Sony is one of the most well-known brands in the soundbar and home entertainment speaker markets, although the majority of the Japanese company’s mainstream products fall into the high-end pricing ranges.
Customers with a budget of Rs. 25,000 or less should often consider solutions from companies like JBL and Polk Audio, or really affordable goods from companies like Blaupunkt, Zebronics, and the like.
The HT-S400, Sony’s newest soundbar, gives the company a strong position in the market for reasonably priced soundbars and guarantees capable performance.
The Sony HT-S400 is a 2.1-channel soundbar with a price tag of Rs. 21,990 that prioritizes design, connection, and simplicity of setup. Is this the greatest reasonably priced soundbar system you can get right now with a wireless subwoofer, a rated sound output of 330W, and both wired and wireless networking options? Learn more from this review.
Design and specifications for the Sony HT-S400
The latest HT-S400 soundbar looks and feels better thanks to a finer grille at the front and an intriguing texture on the body, even if it is significantly more inexpensive than the Sony HT-S40R soundbar.
Nevertheless, it is still understated and rather simple to overlook, which is exactly how a soundbar should appear. Although I tested the bar speaker with a 55-inch television for this review, the size of the speaker implies that it is best used with a 43-inch television.
Of course, the Sony HT-cheaper S400’s pricing is a result of its much different primary characteristics. This 2.1-channel soundbar has a single two-channel bar speaker and a separate wireless subwoofer, unlike the 5.1-channel HT-S40R.
The rated sound output is likewise somewhat less at 330W, divided between the 200W bar speaker and 130W subwoofer. The 2.4kg bar speaker, which acts as a master device and manages connectivity with external devices, is the sole wireless device that the 7.3kg subwoofer supports.
Power cords for the bar speaker and subwoofer, an optical (Toslink) audio connection for wired connectivity, and a compact remote control are all included in the Sony HT-retail S400’s packaging (along with batteries).
The front of the bar speaker contains a tiny monochrome OLED display that shows basic data like the audio source and volume levels.
The touch-sensitive controls for power, volume, and an audio source are located at the top of the bar speaker and may be utilized without a remote control.
On the speaker’s rear are two ports for cable connectivity: HDMI and Optical (Toslink). There is also Bluetooth 5 for wireless connectivity, which supports the SBC codec.
The Sony HT-S400 soundbar system’s remote control is compact and quite practical. It runs on two AAA batteries and only has a few buttons for basic functionality and customizations.
This features essential controls like power, volume, and source selection, as well as the ability to change the bass by adjusting the subwoofer volume level and a few options to optimize the sound for voice or Sony’s Sound Field mode.
The Sony HT-S400 soundbar system’s remote is compact and practical, allowing you to change the subwoofer volume to alter the bass level.
It’s not difficult to set up the Sony HT-S400. There was no connection between the bar speaker and subwoofer, but they did need to be connected to separate power sources due to their wireless connectivity.
The subwoofer connected to the bar speaker right away when the latter was turned on, and the connection remained strong thanks to Sony’s in-house wireless networking technique.
For my evaluation, I connected the TV to the computer by HDMI ARC and occasionally to Bluetooth so I could play music from my phone.
The Sony HT-S400 also has HDMI CEC compatibility, TV Wireless Connection (which enables wireless connectivity with Sony Bravia TVs without the need for Bluetooth), and Dolby Digital audio format support.
When utilizing HDMI ARC for communication, the power of the soundbar system could be adjusted by turning on or off the TV. HDMI CEC worked well and allowed me to manage the Sony HT-S400 (basic features like volume) even with the remote of the Chromecast I had connected to my TV.
The Sony HT-S400 soundbar system is not exceptionally complex or well-equipped.
The 2.1-channel design forces it to downmix higher-resolution audio codecs to stereo for output, and the HT-S400 differs from a standard three-piece stereo speaker system mainly in terms of the length of the bar.
Sony HT-S400 performance
The Sony HT-S400 delivers remarkably plain performance despite its technological flaws, which is a significant improvement over most television speakers.
The Sony HT-speaker S400’s configuration also makes it particularly ideal for playing music, and it performs a respectable job of making even movies and television shows sound louder and better.
The sound was clear, the soundstage was sizable, and the sonic profile was fairly balanced, in my opinion. The bar speaker was not overpowered by the subwoofer, and the two parts blended beautifully.
The Sony HT-S400 has HDMI, Optical (Toslink), and Bluetooth connectivity options.
The Sony HT-S400 must even downmix the basic 5.1-channel encoding that is provided by the majority of contemporary content on streaming services due to the fairly basic driver configuration, which makes it unconcerned with advanced audio codecs.
Regardless of the type of content I viewed, it did a respectable job with this. Particularly with films like The Gray Man and The Batman, where the background score and sounds made a significant difference to the viewing experience, the spaciousness of the soundstage was particularly pleasant to listen to.
The loudness at which the Sony HT-S400 is capable of differing significantly. The soundbar system has a rated output of 330W between the bar speaker and subwoofer, which is far louder than what most televisions can produce, whether they are premium or cheap models.
The HT-S400 soundbar system was able to provide a loud, open, and uncomplicated sound that worked with all types of content when the volume was turned up. There were no large level spikes that required constant adjusting, the voices were clear, and the background music was distinct and uncluttered.
The Sony HT-S400 system was usually set to a very high volume level, but there was always room to turn it up much more if necessary. The sound tended to get less refined at very high volumes, but this isn’t a volume level you’ll frequently if ever, need to reach.
I found that the volume level of 60 percent was sufficient for the majority of content. However, I did raise it to 75 percent for some dialogue-heavy stuff, such as Better Call Saul and Masaba Masaba.
Power, volume, and source selection are all controlled by the buttons at the top of the bar speaker.
The subwoofer seemed to be the ideal size and output for the bar speaker, and the sound also felt well balanced. As is frequently the case with inexpensive and midrange soundbars, the bass never felt overly harsh, but it also didn’t feel underpowered or inadequate either.
Although I found the default level to be sufficient for the most part and only sometimes altered it when I needed to keep the volume down and couldn’t hear dialogue very clearly, the subwoofer’s volume may be changed separately using the remote.
The Sony HT-S400 features “S-Force Pro Front Surround,” according to the manufacturer, which is intended to provide a virtual surround sound effect using only the front-facing speakers.
This wasn’t actually the case in my experience, since the Sound Field setting had no discernible effect on the sound coming from the back or even the sides. The sound was slightly more voice-focused and quieter in the Voice and Night modes (selectable through the remote), but not significantly.
The Sony HT-S400 soundbar system handled music from the connected smart TV or via Bluetooth quite well thanks to the 2.1-channel arrangement.
Even at low volume levels, the loud output, wide soundstage, and balanced sound were delightful for a reasonably sized space. The ability to adjust the subwoofer volume for a little extra attack and punch was also very helpful.
Even while the Sony HT-S400 soundbar may be a little underpowered and featureless, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The soundbar excels in its ease of setup and operation, strong and well-balanced sound, and reasonable price considering what is offered.
So, it’s important to keep in mind that this is basically a 2.1-channel speaker system designed to function like a soundbar and that it doesn’t support surround sound (either real or virtual) or advanced audio formats.
If you have a budget of about Rs. 25,000 and require anything that boosts volume, attack, and drive for your home entertainment system, purchases the Sony HT-S400.
Although there are alternatives from companies like Polk Audio and JBL, the HT-S400 from Sony stands out due to its simplicity and concentration on essential features.