One minute review
Of the HT-A7000 to the HT-G700 and HT-X8500, Sony has made a habit of making premium soundbars that would normally cost a lot more. This is what makes the Sony HT-S400 so remarkable: the soundbar/subwoofer combo not only pumps out an impressive 330W of total audio output, but does it for a reasonable price of just $299 / £269 / AU$499.
The 2.1ch front surround sound speaker comes with S-Force PRO Front Surround and Dolby Digital and the subwoofer is completely wireless. In addition to using Bluetooth A2DP, HDMI ARC and optical cable support, Sony TV owners can connect the speaker set wirelessly and offer integrated controls.
Unfortunately, however, there’s no 3.5mm input on the soundbar itself, and no USB input if you want to run your music from a USB stick – two minor bottlenecks for an otherwise rock-solid soundbar.
That said, the main audio experience is what counts. On its own merit, the HT-S400 does a great job in film/television, general music and games across platforms. Potential buyers who want to get their feet wet in the world of high-quality soundbars at an accessible price, look no further.
Price and release date
From April 15, the Sony HT-S400 will be available for /£269 / AU$499 on the Sony web store, alongside major retailers. Compared to comparable audio solutions in the $200-$300 price range, such as the Yamaha SR-B20A Soundbar† Razer Leviathan and even Sony’s Sony HT-X8500† the HT-S400 is a winner.
Buyers looking for more robust audio experiences with support for things like more speakers or Dolby Atmos may want to spend a little more on a true spatial audio system like the Sonos Arc, but we respect Sony’s willingness to walk a fine line between the respectable feature mentioned. set and a no-nonsense package.
Like Sony’s other soundbars, the sleek blacks for both the soundbar and subwoofer contribute to the premium aesthetics of the HT-S400, it looks as good as it sounds. Even better, eco-friendly buyers should know that the subwoofer’s rear panel is also made from recycled plastic. Obviously more recycled material would be better, but this is a good first step.
For extra measures, there’s an OLED display on the soundbar to inform you about things like input mode, volume, Bluetooth connection and bass levels. Those along with the speakers are also covered in this really cool metallic mesh. In addition to a green light to inform you that it is connected to the soundbar, the subwoofer also has a beautiful minimalist black-on-black design.
The rear ports feature one HDMI 2.0 ARC, optical port and USB-A port for firmware updates only. It’s disappointing that the USB port is pretty much useless and there’s no 3.5mm jack support for those aux-cord DJs.
Handling the device is quite easy, as the soundbar is about three feet wide and two and a half inches long, while the subwoofer is about three inches wide, a foot wide on its side and about a foot with some change in height.
Set up is pretty straightforward, as the subwoofer will automatically connect to the soundbar once it’s plugged in. Everything else is as simple as connecting via an HDMI or optical cable. Buyers looking to mount the soundbar under their wall-mounted TV might as well do so thanks to the HT-S400’s flat back.
That same simplicity of installation continues with the use of Bluetooth as well. Connection to a compatible BRAVIA TV is also easy and the integrated user interface also eliminates the need for buyers to use the supplied remote control. As well as the remote, which controls everything from volume and bass levels to turning the sound field’s surround sound technology on and off, the controls on the soundbar are also plenty.
The HT-S400 comes with a handful of useful features for its price, including the speech mode which enhances spoken dialogue over other audio elements such as music score or sound effects.
During testing, this was certainly most useful when watching series like HBO’s Julia or more action-heavy movies like Furious 9. Buyers who are more into dialogue may appreciate the option, although clarity isn’t really night and day.
For times when using a subwoofer at night or even in a small apartment can be distracting, Night mode cranks the bass up enough to minimize vibration. It’s almost like having a subwoofer mute button on top of the remote’s built-in bass intensity controls.
The last audio-focused feature is Sound Field, which converts standard stereo sound into surround sound. It is an adequate implementation of Sony’s virtual surround sound technology S-Force PRO. While not perfect and not a substitute for multi-speaker setups, it is comparable to the effect of more virtual surround sound features on modern mid-to-low range gaming headsets.
When it comes to pure audio quality, the HT-S400 performs well beyond what its affordable sticker price would suggest. For a 2.1-channel soundbar/subwoofer combination, only the volume quality can reach some impressive peaks. The HT-S400 is probably best for those in small apartments looking for a cinema-like audio experience without the need for multiple speaker setups, as the clarity of the sound matches the volume level.
This is certainly most noticeable during moments of extremely loud standard action movies or moody sounding horror movies. Watching Disney’s Moon Knight definitely made the experience more immersive thanks to the clarity of the dialogue, the score, and the rumble of that bass. While the HT-S400 converts audio signals to Dolby Digital, Dolby Dual Mono and LCPM, the audio device with some sort of Dolby Atmos support would have really stood out significantly.
Listening to music in general is also a treat, regardless of the genre of music. EDM or Southern Hip Hop fans looking to put that subwoofer to work will love it. Meanwhile, more nuanced instrumentation from rock to jazz will appreciate the richness in mids and highs. The speech mode really came in handy during moments of listening to breathing meditation exercises and spoken word performances.
One of the first games tested with the HT-S400 was 2018’s God of War on PS5. Ever since Sony patched its current-gen console last September to enable Spatial Audio from television speakers, playing the first-party classic at high volume has been a great experience. The already cinematic presentation game really took things to the extreme to levels initially thought only possible through headsets. During moments of playing games like Gran Turismo 7, the audio effects definitely helped determine the direction cars were trying to pass.
Should you buy the Sony HT-S400 Soundbar?
Buy it if…
You want a combination of soundbar and subwoofer for a reasonable price
Undoubtedly, the HT-S400 couldn’t be a better bargain.
You need an easy installation
The wireless subwoofer requires no complicated connection and simply works as soon as it is plugged in. There is also no need for complex sound calibration.
You are looking for a thoughtful design and feature set
The flat back makes for easy wall monitoring, while features like Night Mode reduce the amount of bass in the subwoofer for those times when a little less noise is needed.
Don’t buy it if…
You expect spatial audio formats such as Dolby Atmos
The HT-S400 converts audio signals to Dolby Digital and does offer virtual surround sound, but it would be great to have proper Dolby Atmos support instead.
You want more wired connection options
While HDMI, optical cable and Bluetooth are supported, the USB port is for firmware updates only and there is no 3.5mm jack.