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Old 11-25-2022, 12:32 AM   #1
Rolling Dice Rolling Dice is offline
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Default Need sound system advice

Hi, I need advice for my setup as I don't know much about sound systems and audio in general I'll try to be as concise as possible.

4K TV: OLED 65" LG C1
4K player : Panasonic UB820

I live in an apartment (so neighbors), my "home theater" is a 4 meters/13ft long, 3 meters/10ft wide room (so pretty small).

A first I was considering getting a soundbar because it's hassle free, it saves a lot of space and I assume it's more neighbor friendly, but apparently you can get a proper sound system for even less money so I'm open to anything.

Important: I have a lot of CDs and my current Hi-Fi system is too old. Audio quality was never great anyway so I need to replace that as well.

Ideally, something I can use for both movies and music, preferably wired, with bluetooth support if I need to quickly listen to something from my smartphone or anything else wirelessly, not too loud/powerful as I live in an apartment, would be perfect. My TV and my player are pretty decent so I need something which can make the most of it without being too expensive.

Also, constantly reaching for the remote every time sound FX, background music etc. get VERY loud, making the dialog nearly inaudible when the action stops, is a problem I DON'T need. Watching Inception on my dad's setup still has me waking up screaming in the middle of the night, so I need something that can handle that because it gets old real fast. In fact, dialog clarity is paramount for me.

I'm not sure whether a soundbar or a proper speaker setup would be a better option in my case, so advice would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 11-25-2022, 02:00 AM   #2
chip75 chip75 is offline
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It depends on budget, but you'll want something that has an adjustable center channel, which all AVRs will have but not all sound bars.

You'll probably prefer decent left and right speakers for music, might be worth looking at floor standers, but you should be able to pick up an AVR with five speakers and a sub on sale.

You can always add/change speakers as your needs change with an AVR, but you usually can't with sound bar (some allow additional wireless speakers).

Also if you're a gamer you might want something that handles what the new generation of consoles put out, most AVRs will have HDMI inputs that can handle it, but cheaper ones may only have one or two.
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Old 11-25-2022, 02:53 AM   #3
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Sonos Soundbar, Subwoofer and a couple Sonos:0nes would be a killer system.
That's what I have.
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Old 11-25-2022, 03:24 AM   #4
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Apartment living can be very strict and intolerable to loud noises. If you do buy new sound system, you wouldn't be able to enjoy it the way want to, and will have to listen to it at a low volume, to prevent from disturbing your neighbors in a apartment complex. I know this for a fact because I've been there! Before I invest in a new sound system, I would wait until I move into a house permanently, where you can have the freedom to enjoy your movies, your music, and can listen to your home theater as loud as you want, without worrying about any restrictions from management and complaints from your neighbors for disturbances. It would be a shame to buy a nice sound system, and you can't enjoy it the way you want to, in fear of disturbing your neighbors.
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Old 11-25-2022, 08:32 PM   #5
Rolling Dice Rolling Dice is offline
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Thanks for the replies!

Yeah, the fact that I live in an apartment is a real problem, and I don't want to buy a great sound system and not be able to enjoy it, so I need something that would sound good enough at a reasonably low volume, for both music and movies.

I forgot to mention that I'm a gamer indeed, so obviously I would use the new sound system for consoles, too.

I'm rather easy to please when it comes to audio (dialog clarity above all), I can do without an overwhelming sound effects, especially in an apartment. It has to sound good enough for music though... I guess it boils down to either A) getting a decent soundbar which I'll keep for however long I live in an apartment, or B) getting a good AVR that I would keep for a long time, and temporary, apartment-friendly speakers.

Any advice on that? There's a lot of soundbars on Black Friday sale...

