soundbar vs stereo shelf/mini system

S

sfvguy

Audiophyte
I'm interested in buying a television (my first one in 25 years), and it seems so overwhelming (especially after doing a lot of reading online). Once I choose a television, I'm wondering if I'd be better off buying a soundbar (if needed) or using an older stereo shelf/mini system (Sony MHC-EC55) that I already own (if that's even possible). I live in a small one-bedroom apartment and I'm very frugal, but am willing to pay more than the bare minimum in exchange for added simplicity and/or tv sound quality. I would greatly appreciate any advice regarding how to proceed...what to look for in a television and/or if I'll need something to improve its sound and/or if that something should be a soundbar (or if I'm better off using my old stereo). Thank you!
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
Hard to know what your audio preferences are. Personally I wouldn't use either a soundbar nor your old system myself. TVs aren't all created equal with speakers, but most really have poor ones these days, but suffices for some. I only had one tv with what I'd call acceptable speakers, a Toshiba large/heavy crt projection tv with decently large and capable speakers, but I still used my avr/speakers for audio as that was far more capable. Some tvs don't offer much in the way of connectivity options for external gear, most expect you to use hdmi to connect to other gear (and a soundbar should be able to take advantage of that), but many still at least offer an analog stereo headphone output you could use to connect your old stereo. Key to better audio almost always is in the speakers, tho.

Depends somewhat if you want to take advantage of multich soundtracks, as many movies/tv programs are available in 5.1 formats or even better. If stereo is fine, and being frugal, as long as your tv has analog stereo output you can connect it to the tv....and not spend further money except perhaps on an appropriate cable/adapter to connect. What are you using to source tv signals? OTA (over the air) or cable or internet or ? That will somewhat dictate necessary connections, too.

As far as new tvs, depends what features you want. You might be happy with a good lcd 1080p set vs the latest/greatest 4k/8k OLED set. What's the budget?
 
S

sfvguy

Audiophyte
Hard to know what your audio preferences are. Personally I wouldn't use either a soundbar nor your old system myself. TVs aren't all created equal with speakers, but most really have poor ones these days, but suffices for some. I only had one tv with what I'd call acceptable speakers, a Toshiba large/heavy crt projection tv with decently large and capable speakers, but I still used my avr/speakers for audio as that was far more capable. Some tvs don't offer much in the way of connectivity options for external gear, most expect you to use hdmi to connect to other gear (and a soundbar should be able to take advantage of that), but many still at least offer an analog stereo headphone output you could use to connect your old stereo. Key to better audio almost always is in the speakers, tho.

Depends somewhat if you want to take advantage of multich soundtracks, as many movies/tv programs are available in 5.1 formats or even better. If stereo is fine, and being frugal, as long as your tv has analog stereo output you can connect it to the tv....and not spend further money except perhaps on an appropriate cable/adapter to connect. What are you using to source tv signals? OTA (over the air) or cable or internet or ? That will somewhat dictate necessary connections, too.

As far as new tvs, depends what features you want. You might be happy with a good lcd 1080p set vs the latest/greatest 4k/8k OLED set. What's the budget?

Thank you for your reply. OTA vs cable vs internet is ANOTHER thing I'll need to decide about. :-( I haven't had a tv in about 6 years, and I just used OTA since I didn't have much time to watch. Now that I'm retired, I'll have lots of time to watch (if I so choose). The budget question is equally difficult since I don't know how much I'll be watching (nor even what)...hopefully I'll gradually figure that out once tv watching becomes part of my life again. I'm a teacher, so the best way I can express myself is with grades...lol: I probably wouldn't want a "C-" television at any price, and I would prefer a "B-" television for $200 to a "B+" television for $500" or an "A" television for $1000. (I doubt those prices are realistic, but I'm using them relative to each other to make my point.)
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
Thank you for your reply. OTA vs cable vs internet is ANOTHER thing I'll need to decide about. :-( I haven't had a tv in about 6 years, and I just used OTA since I didn't have much time to watch. Now that I'm retired, I'll have lots of time to watch (if I so choose). The budget question is equally difficult since I don't know how much I'll be watching (nor even what)...hopefully I'll gradually figure that out once tv watching becomes part of my life again. I'm a teacher, so the best way I can express myself is with grades...lol: I probably wouldn't want a "C-" television at any price, and I would prefer a "B-" television for $200 to a "B+" television for $500" or an "A" television for $1000. (I doubt those prices are realistic, but I'm using them relative to each other to make my point.)
(you included your reply in the body of text from my post you quoted, so I copied/pasted your reply so others can see more easily, too....better to put your response outside the quote brackets for readability :) )

