Customer Review

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid sound for a good price, November 28, 2011
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This review is from: Sony HTCT550W 3D Sound Bar Home Theater System with Wireless Subwoofer (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
I built a built-in cabinet in my living room so we could have a television in our main room. The room is 25'x25' with 20' ceilings so it is on the larger size and with our tiled flooring, it can be a very tricky room when it comes to sound. Also, since it is impossible to run any wires around the room without some serious scaffolding and dry wall work, a sound bar makes the most sense. The wired Sony received several solid reviews, including a best buy from Consumer Reports, but I was intrigued by the wireless subwoofer as it changes the way all of the wiring is handled and presented the most simplistic solution. However, I typically spend the extra money for higher quality audio visual equipment, as I believe you tend to get what you pay for - cheap sounds cheap - so I was skeptical to begin this process. I debated about the $1,600 Bose system and some other higher end sound bar systems as I knew they would produce quality sound and despite the price difference, I would buy them, install them and be done. However, I decided to give these speakers a try first and if they didn't work out, I would take them back and drop the incremental cash.

The time from opening the box to having the speakers set up and running took 5 minutes, including hauling the box out of the room. Very simple. I run Sonos throughout my home so I also purchased a Sonos interface for these speakers. I hooked them up via the RCA jacks and immediately gave it a test sound. Underwhelmed would be the right word for my initial test. The system was 'tinty" with marginal bass. With Sonos, I can also control the equalization to the device so I played with it at the source and it still was poor at best. Also, I recalled another reviewer suggesting that the sound is configurable through the menu system, so I played around there too. It improved, but was still unacceptable. So, I started to pull it apart and began to box it back up when I also remembered a reviewer suggesting that there was a marked difference between the sound from a digital input versus an analog input. So, I switched my RCA jacks for a digital optical cable and gave it a final chance. The results are NIGHT AND DAY. The sound jumped to life and all of the earlier tinkering with the sound output needed to be dialed way down and rebalanced. With renewed excitement, I hooked up our Blue Ray player and dropped in the last Harry Potter movie and switched it over and it was great! It is not the high end $2,000+ quality, I'm sure of it, but it is extremely lively and good and fit our needs perfectly. Our room will never carry sound well enough to justify the difference. If this sound bar is in your price range, you will not be disappointed.

So my final analysis:
+ excellent sound for the price point
+ adjustable sound
+ easy to set up and use

- Works subpar for analog inputs - if that is your primary input, pass on this system.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 3, 2011 5:25:39 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 3, 2011 5:47:13 AM PST
LDB says:
Tyler: I think your experience is typical of most people that try to use old cables with their new Sony 550W sound bar. The High Speed HDMI cables or second best the optical cable connection really do make a big difference with this sound bar ( too bad some return their 550W's before they figure this out). As you said already for the money, this little sound bar system is really very good. Another trick to hear even more details on some of your bluray movies is to change your bluray player audio output to "bitstream" instead of the default LPCM or PCM. You will hear a significant difference on most Dolby Digital True HD or DTS HD Master sound tracks from your Bluray movies. (See your players manual for how to do this.) You can tell your bluray player is in bitstream mode if the connected 550W Receiver displays an audio format like DTS-HD instead of LPCM when viewing a bluray. If your Receiver displays LPCM all the time then your player is not set to bitstream. (Also, if you decide to use bitstream on your player--unfortunately you will lose the sound effects in the bluray menu E.g., those beeps when scrolling through the menu). You can also try the same with the surround sound setting on your bluray player --turn that off too and let the 550W Receiver do the "virtual" surround sound processing--give it a try and see if you can hear a difference.
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Location: Austin, TX

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