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Old 28-01-2013, 16:16
bgtension
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I have a fairly large living room and am looking at investing in improving the sound quality of my TV.

My question is simple (although the answers may not be), should I purchase a sound bar (I've been looking at the new Bose one) or a wired surround sound speaker system?
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Old 28-01-2013, 16:33
chrisjr
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Depends on a number of factors.

If you want the best possible sound then a proper AV amp and speakers would do the job better than any sound bar. You also have to factor in how easy (or otherwise) it is to run the cables to the rear speaker positions.

And there is of course the domestic factor. If you are a bloke and married then SWMBO may not like wires trailing around the place

And I am no fan of BOSE (an acronym for Buy Other Sound Equipment ). Bose tends to be initially impressive but you soon find that it is not as good as the price tag would lead you to believe. You can certainly do better for the money.

A halfway house compromise might be this

http://www.richersounds.com/product/...y-htx22hdx-blk

At first sight it looks like a bog standard pair of speakers and sub. But it is in fact a fairly capable AV system. The sub houses a pretty decent AV amp with loads of connections for external kit (eg Sky/Freesat/Freeview box, Blu-Ray, DVD, games console etc). And although you can start out as a 2.1 system it can be upgraded to full 5.1 surround by adding the optional speaker kit.

And of course you haven't mentioned any sort of budget or whether you want to add Blu-Ray/DVD or whatever capabilities.
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Old 28-01-2013, 17:15
bgtension
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Depends on a number of factors.

If you want the best possible sound then a proper AV amp and speakers would do the job better than any sound bar. You also have to factor in how easy (or otherwise) it is to run the cables to the rear speaker positions.

And there is of course the domestic factor. If you are a bloke and married then SWMBO may not like wires trailing around the place

And I am no fan of BOSE (an acronym for Buy Other Sound Equipment ). Bose tends to be initially impressive but you soon find that it is not as good as the price tag would lead you to believe. You can certainly do better for the money.

A halfway house compromise might be this

http://www.richersounds.com/product/...y-htx22hdx-blk

At first sight it looks like a bog standard pair of speakers and sub. But it is in fact a fairly capable AV system. The sub houses a pretty decent AV amp with loads of connections for external kit (eg Sky/Freesat/Freeview box, Blu-Ray, DVD, games console etc). And although you can start out as a 2.1 system it can be upgraded to full 5.1 surround by adding the optional speaker kit.

And of course you haven't mentioned any sort of budget or whether you want to add Blu-Ray/DVD or whatever capabilities.
Many thanks for the detailed response

Excuse my ignorance, but can you just connect the audio up straight from the Sky+ box without having to go via the TV?
If so presumably you have to mute the TV then?
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Old 28-01-2013, 17:33
chrisjr
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You would mute the TV speakers whatever external sound system you were using. If you left the TV speakers on then chances are it would sound crap as the TV and external system interfere with each other.

In some instances the soundbar connects to the TV headphone socket which would mute the TV speakers automatically. Better units use either a digital connection to the TV or the Audio Return Channel on HDMI if both sound system and TV support it.

With something like the Onkyo system you would plug all the external kit into the HDMI sockets on the sub. Just have the one lead from the sub to the TV. The Onkyo then acts as the source select switch and noise maker for the telly and the telly just becomes a display panel.

If you set the Onkyo up in the appropriate manner then it sucks all the audio data out of the HDMI connection and only send pictures to the telly. So even if you cranked the TV speakers up to 11 they wouldn't make any noise.

Sky is slightly odd in that it only does stereo via HDMI for full surround you need the digital audio output. But if you were only using the Onkyo in 2.1 mode then that wouldn't be an issue. And if you did expand it to full 5.1then you can configure it to take pass on the pictures from HDMI and take audio from a digital input. All on one press of the remote button.
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Old 28-01-2013, 18:33
Stilian
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Depends on a number of factors.

