Welcome to soundbarinfo.com!

By sbadmin August 25th, 2011, under Soundbar Information

So what is a TV Soundbar and why do I want one?

A Soundbar generates a rich full stereo sound that a flat screen TV simply cannot do by itself. Dependent on how much money you want to spend you can get up to 7.1 surround sound in a single enclosure!
This is very appealing  if you can’t face the stress and expense of rearranging your living room, pulling up carpets (or skirting boards!) to lay cables and deal with the clutter of five or six speakers and an amplifier.
A soundbar looks like a wide shallow speaker, normally chosen to approximately match the width of your TV. It can either sit on your TV stand or be wall mounted.
A TV Soundbar is easy to set up, typically needing a mains plug, and sound in/outputs from whatever gadgets you need to connect.
Many soundbars even come with an automated setup program to tune the system for your environment.
Check out our Soundbar Tech info and Soundbar Buyers guide to figure out exactly what you need.
If you have any questions or comments please post them below or use the Contact Form and we will try to help!

Soundbars on Black Friday Deal?

By sbadmin November 29th, 2013, under Soundbar Information, Soundbar Review

Morning all,

Just a quick reminder that its Amazons Black Friday so keep your eyes open for special deals!

The US seem to have some good deals here

In the UK I can’t see so much but there is a nice little Sony 2.1 Channel 60W  HT-CT60 down from £149 to £89.95.

Happy bargain hunting!

R.

Can connect a pair of headphones to my Yamaha YSP 2200?

By sbadmin April 14th, 2013, under Soundbar Information, Soundbar Review, Soundbar Setup

We had a question from Mark  this week that had me reaching for the manuals….

“Hi,   do you know if I can connect a pair of headphones to my Yamaha YSP 2200   soundbar so that only the wearer can hear the TV? Thanks!”

I don’t have access to that model of soundbar anymore so first had to download the YSP 2200 manual.
Unfortunately the answer from the manual seems to be ‘no’. There does not seem to be a aux out type socket on the unit. (If any of you out there has a 2200 and knows differently please leave a comment below!)

However – there is probably a work around.

I’m going to guess that you have attached your soundbar via HDMI – so your TV probably has a spare 3.5mm phono out jack on the side. You should be able to connect headphones to this and leave the soundbar turned off.
You can then either use wired headphones or possibly a wireless headphones. You might want to take a look at something like the Koolertron (Dodgey name….) from Rapoo which gets good reviews on both sides of the pond.
rapoo wireless speakers

 

 

 

Leave a comment below and let us know how you get on!

Have a good one,
Rich

Home Theatre

By sbadmin March 17th, 2013, under Soundbar Information, Soundbar Setup

Recently we have started seeing a lot of questions like “What is a home theatre” or “How do I choose the best home theatre?’ and “Whats the best TV-Soundbar for a home theatre?”

Wikipedia defines it as:

“…  a theater built in a home, designed to mimic (or exceed) commercial theater performance and feeling, more commonly known as a home cinema. Today, home cinema implies a real “cinema experience” at a private home.”

So you’re going to need a great screen, superb sound and some way of actually playing your media.

Don’t dive into buying lots of kit before giving some thought to your budget and whether you just want to beef up your TV experience or really go all out and dedicate an entire room! You need to match the equipment to the space you have available. It would be a waste to have dedicated room for your home cinema and to then drop a $100 economy soundbar into it!

So lets discuss the elements in a home theatre one by one:

TV Screen:
The three main choices here are either simply to go for a large standard TV, a large 3D TV or, if your going for a full on dedicated home theatre room, some sort of projector.
1) Decide on whether you need 3D or not. These sets come at a price premium but can be jaw dropping. Avatar in 3D? Wow…..
2) Decide on a screen size. Better to go for a good medium size screen than a poor large one. Even better, go for a great large one. For home theatre anything under 50″ is probably a little mean.
3)If you’re setting up a full on home theatre room then a projector may be worth considering. If you take this route then you will need to factor in a suitable wall to project onto, possibly a ceiling mounting kit and a little imagination routing cables etc. Also don’t forget you will need some additional hardware as the projector does not include a TV tuner. You might want to consider some sort of Media Center and BluRay combo.

 

Panasonic AE&000 3D LDC Projector

Panasonic AE&000 3D LDC Projector

Panasonic 55 3D TV

Panasonic 55 3D TV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BluRay
For both HiDeff video and high deff/high-resolution audio you are going to want a Blu-Ray player. There are hundreds to choose from so get browsing! The only additional observation we would make is to check how it’s going to connect. We strongly recommend HDMI as it’s easier to connect and can transfer more data more quickly.

