Purchasing a Sony HT-CT800 Soundbar may not seem like an essential purchase, but once you’ve had a taste, you will never truly enjoy the sound of TV audio again.
Watching shows like The Walking Dead, you don’t realise how many subtleties you miss in the background, like quiet whispers or faint chimes. And indeed, trudging through the trenches in Call of Duty WWII, you can hear battle cries and commands so much more clearly, as well as grenades whistling past your head.
While it seems strange to do so, if you were to make a visual comparison, it’s like transitioning from SD to HD, and perhaps for some people, 4K from HD. The difference in sound quality, crispness, clarity and effect is night and day.
For transparency, I used the Soundbar with a Sony Bravia 48″ TV
What’s in the box.
Out of the box, you get a 5.2cm (103cm or 2.1 inch) soundbar which can slot neatly in front of your box and depending on your layout, blend in surprisingly well despite the size and weight.
What this does is offer you immediate 2.1ch Front S-Force PRO Surround Sound with the full length of the soundbar used to push out immersive audio. If your living room is aligned so that your sofa is in front of your television set, you’ll immediately get the full benefit without having to arrange speakers to be placed behind you.
Even when watching shows like X-Factor, I compared the audio differences between watching one of the contestants live performance with and without the Soundbar. Not only were the instruments crisper with the Sony HT-CT800, but the vocals were more evident; they were sharper and clearer. Most importantly, though, the sounds of the live crowd didn’t blend into one with the artist, there was clear seperation between the two with some individual voices creeping through to heighten the immersion. It sounds cliche to say, but I actually felt like I was in the studio, as part of the crowd.
Along with the SoundBar itself, you’ll also get a chunky wireless subwoofer which absolutely comes to life when avoiding laser gunfire in Destiny 2 and peppering pistol fire in Uncharted The Lost Legacy. Immediately, the bassline is reinforced when explosions are going off nearby and when you’re travelling every inch of the galaxy, roaming between planets. You can, of course, blend it into the sound of the bar itself so its a more subtle, less pronounced focus, but the subwoofer can quite quickly take charge of the living room, and really putting some thunder in your belly.
For instance, In a show like Punisher, which is more often than not a battlezone, you really get the full impact of everything happening on the screen, and the subwoofer can convert a night watching Netflix into a true cinematic experience.
On top of that, you get your own remote control with options to switch between HDMI ports, as well as a unique menu for the Soundbar. There are also Wall Mounting Attachments for the Soundbar, an Optical Digital Cable and two feet.
For a piece of equipment as big and expensive as this, setup is surprisingly seamless and almost plug and play. Actually, you’ll probably spend more time getting everything out of the box!
On the Soundbar itself, there are 3 HDMI in ports, all HDCP 2.2, as well as 1 HDMI OUT for TV ARC HDCP 2.2. There’s also a TV In Optical, Analog In and a LAN 100 port.
The first two HDMI ports as well as the HDMI Out are placed over half way to the right and nestled in to the Soundbar, tucked away to the side. There is also a HDMI port which can be plugged straight into the back of the soundbar and is probably the easiest to reach, along with the LAN, Analog In and Optical ports.
Essentially, anything you use in your home with an HDMI – Sky Box, Playstation 4, Fire Stick – can be plugged directly into the Soundbar itself and will immediately be configured with the right updates and settings. And if you’ve plugged in the HDMI Out, anything that comes through your TV speakers should then convert to the Sound Bar as long as it’s turned on.
This is also easily done once plugged in and either switched on at the front of the bar or using the remote control. The Subwoofer also has it’s own seperate plug and power point and once connected wirelessly with the Soundbar, will always connect with the audio of whatever is coming through your TV.
The SoundBar also has bluetooth so you could connect your phone, laptop, and other handheld device to play music or video. To give you an example, I connected my phone to the same Wifi network as the Soundbar, booted up Spotify and started something. My mobile immediately recognised the Sony HT-CT800 speaker and within seconds was blaring out some Hans Zimmer. I was absolutely blown away at just how quickly the devices talked to one another and how completely lag-free the streaming was. There’s even a default ‘Night’ setting which automatically configures the volume to a socially acceptable level.
What’s also great is that you can still surf the Soundbar’s menus and setup without the audio being interrupted, though it will obviously stop once you switch over to your favourite TV programme or want to play a game. You can also still use your phone as normal, even playing game apps with their sound on.
This is a seriously impressive piece of kit that will let you stream music through the house and even connect to devices in other rooms to stream music to different speakers as long as they’re all connected to the same network. And should you decide to expand to a full surround sound experience at a later point, you have the base foundation there to make things easier for you.
Oh, and it’s also compatible with Google Home. You just better hope Alexa likes your music taste.
Is it worth it?
Obviously, there’s a big barrier for entry here with the cost. The Sony HT-CT800 is not cheap, though can be picked up cheaper on the likes of AO.com for around £349.00. The bar itself RRPs at £499.99, so it’s definitely a financial commitment. Both items are also chunky, so make sure you’ve got plenty of space around your TV area for both devices.
The good news is that this is the best possible audio soundbar device you can find without committing to a full surround sound experience which costs considerably more. The muffled and tinny nature of TV audio is completely erased and replaced with unmatched, pumped up, amplified, audio expression.
Whether it’s the pulse-pounding entrance theme of your favourite WWE Superstar, or the whir of an engine on a F1 racetrack, the Sony HT-CT800 is an absolutely incredible piece of technology. It’s considerate of your busy lifestyle and will quickly become an essential instrument of entertainment in your home.
I cannot imagine never having a Soundbar ever again, and certainly one with these features and this quality. The Sony HT-CT800 is a beautiful beast and has changed my home audio experience for the better, forever.
+ Seamlessly connects to anything
+ Changes the way you listen to audio in the home forever
+ Plug and play simplicity means you can get started right away.
+ Easily connects to your phone and handheld device to play anything on Spotify
+ Google Home support and ability to play music from different rooms
– Price main barrier for entry
– Bulky devices may not be ideal fit for all living rooms
9.5 out of 10
Soundbar provided by AO.com for review