on September 19, 2013
I have been following the Sony HT-CT260 for a while now but decided to wait for an upgrade as I wanted an HDMI input/output. Sony finally decided to do the change. This model is practically the same as the Sony HT-CT260 but with and HDMI input instead of a the outdated coaxial input. This sound bar has excellent sound quality, comes with a wireless subwoofer, has remote control infra red pass through, has an optical input and a 3.5mm analog input, has treble and bass controls along with several sound modes, has 3 different display modes (always on, on when you make any changes then display turns back off and always off), has a night mode for less impact sound, and best of all this sound bar is priced at a very reasonable $249 (at the time of this review). If you are looking for an excellent mid priced sound bar, do yourself a favor and check this one out first.
I forgot to mention that this unit also has Bluetooth, so you can stream music from your phone which is a big plus. I tried this with my Blackberry Bold 9900 and with my Samsung Galaxy S4 and it worked flawlessly.
I noticed the volume on the unit was dramatically low when compared to my Yamaha YAS-101 sound bar. If you experience the same thing, go into the sound settings and disable the "effect" feature as it somehow reduces the volume by a lot. With the "effect" feature on, I would have the volume at max (50) and it wouldn't seem be be very loud but once you disable the feature, which comes activated by default, everything seems to comes alive and the volume goes pretty high. Sony really did a good job with this unit. Compared to my Yamaha YAS-101 sound bar, this unit sounds much better but the Yamaha sounds louder. The Yamaha seems to emphasis more on mid-range and volume but lacks treble. The Sony in comparison has excellent treble, excellent bass and good mid-range. This Sony has so much bass that I normally have the sub-woofer set to -6 or -4 which is pretty much the lowest level, the bass at -0 which is the middle point and the treble at +6 which is the maximum level as I prefer clarity with some bass instead of the constant boom, boom. Anyhow, I hope this helps...
Someone posted a video on youtube explaining how to disable the effect feature on this Sony sound bar (2:47 to be precise) which will increase and improve the sound dramatically. Very good review by skiz220 , check it out:
on September 10, 2013
I bought this model mainly because I wanted HDMI-CEC (a.k.a. Bravia Sync, SIMPLINK, Anynet+, etc.), and it works great. CEC turns the sound bar on and off with the TV, and it also lets you use the TV remote to control the volume. You get slightly better sound quality by feeding the source directly into the sound system with HDMI and then out to the TV instead of from the TV into the sound system. Many TVs downgrade the audio signal to stereo over digital coaxial audio out and optical audio out if the TV input is HDMI (has something to do with HDCP).
This sound bar supports ARC (Audio Return Channel). ARC lets you plug your TV cable, Roku stick (if you have MHL), Chromecast, or USB drive into your TV, and the sound can travel "backwards" through the HDMI cable to the sound bar. It also works with Smart TVs. For ARC, the audio input function on the sound bar is "TV", but it usually automatically switches, so you do not have to manually change the input.
Since the Sony spec sheet is unclear, here are all the ports for this sound bar:
1x Stereo Mini (This is used to connect a media player like an iPod without Bluetooth using a 3.5 mm male to male cable. It is not an output, so connecting headphones will not work.)
This model is mid-range so while the speakers definitely sound better than the built-in TV speakers, they can sound a little thin at times (I'm used to nice Polk bookshelf speakers). To put it another way, the treble can sound a little muddled at times due to the lack of tweeters. The subwoofer makes a huge difference though. 2x the price would get you only a slight improvement in sound quality. 5x the price would get you a big increase in sound quality. Then there's a lot of in-between quality as well. My point is that if you want to pay more, there are better options, but at this price, this sound bar is solid. I wouldn't consider buying a sound bar under $150 because the increase in performance over TV speakers would not be enough to justify it (to me anyway).
Everything is basically plug and play. The subwoofer is already paired. My iPhone and iPad paired perfectly, and I was playing music in no time. An interesting tip is that you can switch the audio input to Bluetooth, and the image will still stay on the TV screen because of HDMI video passthrough (e.g. You can play a PS4 game while listening to music from your iPhone over Bluetooth. The PS4 audio will be muted).
