I hate TV shopping

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mindless1

Diamond Member
Aug 11, 2001
8,213
1,506
126
I don't know about today, but not too long ago, a bluetooth stereo recevier with 3.5mm stereo out was selling as a bare module on ebay or aliexpress for about $5 delivered, then you add your own PSU, some of them use mUSB like an old cellphone charger. Toss it in a mint tin or other little box, or just get bluetooth headphones.

Soundbar is for people who don't need super-hi-fi, just better than the typical TV has, which has gotten worse over the years. Plus it takes up less space, less cluttered look unless you go to the trouble of embedding things in walls or ceiling.
 

Fallen Kell

Diamond Member
Oct 9, 1999
6,064
438
126
I have listened to a lot of the different sound bars over the years, including prototypes that were never released. In terms of "surround" sound, really most of them are just not that good. The best I have ever heard in terms of actual surround sound was a prototype from Polk audio that used their SDA technology. They did release a few production models (one of which I bought for my parent's house as they needed some better quality sound for their TV, which could probably be upgraded now to a new model).

The only downside of the Polk SDA tech is that you need to really sit in between the speakers, but the upside is that it is a mathematically calculated system that truly isolates the sound to a specific ear (using multiple drivers positioned at the approximate distance between the human ears and waveform phases such that there is a driver positioned playing the audio signal 180 out of phase of the right side channel to cancel the waveform of right side channel when that signal would hit the left ear, and vice versa). It is something that really needs to be experienced and heard to fully grasp how good it is and can be. But as I said the downside is that the math only works out when you are situated between the the left and right speakers, ideally in the middle, but still works well as long as you remain between those speakers (once you move outside the effect doesn't work correctly since the distances between the various speakers are no longer correct to cancel out the signals properly and things get a little muddy).

The prototype I heard was an extra long surround bar to help eliminate this issue, with the idea being that it would get installed on the wall near/at the ceiling, and would effectively be 10 feet or so wide. But really, it was just impractical which is why it was never released. A more practical solution would have been to make a group of three modules, a center, left, and right speaker group that would get installed, but I think again that involved more work that people would wanted a sound bar type solution as you are now approaching the same level of complexity of installing a 3.1 system or going to full surround setups like 5.1 and more.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,793
1,505
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Answering Mindless and Fallen. Boomers were probably a spoiled generation. Or -- with friends of different means in college (55 years ago!) -- the delayed gratification after getting through school was overpowering. Somebody like me, who could play more than one musical instrument and had an eclectic ear for lots of music would want a good "stereo system" -- that's what we called an HT or entertainment system in those days.

So after I retired in 2000, did I want just an old 2.1 speaker system for my PC -- destined for unlimited media use? That was back around 2002. No. I bought a Logitech 5.1 system -- still running and sounds fine. Plenty of volume for this room! I wanted a 5.1 surround sound system. And when I replaced the old 1993 Pioneer receiver with those huge, heavy bass-reflex speakers (four, or two per channel), I got a high-end ONKYO AV receiver and 5.1 JBL speakers. That was 2011, and it was a "Smart" receiver but for lack of Bluetooth. Sound bar?! Sound bar?! We don' need no stinkeen sound bar! Whadda we want stinkeen sound bar for? [ I'll have to remember to re-acquire that Bogie movie -- "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" -- with the line about "stinkeen badges".]

Now I'm resurrecting all this. I seek answers to questions and insights.

THE HTPC HARDWARE
It was built in 2014 with new parts first released in 2010. 16GB RAM, an ASUS P8Z68-V Pro/Gen3 motherboard, a GeForce 970 graphics adapter -- the limiting factor for that board (which would give you PCIE 3.0 with an Ivy Bridge chip) is its Sandy Bridge 2700K processor.

Why don't I dump it? It's got 300 movies which will only play on that PC.

HTPC SOFTWARE
I was looking at Plex and Media Portal to resurrect this Windows Media Center system. Instead, what I want for now is a $60 licensed install of Cyberlink PowerDVD Ultra. Everything you get in Media Center is in PowerDVD.

