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If you have to use a soundbar I love the GoldenEar

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Old 12-28-2013, 03:07 PM   #1  
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Default If you have to use a soundbar I love the GoldenEar

I brought home the GE SuperCinema soundbar yesterday and spent some time tweaking it in. Then played the last movement of Beethoven’s 9th on a BD in DTS-HD of Christian Thielman conducting the Vienna Philharmonic and chorus.

And played it over and over again, because I was totally present in the concert hall and completely immersed in the music.

The GE soundbar is AWESOME!

Some background: a Yamaha receiver and sub, Boston Acoustics surrounds, and before moving into our current house, Canton Ergo towers. This house has an elongated living room with a fireplace in the middle of the back long wall so what works for a home theater is the TV next to the fireplace, diagonally facing two comfortable seats in a corner of the room. The seats are 6’ from the TV. I subscribe to the rule that TVs are like t shirts and shrink with age, and the largest TV I can fit in this space is a 55” (which is pretty good at 6’ away) and there’s no way to wall-mount it easily so it sits on a TV stand. All this meant the Cantons wouldn’t fit so I turned to soundbars. I tried the Polk 6000 but I missed surround sound, then the Yamaha 2200. The 2200 taught me a good (but expensive) lesson. Its height is compact and fits nicely under a TV but that means its speakers are too small to deliver lower-midrange frequencies. The 2200 soundbar drops off at around 600 Hz and the 2200’s sub picks up at around 130 Hz, so there’s a sonic hole from 130 Hz to 600 Hz. I didn’t mind this hole all that much in movies but I could really hear it when playing music – it is, after all, the lower part of the human voice frequency range. Since for me, music is at least half of the reason for the system, this wasn’t going to work for me. The GE has 4.5” midrange speakers which get down low enough that for my room I found that the crossover for the sub is 100Hz. There’s no hole, the GE is great and I don’t miss the Cantons. (Note that Yamaha fixed this issue with the 3xxx and 4xxx soundbars which have larger mid-range drivers than the 2200.)

One more pleasant surprise is that the GE, while tall for a soundbar, is just short enough to not block the IR remote sensor on my TV. (That’s an issue of concern for stand-mounted TVs and soundbars with decent-sized mid-range speakers.) Also, it’s almost exactly as wide as this 55”-diagonal TV so it looks good but probably wouldn’t look as good below or in front of a smaller TV.

Technical Note: getting the crossover frequency right, between the soundbar (or any LCR speaker set) and a sub, is very room-specific and isn’t so easy to do by ear. I recommend using a Sound Pressure Level (SPL) meter (you could call it an audio volume meter) to measure the sound volume (they’re not very expensive) and the Audio Test Tones CD from Jackstuff.com. That CD plays audio tones climbing up from 5 HZ to 20 KHz. You can play the tones climbing up from maybe 70 HZ to 175 Hz while holding the SPL meter by your head and watching the readings. This will tell you whether you have a big bump in volume where the sub and soundbar overlap, or a hole where they don’t meet. That will help you dial in the crossover frequency on the sub (or move it away from the back wall if it’s too loud).

Another aid I use for fine-tuning a sound system is an old DVD: the Avia “Guide to Home Theater”. The video tuning part of it is obsolete especially compared to the Disney World of Wonder BD (or the Spears & Munsil HD Benchmark 2nd Edition if you want to get way down into the details). But the audio tuning part of the Avia DVD has a series of increasingly sophisticated audio tests that (especially with a SPL meter) will help you tweak your sound system very well. Basically, to improve on that would require a HT professional and some changes to the surfaces in your room (for example, to reduce resonances at specific frequencies like I have at 55 Hz and haven’t figured out a good way to reduce).

Ted
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Old 12-28-2013, 03:24 PM   #2  
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Golden ear systems are amazing
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Old 12-28-2013, 03:58 PM   #3  
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Golden ear systems are amazing
When I saw they're in the Baltimore area I had a suspicion that turned out to be correct. That's where Matthew Polk started his company (in public I would deny I'm old enough to remember that) and indeed as far as I can tell, one of the two founders of GoldenEar worked for Matthew.

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Old 12-28-2013, 06:05 PM   #4  
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When I saw they're in the Baltimore area I had a suspicion that turned out to be correct. That's where Matthew Polk started his company (in public I would deny I'm old enough to remember that) and indeed as far as I can tell, one of the two founders of GoldenEar worked for Matthew.

Ted
there is a great review at HomeTheater magazine:

the original system
http://www.soundandvision.com/conten...itoncinema-two

Soundbar:
http://www.soundandvision.com/conten...oundbar-system
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Old 12-28-2013, 08:40 PM   #5  
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Yeah, I subscribe to Sound & Vision. Here's a quiz for you - what was the original name of that magazine? (Hint: it's had at least two names before the current one - the longest lasting audio magazine around.)

