Q: In recent columns you gave high praise to LG OLED televisions and the ZVOX SB500 soundbar. I have a 1080P Panasonic plasma TV, and the picture and color using HD broadcasts are so good I am wary of changing anything. My friends still rave about how good it looks.
I use Sennheiser wireless digital headphones connected to the TV's optical output, and they provide excellent audio. I am so happy with the picture from the TV and the sound from the headphones now, should I make a change?
A: Other than chasing technology for technology's sake, I see no reason that you should consider changing TVs. You are really happy with what you have now, and everyone else agrees with you. Keep your TV and continue to enjoy it.
Granted, with a 4K signal or 4K Blu-ray with High Dynamic Range (HDR), the LG OLED is going to look better. But the change might not be that impressive — in fact, you might not even be able to tell the difference unless you put the TVs side-by-side and really study them. Some of those Panasonic plasmas still look better than any current LED-LCD set when displaying 1080P signals, with a natural, true-to-life look that is hard to match. I am hanging on to mine as long as they work.
The sound system is another story. You have headphones for yourself, but nothing for anyone else. Although you have the headphone transmitter connected to the TV's digital output, you can use an optical splitter to connect another device. The J-Tech optical splitter is highly regarded and sells for $22 online. (jtechdigital.com) With the splitter, you can add the soundbar to your system and use it when entertaining friends and continue to use your headphones when watching alone.
Two are better than one
Q: I read your columns about Sbode earphones and speakers. In addition to the small Bluetooth speaker they have for $35, they also have a bigger speaker, the M400, for $50. Do you think I would get better sound with a pair of the smaller speakers connected in stereo mode or with a single M400 speaker?
A: I'd have to say a pair of the M350 speakers. I have heard the M400, and it is quite nice. But with a pair of the $35 speakers, you can spread them out to get a nice stereo effect, filling the area with spacious sound. Having two speakers also is handy for a couple. Each partner could take one speaker with them to listen during the day when they are apart, and then at night pair them together for stereo sound in a living room or bedroom. It's almost kind of romantic, if Bluetooth speakers can be romantic!
If you act quickly, you can save some money. Sbode has two promotions running through the end of August (which is Friday). You can get a pair of the M350 speakers for $59.99, using the code SBODE002. Or you can get one speaker and the popular Sbode Sport Earphones for $49.99, using the code SBODE001. See Sbode's Facebook page or check them out on Amazon.com.
Send questions to Don Lindich at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.