What We Like
- An elegant, unassuming design that offers great and surprising versatility.
- Tons of streaming options, all of them useful and effective.
- Audio quality that really delivers and is customizable.
What We Don’t Like
- May require some tinkering to suit your room set-up.
Founded in 1946, Sony has been a leader in consumer and professional electronics for decades. Fun fact: ‘Sony’ is an abbreviation of this Japanese company’s full name, Sony Kabushiki Kaisha. You can see why they went with the shorter version.
Sony is known for creating products with a visual design that falls somewhere between unassuming and simple elegance. And the HT-CT800 is no different in that regard. It’s a really nice looking soundbar, but will not draw undue attention to itself which, basically, is exactly how it should be in an ideal world.
The first thing you are likely to notice when you get your hands on the HT-CT800 is that it is surprisingly thin. Thinner than lots of other soundbars at around the same price point. Sony have created a gently curved design which has replaced height with depth. There is an element of subjectivity here, of course, but we think it looks absolutely great mounted on the wall below a television. Subtle, but striking.
The build quality cannot be understated. Everything about this soundbar and its accompanying wireless subwoofer screams premium. The product feels sufficiently weighty and sturdy, the finish is excellent, and the overall effect is one of a top quality device.
As anyone who has delved into the wide world of soundbars will know, they are often fairly lacking when it comes to extra features. Instead, the priority of many manufacturers is on perfecting the audio experience only and hoping that this alone will differentiate them from the competition. Sony’s approach, as ever, is slightly different.
The HT-CT800 has a couple of killer features that we don’t see from many products which compete with it at this price range. Foremost amongst these is the native integration with Google Home and Chromecast. This means that you can use your voice to control Sony’s audio products—changing the volume, skipping through tracks, or stopping the music—, and you can cast music, podcasts, radio, or any of the 100+ supported apps from your phone, tablet, or PC.
As well as the Chromecast option, you can also go with Bluetooth, NFC streaming, or even Spotify connect. Basically, if you can’t stream to this device without any hassle, chances are you are living in the past. The HT-CT800 also plays well with other Sony products. You can establish a home network of devices which will enable you to listen to the same music anywhere in the house or stream to multiple rooms at a time. The options are truly limitless.
With all of these potential places to stream from and to, it would be a little remiss of Sony to pack in this much versatility if the actual listening experience was sub-par or otherwise failed to meet expectations. Well, the good news is that it is pretty solid across the board. The overall performance is loud, clear, and well distinguished.
You have a good amount of control over aspects of playback. We found that we had to turn down the bass slightly from its default setting as it was a little overpowering within the room we were testing in. So if you’re all about that bass, you are in for a treat. The wireless subwoofer really comes into its own and delivers a spectacular amount of presence on the soundstage for a comparatively small device.
Two levels of voice enhancement mean that you will never have to miss another word of dialogue, something which is often a problem with less successful soundbars which fail to properly prioritise different elements of the mix. No such problems here, we can assure you.
We tried out a number of the various streaming options on offer, and they all worked without a hitch as you would expect from a device of this cost. No distortion, skipping, or lag of any kind was detected during our experiments.
We are big fans of the HT-CT800. It’s a great design that will look just as good on a TV stand as it will on the wall, it comes with a host of useful features, and the audio really delivers.