Soundbar Recommendations

ChinaskiChinaski Santa Cruz, CA
looking to get a soundbar for my living room. any recommendations?

Comments

  • What’s your price range? I got a Visio one for a couple hundred that works great. Have had no issues for about 5 years with it
  • ChinaskiChinaski Santa Cruz, CA
    gguenot said:
    What’s your price range? I got a Visio one for a couple hundred that works great. Have had no issues for about 5 years with it
    was thinking like 300-500 bucks. if i need to spend a little more for better quality i'm ok with that.
  • Chinaski said:
    gguenot said:
    What’s your price range? I got a Visio one for a couple hundred that works great. Have had no issues for about 5 years with it
    was thinking like 300-500 bucks. if i need to spend a little more for better quality i'm ok with that.
    I’d ask is there a particular reason you’re going to soundbar route vs speakers and AVR? 


    do you need this soundbar to act as a switch/hub for all of your devies? 
    Do you need wireless support of any kind?
    do you need it to support 4K HDR (DolbyVision and or HDR10)?
    do you need/want lossless Audio support? 

  • ChinaskiChinaski Santa Cruz, CA
    @KingKobra - tbh seems like less space and a hassle than speakers and AVR. when i think of soundbar i think plug and play. when i think speakers n such i think of a more complicated setup. if my assumption is wrong i'm all ears.
  • Chinaski said:
    @KingKobra - tbh seems like less space and a hassle than speakers and AVR. when i think of soundbar i think plug and play. when i think speakers n such i think of a more complicated setup. if my assumption is wrong i'm all ears.
    It’s more complicated/space for an AVR/speakers, but (IMO) a better experience audio wise. It can be tricky with a soundbar depending on what you want to do (using ARC the main case). I’ve seen the SJ9 LG recommended, but I don’t think you can use that as a HUB/switch so you’d be limited to ARC/lossy Audio. 
    Chinaski
  • MattyWeavesMattyWeaves Mid-State New York
    edited June 10
    I've had a pretty basic LG one for about five years now. I think it was maybe $125 at Target and it's been pretty great. I am absolutely not an audiophile, but after going through many years of surround sound speakers, I think the simplicity was totally worth it for me.

    For what it's worth, I watch all sorts of tv; sports, comedy, drama, etc, and play plenty of video games and other than the occasional movie, the sound is normally consistent. I would like to imagine if your budget is double, you should be able to get a pretty nice one from a top brand.
    Chinaski
  • I got this back in 2012: ttp://a.co/iYBaqZD

    Still going strong. Not as good as true surround, but my wife likes the lack of wires. I like the built in sub. Depending on the show, I do occasionally feel like sound is coming from behind or the sides.
    Chinaski
  • Sony had some good sound bars in that price range. Nice thing about most Sony's is that they have 3 HDMI inputs so you can use as a switch. I have an older Sony model that I got for that reason, and it sounds pretty good in a big room. Plus it plays nice with 4k/hdr with my new tv. 

    I think LG, Yamaha and some others have soundbars now with Dolby Atmos which is supposed to do a better job at simulating surround sound, but haven't looked into that.
    Chinaski
  • Doctor_NickDoctor_Nick Terminus
    I bought this Onkyo HTIB from Circuit City in 2002.  Still going strong, even the receiver, with my TV handling the switching.  The subwoofer will blow everyone out of my apartment building if I dial it up even halfway and turn up the volume.  

    It looks like the equivalent system is now $299, though my system appears to have bigger speakers.
    Chinaski
  • AjasAjas Seattle, WA
    I got the Klipsch R-20B when moving a few years back just to cut down on the zillion wires of my old 7.1 system

    The sound is great, the wires are minimal.  The remote control is stupid, as is the "3D Sound" feature.  But for a "wireless" system that you put under your TV and a sub that you stash in a corner it's pretty handy.

    *wireless = my chromecast, ps4, laptop plug in to the TV over HDMI, and then run optical to the bar which is wireless to the sub.
    Chinaski
  • edited June 11
    So it all really depends what are you wanting from it.  Personally from doing home theater installs Sony seems to me to have superior audio compared to your more common brands.  If don't know anything about SONOS check it out and see if that's something that interests you.  Amazing product but is a little costly.
    If you're OK spending a little more Definitive Technology is 100% my go to brand for anything speakers.  

    My biggest issue with soundbars is the constant question of using HDMI using ARC (Audio Return Channel) or just using an optical cable and not getting higher quality audio.  ARC basically tries to send information both ways from the TV to the soundbar and from the soundbar to the TV and is an awful system with what I've experienced.  It seems to be so hit or miss whether it works or not.  

