Recommend soundbar for Sony TV

jonnystuartUK

Active Member
I’ve purchased a new Sony TV (Sony's Bravia XR X90J) coming from a 7 year old Sony tv with NT3 sound bar.

The NT3 has served me well but it’s time to upgrade. Is it best to go with a Sony soundbar so it works seamlessly with the tv? I do like the fact it’s one remote through Sony Bravia sync.

I’m a fan of Bose equipment but never looked into the soundbar, I also like the sleekness of the sonus.

Thoughts?
 

Hoku

Active Member
I’m not a great soundbar fan, so may not be the best person to respond to your query, but a couple of questions might be helpful first to help other forum members.

What is the size of your room?
What budget do you have in mind?
Will you be using it to listen to music at all, or just TV sound and movies?

Personally, I would always go for an amplifier and set of stereo speakers over a soundbar, as they would provide a far better, wider and more accurate soundstage than any single box speaker and would also outperform any single box for music duties too.

Also, typically, unless wall-mounted, many people place their soundbars below the TV, which points the treble (which is directional) at your knees. Whereas ideally, tweeters should be at approximately ear height. So sonically, soundbars are a huge engineering compromise that places looks some way north of actual performance.

So I’d personally look at something like the NAD D3045 amplifier and a pair of stereo speakers, depending on what your budget is. The NAD has an HDMI ARC input for your TV, and has Bluetooth and a number of other inputs too.

NAD D3045 Link

However if you put a gun to my head and I absolutely had to recommend a soundbar, I’d say the DALI Katch One.

DALI Katch One Link

You’ll notice that the Katch One is not flat (vertically) like many soundbars. The DALI soundbar has more space for larger drivers, so there’s less of a compromise than many other designs. The compromise for you then is the effort required in getting the right placement, ideally wall mounting below the TV to ensure the soundbar is somewhere near ear height when seated, if that’s possible for you.

If you’re looking at a more modest budget, then I’d look at the Ruark MR1. These little speakers again would easily outperform all but the very best soundbars. They would connect to your TV’s optical output. Just make sure that your TV’s sound is set to stereo PCM, as the Ruarks (and the NAD for that matter) cannot decode multi-channel signals.

Ruark MR1 link

Unfortunately physics dictates that considerations like driver size and placement are genuinely important if you want good results.

But if those factors are a compromise too far for you, then by all means consider another Sony, but just be aware that sound for pound, you could do better.
 

Tegs200

Well-known Member
I’ve purchased a new Sony TV (Sony's Bravia XR X90J) coming from a 7 year old Sony tv with NT3 sound bar.

The NT3 has served me well but it’s time to upgrade. Is it best to go with a Sony soundbar so it works seamlessly with the tv? I do like the fact it’s one remote through Sony Bravia sync.

I’m a fan of Bose equipment but never looked into the soundbar, I also like the sleekness of the sonus.

Thoughts?
If it was me I'd take the Sonos Arc if you just want a neat stand alone Soundbar that will give you a much better sound upgrade to your built in TV Speakers , you have a great TV and imo the Arc has the best build quality of all of the Bars .
 

jonnystuartUK

Active Member
I’m not a great soundbar fan, so may not be the best person to respond to your query, but a couple of questions might be helpful first to help other forum members.

What is the size of your room?
What budget do you have in mind?
Will you be using it to listen to music at all, or just TV sound and movies?

Personally, I would always go for an amplifier and set of stereo speakers over a soundbar, as they would provide a far better, wider and more accurate soundstage than any single box speaker and would also outperform any single box for music duties too.

Also, typically, unless wall-mounted, many people place their soundbars below the TV, which points the treble (which is directional) at your knees. Whereas ideally, tweeters should be at approximately ear height. So sonically, soundbars are a huge engineering compromise that places looks some way north of actual performance.

So I’d personally look at something like the NAD D3045 amplifier and a pair of stereo speakers, depending on what your budget is. The NAD has an HDMI ARC input for your TV, and has Bluetooth and a number of other inputs too.

NAD D3045 Link

However if you put a gun to my head and I absolutely had to recommend a soundbar, I’d say the DALI Katch One.

DALI Katch One Link

You’ll notice that the Katch One is not flat (vertically) like many soundbars. The DALI soundbar has more space for larger drivers, so there’s less of a compromise than many other designs. The compromise for you then is the effort required in getting the right placement, ideally wall mounting below the TV to ensure the soundbar is somewhere near ear height when seated, if that’s possible for you.

