Is a budget 3.1 bar worth it, as I have no idea what to buy?

apodo

Standard Member
I am afraid this is another "what should I buy" thread.

My Samsung HW-J355 seems to have died, turning off after a minute with a PROT error. In hindsight I should have known something was wrong as I seemed to need the volume louder, but genuinely thought it was my hearing going! I never chose that, it was a piled-high item in my local Tesco for about £80 that was well reviewed, when I went online while in store, shortly after replacing my old CRT with an LCD model and hearing its shortcomings.

I do not really watch films, so mainly I only watch from a Sky HD box and the TV's inbuilt DLNA player. So the latest Dolby and DTS standards are not that important to me, though something future proof is always better than not.

Which means the upper end of my budget is £300, though even that feels like pushing it beyond my use and appreciation and was hoping for something under £200. I just want something that sounds nice and to be able to hear clearly, as I can have problems hearing speech in person in noisy environments (central auditory processing disorder). Which is why I thought it was me and not the soundbar falling apart!

The choice though is overwhelming because it is not simply a matter of compromise but that everything in my price range seems to have something badly wrong with it.

So firstly, is a 3.1 sound bar worth it? My old CRT TV had surround sound built-in, and I definitely felt the benefit of the centre speaker, which was absent with the soundbar. But given the closeness of speakers and my budget, will it be a genuine benefit or more of a gimmick? Where I sit is six to seven feet from the TV.

Or should I just get something cheap, under £100, as it will be an improvement on the TV's speakers and accept that if I ever upgrade my TV or what I watch then I will just need to replace it then?

I had made a shortlist of the L.G. SN4 as the budget option at £130, L.G. SL6Y as a 3.1 system at £270, and the Sharp HT-SBW460 as an alternative 3.1 system for £250. It seems I took too long to sit down and properly consider the pros and cons that the SN4 is now up to £199 (prices for that from John Lewis) that it no longer seems such a budget option.

The Sharp was my favourite for the added connectivity, but the reviews were less good and it lacked DTS. As I said it is not something that important to me, but my old TV had it, the Samsung had it, and I do own a blu-ray player so it may be of occasional value. And though some sort of virtual height processing may be nice, I cannot see myself ever needing Dolby Atmos which seems to be its main selling point.

Also, one review for the Sharp said the subwoofer sounds much better if you stuff some microfibre clothes in the back. Which I am not sure if that is a positive or a negative.

My problem with the L.G. models was a lack of a 3.5mm port, because I have a DAB radio I connected to the Samsung this way, mainly for listening to cricket. But for this I would happily settled on the SN4 originally, although it seems an AUX input is lacking from most bars I have looked at so I accept that I may have to concede defeat on that.

And after reading reviews, it sounds like the lack of a separate subwoofer is a problem for the L.G. SN7CY which is why I ruled that out.

After looking at "you may also like" links and reading threads here for recommendations from other threads I then ended up on the Sony HT-G700, a 3.1 model with all the standards but no 3.5mm port. The positive review on the site mad it seem worth paying the top end of my budget. Then I read the thread for it, which pretty much wrote it off.

And so I am even more confused than before I started. And going to a shop for advice is not even an option as I am shielding, as I have been since March but for a small window in autumn. So any help and advice would be very greatly appreciated, because the sound direct from the TV is awful so I need to get something sorted.

Thanks.
 

keithwiggins

Well-known Member
I am afraid this is another "what should I buy" thread.

My Samsung HW-J355 seems to have died, turning off after a minute with a PROT error. In hindsight I should have known something was wrong as I seemed to need the volume louder, but genuinely thought it was my hearing going! I never chose that, it was a piled-high item in my local Tesco for about £80 that was well reviewed, when I went online while in store, shortly after replacing my old CRT with an LCD model and hearing its shortcomings.

I do not really watch films, so mainly I only watch from a Sky HD box and the TV's inbuilt DLNA player. So the latest Dolby and DTS standards are not that important to me, though something future proof is always better than not.

Which means the upper end of my budget is £300, though even that feels like pushing it beyond my use and appreciation and was hoping for something under £200. I just want something that sounds nice and to be able to hear clearly, as I can have problems hearing speech in person in noisy environments (central auditory processing disorder). Which is why I thought it was me and not the soundbar falling apart!

The choice though is overwhelming because it is not simply a matter of compromise but that everything in my price range seems to have something badly wrong with it.

