Have Soundbars Replaced the Home-Theater-In-A-Box?

Have Soundbars Replaced the Home-Theater-In-A-Box?

Joel Pirela
Nov 9, 2011

Soundbars: flat, compact and easier to setup than even a home theater in a box setup. We're seeing a lot more of these speaker solutions in homes (and especially apartments). Some have even have integrated DVD players! Add on a subwoofer and you've got a decent sound system without the hassle of running wires and cables around the house...

Premium: CineMate 1SR by Bose
At $1499, this soundbar and subwoofer tandem is probably going to be more expensive than a brand new 46" LED panel. Admittedly, the Bose model is pretty sleek and connects directly to the HDTV without a receiver. Bose claims they've engineered this model so it can determine whether it' laying flat on a table, or mounted on a wall, for optimal audio performance (Bose is one of those brands that either instill total brand loyalty or total eye rolling, so take this claim as you may). The subwoofer is connected wireless, and produces a quasi-surround sound using audio reflection.

Mid-tier: Samsung 2.1 Sound Bar
Samsung's $349 soundbar solution is wall mountable, rated for 260 watts, and includes a wireless subwoofer to fill in on low end duty with the virtual surround sound. The subwoofer operates on a 5.8 GHz wireless channel that supposedly won't interfere with other wireless technology. But we've read of some users experiencing their wi-fi connections being interrupted and other connectivity issues related to cross-interference.

Cheapthrill: Vizio VSB200
For less than a Benjamin, you can get this budget universal soundbar from discount tech brand, Vizio. The VSB200 is equipped with a 32-Bit 150 MHz DSP audio engine which provides virtual surround sound and 3 dimensional experience. Four 3" mid/bass transducers and two 3/4" tweeters for what we consider acceptable performance, especially considering the price.

Other sound options are:

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