If you’re looking at a more modest budget, then I’d look at the Ruark MR1. These little speakers again would easily outperform all but the very best soundbars. They would connect to your TV’s optical output. Just make sure that your TV’s sound is set to stereo PCM, as the Ruarks (and the NAD for that matter) cannot decode multi-channel signals.

Ruark MR1 link

Unfortunately physics dictates that considerations like driver size and placement are genuinely important if you want good results.

But if those factors are a compromise too far for you, then by all means consider another Sony, but just be aware that sound for pound, you could do better.
Thanks for the detailed reply!

Room size - it’s an open plan kitchen / snug so it’s a good size - circa 50m2.

Budget - I’d like to be under £500 as I’ve already gone way over on the TV.

I’m going to be watching tv, movies and listening to music, I’ll hook up my Apple TV so have the full range.

I was originally thinking sound bar as it’s going to be sat in a media unit so don’t want it to be too in your face.
 

jonnystuartUK

Active Member
If it was me I'd take the Sonos Arc if you just want a neat stand alone Soundbar that will give you a much better sound upgrade to your built in TV Speakers , you have a great TV and imo the Arc has the best build quality of all of the Bars .
Wow it’s quite expensive!
 

Hoku

Active Member
OK, well there are two potential issues that immediately come to mind.

With a large open plan living space, any soundbar is going to struggle moving enough air to have any kind of impact.

And the other issue is placing the soundbar inside a media cabinet. If the cabinet is totally enclosed (rather than having open sides), then you’re effectively putting a box inside another box and hoping it’ll sound good. Imagine someone actually speaking from inside a cabinet. Well, it‘ll sound like that.

Much may depend on the height of the soundbar once it’s in the intended location: if the media unit is reasonably high, so the soundbar is nearer your ear height than knee height, then you may just get away with it, as long as your main seating position is pretty much straight on, perpendicular to the soundbar, and not too far away from it.

Worse case scenario: the media cabinet is low AND enclosed, then putting a soundbar there, even a good one, may actually sound worse than your TV. I’m sorry if this isn’t a very palatable response, but I’m just telling you how it is. You did ask! ;)

£500 is still a fair wad of cash to spend if the positioning makes it sound like £150 soundbar in a better location.

However if the media unit and TV are fairly low slung, I’d actually consider mounting the soundbar above your TV, so you give the soundbar half a chance of projecting itself into the room.

Take a look at the sort of positioning that DALI have done for their own photos on the Katch One. That’s the sort of thing to aim for ideally…

DALI Katch One photos in situ

But before parting with any cash, I’d recommend visiting your local dealer and listening to a few: just make sure they set it up in a similar way to how you intended to set it up at home, because that massively influences the results. And definitely get them to play some 2-channel music on it. Take your phone and stream some music you’re familiar with.

As you intend to use it for music duties too, then I can only re-state my previous recommendations, but with even more emphasis.

I’m a music fan as much as, if not more than movies, so that tends to influence my suggestions. Although two boxes will always be better than one for making music, the DALI Katch One will at least manage to be properly musical. DALI’s experience with manufacturing their own drivers, for more traditional hifi speakers, means that musical performance is a key design aim for their engineers. Not something that is genuinely considered with many soundbars to be honest.

But the little Ruarks are properly musical too. I think you would be genuinely surprised at what these little things can do. Ruark have a long history of making mid to very high end hifi speakers. (I own two pairs of their superb speakers). Sadly they stopped making them in 2006 to concentrate on products like their current range of all-in-one DAB radios, products like the MR1 and others. You can visit their website to see the sort of things they do now. But they’ve always retained their musical nous. They’re very well judged products. You could even add a subwoofer later for some low end grunt. (Look at maybe a REL T-zero or BK Gemini…

BK Electronics link

BK sell direct, so sound for pound, are exceptional value.

Hope all the above gives you a starting point anyway. Please don’t take my comments the wrong way. I am genuinely trying to help. I just don’t like the idea of people wasting their money on products that may be disappointing, especially when there are better alternatives out there for the same money.

Frankly I think many manufacturers of soundbars are rather cynically cashing in on people’s desire for invisible hifi, by churning out products that are at times, expensive AND pretty poor. And the hifi/AV media don’t help either by slapping 5* reviews on these same products. What they fail to mention is that their 5* review is FOR A SOUNDBAR. In many cases, if they were judged against very different, but similarly priced products, then they wouldn’t score any where near as highly.

