Best Audio Solution

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by epicwelshman, Apr 24, 2013.

  1. macrumors 6502a

    epicwelshman

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2006
    Location:
    Nassau, Bahamas
    #1
    Hi all,

    I have an HDTV, Apple TV, BluRay Player, and an Xbox 360. Currently all sound is coming from the TV speakers which are, frankly, awful.

    I don't have a ton of knowledge about home theatre setups. I'm looking for a way to have all my devices play through external speakers (nothing fancy, a basic setup w/ sub will do).

    Can anyone direct me to any good resources?
     
  2. thegluchow, Apr 24, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2013

    macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2012
    #2
    that's a mega open ended question. you could be ranging from price of $200 - $10,000.
    the simplest solution that will last you a long time is to pick up a Pioneer or even Onkyo Receiver (5.1 surround is sufficient to me, and i play my movies in a big room) and get yourself a good set of monitor speakers (Paradigm or PSB etc) and go from there.. you don't have to purchase the sub at the same if money is an issue, and thus build your system from there (surrounds etc.). you can connect your HDTV to the receiver via HDMI, and run all your other products to the receiver via HDMI. Can't get easier than that.
    Many times, people find the two front speakers and a sub are sufficient for movies and music.
    I'm sure many options will fly through this post, so pick one that suits you and good luck.
     
  3. epicwelshman, Apr 24, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2013

    thread starter macrumors 6502a

    epicwelshman

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2006
    Location:
    Nassau, Bahamas
    #3
    I have a bad habit of asking open-ended questions like that. But that'll work, I'm fine with building it slowly. I may not even go for surround sound - with concrete construction and tiled floors down here it's hard to hide the wiring. A nice 2.1 setup works for me.

    Thank you :)
     
  4. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 24, 2009
    #4
    Another option if you arent particularly interested in surround sound is to get a soundbar. Basically it is just a big bar of speakers that sits down in front of your TV and enhances the sound of your piddly TV speakers.

    I have one for the bedroom and a 5.1 system in the basement for the home theater. Soundbars made by Samsung or LG are quite nice, relatively inexpensive, and come with subwoofers as well. They also work with just about any TV in the whole world.
     
  5. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2012
    #5
    Which sound bar do you have? Would you recommend it? I'm thinking about getting one for our bedroom TV as well. I'm hoping it would work well for music too.
     
  6. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 24, 2009
    #6
    I originally bought the Samsung HWF450 and it cost around $170 on sale at Best Buy about a month or two ago. I returned it within 3 days. The audio quality was decent, but the subwoofer sounded like absolute crap. My friend, however, bought the HWF550 shortly afterwards, and it sounded light years better than the 450, and the subwoofer seemed to have no issues with sound quality or wireless range.

    The one I ended up going with was the LG NB3530A, and it is my favorite of the 3. The faux surround on the LG is pretty fantastic as well, sounds a lot better than I was expecting for such small speakers :D. It supports full DD and DTS decoding as well, which the Samsungs do not (they use Samsung's Clear Audio concept, which is fine, but not DD/DTS quality) unless you step up to the $800 HWF750. The LG also has a bunch of ports in the rear, such as USB in and has a decoder for music that can be controlled through bluetooth by your phone. It also has 2 optical inputs and one analog 3.5mm jack. The audio equalizer works nicely too, I notice it most when commercials come on. Normally when commercials begin the volume nearly doubles, but with this they seem to remain around the same volume, and thats probably my favorite feature.

    All in all, pretty neat stuff for just a little bar of speakers, and I would highly recommend the LG, but the Samsung 550 is a pretty close second overall.
     
  7. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    epicwelshman

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2006
    Location:
    Nassau, Bahamas
    #7
    I was considering a soundbar, but I know if it's attached to the TV then the audio from my various devices is down sampled by the TV, before going back out to the sound bar.

    Is this a big deal? I'm not a crazy audiophile, I just want something better than built-in speakers.
     
  8. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 24, 2009
    #8
    This does not have to be the case. My LG soundbar has multiple inputs that can be used for audio from different sources, either through optical or otherwise. Some sounbars even have HDMI inputs as well (Mine does not).

    I currently make use of both Optical Audio ports. My Apple TV directly connects to input 1, and the TV hooks into Input 2, with the cable box going into the TV. Honestly, I cant really tell the difference between the two audio wise, and it sounds LIGHT YEARS beyond what my Samsung D7000 speakers can do.

    The difference is absolute night and day, and was worth every penny that I spent for it.
     
  9. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2013
    #9
    I'm sure a sound bar will work great and anything is an improvement to those horrible flat screen internal speakers. Here is an option that I used. I had an old (1995 model) Aiwa bookshelf style stero system stored in the closet when it's CD changer quit. Really thought it was of no use in today's world but pulled it out, connected it to my Sony Bravia TV and I am blown away by its rich sound. It even has rear speakers with it.
     
