A good fit for sound bars and portable speakers.

Having coffee with my friend Carolyn yesterday, outdoors at this nifty oceanside coffee shop (owned by another friend of mine who’s into vinyl and music).

The topic of discussion was how perceived progress isn’t always what it seems to be and sometimes quality and enjoyment can take a step backwards for the sake of convenience.

I make my point via music playback and I mention my current amplifier is a 1958 unit equipped with tubes and that I still dominate a wall of my place with records and another with CDs. The eyes of my friend rapidly begin to glass and I am courteous enough to not delve much further into the intricacies of valves, stylus profiles, SACD, PCM & DSD, belt vs direct drive…

Carolyn’s mind snaps back into focus and she tells me how she laments watching movies at her sister’s house- those annoying, isolated sounds coming from behind her during a film viewing. It’s one of these 6.1, 7.1, or god forbid- even 9.1 systems- which I know can be impressive and fun when done right and the film is mastered well- but they are rarely done right and I’ve witnessed enough films with lack of restraint and balance in the mix- instead going for parlor tricks and showy wow factor effects. I understand her dislike of such an experience- a poorly set-up surround system or a movie with it’s sound editing to be gimmick-driven can distract from a film, not enhance the experience. I get this.

Her sound bar was brought up. Non intrusive, hassle-free, and good for her preference of Hallmark films and romantic Christmas movies, while she has her glass of wine. David her husband is usually reading or involved in a secondary project while these cinematic events transpire. Easy to use, non-intrusive, and a heck of a lot clearer and more pleasing than the squeaking, squawking 3” noise makers built into the flatscreen telly, it’s the right fit- for her, and even him.

However, David has taken a shine to these portable wireless/Bluetooth speakers, and is slowly discovering better sound- his preoccupation at the moment is moving up the ladder with these various portable speakers, and he’s been enjoying streaming music to them when they’re out in their back yard with the dog, having Sunday morning coffee on the porch, in the kitchen prepping meals, and really getting into the groove and jazzed up, with one perched upon his desk while doing artwork. But he’s become aware of the sound- and every few months, incrementally upgrades to something nicer, better. Still a Bluetooth portable speaker, but something larger, pricier, and with better sound.

“Oh! Very fun! The beginning of a relationship with music and good sound as an enhancement to life!” I say, getting excited. It was a rite of passage for myself and seeing someone latch into this, no matter what age, perks me up.

I follow up saying “I should have David over one evening for a few cold ones and I’ll let him pick out a few favorite CDs and records and introduce him to what a big stereo can do for sound reproduction.”

Once these words roll out of my mouth I realize that perhaps this is not a good idea. I picture a fractured relationship with my longtime friend Carolyn, as David starts to lug home old KLH dump finds and staticky sounding Kenwood receivers from Goodwil that reek of old nicotine buildup, filling their house with artifacts of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, in the pursuit of trying to create the illusion of Dizzy Gillespie in their front parlor, somewhere between the Crate & Barrel rolling bar cart and the Pier One potted fern and shaggy throw rug.

“On second thought, how about I come over and he and I can discuss something perfect for his office- there are these great speakers by a company called AudioEngine- powered, compact and pretty simple to set up and use, that he can set up on his desk, and be blown away (with stereo, vs Bluetooth speaker mono sound) for little cash outlay.”

Maybe down the road they’ll ease into something a bit more substantial- some PSB monitors set on Target stands and an Outlaw Audio receiver with it’s retro Art Deco silver faceplate, it’s innards stuffed with all the modern amenities (Bluetooth!!!) will be a good fit.

We’ll discuss adding a subwoofer at an even later date- maybe something in a nice arctic white finish, tucked in the corner, looking like an uncomfortable foot stool or mod inspired end table.

The proper tools for the job at hand and nobody ends up with bruised knuckles, exasperated, agitated and swearing in frustration.
 
Last edited:

JoeThePop

Known member
Having coffee with my friend Carolyn yesterday, outdoors at this nifty oceanside coffee shop (owned by another friend of mine who’s into vinyl and music).

The topic of discussion was how perceived progress isn’t always what it seems to be and sometimes quality and enjoyment can take a step backwards for the sake of convenience.

I make my point via music playback and I mention my current amplifier is a 1958 unit equipped with tubes and that I still dominate a wall of my place with records and another with CDs. The eyes of my friend rapidly begin to glass and I am courteous enough to not delve much further into the intricacies of valves, stylus profiles, SACD, PCM & DSD, belt vs direct drive…

Carolyn’s mind snaps back into focus and she tells me how she laments watching movies at her sister’s house- those annoying, isolated sounds coming from behind her during a film viewing. I understand this- a poorly set-up surround system or a movie with it’s sound editing to be gimmick-driven can distract from a film, not enhance the experience. I get this.

Her sound bar was brought up. Non intrusive, hassle-free, and good for her preference of Hallmark films and romantic Christmas movies, while she has her glass of wine. David her husband is usually reading or involved in a secondary project while these cinematic events transpire. Easy to use, non-intrusive, and a heck of a lot clearer and more pleasing than the squeaking, squawking 3” noise makers built into the flatscreen telly.