A PECULIAR GLITCH WITH PowerDVD AND THIS HTPC, FEEDING MY NEW SONY BRAVIA

The software offers two modes: "PC mode" and "TV mode". When TV mode is selected, it raises a dialog noting that the Sony is HDR-enabled, asking if I want to enable the HDR features for the HTPC. When I make the selection, the software goes into an endless loop. I can close it from the Windows task bar on the desktop monitor also connected with the Sony to the graphics card HDMI outputs. If I select PC mode, the screen design is different, smaller icons, smaller print, but it all works fine.

A TEST

CDs and MP3 files are recorded in stereo. Apparently, there's no "Stereo mode" under windows that enables all surround speakers, but the sound is still great. I wanted to make sure I had full surround, which you might have with a DVR of a movie. In this case, I picked "The Martian" with Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain. Attempting to play it caused the previous problem to occur, reminding me about the software glitch. I went through the Sony Picture-settings, enabled the HDR settings on the HTPC in Windows 10.

Definitely TRUE Surround Sound from the movie! Very good.

I assume that all this old hardware (the HTPC is still good for this redeployment in my entertainment system? A web-page advised me to download the latest audio drivers for the motherboard. That board was released around 2011, but it has a 2016 audio driver update. This may serve for Dolby features which I HOPE work like my ONKYO -- playing stereo music to all four speakers. But I've verified that recorded movies provide full surround sound.

The HTPC is currently the means by which I play those movies and all my music files. It's secondary to the overall plan and the new TV, but at least it's working. I'm going to fiddle around with the glitch some more to further inform myself.

I'm expecting Amazon delivery of a Toslink optical audio cable tomorrow, and I expect to have the ONKYO and JBL speakers working with the TV, which means they will also work with the HTPC if I switch the sound system in Windows from the Logitech to the TV speakers. The TV should feed the audio to the ONKYO with the Toslink and HDMI "ARC" connection.

Fun and frustration: getting a mix of old and new hardware to work together, so you can lie on your couch and have anything short of a Google voice asking you to hook up the electronic sechsual device so she/it can give you healthful stimulation . . .
 
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Fallen Kell

Diamond Member
Oct 9, 1999
6,064
438
126
Yeah I hear you about the HTPC. I am glad I was completely adamant about not getting/using recording software that required/used DRM such as WMC limiting what can play it back. I went with SageTV and Hauppauge capture cards, eventually a HD-PVR, and currently a HD-PVR2 (capturing over HDMI) and record in H.264 mpeg4 (that I typically transcode to H.265 MKV format to save some space). I have been able to upgrade my HTPC over the years as a result and still keep all my recordings (that said, it did force me to eventually build a storage server on a Supermicro SC846 chassis, since I have 18+ years of recordings). Currently the HTPC is on an AMD 5600X, 16GB RAM, (I forget the motherboard, but one Gigabyte Aorus models), Nvidia 1060 card (that I want to replace with something with HDMI 2.1, but also need the card to be able to fit in my case), in an Antec Fusion Remote MAX case.

The motherboard drivers won't help you if you are using your 970 GPU for HDMI connection. If memory serves me correct, if you are not using the HDMI for your audio output, the only card out there that will pass surround sound Dolby output would be a card that support Dolby Digital Live or DTS Connect. I had a Asus Xonar DSX card at one point that I used, but it eventually died, and I just use the 1060 now but I have not hooked that up to my audio pre-processor, an Onkyo Integra DHC-9.9 (as I have not setup my 7.1 system yet in my "new" house as I plan on upgrading it to a HDMI 2.1 capable system at some point as soon as there are more than just 1 or 2 models of per-processors out there with HDMI 2.1 and XLR pre-outs for the audio) to see about getting DD or DTS to work.

I believe there are some eARC -> ARC/HDMI/toslink converters out there that will let you use the eARC from the TV to act as an audio-only input to an older receiver and will pass DD, DTS, PCM/LPCM, etc (no ATMOS or the other latest standards, but your audio receiver doesn't support those anyway).
 
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