I haven't had good OTA reception in many years (virtually none where I currently live) but could suffice if you don't mind the usual network tv. I prefer less commercials so tend to use services without commercials when possible, these days I use Amazon tv fire sticks for streamers or a bluray player with apps on the sets I don't have the firesticks on (tend to avoid "smart" tv based apps myself altho they can be useful to an extent). I'd decide on the source(s) first so you know what connection options you might need. Used to use cable and DirecTV services, but the pricing for what I watch tends to be better with a streamer.

"A" televisions are generally more in the $3-4 k range or more these days. You can do decent tv between $500-1000 generally, tho. Can't think of a $200 set I'd want particularly, tho they are out there and some aren't too bad. What screen size do you want? That's a good start....

Rtings.com is a decent site for tv review/info.....
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Seriously, I have no life.
I'm interested in buying a television (my first one in 25 years), and it seems so overwhelming (especially after doing a lot of reading online). Once I choose a television, I'm wondering if I'd be better off buying a soundbar (if needed) or using an older stereo shelf/mini system (Sony MHC-EC55) that I already own (if that's even possible). I live in a small one-bedroom apartment and I'm very frugal, but am willing to pay more than the bare minimum in exchange for added simplicity and/or tv sound quality. I would greatly appreciate any advice regarding how to proceed...what to look for in a television and/or if I'll need something to improve its sound and/or if that something should be a soundbar (or if I'm better off using my old stereo). Thank you!
You could use your old sound system, but you would have to choose a TV with an audio out. They are just about never analog these days, but more often than not a digital optical out. So you would need a DAC with optical in and RCA out. Your Sony unit only has a stereo minijack. So you would need an RCA to stereo minijack cable.
That Sony is long in the tooth, so using that would not be my first option.

For you a sound bar may well be an option for you, that certainly would be your cheapest solution. Sound bars are not great, but generally an improvement over TV speakers.

It is not clear to me what sort of fidelity you are after. If you want the system multi use, or mainly for speech. Sound bars generally have improved speech clarity but are less than optimal for music program, or TV programs with a lot of musical program. It is not clear where you live either, as in the US we are long after the analog sunset, and so I wonder how you get any OTA picture on that TV. Information on your budget is also critical. What is your Ethernet service like, as modern TVs make extensive use of the Internet?
 
S

sfvguy

Audiophyte
You could use your old sound system, but you would have to choose a TV with an audio out. They are just about never analog these days, but more often than not a digital optical out. So you would need a DAC with optical in and RCA out. Your Sony unit only has a stereo minijack. So you would need an RCA to stereo minijack cable.
That Sony is long in the tooth, so using that would not be my first option.

For you a sound bar may well be an option for you, that certainly would be your cheapest solution. Sound bars are not great, but generally an improvement over TV speakers.

