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Are sound bar measurements worth doing?

goldark

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I know most of the enthusiasts on this site prefer a more traditional speaker setup over a sound bar, but it can't be denied that sounds bars make up a huge market and many people use them for movies and music. It could be worth reviewing and measuring - is this something Amir has considered?

I would expect Sonos sound bars to measure relatively well based on recent reviews. I am also curious to see how Samsung sound bars measure, given their acquisition of Harman. How do dedicated audio companies like JBL or Polk do with their sound bars and even a company like Vizio has good reviews for their budget offerings. I think it would be interesting to see.
 

beagleman

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I would not mind seeing a few, but not a huge amount.
I have heard some from Polk and I think Yamaha, but years ago, that were quite decent for what they were.
 

Penelinfi

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Bose TV speaker soundbar
Erin's Audio Corner
Remember these things will be placed against walls or on cabinets, so maybe that midrange dip is there for that
CEA2034 -- Bose TV Speaker Soundbar.png
 

Zapper

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I think so. I have a Samsung HW-Q990C waiting for pickup at BestBuy, bought on recommendation from Rtings and others. I would like to see a spin of those.

Even for audiophiles, sometimes placement issues or WAF make soundbars the best choice.

In my case I have a 65" TV mounted on a standalone brick fireplace with a mantlemount. There is nowhere to put speakers and no good way to wire surrounds, so a soundbar with wireless sub and surrounds it is.
 

MayaTlab

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I'd love to see these systems (and I'll include in the lot systems like the HT-A9 or HomePods) evaluated more thoroughly than what we're seeing now, but how do you actually evaluate them ? A Klippel won't really do and the models we use to evaluate classic "dumb" speakers aren't going to be particularly valid. As these systems get increasingly complex you'll either have to systematically and comprehensively characterise their behaviour under varied circumstances, which is likely to be a royal PITA as the more or less proprietary algorithms won't be disclosed and won't be consistent from model to model, or find a way to evaluate them that doesn't rely on such characterisation and can be done without having to peer into their "black box".
 

RobL

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I think so. I have a Samsung HW-Q990C waiting for pickup at BestBuy, bought on recommendation from Rtings and others. I would like to see a spin of those.

Even for audiophiles, sometimes placement issues or WAF make soundbars the best choice.

In my case I have a 65" TV mounted on a standalone brick fireplace with a mantlemount. There is nowhere to put speakers and no good way to wire surrounds, so a soundbar with wireless sub and surrounds it is.
I just bought a Q990C for my family room. Great discounts available as the D version is due to become available. Renovated this winter and my wife wanted to declutter. The soundbar looks much cleaner than my previous conventional 5.1 (KEF speakers) and it actually sounds fantastic.
IMG_0853.jpeg
I would be interested to see it measured as well.
 

Penelinfi

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Just watch out for the 10 free reviews before you go bingeing
 

Ellebob

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Soundbars are more difficult to measure than speakers because of the audio tricks they play to create a soundstage. So, it is difficult to feed it one channel of information and take measurements because of how that channel might be processed. For example if we had two speakers placed 2 feet apart and sent them both the same signal it would sound like the sound is coming from between them. If we delay one of the channels the sound will shift further to one side than the other making it seem like the sound is coming from more left/right than the speakers are located. When we do a delay like this we actually change the frequency response as well. This delay happens on the fly with soundbars and besides phase and delay it is often applying EQ to account for the frequency change with the phase/delay being applied. So if you send the soundbar a test tone to just the left channel signal it might not play only out of the left speaker in the sound bar. It will most likely use these delays and phase between multiple drivers to create a larger soundstage and make it appear the sound is soming from further left than the speaker playing is located. Anyway, they might sound better than they measure.
 

Zapper

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Soundbars are more difficult to measure than speakers because of the audio tricks they play to create a soundstage.
Some soundbars have a "standard" setting for basic 2.0 or 2.1 stereo without synthesized surround. That would be the best setting for measurements.
 

