Upgrading from soundbar

I currently have a Sony 2.1 soundbar in my living room. What is the best pathway to bring a better-quality sound to my living room using bookshelf speakers? I realize that I won’t achieve the quality of sound I get from the system in my man cave: a custom EL-34 tube amp, passive preamp, and Tekton Lore Reference speakers---but I am looking for an appreciable increase in performance at a reasonable cost. I would like to maintain Bluetooth and possibly a streaming option---pretty basic. Thanks for your suggestions.


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So much depends on your space and what is tolerable.  For example, I have a Linn system in my family room, which is about the largest size my wife will allow.  Just some of the original Linn Kann's so very little space taken up.  I'm still amazed at how low those little speakers will go and what they can do with vocals.  The sound source is a Tascam CD-200BT, that gives me a bluetooth option for streaming.  Prior to, I had some JBL 4312's in the same space and was reminded they created too much awareness they are there. 

Depending on your situation, you may want to look at the in-wall speakers?  From there you can hide the wiring and the system completely.  I don't have any experience with these but there are some good names in the business. 

Also with a living room you often get into open doors and all that create a dilemma for speaker placement.  For example, I have a screened in porch with a brick wall at 90 degrees and another 90 degrees of total open.  A sonic nightmare of sorts.  What I did there was some self created transmission line speakers from PVC pipe and used a single driver from Dayton Audio for each channel.  Also used one of their class D amps with bluetooth.  Sounds pretty good and makes my wife happy.  It is completely out of the way and actually was able to get frequency as low as my JBL 4312's.  Was very surprised by the magic of the transmission line.   

A pair of KEF LS50 Wireless speakers should make a big improvement.  Best of luck. 

The NAD 3020D and it's sibling are a great choice as an integrated that is small, sounds good and has built in BT.

I actually had the Mini Lore before the Lore Reference...a little too large for the space. Bookshelf speakers would work better. Thanks for all the suggestions.

Soundbars have come a long ways. The Sonos Arc is very impressive on its own, and is easily expanded with their subwoofer and rear channel surrounds. The Sennheiser Ambeo was described in a review "Calling the Sennheiser Ambeo a soundbar is a bit like calling a Formula one Mercedes Benz a motorcar." 

As a KEF LS50 owner, i like the poweds LS50 idea, but you give up all surround processing, and would still need a subwoofer. I have also done inwall speakers 3 times. They require an amp with room tuning software or I guarantee you will not be happy. They also require a lot more installation effort than you may want to do or to pay to have done.


Try the blue sound power node and the new Sonus faber bookshelf speakers. Or get some JBL monitors for around $500 a worthy place to start.