Q: I'm looking to replace an older 46-inch television and an Insignia soundbar. They both sit above a fireplace. I have a budget of $4,000 and want a 55-inch set. I want great sound but prefer to stick with a soundbar. What do you like these days?
A: What I like these days has not changed over the past few years. You can get a truly excellent system for well under your budget.
The best picture quality comes from LG OLED (organic light-emitting diode) televisions, and they are my first recommendation whenever anyone has the means to buy one. A 55-inch LG OLED television (lg.com) sells for around $2,000 to $2,300. I have seen some of last year's models on sale on Amazon for $1,500.
A ZVOX SB500 soundbar (zvox.com) runs $399 and will make a fine match to the television. The subwoofer is built in, setup is simple and the sound is excellent.
You will never go wrong with a ZVOX, but there are some recent entries to the market you may wish to consider. The first is the Nakamichi Soundwafe series (nakamichi-usa.com), with prices ranging from $800 to $1,100. I wrote about them last week. There is a lot of complexity involved with a Soundwafe system, and it includes surround speakers, which may be more than you are looking for. It is still worth checking out if sound is a priority, as you say it is.
The Polk Audio Command Bar (polkaudio.com) is brand new; in fact, the first ones are just being shipped. I have not had a chance to check it out fully, but I saw it being demonstrated at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, and it looks to be an extremely impressive entry into the soundbar market. The Command Bar includes integrated Amazon Alexa and comes with a wireless subwoofer, all for only $299.
Ohm ratings and power
Q: I recently acquired a pair of vintage Zenith Allegro 3000 speakers. I saw on the back that they are rated at 16 ohms. What receiver will match with these speakers? I know that having a receiver that will handle the ohm rating of the speakers is important.
A: Almost any receiver will work with your speakers. It's speakers with lower ohm ratings, such as 4 ohms or less, that can be challenging to modern receivers and cause them to overload. Today's receivers' amplifiers are typically not as strong as the amplifiers that were inside the receivers made 20 or 30 years ago. There are some exceptions, of course, but modern receivers that work well with 4-ohm speakers tend to be relatively expensive models from audiophile brands like NAD and Outlaw Audio.
As for your speakers, keep in mind that regardless of the receiver you use, the power will be reduced compared with an 8-ohm speaker. Most speakers are 8 ohms, and receivers are rated into 8 ohms. That means that if you see a 50-watt receiver advertised, the fine print will say "50 watts per channel into 8 ohms." With your 16-ohm speakers the power will be cut by approximately half, so that 50-watt receiver will deliver about 25 watts. Any receiver you use should be more than adequate to drive the Allegro 3000s.
Send questions to Don Lindich at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.