274 of 287 people found the following review helpful
Premium television sets used to advertise their screen size, image sharpness, and sound quality. Not any more. When you buy the latest LG, Sony, or any other LCD, LED, or Plasma display, the speakers are always on the back and very tinny with little bass response. In short, the television manufacturers do not expect you to actually use the speakers in the TV. Many diehard audiophiles will decide to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on stereo receivers hooked up to surround sound speakers. For those with lots of money, space, and the time to set it up, these home theaters can be great. For the rest of us, we want quality sound from our televisions that is compact and easy to setup. This is the place where the Sound Bar really shines.
There are many brands with some similarities - you typically get a long speaker to go under the TV itself, either on its own stand or mounted on the wall. There is also a separate sub-woofer for deep noise response.
This Sony HTCT260 was an upgrade to my existing Sony HTCT100. Despite similar names, they are quite different. To start, the Sony HTCT100 was a total of 250W of sound - three 50W speakers in the bar and a 100W subwoofer. The Sony HTCT260 is 300W - two 85W front speakers and a 130W subwoofer. Whether the front is two or three speakers is immaterial - they are all inside a single bar.
The Sony HTCT100 had a subwoofer that plugged into the wall, and the audio from the source plugged into the subwoofer. Then the Sound Bar plugged into the subwoofer with a proprietary cable. That meant the subwoofer had to be near the sound bar. However, it also meant that the subwoofer was a receiver in itself, with HDMI pass thru, analog input, and optical input. HDMI pass-thru means you can plug your Blu-Ray player into the subwoofer, and then plug the subwoofer into the TV. It had multiple HDMI inputs so the Sony HTCT100 could switch between sources.
The Sony HTCT260 does away with the HDMI select capability - in fact, it doesn't have HDMI input at all, and the inputs are on the sound bar, not the sub-woofer. The sub-woofer is a remote wireless device, so it can be placed anywhere, a major bonus. It is shorter than the HTCT100 subwoofer, despite being more watts, is easier to conceal. The only inputs are on the bar itself, consisting of Analog, Coaxial, and Optical. Why did they make this change? Consider my use of the HTCT100. When I bought a TV that had networking capability, it meant that half the time I was using my TV, it was for content from the TV itself. Since my TV had lots of HDMI inputs, it meant every device could also plug into the TV. I eventually stopped using the HDMI passthrough and just plugged the optical out from my TV into the HTCT100.
Since I assume most people have similar televisions now, the removal of the HDMI inputs and the wireless subwoofer of the HTCT260 makes sense.
In terms of style, the sound bar is sharp looking, a little longer and wider than the HTCT100, and with a built-in display, it looks really good in my TV setup. There are touch sensitive input select and volume buttons on the front, so you can adjust it even if you lose the remote control.
Most important, how does it sound? In a word, amazing. I was dubious that the extra 50W would mean anything, but I found the sound far more immersive and expansive than with the HTCT100. Previously on the HTCT100, I had actually hit the MAX and still thought the sound was too quiet for some sources, but now I can crank up the volume and actually get it too loud. The bass is full and can be felt, but is not overpowering. Simple "sound field" buttons on the remote allow you to adjust the effect for movies, games, or music. With the subwoofer placed in the back of the room, I can achieve most of the surround sound effect without having to run wires and place tons of speakers.
Finally, pairing the speaker with my iPhone via Bluetooth couldn't be simpler. I hit "Pairing" on the remote, and about 30 seconds later I was blasting Tchaikovsky through the speakers from the iPhone.
Highly recommended - I'm sure you could get better sound with a more expensive system, but bang for the buck, I am totally happy with this sound bar and highly recommend you get one to go with your new television set.
208 of 217 people found the following review helpful
on November 22, 2012
Before I say anything about this system I will have to declare that I am a big Bose fan, I have two home theater systems, wave system, computer speakers, bluetooth..all from Bose.
I received the HT260 free from the purchase of a sony Bravia. I thought it was one of those cheaply made systems so I left it sitting in my garage for weeks waiting to figure out how to dispose of it. I mounted my new TV on the wall but had a hard time mounting my Bose on the wall without all those wires showing so I decided to try the HT260 and Boooyyyy was I wrong.
