Question AV receiver advice


Standard Member
Hi All,

I was hoping some of the experts around here could give me some advice. Basically, I don't quite have the option for a full surround sound set up at the moment, so was thinking along the lines of a 3.1 setup or a sound bar. Regarding the sound bar, I'm aware they're not to everyone's liking, but I recall listening to a couple some time ago and thinking they sounded pretty impressive. I can't remember which models I was listening too but believe they were around £600 to £700.

I currently own a pair of Kef Q5's and the center speaker and sub which I had set up some time ago in a 5.1 system at my previous property. My thought process is that surely I can pair these in a 3.1 setup with an amp and it would sound far superior to the sound bar I mentioned above.

My first question is how do these sound bars work to sound so impressive? Do they basically take the encoded multi channel audio of a blue ray for example, and downscale it to 2.1 / 3.1 channels of the sound bar (The bars I heard were not atmos or DTS X, so no additional upward firing channels)? Do they then do their own processing to create an immersive virtual surround sound?

If my above understanding is correct, surely a half decent AV amp could do an even better job powering my Kef's and sub, which are fairly decent speakers to my ear. This has brought me to looking around at AV receivers around the £500 mark. I'm assuming that I need to look at the processing that these receivers can do, and I'm coming across all sorts of virtual surround modes. DTS Virtual X and Dolby Height Virtualization appear to be the latest in virtual surround sound, is this the sort of thing I should be looking for?

Just to go off on a tangent a little, my previous AV amp from some time ago had numerous different sound modes, pro logic etc and they all seemed rather gimmicky and didn't sound particularly great. This obviously isn't what I'm looking for in my new setup, but I'm trying to understand how certain sound bars can sound so impressive from what I guess can only be some sort of processing.

Apologies for the long post, as you can probably tell I've been doing a fair amount of research and have ended up down all sorts of rabbit holes.

I hope the above makes some sort of sense and look forward to any advice you may have.

Many thanks



Your KEFs are certainly going to give a better audio experience than a soundbar. All the speaker elements have to be small to fitted into the dimensions of the soundbar, depth too is limited. Also limiting with a soundbar is the ability to position the speakers for best effect. I'd take your KEF, even in a 3.1 with a fair receiver any day over a soundbar.


Active Member
If you wanted to be able to upgrade as you go along then definitely an amp and speakers over a soundbar, however of course it depends on what space you have. to fit the speakers in. If that's no issue then always go down the amp route.

As for DTS Virtual X and Dolby Height Virtualization, they attempt to create an object based sounds stage (3D sound so to speak) without the need of Atmos speakers. Quite a few amps now do offer 5.1.2 which would give you the option of adding atmos speakers at a later date.

The latest video from AVForums

Podcast: New TVs, Samsung Q800T Soundbar review, IFA latest, Movie and AV News, B+W Brad Pitt
Top Bottom