Wheres that digital output gone?

By sbadmin February 19th, 2012, under Soundbar Setup

I’ve had several mails recently from readers struggling to get their soundbars connected. The common theme was that the TV didn’t appear to have a digital sound output (Optical port) and they were getting tangled up with RCA cables, converters and the like.

My top tip for these situations is to check check and check again before concluding that you don’t have a digital output. Also check your manual for a listing of what should be there. Manufacturers do seem to have a habit of putting these output ports in the most awkward places to spot, particularly if you are just trying to peer round the back with a torch.

Take a look at the attached pic of the back of my Toshiba.

The digital out is only about a cm wide. Very easy to miss if there are many cables already in place or if the input is orientated differently. (Such as UPWARDS like some aerial ports).

Happy cable checking!

SB

Subwoofer for Yamaha 4100 Soundbar

By sbadmin January 29th, 2012, under Soundbar Information, Soundbar Review, Soundbar Setup

I had a mail from Diego today (actually a week or two back it was stuck in the damn spam filter) to tell us that he now has a Yamaha subwoofer to go with his 4100. In his own words;

In the end, I got the Yamaha subwoofer YST FW150 and it works perfectly! The sound is fantastic and the bass is awsome considering its size.
It comes with a special cable which once connected to the soundbar,  makes the sub turn on and off simultaneously.
I am more than happy with this purchase becasue now there are no gaps in the sound and the sub does not require any regulation apart from the volume level. It’s so easy and simple and works wonderfully.

So for anyone wandering if its worth getting a sub – we say “Do It”!

Yamaha 4100 Review

By sbadmin January 1st, 2012, under Soundbar Review

Back in November you may remember the conversation we had with our Italian friend Diego. We spoke about Soundbars for music playback and we discussed the merits of the Yamaha 4100 vs the BowerWilkins Panorama. Just before Christmas I heard  back from Diego who has kindly shared a review of the Yamaha which he purchased. Diego has significant amounts of experience with all sorts of Soundbar and audio equipment so this is a very valuable review from someone who knows what hes talking about. Take it away Diego!

In the end  I got the Yamaha 4100.

Much to my surprise, I find the sound projector to have stellar sound with music less so with films. I do not notice any back surround sound even if it is very detailed, powerful and “wide”.

I suggest playing with the treble and bass controls as well as with the different sound options. Once you modify the settings, the soundbar comes into life.

You definitely need a sub because the Yamaha is lacking in the bass field.

I am having problems hooking it to a Soundmatter Substage 100 as it would not function properly. So I’ll try to fix it as I do not want to spend money on a new one.
To tell you the truth, I expected something more from this highly priced product but all in all it is ok.

Rich: I’ve noticed today that Amazon seem to be shipping the 4100 WITH a sub. Make sure you check whats included whenever ordering. If any of you have ordered from Amazon recently and NOT got a sub then it might be worth an email to customer services – nothing ventured nothing gained!

Top Five Best Soundbars for Christmas!

By sbadmin November 27th, 2011, under Soundbar Information, Soundbar Review

With the festive season fast approving we thought it would be fun to produce a list of our favourite soundbars from 2011! We have picked a Soundbar from each major price bracket that has impressed us this year.

Enjoy!

Starting our line up is the budget priced Sharp 2.1 system. This unit is compact and ideal if all you need is to give a TV a little more impact or make you pc games a bit more immersive. Retails at around £99.99.

Amazon Rating: 4
Channels: 2.1
Watts RMS: 32
Width: 80cm
Connectivity: RCA and 3.5mm jack.
Separate sub? No

Our second Soundbar pick coming in at £149 is another Sharp, this time the Sharp HTSL50. Again its only a 2.1 channel system but it boasts 100 W RMS and is very shallow. Its one of very few budget soundbars that has HDMI and 3D support.

Amazon Rating 3.5
Channels: 2.1
Watts RMS: 100
Width: 115cm
Connectivity: 3.5mm, Optical, HDMI ARC
Separate sub? Yes, wired

Next up is the Panasonic SC-HTB520EB-K. It packs a powerful 240W punch and comes with a wireless sub woofer. For £279 your getting a lot of sound as well as HDMI connectivity.