Sony BDPS790 3D Blu-ray Player with Wi-Fi

Sony BDPS790 3D Blu-ray Player with Wi-Fi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Media Center

Here at Soundbarinfo we are huge media center fans. We use home rolled Windows 7 media center with a Blu-Ray drive for its flexibility but there are lots of alternatives available, from the minimalist AppleTV which allows you to stream content from the internet via subscriptions to Netflix, iTunes etc to a Tivo type box which can replace your regular TV tuner AND have the ability to stream internet content. Do bear in mind that most media centers do NOT come with a Blu-Ray so you need to factor that in.
These systems do take some research so please take your time!

 

Apple TV

Apple TV

WD TV Live Hub Media Center

WD TV Live Hub Media Center

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sound
As we know, modern TVs are too thin to be able to produce a good quality sound. It was this shortfall that gave rise to the birth of the Soundbar in the first place.
You really have two choices here – a full on separates system or a Soundbar.
From the low-end to the high, the Soundbar can give the separates systems a good fight. Prices for both styles of system range from about $100 all the way up to about $3000.

Personally I think if your spending over $2000 then you probably want to go for a separates system. At level of cost your likely to be wanting the best possible sound and ease of setup is no longer your primary concern.
If all you want to do is beef up your TV sound system then something like the Yamaha 5100 BL soundbar would do a great job and transform your listening experience.

At the high-end, if you are looking for a dedicated TV  room where you can really to go all out, take a look at the mouth (ear?) watering Sony listed below!

 

Sony BDVN790

Sony BDVN790

yamaha 5100 BL

yamaha 5100 BL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Finishing Touches
If you are spending all this money on technology you probably want to make sure you are sitting comfortably and can control the lighting levels properly – and that will be the topic of our next post!

If you liked this article or found it helpful please share the love and give us a facebook ‘like’ or make a comment below!

Tips for choosing a soundbar?

By sbadmin February 9th, 2013, under Soundbar Information, Soundbar Setup

We had a mail this week from a very pleasant lady who was seeking advice on a soundbar suitable for a 50″ TV. She had been told that for a TV of that size that two Soundbars would be required. One for each side. Unfortunately this sort of misinformation is quite common, but don’t worry – its not true. You do only need one Soundbar but for a larger TV you want to make sure to get a larger soundbar to keep things in proportion.
Heres what we suggest!

Firstly – there is no hurry for you to dash out and buy anything. Its worth spending some time with the tv first and making sure that it fits comfortably in the space you have available. If you already have a stereo system in the living room it may also be possible to connect to that with the right cables and a bit of experimentation.

There are quite a lot of things to think about but just gather the information listed below and don’t panic! You can also take a look at our soundbar buyers guide.

Firstly go grab a bit of paper and a pen and make a quick list of the following;

1) How much space do you have? Normally a soundbar fits on the tv stand in front of the tv just below the bottom of the screen but sometimes this can block your vision. If you have a wide tv stand with shelves then the soundbar can often fit on a shelf below the TV but you need to make sure the legs of the stand won’t be in front of the soundbar

2) How many extras do you have that you might want to plug in? For example a DVD player or XBOX. Make a note of how many you have and how they connect. It most cases it will be HDMI.

3) How much budget do you have? Soundbars range from just 100$ (though at that price don’t expect much volume or quality) all the way up to over $1000

4) How will you connect everything together? You essentially have two options – you can either connect all your peripherals like the xbox to the TVand then the TV sound output to the soundbar or you can connect all your devices to the soundbar (if it has the right connectors) and then connect the TV to the Soundbar via HDMI.
Generally the more expensive Soundbars have more connectors and greater flexibility.

Now you have your information gatherd take a browse on Amazon and form a shortlist of units that match your criteria. Look to see if the advert lists how wide the soundbar is and what size television it is suitable for. Technically there is no reason the soundbar can’t be smaller or larger than your TV, you just don’t want it to be massively different as it would visually look a little odd to have a very large TV with a small soundbar or vise versa!

One soundbar that might be worth a look at to start your search would be the Samsung 46 soundbar which is for 46″ or larger TVS, has HDMI input/output and is only  2.2″ high.

Got any feedback on this article? Click the ‘Comments’ button and have your say!

Toshiba Soundbar – the sbx4250.

By sbadmin December 15th, 2012, under Soundbar Review, Soundbar Setup

We had a question this week about the new Toshiba Soundbar – the sbx4250.

I just bought a Toshiba soundbar sbx4250 i am trying to connect it to my vizio tv that is not arc compatible, from what i understand i can connect with a hdmi cable and the analog cable but what do i change the settings to on the tv and the sound bar? my direct tv comes in on hdtv1 and its wanting me to change those settings? no support from Toshiba…

Hi Rachel,

The manual was well hidden on the Toshiba site (if anyone else needs to download the toshiba sbx4250 manual it can be downloaded here.) but I tracked it down eventually!

