Tuesday, January 05, 2016

A most terrible mistake

We have made as serious and expensive mistake. It is not earth shattering. We haven't gambled away our home.

Some weeks ago R mentioned that he wasn't hearing the tv sound terribly well. I finally said what needed to be said and told him he was going deaf. He asked me to investigate a sound bar for the tv on the information super highway. His tablet is connected to the information superhighway but apparently only does Face Book and solitaire. I ignored him for a bit and then he mentioned it again. I took a look online. Ok, sound bar with a sub woofer. Good discount at Gerry Harvey's shop but  the Monday post Christmas on the way to Gerry Harvey is The Good Guys. We have had some bargains from there in the past, like our brill Sony tv that does the dishwashing as well. I had a good idea of watts and dollars but I was a little reluctant.

A Sony sound bar was heavily discounted at The Good Guys and it was one of the more attractive units. It had sub woofer. I kind of knew what that was, but R did not and had already decided where it should be placed to be aesthetically pleasing. Err, good sound is so often not aesthetically pleasing.

The sales person offered the opinion that although we could buy any brand, buying the Sony model would be a better match for our tv. We bit the bullet.

Once home we made a temporary connection using an odd supplied wire I have never come across before. We fiddled and fiddled and eventually had it set up. R could not understand why we could not hear the sub woofer. It was about eight metres away from the tv, four metres from where we sit and not pointing at us. It was like a dull echo. If you are unsure what a sub woofer does, my opinion is that it is a bass sound enhancer. I convinced R that it needed to sit near to the tv, so it went next to the Christmas tree. It sounded ok, but a sub woofer really comes into its own with special effect movies and music, none of which we watch or listen to much. The sub woofer stayed in that position for a couple of days and then went back to the other end of the room, with the words "I am not having a speaker control my life". I agreed to the relocation where it will be pretty well unnoticed unless you are sitting at the head of the dining table.....my seat, and it booms into your left ear.

That was the Monday after Christmas. On Tuesday we went into town to buy an HDMI cable to properly connect it to the tv. R was convinced the HDMI needed to cost us a lot of dollars. I stymied him with some research from credible sources like CNET. If you are an audio perfectionist you may want to pay $60 for a 3 metre cable, but a $5 HDMI cable will do the job. We visited DSE and theirs were expensive and I was just not going to pay huge amounts. I never told R, but I think one of our machines is connected by an HDMI cable I bought in a $2 shop kind of place. We were on our way to check Officeworks when I suggested we looked in Big W at QV. Sure enough, a 3 metre cable for $20. That is fine. And then the fun started.

Our cables between units and the tv are concealed within the wall. I have dabbled in that area before when I ripped out old style dvd connections and as I pulled the wires out, with wire I twitched on, I pulled through the new HDMI cable for our new dvd player.

R imagined he could just drop the HDMI cable in the top hole in the wall and pick it up at the bottom hole. I knew that wouldn't work. The space is tight. There are obstructions.

My plan was the only way. Pull an existing cable out of the wall with a wire attached and then pull through with the wire two cables. I might add at this point, I am getting to old for these shenanigans of getting down on the floor in a confined space and doing stuff. That is what I did and mucked it up badly by pulling the wrong end and just pulled the cable out without pulling the wire through. I did call myself some terrible names. OK, there are two more cables and two more chances but could two HDMI cables with their big plugs be pulled through? No, I judged. This is our second last chance. I am a little confused now as there were three cables to pull through. Ah yes, I need to pull through another wire and will use another cable to so. I was now very focused and tied three lengths of wire, after some unravelling to one cable and pulled them through. Then with some difficulty we pulled through three HDMI cables. The first was hard, but the second two not so bad. Do you believe that I was sweating big time and ready to punch R on the nose for his idea of a sound bar? Had R's nose not cost so much to make perfect, I may well have.

In total I suspect about four hours was spent on connecting the sound bar, working out settings and hiding the HDMI cable. Never mind, we have a great sound system for our tv. I learnt from research, well I already knew but I had to show R in writing, that $20 is enough to pay for an HDMI cable. The Big W model for $20 is fine as it has high speed on the package and is ARC compliant. I did not know about ARC and nor did I know that only some HDMI sockets are ARC compliant. Fortunately our tv has one. Audio Return Cable?

But, at some point in the process I remembered the words of the tv salesman who sold us our tv. He said, this in the only tv that you will be able to properly hear without an extra sound system. And you know what?
The sound bar is not really that much better. It is a marginal and a barely noticeable improvement.

So there concludes the post about two old gay men who clearly have money to waste, about $450. As R said, kick me when I have the next bright idea.