Over time I've realized that when it comes to reproducing audio, there's a difference between artificial reality (movies with CGI) and true reality (a live symphony orchestra performance or other live performances properly recorded). At least for me, it's easier to get me satisfied with the "created" audio in a movie. But to get me really impressed takes putting me in a true live music performance, in a way that I know I'm really there. Part of the reason is that I was an amateur musician (cellist) who both listened in, and played in concert halls. The GE can put me there (with the right recording).

Ted
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Old 12-28-2013, 09:27 PM   #6  
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Yeah, I subscribe to Sound & Vision. Here's a quiz for you - what was the original name of that magazine? (Hint: it's had at least two names before the current one - the longest lasting audio magazine around.)

Over time I've realized that when it comes to reproducing audio, there's a difference between artificial reality (movies with CGI) and true reality (a live symphony orchestra performance or other live performances properly recorded). At least for me, it's easier to get me satisfied with the "created" audio in a movie. But to get me really impressed takes putting me in a true live music performance, in a way that I know I'm really there. Part of the reason is that I was an amateur musician (cellist) who both listened in, and played in concert halls. The GE can put me there (with the right recording).

Ted
I subscribed to hometheatermagazine for about 12-14 yrs
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Old 12-29-2013, 06:19 AM   #7  
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I subscribed to hometheatermagazine for about 12-14 yrs
Hah! You and I came to Sound & Vision Magazine from two different directions. You started with home theater and thus Home Theater magazine, I started with audio. High Fidelity magazine started in 1951 and Stereo Review magazine started in 1968 (where I jumped in) from predecessor titles; they merged in 1989 and finally became Sound & Vision magazine. Sound & Vision absorbed Home Theater magazine this past summer.

In all of this, what's been pretty much lost are reviews of music releases - S&V has all but dropped them, focusing on movie and video game reviews. I suppose I could just look at the reviews in Stereophile magazine but those folks are pretty extreme. They firmly believe that music reproduction is worthless unless it's vinyl played through tube amps. And I guess when you drop 60 large on a stereo system it probably does sound great...

Ted
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Old 12-29-2013, 08:38 AM   #8  
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Hah! You and I came to Sound & Vision Magazine from two different directions. You started with home theater and thus Home Theater magazine, I started with audio. High Fidelity magazine started in 1951 and Stereo Review magazine started in 1968 (where I jumped in) from predecessor titles; they merged in 1989 and finally became Sound & Vision magazine. Sound & Vision absorbed Home Theater magazine this past summer.

In all of this, what's been pretty much lost are reviews of music releases - S&V has all but dropped them, focusing on movie and video game reviews. I suppose I could just look at the reviews in Stereophile magazine but those folks are pretty extreme. They firmly believe that music reproduction is worthless unless it's vinyl played through tube amps. And I guess when you drop 60 large on a stereo system it probably does sound great...

Ted
I agree, and I somewhat disappointed in HTM's merge also. They have become elitist in their video equip reviews especially in the speaker dept with 20K + systems for most an unrealistic plateau.
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Old 12-29-2013, 09:27 AM   #9  
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I agree, and I somewhat disappointed in HTM's merge also. They have become elitist in their video equip reviews especially in the speaker dept with 20K + systems for most an unrealistic plateau.
I'm sure they sound great, but there's a part of me that wonders: when folks spend that much money, are they really psychologically able to hear that they might not have gotten their money's worth? Just sayin'.

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Old 12-29-2013, 01:03 PM   #10  
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I'm sure they sound great, but there's a part of me that wonders: when folks spend that much money, are they really psychologically able to hear that they might not have gotten their money's worth? Just sayin'.

Unless your an funded individual videophile who has $$$ to piss away, a lot of these speakers systems are purchased by "prestige' buyers through Exotic installers, from Hi-end Audio Video Saloons (locally eastern LI NY super affluent)catering to rich folks who wants the "ABSOLUTE best, regardless of cost. pricing that would throw the average homers heart in a rush. Some have exceeded the 6 digits easily. And a few celebrity home entertainment theater center in excess of 7 figures, especially young entertainers with fortunes to piss away.

Ahh! it must be nice......
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Old 01-04-2014, 06:59 AM   #11  
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I agree, and I somewhat disappointed in HTM's merge also. They have become elitist in their video equip reviews especially in the speaker dept with 20K + systems for most an unrealistic plateau.
Yeah Rizz, the type of equipment being reviewed in Sound&Vision seems to have substantially increased in price - I wonder if that's the influence of HTM.

The January 2014 issue of S&V contains a superb irony. The last Letter to the Editor is from a guy saying what you and I are saying about their equipment reviews not addressing the needs of real people so he won't be renewing his subscription. This was sandwiched between an article about Yamaha's new integrated amp for $8,000 (for which you don't even get a friggin FM tuner), and the new Sennheiser earbuds for $1,000. I'm not making this up.

Ted
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