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Six Affordable Soundbars
As Flat panel TVs get flatter, you have to wonder how much the speaker quality is being compromised by these new ultra-thin TVs. Despite the fact that some very "flat" speakers sound reasonably good, the market is picking up for add-on speakers and one category of these is soundbars.

What is a Soundbar?

Soundbars present a space-conscious, wallet-friendly solution for multichannel home theater surround sound that doesn't require you to place five-plus wire-showing speakers around your living room (translation: high spouse acceptance factor) And you don't need to purchase an A/V receiver with a 5.1 channel systems. Plus, many of them have hookups for iPods and gaming consoles. Some of the latest options include wireless subwoofers and Bluetooth connectivity.
Soundbars Are Basically Speaker Arrays

Soundbars are designed to fit snuggly under your TV or mount attractively on your wall. To create a surround sound they bounce sound off of walls and use DSP chips to add delays and shape sound to deliver a pretty good version of surround sound depending on the characteristics of the room. Of course you could pay as much as $2000 for a high-end soundbar, but most likely you paid much less than that for your HDTV, so it might not make much economic sense.
Soundbars Offer a Good Compromise in a Sound System

Soundbars don't quite provide the full surround experience that you get with discrete speakers placed around the room but they do offer a reasonably good compromise. New soundbars are not introduced at the same rate as other faster-moving product categories like TVs and smartphones and some older soundbars are still popular choices. Here are some of the latest soundbars that won't break the budget while providing a big step up from your TV's built-in sound.
Boston Acoustics TVee Model 30 ($600)
This soundbar gets high marks for audio quality but one drawback is that it lacks HDMI inputs. It does however, offer Bluetooth connectivity that makes it easier to play music from your phone. The other limitation is that it is only a 3.1 system however, the center channel  really does help with hearing the dialog in movies.
LG LSB316 ($300)
This wide soundbar would look best on a 40-inch and larger TV but a wider soundbar like this may deliver a wider surround sound. In any case, for a reasonable price you get good quality audio wireless subwoofer and Bluetooth connectivity in a 2.1 speaker system. Some reviewers say they don't care for the exposed speaker look and it doesn't have HDMI but it does include a USB port for plugging in MP3 players and other devices.
Panasonic SC-HTB520 ($400)
This soundbar from Panasonic gets good reviews from experts and users and even has an HDMI port that features ARC (audio return channel) which works like a sort of pass-through for audio. This 2.1 channel soundbar includes a wireless subwoofer but lacks Bluetooth.
Samsung HW-D550 ($500)
This 2.1 channel soundbar is wide but very thin. It offers two HDMI inputs and a wireless subwoofer. Reviewers say the audio quality is pretty good and at 310 watts it should be able to fill most reasonably sized rooms with sounds.
Sony HT-CT550 ($400)
This 2.1 channel soundbar offers 3 HDMI ports and 3D surround sound with 400 watts of power in a separate amplifier which may cause some mounting issues. Reviewers say it offers plenty of power but some felt the sound was too "aggressive."
Yamaha YAS-101BL ($250)
Yamaha is a pioneer in the soundbar field and they make soundbars for every budget. This lower-priced model lacks HDMI and a subwoofer (there is an output terminal for one) but for around $250 you get simulated 7.1 channel sound. Reviews are mostly positive for this soundbar with users noting it offers a lot of bang for the buck.

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Are you making this up as

Are you making this up as you go along?

Awesome.

Awesome.

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LG LSB316 is the best!!!

LG LSB316 is the best!!!

Soundbar Quality

Is it worth buying a sound bar over a pair of speakers? I realize I'm very naive on this subject, but I'd really like to know if it's worth shelling out this kind of dough on a sound bar when you can buy a pair of pretty darn good compact speakers for under $100. What's the advantage of having a sound bar vs. speakers?

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Soundbars

As a home theater and home automation installer I really try to keep customers awawy from soundbars. The only really good ones that project virtual surround are the yamaha ysp's. Most others are only a better sound than what's in your TV

Peace.

Panasonic Soundbar

the Panasonic SC-HTB520 is a discontinued product as well as having the completely wrong picture attached along with it.
Do some research before you go making reccomendations for products, especially when they have been discontinued.

The Yamaha has a built in

The Yamaha has a built in subwoofer under the bottom and the option to add a bigger one.

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That Panasonic sound bar

That Panasonic sound bar looks just like the Bose $1500 bar.

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It is the Bose

I have the $1500 Bose CineMate 1 SR, and that's the same stock picture for the Bose that this article shows for the Panasonic!

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Panasonic

Haha that's too funny and you are exactly right