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Quality 3.1 System vs. Quality Passive 5.1 Soundbar?

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by Adam D, Jun 23, 2017.

  1. Adam D

    Adam D Extra

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    Hi all,

    Rookie question here. Can you help guide me?

    What is a better route to take? Generally speaking what is better way to go? Get a really good set of mains, center channel and sub OR go with a quality passive soundbar that provides a 5.1 experience (I'd include a sub with the soundbar)?

    Because my room is VERY challenging to get speakers (passive or active) behind or above me, the prospects of a true 5.1 system are not very good for now. My best bet is to stick with what's in front of me.

    I am seriously considering the Definitive Technology SSA-50 5.1 soundbar along with the ProSub1000. I do not have a receiver yet, so I need to get everything. As an alternative, I can go with a quality center channel and mains. At the moment, I just cannot find any real downsides to the SSA-50 other than it being a more costly system on account that they are hard to find used. On a 3.1 note, I can find lots of good used stuff.

    The room is all tile and is 26 feet wide and 22 feet deep, but the 22 ft dimension opens to the kitchen and dining area adding another almost 30 feet. That's the direction of sound. So having a good amount of power seems very important (100 watts min). Also, the ceiling is very tall at about 17 feet and has no attic and is not accessible.

    My budget for everything is about $1300 or so.

    So, is there any particular reason I should shift gears and go with a 3.1 system over the SSA-50 5.1 system?

    Thank you!
     
  2. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    I'm not the audio expert here so you'll probably get more knowledgeable opinions, but with that said, here's my two cents.

    I'd opt for the 3.1. The separates can last longer, if something breaks you can replace an individual component instead of having to get a new sound bar, you can upgrade the receiver as needed, and you can always add extra speakers if one day you have the room for a true 5.1 or 7.1 setup.
     
  3. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    I would also go 3.1. A surround receiver will synthesize the surround channels into the mains when it is configured for 3.1, so you're actually getting a similar pseudo surround to a sound bar. Plus, you have infinitely greater options with regular speakers, and they don't have to all go under the TV. I use a 3.1 system in my bedroom, with full surround in the other systems. Soundbars, to me, are basically the bottom of the options.
     
  4. Al.Anderson

    Al.Anderson Cinematographer

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    If you're going to go with larger drives in the 3.1, then I'd go for the 3.1. If you're going to go with 4.5" (same as the Def tech) or satellites, then you might as well go for the ease of set-up an simplicity of the soundbar (it's a nice one).

    Another factor is if you'll be using the system for music; if you are, then I'd go with the 3.1 and definitely get larger drivers.

    And of course I'm assuming whatever bookshelfs you get will be as nice as the Def Tech soundbar.
     
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  5. Adam D

    Adam D Extra

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    Hi. Yes music is a must and a big part of my goals for this rig. Yeah I understand that the larger drivers are important, but I don't see myself going with anything larger than 5.25" drivers in the mains. I think I may be limited to 4.5" drivers for the center channel. I only have a maximum of 6" to work with vertically for the center.
     
  6. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    Why?

    Even if that's the case, look at the reviews of Elac's latest bookshelf speakers, the Debut B6 and Uni-Fi UB5. The UB5s might be out of your price range, but the B6s sound like great speakers.
     
  7. Adam D

    Adam D Extra

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    The reason I don't see myself going much larger than 5.25" is because of the size. That is already on the large size for the location of the bookshelf speakers. This is one of the reasons I liked the soundbar method.

    I'll look at those Elac's....
     
  8. Al.Anderson

    Al.Anderson Cinematographer

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    5.25 is a significant difference (roughly +1/3 the surface area of the 4.5); so given that and your desire to also play music I'd definitely go with standard speakers.

    I have my system configured to reduce the output of the center when I'm in all-channel stereo, so to my mind having a 4.5 center wouldn't be a big deal; and when you play music you may want to switch to stereo anyway.

    Speakers are a completely personal choice, but this is where I plug my favorite, Axiom M22's:
    http://www.axiomaudio.com/m22-bookshelf-speakers
     
  9. Adam D

    Adam D Extra

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    Hi all, just an update.

    I ended up going with the DT ProMonitor1000 and ProCenter1000 along with the ProSub 800. I got them used on Craigslist. They were sold with an older model Onkyo receiver (TX-NR807 7.2) more on that in a minute, a Panamax M5300-PM 11 and a Logitech Harmony 900 remote. Everything was in very good, if not near mint condition. The speakers are a bit old, but he said they only had about 2 years or less on them. Closet speakers for a while....

    Anyway, few comments/questions.

    The speakers, to me, sould much better for tv shows and movies than they do for music. The music seems to lack clarity and precision in the mid range, but overall, not too bad.

    The receiver is fine, except it puts out a lot of heat. I hope that newer models have better performance over this one.

    The Logitech remote is freak'en cool!!

    The sub seems under powered for the room. My room is not huge (26x22) but the ceiling is very high, about 16" feet tall. Question....am I better off adding a second sub or just replacing this one with a much larger one? Are two subs better than one or can one do the job if sized properly and would a ProSub 1000 be enough? Its not terrible, but could use a bit more low end support.

    Thanks!!!
     
  10. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    :D Everybody loves their Harmony remote!

    Adam:

    I'm late to your thread. But, welcome to the forum and I'm glad you ended up with something that meets your needs! But now that you've dipped your toes in the water, I won't be surprised when you're back wondering how to best take things to the next level.

    Hang around here long enough and you catch that insidious disease: upgradeitis! :laugh:

    :welcome:
     
  11. Adam D

    Adam D Extra

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    Mike et all,

    Yeah...it's terrible. I am already scoping out what I'd like to upgrade to. I know I need a bigger sub but that's really not an upgrade, that's more just getting it right.

    I think what I'm more interested in right now is setting up a multi room sound system. I bought the Bose Sound Touch BT adapter so I may just stick with that and a series of Bose Sound Touch speakers. May not be the best, but it's not a bad way to go.

    I need to get a second job!!
     
  12. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    I'm not a big hardware expert, so I'll let others guide you on your sub and zone questions.

    But I don't think it is uncommon for receivers to generate a lot of heat. I even have a small desk-top fan which I purchased for the sole purpose of blowing the heat away from my receiver to keep things from getting too hot. New or old...they're doing the majority of the work! :D

    The mid-range frequencies for your music MIGHT be a victim of receiver settings. If you didn't get the manual with the unit, it is probably downloadable from Onkyo. You may need to tweak the settings to something different from what the prior owner was using. There can be a lot of tweaking before we get the sound that we want from our systems. And THAT is a lot of what leads to that "upgradeitis!"

    And I know in your OP you mentioned a budget of $1300. It will help for sub recommendations to know what your new budget is (based on your Craig's list purchases, etc.) We just love helping other people spend their money! :laugh:
     
  13. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    You've got 8" sub?
    https://www.definitivetechnology.com/products/prosub-800

    Get a good single sub with a 12" or larger woofer. It will change your experience. If you get a sub that's generally available, you can a second later if you want.
     

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