With home audio in the 80s and 90s, bigger was always better. People would get the biggest home theatre system possible. Today, we have wireless soundbars that don’t take up much space. With such a small footprint in the living room, can it still produce a home theatre experience comparable to larger setups?
I’m reviewing the Sony HT-S400. This is a 2.1Ch soundbar with a wireless sub that comes at an affordable, mid-range price point. It connects to a TV with a single cable and features Bluetooth connectivity for wireless audio streaming. It’s affordable, versatile, and easy to use. But is it any good? Let’s find out, beginning with the unboxing.
Unboxing the Sony HT-S400
In the box, you’ll find the soundbar, the subwoofer, and the AC power cables. The unit comes with a wireless remote control with Sony AAA batteries included. An optical cable is also provided in the package. The soundbar can also connect to a TV through HDMI ARC. An HDMI cable, however, is not included.
In the box, you’ll also find the instruction manual, a quick setup guide, and a template for mounting the soundbar onto the wall.
Design of the Sony HT-S400 soundbar and subwoofer
The soundbar itself has a stylish, wall-mountable design. It can easily blend into a living room and measures approximately 36”x3”x4” (WHD). It weighs about 5 lbs and has a flat back that ensures it sits flush to a wall when mounted. Touch controls are located on the top of the unit and an OLED display window on the front.
The subwoofer measures approximately 8”x15”x16” (WHD) and weighs 16 lb. It’s pretty unassuming and that’s a good thing. Like the soundbar, it can easily blend into any room. In fact, it doesn’t even need to be close to the soundbar. Users can place it wherever they find most convenient.
X-Balanced speaker unit
Most speakers have a circular design. The HT-S400 speakers have a rectangular shape design called X-Balanced Speaker Unit. The edge of the diaphragm features Sony’s Separated Notch Edge. Strategically placed cuts are featured around the edge of the diaphragm to improve vertical amplitude symmetry.
The two front speakers feature Sony’s S-Force PRO Front Surround. This is a digital sound field processing technology that produces a virtual reproduction of the surround sound field. It puts the viewer at the heart of movies by emulating cinema-style surround sound.
In all, Sony says these proprietary design features maximize the diaphragm, reduce driver excursion, and maintain sound pressure. This results in less distortion and greater vocal clarity. Time to put these claims to the test.
Setting up the Sony HT-S400
I have a smart home-themed Airbnb suite with a projector mounted on the wall. It faces a 165” wall that acts as a projector screen. On the bottom of that wall is a custom-built shelf for soundbars. The shelf sits above a baseboard heater and protects the soundbar from melting from the heat.
Thankfully, the Sony HT-S400 fit perfectly on that soundbar shelf. From there, I attached the AC cable and ran it through the cord concealer mounted on the wall to the outlet. I installed the subwoofer to the left of the soundbar and hid the AC cable as well.
I powered it on for the first time and played the demo by holding a button for 5 seconds. A female voice guided me through the soundbar’s features. One thing I noticed was the subwoofer was automatically connected to the soundbar.
Connecting Sony HT-S400
I’m connecting the Sony HT-S400 to my projector via a Bluetooth receiver. After putting both into pairing mode, the connection was successful. On the OLED display window, I could see the name of the Bluetooth receiver. The displays also show the input source, volume, sound settings, and night mode.
The other connection options to a TV are HDMI ARC or an optical cable. However, you can also send audio wirelessly to the soundbar from a Sony BRAVIA TV supporting wireless connections. Both the TV and soundbar turn off and on simultaneously. This also frees up the Bluetooth connection for other devices like smartphones and tablets.
Using the Sony HT-S400
I watched Animal on Netflix. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend watching it. Compared to my current soundbar, I could hear a huge difference. It felt like I was in an old fashion movie theatre. In some scenes, the sound got very loud and immersive.
The dialog was clear and there was plenty of low-end in the mix. Even at a high volume, the sound was clear without distortion. Much of this could be from Sony’s proprietary design elements. It certainly sounded like a more expensive soundbar system.
Since I was connecting via Bluetooth to a projector, my one concern was latency. During a movie scene, I carefully watched the actor’s mouth to see if there was any delay in the dialog. If there was any, I couldn’t notice it. This is great because it means you could use this soundbar completely wirelessly for watching TV shows and movies.
Streaming Music via Bluetooth
One of the advantages of a Bluetooth-enabled soundbar is using it as a home speaker. It was super easy to pair to my smartphone. I played some of my favourite songs from Spotify to assess the sound profile.
Overall, I was very impressed with the sound quality. It has a nice blend of the low, mid, and high-frequency ranges. Even at ridiculous loud volume levels, I did not hear any distortion. That said, I can’t listen to music that loud anymore so that test didn’t last very long. I must be getting old.
Should you get the Sony HT-S400
As a consumer, I’m always looking for products that provide a lot of value. For anyone looking for a budget-friendly soundbar, I don’t think you can go wrong with the HT-S400. It’s a great value, considering what you’re paying.
The sound is clear, and incredibly powerful, with immersive surround sound. The setup couldn’t be easier and it’s mountable. I’m having a hard time finding any faults in it because it sounds way better than my current soundbar. It reminds me just how important audio is to the home theatre experience.
If you’re in the market for a budget-friendly wireless soundbar, I highly recommend the Sony HT-S400.