Remy started to crawl about a month ago, and every parent knows what happens when children start to crawl....they get into everything. Everything. So this meant changing up our existing entertainment area and optimizing for fewer emergency room visits. I'll admit, the old setup just had too much stuff on it in general, and especially too much stuff for him to get into. Here's what it looked like before:
So, out with the old and in with the new right? Sort of. The old TV was a 37" Westinghouse LCD that I bought over a decade ago. I tend to buy TV's the same way that I buy computers -- I get something better than decent and hold on to it for a while. A 37" LCD might not seem great today, but it wasn't too shabby in 2004. At least it did 1080p and had HDMI (baller!). The new TV panels are all super slim for fashion's sake (more on that later), and while they look really beautiful, they're seriously lacking in the audio department. The old speaker and amp setup (Parasound HCA-1200 mkII and KEF iQ3) also had to go. You can see that a child could easily knock over the stands and hurt themselves in the process. So goodbye amp and speakers, and time to get a soundbar.
Since I won't be buying another TV and soundbar for another 5-10 years, I splurged a little and went a little more upmarket than I could have settled for. For the TV, I got the Sony X930D 55" LCD and the Sony HT-NT5 soundbar. For consumer electronics like this, it makes sense to stay in the same family. They usually have some sort of tie-in or special feature that only works when everything is the same vendor. In this case, it's Sony's Bravia Sync where the system talks to everything about what kind of content is playing, changing the picture and sound properties, power on/off together, controlling all devices from one remote, etc. You can technically do this with CEC and mixing vendors, but honestly it all works best with one vendor. So Sony it was. Overall the combination is great and everyone is pleased. Remy doesn't really watch TV yet, but he gets glimpses every now and then and his reaction is the same as ours....mouth agape and drooling.
Sony has a slick mounting system for the X930D and X940D, where the TV hangs like a picture as opposed to being screwed into a typical VESA mount. This allows for a super close-to-the-wall effect with a super slim TV, but it does cause one problem. Sony wanted to brag about how slim the panel was, but they only accomplished this by moving the power supply external to the TV....Yeah, you get a giant power brick to hide. That wouldn't be terrible, but the proprietary brick to TV cable isn't rated for in-wall use. If the cable were in-wall rated, you could hide the brick at the bottom and run the 24V DC power cable in the wall. But since we like to stay legal in this family, that was not an option. I looked at the X930D more closely and realized that while the bottom of the TV is fat, the top is thin. I looked at the mount and came up with this:
I figured out that you could hide the power brick behind the TV by resting it on the mount, then securing it with 3M double-sided foam tape. I tried velcro at first, but the stuff I had was too thick. (It pushed up against the TV too much) I did use some velcro to secure the zip-tied power cord bundle. I ran the power in the wall alongside the HDMI cables with the PowerBridge TWO-CK. It's a really easy, code-legal way to have a cable-free setup without having to run a new power circuit in romex. Install your TV mount, find a void between studs, trace a level cut-out, cut out a pair of boxes, drop the wires, plug in and go. Probably took longer to type that than install. Super easy and legal. If an installer (or your spouse) wants to drop power cables through the wall, stop them immediately and get this kit instead. Here's an overview of the kit (image from PowerBridge):
Some shots of the final product:
I sized the gap between the TV and soundbar to the exact height of the soundbar "strip" below the speaker grille. That way, I achieved a pleasing effect of making the foam look like part of the soundbar. You wouldn't be able to tell unless you were up close and really looked. For the foam, I used a strip of M-D expanding attic weatherproofing foam. It expands from 1/4" to 1" and fit perfectly. It comes with an adhesive bottom, but I didn't use it as friction keeps it in place nicely. I also mounted it towards the rear of the soundbar to still allow adequate ventilation.
I can't say enough good things about the Sony HT-NT5 soundbar. It sounds fantastic and has a lot of nice features. One of our favorite features is the ability to transmit signals over Bluetooth to a set of headphones. The wife and I use this to silently watch movies while Remy is asleep. Wireless headphones are a great gift to new parents BTW. My only gripe is that it has LDAC instead of AptX. LDAC is OK, but not that many things support it. Sony needs to add AptX support in a future firmware update. That or they need to make a Bluetooth receiver (with stereo out) that supports LDAC.
A Creole coonass just trying to get by. I live in San Francisco and work as a digital plumber for the joint that runs this thing. (Square/Weebly) Thoughts are mine, not my company's.