A soundbar is a nice solution for when you live small and do not want to sacrifice space to speakers through your living room. It is certainly not an ideal device for everyone, but there is definitely a target group for this and that is why producers continue to release sound bars on the market. Sony recently released the Sony HT-CT790 soundbar, In this review we take a close look at the soundbar. The speaker is capable of reproducing beautiful stereo and surround sound.
Sony HT-CT790 – design and installation
When you remove the Sony HT-CT790 soundbar for the first time, one thing stands out: the rugged and rugged design. The speaker and the supplied wireless subwoofer look sleek and beautifully finished. The grid at the front is probably something you have to get used to, but in daily use I have learned to appreciate the hard design. It is something different than speakers with a soft front – and as long as it does not have a negative influence on the sound, you will not hear me complain. Fortunately, that is not the case either.
The installation has been done that way. You plug the subwoofer in the wall socket, as well as the plug of the soundbar. Then you connect the devices you want to the soundbar (for example with the supplied optical cable), turn on the bar and set on the television that the sound goes through an external source. Easier can not be easier. In addition to an optical connection, the wide speaker has even more connection options. There are three HDMI ports and you can pair smartphones with Bluetooth.
The 2.1 channel speaker also has an analogue audio connection and a USB port, allowing you to connect even more devices with cables to the speaker. Moreover, there is support for all kinds of wireless music streaming, such as Wi-Fi (with DNLA), Google Cast and Spotify. The music you listen to via Bluetooth can also be streamed in high quality, thanks to LDAC. And if you have multiple Sony speakers and the SongPal app, then it is also possible to connect the speakers.
The connections are all on the back of the speaker. This is a logical choice for the HDMI ports, but the analogue and USB connections feel very clogged. I was much less likely to connect something to those connections and made much more use of all the wireless possibilities, which you can activate with a simple button. I understand from the perspective of the designer that it is more beautiful when the connections are on the back; in this case it is a bit at the expense of user-friendliness.
On the pictures you can see that I placed the speaker under the television, because I have the space for that and because I have a cabinet for the television. More and more people do without a television cabinet or have a closet too small for an extra spreaker at the front. That’s why it’s good to know that you can also hang the Sony HT-CT790 on the wall; both below and above. In fact, Sony also supplies a wall bracket that you can attach to the wall, so you get a complete package at home.
Sony HT-CT790 – use
In addition to an easy installation process, the Sony HT-CT790 is also easy to use. The included remote control gives you quite a few options, while you can also get on with the keys on the speaker itself. During an evening of listening to music you can effortlessly switch sources, so that, for example, you can go from the music of a smartphone to the music of a game console, with a few busy buttons. The soundbar can also find, recognize and store multiple Bluetooth devices.
In principle, you do not have to adjust much to the standard settings. However, you can set the bass sound of the subwoofer if you find the sound too soft. Do not put it too hard, because then there can be an overwhelmed bang (depending on the video you watch), and that may be less appreciated by the neighbors. However, I noticed a synchronization problem between the television and the soundbar when I let the sound go via the supplied optical cable: the image always ran a few milliseconds behind the sound.
You are able to delay the sound, but only in quantities of 25 milliseconds. Immediately after adjusting for the first time you notice that the sound arrives much too late, so you are in fact never able to equalize sound and image. The difference is perhaps ten milliseconds and sometimes more noticeable than at other times. You can solve that by connecting everything directly to the soundbar, but you will need an extra hdmi cable for that; you then connect the TV and the speaker to each other.
We can really recommend that. The image is then sent directly to the television via the soundbar. Hopefully you have enough of the three hdmi connections that are present, but personally I have no problem with that. Of the four available ports on the TV that is above it, I only use two of them. The best thing about the bar is that there is support for 4K and 3D images, as well as the modern forms of Dolby and even native support for DTS HD Master Audio and True HD. As the only soundbar at the moment.
That makes the Sony HT-CT790 the most complete and comprehensive soundbar you can buy at the moment; The device is also prepared for the future if you plan to buy a new television or have a modern television with the latest technologies on board. In this respect, this soundbar is a real advance on the model Sony has released for this. And even with an extra hdmi cable between the playback device and the television, we have not noticed any noticeable differences in quality.
Sony HT-CT790 – audio quality
Then the most important thing: audio quality. The Sony HT-CT790 delivers a true cinema sound and we do not just say that. Movies bounce into your living room and all the way when you use the movie sound mode. The bass is amplified, while the conversations disappear somewhat to the background. You are therefore forced to make the sound a bit louder, so you completely have the idea of sitting in a cinema room. Especially with a nice and large television above it creates a true home theater feeling.
If the sound is a bit overwhelming and you would prefer to take it easy, then you are also very good with the standard mode. This mode provides a good amplification of the sound from the television, with a nice balance between bass, treble, speech and everything in between. This is the mode that I often used when watching YouTube movies – which guests in the picture can be quite shrieking and with this speaker on standard mode you have little trouble and you can enjoy the video they have made.
The mode that I have used the most is the game mode. I am more of a game than a film lover, but sound is therefore no less important to me. Especially with ever-increasing games and environments where sound becomes very important for the feeling of a setting. Also the game mode brings the bass a bit forward, but the conversations are still easy to follow, while the highs also get more than enough space. In surround sound you even hear things behind your event – that also applies to film mode.
The music mode also knows how to handle your music collection. This mode contains a fine balance between high and low tones and even surprised me with some tones and sounds that I had not noticed in my music before. The bass is not overwhelming and the higher tones do not come out sharp, so you always have a nice listening experience, regardless of the music. If it is late, you can use the evening mode or the speech mode, so that conversations come out better and effects are softened.
The Sony HT-CT790 also offers a sports mode that you can turn on during football matches, for example. The nice thing about this mode is that the sound of the audience sounds almost like in a real stadium. And if you love football games, then we can certainly recommend this mode, because it improves the feeling of the sport you watch (admittedly, it does not work with all sports …). Finally there is the ClearAudio + mode and this is again a reinforcement of the standard mode that I just talked about.
Sony HT-CT790 – conclusion
All in all, I can rightly say that my experience with the Sony HT-CT790 is very positive. You can easily install and set up the soundbar, allowing you to enjoy an impressive sound in no time, no matter what sound mode you choose. There are some drawbacks, but they do not weigh so heavily in the general experience. When you use the included optical cable, you will encounter a small synchronization problem between the image and the sound – it is sometimes really a noticeable difference.
You can happily solve this problem by connecting the soundbar to the television with an HDMI cable, but then you have to connect all the devices you have on the soundbar to make the best possible use of them. That extra hdmi cable is not included. It is also true that some connections on the back are less accessible, but if you do not intend to use the analogue or usb connection, you do not notice that much. And the HDMI cables will probably only be connected once.
But those are really the only two drawbacks that I experienced in my time with the Sony HT-CT790. For the rest I have noticed that the speaker, with its wireless subwoofer, can deliver an incredibly beautiful, crystal clear and overwhelming sound and that is the most important thing. Also that you can immediately hang the soundbar on the wall is of course super handy. Yes, it is a bit pricey, but for that you get the most comprehensive and complete soundbar of the moment – and also a very nice sound experience.