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Good alternative to complicated home theater setups
on July 16, 2013
There was a time when the only way I'd watch a movie at home was through a 5.1 surround setup, complete with receiver, digital audio cables, subwoofer, and of course, five speakers. Watching movies and playing Playstation games were immensely satisfying. However, I grew tired of the complicated setup, wires and just the sheer amount of equipment required to make everything work right and sound great. I gave it all up for convenience, but will admit that I do miss the great sound in movies -- TV speakers are just terrible.
I'd been contemplating getting a soundbar to enhance my home theater experience and was fortunate enough to give the Sony HT-CT660 a try. In the last two weeks, the HT-CT660 has had a huge impact in how much I enjoy watching videos and listening to music in my living room.
- Good sound
- Three HDMI inputs
- Wireless subwoofer
- NFC and Bluetooth
- Customizable sound
- Subwoofer level is too high by default
- No wall-mounting hardware included
The sound quality of the HT-CT660 is good for a soundbar, but I had to fiddle with the tone levels a bit to get it just right. Out of the box, the subwoofer level was way too high. I turned it down and increased the treble slightly to clean up some of the higher frequencies. I tuned it for listening to music in stereo, which translated well for movies and TV, in my opinion. The virtual surround presets worked fairly well when watching TV or movies, but had the opposite effect on music. Music sounded best in stereo mode. The 330 watt system can definitely fill a small to medium-sized room without a sweat. It'd probably fine in larger rooms as well, as long as you weren't expecting a completely immersive experience in such a room.
Setting up the HT-CT660 was a breeze. It has three HDMI inputs, one analog input, one optical input and one HDMI out. The optical audio cable was included in the box and is what I used to connect my three year old Samsung HDTV to it. The soundbar has two mounting holes in the back for wall mounting, but for some reason, Sony doesn't include the screws. However, they do provide the specifications for the screw size and the exact depth and width that the screws should be positioned. The HT-CT660 would obviously be easier to place on a TV stand, but if you've wall-mounted your TV, you'll probably want to do the same with the soundbar.
DISPLAY & FEATURES
The front panel displays your input source (TV, HDMI1, 2, 3, analog, and BT AU) and displays advanced settings when you want to customize it. Just above the display is the NFC chip, which you can use to easily pair your smartphone to the HT-CT660. I paired an Android smartphone to it with ease and the Bluetooth audio came through clearly. The Bluetooth feature is actually one of the best aspects of the soundbar, IMO. Without having to pay for an extra BT speaker, you can just use the soundbar that's already in your living room to play music from your portable music player, smartphone, or tablet. It's an awesome convenience.
I love good sound quality, but these days, I prefer convenience, ease of use, and less clutter. Unfortunately, relying on TV speakers means you sacrifice a lot of sound quality and power. Soundbars like the Sony HT-CT660 are a good compromise between using sub-par TV speakers and a full-blown surround system. The HT-CT660 is a two-piece system that sounds good, doesn't take up a great deal of room, and has modern features (NFC and Bluetooth).