BOSE (an acronym for Buy Other Sound Equipment ).
That's a good one
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Old 28-01-2013, 20:03
skinj
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The Bose Solo is not the most high powered, input packed piece of kit on the market. However if you are just looking for something simple that gives you far better sound than your TV could dream of it will do the trick really well.
After demo'ing the Solo to various people, alonside other sound bars or 2.1 systems the Solo has sold itself.
The main thing to bear in mind is that it's aimed at people that WANT really simple audio solutions. The Solo fits the bill precisely but will not suit everyone & for the same money you can get a more complex, maybe better sounding system.
In some cases it's like comparing apples & oranges.
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Old 28-01-2013, 22:38
call100
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I'll second that Onkyo set up. I have it and it is really good. Simple to set up with various connections and a good clear instruction manual.
With the option to have 2.1 or ad speakers up to 5.1 it's very flexible. I have mine as a 3.1 at the moment which works well....
Good luck with whatever you chose.
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Old 28-01-2013, 23:59
meltcity
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Another option, if within budget, is to buy a receiver and 5.1 separates and, if the rear speakers prove to be a nuisance, put them back in the box and reconfigure the system to 3.1.
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Old 29-01-2013, 16:54
bgtension
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Again probably a dumb question, but when you refer to 2.1/3.1/5.1, what does this actually mean?
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Old 29-01-2013, 17:09
kramstan70
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Again probably a dumb question, but when you refer to 2.1/3.1/5.1, what does this actually mean?
The.1 means the subwoofer. So a 2.1 speaker set up would usually incorporate 2 front speakers and a subwoofer; 3.1= 2 front speakers, centre speaker and sub and so on.
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Old 30-01-2013, 15:50
Dirtyhippy
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I've lived with a separates 5.0 system (no subwoofer)for a number of years and unless you live in a detached house with thick walls and deaf neighbours its hard to keep a lid on these monster systems, volume wise.

And I'll tell you why, dialogue is mixed very quietly so you have to crank the volume right up to hear the voices, and then WHAM, some effect kicks like an explosion or such like and your living room light up sonically, the effect is quite amazing but incredibly, stupidly loud, make no mistake.

So becuase you don't want to fall out with your neighbours you keep the volume turned down and you struggle to hear the dialogue, ruining the experience.

Yes people will say you can alter the balance but I have a decent Sony AV amp and I've never been able to satisfactorily balance it out without turning it down overall, I do have large floorstanders as well though. I keep the bass at -10db, yes that all the way down.

Oh and the cables will get on your nerves.

Get a soundbar.
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Old 30-01-2013, 16:04
chrisjr
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Any half way decent AV amp will allow you to adjust the volume of the centre speaker, where the majority of the dialogue is mixed to, separately to the other speakers.

On my Onkyo amp it is a couple of button presses to get this adjustment up so I can crank the centre speaker up to 11 to hear the dialogue and keep the effects at a civilised volume. It also has what it calls Dynamic Volume, (what I would call a Compressor), which is pretty effective at reducing the dynamic range so the difference between dialogue and effects is not so pronounced.

And it is nothing at all to do with having a full AV system or a soundbar. If the dialogue is mixed low and the effects high it will be like that regardless of what you are listening to. Unless the disk player is downmixing the sound track to stereo for the soundbar and boosts the centre channel level.
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Old 30-01-2013, 16:08
njp
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I've lived with a separates 5.0 system (no subwoofer)for a number of years and unless you live in a detached house with thick walls and deaf neighbours its hard to keep a lid on these monster systems, volume wise.

And I'll tell you why, dialogue is mixed very quietly so you have to crank the volume right up to hear the voices, and then WHAM, some effect kicks like an explosion or such like and your living room light up sonically, the effect is quite amazing but incredibly, stupidly loud, make no mistake.

So becuase you don't want to fall out with your neighbours you keep the volume turned down and you struggle to hear the dialogue, ruining the experience.
This has not been my experience on my 6.1 system. I use modest levels for normal TV, cranking it up occasionally for films (especially when I'm also using the projector).