I packed up my Bose immediately and I do not miss it a bit. Sound quality is awesome and this is from someone who has listened to a Bose for the past 10 years. I was so impressed by the amount of base from the wireless subwoofer. I love the fact that I am able to place it anywhere without any wires in the way. What did it for me was the bluetooth connectivity to any device. I played music from my iphone while walking around with the phone in my pocket. My Bose couldn't do that. This system is great and I wish I had mounted in as soon as I received it. If you are contemplating buying this system, don't hesitate, it is awesome!
105 of 115 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2012
I've been meaning to upgrade from the TV speakers on my Panasonic plasma for a while. The internal speakers were fine for my needs--plenty loud and all. But I just wanted something with a little more bass and more "richness".
I saw the CT260 for 200 $ at a black Friday sale and figured this was the time to upgrade. The setup was a breeze and the sound is an improvement from before. I would recommend this for anybody looking to upgrade from stock speakers at a reasonable price.
* Bluetooth connectivity. Easily paired with my phone and can play music, internet radio, etc. Love this feature!
* Wireless sub. Great to have the flexibility to place this someplace hidden or near a free power outlet.
* Optical input. I thought I wanted something with HDMI inputs but realized that all my AV devices go through the TV anyway. Directly connecting the audio from the TV is a much easier and logical setup. There're other models with comparable features and HDMI inputs (for more money)--but do you really need it? Plus, TOSLINK cables are cheaper and less bulky than HDMI cables.
* Nighttime feature. Seems like this lowers the volume and disables the sub so you don't disturb the neighbors or others in the house. I returned a soundbar previously because the bass was getting so annoying the only way to get rid of the thumping was to unplug the sub. This feature takes care of that with a press of a button.
* Front display and control on sound bar. Nice to be able to see the mode/input/volume and access things like on/off, volume and input from the unit and not have to do everything from the remote.
* Custom settings. You can adjust the bass and treble and choose from presets for movie, music, "standard", etc.
* Accessories. Comes with optical cable and batteries so everything you need to get going is in the box.
* Good sound. It may even be great but I'm not an audiophile. The volume can go up beyond what I normally need and there're no distortions or artifacts that I can hear. The bass is nice and strong.
* Standby. Unit doesn't come out of standby automatically when I turn on the TV. (There may be a feature to disable standby but I haven't looked for it yet)
* Hexagon design. It's a unique look but I'm not totally sold on it.
* Another remote to deal with. The remote can't control my TIVO and my TIVO remote can't control it, so stuck with two remotes for now.
* Menu. The display only may be enough to find the setting you want, but you probably need to reference the manual when navigating the menu system. This is probably a weakness of all soundbars
In all, the features are great and the sound is good. The weaknesses are small and don't really detract from the overall value. I'm happy with the purchase--even more so with the discount.
169 of 195 people found the following review helpful
The "Sony HTCT260 Sound Bar Home Theater System" is good quality system with a number of interesting features, including Bluetooth and a wireless sub woofer. The big drawback for this reviewer is that it has no HDMI inputs or pass through, and no multi source input switching. The Sony HTCT260 has only a single optical/digital audio input and no audio or video pass through.
Why is that important, at least to this reviewer? Because the HDMI specification mandated that as of 2011 there be no component HDTV video outputs on any device that uses HDMI. Why is component video important in a discussion of digital audio? Because manufacturers have, for most basic Blu-Ray/DVD players, also eliminated the digital audio outputs that were once included to pass digital audio to TVs and audio devices that used component video. In other words, all new DVD/Blu-Ray players have only HDMI outputs for HD video, and frequently have only HDMI outputs for both audio and video output. Some higher priced players may add optical or coaxial digital audio outputs, but not all of them do this.
So, no HDMI inputs on the sound bar, no way to get 5.1 digital sound from newer systems into the sound bar, even if you're using HDMI to feed video directly to your TV. Some users might argue that there is an optical digital audio input on the sound bar, and you can just plug that into the back of your TV, assuming that it has an optical digital audio output, and pick up the audio that way. Yes, and no. The HDMI standard mandates that any device receiving audio via HDMI for copy protected or digital rights managed content also disable any audio outputs that device may have, specifically to block audio pass through.
Some TVs will not care about the distinction, and will flatly refuse to pass through HDMI supplied audio at all. Some sets will output HDMI supplied audio sound but only in downmixed stereo. The optical output from a Blu-Ray player, if it has one, can be connected directly to the sound bar, but then you will not be able to feed digital audio from your cable or sat box.
