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Good audio is a must, especially if you invest in a nice HDTV, nothing ruins a viewing experience quicker than bad audio. In my review of the Vizio 47" HDTV the other day, my biggest complaint was the sound, the built-in speakers are just terrible, I knew I had to do something to fix the sound, I just can’t stand bad audio. A full fledged 5.1 or 7.1 channel surround sound system was just not a feasible option for me, do to space limitations, not wanting to run wires and the fact I’ve got children, so the less stuff around the better. Yet I wanted something to improve the sound for not only movies and music but for gaming as well, and I opted for a newer type or style of home theater product called a sound bar.

Sound bars have been around for a few years now, but seem to have become more popular in the last year or so, it’s a great option for people like me who want better sound without a lot of components and hassles. I opted for the Sony Sound Bar HT-CT100, it’s small, and after reading many glowing reviews of it I did a bit of pricing research and bought it. It retails for an average price of $299 most places, which isn’t too bad, but I found it for $260 locally. The HT-CT100 allows me to hook up three HMDI devices, along with a Coax connections and an audio input from my TV, for me this system is perfect. It’s small overall, so it fits perfectly in the limited space I have, but yet yields a much needed improvement in the audio of my HDTV. The HT-CT100 is easy to setup and use, and it features very good sound as well. It does include simulated surround sound fields to give you a fuller sound from the two speakers. Overall I’m very happy with the sound from the HT-CT100, it more than meets my needs and expectations, it provides good depth of sound from both highs and lows.

The box for the HT-CT100 is fairly plain actually, not much really on it, just some basic information, inside we find everything packaged very well with lots of packing materials.

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Sony includes a remote with it that can be used to control the system, along with other Sony branded components as well like a TV or DVD/Blu-Ray player. There’s also an optical audio cable included along with instruction manual and batteries for the remote.

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The system is two basic parts, a Sound Bar and Sub-Woofer which is also the main controls center. The Sound Bar part is basically a center channel speaker, it features three speakers in it, the bar is also where the remote control receiver is located. The Sound Bar connects to the main unit via a cable that resembles a VGA connection.

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The sub-woofer is small and should fit most places, it’s dimensions are 6.3 W x 19.7 H x 14.2 D (inches). There’s a few buttons on the top of the sub-woofer for volume, input and power, underneath that, one the front of the unit is a small LCD panel that displays information and is used to adjust settings of the HT-CT100.

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The back of the sub-woofer is where you’ll find all of your connections for audio and video, along with the Sony Digital Media port and the connection for the Sound Bar itself. You’ll notice also there’s a fan located on the back, obviously it’s a cooling fan, but don’t worry it’s quiet.

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The remote is nicely laid out, and it features controls for things other than the HT-CT100. You might think it’s a universal remote, but it’s not, it will only work with other Sony products, which is one of the downsides to this system.

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Specifications:

Sony Sound Bar HT-CT100 Home Theater System

Sound Bar
This amazing system brings simplicity and performance together by pairing a center speaker and subwoofer to create a surround sound experience in a compact package. Bring your movies to life with the HT-CT100.

Model Number: HT-CT100

With three HDMI inputs on tap, this system is tailor made for the gamer looking for an easy, quick and great sounding solution for their next gen gaming system . It can playback LPCM from the HDMI connection, plus you can listen to your favorite music from the DIGITAL MEDIA PORT that works with various accessories (sold separately). The HT-CT100 can also control a select number of BRAVIA televisions with BRAVIA Sync via the HDMI interface. With "One Touch Play," operations that took several steps have been reduced to one.

HDMI Active Intelligence (3in/1out)
The HT-CT100 can detect and receive the best possible video and audio signals from all connected devices–making connection and performance as simple as plugging in a single wire. Sony’s HDMI Active Intelligence, transmits both audio and video signals through one HDMI cable. Accepts 1080/60p and 24p Video via HDMI

LPCM Playback
LPCM is a method of encoding audio information digitally which can have up to 8 channels of uncompressed audio. This wider bandwidth allows for high resolution audio which is closer to the original.

S-Force Surround
By using a powerful 100% digital Sony S-Master amplifier and DSP (Digital Signal Processing) technology, realistic surround sound can be generated from just two front speakers. Unlike other “virtual surround” technologies, rear sound is generated from the front two speakers using sophisticated digital sound processing and does not need to be bounced off of side walls. No matter what the size or shape of the room or what’s on the wall, it’s possible to hear sounds from behind you without needing to place speakers behind you.

BRAVIA Sync
As a leader in products with HDMI connectivity, Sony has created BRAVIA Sync to go beyond simple audio and video transmission. When combined with a select number of BRAVIA televisions and other Sony audio and video products, control functions will be transmitted via the HDMI cable. With “One Touch Play,” operations that took several steps have been reduced to one. Press the PLAY button on the remote, watch the audio and/or the video component(s) turn on then the BRAVIA television turn on and switch to the correct video input.