Ellebob

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Even in the standard 2.0/2.1 some still use processing to give more than ~3ft soundstage. They might not try to simulate surround but can still use their tricks to widen the sound stage. There are some that simply play the signal to the appropriate channel but definitely not all.
 

kemmler3D

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I think it would be quite valuable to measure soundbars, but I don't think CEA2034 is the right test suite for them, since so many of them use spatialization tricks that would be obscured by, or even cause underperformance in a standard spinorama measurement, among other things. They're not really designed to play in mono, and I don't know that performance of one channel playing in isolation is as informative as it would be for a "normal" speaker.
 

Zapper

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Soundbars are more difficult to measure than speakers because of the audio tricks they play to create a soundstage. So, it is difficult to feed it one channel of information and take measurements because of how that channel might be processed.
I think it would be quite valuable to measure soundbars, but I don't think CEA2034 is the right test suite for them, since so many of them use spatialization tricks that would be obscured by, or even cause underperformance in a standard spinorama measurement, among other things
I understand these points, but I am not convinced. The Spinorama measures the soundfield emanating from a speaker, to include sounds emitted from multiple drivers in a cabinet with various amplitudes and phases. A conventional speaker may emit sound from multiple drivers in a cabinet at a given frequency, resulting in a complex sound field. The soundbars may do so in a more complex manner, but the result is still a sound field, which can be mapped over frequency and the spatial dimensions. So I don't see a lack of validity in the spinorama measurement for soundbars, but it might not be clear how to interpret the data.

I think the question isn't whether one can measure single channel spins, but how well those represent the response of the speaker for multichannel reproduction. For a stereo pair, we assume that a signal that is not fully panned, for example, 1/3 right and 2/3 left, will be a linear superposition of the sound fields (as measured in mono) from the right speaker with 1/3 amplitude and the left speaker with 2/3 amplitude. As @Ellebob and @kemmler3D point out, that may not be true for a soundbar. The implications of a spinorama for multichannel reproduction might be even more tenuous. Even so, the spins would be of value, as they would show the response of the soundbar to the simplest of input signals. I doubt that additional spatial processing would make the response more accurate than measured with a mono signal.
 
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Mnyb

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It a good idea to test them they are speakers and mustt be hold to some standard, I leave it to experts to decide what that standard is ?

Soundsbars and Bluetooth speakers do sound different some better than others ? For example sonos seems to make some serious effort. So also in this segment good manufacturers should be recognised and bad criticised.

High brow audiophile’s be damned , it’s quite possible that if you pick a speaker from the worst measuring speakers tread some monstrousity with wizzer cones and horns combined with some audionote stuff . You end up with something worse than a sound bar for 1000x the money :D
 

mglobe

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I would love to see Soundbars tested. There's lots of uses for audio equipment, many of which present compromises on sound quality in exchange for convenience, aesthetics, environment,... While these applications may pose limits on the sound quality, I would guess that most, if not all of us would like to be able to get the best sound we can in those cases.
 

Kal Rubinson

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I would love to see Soundbars tested. There's lots of uses for audio equipment, many of which present compromises on sound quality in exchange for convenience, aesthetics, environment,... While these applications may pose limits on the sound quality, I would guess that most, if not all of us would like to be able to get the best sound we can in those cases.
Right. I have installed one soundbar and will soon install another in another location. The first (Samsung) surprised me in that it surpassed the discrete L/C/R on-walls plus sub that it replaced for everything except stereo music where there was a varying equivalence. Surprised and pleased me. Hope the second one (Sennheiser) will do as well.
 

mglobe

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Right. I have installed one soundbar and will soon install another in another location. The first (Samsung) surprised me in that it surpassed the discrete L/C/R on-walls plus sub that it replaced for everything except stereo music where there was a varying equivalence. Surprised and pleased me. Hope the second one (Sennheiser) will do as well.
I'd be curious to hear about the Sennheiser. I've been eyeing those both because of the positive "reviews" I read, and because of a long term affinity for the brand.
 

DonR

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I would love to see soundbar reviews. They have improved so much over the last decade.
 

RobL

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Right. I have installed one soundbar and will soon install another in another location. The first (Samsung) surprised me in that it surpassed the discrete L/C/R on-walls plus sub that it replaced for everything except stereo music where there was a varying equivalence. Surprised and pleased me. Hope the second one (Sennheiser) will do as well.
Which model Samsung did you buy? Mine also surpassed my previous mid level AVR/discrete speaker setup.
 
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