    If you have any specific questions or want opinions on specific soundbars feel free to reach out to me.  I used to install home theater systems and consider myself an audiophile.
    Chinaski
  • So it all really depends what are you wanting from it.  Personally from doing home theater installs Sony seems to me to have superior audio compared to your more common brands.  If don't know anything about SONOS check it out and see if that's something that interests you.  Amazing product but is a little costly.
    If you're OK spending a little more Definitive Technology is 100% my go to brand for anything speakers.  

    My biggest issue with soundbars is the constant question of using HDMI using ARC (Audio Return Channel) or just using an optical cable and not getting higher quality audio.  ARC basically tries to send information both ways from the TV to the soundbar and from the soundbar to the TV and is an awful system with what I've experienced.  It seems to be so hit or miss whether it works or not.  

    I use ARC with my Sony TV and soundbar - not sure if being the same brand makes the handshake less prone to issues for some reason - but for me at least it has worked perfectly and definitely is convenient. Small things like being able to see the volume level on the TV screen are nice, and it also streamlines the # of cables - I have just 1 HDMI going up to the tv from the soundbar.

    The nice thing is most modern TV's have both so you can always try it. Is there a loss in sound quality when using optical? I guess it depends on the decoding in the tv?
  • MrX said:
    So it all really depends what are you wanting from it.  Personally from doing home theater installs Sony seems to me to have superior audio compared to your more common brands.  If don't know anything about SONOS check it out and see if that's something that interests you.  Amazing product but is a little costly.
    If you're OK spending a little more Definitive Technology is 100% my go to brand for anything speakers.  

    My biggest issue with soundbars is the constant question of using HDMI using ARC (Audio Return Channel) or just using an optical cable and not getting higher quality audio.  ARC basically tries to send information both ways from the TV to the soundbar and from the soundbar to the TV and is an awful system with what I've experienced.  It seems to be so hit or miss whether it works or not.  

    I use ARC with my Sony TV and soundbar - not sure if being the same brand makes the handshake less prone to issues for some reason - but for me at least it has worked perfectly and definitely is convenient. Small things like being able to see the volume level on the TV screen are nice, and it also streamlines the # of cables - I have just 1 HDMI going up to the tv from the soundbar.

    The nice thing is most modern TV's have both so you can always try it. Is there a loss in sound quality when using optical? I guess it depends on the decoding in the tv?
    When I was doing installs I did have the best luck with ARC with Sony products but typically it is so sporadic when it seems to work and not work.  Some work perfectly and some don't work at all.  Basically the best audio you are going to get using an optical cable is Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1  Optical cables don't have the bandwidth to do Dolby Digital HD, DTS HD, Dolby Atmos, or DTS X. 

    Most blu rays have the capability to do Dolby Digital HD or DTS HD and all 4k blu rays is where you pull in Dolby Atmos and DTS X which essentially can add height channels to your typical 5.1 or 7.1 system.  The only way to get any HD audio is through an HDMI cable going directly to your audio source whether that be a soundbar or a receiver.  Then typically you will go to the TV from that audio source.  
    KingKobraChinaski
  • As @letrbuck2006 said ARC is great if it works. It’s the least problematic of the CEC feature. It’s a great if it works, good luck if it doesn’t type of thing. 

    Also, to add a small wrinkle you can have DD+ Atmos over HDMI ARC. You’ll see services such as NetFlix and Vudu use this. It’s the lossy version of TrueHD Atmos. 
    letrbuck2006
  • I bought a Sony TV...the tiebreaker was that I already had the Sony Soundbar with ARC. 99% of the time, it works every time. Occasionally, it flakes out and I have to do a resynch to get the audio to kick in.
  • If you can find this somewhere or are ok with buying online, this is a pretty solid soundbar and a pretty damn good deal.

    https://www.bestbuy.com/site/sony-2-1-channel-hi-res-soundbar-system-with-wireless-subwoofer-and-digital-amplifier-black/4890100.p?skuId=4890100
    ghm3Chinaski
  • letrbuck2006 said: 
    If you can find this somewhere or are ok with buying online, this is a pretty solid soundbar and a pretty damn good deal.

    https://www.bestbuy.com/site/sony-2-1-channel-hi-res-soundbar-system-with-wireless-subwoofer-and-digital-amplifier-black/4890100.p?skuId=4890100
    The open box version for $350 is tempting, I have a cheaper Sony and it's fine but I know the nt5 would really be an improvement ... Dammit @letrbuck2006 I don't need to be spending $$ on home theater equipment right now!
    KingKobra
  • MrX said:
    letrbuck2006 said: 
    If you can find this somewhere or are ok with buying online, this is a pretty solid soundbar and a pretty damn good deal.