The only thing I can really knock on this model is that it only has 1 HDMI input, so this means I will have to use an HDMI switcher to hook up multiple devices. If you have a little more cash, you may want to get the HT-CT660 for the extra HDMI inputs. Using some apps like HBOGo, the 260's audio is quieter than I would like it to be at max setting, but for the majority of apps like Netflix, the sound is louder and just fine. Since the sound level is different between apps, I have determined it is mostly the apps' fault for outputting a lower gain. I have the speaker bar in a smaller room (less than 3 m x 3 m), so the lower volume doesn't matter too much. The 660 model is a bit louder than the 260 and has clearer treble and voice because of the added tweeters. 40 sound volume on the 660 sounds like 50 (max) on the 260; however, the 660 becomes distorted much past 44. The 260 can strain at higher volumes as well. The 660 is not as "plug and play" as the 260 because you have to really tweak the settings for it to sound good, and you have to change them (mainly voice and sub level) depending on whether you're listening to music or a movie. The 660 can sound better, but you have to work for it more than the 260. The 260 sounds great if you just turn up the treble and bass a couple notches. Depending on the room, sub position, and personal preferences sub level will vary (default is 2).
I think Sony could have left a little more space in the back for the HDMI cables. It's a little difficult to get both of them in at that angle. That's a minor annoyance though.
The remote is nothing amazing. It actually has more buttons than it needs. I would rather it be slightly more simplified by getting rid of the numbers and color buttons. It does have bluetooth controls at the bottom, so you can control your bluetooth device. I'm not sure how useful the bluetooth buttons are because you have to have the phone or bluetooth device in the same room anyway or else it skips, so I guess the benefit is not having to wake up the device's screen. The downside of the bluetooth buttons is that I can't use it to control my Blu-Ray player. I wish the remote had backlights. I may have to get a Logitech universal remote eventually. I like the ease of changing the equalizer presets. I mostly use Game, Music, and Movie. The Amp Menu settings are simple enough to change when you get to know the layout.
Bottom line -- This sound bar is the best under $300!
Note: I had an issue with the subwoofer dropping out randomly. It was being caused by WiFi interference (2.4 GHz). I turned off my G network (mixed) for N only (5 GHz), and the sub is working as it should now. You shouldn't have any problems with Wireless-N (802.11n) networks on the 5 GHz band. If you have close neighbors (or other networks in range), be aware of what they use. Fortunately, mine use Wireless-N.
UPDATE: And now it is way under $300! I would have to say the 660 model is now technically the best sound bar under $300 because it adds tweeters and is a little louder, but it does require a bit more configuration and tweaking than the 260 to sound right.
on October 24, 2013
I recently purchased Bose Cinemate GSII for my living room but I returned it for Sony HT CT 260H
I used to own Onkyo HTIB system for my Hometheater, however, I realized how messy the cables are for 5.1 channels.
So, this time I went for 2.1 channels.
There were 4 options that I considered
1. Bose Cinemate GSII (MSRP 599.99)
2. Onkyo Envision (MSRP 499.99)
3. Pioneer Soundbar Andrew Jones Edition (MSRP 399.99)
4. Sony HT CT 260 (MSRP under 299.99)
Firstly, I purchased Bose Cinemate GS II at 640 dollars (including Tax)
I had it for 6 days however, I couldn't see any points that justify its high price range.
I agree bass is amazing! However, I couldn't hear any sound of piano, strings, high notes from Gemstone speakers
Low sounds were astonishing but.. THATS IT!
So I returned it after 6 days.
Then I tested Onkyo Envision. However, its just another Bose Cinemate GSII with lower price tag.
This one doesnt justify its price tag either.
The third one that I tested was Pioneer soundbar Andrew Jones Edition which was displayed at BestBuy.
I have to admit that the sound quality of soundbar itself is better than Sony HT CT 260.
Pioneer has more acoustic feeling and drums from its wood materials.