Last edited by Rolling Dice; 11-25-2022 at 10:36 PM.
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Old 11-25-2022, 10:55 PM   #6
chip75 chip75 is offline
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I'd have a look at some of the Atmos sound bars from LG or Samsung if you don't want the complications of an AVR. Unless you're a die hard audiophile you'll be happy.
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Old 11-25-2022, 11:55 PM   #7
Rolling Dice Rolling Dice is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chip75 View Post
I'd have a look at some of the Atmos sound bars from LG or Samsung if you don't want the complications of an AVR. Unless you're a die hard audiophile you'll be happy.
I'm an audiophile when it comes to music; movies, not so much. As long as I can hear the dialog just fine and special effects&music are handled well enough, I'll be happy.

Like you said, I want something that has an adjustable center channel. I don't know if recent, not too expensive soundbars are better at this now, but don't you think the "loud effects, quiet dialog" problem could be handled better by an AVR&separate speakers?

Also, as I live in an apartment surrounded by neighbors, do you think getting a subwoofer is even conceivable? The room I use for my home theater doesn't share walls with any of my neighbors, but there's someone above me and another neighbor below me.

I did some research and I stumbled upon this on some forum:

Quote:
I make sure all of my equipment is very efficient with preferably large drivers/boxes. I do this because HTIB and cheapy surround sound systems are what always got me into trouble in the past. Because you can't hear the dialogue on them until you crank the volume a bit, and by that time the bass and dynamics are too much for your neighbors to deal with.

With large, efficient speakers like my cinema speakers I have clear and concise dialogue and dynamics at very low volume levels. So in actuality things are the reverse of what people think. Those cute little speakers with zero dynamics/dialogue intelligibility at low volume levels are what get you into trouble in apartments while the large efficient designs give you everything you need at extremely low volume levels.
That makes sense to me. Would an AVR with floor standers be a good idea in this regard?

I also found this but I'm not sure this is the type of thing I want:

https://www.amazon.com/Klipsch-Refer...dp/B0779GRFWF/
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Old 11-26-2022, 12:37 AM   #8
chip75 chip75 is offline
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You'll always have better options with an AVR, you can use a sub, but having someone below you maybe an issue. If you're friendly you could see what's an acceptable level. Decent floor standings will have decent bass too.

https://www.avforums.com/hub/home-av.../soundbars.68/

Check some reviews above, to see about the centers.
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Old 11-28-2022, 11:17 PM   #9
Rolling Dice Rolling Dice is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chip75 View Post
You'll always have better options with an AVR, you can use a sub, but having someone below you maybe an issue. If you're friendly you could see what's an acceptable level. Decent floor standings will have decent bass too.

https://www.avforums.com/hub/home-av.../soundbars.68/

Check some reviews above, to see about the centers.
Thanks for the link, made me realize there's a few other things I need to take into account.

Ideally, I would need a soundbar with a HDMI eARC port and DTS-X&Dolby Atmos support, but are mid-range soundbars really able to create a convincing surround sound? Otherwise a soundbar with less features would be cheaper...

I actually can't go the AVR route anyway, unfortunately. Apparently my neighbors can hear me better than I thought and there's not enough room for a full audio setup anyway. Besides, the sofa is against one of the walls so I can't put speakers behind me.
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Old 11-28-2022, 11:36 PM   #10
chip75 chip75 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolling Dice View Post
Thanks for the link, made me realize there's a few other things I need to take into account.

Ideally, I would need a soundbar with a HDMI eARC port and DTS-X&Dolby Atmos support, but are mid-range soundbars really able to create a convincing surround sound? Otherwise a soundbar with less features would be cheaper...
It will depend on your budget, you can get them with enough speakers so you won't need pseudo surround, some of the rear/Atmos speakers are pretty compact
if placement is an issue. Some use direction to create an effect.
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Old 11-29-2022, 12:10 AM   #11
Geezer00003 Geezer00003 is offline
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Might be ideal, especially at lower volumes as these have a bass boost function.

https://www.klipsch.ca/products/the-...wered-speakers
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Old 11-29-2022, 09:36 AM   #12
Hitman Horton Hitman Horton is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolling Dice View Post
Thanks for the link, made me realize there's a few other things I need to take into account.

