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Sony HT-CT350 40" 3D Sound Bar System Preview Print E-mail
Monday, 06 December 2010
ImageFor those who don't want to deal with running wires for monetary or decorative reasons, but still crave a fuller sound experience than the one provided by your flat screen (answer: yes you do), Sony may have an inexpensive Sound Bar System for you.

Sound bars may not be acceptable to home theater enthusiasts, but they're great for back up viewing locations such as bedrooms.  Sony's HT-CT350 is a full package that includes a powered subwoofer module (the subwoofer's amplifier powers the sound bar and features all the video and audio ins and outs) as well as a soundbar speaker equipped with two full-range 1-5/8" x 2-7/8" cone-type drivers and two 1-5/8" cone-type drivers in a bass reflex enclosure.  This translates to a fully discrete 3.1 system that emulates a 5.1 system.

The HTC-CT350's subwoofer module features a small 5-1/8" cone type subwoofer and is powered by a built-in digital Sony S-Master amp which provides 60-watts x 3 for the sound bar and 60-watts for the subwoofer itself.  The modules also features an AM/FM Tuner, a digital media port (for use with an optional iPod dock), 2 RCA stereo inputs, 2 optical digital audio inputs, 2 coaxial digital audio, and 3 HDMI 1.4a ins. The HDMI 1.4a inputs all feed out to a single HDMI output which is good for 3D pass-through, which is nice, and will accept all sorts of resolutions from 480i to 1080p.  Also, there is a standby pass-though mode where any of your three connected HDMI devices can be accessed without having to power on the power module.

Unfortunately, the HTC-CT350 only handles lossy digital audio codecs such as Dolby Digital and DTS.  Newer formats such as Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS-HD MA cannot be decoded.  But, if you have a Blu-ray player which can internally decode them, this unit does accept LPCM in 2-channel, 5.1, and 7.1. To get the feeling of surround sound from only 3.1 channels, Sony uses its own "S-Force Surround" which utilizes DSP (Digital Signal Processing) technology make it seem like sound coming from the front of the room is really behind listeners.  Further, there are a number of built-in "sound fields" which are designed to enhance all the different forms of content, from "2CH Stereo" for musics CDs, to "Movie" mode for clear dialogue and aggressive "surround" performance.

For installation purposes, the HT-CT350's sound bar includes a 10-foot speaker cable for and rubber feat for shelf placement.  Or it can be mounted to the wall directly via the two rear-mounted keyhole slots.  Or, an included TV mounting bracket allows the soundbar to mount directly to certain 40" and 46" Sony BRAVIA flat-panel TVs (XBR-40LX900, XBR-46LX900, KDL-46NX800, KDL-40NX700, KDL-46NX700, KDL-40HX800, KDL-46HX800, KDL-40EX710, KDL-46EX710, KDL-40EX700, KDL-46EX700, KDL-40EX600, KDL-46EX600) regardless of whether or not the TV is itself wall mounted or on top of some home theater shelving.  Nice feature, but a sad reminder that Sony isn't bothering to put better speakers in the TVs initially.

Sony's HT-CT350 40" 3D Sound Bar System may not be for everyone, but at $350, it's affordable, easy to use, and will definitely improve your listening experience when compared to your 40" or 46" TV's built-in speakers.

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