Beware: first world problems. And i will be rambling again, long wall of text.
I hate buying (expensive) stuff just to replace something you were completely happy with, at least if the new item will not be technically superior or anything and you were happy with the old product, until it died. Buying e.g. a new phone or laptop usually at least means the new product will be more powerful and capable, so while spending money stings, you still feel you are getting something better. Not this time though.
The Philips soundbar that I bought with my Philips TV a few years ago has been acting up for a longer time, usually that it was silent unless I restarted it several times. I was never really sure if it was a hardware problem or something else.
At some point it worked flawlessly again as long as I started it with a certain (source, instead of power) button from the remote controller, but now it has gotten worse: when I try to start it from the standby-mode, I have to restart it like 10-40 times before it actually starts up, instead of going back to standby mode right away.
Then after that it is usually still silent, and I have to restart it again for another 10-20 times before you can hear anything. But after that point, it works flawlessly with good sound too... until I turn it off once again at the end of the day. Since it is now having some problems powering up from the standby mode, I presume it is hardware problem (capacitators?) and it needs to be replaced.
And it seems it started acting up pretty much right after the 2 year warranty had lapsed, which lead me to think this is an example of "planned aging", ie. the product is designed to break up after n years. I keep hearing these stories how e.g. LED TV manufacturers intentionally place the capacitators near heat sources on the circuit board as then the capacitators will fail sooner due to the extra heat, etc. etc. To hell with manufacturers! And i thought Philips is trustworthy...
Anyway, now I have been looking for a replacement (some sort of stereo speakers for my TV whose own speakers are pitiful), hoping to get one as cheaply as possible. I'd be ready to even just connect my existing PC multimedia speakers (Creative Labs) to the TV with a 3.5mm mini-jack, but there the problem is that the volume button on the TV remote affects only TV's internal speakers, not the output through any of the ports (3.5mm mini-jack, RCA, optical, HDMI...). Which means I'd have to walk to the speakers every time I want to change the volume. Damn it, why does everything have to be so hard?
While looking for a replacement (normal stereo, either 2 or 2.1, no need for 5.1 etc.), I don't get it why TV sound systems nowadays seem to be mostly those soundbars, even if they come with a separate subwoofer anyway? Why not just two tiny satellite speakers + subwoofer? The thing I hate about my current Philips soundbar is that my TV is elevated a bit higher, and the soundbar at its base blocks the TV remote control signal, so I have to raise my arm high in the air for the TV to get the remote signal over the soundbar. So I'd rather not have a soundbar anymore, also a "two speakers and a subwooder" setup could be more easily be used as multimedia speakers for a computer too, if needed.
All the alternatives, at least those costing less than 300€ (hopefully much less, even down to 100€) are missing some feature I want. These are the features I'd want, in some kind of priority order:
1. A wireless remote controller (a must, as I will use it with the TV mostly, and my stupid TV doesn't control any sound output to external devices; this also rules out most PC multimedia speakers which otherwise would seem good)
2. Not a soundbar, but rather two small separate speakers and a subwoofer (so that it won't block the remote controller signal for the TV, and easier to use as PC multimedia speakers too)
3. Optical digital input (S/PDIF or Toslink or whatsitcalled)... I guess I could do with analog input (3.5mm jack or RCA), but since my TV has Toslink, I'd like to use it. I had been using either it or HDMI (audio) with my existing soundbar.
4. Bluetooth... the only reason I'd like this option is so that I can easily play music from a smartphone or tablet on the speakers occasionally. I really liked this feature on the Philips soundbar, like having a full stereo system and a jukebox with your mere phone, playing the music through your big speakers. Unfortunately, this is one which seems be missing from many PC multimedia speaker solutions that otherwise seem perfect.
A couple I've been eyeing for example: Trust GXT 638 2.1
- This seems to get very good user reviews for its sound quality, it has a wireless remote controller, it is not a soundbar, even optical input... but it is lacking the Bluetooth input capability. Damn, so close, otherwise this seems very good, and for a nice price too (119€). LG 2.1 soundbar LAS350B
- Very nice price (99€), comes with a separate subwoofer, has digital input, Bluetooth-input... but why does it have to be a damn soundbar? Does a soundbar bring some extra oomph to the sound instead of satellite speakers, considering it comes with a separate subwoofer anyway? This would be less usable as PC multimedia speakers, if I ever decided I want to use it as one.
- Also the user reviews are a bit contradictory... most say it is quite good for its price, but a couple complain, saying e.g. that the subwoofer is very weak with no oomph, and that's why he decided to return his (really? how much was he expecting for a 99€ sound system, or is it really that bad?).
Suggestions of course welcome, if someone has some good option in mind that fulfills all my audio needs at an agreeable price.