Ideally, I would need a soundbar with a HDMI eARC port and DTS-X&Dolby Atmos support, but are mid-range soundbars really able to create a convincing surround sound? Otherwise a soundbar with less features would be cheaper...

I actually can't go the AVR route anyway, unfortunately. Apparently my neighbors can hear me better than I thought and there's not enough room for a full audio setup anyway. Besides, the sofa is against one of the walls so I can't put speakers behind me.
Before giving up on an AVR, look into receivers with night mode. I've never used it but it's made for listening at lower volume.
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Old 11-29-2022, 01:35 PM   #13
oddbox83 oddbox83 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geezer00003 View Post
Might be ideal, especially at lower volumes as these have a bass boost function.

https://www.klipsch.ca/products/the-...wered-speakers
No!

Bass boost at lower volumes is counterproductive to the reason the poster would need lower volumes in the first place.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hitman Horton View Post
Before giving up on an AVR, look into receivers with night mode. I've never used it but it's made for listening at lower volume.
Even if they don't have a night mode, they should still have Dynamic range Compression options, which is the same thing. Basically reducing the difference between soft and loud sounds, so you can hear everything at lower volumes. Now it does alter the sound of course, but when needs must... My Denon gives 4 options - off, light, medium and heavy. Light or medium I'd recommend for anyone who wants a decent sound system but has serious neighbour issues.

When it comes to subwoofers, it's counterintuitive to those starting in home cinema audio, but cheaper ones are worse for boomy bass. What has worked best for me is getting a decent sub with isolation pads to give full range bass with minimal room disturbance. The cheaper ones just growl away in a limited dynamic range which is what gives subwoofers their reputation as boom boxes. Sadly, that's gonna discount pretty much any sub bundled with a soundbar. You can turn them down, mind, but that's gonna leave a hole since I assume they'll all have pre-programmed crossovers.

When you buy a proper "entry-level" sub like my SVS SB1000 Pro, you have the options of adjusting the audio in the app. So you could programme an audio curve that creates a slow roll-off as you creep down to the lower frequencies. So at the top end of what the bass channel handles it'd still be supporting your speakers at their crossover points (basically, crossover is where the speakers can't reproduce those frequencies well so the sub starts to take over) but by the time you get to the most neighbour annoying 30-20hz, that roll off will be muting that. Yes, you're still leaving holes but in a clean, micro-managed way. You could probably recover back those lost low frequencies with some EQ pushing them up in a mix a little, though I've never tried. This is admittedly way more complicated than what someone just getting into AVR gear would be comfortable with.

Last edited by oddbox83; 11-29-2022 at 02:03 PM.
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Old 11-29-2022, 02:22 PM   #14
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Considering the OP's current living quarters, I wouldn't even think about getting a subwoofer. The bass that's output from the soundbar should be enough. A subwoofer will only exacerbate a noise disturbance in an apartment complex, and will only give yourself a reason to be evicted, when neighbors start complaining. If I can hear somebody's subwoofer in a car driving down the street from inside of my house, I can surely hear it in an apartment building.
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Old 11-29-2022, 05:08 PM   #15
oddbox83 oddbox83 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slimdude View Post
If I can hear somebody's subwoofer in a car driving down the street from inside of my house, I can surely hear it in an apartment building.
That's not totally comparable. Thudding subs are set up to do that, often at the expense of proper audio quality. I personally hate boomy bass and have neighbours either side, which is why I've ended up with the SB1000 with isolation feet to replace a Focal Cub sub that was bundled in with my speakers. A good quality, well integrated sub isn't gonna be an endless thud thud thud. Which is what I said.

Low frequency sounds like those produced by a sub are the troublesome ones though. Like I say though, there are things that can help so the basic "sub is bad" line isn't all that helpful. Now maybe a sub isn't a good idea, but let the OP decide from all the options without the Slimnanny routine, yeah?

