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Customer Review

312 of 334 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well designed, aesthetically pleasing, clean, clear sound., April 22, 2014
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This review is from: Sony HTXT1 2.1-Channel TV Base Speaker with Built-in Subwoofer (Electronics)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In the living room I have a full home theater 5.1 system that I've upgraded receivers, speakers and bass/subwoofers over the years, but in the bedroom I've had a struggle with what is the right device for a full sound but not a blaster system. I didn't want to spend a lot of money for the bedroom and I also really cringed at the idea of running wires for a full surround system. I needed more sound than the TV speakers.

I started my journey with sound bars, and am really happy that I ended up here. I had no dissatisfaction with the sound capabilities of my newest sound bar but the format was the problem-- the fact that it sat in front of the TV gave me problems. It was ugly/obtrusive and caused my TV to not turn on/off in sync with the sound bar. Sometimes you don't know what you don't know until you experience it, and in this case I learned that I should've bought a system that goes UNDER the TV instead of in front of it. I will review this unit as its own device and at times in comparison to the sound bar style.

Shape & Size
I was really interested in the style that sit directly under the TV, having first seen the Bose® Solo TV Sound System. It makes sense to take advantage of the space under and behind the TV rather than pushing the TV back against the wall to fit a sound bar in front of it. Unboxing this unit, I was impressed with how thin it is top to bottom. The pictures don't do it justice. I was surprised by that, as well by the weight of the device. Its not heavy, but it is clearly solid. It's like the difference between a Japanese car and a German one-- there is durability here.

Appearance
The top of the unit is glass, which was also a pleasant surprise. Not only is it glass, there are a few buttons like ON/OFF and PAIR on it that are touch sensitive buttons under the glass. It's a very sleek, modern, well designed device that oozes of thoughtfulness. As well, the top won't scratch as you adjust the TV angle or clean it like the sound bars that I had did because ttheir tops were shiny black plastic.

The appearance of the front is also upscale and clean looking. The LCD is behind what appears like a grate or metal mesh, the LCD completely disappearing when the unit is off. My previous sound bars had old style square LEDs that had words under each one and would flicker in an upward motion for turning up the volume and downward for lowering. It felt low tech but got the job done, but this device is clearly more modern and contributes to an overall sleek TV and sound system appearance.

The remote control is so futuristic and simple it made me smirk with a smile for a second. Not only is it simple and as wide as a quarter, kind of like a magic wand for your sound system, it has a slide down feature that reveals more buttons! My Sony devices in the past have been notorious for having a cluster of buttons from top to bottom so it really pleases me that they're getting the idea and simplifying. Again, it looks futuristic, but it's also simplified and easy to use. Good points for the remote control functionality and design.

Installation
Installing the unit was quite easy-- at first I simply unplugged the optical audio from my old sound bar into this device. It worked great, and no manual reading was necessary. I did breeze the quick start guide and manual though, and realized that some extra functionality would happen if I plugged it in to my Sony TV with HDMI. I didn't realize this functionality existed before and in the end is one of the best conveniences of the unit. When I turn the TV on, the unit turns on because it senses it through the HDMI. IT also turns off when I turn the TV off, and the volume up/down happens when I use the Tivo remote for the TV. This is a fantastic simplification that isn't available on other brands and models. If you have a Sony TV already, this could be a deal maker. The previous sound bars that I had worked in reverse-- the sound bar would learn the on/off code to my TV, and come on at the same time.

In comparison to the sound bars, the Sony is much more accurate and simple. The sound bars that I had would often get out of "sync" with the TV-- sometimes almost every time. I'd turn on and the TV wouldn't turn on (because the sound bar sat in FRONT of the TV), or I'd try to turn off and the sound bar would go off but the TV would not. I would end up having to hit the on/off switch 3 times or more to get them both off at the same time. I moved, re-aligned, tweaked and tested those sound bars, but in the end the simple fact that they were designed to sit in front of the TV instead of under it was what made them an annoyance for me.

Features/Functionality
The back of this device will give you one idea of why it's a step above introductory devices or sound bars. It has a full slate of HDMI inputs, an optical audio input, and an HDMI output for the TV. Many introductory or small devices have only an optical audio in, or maybe RCA or component in. This one has a full slate of inputs more in line with what you find on a real home theater system with a dedicated receiver and separate speakers. It even has an analog in-- if you have a dedicated MP3 type device or other device that can output to a standard headphone jack style cable. The unit takes a standard two prong electrical jack.

From a features perspective, the remote covers all of the functionality that you'd want to know about: sound modes, night mode (which my sound bar didn't have and I am glad this unit does have), the ability to equalize sound levels of an input (to stop LOUD COMMERCIALS), the ability to adjust how much bass you get overall and independent from the sound modes ( like movie, music, etc.) muting, volume, sound mode, menus for settings, etc. Under most daily activities you could probably use your TV remote and not need this remote.

