Question Looking to upgrade my soundbar

Discussion in 'Soundbars, Soundplates & Soundbases' started by Valiceemo, May 16, 2018.

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  1. Valiceemo

    Valiceemo
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    Hi, I'm hoping the knowledgeable folk here can help me out...
    I currently have an LG soundbar...LG NB3530A: Sound Bar Audio System with Bluetooth Connectivity | LG USA

    But I feel like its not so great, I think I made the mistake of opting for the most power within my budget at the time.
    It kind of feels like I need to have the volume to high to be able to clearly hear the dialogue of a TV programme for example, and it seems like it lacks depth maybe?
    Either that, or my lack of AV knowledge means I have it 'setup' poorly and am not making the most out of it.

    anyways, I'm looking for better options, be that a soundbar or alternative, and I guess I need help in choosing what best suits my needs and the room in which it will be placed, I've attached a plan of my room...its relatively small.

    I'm very open to other solutions, such as full surround sound, or AV receiver, but have almost zero knowledge. But I will say, running speaker cable will be a challenge as the floor is tiled.

    I currently use SkyHD (UK) as my TV provider and have an Xbox one.
    Budget is not huge, in fact, probably pretty small in the AV gear world. But realistically I don't 'need' the best, I'm just looking for guidance on how / what to look for?

    Thanks!
     

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  2. Joe Fernand

    Joe Fernand
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    Room/Room Layout - are often the critical factor when configuring a system.

    Corner Mounted Soundbar - stick it in Stereo mode rather than Surround Sound

    Tiled floor - can cause a lot of reflected audio which can make following dialogue tricky, if you don’t have one try putting a rug on the floor in front of the Soundbar.

    Joe
     
  3. Valiceemo

    Valiceemo
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    Ah OK, do you know, I had never considered the floor being a factor in, what I perceive, as bad audio!
    I actually do have a rug on the tiles, and there isn't really much of the tiled floor exposed...considering the coverage from 2 sofas etc.

    But im starting to feel like its just not a particularly good model, I mean it is 4 years old, and I believe only 2.1 channel

    Currently the soundbar is in the corner, where I've marked Media Gear in the plan in the 1st post.
    Its just on a standard TV unit, so probably around knee height.
    Would you suggest another mounting point / height?
     
  4. Derek S-H

    Derek S-H
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    Ideally, in my opinion, you'd put a soundbar/soundbase as close to your screen as possible - directly underneath on the same level would be perfect.

    You don't say what your budget is?

    How did you set it up? Was it via an on-screen display? Do you have the option of any room EQ?

    Finally, looking at your diagram, can I ask is placing the sofa at the bottom of the plan under the opposite window and moving the media unit into that available space an option?
     
  5. Valiceemo

    Valiceemo
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    Yeah, currently the soundbar is directly in front of the TV, on the same unit.
    In terms of setting it up...I plugged it in and turned it on....
    the settings are somewhat limited, and I generally have it set to the '3D Sound' effect, auto volume on, drc set to on (I have no idea what this is or what effects it has?!), sub level set to 2 or 3 and all connections made via optical cable - one direct from xbox and one from my Sony Bravia TV.

    What do you mean by an option of room EQ?

    In terms of re-shuffling the room layout, unfortunately this isn't really an option.
    This wold involve rerouting power cables, Sky dish cables, Ethernet, all sorts, as well as a reduction in useable space, which renders it a none starter.
     
  6. Derek S-H

    Derek S-H
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    A separate 5.1 system will always sound better and more room-filling than a soundbar/soundbase, but it involves more from you regarding setting up i.e. connections and speaker cables. They're pretty easy to use once everything's in place and calibrated, usually automatically via in-built room EQ, you just follow the on-screen instructions.

    Soundbases/soundbars are just simplicity itself, though: one power cable to socket and one connection to TV. You then just pick any of the sound pre-sets you prefer and you're away.

    My boss recently invested in a Canton DM75:

    Soundbars | Richer Sounds

    Sounds pretty good, though everything's right in front of you, there's not much width to the sound. Very easy to set up too and supports up to 40 kilos in weight, so he has his telly sitting directly on top of it.
     
  7. Valiceemo

    Valiceemo
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    I would dearly love a 5.1 system, but its the positioning of the speakers and the routing of the cabling that's putting me off...I cant help but think that my room is almost too small to warrant spending the money?
    I actually have some very (VERY) old speakers from an ancient Sony DVD 5.1 system in the loft...I wonder could I re-purpose those / make use of them on the cheap?

