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Answered AVR vs Soundbar for my living room.

Alsh

Active Member
Hey all,

First of, fairly new here so apologies if I've posted in the wrong place.

So as the title says I need help on deciding on AVR vs Soundbar for my living room.

The room itself is 10 feet x 16 feet. The main settee will be just off the back wall. So I anticipate we will probably be sat around 6-8 feet from the television/sound system.

TV wise I think we will be going for the LG C8 65".

Now onto the point of the thread, the audio. I'm really not sure what to go far. So far I've narrowed it down to either:

Pioneer VSX934 & Monitor Audio MASS 5.1 (Midnight)
Pioneer VSX934 & Monitor Audio MASS 5.1 (Midnight)

LG SL8YG
LG SL8YG 3.1.2 Wireless Sound Bar with Dolby Atmos & Google Assistant

LG SL10YG
LG SL10YG 5.1.2 Wireless Sound Bar with Dolby Atmos & Google Assistant

To be honest with AVR I'm not really sure what I'm looking for, I went with the above as I really like the form factor/look of the speakers.

Are any of these choices any good? Happy to be shown other options that might suit the room/my needs better. As not sure if the AVR would be overkill for the room size. I do enjoy listening to music a lot, play games and also a big movie fan.

Many thanks,

Alsh
 

Thatsnotmynaim

Distinguished Member
AVR will almost always sound better but is just not so neat and some simply can’t accommodate. Sound bars have come on loads, but you can’t beat an AVR for performance and flexibility. With an AVR you’ll get more features and sockets and you can change the AVR or the speakers or add speakers later...
 

Alsh

Active Member
AVR will almost always sound better but is just not so neat and some simply can’t accommodate. Sound bars have come on loads, but you can’t beat an AVR for performance and flexibility. With an AVR you’ll get more features and sockets and you can change the AVR or the speakers or add speakers later...

Yes that is a good point in regards to being able swap speakers I didn’t think of that.

Do you think Pioneer is a decent one to go for?

Ideally it would just be sat inside my tv cabinet anyway out of the way and anything plugging into the back of the TV will be in the wall cavity.

Thanks for the reply!
 

Alsh

Active Member
Are you going for the MA Mass more than the receiver because of their 'Lifestyle' size? The Denon, or the aforementioned Marantz, will be a better receiver than the Pioneer.

Denon AVRX2600H & Q Acoustics 3010i 5.1 (Black)
Yeah more than anything it’s because I like the look of them and the form factor. I’m definitely flexible on the receiver as I’m pretty clueless when it comes to them.

Speakers wise they’d have to be clearly better around the same price really.

Ideally I’m wanting to spend maximum £1k on both receiver and speakers.

I’ll check the denon out too!

Thanks
 

gibbsy

Moderator
If you think about Denon then the X3500 is, for £499, something of a steal. I would certainly pick the 3500 over a 2600 as it has a far better version of Audyssey in XT32 over the 2600's XT. You could speak to Peter Tyson and ask for a quote with the Mass. That receiver would serve you well and would be very easy to upgrade speakers on.
Denon AVR-X3500H 7.2 Channel AV Receiver
 

dion 6

Active Member
I got the old monitor mass 5.1 and a Sony STRDN1080 last october from Richer sounds in a package deal for £799. Have a word they will probley give you a good discount. If you like the Denon get that, the version one of the MA Mass is only £499 last few in store.I used to have a Yamaha ysp 2500 sound bar and it had a great sound but no comparison to a AVR and 5.1.
 

