Sony HT-S350 Review
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|Pros||Great sound for the price, bluetooth, external subwoofer||Great sound quality, crystal clear dialogue, useful sound customization features||Easy setup, great price tag, subwoofer included||Compact footprint, simple setup, versatile physical inputs||Inexpensive, good connectivity, great dialogue enhancement mode|
|Cons||No wifi connection, no EQ controls||Glass top shows a lot of smudges and dust, expensive, doesn't support Dolby Atmos or DTS Virtual X codecs||Not the best overall sound quality||No smart features, minimal EQ customization||Overall audio quality is unimpressive|
|Bottom Line||This is the best sounding entry-level soundbar, and the loudest model we tested||This is high-end bar with high-end sound and features, making it an ideal choice for a home theater system and doubling as a smart speaker||This soundbar is loaded with great features and has an enormous sound, making it an exceptionally good value||This soundbar sounds great for its size, but can't hold a candle to higher-end models||This soundbar is sure to improve your home theater experience and is easy to plug in and start enjoying, though the audio quality is far from top-notch|
|Rating Categories||Sony HT-S350||Bose Smart Soundbar...||Vizio V-Series 2.1...||Bose TV Speaker||Yamaha YAS-109|
|Sound Quality (45%)|
|Ease of Use (35%)|
|Specs||Sony HT-S350||Bose Smart Soundbar...||Vizio V-Series 2.1...||Bose TV Speaker||Yamaha YAS-109|
|Dimensions||Bar: 2.6" x 35.5" x 3.5"
Sub: 15.4" x 7.5" x 15.13"
|2.25" x 38.5" x 4.25"||Bar: 2.28" x 36.00" x 3.20"
Sub: 9.9" x 8.25" x 8.25"
|Bar: 2.6" x 35.5" x 3.5"
Sub: 15.4" x 7.5" x 15.13""
|2.13" x 35" x 5.13"|
|External Subwoofer||Yes||No (optional)||Yes||No (optional)||No (optional)|
|Inputs (wired)||Digitcal audio in (optical), HDMI (ARC)||Digital audio in (optical), HDMI (ARC), Ethernet, 3.5mm AUX IR, 3.5mm AUX Data, 3.5mm AUX Bass, 3.5mm AUX ADAPTIQ tuning||Digital audio in (optical), HDMI (ARC), 3.5mm AUX VA, 3.5mm AUX, USB||Digital audio in (optical), HDMI (ARC), 3.5mm AUX||Digital audio in (optical), HDMI (ARC), HDMI in, USB (update only), Ethernet, Subwoofer out|
|Supported Audio File Formats||Dolby Digital, Dolby Dual mono, LPCM 2ch||Dolby Digital, DTS||DTS||Dolby||Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic II, DTS Digital Surround|
|Voice Assistants||n/a||Alexa, Google Assistant||None, but has a dedicated 3.5mm AUX port to connect a VA device||n/a||Alexa|
|App||n/a||Bose Music||n/a||n/a||Yamaha Sound Bar|
|Syncs with:||None||Bose Simplesync enabled speakers||None||Bose Simplesync enabled speakers||None|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Sony HT-S350 is an entry-level soundbar that really nails it where it counts (sound quality) but has some oversights concerning connectivity (no WiFi). For the money, you get a powerful soundbar and subwoofer that will blow your TV speakers out of the water, has a number of useful presets, and the ability to play music off your phone or tablet via Bluetooth connection.
This soundbar sounds fantastic considering its lower price. Sounds are well-balanced across the spectrum, and the external subwoofer adds some much-desired power and immersiveness to the home theater setup.
While by no means 3-dimensional, the Sony HT-S350 adds plenty of gut-wrenching power to movie night while maintaining decent separation in the sound mix. This soundbar doesn't support Dolby Atmos or DTS Virtual:X, so you won't experience a simulated surround sound or height differential (more common in the high-end soundbars), but the subwoofer offers a low end you can feel, which is half the fun of shelling out for a better sound set up anyway. Dialogue cuts through the mix exceptionally well, and when we switch on the "voice" preset, it becomes even more discernible without sounding weird or too trebly, a common problem with several of the cheaper soundbars we've tested in dialogue or voice mode.
If you're hoping to get more out of your soundbar and use it as your primary living room music player, you can expect a decent performance, but nothing like the competition from Bose and Sonos. While the bass is powerful, it can overwhelm the rest of the mix. Keep in mind that you won't be able to sync this soundbar with any other speakers in your home, as there's no WiFi compatibility and Sony doesn't currently offer any speakers to link up with this soundbar via Bluetooth.
Ease of Use
This model has limited connectivity options and is also sparse in terms of customization options. On the flip side, setting this model up is a breeze, though that's a one-time pleasure. On the bar are buttons for power, volume, input, and Bluetooth. A small remote is included that allows you to access the sound presets. There isn't an app available for control or customization, so you'll need to keep the remote handy.
Getting the Sony HT-S350 out of its oddly-shaped box and connected to our flat screen takes all of 5 minutes, including connecting the subwoofer, which links up automatically through the Bluetooth connection. A straightforward setup is a nice benefit of these sound systems, and Sony nails it here.
This soundbar has standard HDMI ARC and optical connections, plus Bluetooth. You'll be able to stream audio from your device, but you won't be able to use Apple Airplay 2 or connect to streaming services or smart speaker functions. Again, its features are limited but very functional.
While there are 7 preset sound profiles (cinema, music, night, auto, game, news, sports, standard dynamic range compression), there is no EQ adjustment. Several of these settings felt redundant. Night mode lowers the volume and accentuates dialogue; it is pretty useful, especially if you share walls with others. Dynamic range compression evens out the overall volume, making loud sounds quieter and quiet sounds louder.
This puppy is plenty loud enough for most folks, as we measured 102 dBa at max volume. That being said, it doesn't sound very good when we crank it all the way up. Since 102 dBa is exceptionally loud for a small home theater, you shouldn't need to operate this soundbar at that level.
The Sony HT-S350 has a more slick design than many other entry-level soundbars. It has a protective metal housing and a pleather top, making it easy to clean and more durable than a cloth-covered speaker. Measuring 2 5/8" x 35 1/2" x 3 1/2", this is one of the larger soundbars available, and you'll need to make additional space considerations for the subwoofer.
If sound quality is your first priority (it is for us), this is the best entry-level soundbar for the money. It sounds better than similarly priced models from Samsung, Yamaha, and Vizio.
The HT-S350 is an affordable way to get the most out of your flatscreen. For a decent price, you can ditch those tinny TV speakers and add some sonic drama and excitement to movie night.
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