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TV Soundbars - any input on value
Old 02-03-2023, 12:05 PM   #1
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TV Soundbars - any input on value

Walking through Costco today evaluating an upcoming Smart TV purchase and notice 4 or 5 sound-bars ranging from $150 to $500 in price.

Looking for any comments on their value/ usefulness and any brand recommendations.
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Old 02-03-2023, 12:27 PM   #2
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We had a moderate Samsung sound bar with wireless subwoofer for our Panasonic 50" plasma TV and it was great. When we upgraded to the 86" LG over the summer, the sound was so incredible out of the box, I never even attached the sound bar to consider using it.

My suggestion - see how the new unit sounds for a week, then decide.
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Old 02-03-2023, 12:39 PM   #3
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Walking through Costco today evaluating an upcoming Smart TV purchase and notice 4 or 5 sound-bars ranging from $150 to $500 in price.

Looking for any comments on their value/ usefulness and any brand recommendations.
If you are currently only using the TV speakers soundbars can improve the sound quality of your TV viewing experience. If you are having trouble understanding dialogue with just your TV speakers a soundbar is a step in the right direction.

I'm not sure about which brand is the best but the things you should look for in a soundbar are its features, number and type of inputs/outputs, and sound format capabilities. How loud can it get? You'll have to do research on reviews of the models you are interested in buying. Of course, physical size is also a consideration.

Features:
Left, right, and center speakers. Also called 3.0 channels.

HDMI eArc connection; Two HDMI connections is better: one eArc and one regular.

At least one digital optical connection (sometimes called TOSLink) Two is better.

Analog input connections

Ability to stream audio over Wi-Fi as well as via Bluetooth. You allows you to stream music from your phone or tablet to the soundbar.

Subwoofer. I consider this a must, but if you don't have the room or spouse does not approve, you'll get by.

Ability to play Dolby Atmos sound format. Also ability to play DTS:X sound format is a bonus.

Alexa and/or Google voice control support (if this is important to you.)

Ability to add rear surround speakers, if desired. (not that important, but a consideration.)

If getting a full-fledged audio system with an AVR and stand alone speakers and a separate subwoofer is not going to work, a soundbar is a nice compromise to lift the audio quality of your viewing experience.
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Old 02-03-2023, 12:48 PM   #4
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Yeah I’m looking for one for bedroom TV.

Have to really crank up volume depending on the source.

Prices can run into thousands because some come with satellites and subwoofers in an attempt to create surround sound of separate speakers.

Just all different price ranges, depends on how much you want to spend. If your tv is mounted to the wall you need a bracket to install the soundbar under the TV, which you may or may not be able to do yourself depending on how large the tv is, whether you’d be able to take the TV off the wall Mount and put it back.

So you may need to budget for Geek Squad or someone to install the sound bar below the TV in a wall Mount.

I was looking at the Sonos Beam 2nd gen but it’s $450. Or a comparable sized one is a Yamaha but it’s $129 and doesn’t have Dolby Atmos.
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Old 02-03-2023, 12:52 PM   #5
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~20 inch Vizio sound bar, optically connected... Doesn't help much, but then, I'm 1/2 deaf to start with.
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Old 02-03-2023, 01:08 PM   #6
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Many TV's have rear-facing speakers these days. I suppose the designers though that a slim outline around the screen was, I don't know.....snazzier ?

The rear-facing speakers muffle the sound, or bounce the sound waves around the room in every direction, except for the direct path to your ears while you're sitting in your favorite chair. I've found that any forward firing soundbar improves the quality of the audio reaching your ears. I don't need the sub-woofer for basic TV.
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Old 02-03-2023, 01:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Qs Laptop View Post
If getting a full-fledged audio system with an AVR and stand alone speakers and a separate subwoofer is not going to work, a soundbar is a nice compromise to lift the audio quality of your viewing experience.
I think this about sums it up. If you just want to improve the TV sound over the small built-in TV speakers, then a soundbar is a nice improvement.

I am not an audiophile, nor do I have any type of dedicated screening room, so a simple soundbar works great for me. I have one with a wireless subwoofer on one TV. Another has the just the soundbar mounted on the wall under the TV. The subwoofer is nice for movies and similar, but for normal TV either one is an improvement over the TV speakers alone.
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Old 02-03-2023, 01:32 PM   #8
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There are some great choices of sound bars and if you are getting a great new TV, you are definitely going to want one vs. the built in speakers.

I have a Sonos Beam sound bar with my family room TV and it works great. Just make sure when you are mounting the TV on a wall, if you don't have the sound bar at the same time, to run an extra HDMI cable and optical cable from the TV outputs. Yes, the Sonos is pricey, but without a separate sub-woofer it sounds great.