It is not clear to me what sort of fidelity you are after. If you want the system multi use, or mainly for speech. Sound bars generally have improved speech clarity but are less than optimal for music program, or TV programs with a lot of musical program. It is not clear where you live either, as in the US we are long after the analog sunset, and so I wonder how you get any OTA picture on that TV. Information on your budget is also critical. What is your Ethernet service like, as modern TVs make extensive use of the Internet?
Thank you for the info; it seems as though using my old stereo would be a huge hassle (and I'm not that tech savvy). I live in the US and am moving to (another) major city next month (hopefully), so I should be able to get whatever quality of internet service that I want (although I don't know what level of service I should get for a modern TV...I'm a dinosaur with regards to all of this).
 
S

sfvguy

Audiophyte
(you included your reply in the body of text from my post you quoted, so I copied/pasted your reply so others can see more easily, too....better to put your response outside the quote brackets for readability :) )

I haven't had good OTA reception in many years (virtually none where I currently live) but could suffice if you don't mind the usual network tv. I prefer less commercials so tend to use services without commercials when possible, these days I use Amazon tv fire sticks for streamers or a bluray player with apps on the sets I don't have the firesticks on (tend to avoid "smart" tv based apps myself altho they can be useful to an extent). I'd decide on the source(s) first so you know what connection options you might need. Used to use cable and DirecTV services, but the pricing for what I watch tends to be better with a streamer.

"A" televisions are generally more in the $3-4 k range or more these days. You can do decent tv between $500-1000 generally, tho. Can't think of a $200 set I'd want particularly, tho they are out there and some aren't too bad. What screen size do you want? That's a good start....

Rtings.com is a decent site for tv review/info.....
Thank you for the information and for letting me know about Rtings.com and for mentioning Amazon tv fire sticks. (I've heard of them, but know nothing about them, so I'll add that to my list of things to research.) My last tv was 20", so anything I buy now will be an improvement. I've read online that I should choose screen size based on room size; I currently live in a studio apartment but hope to be moving to a small one-bedroom next month (so I'll have two smaller rooms instead of one larger room).
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Seriously, I have no life.
Thank you for the info; it seems as though using my old stereo would be a huge hassle (and I'm not that tech savvy). I live in the US and am moving to (another) major city next month (hopefully), so I should be able to get whatever quality of internet service that I want (although I don't know what level of service I should get for a modern TV...I'm a dinosaur with regards to all of this).
That is helpful. If you are going to stream, then I would not get a service less than 250 mbs. The smart TV will stream a lot of programs via apps. many require a monthly subscription though. For TV, I would look at LG, or Sony.

The other issue is if your new apartment will be wired for cable TV. Modern digital TVs do not tend to work well with indoor antennas. So you should probably spring for cable service if you want to watch ABC, NBC, CBS and cable channels etc.

I still don't know what you are going to use your system for, and that is important. I think you are going to have a significant learning curve having been out of this technology for 25 years. It is a very different world now. Nothing is plug and play any more, and some degree of set up is always required. In quite a lot of cases set up is extensive, or seems so, if you are new to it all. Make sure you read all manuals very carefully. They usually have to be downloaded from the manufacturers web site. They are seldom, if ever, in the box these days. In fact download the manual of any intended purchases before purchasing and see if they are really right for you.

Lastly, if you are retired and going to spend a lot of time in that apartment, then putting together a respectable audio system is very much worth while if you have the funds. There is a world out there to access now, way beyond your imagination I suspect.
 
W

Wardog555

Audioholic
Room Size does not determine tv size.

It's your seating distance and personal preferences on how much tv you wish to fill your vision.

I'm in a tiny bedroom with a 65 inch oled. And a living room that's bigger also with same size tv.

The viewing experience is quite a bit different due to the seating distance and one is more immersive than the other.

And I highly recommend an av receiver with speakers over those two inferior options you mentioned.

Small speakers means small sound. And multiple tiny speaker drivers in a bar is a marketing gimmick and it doesn't sound great. Only average at best.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
Room Size does not determine tv size.

It's your seating distance and personal preferences on how much tv you wish to fill your vision.

I'm in a tiny bedroom with a 65 inch oled. And a living room that's bigger also with same size tv.