I can't say I've had problems hearing dialogue. Are you sure everything is set up correctly?

Oh and the cables will get on your nerves.
Not when you've buried them in the walls / concealed them behind the skirting boards...

Get a soundbar.
A decent one will be a lot better than the TV sound, but it won't be as good as a decent discrete setup.
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Old 30-01-2013, 16:29
Dirtyhippy
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Multi channel AV amps are potentially incredibly loud, even cheap ones, I think the OP needs to know that regardless if I have my particular system set up incorrectly (i don't think so though).
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Old 30-01-2013, 16:35
bgtension
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I live in a detached house so neighbours not an issue, however the walls are paper thin so it may cause problems if others are trying to sleep.

I think a soundbar is probably the best option as that seems to be the simplest solution.

I suppose my next question is which one? Are Bose better?
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Old 30-01-2013, 16:44
chrisjr
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Not sure if the Sony is similar but on my Onkyo it has a Speaker Set-up menu. One of the options in that menu is to set the Level Calibration. When you select this option it plays white noise from each individual speaker in turn. You can then adjust the level of each speaker individually so they all sound the same volume.

Or if you are a real nerd use a sound level meter to trim them to with in 0.000001dB of each other

But once that is done I can tweak the Centre and Sub levels separately when listening to a TV programme or Blu-Ray disk if necessary using a separate menu on the amp.

Another thing to check is that the +ve and-ve speaker terminals are the correct way round. You could get some odd things happening if the centre speaker was out of phase with the rest of the system.
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Old 30-01-2013, 16:54
chrisjr
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I live in a detached house so neighbours not an issue, however the walls are paper thin so it may cause problems if others are trying to sleep.

I think a soundbar is probably the best option as that seems to be the simplest solution.

I suppose my next question is which one? Are Bose better?
Now there's a leading question if ever there was one

In my personal opinion you are paying a considerable premium for the badge on the front of Bose kit. Not saying it is absolute rubbish but perhaps not as good as the high prices they seem to charge would justify.

And the only Bose soundbar I can find appears to retail at around the 1200 to 1300 mark! Ouch!!! I wouldn't pay that for one certainly. I'd save myself the thick end of a grand and get something like this instead

http://www.richersounds.com/product/...1/yama-yhts401

Which also has a FM tuner built in if you like that sort of thing.
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Old 30-01-2013, 18:15
grahamlthompson
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Multi channel AV amps are potentially incredibly loud, even cheap ones, I think the OP needs to know that regardless if I have my particular system set up incorrectly (i don't think so though).
Doesn't yours have a volume control ?

The same comment would apply to a soundbar of similar power using loudspeakers of similar efficiency.

Normally if it sounds very large it's down to a cheap amplifier introducing horrendous amounts of dynamic distortion into a poor speaker system.

Try listening to say a brass band in the street, it won't be specatulary loud. Now replay a similar source over your home system to a similar level, the nearer it sounds to the original the better the quality.

Listen to the sound of distant thunder on a good system you will find it hard to tell which is real and which is recorded (dynamic range).

Modern tiny speakers paIred with a seperate bass speaker (subwoofer) are capable of amazing sound. The comprimise in building these tiny designs is lack of acoustic efficiency (they take a lot driving). A tiny satellite speaker driven at say 60W RMS will sound a lot quieter than a large reflex enclosure paired with just a 15W RMS amplifier. That's the reason why AV amps have big power outputs, mine has 170W over 5 channels. It's not any any louder in Stereo mode than an old decent Leak amp is when driving big floor standing speakers.

You won't ever see the audience duck as the zeros in Pearl Harbour scream over your head in Pearl Harbour using a sound bar (not a recommendation for the film, it's generally rubbish), but the attack sequence on Pearl Harbour and the subsequent bomb exploding in the Arizona's magazine is pretty amazing if you have decent audio kit.