However, there were two problems with this model.
One is its well-known bluetooth problem and the other is Pioneers poor customer service. (+ high price range)
So I skipped it.
Finally I got Sony HT CT 260.
In a word, HAPPY!
I know if you go for either soundbar or 2.1 channel system, you are giving up surround sound and value/price benefits.
However, this model is quite inexpensive ($240) and sound is just good enough for a soundbar.
In terms of quality, its not the best speaker you can get.
However, in terms of value, this is probably the best sound system that you can utilize for your budget and space.
Bass is punch but still the sound has not been sacrificed at all.
I know you can get way better sound systems such as Energy Take 5.1 / Onkyo HT-S3500 at similar price range but I want the simplest setup for my sound system.
And they don't come with bluetooth connection which this one has.
Anyways, if you are tight on budget and don't want to be a GeekSquad of your home, go get this ONE.
Otherwise, go get Pioneer SoundBar Andrew Jones Edition or go for 5.1 surround sounds.
Sound Quality (Personal)
Bose Cinemate GS II (except bass) = Onkyo Envision = Pioneer AJ > Sony 260
Sony > Pioneer > Onkyo >>> Bose
on December 30, 2013
I have had this sound bar for few weeks now, and I am thinking 3.5 stars is about right.
1. Like the sound - Loud enough for a mid-size living room, especially while playing Music or Movies. Sometimes, the dialogues can be difficult to hear but overall - this serves the purpose. I like the quality of sound. I have to say that the Bose SoundDock sounds slightly better to my untrained ears, but that is clearly for a different purpose and probably not the right comparison
2. The sound bar is easy to install, and has very few wires. I almost missed the thin optical cable, but it's there
3. You don't need to buy an HDMI cable to make this work. I don't know if the sound is better with an HDMI cable, but I do not want an extra HDMI cable
4. Works with Samsung LED Smart TV. I was wrongly concerned it might not be compatible
5. Blue tooth is a fail only because it has a VERY short range. I bought a 10 dollar Bright BT receiver for the Bose SoundDock that has a much better range. May be I got a lame product, who knows.
6. Have to handle an extra remote, which is a nuisance but not the product's fault. The remote could have done with fewer buttons
Like I said, it serves the purpose. I would recommend if your prime purpose is augmenting TV sound. Reevaluate your options if you are buying this for Blue Tooth functionality.
I did lot of research before buying this sound bar - Reading product reviews and comparisons as well as user reviews on Amazon and other sites. My extensive research suggests that this is the best value for money Sound Bar out there. If you are like me who does lot of reading before buying anything (why not?), hope this saves you some time. Although if you are like me, you will research anyways :)
on April 29, 2015
I don't recommend buying any Sony product unless you get an extended warranty based on an experience I had with a Sony sound bar. My unit failed a little more than a year after I purchased it, and I believe the issue is faulty capacitors. I'm an electrical engineer and took my unit apart. See attached pictures. Google capacitor plague.
on December 20, 2013
Look closely at item details as Amazon choose to put return information there?
The sound was so bad on this, my TV speakers are better, so I wanted to return it. This is not possible because if "combustible items in the subwoofer" which makes it dangerous to ship!!! So Amazin can ship it to you , but you cannot ship it back???
I stated that subwoofers are no where listed on the "items that cannot be returned", they say it goes under the " dangerous to ship category " How is the consumer meant to know this???
Amazon should make it very clear that his has NO RETURN clearly written on he page and again in your cart...not tucked away under "product details"
on December 20, 2013
Great sound-bar for the money. Fills the room and has good bass. Set up can be a little tricky. It is plug and play, but to get it to the sound the way you like it you have to play with sound settings a lot. Bluetooth feature is great and convenient. Music sounds good on this sound bar. Under the settings you have to turn OFF the EFFECTS setting to get the best sound out of the system. All in all, a great, feature rich sound bar for the money.
