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noobish soundbar question

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#1 of 8 c grant

c grant


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Posted December 15 2010 - 05:36 PM

Hey folks, this is my first post...

I've done a little reading on here and similar sites, and I keep coming back to the same problem.  I'm trying to set up a relatively casual home theater setup in my living room.  Currently I've got 3.1 channels, and am in the process of finishing wiring in-ceiling speakers for the rear.  TV is mounted above the fireplace, with a center and two bookshelf speakers on the mantle.

Now... my wife hates having all those speakers up there.  The TV speakers sound horrible, obviously, and I rather enjoy watching movies/concert blu-rays/whatever on my tv.

Are there any soundbars out there, that when paired with my powered subwoofer, and run through my pretty decent Onkyo receiver that will be any good?  Or am I stuck between a rock and a hard place?  I don't really want to spend the time/money/effort in mounting speakers in the wall, as the actual 'home theater' will be upstairs, and we aren't really even planning on staying in this house all that long anyway.  It's already got rear channels in the ceiling (though, one needs to be moved, unfortunately), so I'm trying to do as little as possible to get the best possible sound.

I've used one of the Yamaha soundbars before, and it was only marginally okay - though, being a powered unit, it wasn't run through a receiver, and we used a subwoofer with it... which sounded okay.

I like the idea of the polk being unpowered so that I can use my good receiver to process the sound, and pair it with my powered subwoofer. And then I just came across this:


Is this a horrible idea? Or a moderately okay one?  If I went with that, I could wire the 'rear' channels on the soundbar to the side/fill-in channels on my receiver and have a half-assed 7.1 channels total with the in-ceiling rears.

I guess mainly what I'm asking is are there any soundbars that put out a decent sound image?  I'm not going for top-notch theater quality... just decent, clear sound that isn't too terribly muddled together, as this would be the tv we watch 90% of the time, and use the bigger system/tv upstairs to watch movies and such.

Thanks in advance for the help!

#2 of 8 Jim Mcc

Jim Mcc


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Posted December 15 2010 - 07:00 PM

I wouldn't expect much from that soundbar. What is your budget?

#3 of 8 martinageo



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Posted December 15 2010 - 08:20 PM

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#4 of 8 CB750



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Posted December 16 2010 - 02:31 AM

Grant, Welcome to the Forum

You problem is one that we frequently see.   You want to enjoy watching movies/concert blu-rays/whatever on your  tv, and want a good surround sound system, but your wife and her decorating tastes present a major challenge that is causing you to compromise your goals.

You have to understand that everything she wants in your living room, such as TV over the fireplace and no viable speakers go against preferred installation methods.   We can give you advise but we cannot resolve your conflicts with your wife.  

First of all none of us would recommend placing your TV on a mantle above your fireplace. Designers and woman love them but it's 4' height is far to high for comfortable viewing and will give you stiff necks.  In addition since the fireplace tends to be a focal point of the room things like speakers on the mantle really show up.  The general guidelines are the middle of your screen should be at eye level, and your speakers should be at ear level when seated.

Perhaps the most posted link is the Dobly Labs recommendations as to how to set up a HT speakers. http://www.dolby.com...uide/index.html        

You refer to rear in ceiling speakers.  In a 5.1 system the surround speakers should be placed to the side and slightly to the rear of the prime seating area.   Many of us don't like in ceiling speakers as part of a HT system, they are meant for background music at malls.

I am not that familiar with sound bars but as with any speaker system their may be ones that sound better to your ears than others.  But the ones that I have seen tend to be self powered units that plug into your TV audio outs.    I am not sure how you would properly combine a sound bar to your receiver to produce 5.1 channel sound.   The vast majority of TVs pass only two channel sound when they are not using their built in tuner.

My recommendation would be to keep your current 3.1 rig and connect your surround in-ceiling speakers to the mix and run the Audyssey speaker set up on your Onkyo, and not spend any money on a sound bar.   Take the things you have learned during this experience when you build your real HT upstairs.

#5 of 8 c grant

c grant


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Posted December 16 2010 - 09:25 AM

Thanks for the advice!

Yeah, I'm really just trying to figure out the least of all evils solution.  I know this setup isn't ideal, and I'm fine with that.  Unfortunately something will have to be done about having three big speakers lying on the mantle.  I think probably the polk soundbar (http://www.amazon.co...r/dp/B000WGLZRO) is probably my best bet.  It looks pretty clean, and I think it'll probably sound decent through the Onkyo when paired with my powered sub.  I've set up home theaters before using all polk speakers and they seemed to sound pretty good to me.

Unfortunately in this situation the aesthetic design of the room has to be a higher priority than the sound quality.  Fortunately, I won't have the same issues when putting together a home theater upstairs.

#6 of 8 CB750



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Posted December 16 2010 - 04:01 PM

I hear you, and the fact is the built in speakers on todays flat pannels suck and they all need help one way or the other.    I have four TV's in my house and every one has either a 2.1 or 5.1 system hooked up to it.   I even put a small 2.1 set of PC speakers on a 20" LCD in my kitchen so I could understand the news and weather forecasts.

#7 of 8 c grant

c grant


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Posted December 17 2010 - 04:44 AM

Yeah... built-in speakers in todays tv's are pretty unbearable.  I, too, have made due with computer speakers hooked up to a tv just to understand the dialog.  Basically what I'm trying to set up is the best sounding thing I can get with the cleanest possible appearance, without having to cut holes in my wall.

#8 of 8 AVES



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Posted December 17 2010 - 11:29 AM

Hi Forum Members -- Soundbars are a popular solution for some installation issues many home owners face today.  While they may not be entirely a powerful sounding surround system, they can make somewhat of an impression.  May I suggest the Definitive Technology SSA 42 or 50 units?  http://definitivetec...er/default.aspx  Take a moment to review the specs, they are quite impressive for a single speaker.  And when match to one of their subwoofers, they quite sound quite impressive.


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