Still looking for the bullet holes in my walls
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Old 30-01-2013, 19:14
bgtension
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Now there's a leading question if ever there was one

In my personal opinion you are paying a considerable premium for the badge on the front of Bose kit. Not saying it is absolute rubbish but perhaps not as good as the high prices they seem to charge would justify.

And the only Bose soundbar I can find appears to retail at around the 1200 to 1300 mark! Ouch!!! I wouldn't pay that for one certainly. I'd save myself the thick end of a grand and get something like this instead

http://www.richersounds.com/product/...1/yama-yhts401

Which also has a FM tuner built in if you like that sort of thing.
What about this one:-


http://www.bose.co.uk/GB/en/home-and...-sound-system/
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:40
kramstan70
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I live in a detached house so neighbours not an issue, however the walls are paper thin so it may cause problems if others are trying to sleep.

I think a soundbar is probably the best option as that seems to be the simplest solution.

I suppose my next question is which one? Are Bose better?
I have had two Yamaha sound bars. My first sound bar was the YHT S400 ( the YHT S401 which another poster has mentioned is the later model, but is pretty similar to the original). I now have the Yamaha YSP 2200 sound bar, which uses a completely different technology. Instead of using digital filtering to fool your ears into believing you are hearing surround sound, it uses radio waves which bounce off the walls of your room to provide the equivalent of a 7.1 set up.

It is absolutely incredible how the technology works when you listen to it. It comes with a separate sub and a single sound bar and is set up by using a supplied mic which effectively measures the dimensions of your room and then sets the paramaters automatically. You can alter these afterwards or set it up manually. I paid 699 for mine.

I have heard some of the Bose systems but for the money I think they are massively overpriced and in my opinion don't sound anywhere near as good as the Yamaha ones that I have heard.
http://www.whathifi.com/Review/Yamaha-YSP-2200/
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Old 01-02-2013, 12:51
njp
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I have had two Yamaha sound bars. My first sound bar was the YHT S400 ( the YHT S401 which another poster has mentioned is the later model, but is pretty similar to the original). I now have the Yamaha YSP 2200 sound bar, which uses a completely different technology. Instead of using digital filtering to fool your ears into believing you are hearing surround sound, it uses radio waves which bounce off the walls of your room to provide the equivalent of a 7.1 set up.
I think you might mean sound waves!

I have to admit, that was the technology I thought all sound bars used, but I probably only ever looked at high-end ones.
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Old 01-02-2013, 12:55
chrisjr
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I have to admit, that was the technology I thought all sound bars used, but I probably only ever looked at high-end ones.
Depends how clever they are.

Some only do stereo. I have also seen ones with a centre speaker built in as well. But by no means do all sound bars try to create virtual surround speakers.
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Old 01-02-2013, 13:05
njp
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Depends how clever they are.

Some only do stereo. I have also seen ones with a centre speaker built in as well. But by no means do all sound bars try to create virtual surround speakers.
Makes sense. A lot of people will just want something that sounds better than the inbuilt speakers.
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Old 01-02-2013, 13:15
chrisjr
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Makes sense. A lot of people will just want something that sounds better than the inbuilt speakers.
And I suspect even more don't give a toss about how it sounds. Just so long as Fred next door hasn't got a bigger screen size or more buttons to play with on the remote.

From what I've seen (and unfortunately heard ) in some people's homes good sound is somewhere down the bottom of their priority list.
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Old 01-02-2013, 13:32
bobcar
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Depends how clever they are.

Some only do stereo. I have also seen ones with a centre speaker built in as well. But by no means do all sound bars try to create virtual surround speakers.
I think most of them don't (though I stand to be corrected as I haven't looked at this recently), the Yamaha sound projectors do but even with Yamaha the lower end models don't as someone pointed out to me in another thread (I read sound projector from the brief advertising blurb and told someone that the Yamaha device would project like mine whereas in fact the blurb was wrong and it didn't).

Accepting 5.1 and bouncing off walls to create surround sound are two different things, to do the second requires a microphone and set up procedure.
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