Amazon Rating 4.5
Channels: 2.1
Watts RMS: 240
Width: 100cm
Connectivity: 3.5mm, Optical, HDMI ARC
Separate sub? Yes, wireless

£500

As the price bracket increases we find our selves in the middleweight category. For us a standout Soundbar is the Yamaha YHTS401. This punchy front surround sound system has a lot going for it but just lacks the sound depth of its bigger brothers in the YSP range.

 

Amazon Rating 5
Channels: 7.1
Watts RMS: 250
Width: 80 cm
Connectivity: Optical, HDMI (3in, 1 out, ARC), co ax, USB, analogue
Separate sub? Yes, wireless

And finally we move onto what we consider to be our ‘dream soundbar’ the mighty Yamaha YSP-5100. For around £1200 you get incredible sound quality supplied by 40beam drivers, two tweeters and two built in bass speakers . Note that this unit is about 10kg in weight, just over 10x that of the aforementioned YHTS. There is a lot of technology packed into these 11Kg. Our only complaint is the lack of a bundled sub woofer but the bass provided by the built in speakers is so good this is unlikely to be a problem for most people.

Amazon Rating: 4.5
Channels: 7.1
Watts RMS: 120
Width: 120cm
Connectivity: HDMI (4 in/1 out), wireless iPod link, optical, analogue, COAX, Aux video
Separate sub? Optional

Best Soundbar – Yamaha 4100 or BW Panorama?

By sbadmin November 19th, 2011, under Soundbar Review

We had a great question on Thursday from Diego, one of our friends in Italy. Diego is contemplating the choice between a Yamaha 4100 and a BowerWilkins Panorama, particularly for listening to music.

This is a difficult one to answer because people have very personal preferences to how they like their music to sound. One person may likes lots of bass and another may prefer more treble for example. That said there are certainly some general observations that might help!

Both are fantastic Soundbars and both offer the option of adding a subwoofer which we think is important.

The Yamaha 4100 seems to be getting consistently enthusiastic review and positive press. Some people have suggested it may be Yamahas best Soundbar so far. What really impresses me though is the range of connectivity options.

Firstly it has four HDMI in port and one out which is ideal for connecting devices such as BluRay and Xbox. It also has two optical in. Back that up with an Antenna jack, video jacks, RCA audio in jacks and outputs for an amplifier and a subwoofer. Finally how about connecting your IPod using yAired – Yamahas wireless IPod connection feature? With the Yamaha you really have everything covered.

It also has the Intellibeam setup system that will calibrate the unit for your specific environment.

Like most of the Yamaha range it has a dedicated music mode available which is also very compelling. The music mode allows you to choose between creating a surround sound effect like a large concert hall emphasising the extension of sounds or the Jazz Club feel of sitting right in front of the stage. (Apparently recreating the acoustics of a famous Jazz club in New York!)

The BowerWilkins unit also looks very good. The manual positively drips quality. This unit has fewer connection options (No HDMI for example) but does provide a 3.5mm stereo jack in port which is great for IPOD/MP3 players. The unit also weighs nearly 4Kg more than the Yamaha which implies a good quality build. On the downside this is BowerWilkins first try at a Soundbar an as such its relatively unproven.

Cost wise the Yamaha is far cheaper, typically retailing around £900 or less (Around 1050 Euros) versus the Panorama at around £1500 (1,750 Euros)

So which is the best Soundbar for music?

I’m going to answer that by throwing in a curve ball – take a look at the 4100’s bigger brother the Yamaha 5100. Price wise its right between the 4100 and the Panorama. It adds a pair of tweeters and is 2kg heavier and a little wider. It also supports 3D.

The BowerWilkins unit looks like it should be awesome but the Yamaha is cheaper, more ‘tried and tested’ and has better connectivity options.

Let us know which one you choose – we would love to get your review of it for the website!

Best soundbar for Christmas?

By sbadmin November 11th, 2011, under Soundbar Review

We had a great question come through from a reader called Patt at the begining of the week. Here it is;

Dear Soundbarinfo people,
For Christmas I’m wanting to buy a sound bar – the Yamaha YSP-5100 to go with my new Samsung 8000 3D TV. I can’t see any mention of it supporting 3D. Does this mean all Soundbars support it and I don’t need to worry or can I not put 3D through a Soundbar at all?
Thanks,
Patt

Thanks for the question Patt!

That took a little bit of homework as I haven’t really been following the whole 3D thing.

