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Home theatre; Soundbar vs Bookshelf speakers

dizmo
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Which?  

7 members have voted

  1. 1. Soundbar or Monitors?

    • Soundbar
      1
    • Monitors
      6


Looking at getting a home theatre setup, but for a small apartment. I don't really want a 5.1 system, I think a 2, 2.1, or 3.1 will do just fine.

I'm sort of down to a soundbar, or a set of bookshelf speakers on stands. At this point I'm not even sure if I want a sub, as I wouldn't really get to use it to it's full potential anyway.

 

What are your guys thoughts? Has anyone gone through a similar dilemma?

 

Any suggestions on what gear to use? I like the thought of Atmos, but again it's a small space so I'm not even sure if that'd be worthwhile.

Speakers I've been considering:

  • Klipsch The Fives
  • Klipsch RP600M
  • Focal Chora 806
  • Jamo S803

Soundbars I've been considering:

  • Klipsch Cinema 700
  • JBL 9.1
  • LG ‎SP9YA

Current PC:

Spoiler

CPU: Intel i3 4160 Cooler: Integrated Motherboard: Integrated

RAM: G.Skill RipJaws 16GB DDR3 Storage: Transcend MSA370 128GB GPU: Intel 4400 Graphics

PSU: Integrated Case: Shuttle XPC Slim

Monitor: LG 29WK500 Mouse: G.Skill MX780 Keyboard: G.Skill KM780 Cherry MX Red

 

Budget Rig 1 - Sold For $750 Profit

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CPU: Intel i5 7600k Cooler: CryOrig H7 Motherboard: MSI Z270 M5

RAM: Crucial LPX 16GB DDR4 Storage: Intel S3510 800GB GPU: Nvidia GTX 980

PSU: Corsair CX650M Case: EVGA DG73

Monitor: LG 29WK500 Mouse: G.Skill MX780 Keyboard: G.Skill KM780 Cherry MX Red

 

OG Gaming Rig - Gone

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CPU: Intel i5 4690k Cooler: Corsair H100i V2 Motherboard: MSI Z97i AC ITX

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Monitor: Dell P2214H x2 Mouse: Logitech MX Master Keyboard: G.Skill KM780 Cherry MX Red

 

 

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7 hours ago, dizmo said:

Looking at getting a home theatre setup, but for a small apartment. I don't really want a 5.1 system, I think a 2, 2.1, or 3.1 will do just fine.

I'm sort of down to a soundbar, or a set of bookshelf speakers on stands. At this point I'm not even sure if I want a sub, as I wouldn't really get to use it to it's full potential anyway.

 

What are your guys thoughts? Has anyone gone through a similar dilemma?

 

Any suggestions on what gear to use? I like the thought of Atmos, but again it's a small space so I'm not even sure if that'd be worthwhile.

Speakers I've been considering:

  • Klipsch The Fives
  • Klipsch RP600M
  • Focal Chora 806
  • Jamo S803

Soundbars I've been considering:

  • Klipsch Cinema 700
  • JBL 9.1
  • LG ‎SP9YA

I am also an apartment dweller. I prefer bookshelf speakers. Capable of more bass than a sound bar without needing a sub. (generally speaking - due to the speaker size) 

 

I use presonus eris 4.5 and have been extremely pleased. 

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14 hours ago, dizmo said:

 

 

Any suggestions on what gear to use? I like the thought of Atmos, but again it's a small space so I'm not even sure if that'd be worthwhile.

Speakers I've been considering:

  • Klipsch The Fives
  • Klipsch RP600M
  • Focal Chora 806
  • Jamo S803

 

That's a good selection from very different price points. I'd probably go with bigger units if you'd be running without a sub (Monitor Audio Bronze 100 perhaps?).

 

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15 hours ago, Blue4130 said:

I am also an apartment dweller. I prefer bookshelf speakers. Capable of more bass than a sound bar without needing a sub. (generally speaking - due to the speaker size) 

 

I use presonus eris 4.5 and have been extremely pleased. 

Interesting, good to know. What are you using to run the speakers?

8 hours ago, Stagea said:

That's a good selection from very different price points. I'd probably go with bigger units if you'd be running without a sub (Monitor Audio Bronze 100 perhaps?).

