Scott Wilkinson recently did an article on how soundbars have the design flaw of using only a single HDMI port. But what if you have multiple HDMI devices you want to connect? Scott was reviewing an LG Atmos Soundbar, when he discovered the drawback. Looking around, he discovered the same problem with other soundbars as well. Leo says you can use Optical, and that makes sense. But Scott says the optical output is limited and doesn't support Dolby Atmos. The only thing that carries the Atmos bitstream is HDMI.
Rick wants to get a 77" LG OLED TV for his home theatre. His problem is that he needs a soundbar system that supports Dolby Atmos at home, and must have wireless speakers. Scott says there are a variety of soundbars that will do what Rick needs, including one he's reviewing right now from LG (the SL8YG). You can also buy a separate surround speaker package. But it's not cheap. Cost is $850 plus $200 for the wireless surround package. Vizio also makes a wireless soundbar system with up-firing Atmos speakers: Model SB46514.
Noah has bought a sound bar, but it won't turn on with his Google Assistant. Leo says if the sound bar isn't supported by Google, or vice versa, it won't be able to use voice activated control from the Google Assistant. He could just leave it on, but if it shuts down automatically, then that's going to be a problem. He should look to see if he can disable the eco, or power down mode.
Doug just bought a new, two story house and he needs a mesh router. What's the best? Leo says that mesh routers have taken over because Wi-Fi congestion causes devices to drop off. It's not uncommon to have over 50 devices connected to Wi-Fi! And that doesn't include neighbors. So Doug will need a better router to handle that traffic. Leo says the three best mesh routers for his money are the Netgear Obi, the Plume, and the Eero.
Tom heard about Dolby Atmos at Home coming to the Apple TV. Is there a sound bar that will support it? Leo says that Atmos at Home works by bouncing sound off the ceiling. This simulates speakers mounted from above. But a sound bar would only give him a hint of it. It won't really give him the same experience as an Atmos at Home Theater system. There is a listing of sound bars over at the Dolby site though, and Leo likes the Vizio.
Paul created a "man cave" with a great home theater system, but now he's getting a 60" Samsung UHD TV for the family room. He wants to get a good, budget sound bar. Leo says that one of the best out there is from Vizio.
Scott says that digital signal processing is at the heart of a soundbar, and they are great for small living rooms. Atmos is now making its way into soundbars and it's the least expensive way to significantly improve your sound, especially if your soundbar comes with a subwoofer. Leo says that there's a wide range of prices for soundbars, though, and Scott agrees. You get what you pay for. But there are some good budget brands out there including Vizio (of course) and Polk.
Karen wants to know how to make her TV sound better, especially for vocals, which are hard to hear. Leo says that vocals are mixed to be part of the center channel and if she don't have a home theater system, it can be a common problem. Leo recommends getting a sound bar. Vizio makes a good affordable one. She should also get one with a subwoofer. Then she'll have the ability to hear the center channel better and can even turn up the center channel alone to help with dialog.
Lorne uses headphones with his DirecTV set top box, but when he's streaming Netflix or Amazon content from his TV, he can't hear it through the headphones. Leo says he'll need to use the ARC (audio return channel) to the set top box. There should be a label on one of the TV's ports for that. That will send audio from the TV back into the set top box.