Anyway, I hope you find something in the end that fits the bill.
 

jonnystuartUK

Active Member
OK, well there are two potential issues that immediately come to mind.

With a large open plan living space, any soundbar is going to struggle moving enough air to have any kind of impact.

And the other issue is placing the soundbar inside a media cabinet. If the cabinet is totally enclosed (rather than having open sides), then you’re effectively putting a box inside another box and hoping it’ll sound good. Imagine someone actually speaking from inside a cabinet. Well, it‘ll sound like that.

Much may depend on the height of the soundbar once it’s in the intended location: if the media unit is reasonably high, so the soundbar is nearer your ear height than knee height, then you may just get away with it, as long as your main seating position is pretty much straight on, perpendicular to the soundbar, and not too far away from it.

Worse case scenario: the media cabinet is low AND enclosed, then putting a soundbar there, even a good one, may actually sound worse than your TV. I’m sorry if this isn’t a very palatable response, but I’m just telling you how it is. You did ask! ;)

£500 is still a fair wad of cash to spend if the positioning makes it sound like £150 soundbar in a better location.

However if the media unit and TV are fairly low slung, I’d actually consider mounting the soundbar above your TV, so you give the soundbar half a chance of projecting itself into the room.

Take a look at the sort of positioning that DALI have done for their own photos on the Katch One. That’s the sort of thing to aim for ideally…

DALI Katch One photos in situ

But before parting with any cash, I’d recommend visiting your local dealer and listening to a few: just make sure they set it up in a similar way to how you intended to set it up at home, because that massively influences the results. And definitely get them to play some 2-channel music on it. Take your phone and stream some music you’re familiar with.

As you intend to use it for music duties too, then I can only re-state my previous recommendations, but with even more emphasis.

I’m a music fan as much as, if not more than movies, so that tends to influence my suggestions. Although two boxes will always be better than one for making music, the DALI Katch One will at least manage to be properly musical. DALI’s experience with manufacturing their own drivers, for more traditional hifi speakers, means that musical performance is a key design aim for their engineers. Not something that is genuinely considered with many soundbars to be honest.

But the little Ruarks are properly musical too. I think you would be genuinely surprised at what these little things can do. Ruark have a long history of making mid to very high end hifi speakers. (I own two pairs of their superb speakers). Sadly they stopped making them in 2006 to concentrate on products like their current range of all-in-one DAB radios, products like the MR1 and others. You can visit their website to see the sort of things they do now. But they’ve always retained their musical nous. They’re very well judged products. You could even add a subwoofer later for some low end grunt. (Look at maybe a REL T-zero or BK Gemini…

BK Electronics link

BK sell direct, so sound for pound, are exceptional value.

Hope all the above gives you a starting point anyway. Please don’t take my comments the wrong way. I am genuinely trying to help. I just don’t like the idea of people wasting their money on products that may be disappointing, especially when there are better alternatives out there for the same money.

Frankly I think many manufacturers of soundbars are rather cynically cashing in on people’s desire for invisible hifi, by churning out products that are at times, expensive AND pretty poor. And the hifi/AV media don’t help either by slapping 5* reviews on these same products. What they fail to mention is that their 5* review is FOR A SOUNDBAR. In many cases, if they were judged against very different, but similarly priced products, then they wouldn’t score any where near as highly.

Anyway, I hope you find something in the end that fits the bill.
the media unit is pretty open to be honest (I’ve attached an image).

The Dali does get good reviews I see but it’s pretty ugly 😂 as you mention I might try and go and test a few.
 

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Hoku

Active Member
the media unit is pretty open to be honest (I’ve attached an image).

The Dali does get good reviews I see but it’s pretty ugly 😂 as you mention I might try and go and test a few.
In which case, that's not too bad.

I was thinking that it might be in a shelf underneath the shelf that the TV would be sitting on, but if you have the TV mounted on the wall of the media unit as pictured, and the soundbar underneath, then the height shouldn't be too bad.

Let us know how you get on with any demos.
 

jonnystuartUK

Active Member
Nipped to curry’s as I was passing so had limited choice but got chance to hear the sonos which was a little underwhelming. Came away quite hopeful with the Sony Z9F however looking at reviews online they’re not that great.

The Bose is a good bit of kit but out of my price range.
 

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