    In reality my budget is probably not much more than £200
     
  8. Derek S-H

    Derek S-H
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    This is what DRC means:

    https://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100217141643AABamAO

    Switching it off might make it sound more dynamic?

    I don't know what the auto volume function is, have you read the instruction manual?

    Room EQ is a correction program built into AV amps/receivers that measures the sound you hear from your main listening position and corrects the effects of your room on that sound. As you said in your reply, a soundbar/soundbase tends to limit you in what tweaks you can make, but they are a neater and more convenient option for improving your flatscreen TV's sound than 5.1.
     
  9. Derek S-H

    Derek S-H
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    Did your old Sony system include an amp as well as speakers?

    If so, then yes, using this to create a 2.1 system (assuming you can use your existing LG subwoofer as the .1) would probably sound better than your existing soundbar + sub.

    Have you tried turning off the DRC and auto volume functions first and then seeing how it sounds?
     
  10. Valiceemo

    Valiceemo
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    I did read the manual, but it was useless...along the lines of "DRC - Switch on to enable, switch off to disable "
    No explanations of function etc.

    The auto volume is supposed to make lower sounds (quieter?) sounds more audible, and louder sounds not as loud...?

    I've tried disabling both these options, ad well as every permutation / combinations of off/on, on/off etc., and really not noticing a more than negligible difference.

    But I am by no means an audiophile..
     
  11. Joe Fernand

    Joe Fernand
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    Room Layout - where you are corner mounting a TV/Sound system it is best to stick with a 2.0 or 2.1 system, that could be a Soundbar, Soundbase or Stereo Amp + Speakers.

    Soundbar - below the TV is the norm. If it is sat on a shelf pull it to the front of the shelf to avoid any reflections off of the shelf. I too would suggest disabling all sound 'enhancement' modes and stick with Stereo audio.

    Budget - I doubt spending £200 on a new system is going to be a huge leap forward over what you have now, though you could possibly pick up a bargain in the Classifieds.

    Joe
     
  12. Valiceemo

    Valiceemo
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    The old system had a DVD player with it, the speakers plugged directly to this.
    I was gifted it some 10 years ago, and even then it was probably 6-7 years old.
    Its old, but I reme,ber it sounding half decent to me?
    The sub for the LG is wireless...

    So potentially buying an amp or received would be an option?
    (Next question - Differences!?):D
     
  13. Derek S-H

    Derek S-H
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    Okay, in which case you might have to brave the horrors of the loft and dig out your old system!

    A budget of £200 would actually get you some decent speakers from Richer Sounds, but you'd need an amp to drive them.
     
  14. Valiceemo

    Valiceemo
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    The thing is, I wouldn't want to use the old DVD player, as it is bloody huge and ugly and I clearly will not use it to watch DVDS etc.!

    Id always assumed that id need an AV receiver rather than Amp...?
     
  15. Derek S-H

    Derek S-H
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    A stereo amp would be better and more cost effective for your needs than a 5.1 one. You'd be paying for lots of extra channels that you'll never use, though I'm not sure if you went down the stereo route if you could then use the wireless sub?
     
  16. Valiceemo

    Valiceemo
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    hmm, ok thanks
    So it seems I have the optimal layout for my room
     
  17. Derek S-H

    Derek S-H
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    Perhaps you need to create a new Thread on this site asking for advice regarding a stereo amp and speakers combination for the cheapest price? Especially as you now seem to be leaving the soundbar behind?
     
  18. Valiceemo

    Valiceemo
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    Could you elaborate a bit on what you mean by "go down the stereo route"....please.
    I realise that's likely a really dumb question, but as you have probably gathered, I am not particularly clued up!
     
  19. Derek S-H

    Derek S-H
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    Stereo is 2.0 or two-channel i.e. just two speakers left and right of your display.

    AV amps/receivers usually have the capability of the .1 channel to connect a subwoofer to, stereo amps are mostly designed just for 2.0 and don't provide the option of the .1 channel.
     
  20. Valiceemo

    Valiceemo
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    Ah ok, so I wouldn't get the surround effect....all is be doing is making it louder, to put it crudely?
    And to make use of a sub, I'd be looking at an AV amp, not a stereo amp?
     
  21. Derek S-H

    Derek S-H
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    Yes and yes!

    But a good pair of speakers should always sound better than a cheap soundbar, so what you lose from not having a subwoofer you'd gain from the improved sound quality elsewhere.