From what I can make out you should be fine if all you are trying to do is to output audio from your tv to the soundbar. If this is the case then HDMI connected from the HDMI OUT on your TV to the audio IN on your soundbar should do the trick.

If the TV doesn’t have HDMI out then optical is your next best bet.

If you use optical then you would connect an optical cable from the optical OUT on the tv to the optical IN on the soundbar. On the soundbar you would then choose optical as the input.

Please let us know how you get on and what you think of your new soundbar!

Best,

SB

Bose CineMate® 1 SR system

By sbadmin June 8th, 2012, under Soundbar Information, Soundbar Review, Soundbar Setup

In the UK Bose are heavily promoting their CineMate 1 SR systemI thought it might be worth while sharing a little information on this TV soundbar system. Most of the info below is lifted straight from the Bose site and then we round up with some reviews and technical comments.

Spacious home cinema sound from one sleek speaker

Sound customised to room size, shape and furnishings

Easily connects directly to your HDTV. With only one cable

Wireless Acoustimass® module for low-note performance

Flexmount™ technology ensures optimal performance whether the speaker array is wall-mounted or placed on a table

Features

Flexmount™ automatic placement compensation automatically detects the speaker’s orientation—flat on a table, or mounted on a wall—and adjusts the sound to ensure wide, spacious sound.

PhaseGuide® sound radiators work with TrueSpace® technology to direct sound with precision, sending acoustic detail to the left, right and center of your room.

Wireless Acoustimass® module produces deep low notes for added home cinema realism. A wireless link allows for flexible placement and does away with any speaker cables from the module to the single speaker array.

ADAPTiQ® audio calibration system analyses the way your room’s dimensions and other variables affect sound, then automatically adjusts the sound of your speaker system to the acoustics of your room.

SmartSource™ input selection system continuously monitors the system’s auxiliary audio inputs and automatically switches to the best audio signal available that matches what’s on the TV.

Programmable IR remote controls the CineMate® 1 SR system and nearly any attached entertainment device to simplify the experience and reduce the clutter of multiple remotes.

Trawling the web for reviews and comments it looks like this is a popular and well received bit of kit. Notable comments include;

“thundering bass”, “easy to set up” and “much better than my previous 5.1 surround system”.
Generally it seems to be getting 4.5 star reviews.

From a connectivity point of view the unit has optical, coaxial and Analog connectors. Given its cost I think its disappointing that it doesn’t include at least one HDMI input and an HDMI ARC output.

So all in all a great little system but let down by the lack of HDMI.

In the UK it costs around £1299 and is available from up scale retailers such as John Lewis.

In the US the cost is around $1500 from retailers such as Amazon.

Also in this price bracket (albeit slightly cheaper) is the mighty Yamaha – 2200 - so if your doing some comparision shopping it might be worth taking a look at that model also.

Happy Soundbaring!

Rich

 

Soundbar Recommendations from Amazon

By sbadmin April 22nd, 2012, under Soundbar Review

I had an email from Amazon yesterday with their current pick of the crop. As I’ve had a few emails recently asking what the best soundbars are I thought this was good opportunity for a quick glance at the top models.

Enjoy!

 

 

Yamaha YHT-S401BL Front Surround Home Theater System by Yamaha Sold by: superior sales

Average 4 stars, under $600

 

 

 

 Yamaha YHT-S400BL Home Theater System by Yamaha

Average 4.5 stars, under $300

 

Read the rest of this entry »

I’d like to find a speaker system for my apple airport express

By sbadmin April 15th, 2012, under Soundbar Information, Soundbar Review

We had an interesting question this morning from our reader Giovanni.
Giovanni has an Apple Airport Express and was wondering which soundbar would be best to go with it.
For those of you not familiar with it the AirPort Express is Apples entry level portable wireless base-station. It allows you to network up to ten devices, play music wirelessly and to share a printer. Its a fantastic product.
The really neat thing from our point of view is that it can plug in anywhere around your house you can stream your itunes collection to it. It has a 3.5mm jack socket for connectivity.

I would suggest you go one of two ways with this;

Continue reading!

Do Optical, Digital Coaxial and HDMI inputs provide much better sound?

By sbadmin April 5th, 2012, under Soundbar Information, Soundbar Setup

We had this as a follow up from our long time reader Scott. It’s an interesting one as there are so many things to consider with cabling – not least of all exactly how many devices you have and how you are planning to connect them all.

So let’s cover the basics first – what type of connectors are available?

