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Polk Audio? JBL? Or something else?

Discussion in 'Home Theater Audio' started by ron mexico75, Jun 21, 2013.

  1. ron mexico75

    ron mexico75 Cool Member

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    Jan 7, 2012
    So I'm in the market for a sound bar. I don't want to spend more than $800. I have been reading so many reviews on amazon and cnet I am getting sick. I have narrowed it down to these 2 links that I am posting. Hopefully some guys that can help me make a decision will post.

    I initially was very sure I was going with the Polk Audio IHT9000. Seems awesome for what it is. Great reviews, great specs. etc. However, there is one big red flag in my opinion. I say my opinion because maybe I'm wrong and this isn't a red flag but just me being too picky. The Polk is lacking ANY HDMI inputs/outputs. You have 2 optical audio jacks to deal with. This became an issue when I realized that the DirecTV and Apple TV would be plugged into the Panasonic ST60 via HDMI and then use the optical OUT on the TV to go IN to the Polk sound bar. Now correct me if I am wrong, but I imagine that the Panasonic ST60 does NOT pass 5.1 through its optical out correct? Wouldn't it be down converted to 2 channels? I cannot get anyone at Best Buy or even Panasonic or Amazon customer service to verify that the ST60 will pass 5.1 from the optical out.

    Since the sound bar isn't a true surround sound system but does decode 5.1, am I being too picky? From a sound bar, will I notice a meaningful difference between 2 channel being put out through this system to make it sound like surround sound versus using a sound bar with HDMI directly from my DirecTV box and not being down converted?

    This is the only negative I can think of with the Polk. Hell, pretty much all other sound bars that are not $1500 plus dollars do not have HDMI.


    Now the JBL. Seems comparable to the Polk IHT9000 doesn't it? Maybe it isn't and I am not educated enough in the field of sound and specs. to realize the differences. Can someone educate me? I like this unit because of the HDMI. I also have read that with the HDMI, volume adjustments and other queues show up on screen for visual verification. With the optical setup connection, you're left to wonder where the controls are set at as well as making source switching a pain in the rear. Does this JBL lack in the sound processing and overall sound quality production when it comes up against the Polk IHT9000 sound processing technology? I'm just not sure so I hope some of you that read this can help me.

    I am asking for clear and detailed responses that I can understand as to why one is better than the other.

    Anything else you can ad that I haven't thought of or that can help this discussion is greatly appreciated. I'll post a link to the review of the IHT 9000 as well as links to each of the bars I'm considering.

    Information from Amazon:

    http://www.amazon.com/JBL-Cinema-Soundbar-Speaker-System/dp/B00AWTW480/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=EJYDESP9YZRY&coliid=I6069UGQULW07


    http://www.amazon.com/Polk-Audio-Surround-Bar-9000/dp/B00AQY57AI/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pd_S_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=EJYDESP9YZRY&coliid=I24D9ABZX0HZE4

    Information from each products website:

    http://www.jbl.com/estore/jbl/us/product/productDetails.jsp?pid=JBL CINEMA SB400


    http://www.polkaudio.com/products/surroundbar9000


    Review of the IHT 9000:

    http://www.hometheater.com/content/polk-surroundbar-9000-iht-soundbar
     
  2. jimmie57

    jimmie57 Hall Of Fame

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    Be aware that you will probably have to use the remote control that comes with them to control the volume.
    So far, I have only found Vizio and Samsung that work with the DTV remote. You will have to verify this for yourself since I am going off what I am reading in forums.
     
  3. peds48

    peds48 DIRECTV A-Team DBSTalk Club

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    I would definitely not get a sound bar, period.
     
  4. ron mexico75

    ron mexico75 Cool Member

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    Jan 7, 2012
    Thanks for the totally useless post I mean come on man.

    I give a bunch of detailed information with links and reasons and you post something like that?
     
  5. P Smith

    P Smith Mr. FixAnything

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    Mediterranea...
    the point is _normal_ audiophile would buy discrete 5+1 boxes and never the eye's appealing sound bar what compromised one purpose of it - SOUND ! :)
     
  6. jimmie57

    jimmie57 Hall Of Fame

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    I have Polk speakers and love them.

    My friend bought the Polk 6000 sound bar with wireless sub and he loves it. I have not heard it for myself.
     