However, David has taken to these portable wireless/Bluetooth speakers, and is slowly discovering better sound- his preoccupation at the moment is moving up the ladder with these various portable speakers, and he’s been enjoying streaming music to them when they’re out in their back yard with the dog, having Sunday morning coffee on the porch, in the kitchen prepping meals, and really getting into the groove and jazzed up, with one perched upon his desk while doing artwork. But he’s become aware of the sound- and every few months, incrementally upgrades to something nicer, better. Still a Bluetooth portable speaker, but something larger, pricier, and with better sound.

“Oh! Very fun! The beginning of a relationship with music and good sound as an enhancement to life!” I say, getting excited. It was a rite of passage for myself and seeing someone latch into this, no matter what age, perks me up.

I follow up saying “I should have David over one evening for a few cold ones and I’ll let him pick out a few favorite CDs and records and introduce him to what a big stereo can do for sound reproduction.”

Once these words roll out of my mouth I realize that perhaps this is not a good idea. I picture a fractured relationship with my longtime friend Carolyn, as David starts to lug home old KLH dump finds and staticky sounding Kenwood receivers from Goodwil that reek of old nicotine buildup, filling their house with artifacts of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, in the pursuit of trying to create the illusion of Dizzy Gillespie in their front parlor, somewhere between the Crate & Barrel rolling bar cart and the Pier One potted fern and shaggy throw rug.

“On second thought, how about I come over and he and I can discuss something perfect for his office- there are these great speakers by a company called AudioEngine- powered, compact and pretty simple to set up and use, that he can set up on his desk, and be blown away (with stereo, vs Bluetooth speaker mono sound) for little cash outlay.”

Maybe down the road they’ll ease into something a bit more substantial- some PSB monitors set on Target stands and an Outlaw Audio receiver with it’s retro Art Deco silver faceplate, it’s innards stuffed with all the modern amenities (Bluetooth!!!) will be a good fit.

We’ll discuss adding a subwoofer at an even later date- maybe something in a nice arctic white finish, tucked in the corner, looking like an uncomfortable foot stool or mod inspired end table.

The proper tools for the job at hand and nobody ends up with bruised knuckles, exasperated, agitated and swearing in frustration.
Yep. Incremental steps. Many great desktop actives speakers that I agree would blow him away compared to a mono, portable Bluetooth speaker.

And lots of receivers like the Outlaw , Cambridge Audio AXR100, or the Audiolab 6000A, that won't take up much space and look nice.

And sound bars in my opinion are a great way to enhance television viewing without the complexity of a multiple speaker surround system. I tore down my 5.1 surround system about 3 years ago while seriously considering buying a new receiver and additional speakers for an Atmos object-oriented sound system. But once I thought more about it, I had to admit I was tired of the mass of wires and interconnects, and the complexity of the whole thing (read a new AVR manual lately?). And the cost! More speakers, higher cost, and compromises because of the cost. Not to mention my wife asking, "do we really need all these ugly black boxes all over the place". I don't have a separate room, so this was all in our family room. Also, this would have been my fourth upgrade of a receiver, the first being pro-logic, and then replacing my first 5.1 receiver when I wanted the new HDMI and additional Codecs. Enough already!
So I bought a nice sound bar with a wireless subwoofer and it does just fine for my use. If I really feel like I would be missing something with a particular movie, my wife and I will go to the theater.


 
Yep. Incremental steps. Many great desktop actives speakers that I agree would blow him away compared to a mono, portable Bluetooth speaker.

And lots of receivers like the Outlaw , Cambridge Audio AXR100, or the Audiolab 6000A, that won't take up much space and look nice.

And sound bars in my opinion are a great way to enhance television viewing without the complexity of a multiple speaker surround system. I tore down my 5.1 surround system about 3 years ago while seriously considering buying a new receiver and additional speakers for an Atmos object-oriented sound system. But once I thought more about it, I had to admit I was tired of the mass of wires and interconnects, and the complexity of the whole thing (read a new AVR manual lately?). And the cost! More speakers, higher cost, and compromises because of the cost. Not to mention my wife asking, "do we really need all these ugly black boxes all over the place". I don't have a separate room, so this was all in our family room. Also, this would have been my fourth upgrade of a receiver, the first being pro-logic, and then replacing my first 5.1 receiver when I wanted the new HDMI and additional Codecs. Enough already!
So I bought a nice sound bar with a wireless subwoofer and it does just fine for my use. If I really feel like I would be missing something with a particular movie, my wife and I will go to the theater.


I ditched my surround receiver about 15 years ago- at least something along those lines- and never looked back. It could be fun for some films but would also get a bit distracting at times. My only memorable experience with it, to be honest, was watching a documentary on speed and when the sound barrier was broken the documentary translated it very well to the surround system.

These days my stereo setup does film duty and it’s more than adequate.

As for the the office setup- I have some nice gear in there but I could easily swap in something like that nifty Outlaw receiver and some tiny speakers like NHT SuperZeros and be fine. The current setup can sometimes be distracting on its own merits- so good, I pay more attention to what’s coming out of the speakers vs what I’m doing.

Find the right tool for the job.
 
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