The Sony sound bar systems are generally very nice. I like Sony sound bar systems. I wanted this one to be a good choice for me. I am always interested in what Sony if doing with sound bars. Hope you get that: I am in no way against Sony sound bars. Some of the models above this one have HDMI inputs, and also multiple inputs for multi device input switching, for the same price or just a bit more. I can give only give it three stars for its solid features, minus its limited out of the box inputs for playing 5.1 sound from Blu-Ray players and other HDMI-centric sources.
55 of 61 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2013
I am one to do a LOT of research and testing before I buy an expensive electronic product, especially if I would like a product to last. A little background... I am a college student in my third year of engineering, I am a perfectionist, and I don't mind paying a little extra for a little more. I have two bedrooms, one at school and one at home that I live in about equally, as I am frequently in my hometown for semester-long internships. I have a PS3 hooked up to a 42" Samsung TV. I started looking into the realm of home theater/home audio to upgrade my bedrooms right after the beginning of this semester. I began by looking at full blown theater systems but quickly realized that these would cost loads of money, and more importantly, they would be overkill for my adequately sized 12x12 and 13x14 foot rooms. This was my introduction to sound bars.
Upon my first glimpse at sound bars, I started with the big name brands for audio: Boston Acoustics, Polk, Bose to name a few... As somewhat of an audiophile, and moreover a perfectionist for everything, I wanted good crisp sound and something that would last. I did some preliminary research on said brands and went to retailers to give them a try. It seemed like all of "audio specialists" at these stores had quite varying suggestions and recommendations, so I just went by my expectations and my gut after testing the various models.
After my first round of research and testing, I decided that the Polk Audio In Home Theater 3000 was the best quality product for its price. I purchased it at Best Buy while it was on sale, and set it up right away. The sound was pretty clear, and it synced with my Samsung 42" TV very easily. I don't think that I was completely in love with it at first, but about a week after I purchased it, I was proven that I wasn't in love. The subwoofer started cutting out and making fluttering noises (dictated in some of the reviews). I returned it for another Polk IHT 3000 to avoid multiple transactions, and the second sound bar did the exact same thing. Do not buy a polk model under the IHT 5000.
I went back to square one, researching, testing, and waiting for deals. In my opinion, with an active sound bar model, a subwoofer is a must in reproducing the full spectrum of sound especially prominant in movies and video games. Many of the higher end models sounded the same and were often beat to death in quality even by the Polk I had owned, so I decided to look at cheaper models to save some cash (I am a college student after all).
Online reviews and tests led me to the Sony HT-CT260, along with an LG, Samsung, and Vizio. In tests and reviews, this Sony is completely above and beyond other comparable brands. And more importantly, it out duals most of the higher end ones, while at half or even a quarter of their cost!
I bought this model about two weeks ago and was very anxious to try numerous things with it, there are so many features and minor adjustments that make a major difference! Whetever it is, music, TV, gaming, sports, there are enough bells and whistles to please all listeners. The bass has more than enough OOMPH for a small to medium sized room, and rivals the Bose 5.1 surround sound system in clarity and in Bass. (I was playing a song with pretty deep bass, and knocked pictures off of the wall in the room adjacent to mine. This makes me question the other reviewers and their competence when it comes to electronics.)
No, this is no 5.1 or 7.1 system, it will not always produce the "virtual surround sound" with everything. But there are times when I am quite tricked by this system, especially during blu-ray movies and video games. It does enough to simulate the surround sound in situations that you would want it to if placed correctly.
For best result:
I have found that placing the sound bar within a foot or so vertically of your listening position and in a central position along a wall, placing the sub behind the listening position, and giving the woofer no less than a foot clearence around it yields the best surround sound effect. The woofer adds a rear dimension and the bar provides the left, right, and center effect for the mid and higher range sounds. It doesnt always work, but most of the time it is sufficient.
Also, if you feel that your bass is "flat" or "boomy" play with the subwoofer placement (a HUGE bonus having wireless subwoofer). Try the corners of the room, along the side wall, front or back of the room, etc. There are a million different shapes, sizes, and orientations of rooms. It is all about trial and error.
Overall this product is an absolute must have for those with a lower budget, not wanting to make the commitment to a 5.1 or 7.1 system, or trying to downsize and avoid the thousands of wires that come with a full blown system. The sound is clear, the bass is more than enough, the design is sleek and modern, it is durable, and works like a charm. Well done Sony, I shouldn't have doubted you in the first place. Please, I invite anybody with questions or comments to submit them below. I have found this system to be a "diamond in the rough" and I hope this review will help in your decision to improve your home theater experience. Happy shopping!