So firstly, is a 3.1 sound bar worth it? My old CRT TV had surround sound built-in, and I definitely felt the benefit of the centre speaker, which was absent with the soundbar. But given the closeness of speakers and my budget, will it be a genuine benefit or more of a gimmick? Where I sit is six to seven feet from the TV.

Or should I just get something cheap, under £100, as it will be an improvement on the TV's speakers and accept that if I ever upgrade my TV or what I watch then I will just need to replace it then?

I had made a shortlist of the L.G. SN4 as the budget option at £130, L.G. SL6Y as a 3.1 system at £270, and the Sharp HT-SBW460 as an alternative 3.1 system for £250. It seems I took too long to sit down and properly consider the pros and cons that the SN4 is now up to £199 (prices for that from John Lewis) that it no longer seems such a budget option.

The Sharp was my favourite for the added connectivity, but the reviews were less good and it lacked DTS. As I said it is not something that important to me, but my old TV had it, the Samsung had it, and I do own a blu-ray player so it may be of occasional value. And though some sort of virtual height processing may be nice, I cannot see myself ever needing Dolby Atmos which seems to be its main selling point.

Also, one review for the Sharp said the subwoofer sounds much better if you stuff some microfibre clothes in the back. Which I am not sure if that is a positive or a negative.

My problem with the L.G. models was a lack of a 3.5mm port, because I have a DAB radio I connected to the Samsung this way, mainly for listening to cricket. But for this I would happily settled on the SN4 originally, although it seems an AUX input is lacking from most bars I have looked at so I accept that I may have to concede defeat on that.

And after reading reviews, it sounds like the lack of a separate subwoofer is a problem for the L.G. SN7CY which is why I ruled that out.

After looking at "you may also like" links and reading threads here for recommendations from other threads I then ended up on the Sony HT-G700, a 3.1 model with all the standards but no 3.5mm port. The positive review on the site mad it seem worth paying the top end of my budget. Then I read the thread for it, which pretty much wrote it off.

And so I am even more confused than before I started. And going to a shop for advice is not even an option as I am shielding, as I have been since March but for a small window in autumn. So any help and advice would be very greatly appreciated, because the sound direct from the TV is awful so I need to get something sorted.

Thanks.
pretty much the best in your range will be the sonus beam, apart from excellent build and sound it offers a quality upgrade path.
 

apodo

Standard Member
I looked up the Beam after reading favourable reviews on here, but the cheapest I have seen it for is £380 which is beyond my budget. And with a subwoofer it is over £1,000!

And as good as the sound may be, its functionality seems quite demanding in that
it lacks a remote and only has a single HDMI connection.

My phone runs iOS 10 so cannot run the Sonos app, and I do not have a free HDMI on my TV. So without being able able to pass the Sky box through the soundbar I would need to use an optical-HDMI adapter which does not allow controlling it through the TV remote.
 

LexDiamond

Active Member
If you’re needing pass through then that would limit your options at the £300 mark. There is the Sony HT-X8500. It is an all in one unit with the sub woofers built into the bar.

I have had one since just before Christmas and am really enjoying it. It does however get mixed reviews on here. It has its own user thread in the forum so might me worth a read if you think it meets your needs.
 

apodo

Standard Member
I am okay using an optical connection, which is what I have been using as my old soundbar as that does not even have HDMI. And I use an all-in-one remote anyway for the TV and Sky box. Although most bars I have looked at do have HDMI passthrough.

It was just a specific problem with the Sonos Beam as, according to reviews, it cannot be operated by a remote control as it designed to be controlled through either HDMI or an app.

I did read look into the Sky Soundbox and the reviews of the quality were very good but it had two problems for me. Firstly that it needs to be used with a Sky Q box to use the sound modes (the benefits do not justify extra subscription price over the original HD box for me), so I would not get the full benefit. But the main issue is that it use side drivers, but my room layout would block it on one side.

One of the advantages of buying a soundbar on a budget is that hardly any in my range fires to the sides. Of everything I have looked at there was only one, though I cannot remember which.

I will look more into the Sony HT-X8500 though, I just picked a random review and it was very positive even about the built-in subwoofers. Thank you.
 

LexDiamond

Active Member
Sorry I misunderstood your post for meaning you needed pass through. If you don’t need pass through and and can use optical then have a look at the Orbitsound Bar A70 as an option. It is optical only and comes with a separate sub woofer.

It is £399 on the Orbitsound website but John Lewis have it at £299 so is in your budget.
 

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