If you’re still stuck with your TV speakers, you’re missing out on a lot of quality when you’re watching a movie. The richness and detail of the audio gets highly compromised, especially since TVs are getting thinner and thinner.
Then again, not all of us desire a fancy sound system. For an entry-level, basic sound system, the Sony HT-S350 is a great choice.
It packs in serious power and a booming bass without overwhelming you with excessive features. It’s simple, it’s straightforward, and it gets the job done even without the bells and whistles.
While this particular model will sound better than normal speakers, it does have much room for improvement. We find that Sony missed the mark in some of the finer details, but the HT-S350 is enough if you want a basic and affordable soundbar.
In this Sony HTS350 review, we’ll take a look at the design, features, and some of the drawbacks in this rig.
What’s in the Box
- Sony HT-S350 Soundbar
- Wireless Subwoofer
- Remote control and batteries
- Digital optical cable
When it comes to appearance, the Sony HT-S350 sports a minimalist, plain black look. Truth be told, there’s nothing special about the design except for the rounded corners – a good touch if you have children and don’t want the sharper edges that other bars have.
The main bar is 35 inches wide, which is a smaller soundbar compared to most mid and high-end models. Because of its compact size, you can easily slide the Sony HT-S350 under or in front of your TV.
A metal grill on the front of the sub and on the soundbar suits the interior well, and makes the setup nicer, too.
When it comes to control, there are touch-sensitive buttons on the side of the unit. You also don’t have to worry about covering your TV’s IR blaster. The sound bar has a built-in IR repeater so you can use your TV remote with ease.
At the back of this top-rated soundbar, you’ll find an HDMI input, optical audio input, and the power adapter.
There are very little options when it comes to connectivity, and it would’ve been better if we saw a stereo jack or an extra HDMI port for a game console. In addition, Bluetooth is the only wireless function you have. Connection via Bluetooth may not be available in other products, though, so it’s still a brownie point.
Unlike the Vizio SB36512, you have no Wi-Fi option for the Sony HT-S350 soundbar, eliminating the possibility of direct streaming via the internet. That is definitely a huge downer for this model, especially because wireless connectivity is a must for new devices.
Even if this 2.1 channel soundbar is a budget device, Wi-Fi connectivity would’ve been a convenient addition. Then again, if you just want the essentials for the price, the wired connections and the Bluetooth should be enough for this bar.
Fortunately, the subwoofer does connect wirelessly to the soundbar like in most sound systems. Thus, won’t have any trouble placing the sub in a strategic location.
For controls, there’s a dedicated remote you can use to control volume, sound modes, and subwoofer level. We found that using the remote is easy as well.
Consistent with the design’s simplicity and similar to Vizio soundbars setups, the Sony HT-S350 involves an easy set-up.
To connect your soundbar to your TV, we highly suggest you use an HDMI cable so the connection is done in seconds. Simply plug in your bar and sub, connect the cord from your TV’s HDMI ARC port to the HDMI port at the back of the soundbar.
Unfortunately, the cord is not included in the box so you have to buy one if you prefer using this option. You can use the digital optical cable, though.
Let’s get to the meat of this Sony HT-S350 review by tackling how this two-channel soundbar performs.
First off, this soundbar system has 320 watts of power output, so expect that its volume could get really loud, whether you’re listening to music or watching movies and news channels.
If you like to customize the sounds depending on what program you’re watching, the Sony HT-S350 soundbar allows you to switch to different modes including Auto Sound, Cinema, Music, Game, News, Sports, and Standard. Each mode optimizes the settings so you can hear different media in the best possible way every time.
While each included mode is pretty good, we found that it’s better to stick to two – the Cinema mode and Music mode – as they produce the most clarity in the content at any volume. Testing this top-rated sound bar in the room, the audio is decent on most content types.
Other modes like News were a bit unbalanced and best favor the low frequencies in the speaker. However, it really does make the dialogue and other voice parts sound clear each time. (Check the Vizio M21d-H8 with six speakers here.)
As for Dolby-readiness, the soundbar only supports Dolby Digital and Dolby Dual Mono. It passed up on the highly-acclaimed Dolby Atmos technology, but that performance is to be expected for a soundbar below $200.
If you’re not familiar with Atmos, it’s basically a true surround sound setup with rear modules and accurate imaging to make the quality more immersive. This won’t be achieved much by cheaper soundbars, so you could expect Atmos in some of the best models – at a higher price.
To be fair though, the Sony HT-S350 unit has the new S-Force Pro virtual surround engine to emulate surround sound a little bit. However, this one is far from what rear speakers and Atmos-ready soundbars like the Vizio SB36512 offer.
Nevertheless, your movie nights would be be significantly enhanced with this sound bar compared to plain TV speakers, especially since the human voice and dialogue parts will be much better.
If you like a solid bass, this soundbar and subwoofer packs in some serious thunder for the price. You can even tweak the subwoofer levels to switch from barely audible up to deeply intense.
With a thumpy bass, you can better experience that ‘get-in-the-action’ performance from movies and shows. Music would also have that added audio punch to it for a livelier beat.
But while the lows are great, the Sony HT-S350 fell short when it comes to the finer details of sound. Our soundbar reviews revealed that the highs and lows were compromised, and the bass tends to be overpowering in a high volume or a low volume.
That being said, the Sony HT-S350 is a good soundbar despite the shortcomings in the audio’s balance.
Sony HT-S350 Review Conclusion
Overall, the Sony HT-S350 is a basic soundbar and subwoofer that packs a punch for an entry-level rig. It offers thunderous low notes, powerful sound, HDMI ARC compatibility, and virtual surround system for an immersive listening experience.
While the Sony HT-S350 is not for top-of-the-line audiophiles, it’s a great soundbar and sub combo for the practical user who wants to upgrade to a better sound system for their TVs.
We recently reviewed another model from Sony, so make sure you check out this Sony HT-ST5000 review.