    https://www.bestbuy.com/site/sony-2-1-channel-hi-res-soundbar-system-with-wireless-subwoofer-and-digital-amplifier-black/4890100.p?skuId=4890100
    The open box version for $350 is tempting, I have a cheaper Sony and it's fine but I know the nt5 would really be an improvement ... Dammit @letrbuck2006 I don't need to be spending $$ on home theater equipment right now!
    Sorry... Not sorry hahahhaha.  I do my best not to think about how much I spent on my setup, even with having a 5% above cost discount on it all.
    Chinaski
  • If you can find this somewhere or are ok with buying online, this is a pretty solid soundbar and a pretty damn good deal.

    https://www.bestbuy.com/site/sony-2-1-channel-hi-res-soundbar-system-with-wireless-subwoofer-and-digital-amplifier-black/4890100.p?skuId=4890100
    I've always liked Klipsch for audio so I was gonna suggest the RSB-11 but that looks awesome. I love the ethernet and the overall design looks genius, easily wall-mountable and also low profile if it's sitting in front of a surface-mount TV. I love Klipsch speakers but I'm not quite so sure about their tech, which IMO a soundbar is slanted more towards than just speaker quality, so I think I'd probably get that Sony over the Klipsch.

    I wonder what it's being replaced with? Just add Airplay 2 support and it looks almost perfect for most use. 

    I've had a 54" 5.1 Vizio soundbar with wireless sub and surrounds (surrounds plug into sub) for about four years now and am really satisfied with it, but I don't think it's sold anymore. The ARC worked perfectly back then with my Sony pre-smart TV. Then I moved and accidentally killed the TV and got a new Sony Android TV, which never synced with the soundbar. It would always turn the soundbar on and off properly, but every time I turned it on the OSD would always toggle between "outputting to speaker" and "using internal speaker" back and forth for ten or fifteen seconds, then revert to the internal speaker. But when I power cycled the sound bar it would always sync up quickly and work fine, so it seemed to have been a timeout issue during the TV's startup.

    For two years every time my TV updated I crossed my fingers hoping it would address the issue, and then finally, literally like two years in and easily 6+ TV updates later, it was finally fixed! That was about six months ago and it's worked normally ever since. 

    Anyway I think eARC/ HDMI 2.1 will eventually address all of your issues with it, but that'll take a while for widespread device support; I wish A/V equipment also widely supported Thunderbolt, especially since it's royalty free. 
    Chinaski
  • edited June 11
    Does anyone have any experience with the SONOS PlayBar or PlayBase? The lack of HDMI always bugged me, but they have a new Beam coming out with HDMI.
  • ChinaskiChinaski Santa Cruz, CA
    edited June 11
    thanks everyone! super awesome feedback. looks like i'm going soundbar shopping this weekend!
  • rkcrawf said:
    Does anyone have any experience with the SONOS PlayBar or PlayBase? The lack of HDMI always bugged me, but they have a new Beam coming out with HDMI.
    SONOS has amazing products but their biggest strength is their whole home setups.  SONOS is designed for ease of use listening to music in entire house wirelessly and seemlessly.  They do work great as stand alone soundbars as their audio quality is very good in my opinion but you can get much better for the amount of money you are spending if all your looking to do is add audio to a television.

    Yes they don't have HDMI inputs or outputs but for what they are being used for in most applications don't pertain to needing them.  Most people don't have enough sources to connect to their TV that they need a soundbar to act as a hub.  Do you not have any HDMI inputs open on your TV that you need to use a soundbar as a hub?
    rkcrawf
  • rkcrawf said:
    Does anyone have any experience with the SONOS PlayBar or PlayBase? The lack of HDMI always bugged me, but they have a new Beam coming out with HDMI.
    SONOS has amazing products but their biggest strength is their whole home setups.  SONOS is designed for ease of use listening to music in entire house wirelessly and seemlessly.  They do work great as stand alone soundbars as their audio quality is very good in my opinion but you can get much better for the amount of money you are spending if all your looking to do is add audio to a television.

    Yes they don't have HDMI inputs or outputs but for what they are being used for in most applications don't pertain to needing them.  Most people don't have enough sources to connect to their TV that they need a soundbar to act as a hub.  Do you not have any HDMI inputs open on your TV that you need to use a soundbar as a hub?
    I used to use the Sony Soundbar as a hub, but something odd happened when I got the Sony TV. The TV is acting as the switch now, yet still playing sound through the Soundbar. So my Xbox and Apple TV are plugged directly in the TV via HDMI, and it just works. With my old TV, I had the components plugged into the sound bar, and I had to switch inputs on the TV AND the Soundbar to get things right.

    SONOS is more of a curiosity for me. I have a Play One which works well. I also have small kids and a wife with slightly different music tastes, so it's rare that I would use music through the whole house. We mostly need to be able to hear when one of the kids cries out. I was curious about the TV products, mostly for sound quality and the possibility of expanding to wireless surround at some point. 
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