Which soundbar, and hdmi or optical?

Discussion in 'Audio Visual' started by amstel, 24 Feb 2018.

  1. amstel

    amstel

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    Good afternoon everyone,
    I would like to upgrade the sound on my Sony bravia tv...KDL-46EX503 remote RM-ED035, and as it is now = cable >virgin box>HDMI >hdmi port1(ARC) onTV, and that's it. The Tv has a optical port available, +3 more hdmi ports.
    If, I were to use the hdmi allready pluged into port1(ARC), that means I would need a sound bar with 2 hdmi ports,...1xvirginbox hdmi, 1xtv hdmi(ARC).
    Or, should I go the optical port/cable route? into a sound bar similar to this http://www.argos.co.uk/product/4271718
    Thanks.
     
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  3. Lucid

    Lucid

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    Optical and HDMI ARC will deliver exactly the same sound quality as far a most TVs are concerned. The real difference is control: HDMI ARC provides it, Optical does not.

    What that means in practise is that with the ARC connection your TV handset controls the volume of the sound bar.... nice and simple. With Optical you either need a sound bar that can be programmed to respond to the TV handset (and a TV that has the option to turn off the internal speakers), or you end up using two remotes (or in your case three; Virgin, TV and sound bar) so it all gets a bit messy.

    Bottom line then is that if yiou can afford it, go for a sound bar with HDMI ARC as it makes things much easier to live with day-to-day.


    How many HDMIs?
    - with HDMI ARC on the sound bar and TV, and a simple stereo + sub sound bar, then you only need the one HDMI on the sound bar. The TV will send any audio from its inputs, apps and the internal tuner to the ARC connection and so on to the sound bar.

    Where you have ambitions for surround sound or Dolby ATMOS then you really want any sources connecting directly to the audio system. This is because a lot of TVs "dumb down" the audio signals to basic stereo. For that reason you probably want HDMI ARC plus a couple of spare HDMIs on the sound bar for future expansion. If this isn't you though then just stick with a single ARC-enabled HDMI input on a simple stereo or stereo + sub sound bar.

    As far as your install is concerned then, you would have the HDMI-ARC connection between the sound bar and the TV, then the TVs extra HDMI inputs would be used for Virgin and any other sources.


    Great, so HDMI ARC is what I want. What's the catch?

    Cost. Optical input is cheaper to produce, so you're looking at sound bars starting at under £50 for the lesser-known or basic brands.

    HDMI with ARC costs more. Mainstream premium TV brands (Sony, Panasonic, Samsung etc) won't give you much change out of £150 for their ARC-equipped starter-range models. Having said that, the cost difference isn't just about the HDMI ARC connection. These are generally higher-spec'd in other areas too, so you're getting better build quality, more features, and - you hope - better sound as well.


    Brands to buy. Brands to avoid.

    A lot depends on price. In general, LG has a poor reputation for sound quality in sound bars. For the rest it's a case of looking at the reviews. The market is awash with so many products, and the models change so quickly, that trying to keep tabs on every product is pretty-much a futile task. Most sound bars will produce an improvement over the TV speakers, so what remains is how much better and how easy the product is to live with.

    ARGOS wouldn't be my first choice as a supplier of audio products, but at least there's the No Quibble guarantee, so you can take stuff back if it doesn't perform. From their ranges the Philips HTL3110B is one of the cheaper HDMI-ARC-equipped sound bars at £129 LINK




     
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  4. amstel

    amstel

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    Thanks Lucid,
    I'm going to take your advice and go for the hdmi ARC port on the tv, which then connects to the sound bar, but (excuse me for being a bit dumb on this) where does the hdmi from the virgin box then go?...is it one of the other ports on the tv? cheers.
     
  5. Tigercubrider

    Tigercubrider

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    Basically (as lucid says) the tv acts as a switcher, so all boxes connect via the tv and the sound is returned via hdmi1
    I have a similar Sony matched with a 5.1 and Netflix comes out in surround- as does my humax freeview box
    Not sure if it is a concern but there is something about sky and their audio encoding that you need to know but I can't remember it. I don't have sky
     
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  6. amstel

    amstel

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    Thanks Tigercubrider,
    If you would, could you let me know if this is correct,....at the moment the hdmi from the virgin box goes into hdmi1(ARC),therefore I would have to change the connection to the tv useing port 2,3,or4, and then use port1(arc) to the soundbar?
    Thanks.
     
  7. Lucid

    Lucid

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    Yes, that's it exactly.
     
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  8. amstel

    amstel

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    Thanks Lucid and tigercubrider, I dont really need to link anything else to the TV,I just want a quality sound to go with a quality picture thats all, therefore a soundbar/subwoofer with just one hdmi port will be OK, and i will buy the Philips next week, in the meantime if there are any others you guys could reccomend, I would be very pleased to hear from you. Thanks.
     
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