I’m a novice when it comes to AV and was hoping for some assistance in deciding whether to go with a 3.1 speaker setup or a soundbar in the living room of my new home. The audio would be primarily for television and movies, but I would like to have the ability of streaming music as well. The primary goal must be avoiding wire clutter, so I’m leaving surround sound out for now but I would like the ability to add it if I decide to down the road. As for the room, the TV will be mounted over the fireplace while all components will be in a cabinet on the adjacent wall. The wires will run behind the wall from the TV to the cabinet. Please see the attached mock-up for an idea (it's the cabinet behind the couch at the top of the screen, which will be moved back against the wall). Whether a soundbar or speakers, the audio would be placed on the mantle over the fireplace (so not much separation for speakers).
I already have a receiver (Onkyo TX-NR414) and a wired subwoofer.
As I see it, the reasons for the soundbar would be simplicity and aesthetics. Also, it seems like most soundbars now include Bluetooth making music streaming easy. However, I like the receiver in my setup because the TV will be far removed from the components and I’d like to avoid using the TV as a “hub”. If I use the receiver to switch between all inputs, I would just have to run one HDMI through the wall from TV and receiver, and any component changes in the future would be simple as they would all rest in the cabinet with the receiver. So I want to use the receiver, and I’m guessing the receiver with an active soundbar might be a bit of a waste? Perhaps a decent passive soundbar would be an idea?
If I went with a 3.1 setup, I’d place the speakers on the mantle and run the speaker wire behind the wall with the TV HDMI. I’d place the subwoofer next to the component table. I’m guessing the sound quality would be better this way. However, it seems like there’d be some wires showing on the mantle from the speakers, and I’m guessing streaming music wouldn’t be an option as well.
Anyhow, I was hoping for some opinions on which setup you guys think would be better, as well as recommendations for soundbar or speakers. My budget is $500 give or take a bit. Keep in mind that I’m primarily looking for improved TV audio and music as a secondary consideration, though the music would likely have to be streamed. I’m not an audiophile and realize I may have to make sacrifices in sound quality.
Thanks for considering!