Basically 3D TV requires a massive amount of data, so 3D tittles only come on BluRay. To transport that amount of data from the disk to the TV requires a high capacity connection – meaning HDMI 1.4. If you have audio equipment in the mix as well then you either need to connect that via component cables or it also needs to support HDMI 1.4. I thought any HDMI 1.4 HDMI port with ARC should work but my research suggests its not so clear cut. You are definitely right to be careful. Check that all the kit you are interested in lists 3D support. You may need a trip to the vendor website to dig this information out.

In the case of the equipment you specify (which we are VERY jealous about by the way) both are HDMI 1.4 and both list themselves as supporting 3D so you should be fine. If you want someone to come over on Christmas day to set them up please let us know. We will work for wine! 😉

How do I connect my Nintendo Wii to my Soundbar?

By sbadmin October 18th, 2011, under Soundbar Setup

This is a question that’s come up a few times so I thought it would be worth while to spend a little time explaining our favorite option. When we explain whats required you’ll see that its actually very straight forward.
In this example we are assuming you have a Soundbar which gets its input via an optical connection from your TV.
If this is a new setup then first follow the Soundbars manual and just get the TV connected and working with the Soundbar. Don’t complicate things straight away. In the picture in our example we have connected a Yamaha YSP-900 to a Samsung TV. You can see the optical connector (the thin grey/black cable bottom left) where it enters the TV in the bottom left of the picture.

TV to Soundbar OpticalOnce the TV sound is working then simply connect the Wii adapter to one of the TV SCART in ports. With this done you can simply fire up the Wii, and all being well you should now be hearing the Music and Sound effects through your soundbar.

The other cables you can see in this picture are an anti interference aerial input and an HDMI input from a media center.

As allways if you have any questions please feel free to comment at the bottom of this post!

What is the purpose of an HDMI outlet in a soundbar if it’s used for audio only and if I have 4 of them on my tv?

By sbadmin October 9th, 2011, under Soundbar Information, Soundbar Setup

I had this question just the other day and thought you all might find it useful;

“What is the purpose of an HDMI outlet in a soundbar if it’s used for audio only and if I have 4 of them on my tv? ”

Normally Id expect the HDMI output on a Soundbar to be a special HDMI type known as HDMI ARC. That actually allows data (Sound/video) to go in either direction.
So you might be able to have a DVD player hooked up to your TV and the audio would exit the HDMI ARC to reach the Soundbar.
Meantime your XBOX might be attached to the Soundbar via HDMI and the video would exit the Soundbar via the same cable to reach the TV.
This assumes both TV and Soundbar are ARC compatible. Getting this stuff to work as it should can take a bit of experimentation!
Don’t forget to check both the soundbar manual and the TV, sometimes you need to do something with the HDMI settings via an onscreen menu.

For more information about wiring up a Soundbar take a look at our Connecting a Soundbar page.

 

Does your Sub shake your teeth?

By sbadmin September 25th, 2011, under Soundbar Information, Soundbar Setup

So, you’ve done your homework and bought the best Soundbar for you. Fantastic.

You fire it up and start watching a film and all sounds great until that tank rolls onto screen, your teeth start vibrating and the neighbours start banging on the wall.

The problem may be that your sub woofer level is set to high and may not be positioned optimally.

First thing to do is to read your Soundbars manual and check that it is connected correctly and that your have gone through any onscreen setup procedures.

Now set the volume on the Sub to minimum and put on a good bassy CD. Slowly move the volume up till you can hear it but not so much that your are aware of the Sub woofer as the source of the sound.

Positioning wise you have some options – a corner typically works very well but this may depend on the range of your wireless or cable link. It may also generate too much bass. 

If you Sub is wireless remember to keep it at least 2m from any other wireless devices. (Phones, Network). Also remember that very few subs are magnetically shielded so may interfere or damage PCs or screens if placed too close.

If you’re serious about getting the best possible sound then try this:

Get a good bassy CD playing, or better yet a repeating sample of music. Now slowly crawl around the room and note the locations where it sounds best. If one of the locations is suitable for the the sub to positioned in then move the Sub to that location and see how that now sounds from your main listening position. You may need to repeat a couple of times to find the best spot that gives a practical location for the sub and the best sound. You also need to remember that there are limits on how far from the Soundbar the sub will be able to go. This will depend on make, model and whether the connection is wired or wireless.

Connecting up a Soundbar!

By sbadmin September 2nd, 2011, under Soundbar Information, Soundbar Setup

The new guide to connecting up a Soundbar is now live!

Check it out!