L4_Isoside

Active Member
If you think about Denon then the X3500 is, for £499, something of a steal. I would certainly pick the 3500 over a 2600 as it has a far better version of Audyssey in XT32 over the 2600's XT. You could speak to Peter Tyson and ask for a quote with the Mass. That receiver would serve you well and would be very easy to upgrade speakers on.
Denon AVR-X3500H 7.2 Channel AV Receiver

I had the x3400 (its predecessor) and being honest for the price and relative simplicity it was fantastic. Would never go back to a soundbar now. (I also spiralled horribly out of control and have spent a lot more time and money on this hobby than I ever imagined since upgrading from a sound bar :eek:)
 

nheather

Distinguished Member
AVR is going to be more expensive (figure at least twice the price) and will be less tidy (or more expensive still if you want to hide cables).

AVR will sound better because you are putting the sound sources in the actual locations whereas a soundbar must try and simulate that.

A soundbar, I assume you are talking about the ones that simulate sound sound rather than just stereo, rely on bouncing sound waves off walls and ceiling. For this to work best the room needs hard clear surfaces, things like windows, curtains, doorways, furniture can prevent the sound waves from getting to your ears as intended.

Soundbars generally have small speakers and there is nothing you can do about that, with an AVR you are free to choose what suits your needs.

AVRs tend to be big, high and deep - added to that, they need ventilation space. I have found these both a challenge selecting a nice “wife-friendly” cabinet. My wife wanted “proper furniture” as she called it so we looked round loads of furniture stores but never found one that had shelves that were tall enough to accommodate a decent AVR. Had to settle for a Alphason metal and glass TV rack with wood ends as nod to furniture - my wife accepts it but don’t think she has ever been happy with it.

Even then, AVRs are surprisingly deep, when you do find a cabinet that accommodates one, it will only be just deep enough.

AVRs are big. Cosmetically, they usually dwarf what other kit you have in the cabinet, again might not be wife-friendly.

AVRs are complex, which is a double-edged sword. Much more flexible, more control and more features. But harder to set up, more daunting to use, and they can be quite confusing working out why something isn’t working quite right.

AVRs can have a cleaner TV installation - all wires to the AVR, all that needs to go to the TV is power and one HDMI.

Cheers,

Nigel
 

Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
An AVR + speakers set up will always outperform a soundbar/soundbase in terms of room-filling, quality sound, if you're okay with getting more involved with speaker choices, speaker location and wiring.

I agree with a lot of what Nigel says above, apart from two things:

1. AVR's usually come with a form of automatic room EQ, whereby it measures your speaker sizes, heights and distances from your main listening position and calculates and creates the best possible sound for your room. Wiring your speakers correctly can also be an on-screen process that you just follow, but I agree that it can be more difficult to work out why something isn't happening when it should - but that's what we're here for!

2. Soundbars/soundbases also just have one cable running to your TV and one power lead, so it's just as clean an install as an AVR, plus you don't have to worry about speakers as they're built-in. They don't tend to have an automated room EQ program though, unless you get something really expensive, which kind of negates buying one in the first place as it still won't out perform an equivalent AVR + speakers set up.

If you want convenience and a hassle-free set up, then go soundbar/soundbase. If you want the best sound quality for your money and content, then go AVR + speakers.
 

Alsh

Active Member
Thank you everyone for your detailed replies. Seems I've got some thinking to do!

I am quite the tinkerer so setting up speakers and what not does entice me. It's something I've not got much experience with and would love to learn more about.

Let's say I did go with the MASS speakers. I'm guessing for the L and R speakers the wires would have to be tracked along the skirting to the AVR?
 

Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
Thank you everyone for your detailed replies. Seems I've got some thinking to do!

I am quite the tinkerer so setting up speakers and what not does entice me. It's something I've not got much experience with and would love to learn more about.

Let's say I did go with the MASS speakers. I'm guessing for the L and R speakers the wires would have to be tracked along the skirting to the AVR?
In a word, yes!

Check out the "Home Audio Video" > "Home Cinema Buying & Building" > "Members DIY Home Cinema Showcases" subforum on here to see how people do things.

Some members do wiring so neatly you'd never know they were there, other people (like me) just try and do the best they can. The Front LCR are never problem - it's just one speaker wire running either side - it's the Rears that require wires running to the back of your room (or at least behind your sofa).

