Simply say the word music, and it won’t be long before the name Sony is also mentioned. Whether it is microphones, headphones, sound systems, audio systems, or home cinema, Sony is right at the forefront. One of the biggest and best-known multinationals.
The Sony HT-S350 soundbar with its subwoofer is another product from what at times seems like an endless catalog. You might call Sony a ‘company for all seasons.’ So, let’s learn all about it in this in-depth Sony HT-S350 Soundbar Review.
An unstoppable force…
Perhaps a more appropriate name might have been Phoenix. They rose from the ashes of war in 1946 and built one of the largest international conglomerates in the world. They are a lesson in what you can achieve when everyone pulls in the same direction.
They are one of those Japanese companies, and there are quite a few, that have a sound business model. They ensure the products are good and the price realistic. And they cover the complete spectrum from budget, entry-level products to the very top in quality.
The ultimate in home entertainment…
With the arrival of Kodak 8mm film and small screens and projectors, you could rent a movie. Often without sound. It was awful, but it was the first cinema at home.
Sony changed all that with the launch of Betamax in 1975. It didn’t last the pace, though. It was overtaken by VHS, but it opened the door and pushed it wide open for others to follow. The age of Home Entertainment was upon us.
Then came laserdiscs in the 1980s. Now there was sound and better quality pictures. Companies like Sony, already making most of the technology, put it all together, and the home cinema system was born.
The Sony HT-S350 Soundbar and Subwoofer is another product in a long line of options. But what is it all about?
We acquired a new TV recently. Not exactly top of the range but still at a reasonably hefty price. We complained that there was something wrong with the speakers, and they were not functioning properly.
Evidently, they were working perfectly as they should. It seems that the speakers included on the actual TV are getting worse. Is that a deliberate ploy to get us to buy extra sound systems?
A better audio experience…
This is a 2.1 channel soundbar and subwoofer. The purpose of it is not to create more volume. Though, of course, they do as well. Rather it is to give you a surround sound experience. This system works to make TV and movies sound like they are supposed to.
It is what might best be described as an entry-level system. Therefore, you won’t find some of the more high-end features built-in. It is quite basic in many of its features, which is reflected in the price point.
This system provides a soundbar as well as a subwoofer. This will capture the mid and high frequencies but also give you some depth from the bass.
More than just volume…
It is a powerful system registering 320 watts peak. That is left and right channels in the soundbar giving you 85 watts each. And 150 watts from the subwoofer. Again all peak figures. The volume then is quite good, but sound isn’t all about volume. More on this later.
This is a system that will certainly be a step up from what was supplied built-in to your TV. And with wall-mounting options and easy connections, and Bluetooth, there are lots of things to consider. So, let’s take a look at them…
The first thing that is noticeable about this system is how understated it is. No flashy designs, flashing lights, just a plain and simple design. The soundbar and subwoofer are both finished in black.
Adds a little to home decor…
Perhaps the only thing of note in the build is that they both have metal front grilles with punched holes. Not something you see very often. The lack of any distinguishable design features does tend to make it look quite elegant.
The soundbar measures 35 ½ by 2 ⅝ by 3 ½ inches, which is quite a modest size. It may even fit underneath your TV if the TV stand has enough space. It weighs just over five pounds.
The subwoofer measures a substantial 7 ½ by 15 ⅛ by 15 ⅜ inches and weighs just over seventeen pounds.
Drivers in place of tweeters…
Inside the soundbar, rather disappointingly, are just two mid-range drivers. No tweeters are included. This, of course, will have an impact on the reproduction of higher frequencies. But we shall look at that later.
The subwoofer comes out a little better, in our opinion. Inside the enclosure is a 6.5-inch driver that does its job quite well. There is a front-firing bass port. That means you can position the cabinet near a wall if you want to.
There is a wireless connection between the subwoofer and soundbar, which is a good idea. It saves having extra cables all over the floor. There is a Bluetooth connection and a remote control, but we shall look at those a bit later.
On the rear of the soundbar are specially prepared holes. These will allow you to mount it on the wall if you wish.
So what Sony has given us here is a basic soundbar and subwoofer. They are functional and are not unpleasant to look at, and there is adequate power. But how do they perform? Let’s find out as we delve even deeper into our Sony HT-S350 Soundbar Review…
We can deal with the Soundbar and Subwoofer as separate items, but there are features that apply to both.
There are seven different sound modes. You have the choice of two basic sounds with no frills, Auto Sound, and a Standard Audio mode. There are Cinema and Music options, as well as a gaming preset. Also, settings for vocal-based audio for news and sports.
There is a nice addition with a Vocal Enhancement option. This will isolate any dialogue and push their volume level over any other noise. This will help for dialogue in some news programs and also some movies.
The soundbar is quite basic by modern-day standards. It will support Dolby Dual Mono and also Dolby Digital. But it will not operate with many people’s favorite, Dolby Atmos. Neither will it support DTS.
Those are available in some systems towards the higher-end. But let us remember this is an entry-level system. Perhaps it is unreasonable to expect them to be present here.
We mentioned earlier about the dedicated remote control. It is an all-encompassing control that actually offers some good functions. It allows you to switch between the EQ preset modes as well as a number of other functions.