I joined a friend yesterday in shopping for a television / sound system for his home, going along as an adviser. To our good fortune while we were talking to a salesman, someone an isle over hit the demo button on the Sony Sound Bar. The sound was so superior we interrupted our conversation and went over to see what he was testing out.
The store was set up with a sound bar display demoing five prominent sound bar systems in the same relative price range (about $175 to $250). After testing each one we found the Sony to be *vastly* superior to the others, not only in sound quality but in appearance. We stepped through each system and it wasn't even a contest. The sound on the Sony was more clear, vibrant, and the bass deeper and better defined than any of the other systems. As it was not the most expensive one, it was obvious the store wasn't trying to pull one over by putting it with substandard systems. The 260H simply performed significantly better.
My friend purchased this system along with a new 60" LED flatscreen and we went to his home to help him install it. Connection was as simple as plugging in the sound bar and subwoofer (it has its own power cord) and then running (in our case) an optical audio cable from the sound bar to the television (something that is very easy to do; just a matter of plugging in a cable). This provides digital sound across a stream of light. Zero interference from outside sources, perfect sound reproduction.
This system also allows alternative inputs, including HDMI or a 1/8" standard audio mini-plug (such as is used with MP3 players), This should meet the needs of any system.
Installation is very easy, as the subwoofer is wireless and automatically establishes connection with the sound bar. A remote control with decently-sized buttons makes setup easy. Choose your input source and volume. That's it.
Downsides: Hardly any. The optical audio cable included with the system is unfortunately very short (about 2 ft). This may prove insufficient to reach the television jack, depending on where the sound bar is placed. Alternative cables (1/8" double male or double-male HDMI) will need to be purchased. There is no need to purchase expensive cables in this matter; simple shielded cables should suffice.
This unit scores 5 stars all the way around for me. Its appearance is visually appealing. It is easy to set up and easy to use. The Sony has considerably superior sound to other units we listened to.
While it will not equal the impressive theater experience of a multi-speaker surround-sound system, it is FAR easier to install and you don't wind up with speaker wires running all over your living room-- which is the strength of using a single sound bar. My friend has an unusually large living room yet this sound bar filled the room with sound. In my opinion, a tremendously good system and priced very attractively (especially for Sony, a company that usually tends to be a bit pricier than most-- but offers consistently fine quality and support). This sound system is well worth the investment.
on December 6, 2013
What a great replacement for a receiver/5 speaker system! 3 wires. Audio input, power cable for bar, power cable for sub (to put wherever you want!). No more rat's nest of speaker cables snaking their way around your room, no more receiver as part of your 'component stack'.
The box it comes in is huge. They had to come up with a box that is long enough to fit the bar plus sub (like 50") and tall and wide enough to fit the sub. So the result is A LOT of styrofoam packing compared to what you will usually find in consumer electronics. As much as UPS hates to handle boxes this huge (I worked there for many years), this thing is really well protected and I think the chances of it being damaged in shipping is smaller than for most other electronics (like TV's). That's a nice little plus if you are considering if it's worth the risk to save $15 on amazon vs picking it up locally.
The 'effect' thing. This was my biggest question after reading the other reviews that led me to purchase. Several other reviews mentioned this comes out of the box with the 'effect' turned on, which significantly reduces loudness. After playing around with it and reading the manual, here's the scoop on that. First, some background. These bars are supposed to simulate surround sound. They will never be as good as actual speakers sitting behind you, but they can fake it really well! All I was really looking for was 'decent' sound from this for movies. Solid thump from the base, clear dialogue, sharp sound effects, etc. Any 'surround' effect would be bonus but not important to me. I've only watched some tv and streamed a netflix show so far but am already very impressed by sound immersion this thing creates. It really is AS IF sound is coming from all around you. Not in that direct bird-tweeting from that left-rear surround speaker way but in a general 'I really feel like I'm walking through the park in this scene' sort of way. I really didn't expect it to change much about quiet, non-movie watching but it's really does! I have no idea what the wizardry is behind this is. All sound is just vibrations in the air and all speakers do is move to create those pressure waves. So I guess that speakers that need to fool your ear into thinking the sound is coming from somewhere else is just a matter of them subtly changing the timing of sending out the individual sounds. The wider the soundbar and the better the tuning will create more of a 'soundfield'. I have no idea how it knows which frequencies to 'mix' and which ones to just send out clearly (dialogue is incredibly clear!) but it seems to do it very well. The remote lets you toggle between several pre-set effects like 'movie', 'tv', 'music', 'sports' etc. I was surprised at how much of a difference it makes. 'Movie' really makes for great ambient sounds and crystal clear dialogue. 'Music' makes for a good balance of all the sounds and doesn't attempt to sharpen dialogue while subtly tickling you with ambient sounds like 'movie' does.