The full conclusion is, why do we need sound bars? Why buy a tv that does not give good sound? Sound bars are a total rip off if you are not into those big block buster movies, yet they were selling like hotcakes.

I stood up after finishing this post and thought, well, the sound is really a bit better. I looked at the sound bar and it had not auto turned on as it is supposed to and was off. God, are we fools or what. There is now a distracting low booming noise coming at times from somewhere in the room, but at least the sub woofer hidden away in a corner is aesthetically pleasing.

You ain't staying there, my friend. To the corner with you.


Looks like the sound bar grew there.


25 comments:

  1. I am now convinced that if I ever want or need to upgrade my TV and DVD I will first have to
    a) win the lotto and
    b) go to the Sony shop that sells nothing but TV and sound equipment and pay the extra $$$ for the technicians to come and properly install any newly purchased equipment.
    You picked a good spot for the sound bar, but the sub-woofer needs a disguise.
    Why don't TVs come with built in sub woofers etc? They certainly cost enough,(the good ones)with those prices you'd kind of expect to get great cinematic sound.

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    1. River, the sub woofer had been moved to a discrete place. The trouble with getting professionals to set your system up is you don't know what they have done and so if it needs to be taken apart for some reason, it is much harder and you may have to pay them again.

      People it seems prefer their tvs very slim and narrow and it is hard to get any decent sound with decent sized speaker in the sets.

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    2. aha! People like their TVs slim (and huge), so instead of working out how to get great sound in them, the companies make extra money buy selling extra speakers, sound bars, sub woofers and so on. If I ever get the chance to build a house, I'll have built in surround sound speakers, like in the cinemas, so they are heard but not seen, (as opposed to seen but not heard which was for children back in Victorian times.)

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    3. River, R watches his bedroom tv with the sound coming through excellent infra red earphones. I should have told him to get a set for the big tv. I suggest when designing your grand new house, save a bit by just buying headphones.

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  2. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry after I'd read your post.

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    1. Just cry Marie. I did.

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  3. Im with fun 60
    Our tv is only 18 inches

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    1. John, I am surprised. Your reputation informed me that you would not be content with smaller.

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    2. You can just hop on a plane, fly here and clean off my monitor for that! ;-)

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  4. Can relate to the placing of the cords and the frustration, happened here many times with my husband doing the work wiring all up for the sound system.
    I don't care for those sound bars, some rather expensive.
    Don't care for the sound coming out of the TV either, it doesn't have depth like I like to hear.
    We have two sound systems in two rooms and I wouldn't want to be without that sound.
    We use our sound system for the radio, DVD's, TV, CD's and so on.
    HDMI cords, now that is a total ripoff too. Once they were very expensive, gradually they have become cheaper and do the job just as good in most cases.

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    1. Margaret, our last tv had awful sound and we connected it to our modest sound system, that is the cassette/cd/radio player seen in the photo above. The sound was then really good. What I am learning about the sound bar is that the louder it turned up, the better it is.

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  5. I think when I move I'd like to set my stuff up properly, but I probably won't! My tvs are pretty small, which is fine by me. I don't have the kind of money for a sound system that I really would adore, so I make do.

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    1. Fen, I am not so fussed about sound. So long as digital radio comes in clearly, I am happy. You never know, you may be there for a long time.

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  6. Sigh. Himself set up our system. And fiddles with it regularly. Very, very regularly. To no benefit which I can see.
    And ouch on your mistake - which I would assuredly have made too.

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    1. EC, I have a wry grin on my face about 'your system'. Men can be such a pain at times.

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  7. Yup! You lost me at 'sub woofer' :)

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    1. Grace, I nearly lost myself at that point.

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  8. I don't like watching TV so for me is not the problem... But I support you

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    1. I don't watch a lot Gosia, but sometimes.

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  9. The sound on the tv is fine but I find that playing a dvd is the problem. The sounds either drops or the actors mumble so much that I now turn on the subtitles so I don't miss the plot.

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    1. Sounds like a dvd player problem. Cheap as chips. Buy a new one.

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  10. This would make another great comedy TV episode. Very great description, I was pulling my hair out with you and then at the last, when you concluded the sound was better, only to find the bar was off? the story of my life. Love it.

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    1. Strayer, for other reasons, we really feel like losers tonight. We always pay more than anyone else and we are not rich people, just old fools struggling to get a bargain when others seem to do it so easily. Ok, you are wondering. One of R's friends is doing a similar trip, she is one among six, to our Canada and New York trip, but for so much less. We tried so hard to make it cheap, but failed.

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    2. Andrew, never fear, I'm a loser too. We are all fuck ups in our unique ways.

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