What Is Up With Sound Bars? - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

 
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post #1 of 10 Old 02-10-14, 04:54 PM Thread Starter
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What Is Up With Sound Bars?

I have been seeing all of these cheaply made, over priced sound bars everywhere and I don't know what people see in them. I want to get the best out of my music and movies and these are pretty gross sounding most of the time. What have the people of HTS to say about them?
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post #2 of 10 Old 02-10-14, 05:02 PM
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Re: What Is Up With Sound Bars?

Since this really has nothing to do with CDs and Turntables, I moved it to Home Audio Speakers.

I think it will be the consensus that separate AVR and speakers will sound better than sound bars in probably every case. They are not intended to replace a separate surround sound system. Sound bars are mostly for space saving and/or convenience... and in most cases are at least better than the TV/display speakers.

We have reviewed one that did pretty well... Atlantic Technology PB-235 Powered Soundbar Review and we have two more coming up for review in the next few days. I would not say they are all bad, they serve a specific purpose.
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post #3 of 10 Old 02-10-14, 05:58 PM
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Re: What Is Up With Sound Bars?

Can't really comment as I've never listened to one. My guess would they are popular because they are relatively cheap, simple, for the most part spouse friendly and sound better than TV speakers. Also, most people are not really into home theater, they'll spend 5k on the latest and greatest display and want a receiver, 7 speakers and a sub for $500. Go figure...

I could see a lot of them in bedroom set-ups. I wouldn't want one but can see the appeal.

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post #4 of 10 Old 02-10-14, 06:40 PM
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The problem is two fold.

1) think back to the first time you heard good audio... If you never had that experience then you would never have known what you were missing. Audio is a niche market and aways has been. If people aren't introduced to quality then they don't know to seek it out.
From my retail background I can tell you it's much harder to convince someone of the importance of audio than it is to step them into a better display. Retailers are failing consumers because we don't demo audio properly; many salesmen don't understand it's importance.

2) budget. For most people an investment of $1500+ is huge. A new TV is a big deal and they don't plan in adding the expense of audio. So they settle for a TV and maybe a bluray. The idea of sinking more into their audio than video is foreign to them and when pretended with such a notion they think the salesman is trying to run up the ticket.

Thanks my view on why.

The real question is what can we do to fix this?
First we need to expose our friends and family to audio. We need to help the people close to use with their purchases.

Secondly, we need to take an active roll in showing the next generation what good audio is all about. Teach our kids, students, nieces and nephews about HiFi. Introduce them to good quality equipment. Most of the time we should start by getting the into good headphones and away from beats and the like.

Third, show the untrained sales staff in your local shop a thing or two about audio. I know it's a pain. You usually want them to leave you alone and let you listen be your self; but let them show you what they know and nicely correct any misinformation they have. Help them understand what they don't understand.

Thats my rant.
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post #5 of 10 Old 02-10-14, 08:16 PM
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Re: What Is Up With Sound Bars?

I'll chime in here too, although I agree with most of the comments above. The general population does not seem to care much for good quality audio, perhaps indeed due to lack of exposure as suggested by ran-byte. As others have mentioned, people put almost their entire budget into a super nice TV or even a projector and then realize they want "better" sound and they cheap out on a $250-$500 sound bar. The manufacturers know this, and naturally want to market low budget and simple solutions to those people. Hence the plethora of cheap and underwhelming sound bars. They sound better (read: get louder) than the TV or projector built-in speakers and that is good enough for them.

The manufacturers are also aware that some people assume a higher price tag automatically means better quality and performance (this is true of more than just consumer electronics). So now we see a lot of premium and actually very high-end sound bars and speaker bars aimed at "enthusiasts" (read: people with deep wallets) that don't necessarily have the space or interest for a true surround sound system. Some of these do indeed perform very well compared to the low end sound bars, and can even begin to compete with separate speaker systems in terms of sound quality. Others probably just try to use clever marketing to justify the higher price.