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2013
I've been fighting a huge battle with my ears, I've had a 7.1 rich sounding system for so long that my ears are trained to hear everything. When I listen to an opera, the orchestra should sound a certain way in comparison to the performers. Action movies should be more explosive and surround the listener with the experience, and music is all preference, and mine is clean highs and lows without too much in the middle :).
I've tried 7 different sound bars. These are all in the 250 to 400 dollar price range, and ones you can pick up at Target, Best Buy, wally world or even Amazon.
Generally each brand gives the same sound throughout their product lineup. It gets better with the more money you spend, but the sound is basically limited.
LG = Not bad, but very hollow, sound modes are terrible with echo's to produce the "surround sound". Really didn't like the experience.
Samsung = Boy did this company miss the mark. Music is the best sound setting on all of their bars, and they all sound like they are under water. No highs to speak of, no sound stage, and weak but tight bass. All surround modes have so much echo, you'll think you are in a cave, and when you turn them on, all midrange goes under water.
Boss = Nice sounding bar, but not a lot of sound for the money. I found it somewhere near the top of the list, but it still didn't really reproduce Opera's correctly and the soundstage wasn't great for the simulated surround sound.
Now on to the Sony.
I was about to just give up on sound bars. They seemed completely out of the question. I wanted so much more. I picked this model up and the setup was a snap. On to the tests.
Out of the box: Sound was ok, bass was too boomy and yet lacking something. It seems as if the mid-bass was lacking and didn't pick up where the sound bar leaves off. I started messing with the levels and tone and the sound/surround sound settings.
After about an hour, boy did I hit a sweet spot. Surround Sound set to Music, Levels Front +2 Sub +4, Tone Treble +4, Bass +3. For my mid sized living room, all wood floors and open area, the sound was as close as I could get to a true stereo system. Even the little sub woofer, which at first didn't impress me, gives quite a good punch, but if put in a corner can be a tad boomy.
Tried a few action and family flicks, like Lion King, Avengers, etc. Quite good! The way the Sony handles the simulated surround sound is really nice and works well, things to seem to move around the room acceptably. Music sounds fantastic.
The Sony Sound Bar, FOR THE MONEY, is the best one available, given you spend a little time tweaking the settings to your room.
Setting up the bass to sound balanced can be tricky.
The shape is funny, but I don't really care, looks classy.
It's simulated surround sound, all sound bars are. If you just listen and try not to critique it too much, the sound is great.
Sub Woofer is a bit boomy, so keep it out of the corner and you'll be very happy with the sound.
Turned up too loud, it will distort, and I think you can blow out the sub. (I'm talking ear hurting loud)
I'm keeping it, it is a very pleasing addition to my home theater.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on July 24, 2013
So i am posting this because I hear a lot of people saying just because it doesn't have hdmi inputs it is a definite no-buy. Sony is steering many average costumers to hook up all their hdmi devices to their TVs and then have the TV pass the sound to the sound-bar. There is definitely some limitations with no hdmi inputs but as long as your TV has a digital output you can get around it for most situations. Here is a really good guide that addresses the issue
Also I think it is pretty impressive that this sound-bar can dowmix audio to 2.1 in case your TV doesn't (most TV's do but it is nice that Sony thought of it)
"HT-CT260 has onboard decoding for both Dolby and DTS. In the vast majority of cases, that decoding won't actually be used, since most TVs downmix all audio to two-channel PCM over their optical outputs.
I have read some reviews about your TV blocking the through put to your sound-bar is totally false. I have a sound-bar that receives audio just fine from my blu-ray player which sends the audio and video over hdmi to the TV and then the TV sends the audio to my sound-bar over the optical cable. Unless you have one of the first flat screen TV models as this only applies to the first generation TVs that started using hdmi inputs(back in 2003 is when hdmi came out and even then only some of those blocked the audio from hdmi). So unless your TV is 10 years old you will be just fine.
Don't let the "virtual surround sound" fool you. If you are looking to get surround sound you are better off getting a receiver and setting up 5.1 channel system. But this sound-bar will blow your speakers that came with your TV out of the water with out the hassle of setting up surround sound with wires going everywhere. If you are really into music. This sound-bar does a pretty good job given its price.