I was definitely looking at those ones as well, but they'd require a receiver, no? That's why I kind of like the idea of the Klipsch's a little bit more. They're basically plug and play to the TV.

Current PC:

Spoiler

CPU: Intel i3 4160 Cooler: Integrated Motherboard: Integrated

RAM: G.Skill RipJaws 16GB DDR3 Storage: Transcend MSA370 128GB GPU: Intel 4400 Graphics

PSU: Integrated Case: Shuttle XPC Slim

Monitor: LG 29WK500 Mouse: G.Skill MX780 Keyboard: G.Skill KM780 Cherry MX Red

 

Budget Rig 1 - Sold For $750 Profit

Spoiler

CPU: Intel i5 7600k Cooler: CryOrig H7 Motherboard: MSI Z270 M5

RAM: Crucial LPX 16GB DDR4 Storage: Intel S3510 800GB GPU: Nvidia GTX 980

PSU: Corsair CX650M Case: EVGA DG73

Monitor: LG 29WK500 Mouse: G.Skill MX780 Keyboard: G.Skill KM780 Cherry MX Red

 

OG Gaming Rig - Gone

Spoiler

 

CPU: Intel i5 4690k Cooler: Corsair H100i V2 Motherboard: MSI Z97i AC ITX

RAM: Crucial Ballistix 16GB DDR3 Storage: Kingston Fury 240GB GPU: Asus Strix GTX 970

PSU: Thermaltake TR2 Case: Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ITX

Monitor: Dell P2214H x2 Mouse: Logitech MX Master Keyboard: G.Skill KM780 Cherry MX Red

 

 

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28 minutes ago, dizmo said:

Interesting, good to know. What are you using to run the speakers?

I was definitely looking at those ones as well, but they'd require a receiver, no? That's why I kind of like the idea of the Klipsch's a little bit more. They're basically plug and play to the TV.

The presonus are powered so it simplified things. Got them hooked up to the TV right now and the pc is hooked up to it also. This way the speakers work seamless with pc content, Nintendo switch or tv. All without needing to change sources. 

 

I'd like to go surround sound at some point, but still unsure about that setup. 

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In all honesty, if it's just for TV audio, I'd go soundbar for aesthetics. 
For pure sound quality, separate cabinets will always do a better job. They are also usually not full of DSP crap that completely ruin the musicality of the speaker in favour of spacial audio. 
That said, you wrote down very different sounding speakers. The Jamo's are pretty laid back, the klipsches are quite present in the midrange (which I like, but it's not to everyone's taste) and the focals are just horridly agressive. Any focal with an inverted dome is. I personally would also look at Wharfedale, Dynaudio and Elac in your comparison. Another really good option is a pair of second hand Boston Acoustics A25. Those things are gems and they were cheap new, about the same price second hand, but worth it. 
If you want low end, invest in proper stands. They need to be solid and heavy. Stone garden pillars are a great cheap option if you can find something that's not ugly (or if you can make something yourself). And then there's the small matter of an amplifier. What are you going to drive them with? There's plenty of cheap amplifiers out there but there's not a lot of good, cheap amplifiers out there. If you were to go the 250 bucks amp route, look at Onkyo, Yamaha and Pioneer, not at Sony, Denon and Marantz like everyone does 😉.
Alternatively you could consider active speakers. I haven't heard enough to give you a good recommendation regarding that unfortunately. People seem quite happy with Q-acoustics for the money. 
Bare in mind; If you buy an amplifier you need to match it to the speakers. Yamaha is lovely but quite agressive, if you pair that with Focal, ouch. If you can stretch the budget a little you can also look at Cambridge and NAD. Very much worth while for stereo amplifiers on a 'budget'. These start at 350-ish bucks.

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23 hours ago, Blue4130 said:

The presonus are powered so it simplified things. Got them hooked up to the TV right now and the pc is hooked up to it also. This way the speakers work seamless with pc content, Nintendo switch or tv. All without needing to change sources. 

 

I'd like to go surround sound at some point, but still unsure about that setup. 

Oh nice, what did you look them up to the TV with?

