Most helpful positive review
273 of 286 people found the following review helpful
I upgraded my HTCT100 and couldn't be happier - expansive sound, easy setup, and great price - Bluetooth a major bonus as well
on October 25, 2012
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.