For our bedroom TV I have an older Bose Solo, which sits on the dresser below the TV. Simple and reasonably priced (the Solo 5 is about $159) and is a great addition for a TV we don't use as often.
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Old 02-03-2023, 02:39 PM   #9
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Take a look at the reviews here:https://www.rtings.com/soundbar
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Old 02-03-2023, 02:46 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Qs Laptop View Post
If you are currently only using the TV speakers soundbars can improve the sound quality of your TV viewing experience. If you are having trouble understanding dialogue with just your TV speakers a soundbar is a step in the right direction.
Good advice. Some people will find that enough of an improvement for basic TV viewing.

I will add that if you already have a set of tower speakers and a receiver in the same room, then adding a center speaker in conjunction with the tower speakers might be a better option.
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Old 02-03-2023, 04:06 PM   #11
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I am a convert to TV soundbars. A good quality one adds so much better clarity to dialogue and better overall sound to movies compared to the internal TV speakers. And the way the soundbar operates seamlessly with my TV controller (and my blu-ray player controller) helps to minimize additional remote control clutter.

I recently acquired the Sonos 25-inch Beam for my bedroom 42-inch Samsung TV. It replaced an older Boston soundbar whose paired wireless subwoofer had died. The sound from the Sonos was impressively superior, even without the optional subwoofer.

In my family room, the main TV is a 55-inch oled LG, paired to a 45-inch Sonos Arc soundbar. This is wirelessly paired to an optional subwoofer and 2 optional rear surround speakers. I am very pleased with the sound from this setup, and its simplicity. It replaced a bulky wired 5-speaker setup (L&R, center, 2 rears) with wired subwoofer and Yamaha receiver.
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Old 02-03-2023, 04:31 PM   #12
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I was looking at the Sonos Beam 2nd gen but itís $450. Or a comparable sized one is a Yamaha but itís $129 and doesnít have Dolby Atmos.

I see the Beam is currently $399 at the manufacturerís website.
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Old 02-03-2023, 04:48 PM   #13
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One soundbar system that might rival or exceed many high end HT sound systems was introduced at the recent CES show, but it won't be cheap:
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Old 02-03-2023, 05:17 PM   #14
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we bought a Bose soundbar for our 50" family room TV. didn't need, don't want a home theatre experience. we just wanted better sound than the puny rear-facing TV speakers could provide. had a bit of trouble adding the soundbar to our Comcast remote but got it to work.
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Old 02-03-2023, 06:04 PM   #15
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The right system depends on what you want to watch/listen to, how much time you spend watching TV, how important good sound is to you and what budget you are willing to spend.

My SIL bought a sound bar and then realized it wasn't capable of what he really wanted, which was something to bring movies to life. So then he wised up and spent time going around and listening to different systems and replaced it with a separate receiver and 5.2 set of speakers.

When I was shopping for our systems, I listened to lots of speakers and receivers and kept moving up the price range if I thought the difference was noticeable. Ended up spending quite a bit, but haven't regretted it.
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Old 02-03-2023, 08:26 PM   #16
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A sound bar will dramatically change the sound quality of a TV. We had a Bose and liked it. We were then introduced to a Sonos and loved it. An app allows you to tune it to your individual space by collecting sound at various points in the room. It is worth it, trust me.
We also use it for music. Spectacular.
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Old 02-03-2023, 08:37 PM   #17
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One thing to keep in mind, as we change more to streaming sources, some services don't offer more than stereo sound, depending on the content, the service, the streaming device.

Cable and satellite are pretty consistently Dolby Digital or AC-3 with 5.1 sound.

So if you watch a lot of streaming, you may not always need surround sound system, though some receivers will do a good job of taking a stereo source and synthesizing a surround sound track and drive 5.1 or more speakers.
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Old 02-04-2023, 07:19 AM   #18
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About five years ago I went to Walmart, looked around, and bought a Samsung soundbar. Something like: Samsung - 2.1-Channel Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer and Dolby Audio / DTS 2.0 - Black.

The remote is simple to use. You can quickly adjust the presets, go from normal to sports, for example.
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Old 02-04-2023, 07:26 AM   #19
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Quote:
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Many TV's have rear-facing speakers these days. I suppose the designers though that a slim outline around the screen was, I don't know.....snazzier ?

The rear-facing speakers muffle the sound, or bounce the sound waves around the room in every direction, except for the direct path to your ears while you're sitting in your favorite chair. I've found that any forward firing soundbar improves the quality of the audio reaching your ears. I don't need the sub-woofer for basic TV.
Totally agree those rear facing speakers are terrible, especially if I am am not wearing my hearing aids. Which I only need in certain situations. We have a 36” sound bar and a 5.1 surround sound on another TV. For most things the sound bar is as good or better.
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Old 02-04-2023, 09:58 AM   #20
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One thing to keep in mind, as we change more to streaming sources, some services don't offer more than stereo sound, depending on the content, the service, the streaming device.

So if you watch a lot of streaming, you may not always need surround sound system
I have found that Dolby digital 5.1 to be quite common on the streaming services I have viewed, such as Amazon Prime, HBO Max, and Disney Plus. In fact, Disney plus in particular has quite a lot of current films in Dolby Atmos (although a compressed signal for streaming) in addition to DD 5.1. So I often do get that surround sound effect when streaming many programs.
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