Last edited by oddbox83; 11-29-2022 at 05:12 PM.
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Old 11-29-2022, 05:43 PM   #16
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I have been happy with my Yamaha Model:YAS-109BL. I bought mine for the bedroom and think it works really well for the price. IE: Dec 2019 for Total:$213.99 @ BestBuy. Plus it's still available for around the same price. It has had probably 6 firmware updates since I bought it and it says something that Yamaha STILL has the same soundbar on sale 3 years later. It has a 4.2 rating of over 291 reviews. It has Alexa built in and has network WiFi and Bluetooth connections and a pretty good app and remote to help change functions and upgrades. NO it won't blow you away with thumping bass BUT it's a real upgrade from TV speakers and has Clear Dialog enhancing, and Night mode listening settings that work pretty well. Music is very pleasant to listen to also, In a small listening area like an apartment I think that you and your neighbors will be happy with this upgrade until you get a bigger place. Also it's BestBuy, they will let you return it for 14days, so PLEASE KEEP the box and all packaging which makes returning it much easier if you don't like it. NO I don't work for BestBuy or Yamaha, lol.
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Old 12-01-2022, 05:32 PM   #17
Barry_NJ Barry_NJ is offline
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I suppose it really depends on what you're looking to achieve and what your budget is.
I have a media room with a full Atmos set up, but in my living room I have the TV hooked up to a simple 2.1 stereo system. Yes, big special effects movies are a bit more fun in the media room, but having full rich 2 channel sound really is quite satisfying. So if you're buying a simple 2/2.1 receiver, and 2.1 speakers, for similar investment you can probably get better equipment because there'd be less of it, and it's got fewer bells & whistles, than if you go AVR and Surround Sound. Another thing with AVRs, is they pretty regularly go out of date when some new codec or feature is released. A good sounding 2 channel receiver doesn't get outdated nearly as quickly.
Just my $.02
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Old 12-04-2022, 11:22 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolling Dice View Post
Thanks for the link, made me realize there's a few other things I need to take into account.

Ideally, I would need a soundbar with a HDMI eARC port and DTS-X&Dolby Atmos support, but are mid-range soundbars really able to create a convincing surround sound? Otherwise a soundbar with less features would be cheaper...

I actually can't go the AVR route anyway, unfortunately. Apparently my neighbors can hear me better than I thought and there's not enough room for a full audio setup anyway. Besides, the sofa is against one of the walls so I can't put speakers behind me.
Requiring less noise doesn't necessarily take AVR and two speakers out of the equation. I've been there. You could be thinking quality sound and efficiency with a mini HT. Then down the road, move the fronts to surrounds. No need to consider sub or center until a move to surround. IMO soundbar at any price is a waste of money for now and future.

Gear consideration: Denon AVR-S660H; JBL Stage A130. Both available at Crutchfield ($399/sale; $199.95).
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Old 12-20-2022, 05:36 AM   #19
cochon cochon is offline
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I think an AVR with a good quality pair of speakers could give you very good results in an aparment, no need to cover yourself with speakers, just plain 2.0. In an appartment I would stay clear of a sub. The AVR with night mode as mentioned previously can help you reduce the extreme sounds. I would also have a pair of headphones and try to get used to them, they free you from the neighbours worries.
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Old 12-20-2022, 10:33 AM   #20
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I'll just repeat what I already said - I'm in a similar situation, and solving my problem has been getting better gear. I was worried about subwoofers causing issue, so I end up with a powerful SVS sub with isolation feet.

It seems counterintuitive, which is why I keep reminding people, but the better gear isn't just about running it louder, it's about not needing to run it so hot, or have a cheap subwoofer madly thudding away just to pump out it's narrow range of sound.

Also, despite some not understanding what a 3.0 setup is, it's ideal for those who want to run movies at lower volumes yet still have the ability to selectively boost and hear all the dialogue.
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