that is offered.

EDIT: A question for you. Have you ever listened/tried out any soundbar setup? Especially the higher end ones? Or are you just being a bit contentious?? :)
 

harshness

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EDIT: A question for you. Have you ever listened/tried out any soundbar setup? Especially the higher end ones? Or are you just being a bit contentious?? :)
I have not auditioned a sound bar in my setups as I already have conventional systems everywhere I have a TV. AVRs with the ability to adapt to a room and one's speakers aren't that expensive and I haven't moved in 35 years. I was satisfied with the color match of some semi-flat (not the fancy ribbon stuff) speaker cabling that I purchased through Amazon so my installs aren't entirely ugly. If I had to put the cabling into the wall, that would take a few hours but that's maybe something for after I retire. Maybe some in-wall speakers too. You have those choices when you mix and match.

I've never felt comfortable with the buy and return game so an AVR with room correction appeals to me. I see a few sound bars with room correction (particularly from LG) but that's still fairly rare.

The upper-crust Nakamichi systems require power to be run to the subs and RCA cables to be run to the rears so there's going to be wires.

When sound bars offer the flexibility of an AVR in terms of inputs and local and Internet streaming, that will be a paradigm shift.
 

lparsons21

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I have not auditioned a sound bar in my setups as I already have conventional systems everywhere I have a TV. AVRs with the ability to adapt to a room and one's speakers aren't that expensive and I haven't moved in 35 years. I was satisfied with the color match of some semi-flat (not the fancy ribbon stuff) speaker cabling that I purchased through Amazon so my installs aren't entirely ugly. If I had to put the cabling into the wall, that would take a few hours but that's maybe something for after I retire. Maybe some in-wall speakers too. You have those choices when you mix and match.

I've never felt comfortable with the buy and return game so an AVR with room correction appeals to me. I see a few sound bars with room correction (particularly from LG) but that's still fairly rare.

The upper-crust Nakamichi systems require power to be run to the subs and RCA cables to be run to the rears so there's going to be wires.

When sound bars offer the flexibility of an AVR in terms of inputs and local and Internet streaming, that will be a paradigm shift.
There’s no doubt that an AVR/Discrete speaker setup can be more flexible in operation and performance. The problem with these open design houses is the wiring needed to do it.

Auto room correction seems to be an LG only thing. I haven’t seen any others offering it. Supposed to be very good at doing it to if the reviews are to be believed.

I don’t foresee more inputs than what Nakamichi is doing. It is just a matter of space and the market they are trying for. In fact most upscale soundbars only have one HDMI input among others. That issue can be solved with a relatively cheap HDMI switch as I’m doing with my Samsung. While I haven’t actually looked, don’t at least some of the soundbars do internet music streaming? I haven’t bothered to check as it isn’t a function I care about.

And yes, the Nakamichi stuff needs power to the sub and wires from sub to surrounds. But in general most wiring issues aren’t that, it is the wires from the front to the back. BTW, there is one JBL soundbar that has truly wireless surrounds. Battery inside, charges with either a cheap power brick like you use on a cell phone, or attaches to each side of the soundbar itself to charge. Supposedly gives about 10 hours of use on battery.

Currently on my main TV system I have an ATT TV box, Roku and Tivo connected to the TV and feed audio back to the soundbar via optical. That’s because of the processing limits of the soundbar. It works with DD+ but not very well IMO, so doing it this way deprecates the audio to DD5.1 to the sound bar which then lets the soundbar massage stereo channels to ProLogic.

Then I have my AppleTV4K, Xbox One, PS4 and FireTV connected directly to the soundbar, either via an HDMI switch or to one of the two HDMI connections on the soundbar. Manage all of it with a Harmony Elite.

While all of this works well, people like me aren’t the target market for soundbars. In general they are marketed as an easy way to get the single streaming box and TV to have some much better audio. Looking at the documentation on soundbars with single HDMI ports they emphasize connecting devices to the TV and using ARC/eARC to feed audio back to the bar, with optical audio seen as an optional way.
 

lparsons21

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My tv is a Panasonic plasma
TC-P42S2 what is the good sound bar for my tv


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It depends. What do you watch with? Cable box, sat receiver or streaming box?

If so almost any out there would work depending on what you want to accomplish. If the goal is just better sounding than the TV speakers then a lower cost soundbar, one with a subwoofer most likely would fit the bill.

From there you could look more upscale if you want some much better performance and support for surround and such.
 

rabbitt83

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It depends. What do you watch with? Cable box, sat receiver or streaming box?

If so almost any out there would work depending on what you want to accomplish. If the goal is just better sounding than the TV speakers then a lower cost soundbar, one with a subwoofer most likely would fit the bill.

From there you could look more upscale if you want some much better performance and support for surround and such.
My tv has a optical in on it


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lparsons21

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This is like pulling teeth! :)

So how do you get TCM, is there an app on your TV? Same for movies.

Also, are you in an apartment or house? How big is your room? And finally, how much are you wanting to spend?
 

Foxbat

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rabbitt83, I pulled up the PDF for your TV (it looks like one I might have considered for our bedroom; I ended up with a 40" Sony, but it's LCD, not plasma) and according to the manual, your HDMI 1 input supports ARC.
Screen Shot 2020-05-25 at 19.01.08.png
Panasonic doesn't refer to ARC in the Owner's Manual, but calls it "HDAVI Control™" as part of "VIERA Link™". Starting with Page 29, it talks about setting up the remote to control an external sound system, if that's any help.
Screen Shot 2020-05-25 at 18.55.50.png
 

harshness

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Panasonic doesn't refer to ARC in the Owner's Manual, but calls it "HDAVI Control™" as part of "VIERA Link™". Starting with Page 29, it talks about setting up the remote to control an external sound system, if that's any help.
The TV supports ARC and TOSLINK for surround sound output. The TCM and movies answer is a bit scary as this could mean legacy media formats. Pretty much all TCM content is monaural. Knowing whether the "movies" in question might involve surround sound would be very useful in making a recommendation.

The extractions (teeth pulling) will have to continue to find out how many of what kind of inputs are desired.
 

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