Soundbar questions/first time buying a sound system

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KevinWalsh

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#1  Edited By KevinWalsh

Hey, so I am getting a new LG OLED tv (LG OLED65C8) as well as upgrading to a PS4 Pro for Red Dead II. It didn't really dawn on me that with all this upgrading I should probably get an audio set up or sound bar of some kind. I have always used tv speakers, which I now know is a terrible way to listen to movie/tv/games, shame on me.

I thought buying a new TV would be a tough choice! Good lord, for a guy who has never even considered an audio system of any kind, looking for the right sound bar/ sound bar with sub/ sound bar with sub and rear speakers has become this dark rabbit hole of information. I'm finding I have to juggle so many variables and feature a sound bar can offer (4k or HDR through put, dolby atmos, DTS: X, how many HDMI ports, blue tooth, wifi, the channels). I have done some hard core research on pretty much every "best of" list from CNET, tech radar, youtube set ups, if you google sound bar and some kind of list or review I've probably looked at it or watched it. I should probably say that I will use a PS4, a cable box and apps on the tv (such as netflix or amazon) for this tv. I don't plan on using it to stream music much, my place is small so I don't plan on needing multiple speakers in multiple rooms which is why I'm not super interested in getting into the sonos ecosystem. My living room is a perfect square with 9' plaster ceilings so sound will probably carry nicely with whatever I get.

But still I am locked with fear and can't seem to pull the trigger on a sound system. I know what I am getting with a top of the line TV but I don't want to invest a bunch of money in an audio set up that works half right. For instance I was seriously considering throwing down for a Samsung HW-N950 set up. It seemed to hit all of the boxes of a good high end system: easy to set up, has dolby atmos, 4k and HDR video pass, wireless rear speakers that only need to be plugged into a power outlet. It all seemed great. But as I look at reviews, atmos via arc doesn't work with peoples consoles? Again I am very new but the consensus is the full set of features doesn't work for a lot of people and they are hoping it'll be fixed with a patch or HDMI 2.1 cords that should fix this problem down the line. I don't want to invest well over a $1,000 for hoping something will get fixed later.

This leads me to my questions:

1.) For setting up a sound bar I will have two media boxes that need to go into the tv (the PS4 and the cable box). Should I look for a sound bar that has 2 HDMI's "in's" and have one HDMI go into the hdmi arc port. Is this the right way I should go about setting up my system? (again apparently people are losing rear channels and atmos when doing this with the Samsung 950). Or am I thinking about this all wrong and should I just plug my stuff directly into the tv and then push sound from the tv to the sound bar?

2.) What do you all have in terms of equipment and set up? I like the simplicity of a sound bar and subwoofer with my first go of things. I'm not looking to get different speakers and have to wire the whole place with my first audio set up. I like the idea of starting with a sound bar with subwoofer because literally anything better than tv speakers will suffice. But is something like dolby atmos and rear speakers necessary for my first outing? I'm just nervous reading so many people who are having all sorts of issues setting up their super expensive systems. Sorry about the length. Any advice would be great, I have spent the past 3 days going over every scrap of info I can find and I just feel lost. T

Thanks again

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xanadu

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It's definitely easiest to plug everything into your TV and go audio out from there. Definitely get a sound bar with a good/powerful sub-woofer as that makes a huge difference. I've never heard a soundbar with one but apparently Dolby Atmos is all the rage now a days so I'd look out for that too.

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ThatAintFalco

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I'll just pop in here to say that you should absolutely stay away from Vizio SB3651-E6. When I used it with my LG C7 tv, there was a delay that was not able to be fixed at all. I did a ton of testing and experimenting and was not able to fix it. I upgraded to a custom 5.1 system and no problems since. (not to say that's your answer.)

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Justin258

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#4  Edited By Justin258

Is your place so small that a soundbar is absolutely necessary? I found a good 5.1 receiver on a clearance rack at Best Buy, paired it with some Klipsch speakers, and it sounds great. Such a system can easily last you a long time if you take care of it and it will sound way better than any soundbar. If you're willing to drop a grand on a sound system, I feel like that's the best way to go, if you have the space for it.