I keep considering surround as well. Which is why I liked the idea of the JBL 9.1 with it's wireless speakers, for the odd time I'd use them.

17 hours ago, s_k said:

In all honesty, if it's just for TV audio, I'd go soundbar for aesthetics. 
For pure sound quality, separate cabinets will always do a better job. They are also usually not full of DSP crap that completely ruin the musicality of the speaker in favour of spacial audio. 
That said, you wrote down very different sounding speakers. The Jamo's are pretty laid back, the klipsches are quite present in the midrange (which I like, but it's not to everyone's taste) and the focals are just horridly agressive. Any focal with an inverted dome is. I personally would also look at Wharfedale, Dynaudio and Elac in your comparison. Another really good option is a pair of second hand Boston Acoustics A25. Those things are gems and they were cheap new, about the same price second hand, but worth it. 
If you want low end, invest in proper stands. They need to be solid and heavy. Stone garden pillars are a great cheap option if you can find something that's not ugly (or if you can make something yourself). And then there's the small matter of an amplifier. What are you going to drive them with? There's plenty of cheap amplifiers out there but there's not a lot of good, cheap amplifiers out there. If you were to go the 250 bucks amp route, look at Onkyo, Yamaha and Pioneer, not at Sony, Denon and Marantz like everyone does 😉.
Alternatively you could consider active speakers. I haven't heard enough to give you a good recommendation regarding that unfortunately. People seem quite happy with Q-acoustics for the money. 
Bare in mind; If you buy an amplifier you need to match it to the speakers. Yamaha is lovely but quite agressive, if you pair that with Focal, ouch. If you can stretch the budget a little you can also look at Cambridge and NAD. Very much worth while for stereo amplifiers on a 'budget'. These start at 350-ish bucks.

Haha, it's funny, I actually find the bookshelf speakers more aesthetically pleasing.

 

The Jamos are by far the budget option, at around $200 for the surround set. I've actually heard the Elacs are much more treble happy, which is something I'd avoid like the plague. Most people seem to be fond of the Focals. Good call on the Onkyo, I owned one of those many years ago and it was quite nice for the price! I do love the look of the Marantz units though 😛 The $350 ones don't really seem to have great connectivity. I'd want at least some form of WiFi or Bluetooth.

 

The Fives are on the list mostly because of the fact they're active and have an HDMI port built into the speakers. So I'd be super easy to connect to the TV, no amp required. I'm kind of leaning more in that direction, as it seems to cover the most bases with the least complexity.

 

I hear ya on good stands. Currently thinking of going Kanto, there was another one I liked but seems to only be available in the UK. I love the look of the Monitor Audio and Solidsteel stuff, but there's no way I can justify spending $900 on a set of speaker stands. Same with the powered Q-Acoustics...$3k. Ouch.

Current PC:

Spoiler

CPU: Intel i3 4160 Cooler: Integrated Motherboard: Integrated

RAM: G.Skill RipJaws 16GB DDR3 Storage: Transcend MSA370 128GB GPU: Intel 4400 Graphics

PSU: Integrated Case: Shuttle XPC Slim

Monitor: LG 29WK500 Mouse: G.Skill MX780 Keyboard: G.Skill KM780 Cherry MX Red

 

Budget Rig 1 - Sold For $750 Profit

Spoiler

CPU: Intel i5 7600k Cooler: CryOrig H7 Motherboard: MSI Z270 M5

RAM: Crucial LPX 16GB DDR4 Storage: Intel S3510 800GB GPU: Nvidia GTX 980

PSU: Corsair CX650M Case: EVGA DG73

Monitor: LG 29WK500 Mouse: G.Skill MX780 Keyboard: G.Skill KM780 Cherry MX Red

 

OG Gaming Rig - Gone

Spoiler

 

CPU: Intel i5 4690k Cooler: Corsair H100i V2 Motherboard: MSI Z97i AC ITX

RAM: Crucial Ballistix 16GB DDR3 Storage: Kingston Fury 240GB GPU: Asus Strix GTX 970

PSU: Thermaltake TR2 Case: Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ITX

Monitor: Dell P2214H x2 Mouse: Logitech MX Master Keyboard: G.Skill KM780 Cherry MX Red

 

 

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5 hours ago, dizmo said:

Oh nice, what did you look them up to the TV with?

