Sony has just released its latest soundbar, the $300 HT-S400, a 2.1-channel unit that comes with a wireless subwoofer and a dedicated remote control. It can also connect wirelessly to select Sony Bravia TVs, giving buyers the ability to eliminate the HDMI or optical cable they would otherwise need. The HT-S400 will be available to order in April from Sony retailers and on Sony’s website.
Wireless soundbar connections are becoming more popular, especially with soundbars that aren’t aimed at advanced surround formats like Dolby Atmos or DTS:X. TCL introduced its wirelessly-connecting Roku TV Alto R1 in 2021, and our reviewer concluded that it makes set up and use much easier. When connected to a Bravia TV, the HT-S400’s controls are available on-screen and can be accessed by the TV’s remote.
However, these wireless connections typically use Bluetooth, which lacks bandwidth when compared to wired connections like HDMI and optical, so it should probably be viewed as an option only when running an extra wire would be difficult or impossible.
Sony says the HT-S400 uses its S-Force PRO Front Surround technology to create a virtual surround field from just two stereo channels. The speaker also gets Sony’s newest, rectangular-shaped X-Balanced speaker units, which now feature a “Separated Notch Edge” design. According to the company, strategically placed cuts on the edge of the diaphragm help to control stress inside and outside. It also results in better “vertical amplitude symmetry,” which Sony says is essential for clear sound quality.
With 330 watts total power output, the HT-S400 should have no problem filling even a relatively large room with sound. You can choose between three different sound modes: Voice, which improves dialog clarity, Night, which reduces dynamic sounds, and Sound Field, which the HT-S400 uses to up-convert stereo sources into virtual surround sound.
An OLED display window behind the front grille shows status information on remote control functions, including input source, volume, and sound settings. Connection options are simple: HDMI ARC, optical, or Bluetooth for streaming music from smartphones or other devices. The HT-S400 can sit on a flat surface or it can be wall-mounted.
How does the HT-S400 compare to other 2.1 soundbars at this price? We’ll let you know as soon as we get one in for testing.
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