  7. ron mexico75

    ron mexico75 Cool Member

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    Jan 7, 2012
    Well I called Crutchfield up and spoke to one of the reps for about five minutes. He heard both of the ones that I am considering and said they both sound good. The Polk audio was a little bit louder and had a little bit fuller sound. However, for my room size he said the JBL would be very good.

    Here is the problem I'm trying to overcome and make a decision. The Polk audio is a 5.1 system. Although not a true separate 5.1 pieces of equipment it does reproduce 5.1 sound. The JBL is a two channel system but has processing to make it almost sound like you're being surrounded by sound, you know what I'm saying?

    But essentially I cannot utilize the 5.1 in the Polk audio because it only has digital optical inputs. I would have to pass through my TV which will not pass 5.1 it would just be two channel.

    The JBL does not have HDMI inputs which would make it capable of reproducing 5.1. However, it is only a two channel system unlike the Polk. I also think having HDMI cables would make it easier when it came to switching sources plus it would allow on-screen viewing of volume as well.

    So I guess it boils down to; do I want the larger more powerful system in the Polk audio or do I want the JBL which the Crutchfield guy said sounds very good. With the capability of HDMI inputs but maybe the sound reproduction isn't as dynamic on the JBL as the Polk audio. Does that make sense?
     
  8. peds48

    peds48 DIRECTV A-Team DBSTalk Club

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    Thanks for the totally useless post I mean come on man. I give a bunch of detailed information with links and reasons and you post something like that?


    My post was of great value. that you found no value in it, then that is another story. Soundbars and HTIB are a very poor way to enjoy what the "sound guys" of a film invested their time and effort to produce. George Lucas and Tomlison Holman (creators of THX) must have had a heart attack when these sound bars came out.
     
  9. lugnutathome

    lugnutathome Hall Of Fame

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    I couldn't get the JBL link to pop up but here is my .09 cents worth (02 adjusted for inflation)...

    Sound bars are a very poor solution if the true surround experience is important or if you will also use it for musical reproduction. That being said I was impressed that the POLK did both DD 5.1 and DTS decoding as many of the soundbars and or artifical surround units only do DD 5.1 or 2 channel PCM. Even from a soundbar or other simulated surround device the multichannel input sounds much richer even if the surround field effect only really works for barking dogs during a specific noise level only:)

    Now my budget would probablly make your head spin (I've three 7.1 systems in my home, one 5.1, and two simlated surround systems) (anything worth doing is worth doing to excess I always say) I would choose no less than a Yamaha YSP system myself. I've owned a YSP-1000 which just this year I replaced with a YSP-5100. Incredible soundstage, almost real surround system quality but at a price well beyond what most would consider for just a soundbar. And certainly priced within the real of a decen 5 or 7.1 system. I've stuck with the soundbar due to vaulted ceilings in an upstairs room and due to entry stairwells, deck access, etc real speakers would be difficult tp properly place and the wires OMG. Hence I use the YSP.

    In your observation the lack of HDMI inputs is a good thing really. Since the soundbar will not do the high resolution soundfields you lose that audio enhancement on DVD and BulRay and there is no need to use the soundbar as a video switching device. Having your HDMI devices connected to the TV direct means you can run the TV without the soundbar (or children, or guests, or wife that hates all those remotes) and use the soundbar when it suits you to. Simplicity.

    BUT you are limited to only two digital input devices. IN most peoples cases cable/sat box for one and the BluRayPlayer for the other and you are done. If you are like me and have a BluRay player, Yamaha natural sound single DVD players, and Yamaha natural sound DVD CHANGERS well 2 digital inputs won't cut it. Also depending on your TV programming provider, if their receiver only has digital coax out you are on the water paddleless.

    I do not know about your TV's optical out. . . Until recently it was a 5.1 outlet solely for materials decoded on its own internal tuner but due to camcorder inputs on the front that leverage multichannel audio it is possible it might push DD 5.1 out from HDMI hub inputs but I wouldn't plan on that.

    In short you need to do homework and review what you expect to connect and what level of experience you need out of it. Does it have enough (compatible to your equipment) digital inputs? Is the HDMI switching meaningfull? if so do you need 3D passthrough?

    And realize I can tell you what I like as can others but it will be something you will need to like (and able to justify becayse it does X,Y, and Z) to spousal units that wanted that bathroom remodel :)

    And again even on restricted speaker outputs a multichannel signal input has a much warmer sound that a 2 channel PCM input.