And yes, I have mine just tracked on the floor following the line of the skirting board. It's not ideal but it's not a custom install, I just did it myself.

Reading back on your query, you say your room is "only" 16 x 10 - that's a good size! The MASS would need to be incredible to fill a space that big compared to the Q Acoustics 5.1 that Gibbsy linked in post #5. My room is 15 x 10 and I have a big pair of floorstanders at the Front L&R and a 15" Subwoofer!

I would STRONGLY recommend that you arrange a demo at Richer Sounds because speakers have far more influence over the final sound than receivers. If you value sound quality over aesthetics, then I think the Q Acoustics will easily outperform the MASS. I know it seems like we're always pushing the budget on queries, and if you prefer form over function then the MASS seems to fit the bill (and your budget).

But, in my opinion, those "lifestyle" satellites + Sub are designed for smaller rooms than yours or for modest volume levels, which may be what you're looking for, of course.:)
 

Alsh

Active Member
In a word, yes!

Check out the "Home Audio Video" > "Home Cinema Buying & Building" > "Members DIY Home Cinema Showcases" subforum on here to see how people do things.

Some members do wiring so neatly you'd never know they were there, other people (like me) just try and do the best they can. The Front LCR are never problem - it's just one speaker wire running either side - it's the Rears that require wires running to the back of your room (or at least behind your sofa).

And yes, I have mine just tracked on the floor following the line of the skirting board. It's not ideal but it's not a custom install, I just did it myself.

Reading back on your query, you say your room is "only" 16 x 10 - that's a good size! The MASS would need to be incredible to fill a space that big compared to the Q Acoustics 5.1 that Gibbsy linked in post #5. My room is 15 x 10 and I have a big pair of floorstanders at the Front L&R and a 15" Subwoofer!

I would STRONGLY recommend that you arrange a demo at Richer Sounds because speakers have far more influence over the final sound than receivers. If you value sound quality over aesthetics, then I think the Q Acoustics will easily outperform the MASS. I know it seems like we're always pushing the budget on queries, and if you prefer form over function then the MASS seems to fit the bill (and your budget).

But, in my opinion, those "lifestyle" satellites + Sub are designed for smaller rooms than yours or for modest volume levels, which may be what you're looking for, of course.:)

Thanks I will check that section out

Yeah that makes sense! I actually just came across that they did that today and will be going in tomorrow to speak with them about arranging just that!

My main worry with room size was being able to have the rear speakers situated in a place to be effective since the main settee will be just off the back wall but I guess if we move the settee a foot/half a foot forward rather than being right up against it, having the speakers maybe wall mounted either side on that wall they still might be okay.
 

Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
Thanks I will check that section out

Yeah that makes sense! I actually just came across that they did that today and will be going in tomorrow to speak with them about arranging just that!

My main worry with room size was being able to have the rear speakers situated in a place to be effective since the main settee will be just off the back wall but I guess if we move the settee a foot/half a foot forward rather than being right up against it, having the speakers maybe wall mounted either side on that wall they still might be okay.
Please let us know how you get on and what you decided to go with in the end?

No one will tell you off if you choose the MASS, by the way! You pick what's right for you, all we do is offer advice.:)

I know that there's a big difference of an extra £200 over your initial £1000 budget, but if you can hear the difference then it's worth it. And the Q Acoustics are only 25 cm tall, so still quite dinky and easily wall-mountable.
 
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Alsh

Active Member
Please let us know how you get on and how you decided to go in the end?

No one will tell you off if you choose the MASS, by the way! You pick what's right for you, all we do is offer advice.:)

I know Richer Sounds do price match
Oh of course :)

I will try to keep this thread updated with my progress. It'll be quiet for a few weeks yet while we wait to get the keys for the house. But I'm aiming to get the ball rolling around September the 14th as the 13th is when we get our hands on the keys all going to plan.

