Since flat screens became the norm displays have gotten bigger and thinner than we could have imagined, but the acoustics are only built in as a bygone formality. The immediate and popular remedy have been Sound Bars, and Sony is but one of many manufacturers to enter this crowded market with the HT-CT370. A 2.1-Ch 300W speaker step-up that brings style and relative substance to any living room.
At $349 this is intended to be budget hi-fi aimed at the likes of Panasonic, Samsung, and Vizio with a host of niceties thrown in; including HDMI, Bluetooth with NFC connectivity, and a wireless subwoofer. It seems pretty even from the simplicity of hooking up to an overall balanced sound, with a few extra touches to make this Sound Bar attractive among the others.
In a literal sense, the HT-CT370 is aesthetically sharp and might be the best looking thing in your future setup. Despite the 35” length the unit is compact (2” height × 4.5” depth), wall mountable, and sports a design with thinly chromed sides and diamond-like in profile. The entire front is done in a smooth cloth grille that houses the two speaker drivers and the LED display, which sits in the center and is text-oriented. The wireless sub (5.4” × 14.2” × 15”) is equally slick with pseudo-premium styling, it’s slim and angular to match any contemporary décor whether you leave it upright or horizontally in tighter areas – which happily works either way.
The remote in contrast is fairly pedestrian in design and does its job with the expected volume (respectively for both the speaker and subwoofer), mute, and additional preselect buttons. For full integration it can be programmed to work and mostly replace your TV’s clicker, at least where channel changing and power is concerned.
For other Sound Bars that are more expensive, it’s impossible to ignore the wealth of connectivity the HT-CT370 provides with three HDMI inputs and a single output, along with an optical digital and analog audio jack. This is the only entry-level sound bar that not only has these connections altogether as standard but also serves as a solid pass-through hub for stereoscopic 3D, 4K UHD resolution, and Dolby TrueHD/DTS-HD capabilities. You’re also granted remote control via Bluetooth with the SongPal app, which offers much of the functionality and even adds third-party apps like Spotify.
To match the effortless appearance it takes no time at all to get everything up and running. Both units need a wall outlet for power and even then you can place the separate woofer within a reasonable distance away from the sound bar, the actual syncing is usually instant without having to manually do it yourself. A nice touch indeed.
In terms of performance, you can expect a very open sound. Much of the experience lies squarely on the “Sound Field” mode presets (ClearAudio+, Standard, Movie, Game, Sports, P. Audio (portable), and Music), all of which lean towards the mid-range category. Depending on the film, this Sound Bar has a typical preference for foreground effects making it ideal during the action scenes in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, with dialogue being a lesser priority. It’s a fair compromise since the speakers can easily fill a room at medium volumes and the subwoofer is there to pick up the slack, conveying explosions with a warm low-end presence without overpowering the soundtrack.
Fortunately, the HT-CT370 does a better job with your music library through Bluetooth or NFC-enabled Android smartphone/tablet streaming. Loud electronic-themed songs like Imagine Dragon’s Radioactive to Robin Thicke’s smoother Blurred Lines, vocals were full and instrumentals were mostly free of distortion. The feeling was more direct and forward instead of encompassing, but everything else was clean enough for casual listening.
With good looks, a thoughtful amount of built-in features, and a fairly decent 2.1 setup it would be hard not to recommend the HT-CT370 as a starter Sound Bar. However, the price is still above average for entry-level status and I couldn’t help but compare this to Sony’s own HT-XT1 Sound Stand, which is much cheaper and more practical – so make of that what you will. But if you absolutely need that separate subwoofer though, this package will trump anything you’re currently hearing out of your TV now.