    Don "The Yamaha YSP line has ALL the goodies but it does cost as much as a real system would" Bolton
     
  10. MysteryMan

    MysteryMan DIRECTV A-Team DBSTalk Club

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    Before you purchase a Surround Bar take a look a Polk Audio's Surround Sound Speaker Systems. They are well within your budget and will give you true 5.1 surround sound. Crutchfield has several on their site.
     
  11. ron mexico75

    ron mexico75 Cool Member

    171
    2
    Jan 7, 2012
    I couldn't get the JBL link to pop up but here is my .09 cents worth (02 adjusted for inflation)...

    Sound bars are a very poor solution if the true surround experience is important or if you will also use it for musical reproduction. That being said I was impressed that the POLK did both DD 5.1 and DTS decoding as many of the soundbars and or artifical surround units only do DD 5.1 or 2 channel PCM. Even from a soundbar or other simulated surround device the multichannel input sounds much richer even if the surround field effect only really works for barking dogs during a specific noise level only:)

    Now my budget would probablly make your head spin (I've three 7.1 systems in my home, one 5.1, and two simlated surround systems) (anything worth doing is worth doing to excess I always say) I would choose no less than a Yamaha YSP system myself. I've owned a YSP-1000 which just this year I replaced with a YSP-5100. Incredible soundstage, almost real surround system quality but at a price well beyond what most would consider for just a soundbar. And certainly priced within the real of a decen 5 or 7.1 system. I've stuck with the soundbar due to vaulted ceilings in an upstairs room and due to entry stairwells, deck access, etc real speakers would be difficult tp properly place and the wires OMG. Hence I use the YSP.

    In your observation the lack of HDMI inputs is a good thing really. Since the soundbar will not do the high resolution soundfields you lose that audio enhancement on DVD and BulRay and there is no need to use the soundbar as a video switching device. Having your HDMI devices connected to the TV direct means you can run the TV without the soundbar (or children, or guests, or wife that hates all those remotes) and use the soundbar when it suits you to. Simplicity.

    BUT you are limited to only two digital input devices. IN most peoples cases cable/sat box for one and the BluRayPlayer for the other and you are done. If you are like me and have a BluRay player, Yamaha natural sound single DVD players, and Yamaha natural sound DVD CHANGERS well 2 digital inputs won't cut it. Also depending on your TV programming provider, if their receiver only has digital coax out you are on the water paddleless.

    I do not know about your TV's optical out. . . Until recently it was a 5.1 outlet solely for materials decoded on its own internal tuner but due to camcorder inputs on the front that leverage multichannel audio it is possible it might push DD 5.1 out from HDMI hub inputs but I wouldn't plan on that.

    In short you need to do homework and review what you expect to connect and what level of experience you need out of it. Does it have enough (compatible to your equipment) digital inputs? Is the HDMI switching meaningfull? if so do you need 3D passthrough?

    And realize I can tell you what I like as can others but it will be something you will need to like (and able to justify becayse it does X,Y, and Z) to spousal units that wanted that bathroom remodel :)

    And again even on restricted speaker outputs a multichannel signal input has a much warmer sound that a 2 channel PCM input.

    Don "The Yamaha YSP line has ALL the goodies but it does cost as much as a real system would" Bolton


    Thank you sir that is exactly the type of response I was soliciting. Very detailed,very well spoken, very intelligent,thank you.

    I appreciate you just not posting a one-liner drive by stating not to get a sound bar.

    Also just so you know this might help you some more, I have the new DirecTV genie and an AppleTV that's all I plan on plugging into the sound bar. The Apple TV has a optical out the DirecTV box has optical and HDMI.

    The true surroundsound really does not matter to me as I do not watch a lot of movies. it's more for music and sports and some movies every now and then but not specifically movie viewing.

    I just want something that sounds really good that I can crank up and listen to music also if I'm watching football I can crank it up and hear the crowd coming out of the speakers like I'm there.

    So essentially what I'm getting from your post is due to the fact I cannot get true 5.1, having HDMI cables really does not matter anyways, is that correct!

    I don't know if I posted this earlier but the TV I'm getting is the Panasonic ST 50. It has an optical out but no one even customer service at Panasonic can tell me if it will pass 5.1. Talk to three different people get three different answers.
     
