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Simplifying setup with a soundbar and new TV? (1 Viewer)

DaveF

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My dad wants to upgrade his sound system and maybe TV, and maybe also simplify the setup as well. He's got a 10+ year old receiver driving budget 10+ year old 5.1 speakers. The living room isn open floor plan "great room" with a high vaulted ceiling. The speakers are all very poorly placed due to the limits of the great room layout and its pre-wiring.

So...

He could buy a new 5.1 AVR, get some new budget speakers, and improve the core sound. The surround would still be pretty meh due to the great room layout problems. There would some work to remove the existing speakers and figure out how to mount new surrounds where the current surrounds are.

Wireless speakers might give some flexibility and allow the surround to get better.

Soundbars...? He asked me about soundbars, and I realized my ignorance. They seem a potentially good solution, but I don't understand how they work. I thought soundbars were meant to be an all-in-one replacement for a conventional AVR system. But most only have a single HDMI port. Can they work with cable box and a streaming box and a disc player? If he bought a new TV with multiple HDMI inputs and an eARC HDMI output, could he plug his cable box, Roku, DVD player into the TV, then route the TV audio by eARC to a soundbar? I know there's a lot of negativity around the pseudo-suround from a soundbar, but I'd be surprised if a new soundbar wasn't better than the current setup.
 

JohnRice

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How about a new receiver (or the same one) with a 3.0 or 3.1 setup instead of a soundber? You kind of get the best of both worlds. Simplicity of a soundbar, but much better audio, and all the connections and flexibility of the receiver.
 

John Dirk

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How about a new receiver (or the same one) with a 3.0 or 3.1 setup instead of a soundber? You kind of get the best of both worlds. Simplicity of a soundbar, but much better audio, and all the connections and flexibility of the receiver.

If I'm understanding Dave's comments correctly the soundbar is being considered to avoid having to buy new speakers.

My answer is, it depends on two things.
  1. Your dads level of, shall we say, "appreciation" for quality sound.
  2. As always, the budget
Unless he's really serious about his surround quality, this is one instance where I might recommend the soundbar, especially considering the challenges of the room.
 

JohnRice

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If I'm understanding Dave's comments correctly the soundbar is being considered to avoid having to buy new speakers.
That was definitely not my interpretation, based on the second paragraph.
 

David Norman

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If I'm understanding Dave's comments correctly the soundbar is being considered to avoid having to buy new speakers.

My answer is, it depends on two things.
  1. Your dads level of, shall we say, "appreciation" for quality sound.
  2. As always, the budget
Unless he's really serious about his surround quality, this is one instance where I might recommend the soundbar, especially considering the challenges of the room.

I'll even ask a different variation of question 1 (maybe just more blunt if that's what you were getting at)-- how is his hearing in general? By the time my Dad and even moreso my Father In Law hit mid 70+'s, loud was the only requirement. Any version of sophistication was completely lost.

I am little more knowledgeable on actual soundbars than Dave is, but I am quite sure with a TV with multiple inputs, the TV itself could be used as the switcher with a single output to the soundbar. Quite a few soundbars I've seen have an HDMI In and HDMI (ARC) in addition to some sort of Digital Input. I don;t think I've seen a soundbar with multiple HDMI inputs so I don't think there is a way to use it as the switcher.

You mentioned the age of the receiver/speakers, but not TV -- if the TV/Monitor is already higher end and not really in need of replacement, but lacks inputs inputs an HDMI switcher seems to be a much cheaper solution to allow that distribution.
 
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DaveF

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My parents are in their 70's. They have grandkids. I like the idea of the soundbar for the simplification: a receiver has more potential for the remote to get goofed up or buttons pushed and the system scrambled. Which has been a problem on occasion in the past. A soundbar seems like there's less to go wrong, a simpler remote control, fewer settings for grandkids to screw up.

Their TV is HD, 5+ years old. He'd kinda like to upgrade to a slimmer bezel TV to get a bigger screen in the limited hutch space.

Sound quality per se I estimate isn't that important. But I know he'd like "surround". And getting a little "boom" from a sub is probably desired too. If a soundbar can do that (even fake it), it's probably good enough.

Basically, I can steer him towards or away from really good or really bad ideas. And help inform him how things work and if they can work for his setup. So I nudge him towards or away from a soundbar accordingly.
 

DaveF

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Budget: $1000 for receiver and speakers? $500 would be better, but I appreciate that a surround system costs money to not get garbage.
 

Josh Steinberg

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I’m watching this thread with interest. I recently helped my mom and stepdad pick out a new TV and I know longterm the built in speakers are going to be an issue. I also know that doing a full AVR setup and explaining how to use said AVR is probably outside of the realm of possibility. They don’t care about surround sound or lossless audio or anything like that. They just want something equivalent to the TV speakers that used to come standard in the big, bulky tube TVs. Hearing dialogue clearly is the only priority.

I’m thinking that a soundbar that used the TV as the switcher with ARC is probably the best solution here. I’m normally opposed to ARC in my setups but I think that’s the only way to make this all fly without them needing to call me every time they want to switch inputs. And I’ve seen some soundbars offer a volume boost on center channel content which would probably solve most of their dialogue hearing issues.

But I’m also fairly stumped as to where to start. This week’s gonna be the big test. Stepdad had surgery today and is gonna be on the couch in front of the TV for a few weeks; normally he barely watches any. If the built-in speakers need an upgrade, we’ll know it soon enough!
 

John Dirk

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I'll even ask a different variation of question 1 (maybe just more blunt if that's what you were getting at)-- how is his hearing in general?

@DaveF - That was David Norman. I didn't say s**t. :cool:

Seriously though, I think the soundbar is probably the best option for both you and Josh. No soundbar is going to do convincing surround but I'm betting in each case you can get one well within your budgets that will impress their intended audiences.
 
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