A receiver, five speakers, and a sub wasn't difficult to set up for me. I just bought all the stuff at various times over the course of a year and plugged it all in. My reason for wanting to get into audio systems was so I could understand voices in movies and games without having to turn the volume way up or turn on subtitles. All I really had to do was turn the center channel up a bit and it worked. I got this receiver, these speakers for the fronts, these speakers for the rears, this center, and this subwoofer. The sub is perhaps a little too big for this room and I didn't actually pay for the sub, my dad bought it for me out of the blue and I seriously doubt he spent that much on it. If having a cable-y mess is a concern, perhaps look into a receiver and wireless speakers, though I'm honestly not sure if wireless speakers work all that well.

But if you're dead set on a soundbar - and there's nothing wrong with that, audiophiles - then I'd say you need to make sure you're getting something with a center speaker. At this point, I wouldn't worry about a billion different buzzwords, but I would make sure that it supports 4K and I'd definitely make sure it's a 5.1 system, meaning it includes a center speaker. Above everything else about my sound system, hearing voices so clearly and so crisply makes it so worth it. I hated having to turn the volume up to hear somebody say something and then down whenever something loud happens. Fucking hated that.

But I don't have any recommendations for sound bars. I've never really tried one and everyone I know is either A-OK with crappy TV speakers or so deep into audio that they would never once consider a sound bar.

EDIT:

I'm just nervous reading so many people who are having all sorts of issues setting up their super expensive systems.

One thing you should always keep in mind when looking at anything on the internet is that people who get things that work the first time don't usually get on the internet and complain. I know that when I finally plugged everything up and it worked first time, I spent a grand total of half a second thinking about how lucky I was that it all worked and then I was concerned with enjoying it, not with getting online and telling the world about it. Don't feel particularly daunted by sound systems, even a receiver/speaker setup - it's usually about as difficult as plugging it in and maybe messing with a few options.

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Big_Denim

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#5  Edited By Big_Denim

I had a 5.1 system for years, made the switch to a sound bar recently and couldn't be happier. There is an issue with HDMI handshakes and audio dropping out here and there but I think that's my shitty 5 year old Samsung to blame and not the sound bar.

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stonyman65

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Get the Kanto Yumi YU6 speakers and sub. The have fiber optic out that connects to the TV and the have a built in DAC and power amp, there is a control included too. A setup like that would MURDER any soundbar for a 2.1 setup. That's the easiest way to do things without going full blown speaker amp and/or surround reciever.

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Bane

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I tried the Sonos system. I had the soundbar, the rear speakers, and the sub. Pros: it sounded amazing. Cons: everything else. There was a delay between the picture on the TV and the audio from the Sonos that Sonos and I couldn't get to go away. There wasn't enough physical separation between the front channels, or between the fronts and the center channel. Using a soundbar as the "brains" of your audio system pales in comparison to using an actual AV receiver. In the end I packed it all up and took it back to Best Buy. Doing so caused quite a stir amongst the employees because "no one's every returned a Sonos before". Yeah, well, there's a first time for everything.

That experience just cemented my belief in the traditional AV receiver setup: all of your game consoles, cable boxes, Chromecasts, and whatever else go into the receiver, and then a single HDMI cable goes out from the receiver to the TV. Forever and ever, amen.

When I upgrade to a 4K TV I'm going to get the Sony STRDN1080 receiver. I've been using Sony receivers for close to two decades without issue.

I've currently got the Pioneer Andrew Jones 5.1 Speaker System and they're by far the best set of speakers I've ever owned.

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MonkeyMitcho

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Not sure if it's worth making my own thread about it but kinda related, been thinking about getting speakers or some kinda sound system for my desktop, any suggestions?

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hmoney001

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#9  Edited By hmoney001

figure out a budget and then figure out if you want powered or passive speakers for your desktop.

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OneLoneClone

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I have the HW850N (2018) same bar, no rear speakers. You have to plug the Xbox /ps4 into the sound bar hdmi ports, then the arc goes to the tv. That is the only way to get atoms. For std 5.1 you can plug hdmi into tv and optical cable from tv into sound bar. The atmos sounds fucken great, btw.