I guess I don't really see why people are up in arms about the no hdmi. It is a 2.1 channel system what device exactly are you wanting to pass presumably 5.1 ch over hdmi to this? Maybe there are some people trying to fit this in with their surround sound systems but if you are then you need to look up to some basic guides on home audio to correct your idea you had for this system.
Bottom line: Make sure you know your setup and why it would require an hdmi input before just saying "Wow... no hdmi what a worthless system" As long as your TV has enough hdmi inputs for your devices you should be fine. I am guessing for 9/10 people who having everything hooked up to their TV anyway this would be just fine.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2012
Last year my wife and I (both 60+) bought ourselves a Sony 46" Flat Screen TV for Christmas. The sound wasn't all that great so we hooked up my old PC sound system to the TV. The sound was better but we couldn't control the volume with the remote so my wife would have to get up to manually make adjustments since I'm wheelchair bound. We'd seen these sound bar systems at a major department store and decided something like this would be a nice Christmas gift to us this year and suited the needs of our relatively small living room. We received this ominous sized box and wondered what we'd gotten ourselves into. After unpacking, I read the instructions and my wife hooked it all up after a few conversations about my ability to convey what I read into a way she could understand. The only problem we had once we were on the same page was figuring out why we needed an optical cord when all we wanted was better sound. Little did we know. Now, when you walk into our living room, you'd swear you were in a movie theater. Even with both the sound bar and sub woofer completely concealed, we can still actually feel the sound vibration. The second best part is...the remote controls both audio and video. We love it!! The only down-side is the DVD/VCR we ordered at the same time is 3-days past the shipping due date and tomorrows Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas Everyone!
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2013
For those who want to control this soundbar with your cablebox remote, I used the following steps (copy/pasted from an Amazon review of the HT-CT150):
First enter correct code for the device for controling by AUX: 1) turn on Sony CT-HT150 2) press AUX 3) press and hold setup until AUX blinks twice 4) enter 31759 (first code for Sony Audio) 5) AUX will blink twice 6) check by aiming comcast remote at Sony and press power (should turn off) NOW do volume control by 1) hold setup down until light blinks twice 2) then enter 9 9 3 Vol+ (light will blink 4 times) 3) hold setup until light blinks twice then enter 9 9 3 (light blinks twice) 4) Press AUX. Now AUX should control volume no matter whether you use AUX, TV, or CBL. For some TV's (including mine), I also had to go into the TV menu and turn off sound.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2013
I was checking out soundbars at a local retail store today and having read reviews on the toshiba, l g and samsung, I really couldn't make any decisions. I saw this particular sony model hooked up to a television and it sounded pretty impressive. Ofcourse, with all the noise at the store, it was kind of hard to make a final decision, so I wrote down the model number, came home did some research on Amazon and one other site. After reading so many positive reviews, I decided to give it a shot.
When I got home, I unpacked everything and getting connected was a snap! Since I already have a Sony bluray surround sound system connected to my dvr via an optical cable, I couldn't get decent sound with Netflix from my tv speakers. So, I bought a 6 feet optical digital cable (the one they provide in the box is short and flimsy) and made a connection between the soundbar and the tv. I started to watch the film "Drive" and let me tell you I was totally blown away by the sound! In the initial scene where the helicopters spot Ryan's car, it seemed like the copters were right over your head/ceiling. I am very impressed to say the least! I love my 5.1 surround sound which has wireless speakers, but this new toy is just amazing! It really puts the tv speakers to shame.
It also has an LED display which can help you to set your tone among other features, and it can be turned off as well so as not to be too distractive. The subwoofer has a nice feel to it and performs very well! It has a light on top that turns green when on and red when the soundbar is switched off.
The remote is pretty nice as well and I managed to make my Sony universal remote learn most of the commands except for mute. My remote (universal) can also operate Netflix without a hitch. So essentially, I have 1 remote for everything, it's just that simple!
I listened to more expensive soundbars but when it comes to looks and value for money, you simply cannot go wrong with this system! It totally rocks in all respects! By the way, the wireless sub is about 12 feet away from the tv right next to my chair! Get this and you won't be sorry! It definitely rivals many other expensive ones!
If you wish to disable the speakers on your tv, you should do the following:-The television can be disabled by switching the OUTPUT SELECT from FIXED to VARIABLE while the television is set to the coax input. This is true for Sharp tv's but it should be the same for other brands as well.