Time to move from speakers to a soundbar. Help!
December 24, 2020 8:28 PM   Subscribe

We have an 11-month-old and the speakers on stands are just not gonna work anymore. I want to move from a 2.1 setup (JBL speakers, Marantz reciever, SVS subwoofer) to something more compact and simplified. i want to make sure I understand the component setup, as well.

I have the following components:
Apple TV 4K
Xbox Series X

I'd like for the bar to support my tv and all of the above components, including the ability to play music from Spotify. I have Apple products (iphones, Macbook) and a few Sonos One speakers around the house.

I currently have a Marantz receiver (which doesn't support 4k). I have an LG C7 tv. At this point the Series X, PS5 and Apple TV are all plugged into the TV directly since the receiver doesn't support 4K. Seems like I should be fine ditching the receiver entirely with any soundbar? Will options aside from the Sonos Arc need a receiver or are they made to work directly with a tv that has the other components plugged into it? Lastly, when soundbars (the Samsung and JBL below) tout 4K passthrough, what's the purpose of that? If the TV is handling the video component, why does the soundbar need to have 4K abilities?

Some of the options that seems like they have good potential are:

Sonos Arc- seems very simple, supports Atmos (but does it support Atmos with my components including playing 4K blurays on the Series X/PS5?), can later add subwoofer and surrounds

JBL 9.1- detachable surround speakers would be nice for situations when my kid is in bed and I can put these out. Has Airplay.

Samsung HW-Q900T (or similar)

The Sonos seems like the clearcut answer here, unless there are true benefits of the JBL or Samsung that I'm overlooking. I'm imagining in this price range the sound quality will be at a similar level. The entry price of the Arc is lower because it doesnt come with the subwoofer or surrounds but once those are factored in it becomes the most expensive. I don't mind this as I'd be waiting to add those components later anyway.

Anything else I should consider? Thanks so much for any help and opinions you can provide!
posted by rbf1138 to Technology (2 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'm an audiophile who reluctantly started to migrate to the Sonos system 5 or 6 years ago. And, honestly, Sonos speakers are better than they have any right to be. Their modularity is so simple and mobile that it makes up for the few complaints I have (which include: no headphone jack for my beloved hifi headphones). I haven't needed the subwoofer, the other components (the Play 5, in particular) has stunningly deep bass. As in it can rattle the frames on the walls.

Honestly the hardest part about the migration was letting my old components sit gathering dust before I sold them.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 8:46 PM on December 24, 2020

The reason soundbars tout 4K passthrough is many of them (the JBL I know for a fact) have both HDMI input and output sockets. So, you can feed a source in to them if you're low on HDMI inputs on your TV. Also, when running an HDMI ARC connection "4K" is a sloppy proxy for the real issue, which is HDCP 2.2 compatibility. If I understand correctly, in an HDMI ARC type configuration, even though no video is passing though the HDMI cable going to the soundbar, if you're running 4K, HDCP 2.2 encoded content in to your TV, it's also checking to see if the device attached to the HDMI ARC port is compatible. If not, it won't work.
I have listened to the JBL and the Sonos, both sound good. IIRC, the Sonos has an auto-eq-to-your room feature. The sub included with the JBL is probably a plus if you're cranking bass heavy music, but the Sonos has perfectly fine bass for normal listening even at pretty high levels. I have generally been less impressed with the sonics of Samsung sound bar products that have crossed my bench. I have seen a couple failures of the detachable surround speakers on the JBL, but not enough to be worrying.
Have you considered just getting a passive surround bar speaker and using that with your existing receiver and subwoofer? Definitive technology, Klipsch and KEF make them. The advantage of this setup is that the bar will last all but forever (the electronics are the failure point in active sound bars) you can upgrade your receiver independent of the sound bar if technology/format changes happen down the road.
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 6:17 AM on December 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

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