Bottom line, like Sonnie said - I have yet to hear a soundbar at any price that would be a suitable substitute for a receiver + separate speaker system (in terms of creating a truly 3D surround sound stage). They have their place though. Soundbars are tough to beat in terms of simplicity and space conservation. I think many people just don't hear music like we do. Loud=better as far as they are concerned. So, why spend $2000 on speakers if I can get a really loud sound bar for $300?

Since I have done (and may do more) soundbar reviews here at HTS, I'll throw out a quick disclaimer. Not all soundbars are bad. I try to approach my reviews in the context of TVs and soundbars, rather than in the context of receiver + speaker systems. This is also why I always include the "Overall Value" section in my reviews. There are many ways to achieve a desired level of audio performance. Size/footprint, budget, max SPL, and frequency response are all measurable factors that can be compared, and most people have to compromise in one or more of those areas.

I can appreciate ran-byte's comments about sharing HiFi with the next generation. I was first exposed to high end audio by my dad and caught the bug pretty bad. It's a blessing and a curse. Listening to great music on great gear is extremely satisfying, almost like a drug I guess. Problem is listening to any music on not so great gear is torturous

Well, I could go on but I think you get the idea...
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post #6 of 10 Old 02-10-14, 09:28 PM Thread Starter
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Re: What Is Up With Sound Bars?

Thank you all for your inputs on this topic. I guess those who are deaf to the hi-if world would think that the sound bars sound good enough for them. I also agree with spreading "the news", however old it is, of truly wonderful audio. I build my own speakers and I believe they sound great! I am new though so there is only room for improvement. I really think that HTS is a great forum and I can already see how awesome the community here is.
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post #7 of 10 Old 02-10-14, 09:33 PM
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Re: What Is Up With Sound Bars?

In the world of 120kbs mp3 and compressed streaming HD video there are many people who just don't care. WAF plays a big role in this as well. A lot of livingrooms are off limits to a proper 5 or 7.1 system so sound bars are ideal.
A sound bar will never replace the true multi channel system if you care about the sound and want total immersion in the movie but for a bedroom or livingroom where out of site is key it's an ok option.

Home theater:
Onkyo 805, Yamaha YDP2006EQ, Samson Servo 600 amp
3 EV Sentry 500 monitors across the front, 4 Mission 762i's Surrounds, SVS PB13U sub, Panasonic BDT220, Harmony 1100, Nintendo WiiU
Panasonic PT-AE8000 on a 120" 2,35:1 fixed screen

Living room system:
Sherwood/Newcastle R972, Mission 765's, SVS SBS02's, A/D/S MS3u sub, Yamaha YDG2030EQ
Yamaha KX-393 Tape deck, CDC 805 CD changer, Panasonic BD60, Sony turntable PS-T20
Panasonic TC-P50ST60, HD-PVR & WDTV Live, Harmony 900

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post #8 of 10 Old 02-11-14, 11:54 AM
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I think soundbars have their place.
A couple of people I work with have them and are very satisfied with the upgrade over the TV speakers.

Often the forums scoff at things like this or lower tier HTIB or heaven forbid a Bose system.
I think any move into improved audio should be supported and encouraged.
That is the only way to grow demand for better audio to be provided by the media delivery distribution chain.
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post #9 of 10 Old 02-11-14, 12:52 PM
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Quote:
chashint wrote: View Post
I think soundbars have their place. A couple of people I work with have them and are very satisfied with the upgrade over the TV speakers. Often the forums scoff at things like this or lower tier HTIB or heaven forbid a Bose system. I think any move into improved audio should be supported and encouraged. That is the only way to grow demand for better audio to be provided by the media delivery distribution chain.
I agree
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post #10 of 10 Old 02-11-14, 02:38 PM
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Re: What Is Up With Sound Bars?

I think the soundbar is a compromise in aesthetics when I clean no wire installation is wanted, yet some semblance of surround sound is desired. For this reason I have never understood the unpowered soundbar. Sometimes is the best you can do sound wise. For my family room I couldn't even get that far, my TVs speaker upgrade is a set of Audioengine 2's, which is still a far cry better then when Panny's internal speakers.


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