I keep considering surround as well. Which is why I liked the idea of the JBL 9.1 with it's wireless speakers, for the odd time I'd use them.

Haha, it's funny, I actually find the bookshelf speakers more aesthetically pleasing.

 

 

They are hooked up through rca plugs on the TV side. It's all really simple. HDMI PC sound is a godsend.

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6 hours ago, dizmo said:

. I've actually heard the Elacs are much more treble happy, which is something I'd avoid like the plague. Most people seem to be fond of the Focals

Let's be honest, many people also keep buying Bose. If you don't like Treble happy, avoid Focal. They are the harshest sounding mainstream brand out there, even if you pair them with something somewhat warm sounding like, for instance, Cambridge.
If you don't like a lot of treble, also avoid Onkyo and Yamaha, they are both quite agressive. You do really want to go British then, at least for amplification, possibly also for speakers. My rig is extremely laid back sounding while still resolving every detail, but that's not something you'd hook up to a TV.

I would seriously consider you look for a pair of second hand Boston A25 or Wharfedale Diamond III speakers. They are both awesome, with the wharfedales being a little easier to place. Bare in mind, they are back firing bass reflex speakers, so they do need a little space from the wall or they'll just be canceling all of their own low end out :D. 

 

As for Active; The Q Acoustics M20 are 500 bucks. I haven't heard them though. 
Another speaker I never heard but that seems well designed and was dirt cheap, that people kept raving on about, was the Pioneer 
SP-BS22-LR. May be worth a look into. 
I'd go second hand anyway, there's so much lovely stuff out there. Also for an amplifier honestly, there's not much that beats a NAD C320 for that price. 
If you are using stands anyway, you may as well go for small floorstanders. The Tannoy R2 is an absolute gem. It was cheap when new, so people paired it with cheap amplifiers and then they sound 'meh'. Pair them with something half decent (The C320 is a good option again) and you have a pair of speakers that hits way above its value. They are also lovely and smooth and never agressive, which is what you (rightfully so!) like. 
I don't know where you are in the world but if you send me your favourite auction site I don't mind looking for second hand options. It's a bit of a waste to spend many hundreds when you can have a great sounding rig for 150 bucks :D. 

As for HDMI connectivity; There's plenty of HDMI to Analog Audio converters on Amazon. Alternatively you could buy an older 5.1 receiver with HDMI inputs. It's not ideal but if you get a half decent one it should perform just fine in stereo.

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@s_kWhile the older Focals can be quite bright, I believe the new ones are closer to neutral. I measure and tune sound systems as I used to distribute audio equipment. Focal's signature sound had been tweaked quite a bit over the years and anything from the past 5 years are much more mellow. If you look at measurements of their newer lines, you will see that they are now very well behaved speakers (while retaining their ability to resolve amazing amounts of detail).

 

Sure they often don't measure as perfectly as Revel or Magico speakers in the ideal environment, but they are close enough that that it's normally a non-issue in the domestic listening environment. The room acoustics may even favor the slightly-sculpted Focal response (of course depending on the listener).

 

Here's an example of a recent Focal:

Focal Sopra No.3 loudspeaker Measurements | Stereophile.com

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On 12/4/2021 at 5:12 AM, Stagea said:

@s_kWhile the older Focals can be quite bright, I believe the new ones are closer to neutral. I measure and tune sound systems as I used to distribute audio equipment. Focal's signature sound had been tweaked quite a bit over the years and anything from the past 5 years are much more mellow. If you look at measurements of their newer lines, you will see that they are now very well behaved speakers (while retaining their ability to resolve amazing amounts of detail).

 

Sure they often don't measure as perfectly as Revel or Magico speakers in the ideal environment, but they are close enough that that it's normally a non-issue in the domestic listening environment. The room acoustics may even favor the slightly-sculpted Focal response (of course depending on the listener).

 

Here's an example of a recent Focal:

Focal Sopra No.3 loudspeaker Measurements | Stereophile.com

Measurements really aren't everything I am afraid. In the end you don't hear numbers :).

Focal is still very agressive when it comes to speakers. I have yet to try their headphones.

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