3.5mm jack – cheap common at the low end. Can handle stereo. An example of a soundbar in this category would be the Dell AY511. Normally retailing at under $50 is produces 20Watts and gets good reviews. This sort of bar is realy suitable for beefing up your home PC or possibly a TV in a caravan.

RCA – robust, ubiquitous but for true surround sound you need several of them (one for each channel) unless there is some funky emulation going on. Very few soundbars would have the number of RCA inputs required for true 7.1 surround sound. I’m not aware of many current soundbars that just have RCA. One great unit that has both RCA and a 3.5mm jack is the Coby Multimedia 3D Soundbar. Retailing at just $99 it gets enthusiastic reviews and produces about 80Watts.

Both these analogue connectors (RCA and 3.5mm jack) were the de facto standard for a long time. They are appearing  less now but are still very prevalent.

Optical (Tosslink)  is a digital connector . It will handle 7.1, but it will NOT cope with the higher bit rate codecs such as DTS Master and TrueHD. Additionally if used as the output from a TV to a soundbar it has a significant ‘gotcha’. Many (most?) TV optical outputs will not cope with anything more than stereo sound. Optical is found on most soundbars but one that uses it  as its primary connection is the  a powerfull Samsung HD-D450 a 280Watt system that retails around $300.

HDMI Arc is the single cable type approach now typically favoured. HDMI 1.4 or above has much greater bandwidth than any of the previous technologies and can support an audio return channel. So HDMI from TV to soundbar gives you the best possible sound experience – this is likely to be key if you are keen on BluRay or even 3D tv. If you take things a step further then you can get soundbars with HDMI inputs and outputs. Now you can start considering attaching devices like BluRay straight to the soundbar and letting it pass the video to the TV.

Some setups still require HDMI and optical.

So if your budget will allow it we suggest HDMI is the way forward.

Long term readers know that this is the time where i normally start waxing lyrical about Yamaha. Well this time I did want to talk about the KEF HTF8003 but eventually gave up as I couldn’t get the specs from the website. So yes, an example of an HDMI equiped Soundbar would be the Yamaha YSP-2200 which has three HDMI in and one out. (not to mention RCA, optical connectors and USB). It also packs a punch at 132Watts.

Now with all those cables you just need to consider your wiring scheme……

Happy soundbaring!

Rich

How to judge a Soundbars performance?

By sbadmin March 30th, 2012, under Soundbar Information

We had an email earlier in the week from Scott, asking if one was to judge a soundbar’s performance, what criteria should you look at?
There are certainly a lot of factors that you can consider – problem is how many you can consider before tying yourself in knots!

Clearly there are loads of things to consider when purchasing a soundbar. Some of the top ones would be things like what you need to connect, what ports you need, size and what your budget is. These things are relatively straightforward.

On the more technical side are all the performance numbers…

I think the main thing to look out for is how the power is described. Is it described in Watts or Watts RMS? Watts is often the ‘peak’ power while the RMS figure tells you that a system can sustain that power level. This is important as a system may be described as 100 Watts but only be able to sustain half that…. (As a side bar the purist will tell you that technically RMS is all about volts and not sound. This is true but RMS is pretty much universally used to mean sustainable audio power output even if it is technically incorrect)

One thing to be cautious of – several manufacturers are now describing their systems power output in terms of ‘Total System Power’. This method typically adds all the speakers powers to give one figure – often a peak figure which would be noticeably distorted. Be careful…

Many “experts” suggest that it good to look out for is the S/N or signal to noise ratio. If you can find a manufacturer who provides this number then great – higher numbers are what you want here. Unfortunately very few manufacturers provide it. I looked up my ‘dream soundbar’ the Yamaha YSP4100BL on Amazon and there was nothing listed for S/N. Nor on the website. I had similar luck looking at a few other soundbars.
Dynamic range is another of those things that I wish manufacturers would quote more  often. Unfortunately its pretty rare.

Our summary of things to look out for is;

Choose a soundbar that has its power described in Watts RMS

Be cautious of systems described only in terms of ‘Total System Power’

Some soundbars just provide stereo sound not surround sound. Don’t just assume that all are surround sound.

Can the system  self tune or be manually tuned – in other words adjust the angle of the sound beams to adapt to the geometry of your room.

Does the system have a separate subwoofer or can one be added? It can make a big difference. (See our post further down the page on this)
If you get a chance to listen to the soundbar that you’re interested in then take it. Whatever the numbers say the ultimate test is how it sounds to YOU!

I’ve also noticed that amazon sell a number of books on the topic of choosing audio systems and home theater. I’ve not read any of them myself so don’t know how good they are but Home Theater for Everyone: A Practical Guide to Today’s Home Entertainment Systems looks good and gets a five star review.

 

Good luck with your research!

 

Rich