    Mind you, I know nothing about wireless subwoofers and whether yours might be compatible with a stereo amp (sorry to confuse you!).

    From what you've said: you have an old pair of Sony speakers and a LG wireless subwoofer. If you were to buy a stereo amp you MAY be able to connect everything to your TV and get 2.1 that way as well as improved sound.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2018
  22. Joe Fernand

    Joe Fernand
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    'Ah ok, so I wouldn't get the surround effect....all is be doing is making it louder, to put it crudely?' - with a 'corner' layout and seating offset from the TV you will never achieve a decent Surround Sound envelope, no mater how much you spend and especially not with a Soundbar (which has to 'bounce' Sound off of side walls).

    Existing kit - I would forget about using any of your existing kit (new or old) if you want to consider building a 2.0 (no Sub) or 2.1 System (with Sub).

    Subwoofer - will usually hard wire to your Amp. Where you have an 'AV' Amp that will be via a single RCA to RCA cable from the Subwoofer Out on the Amp. Where you have a more conventional 'Hi-Fi' Amp some Subs will allow you to wire them in conjunction with the Left and Right Speakers from the 'High Level' speaker Outputs on the Amp.

    Gemini

    'AV' Hi-Fi Amp - I would look at the Yamaha A-S301 (approx. £179) which has an Optical Digital Audio Input as a good option and add a suitable pair of Floor or Stand mount loudspeakers if you want a decent step up in performance.

    A-S301 - Overview - HiFi Components - Audio & Visual - Products - Yamaha - UK and Ireland

    Joe
     
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  23. scrowe

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    Given your budget, and you specifically started by mentioning soundbar upgrade, I would not rule out the Sky Soundbox, which as a Sky-HD customer you I think get for £299. It's pretty decent, albeit with some caveats. Sky will connect via HDMI and Xbox via optical, and it has Bluetooth. So as long as you have no other sources it will do fine, because it does not support ARC for multiple HDMI sources via the TV.

    But if you wanted to put the money into an entry-level amp and speakers, with the additional config, wires, space, etc, then that is definitely the route to better sound overall.
     
  24. Derek S-H

    Derek S-H
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    Joe's suggestion is very clear and simple but it comes at a cost - over £400 just for the amp and subwoofer, that doesn't even include the speakers!

    This is massively over the OP's budget of £200 and would include quite a lot of time and saving on his part.

    But if you did want to go down that route, an alternative subwoofer is this:

    Cambridge Audio Subwoofer

    Though I agree with Joe that the BK sub is probably the best you can get at the price, plus it comes with all leads you'd need. The Yamaha amp is probably the best you can get at the price also that comes with an optical connection. That only leaves the speakers and I'd recommend that you budget at least £100, for example:

    Q Acoustics Speakers Per Pair

    The subwoofer will come with leads to connect it to the amp and you already have an optical cable to connect the amp to your TV, so that would only leave speaker cable and something like this would work fine and you'd only need a short run to the speakers as (I presume) you'd have them either side of your TV on the cabinet:

    Cambridge Audio Speaker Cable Per Metre

    This would all sound significantly better than what you have now, but would involve quite a lot of money and time on your part. The connection path would be very straightforward: connect the subwoofer to the amp via supplied RCA leads and the speakers to the amp via speaker cable, you then connect the amp to your TV via optical and away you go!

    Alternatively, as I mentioned before, you could just go with a Denon DM75 soundbase:

    Canton Sound base

    Or even the DM55 which is £50 cheaper and works well with screen sizes up to 50". Both come with all leads and it's just one power cable to wall socket and one optical lead to TV, £50 or £100 respectively over your budget and no need to concern yourself with speaker cables/equipment placements and connections, it would just sit under your TV.

    The other great thing about a soundbase is that everything is already built in: speakers, subwoofer and amplification all in one box. I've heard both the Cantons (I owned them for a while) and the sound is rich, detailed and surprisingly powerful. They also come with a lovely, chunky remote.

    As with anything in life, OP, it's all about what you can afford. Going 2.0/2.1 wouldn't be cheap but would give you the best sound for the money, whereas a soundbase wouldn't sound as good but would be so much easier and convenient to integrate.

    Good luck!
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2018
  25. Joe Fernand

    Joe Fernand
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    I'd start with the Stereo 'AV' Amp + suitable Speakers then add the Sub as Funds allow.

    Joe
     

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