By Don Lindich
Week 26, 2018
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 between $3,000 and $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?
-S.Y., San Ramon, CA
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, too.
The best picture quality comes from LG OLED televisions, and they are my first recommendation whenever anyone has the budget to buy one. A 55-inch LG OLED television sells for around $2,000 to $2,300. I have seen some 2017 models on sale on Amazon for only $1,500.
A ZVOX SB500 soundbar 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 want to put on your shopping list. The first is the Nakamichi Shockwafe series, which sells for up 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 a look if sound is a priority, as you say it is.
The Polk Audio Command Bar will be shipping on June 30th. I have not reviewed one yet myself but I saw it at CES 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. There are more features than I can go into in this limited space and when I do a dedicated review I can discuss them in more detail.
Q. I recently acquired a pair of vintage Zenith Allegro 3000 speakers. There was no receiver with the speakers and 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 is lower ohm ratings, such as 4 ohms or less, that can be challenging to modern receivers and cause them to overload and overheat. 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.
While you can use almost any receiver with the speakers, the power will be reduced compared to an 8 ohm speaker. Most speakers are 8 ohms and receivers are rated into 8 ohms, so if you see a 50 watt receiver advertised if you look at the fine print it will say “50 watts per channel into 8 ohms.” With your 16 ohm speaker the power will be cut by approximately half, so that 50 watt receiver will deliver about 25 watts to your Zenith Allegro 3000 speakers. It should be more than adequate as the Allegro 3000s typically were used with low power Zenith components.