  10. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    epicwelshman

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2006
    Location:
    Nassau, Bahamas
    #10
    Dude, I am sold. Thank you.

    So, just to clarify, if the soundbar has multiple inputs then the devices can connect directly. Once all those inputs are used, anything that's connected to the TV, and the TV to the soundbar, will still go through the bar and not the internal speakers?
     
  11. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2012
    #11
    Correct
     
  12. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2012
    #12
    Awesome. Thanks!
     
  13. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2009
    #13
    I had the same problem. I ended up buying a Sony HT-CT150 sound bar. It has HDMI inputs and passthrough. I hooked everything up to the sound bar and connected it to the TV with 1 HDMI cable. I never use the speakers on the TV anymore. This soundbar had a sub that sounds decent as well.

    I think this has since been discontinued, but Amazon has some in their sratch and dent sales for $168ish.

    Most new sound bars under $200 suck. They will have 1 optical input and sound like garbage. To get what this Sony has these days you need to spend $350+
     
  14. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2012
    Location:
    not on the moon
    #14
    I hate all of the soundbars under $1500....starting with the Bose. (just because)

    That being said, I like the components all in a rack, sources, AVR, etc. Gives you tons more flexibility, and can decode DTS HD-MA.....which sounds so excellent in a 6.1 system or above.

    Audio is way more important than video, yet the general public generally buys awesome TV's, and crappy audio. Makes no sense to me.

    That all being said, whatever option you choose, the sub $250 just isn't worth it. The more you spend, the more awesome (read: near perfect) sound you get out of it. (BTW, I'm not trying to sound like a jerk, if it came off that way. Audio is an experience, and it's great, try it sometime, it's addicting)
     
  15. macrumors 68000

    phrehdd

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    #15
    There are multiple solutions to your situation but you mentioned of the room being of concrete and tile is an acoustic nightmare.

    Sound bars come in two flavours - powered and those that require power from another source. The latter gets you into the better sounding sound bars and requires a decent source of power (receiver/AVR is the usual method).

    If you want to build slowly, consider a 3.0 system to start. A left channel, a right channel and a center channel. This will serve for both music and your tv watching experience. Later you can add if you like rear channels and perhaps a sub-woofer.

    An alternative is to invest heavy into a nice receiver and get interim set of lower end surround speakers such as the Energy Take 5 type of set up. These are nice small speakers. If you want to stay small and move up the line, then consider speakers by Orb.

    As for wiring, there are loads of ways to hide wires. One way is a type of sleeve that looks somewhat like molding for a wall that is hallow. Many of these can be painted to match your walls and either are nailed/screwed to the surfaces or use adhesive. You simply run the wiring along the wall near the floor and corners etc.

    In your situation, if you consider a 3.0 system. Get a decent receiver that you feel will last you at least 3 years, put it in an open rack with a center speaker and then a speaker to the right and left of your TV and call it a day. You will be amazed how much better having a center channel will make your movie/tv watching experience. As for what speakers, you will have to decide what is your best bang for the buck and what sounds good to your ears. Incidentally, many receivers now offer "airplay," which lets you play music from your iPod, iPhone, Mac, iPad via the receiver to your speakers. The only caveat is you want to have a receiver you can hook to your network.

    If you feel a sound bar might be less hassle and meet your needs and have the funds (assuming you do get a receiver), consider the newer Goldenear offering which has gotten rave reviews and as some say, sets a new standard. Btw, a receiver is a good way to go to hook everything in then just one hdmi cable to your TV. If you have an older TV, you may need to use an optical cable to connect as well to the receiver.
     
  16. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2011
    Location:
    Stockholm Sweden
    #16
    A little bit of acoustic treatment

    And while you are at it, think a little bit about acoustic treatment.

    Hearing sound in a square room with concrete walls and roof and tiles on the floor will not bring out the best in any speakers. It is sort of the equivalent of looking at a flat screen outdoors in bright sunlight without any shading.

    // gunnar
     
  17. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    epicwelshman

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2006
    Location:
    Nassau, Bahamas
    #17
    Folks, just wanted to give a quick update.

    Ended up with a Samsung sound bar, with wireless sub. Just finished getting it set up (I wish they'd warn you to remove those little plastic protectors on the end of optical audio cables!) and, honestly, it sounds so much better than the TV speakers.

    To those who recommended a 2.1 setup, the budget's just not there at the moment. Eventually I'll move the soundbar into the bedroom and will look at something nicer for the living room, but for now the soundbar will do.

    As for "acoustic treatment"... where would I start? A rug and more soft furnishings?

    Thanks to all for your help and advice. Always much appreciated.
     

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