Portable Audio Enhancer
A powerful Digital Signal Processor expands the quality of sound from any connected device.

DIGITAL MEDIA PORT
The demand for digital audio and video content continues to be strong. Sony’s DIGITAL MEDIA PORT (DMP) interface is a proprietary interface that adds networking and connectivity options to your home theater system. Just connect optional accessories (sold separately) which provide the ability to control and power devices while making set up easy and operation simple to use. The DMP will be compatible with various accessories which will include a PC Client ready device, Bluetooth adapter and Audio Docking stations compatible with select Network Walkman and iPod products. Regardless of where you store your music.

3 Optical, 1-Coax
Dolby Digital/DTS/ProLogic

Product Specifications:

Speaker
-Speaker Dimensions : Main Speaker: 31.5 W x 2.7 H x 2.6 D (inches); Subwoofer:6.3 W x 19.7 H x 14.2 D (inches)
-Speaker Unit : CENTER: Bass Reflex, Magetically Shielded
-Subwoofer : Bass Reflex, Magnectically Shielded

Audio Features
-A/V Synch : yes

Video Features
-24p True Cinema Technology : Yes, 1080/24p capable
-x.v.Color : yes

Inputs and Outputs
-Analog Audio Input(s) : 1
-Coaxial Audio Digital Input(s) : 1
-Digital Media Port (Input) : 1
-HDMI Connection Input(s) : 3
-HDMI Connection Output(s) : 1
-Optical Audio Input(s) : 3

Display
-LCD Screen : 5×7 dot Seg. FL

Audio
-Audio Power Output : 50Wx3 +100 = 250W
-S-Master Amplifier : Yes
–Sound Fields :
-3 Movie Modes (CINEMA/SPORTS/GAME)
-2 Music Modes (MUSIC/PERSONAL AUDIO)
-1 A.F.D. Mode (STANDARD)

I don’t have much room, I’ve got kids so there stuff is everywhere, the Sony HT-CT100 was the perfect option for me. It allows me to have decent sound from my movies and gaming, and yet doesn’t take up much room.

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The sub-woofer kind of reminds me of a PC, at least that was my first impressions of it, especially with the fan on the back. The sub-woofer section is also the main part of the unit, here everything is connected, and controlled from. There’s a small LCD display on the front where you can change all of the settings via the remote. One improvement I would like to see is having the display show up on screen, since it’s outputting the video anyway, why not have the menus and settings show on you TV screen? The display also shows what type of audio connection you are using, and from here you can select from the various sound fields or simulated surround sound. It’s nothing like real surround sound, but it does add depth to the audio, you can tell the differences when you switch modes.

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One thing I do appreciate about this unit is the fact that you can adjust the Center and Sub0-woofer volumes independently. When I first hooked the unit up it was very sub-woofer heavy, it overpowered the center channel and everything sounded like it was coming from there.

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I’ve hooked up my Xbox360, Sony BD Player via HDMI and my TV via optical audio connection to the Sony HT-Ct100, that leaves me with an open HDMI port if I ever get something that can utilize it. For me this system works well, it has enough connections and allows me to expand if I wish, and it frees up connections on the TV as well.

The sound from the HT-CT100 is actually very good, much better than the built in speakers from the TV, like day and night really, and that’s what I needed. Once you get things adjusted the sound seems like it’s coming from the TV, and it’s in sync with what’s playing.

The bass is very deep, and it can be made deeper by adjusting it, you can feel explosions from movies and games, and things like gunshots are much more pronounced, overall I’m impressed with this unit, especially considering the price.


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Conclusion:
The Sony Sound Bar HT-CT100 is an excellent choice if you’re looking to add good sound to your current system but don’t have the room for a full blown home theater system. It provides enough connections for a small system, and is a nice improvement over the stock speakers of the TV. In addition it can be used as sort of a splitter, or a way to add more devices to your system, you can hook three HDMI components to the HT-CT100 and select which you want to use.

The sound produced is very good, it’s got nice highs and very deep lows. The surround sound does add depth to the sound, but it doesn’t really create a full surround sound effect, but it is a nice addition as it does add to the sound.

The included remote will also control other Sony branded components but not anything else, something that I’m not to fond of. It would be nice to use only one remote for my TV, BD player and audio system.

Even with the few cons for this product, I’m very happy with it and I can recommend it to anyone looking for a product such as this.

9 recommended5

Pros:
Sounds great
Easy installation
Fairly easy to use
Small size overall
Several sound choices
Configurable settings
Remote can also control TV and BD Player
Good highs and lows, with heavy bass available if you want it
Seems well made

Cons:
Remote only works with Sony products
Not really realistic surround sound
Need to pay a lot extra for add-ons

Grades:  
Overall score-9-10
Design score-10-10
Performance score-9-10