There's no shortage of new sound bars to review, and I still believe they're a great solution for some home theater buyers. They simplify setup chores, and eliminate the hassles associated with placing five or more speakers and running wires to all the speakers. Some self-powered sound bars offer a range of inputs, including HDMI connectivity, so there's no need to buy a receiver.
The best ones get close to the room-filling sound of a bona-fide 5.1 system. The latest Yamaha Sound Projectors like the YSP-4100 and YSP-5100 do a better job at creating a passable facsimile of a surround experience than most, but those two models are priced around $2,000! And those substantial MSRPs don't include the price of a subwoofer. So figure another 300 or more dollars for a sub.
For that kind of investment you can buy a significantly better-sounding 5.1 channel component-based system. If sound quality takes priority over ease of setup and installation, check out Aperion's Intimus 5B Fusion SD satellite/subwoofer system ($1,559) mated with an Onkyo TX-SR507 receiver ($399).
It'll trounce the YSP sound bars on every count, with dramatically better, more-enveloping surround sound, greater dynamic impact--plus, the Aperion/Onkyo system will sound better with music. That last one is a common failing; few sound bars cut it with two-channel music. So if you intend to play CDs in your home theater, steer clear of sound bars.… Read more