Back to the 'effect'. You can only toggle between the pre-set's when the 'effect' is on. When you turn 'effect' off the sound volume really does go way up. I'd say about double. Apparently that is the difference between all the speakers just pumping the sound straight out vs 'mixing' it between the speakers as it applies all sorts of depth simulation and sound cancellation trickery. If I'm sitting close to the tv and want to feel like I'm 'in' the movie, I'll be leaving that effect on because it's doing something more than just lowering the volume. If I want to fill a great area with louder music then I'll turn it off. Maybe that is a key difference with higher end units is that they don't need to sacrifice volume to create that sound field. Even with 'effect' on it seems to get as loud as I'd ever need it to be.
I replaced a 10 year old mid-range kenwood receiver with mid-range stereo speakers and lower end sub, center, and surround speakers. The only thing my older setup MIGHT have been better at was booming out strong mid-range sound from the stereo speakers when cranking music. Even when I bothered to properly try to position and tune my rear surround speakers it never created anything close to the immersive impression that this soundbar does.
Easy to set up, sub was already synced. Bluetooth sync to my phone worked right away and I was surprised that I could walk about 30 feet away before it started to lose the signal. Got rid of all sorts of eye-clutter with this upgrade. The only component I have is the xbox (mostly for streaming) and I set that behind the tv because the controllers are wireless and don't need a line-of-sight remote. Mounted the soundbar to the top of the tv and have the kinect sitting on top of that. All you can see is the tv, the sound bar, and the kinect. Not very long ago your 'main' setup implied having many speakers and a visible component stack (receiver, dvd/blue ray, ps3, xbox etc). Now it can be so simple without sacrificing the experience.
I do realize that I can get a better sound with a 7 speaker dolby digital setup. But to get a nearly-as-good solution and eliminate all that clutter is a trade-off I'm very happy with!
on November 17, 2013
This is CNET's recommended budget soundbar. Put simply, this is the best soundbar on the market for the money. You can pay less, and get worse sound. And, you can pay a lot more, and get slightly better sound. Short of getting a full blown 7.1 surround system...this is the best place to put your ~$230.
The remote is a little clunky, and it takes a bit of effort to master, but try these settings:
Treble: 6. The treble performance is not amazing on this bar. But, maxing it out at 6 really makes things like dialogue sound nice and clear.
Bass: 0. This is personal preference, might wanna change it between an action game and a comedy, for example.
Effect: movie mode. Best go-to sound type for most things.
*note--make sure you have "effect" turned "on" for the presets to work.
Under "audio," choose "dual." This setting will ensure you're using both the bar and the sub.
Blu tooth is super handy on this thing. When streaming music from phone, ipod, tablet, use "portable audio" preset. the "music" preset is for actual concert films, not portable music.
SUB WOOFER: To get the most out of your sub, remove your couch/ chairs from the room, and put the sub (plugged in) in the middle of the Listening Position. Then, perform the Sub Crawl!
Simply play a song or CD that you are familiar with / has noticeable bass, and walk around the room. You will notice as you walk, and sub's performance will vary in effectiveness / sound quality by location. Place the sub wherever the bass sounds best, and your done. This should be the first thing you do to improve sub performance, before messing around with settings.
Ask me if I can answer any questions. I've used this for sports, blu rays, and video games. For the price, you cannot argue with the performance. Sony could charge a lot more for this thing.