The package @gibbsy linked looks great, shame they've not got them packaged with the Denon 3500h! The 3600h package is a fair way out of budget unfortunately :(
 

Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
The package @gibbsy linked looks great, shame they've not got them packaged with the Denon 3500h! The 3600h package is a fair way out of budget unfortunately
Ah, everything is budget-driven, alas.

You just try and get the best performance you can for your money.

For what it's worth, like many members, I started off small (via Richer Sounds!) with a 5.0 receiver and bookshelf speakers, not even a Sub (receiver didn't support one), and just upgraded as I went along when funds allowed.

Trading in old equipment and picking up stuff that was discontinued and heavily discounted has helped me get where I am. I'm not saying that you're just at the start of a long journey, this may be the only system you'll ever own, but spending a bit more nearly always revealed improvements and more enjoyment.

It's all about the content at the end of the day, not just the gear! Good luck with your move.:)
 

Alsh

Active Member
Ah, everything is budget-driven, alas.

You just try and get the best performance you can for your money.

For what it's worth, like many members, I started off small (via Richer Sounds!) with a 5.0 receiver and bookshelf speakers, not even a Sub (receiver didn't support one), and just upgraded as I went along when funds allowed.

Trading in old equipment and picking up stuff that was discontinued and heavily discounted has helped me get where I am. I'm not saying that you're just at the start of a long journey, this may be the only system you'll ever own, but spending a bit more nearly always revealed improvements and more enjoyment.

It's all about the content at the end of the day, not just the gear! Good luck with your move.:)

Haha yes of course, as is the way of the world. Thank you very much. :) Looking forward to giving Richer Sounds a visit tomorrow. Never been before!
 

Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
I forgot to say: another reason I recommended the Q Acoustics over the MASS speakers is that I think the latter doesn't have a dedicated Centre speaker (I think?).

I can't emphasise this enough: about 80% of a film or TV show's soundtrack is dialogue and a dedicated Centre speaker is pretty much essential where this is concerned. The Q Acoustics does have a Centre, albeit small, but that's still better than none at all.

I know there are members who advocate no Centre and run their systems with a phantom Centre, but, to me, having a speaker designed solely for that purpose really does make a difference.

It'll be interesting to see what you think after your demo!:)
 

Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
Mass = 5.1 so has a dedicated centre
This is the OP's original link:

Pioneer VSX934 & Monitor Audio MASS 5.1 (Midnight)

To my (admittedly untrained) eye, that looks like five identical satellites to me and there is no mention of a dedicated Centre speaker in the specs either.

Whereas the Q Acoustics looks like this:

Denon AVRX2600H & Q Acoustics 3010i 5.1 (Black)

That definitely looks like a dedicated Centre to me! It's also specifically mentioned in the specs too.
 

Thatsnotmynaim

Distinguished Member
If it had no centre it would be 4.1 not 5.1 setup, it’s just with the mass all 5 speakers are identical, which some argue is better, I.e. all 5 speakers the same sound, but it’s individual personal choice and I have no strong view either way. It does have a centre speakers however so phantom etc not needed was my point..
 

Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
If it had no centre it would be 4.1 not 5.1 setup, it’s just with the mass all 5 speakers are identical, which some argue is better, I.e. all 5 speakers the same sound, but it’s individual personal choice and I have no strong view either way. It does have a centre speakers however so phantom etc not needed was my point..
Ahhh, I'm with you now.

I made the point to the OP about having a dedicated Centre speaker, but you're right; the MASS does have a speaker you can use as a Centre.

Whether it will sound better or not, only he'll know after his demo.:)
 

Thatsnotmynaim

Distinguished Member
Yes ideally they are all identical all round, in your case your center I presume is beefier, but in my case it’s much smaller as I have big floor-standers and having a centre bigger or even the same size it not practical. I guess the important thing is that it’s sufficient and all speakers ideally have the same and good to your ears. :)
 

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