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Question Should I do away with my amp for a soundbar solution?

tikigod19

Established Member
Hi guys, I currently have a sony STR-DH820 amp with jamo a102hcs5 5.1 kit with sub.

I have moved and currently living without the rear speakers at all but soon to chase cables into the wall and redecorate so this is my last chance to change my setup. I've had the same setup for about 5 years so not sure if I should look at replacing with a soundbar.

I realise you probably cant come close to having actual speakers behind you in a 5.1 environment so not looking to do away with those, but I'm considering either

1) Getting rid of the front left, center and front right in favour of a passive soundbar (ideally with a bluetooth/wifi connection to stream) connected to my sony amp

2) Getting rid of the bulky amp and all of the speakers to replace with an active soundbar and 2x rear speakers and a sub.

I dont watch as many films and stuff now that the kids are growing up and I have also moved my xbox one to another room so what I have connected to the amp currently is:

Sky+ HD
Mini Neo x8-H media player
Bluray player/dvd (rarely use it..)

The LG smart TV has youtube built in which we sometimes use too (I have an optical running from the TV output back to the amp)

I would love to hear what you experts think as I've lost touch with technology and what everyone is doing these days (thats kids for you..)

thanks so much
 

Joe Fernand

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
Sound - 2-Ch or 5.1/7.1 is all about loudspeaker placement relative to your seating.

A Soundbar (passive or active) is always going to be a compromise vs. properly positioned speakers.

I find 'surround' effects far less important than legible dialogue - if I were looking to minimise your system I would suggest a good quality 2.0/2.1 system with a digital input.

Joe
 

tikigod19

Established Member
I totally agree on the legible dialogue point Joe thats why I have managed fine without any surround speakers for a few months. What I really love about any surround sound setup is having an almost designated center channel for dialogue. (in fact.. with a 2.0/2.1 kit surely I'd be back to stereo and lose this center speaker? - do they make 3.1 soundbars and would this not be a better option?)

The new living room is a through lounge and it is only the front half that is the tv viewing area so the speakers are really not very spaced apart. Probably 1.5/2m between the center and each of the fronts. The reason I favour the soundbar idea at the front is because although I have an av cabinet for the front left speaker to sit on neatly, the front right needs to be attached to the wall kind of in the middle of nowhere and with the kids running around I can see it getting damaged.

I'm just not sure if I'm prepared to say goodbye to rear speakers altogether! it's a big step!! (admitedly one that I only ever benefited from when playing xbox or watching an action film maybe once a month...)

How would connectivity work with the soundbar replacing the amp. Do they come with a series of digital inputs like amps or would I need a HDMI splitter box or something to collect all of the HDMI's before sending them to the soundbar? (edit: just seen the most I can get is 2/3 HDMI in and then a couple of opticals which should be enough. Seen some with this multiroom technology via an app too which really interests me)

Really appreciate your help!
 
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tikigod19

Established Member
Ok so having made the mistake of mentioning this multi room bluetooth/NFC type play it appears she's now set on that so I'm now looking for a sound bar (3.1 or 3.1 with virtual surround for the rears) that has the option to be controlled via an app. The panasonic SC-ALL70T seems like a popular one. Anybody care to scare me off of it?!
 

PSM1

Distinguished Member
Why not replace your amp with one that can do music streaming or connect a sonos to your current amp? I see a soundbar being a step backwards in terms of sound quality especially with music. I would look to maybe upgrade the front 3 speakers so the front L/R are standmount speakers which should give better musical performance.
 

tikigod19

Established Member
Ah I didnt know amps now did streaming too. I'm not keen on the amount of bulk and wires associated with the amp and 6 speakers. Not too keen on tall floor standing speakers either, I think the ascetics and functions are more important to me than sound quality as crazy as that sounds
 

Joe Fernand

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
Soundbars - come in all manner of formats from passive 2.0 'speakerbars' through to 7.1 Active with HDMI Switching and a wired or Wireless Sub.

The 'Virtual Surround Sound' variants which lack physical rear speakers only work effectively in a room with four solid walls!

A decent 2.0 or 2.1 System with the Front LR speakers properly positioned would be my preference - you can hide away the Amp if required!

Be wary of folk recommending 'all-in-one' systems - you find a lot of folk choosing that option won't have much experience of alternative solutions and many 'all-in-ones' have very limited Connectivity.

Joe
 

tikigod19

Established Member
Ok I'll not worry too much about the rear speakers then as virtual dolby wouldnt function in my room by the sounds of it. I simply can't live without a dedicated center channel (assuming thats what the 3rd in the 3.1 is) so I think that's how I'd like to proceed. By all in one do you mean with a DVD player etc included as I'll certainly avoid that. I think I like the idea of something like the panasonic ALL range I just wish they had DAB or even just FM built in but I suppose the point is to do everything through your smartphone/tablet and use the speaker as just that, a speaker only. I like the option to be able to add 2x rear wireless speakers with the panasonic too, even though they come in at almost £400 just for those and I suspect wireless will mean compromise.

As I said, I'm not a sound quality snob and I don't really even listen to much music however the compact nature of the sound bar appeals to me greatly and if I can make it active and lose my amp all together I'll be willing to take a small step down in sound quality and power as long as it's not an almighty drop down..
 

Joe Fernand

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
3.1 - yes LCR.

2.1/2.0 - it all depends on the Spk/Spk positioning, where you have the LCR tightly arrayed around a TV is is often better to run without a Centre (assuming you have half decent LR speakers).

Streaming Radio - it all depends what you listen too, I find for some Football Broadcasts I have to retain my AM/FM tuner as often there is no online stream due to 'Rights' ownership.

Soundbar - as PSM1 says go have a listen, we tend to use the Yamaha YSP units and keep them in 2 or 3-Beam mode.

Speakerbar + Amp - again it makes things simpler (potentially smaller) if you go with 2 rather than 3 channel and stick with a Stereo Amp (+ streaming device).

Speakers + Amp - have installed lots of 2.1 and 2.0 systems using relatively small, wall mounted loudspeakers from the likes of Anthony Gallo.

Joe
 

tikigod19

Established Member
well, i got the panasoni SC-ALL70 at a bargain price. It turns out the 2x HDMI was actually 1 input and 1 output so just trying to work out how to connect everything. I'm going to run some tests later and find out if my LG 49" LED does 5.1 passthrough. If so I'll HDMI everything to the tv and then a single optical to the soundbar meaning I wont have to change source on it.

It sounds ok. A bit bassier than I'm used to (I dont think my current sub is ever actually outputting any sound!) and 350w is not as much as I first thought, but I think it'll be ok once it's up and running. I'm looking forward to removing a huge amp and a tangle of speaker wires later on..
 

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