Thanks for this article, I find this a question I am asking myself writer a bit these days.
Do (m)any of the soundbars out there offer useful room correction and systems to help with setup? I figure this would be important for Dolby Atmos as surely it would need to know where in space to put the object sound.
Thanks Steve, interesting and something I had a brief look into recently.
I'm under no illusions that an AVR and separates would be better and were I fitting out a "man cave", it would be a no brainer. However I was looking for a solution for an already decorated family living room and the thought of speaker wire and trunking (shudder) was too much to bear. Maybe I was looking in the wrong places but I just couldn't find an AVR option providing wireless rear speakers. That left me to choose from the handful soundbars that do. I got a smashing deal (>50% less than the Q950 price mentioned) on a JBL 9.1 in the end and we're very impressed.
Also in your example, that centre speaker would look so out of place beneath my (and I'd guess most peoples) TV. I'd be awarding aesthetics points to the soundbar side of the debate.
Thanks for the informative article. One important issue is the shape of the room which limits where and what speakers to install. For example, If you live in a 1930s house, you probably have a fire place/chimney breast, radiator(s), bay window and then seating for at least 4 and a door (!!) to get into the room.
No, this isn't an advertisement. If it were a sponsored or commercial post, it would be clearly marked as such. I actually asked Steve to look at this question and with his vast experience reviewing hundreds of soundbars and AVRs, to come up with some solutions in a written article. This also includes looking at second-hand equipment within the AVForums classifieds.another article, with a very nice "advertisement", for the Q950T ...
Have you seen the display on the Marantz 6000 series lolAn AVR will also have a better remote control, along with a proper display that’s visible, easy-to-read and informative.
An absolutely stonking set of speakers with Focal grade satellite speakers. The sound from these and their up-firing modules is simply amazing for their size. Think of them as bookshelf sized speakers even though the shape makes them seem smaller. So if the satellites are excellent, they must have cut costs somewhere, right? Enter the subwoofer which is a typical HTIB sub i.e. ok but boomy and probably not much better than a soundbar subwoofer. The other issue is that if you want to upgrade with another set of Dolby speakers, the price for the new pair is prohibitively expensive when compared to the price of the set. For many films you might not notice the difference between .2 and .4 but if you can find a deal then it is definitely worth it.Thankfully there is one option that stands head-and-shoulders above the competition, offering a 5.1.2 channel configuration at an affordable price. The Focal Sib Evo 5.1.2 (£699) is an excellent speaker package that not only sounds superb and comes with a decent subwoofer, but has upward-firing drivers built-into the front left and right speakers, making for a tidier solution.
I don't have a soundbar but I agree and if you have a Harmony (which can be a PITA) it's even better. Of course it does becomes an either/or question because of budget. How many people can afford to have both?I don't see this as an "either or" question. I have both.
My soundbar is used for daily TV (using Sky Q) and I have the AVR(HT) for movies (using the UHD and Apple TV4k). My hook up is everything into the AVR using HDMI (with passthru) and then to SB (HDMI) and then to TV (HDMI Arc). When AVR is in standby it passes thru Sky Q and SB is active. When watching a movie the AVR is on and the SB is in standby (passthru). Works for me.
Using a Harmony allows for one button to turn on/off all active devices as needed.
I understand that point but I would not pay a high price (>£500) for a soundbar as we understand it's inherent limitations. For those wanting Home Theater for Atmos / DTS:X, then of course budget is a different matter.I don't have a soundbar but I agree. Of course it becomes an either/or question because of budget. How many people can afford to have both?