When the audio quality of your built-in TV speakers is not enough, buying a sound bar is a nice step up without spending too much. Plus, these types of speakers are a lot easier to set up due to their small size and can be great for space saving purposes. While the sound quality of these speakers pale in comparison to the larger surround sound speaker setups, there are some rare gems that manage to pull of decent sound quality for the price while offering some nice extra features. The Sony HT-CT260 is one of the sound bars that fall under this category.
The HT-CT260 has an unconventional design which might not be for those that prefer the simplistic look. It has that tube-like form factor but goes for a hexagonal shape rather than a circular one. It is also possible to position the sound bar in front of the TV despite the sound bar’s 4-inch height. Thanks to the built-in remote signal receiver, it is possible for the TV to still capture remote control signals even if the sensor is blocked since the repeater carries out the signal all the way to the back of the sound bar. The included subwoofer, on the other hand, looks generic and has a single LED light that shows its power state.
The Sony HT-CT260 features the usual sound bar connectivity essentials, which include the optical and coaxial jacks and analog minijack. By connecting the TV to the sound bar through an optical output, any and all devices directly connected to the TV can use the sound bar. This may seem limited if you have a fairly basic TV but you can always purchase an HDMI switcher separately to expand your connectivity options. If the device has built-in Bluetooth, you will not even need a wired connection to the sound bar. The HT-CT260 has built-in Bluetooth as well. Whether it is a laptop, smartphone, tablet or older feature phone, you should be able to wirelessly stream audio from any supported app running in these devices. The speaker’s remote control even features dedicated playback controls for your Bluetooth devices which is nice if you want to control playback while the mobile device is docked somewhere.
Setting up the Sony HT-CT260 is pretty simple; all you need to do is attach each of the included wireless transceiver modules to their matching components. The subwoofer pairs with the sound bar automatically. Navigating through the menu is pretty straight forward although you may have to go closer to the screen if your TV is small.
The audio quality of the HT-CT260 is very good for its size and price. You can really get a feel of the sound experience by watching action movies. It is capable of creating a fairly wide soundstage with good clarity although the treble response is not the best. But the subwoofer more than makes up for the slight drawback as it can deliver very deep bass while actually sounding pleasant. Going up to louder volumes can cause some strain but the medium loud volumes work just fine and should be the recommended volume level anyway for most rooms.
The Sony HT-CT260 also offers plenty of customization so you may be able to tweak the audio quality to your liking. To start things off, you have 6 sound field modes to choose from and they are pretty easy to understand. If you are watching a movie, for instance, you can just switch the mode to “Movie” with the remote control and you are all set. The standard “Stereo” mode works pretty well for general purpose too. You can also adjust the volume of the subwoofer and center channel separately which is nice if you want to make the dialogues in movies and TV shows a bit clearer. Audio playback over Bluetooth is also good as long and it is difficult to detect any degradations in audio clarity since you are dealing with small speakers. Of course, you can get the optimal sound performance if you keep your device fairly close to the speaker.
The HT-CT260 isn’t exactly the best sounding sound bar of the bunch for $299 but this particular speaker set isn’t targeting audiophiles anyway. Compared to the usual TV speakers, there is a noticeable and positive difference which is the most important thing. Plus you will be paying for something that should spice up your TV system because of the speaker’s unique design. You are essentially buying a Bluetooth speaker as well so you can finally stream your Pandora and Spotify playlists and enjoy the decent audio quality. Finally, the Sony HT-CT260 is a cinch to set up which is why this sound bar successfully ticks all the check boxes of a nice sound system that newbies and ordinary consumers can appreciate.
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