Sony HT-CT370 Sound Bar Review
|Pros||Spacious Sound, 3x HDMI inputs, Bluetooth with NFC|
|Cons||More expensive than competition that fares better with music, full range drivers|
|Summary||If you want a slim sound bar with HDMI switching, the Sony HT-CT370 is a solid choice. If you want the best sound quality, there are other options for less money that provide a better experience.|
The Sony HT-CT370 replaces the successful Sony HT-CT260H in their sound bar lineup. With three HDMI inputs and an HDMI output with ARC, it works as your HDMI switcher instead of your TV. It also has Bluetooth with NFC for easy pairing, an Optical input for TVs without HDMI ARC support, and a wireless subwoofer. It is an attractive package that sounds good, but if you can do without HDMI support you can find a sound bar with better quality.
The Sony HT-CT370 is just 2” tall when placed on top of your AV cabinet. This small size means that the two full-range drivers fire at an angle, pointing towards the ceiling and not at your head. This lets Sony remove the IR repeater that had been part of the HT-CT260H. The slim size means it will not block the IR input of your TV. If you want to wall mount the Sony HT-CT370, a gyroscopic sensor detects this and adjusts the sound output.
|Outputs:||1x HDMI 1.4a with ARC|
|Inputs:||3x HDMI, 1x Optical, 1x 3.5mm Stereo|
|Review Date:||November 17, 2014|
|Price:||Check on Amazon|
The Sony HT-CT370 has support for HDMI CEC to make it easy to control all your devices. Turning on my Oppo BDP-103D Blu-ray player, the Sony HT-CT370 turns on to the correct input and the Panasonic VT60 turns on as well. In this setup the TV remote controls everything. The playback keys operate the Blu-ray player and the volume keys control the sound bar. You don’t need a universal remote and switching between HDMI inputs on the Sony happens automatically.
Setup in my home theater room, the Sony HT-CT370 projects a much larger sound than you expect from a sound bar. The typical problem with sound bars is with little separation between the drivers, you get a small soundstage. The soundstage here is much larger, extended towards the back wall and going all the way out to the side walls. With only two drivers to do this the fact that they are not pointed forward is creating this feeling. It does shift the voices back a bit into the mix but makes the mix much larger.
With music the Sony HT-CT370 sounds good. Bass from the subwoofer can be a bit overstated at the default settings but you can turn it down with the included remote. Moving between the usual cuts of Beck, Miles Davis and REM show that the Sony gets most things right. Vocals can be a bit pushed back but they aren’t hollow as some other sound bars make them. The larger sound helps with TV and Movies. Compared to the internal speakers of my VT60 the Sony HT-CT370 is a completely different class of audio. You’d expect any sound bar to be better than TV speakers but you don’t know how bad your TV speakers sound until you listen to something else.
Watching X-Men: Days of Future Past the Sony might not provide surround sound but it does pull you into the movie. Vocals are clear and easy to understand, even when I had to turn it down at night with the kids asleep, but the impact of battles is there. HDMI ARC works well when watching basketball or football on TV though sometimes it fails to engage. HDMI can be fickle, and I’ve yet to have any HDMI CEC or ARC device work every single time.
More Drivers Needed
As big a soundstage as those two drivers can make, the HT-CT370 would benefit from separate tweeters and midrange instead of a single, full-range driver. While I didn’t hear any egregious faults when listening to just the Sony, there are some flaws when I compare it to the Vizio S4221W-C4. The most notable differences are in the midrange and midbass regions. Tracks like “Drive” from REM and “Psycho Killer” from Talking Heads lack the detail and depth that the Vizio can produce. The soundstage from the Vizio is smaller but the instruments have greater detail. I can see someone preferring the more spacious sound of the Sony, but my ear leans to the sound of the Vizio. Until I did a direct A/B comparison between the two I would not have heard this.
The Sony HT-CT370 also has a few issues with HDMI control that every product has. HDMI CEC has never worked perfectly and it still doesn’t with the Sony. Usually things turn on and switch to the correct input, but not always. If your can, run everything through the TV and use the optical output to connect to the Sony HT-CT370. It is more likely to work all the time. You might not get a 5.1 channel output from your TV, but the Sony is a 2.1 channel sound bar anyway so you will not be missing anything.
Measurements for the Sony HT-CT370 are captured using RoomEQ Wizard and the MiniDSP UMIK-1 calibrated USB microphone. It uses a multiple position measurement average to take into account for room issues and try to alleviate those. This measurement, a combination of 32 others, is below.
There are two main things to take away from the in-room average. The first is a bass low at 200Hz. This might be the crossover between the sound bar and the subwoofer, as it would explain it. The second is a dip in the upper-midrange at 7kHz. This low, combined with a peak at 11kHz, explains why certain cuts of music sound like they have some treble peaking compared to the Vizio. If the cut of music doesn’t have much in the 6kHz to 9kHz range, the bump at 11kHz might escape notice. On music with more activity there, the higher loudness of the treble is noticeable.
Looking at the Vizio frequency response, we see a similar dip in the bass, but at a lower frequency, but a flatter overall response with a bit of treble roll-off. The Sony does not measure as well as the Vizio does, which is likely why I prefer the sound of the Vizio with music.
Attractive and Capable Sound
For those who want to upgrade from their TV speakers and want an attractive package, or need HDMI ARC, the Sony HT-CT370 is a good option. For movies and TV it does a good job and can keep up with every other budget sound bar. With stereo music it falls behind the Vizio S4221W-C4 but the Sony is a sleeker package with more inputs and features. Bluetooth with NFC makes it easy to work with your smartphone or tablet, and easy for your friends to pair with it to share their music as well. For the audiophile the Sony might make a few too many sacrifices to style over substance. For most people it delivers a sonic experience that is a vast upgrade over the one they current have.
|Product:||Sony HT-CT370 Review|
|Pros:||Spacious Sound, 3x HDMI inputs, Bluetooth with NFC|
|Cons:||More expensive than competition that fares better with music, full range drivers|
|Summary:||If you want a slim sound bar with HDMI switching, the Sony HT-CT370 is a solid choice. If you want the best sound quality, there are other options for less money that provide a better experience.|