However, a word of warning about the remote. Don’t lose it or break it, or let the dog eat it. There are no controls on the speakers for changing the EQ. The remote is the only way to alter the presets.
The performance of the soundbar is what we might describe as adequate. We will discuss the sound a little later, but it does struggle without the presence of tweeters. Relying on the two mid-range drivers doesn’t provide enough at the very top end.
The sub does fare a little better, and the six and a half-inch driver is surprisingly deep and prominent. It certainly gives the audio some presence at the bottom end. The bass sound is quite rich, deep, and well-rounded.
Whereas the soundbar is adequate and representative of the unit’s price point. The subwoofer exceeds that with a good punchy sound.
These are simple and very basic. Most of the important controls are located on the remote control, which we have already looked at. There is an indicator light on the soundbar to indicate whether it is off or on.
On the soundbar itself, there are some controls on the top that are touch-sensitive. But essentially, they just allow you to switch between the TV and Bluetooth. There are off and on switches.
This sound system has Bluetooth 5.0 built-in. But it only has the SBC codec, which is very basic. Nevertheless, it is still a Bluetooth connection and can be used to link up for some music during the day if you choose.
The soundbar connects directly to your TV through two options. First, there is an optical cable, which is supplied. Secondly, through the HDMI-CEC output.
The connection sockets are located right in the center on the back of the soundbar. This makes them convenient and will reduce the problem of wires getting in the way. There is not actually much there, just the HDMI and Optical input and a socket for the power adapter.
Anything that could be better?
Looking at a downside in terms of the connections, there are a couple of things missing. We are a little surprised these have not been included. Firstly there is no headphone socket. So any quiet or private listening to music or films is out. Quite surprised that it is omitted.
Secondly, there is not a 3.5mm input for connecting up any devices. Including this type of connection would have made it a much more versatile audio system. But, we have to keep in mind this is an entry-level system, and there will be some features missing.
We’ve already touched on the sound but let’s consider it a little more closely.
As we said earlier, one of the big surprises with the soundbar is the lack of tweeters. Whilst they are decent speakers, they are going to have a hard time at the top end.
The mids are fine, and the lower of the high frequencies are also nicely prominent. But you can hear the lack of very high-frequency sounds. Especially when watching movies.
Sound is different than volume…
We are not going to go over the subwoofer sound performance again. It is nice with plenty of depth. And certainly adds a lot to the overall sound.
As we said in the overview, the sound isn’t all about volume. And whilst this system has a decent power output, it does lack a little on the refinement of the sound. But let us remind ourselves again of its entry-level status and its price point.
With its 320 watts, there is plenty in the tank. But it is noticeable that as the volume increases, the balance of the sound goes a bit off. It will shift towards the bottom end. Obviously caused by the presence of a decent subwoofer.
The Cinema EQ setting works quite well. But again, there is an overload at the bottom as the volume increases. On the other hand, you don’t get a dominant bass in the Voice enhancement mode.
It is the mids that are propelled to the forefront. But this isn’t problem-free either as it seems to make the very high frequencies quite shrill.
If we are to be hyper-critical, it seems difficult to find a good balance right across the preset EQs. For most of the modes, the low frequencies seem to take over when giving the system any volume at all.
Quality comes at a cost…
This system has some nice features, and we have painted a rather bleak picture of the overall sound. That might be a little unfair. It does have Dolby Digital, but one could argue that that is all it has.
We couldn’t argue other than to say that if you want more refined features get your checkbook out. If you want better and more advanced codecs for a better surround sound, it will cost. And cost a bit more than this system. There are some systems that have them, but they are few in number and are usually, as we say, a bit more expensive.
A budget system at a budget price, nice!
But if Dolby Atmos isn’t high on your priority list and advanced Bluetooth codecs are not necessary, this could be the system for you.
It certainly isn’t the most advanced system. But it is an awful lot better than what is coming out of your TV. If it is anything like ours, that is.
Sony HT-S350 Soundbar Review Pros and Cons
- The set up is quick and easy.
- A more than competent subwoofer gives you a rich and deep bass sound.
- Bluetooth 5.0 connection.
- An affordable price.
- Connection options are a bit limited.
- The sound tends to lose its balance as the volume increases.
- No headphone socket.
Also see: M-Audio AV32 Review
Looking for Something Else?
Need more options for home and professional audio solutions? Then check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Powered Speakers, the Best 7.1 Home Theater System, the Best Floor Standing Speakers, the Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $500, and the Best Wireless TV Speakers you can buy.
Sony HT-S350 Soundbar Review Final Thoughts
If you already have a basic soundbar system, then this probably won’t be much of an upgrade. It might be better in some areas, but it might be hard to justify a change and the cost.
So, have you had enough of the terrible speakers on your TV? Are you looking for your first Soundbar and subwoofer? Do you want to keep costs down? If so, this could well be the system you need.
As a simple soundbar and subwoofer that is basic with a decent sound, it is easy to recommend. It hasn’t got the highest technology onboard. But it isn’t at the prices you normally have to pay. A decent first system at a very attractive price.
Until next time, happy listening, and may your music always be merry.