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Yesiamaduck

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No soundbar will be detailed enough to punnish you from using digital optical out as the sole source of audio so jusy go for that out of convience

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stonyman65

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Not sure if it's worth making my own thread about it but kinda related, been thinking about getting speakers or some kinda sound system for my desktop, any suggestions?

First you have to decide if you want powered (studio monitors) or passive (regular speakers) speakers.

The pro's of powered monitors is that the amp is included in the speakers so you plug it into an external DAC or just into the soundcard on your PC and you are good. The only con is volume control which can be done from a preamp or through windows. The cheapest solution would be to get something like a Micca Origen G2 external DAC and use that as preamp as well so you have everything in one package with a nice headphone amp included if you want to use headphones too, and then whatever powered monitors you like (JBL 305p and Mackie MR series seem to be the best bang for the buck right now, around $150 a speaker). You can also use an audio interface as a DAC and preamp as well, so like if you wanted to stream and use a mic to talk you could do everything (mic, speakers, headphones) from an audio interface and kind of have everything in one box. IMO, studio monitors are the best solution for a desktop because all you need is a DAC and preamp, and most DAC combos usually have a preamp built in so its a great cheap solution, same goes for an audio interface.

As for passive speakers, you need a speaker amp (Emotiva A-100 BassX, SMSL SA50) that will then run into an external DAC (JDS Labs ODAC, Schiit Modi) and then whatever speakers you want. Volume would be controlled by the speaker amp. The power of the speakers (volume level) is determined by the speaker amp wattage, but for desktop use something 50-100 watts a channel should be fine.

Attaching a subwoofer might be tough, but most of your decent studio monitors would have a subwoofer out and usually a matched sub to go with the speaker set. On a passive setup, a sub is dependent on the DAC or amp having a subwoofer out so you can add it in.

Again.... for budget it's really hard to pass up the Kanto YU series. kind of a one stop shop. Another, pricier option would be as I suggested earlier and getting a cheap audio interface or a usb DAC/amp/preamp combo like the Micca Origen G2 and then just plugging the studio monitors up to there.

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monkeyking1969

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#13  Edited By monkeyking1969

I went with a VIZIO SB3821-C6 38-Inch 2.1 Channel Soundbar w/ Wireless Subwoofer, but I turned the subwoofer off after a while. My room has tall bare walls and a hardwood floor. The rumble was just a bit too much in a room with reflected sounds.

Advice that people won't like to hear.
Really you should base your equipment on the room, not the other way around. An expensive large size 4k UHDTV with an expensive sound system can be wasted in room not designed or renovated for viewing and acoustics. Even a shitty apartment can be brought up to a standard with certain sound dampening materials and window fixtures to allow for nice viewing and listening; but if you aren't willing to spend on room - don't bother spending money on the equipment above a certain level.

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Xeiphyer

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Check out the SONOS speakers! You don't need a receiver, you don't need to run wires from all the speakers everywhere. Each speaker is independent with just a power cord, and they all connect over wifi. They support AirPlay and ChromeCast stuff, so you can easily connect other devices to it like your phone or pc for playing music from Spotify or whatever. Alexa and Google's assistant thing work too.

A smart tv can connect to the speakers wirelessly, or you can just connect a tv to one speaker and it'll share the audio properly to all the other speakers automatically. The app lets you group speakers and set up speakers to be used in a surround sound setting, or just be treated as normal speakers. It works great and has a lot of simple options for settings.

Because the speakers are modular, you can add them as you go. I started off with a soundbar for my TV, and then added 2 of the play-3 small speakers for some surround sound in my living room. Eventually I got some Play-5s for my bedroom (and one for my bathroom lol) so I can have music playing in the entire apartment all at once. It's fucking incredibly cool walking around the apartment and having the music play everywhere. I also have one of those Alexa amazon things, so I can say things like "Computer, play Miike Snow in the living room" and it'll start playing. It's great.

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gamb1t

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5.2 the only way to go. the second sub makes the world of a difference.