  12. ron mexico75

    ron mexico75 Cool Member

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    Jan 7, 2012
    Before you purchase a Surround Bar take a look a Polk Audio's Surround Sound Speaker Systems. They are well within your budget and will give you true 5.1 surround sound. Crutchfield has several on their site.


    I am out in the field working now on my mobile device are you able to tell me real quick if those are wireless speakers? I do not want to run wires or fish wire anything like that.
     
  13. inkahauts

    inkahauts DIRECTV A-Team

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    I heard the first sound bar ever made by Yamaha. It was the same size as a 42" plasma tv and was incredible. It did things lots don't do today, like two people could sit next to each other and one would hear the English track the other the French one of a DVD.

    It also cost thousands. I want to say 10k but it may have been 20k it was so long ago. And yet i still preferred my regular multi speaker system overall though.

    With that said, there are situations where sound bars make perfect sense to me. I wouldn't go for it for my main system but a secondary tv in another room they can make a ton if sense to me.

    As with any speaker though, I say listen to them and pick the one that sounds the best to you especially tonnaly since different people have different preferences and hear different. Any can be made to work with any system if you get a universal remote to help out which is generally worth it IMHO no matter why.
     
  14. MysteryMan

    MysteryMan DIRECTV A-Team DBSTalk Club

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    No, they are not wireless.
     
  15. inkahauts

    inkahauts DIRECTV A-Team

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    I am out in the field working now on my mobile device are you able to tell me real quick if those are wireless speakers? I do not want to run wires or fish wire anything like that.


    Don't go wireless speakers IMHO. You lose fidelity big time generally speaking.

    If your real love is music id buy a good receiver and nice floor standing speakers and just listen to everything In Stereo. Maybe Add a center channel someday. But a good floor standing speaker is better for music any day over a small speaker or sound bar because they will generally have a fuller range.

    Look at klipsch and energy speakers as well as Polk and find somewhere to listen to them if you can. Very different sounds from all three brands.
     
  16. inkahauts

    inkahauts DIRECTV A-Team

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    By the way I see no reason why you can't run optical or coax from the devices directly to your audio equipment separate from the hdmi to the tv regardless of which route you go. You'll still get discrete 5.1 from that. That does make a difference in how well any unit can sound for several reasons depending in what audio equipment you use. the main point is 5.1 gives full range info for each channel to the audio equipment. Stereo does not so if its taking stereo to make surround sound it will be Missing some of the info to do that properly.
     
  17. ron mexico75

    ron mexico75 Cool Member

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    How about this one? Does it look any better then the Polk or JBL?

    http://amzn.com/B004E10JZW
     
  18. MysteryMan

    MysteryMan DIRECTV A-Team DBSTalk Club

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    Stick with Polk Audio.
     
  19. lugnutathome

    lugnutathome Hall Of Fame

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    See if you can audition one somewhere. For the room you have it may be suprisingly good or it may not. I have used the YSP systems that have 42 speakers and equipped a friend of mine with one of the 22 speaker models which in her home sounds impressive. I have not auditioned these low speaker count new models as my room size is over 730 sq ft and only the 42 speaker units scale out that large.

    You aked about connections in a. Response to me earlier and to clarify. . . Dolby labs and DTS both came up with HD codecs for the HD devices BlueRay specifically since HD DVD died. Thes codecs will only transmit over HDMI BUT unless you soundbar has HDMI and states decoders for DTS HD MASTER audio and Dolby TRueHD it still only will decode standard DTS and DD 5.1. These are the legacy surround formats and for most are perfectly fine. The new HD ones are called "lossless" as they do not utilize compression but in a small soundbar the diference would likely be moot

    You mentioned Genie and if it is the HR34 it does NOT have optical out only digital coax as do the little Genie client boxes. IF it is an HR44 then it has both.

    In Portland we have a locally owned retailer that has the Yamaha line and you can audition things in realitavely sized rooms. Check see if you can find such in your area. Buy locally, keep the money in the community, and deal with enthusiasts selling the products that actually know something about what they sell. Beast Buy is berift of all such things.

    Don "enjoy kicking those tires" Bolton

     
  20. P Smith

    P Smith Mr. FixAnything

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    the whole idea of the sound-bar to be above of mediocre stereo or quasi-surround is pure marketing gimmick, IMHO

    if you will accept it, then you know what you will buy
     

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