One minute review
Of the HT-A7000 to the HT-G700 en HT-X8500, Sony has made a habit of making premium level sound bars that normally cost a lot more. This is what makes the Sony HT-S400 so remarkable: not only does the soundbar / subwoofer combination pump out an impressive 330W of total audio output, but it does so for a reasonable price of just $ 299 / £ 269 / AU $ 499.
The 2.1ch front surround sound speaker comes with S-Force PRO Front Surround and Dolby Digital and the subwoofer is completely wireless. In addition to using Bluetooth A2DP, HDMI ARC and optical cable support, Sony TV owners can connect the speaker set wirelessly while providing integrated controls.
Unfortunately, there is no 3.5mm input on the soundbar itself, nor a USB input if you want to output your music from a USB stick – two small slots for an otherwise rock-solid soundbar.
That said, the core audio experience is what counts. At its own merit, the HT-S400 does a brilliant job on film / television, general music and games across various platforms. Potential buyers looking to get their feet wet in the world of quality sound bars at an affordable price should look no further.
Price and release date
Beginning April 15, the Sony HT-S400 will be available for / £ 269 / AU $ 499 at Sony’s online store alongside major retailers. Compared to similar audio solutions within the $ 200- $ 300 price range like the Yamaha SR-B20A Sound Bar, Razer Leviathan and even Sony’s own Sony HT-X8500, the HT-S400 is a winner.
Buyers looking for more robust audio experiences with support for things like more speakers or Dolby Atmos might want to spend some more on a truly spatial audio system like the Sonos Arc, but we respect that Sony wants to run a fine line between the respectable feature set called and a no-frills package.
Like Sony’s other soundbars, the sleek blacks for both soundbar and subwoofer add to the premium aesthetics of the HT-S400, it looks as good as it sounds. Even better, eco-friendly buyers should know that the subwoofer back panel is also made with recycled plastic. Of course, more recycled materials would be better, but this is a good first step.
For added measure, there is an OLED display on the soundbar to inform you about things like input mode, volume, Bluetooth connectivity and bass levels among others. That along with the speakers are also covered with this really cool metallic-like mesh. In addition to a green light to inform you that it is connected to the sound bar, the subwoofer also has a beautiful minimalist black on black design.
The ports on the back have one HDMI 2.0 ARC, optical port and USB-A port for firmware updates only. It’s disappointing that the USB port is pretty useless and that there is no 3.5mm jack support for those aux-cord DJs.
Handling the unit is fairly simple, as the soundbar is about three feet across and two and a half inches high, while the subwoofer is about three inches across, a foot wide at the side and about a foot with some change in height.
Setting it up is pretty easy, since the subwoofer automatically connects to the soundbar once plugged in. Everything else is as easy as connecting via HDMI or optical cable. Buyers looking to mount the soundbar under their wall-mounted TV can do so as well thanks to the flat back of the HT-S400.
The same simplicity of setup continues with the use of Bluetooth as well. Connecting to compatible BRAVIA TV is also easy and the integrated user interface also ensures that buyers do not have to use the included distance. Beyond the remote, which controls everything from volume and bass levels to turning on / off the sound field surround sound technology, the controls on the sound bar are also adequate.
The HT-S400 comes with a handful of handy features for its price point, including Voice mode that enhances spoken dialogue over other audio elements such as music score or sound effects.
During testing, this was definitely most helpful when watching series like HBO’s Julia or more action-packed movies like Furious 9. Buyers who are more into dialogue-heavy movies may appreciate the option, although clarity is not exactly night and day.
For times where using a subwoofer during the night hours or even in a small apartment can distract, the Night mode turns the bass on enough to minimize vibration. It’s almost like having a mute button for the subwoofer on top of the built-in remote intensity controls.
The latest audio-centric feature is Sound Field which provides standard stereo audio in surround sound. It’s an adequate implementation of Sony’s virtual surround sound technology S-Force PRO. While not perfect and no replacement for multiple speaker settings, it is comparable to the effect of more virtual surround sound features on modern mid-to-low range gaming headsets.
When it comes to pure audio quality, the HT-S400 performs well above what its affordable sticker price would suggest. For a 2.1 channel soundbar / subwoofer combination, the volume quality can only reach some impressive peaks. The HT-S400 is probably best for those in small apartments looking for a cinematic audio experience without the need to have multiple speaker settings, as audio clarity matches volume levels.
This is definitely most noticeable during moments of watching extremely loud standard action movies or mood-sounding horror movies. Watching Disney’s Moon Knight was the experience absolutely more immersive thanks to the clarity of dialogue, score and clutter of that bass. Although the HT-S400 converts audio signals to Dolby Digital, Dolby Dual Mono and LCPM, having some sort of Dolby Atmos support would have really made the audio device.
General music listening is also a treat, regardless of music genre. EDM or Southern Hip Hop fans who want to put that subwoofer to work will have a blast. Meanwhile, more nuanced instrumentation from rock to jazz will appreciate the richness in midtones and treble. Voice mode came in really handy during moments of listening to breathing meditation exercises and spoken word performances.
One of the first games tested with the HT-S400 was 2018’s God of War on PS5. Since Sony patched its current Gene console last September to allow Spatial Audio from TV speakers, it’s been a wonderful experience to play the first-party classic at high volume. The already cinematic presenting game really took things to the maximum to levels that were initially thought only possible via headsets. During moments of games like Gran Turismo 7, the audio effects definitely helped in gameplay in telling which direction cars were trying to go.
Need to buy the Sony HT-S400 Soundbar?
Buy it as …
You want a soundbar and subwoofer combination for a reasonable price
After all, the HT-S400 could not have been a better bargain.
You need an easy setup
The wireless subwoofer does not require a complex connection and only works once plugged into the electrical socket. No complex sound calibration is required either.
You are looking for transparent design and feature set
Having a flat back allows for easy wall monitoring, while features like Night Mode reduce the amount of bass in the subwoofer for those moments when a little less noise is needed.
Do not buy it if …
You expect spatial audio formats like Dolby Atmos
The HT-S400 converts audio signals to Dolby Digital and does provide virtual surround sound, but it would be great to have proper Dolby Atmos support instead.
You want more wired connection options
Although HDMI, optical cable and Bluetooth are supported, the USB port is for firmware updates only and there is no 3.5mm jack.