On a daily basis, the features and settings can really disappear and you can just use the TV with the sound system without needing to change things or intervene. That being the case, there is an app available, and it is mostly geared toward streaming music to the device via Bluetooth (from a phone, etc.) or selecting the input. I was disappointed that the mobile phone app didn't include more of the device settings like competitors apps do, but it wasn't a deal breaker. The Bluetooth topic is a good transition into sound.

Sound
I spent an extensive amount of time swapping back and forth between this device and my Yamaha YAS-103 Soundbar. I went through my whole catalog of music from one genre to another to get a good feel for how the Sony reproduces sound as compared to my sound bar. I could probably write a book of differences, but there are some basic summaries I can make if you are comparing to the particular sound bar I had, and general feedback about this Sony--

(note, I did the best to put them both in standard mode, in other matching modes throughout comparison, realizing they are not identical devices and both are fully customizable)

About the Sony
-The Sony had the best overall balance of lows/mids/highs and needed the least adjustment going from one type of music to the next
-The Sony always sounded stereo, but sometimes the mids would feel a little flat. At some points, I felt like I wanted to adjust the subwoofer crossover point on the Sony. I felt like it was reaching a little more than necessary to reproduce some bass in the subwoofer speakers. The crossover was set a bit too high for my personal preferences. In the end I turned it down a few notches.
-TV voice was very easy to hear without having to turn the volume up very far
-Sometimes with a complex mix of sounds & voice, the overall sound could get muddy or feel like the bass crossover point was set too high.

In comparison, the Yamaha
-Had some things it's really good at, and some things it really falls flat with. For example,
-The Yamaha often sounded mono, but was surprisingly realistic at reproducing sounds like guitar, piano and voice even when not in voice optimization mode
-The Yamaha had less bass overall, but was really expertly tuned to not force the speakers into doing anything they weren't capable of.
-Sometimes the Yamaha mids were overpowered even when not on voice mode.
-The overall range felt like less, and though the overall wattage is less, it didn't feel "quieter" than the Sony.

As you can see, a lot of intricate details about the sound were a little difficult to parse out into clear conclusions about either device, but if you wanted some sound details, hopefully those contribute to your considerations.

In the end, the Sony stays and the Yamaha goes. The Sony solves the annoyances that I had with the Yamaha, looks better, is easier to use and while I can't agree with the marketing of "heart-pounding bass" it is a very good, pleases my ears and makes my life easier.

I will update the review if I experience different conclusions. If you have specific questions please feel free to post them below and I will respond to you ASAP.
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Showing 1-10 of 33 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 23, 2014 7:08:01 AM PDT
_RST says:
There was a question about whether the unit displays volume on the screen. The answer is no-- it does all displaying on the built in LCD behind the front mesh/grate. Not sure where the question went.

Posted on Apr 26, 2014 11:33:01 PM PDT
Thanks for the good review. Does this system comes with power brick as seen with recent Sony TV or does it has built in and we just need to connect the power cord? If it does, come with brick then does it take up input voltage from 110-240V?

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 27, 2014 4:57:54 AM PDT
_RST says:
No brick.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 27, 2014 2:19:03 PM PDT
Thanks RST!

Posted on May 10, 2014 1:23:54 PM PDT
Jerry B says:
Nice review. How well does the bluetooth music streaming feature work?

In reply to an earlier post on May 12, 2014 5:40:30 PM PDT
_RST says:
Once you are linked it does a fantastic job at bluetooth streaming. The only thing that is imperfect is that there is a fractional second hiss or click when the pairing happens. I've seen this with other devices, and not with others, but I would prefer it not happen.

The reason I noticed this is that I was paired with this unit and my previous Yamaha and was doing a lot of A/B testing and comparison between the units. I was pairing and unpairing with the device every 5 - 30 seconds so it was noticeable in that scenario but that is not a normal use case.

As far as sound goes it's fantastic-- I didn't experience any static, reverb, delay, choppiness or anything like that.

In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2014 7:07:33 PM PDT
Irving says:
YES IT DOES!!!! it depends on your TV. I paired this with my sony tv and the volume displays on my TV screen when using the volume control buttons of my TV remote.

In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2014 8:55:13 PM PDT
_RST says:
Good catch on this. When I had a sound bar before, even with my Sony TV speakers turned "off" it still displayed the volume up/down. And it looks identical to my TV volume display, so I thought this was the same display I always saw on the TV! Ha!

What I don't know is if it does the overlay on non-Sony TV's. Have you tried that?

Posted on May 27, 2014 9:41:31 PM PDT
Very nice review. I've been looking for a "Simple but robust" unit for my bedroom. This seems like it will do the job.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 1, 2014 8:29:19 AM PDT
w2e2w2e says:
Wanted to ask a question about the following item you reviewed.

When you say theunit goes under the TV, do you mean that the sound system is actually under the TV? As in the TV is resting on top of the sound system?

I know it is a silly question, but this is an odd shaped soudn bar to me, I am more used to the long thin ones rather than somethign that looks like a very thin Xbox or VHS player.
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