The viewing experience is quite a bit different due to the seating distance and one is more immersive than the other.

And I highly recommend an av receiver with speakers over those two inferior options you mentioned.

Small speakers means small sound. And multiple tiny speaker drivers in a bar is a marketing gimmick and it doesn't sound great. Only average at best.
Well depending on width of the available wall the size could be an issue, let alone allowing for ideal speaker placement.....how/where are your speakers positioned if your tv takes up most of a wall?
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
Room Size does not determine tv size.

It's your seating distance and personal preferences on how much tv you wish to fill your vision.

I'm in a tiny bedroom with a 65 inch oled. And a living room that's bigger also with same size tv.

The viewing experience is quite a bit different due to the seating distance and one is more immersive than the other.

And I highly recommend an av receiver with speakers over those two inferior options you mentioned.

Small speakers means small sound. And multiple tiny speaker drivers in a bar is a marketing gimmick and it doesn't sound great. Only average at best.
So if your wall has a limit of 60" based on on display/speaker placement you'd think an 85" tv would work as well?
 
W

Wardog555

Audioholic
Well depending on width of the available wall the size could be an issue, let alone allowing for ideal speaker placement.....how/where are your speakers positioned if your tv takes up most of a wall?
I'm sure nobody has a tv that covers most of the wall. That's where a projector comes into play!


Many people have their speakers underneath the display if you really wanted a answer.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
I'm sure nobody has a tv that covers most of the wall. That's where a projector comes into play!


Many people have their speakers underneath the display if you really wanted a answer.
Actually see it frequently in pictures posted, forcing speakers into a corner or other unfavorable positions. A center under the display can be necessary due the limitations of center speaker designs and tvs vs projection.
 
3db

3db

Audioholic Overlord
I have a JBL sound bar that gets shared between one of my guest rooms and my trailer at the lake. The sound is certainly a big step up from either TV that it is being connected to it. If you want an improvement of sound over the TV and do not listen critically and want simplicity, a soundbar would work for you.
 
P

Push

Audioholic
I have a JBL sound bar that gets shared between one of my guest rooms and my trailer at the lake. The sound is certainly a big step up from either TV that it is being connected to it. If you want an improvement of sound over the TV and do not listen critically and want simplicity, a soundbar would work for you.
I'm with 3db. If you're not very critical of your movie/tv show sound, then a soundbar is the way to go. Some of the newer ones that offer dialgue enhancement work very well, and allow you to listen at lower levels while still being able to hear dialogue clearly. I've got a Polk 5.1 soundbar with wireless sub and rears and really like it.
 
M

Mark of Cenla

Full Audioholic
I have a SONY MHC-EC55. It sounds pretty good if you use different speakers with it. The speakers that come with it do not sound very good. There is also the connection issue mentioned above. I use mine at one of our PC's, and I use it with Polk RTi4's as the speakers. It sounds pretty good. Peace and goodwill.
 
M

Mark of Cenla

Full Audioholic
It dawned on me after I posted the above that the connection issue could be solved with less than $25. Amazon has cheap DAC's that would take the audio output from your TV and convert it to RCA jacks. RCA to mini plug adaptors are easy to get. Actually, Walmart probably has all of that. Peace and goodwill.
 
I

Itbeezmyway

Audiophyte
Room Size does not determine tv size.

It's your seating distance and personal preferences on how much tv you wish to fill your vision.

I'm in a tiny bedroom with a 65 inch oled. And a living room that's bigger also with same size tv.

The viewing experience is quite a bit different due to the seating distance and one is more immersive than the other.

And I highly recommend an av receiver with speakers over those two inferior options you mentioned.

Small speakers means small sound. And multiple tiny speaker drivers in a bar is a marketing gimmick and it doesn't sound great. Only average at best.
Well average to you might be exactly what an “average” person is looking for. Soundbars have come a long way.So for many people a soundbar will suffice.


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