Sony HT-CT800 SOUNDBAR REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.0
5.9
Mixed Usage
6.1
Dialog / TV Shows
6.3
Music
5.6
Movies
Channels
:
2.1

The Sony CT800 is a sub-par sounding soundbar that doesn’t perform well for most uses. Its sound profile is noticeably bright and lacks a lot of bass, even if this 2.1 setup has a wireless subwoofer. It can get decently loud but you’ll get audible compression artifacts, especially in the bass range. There's also rattles coming from the sub when listening to it at a normal listening volume, which becomes even worse at a higher volume. On the upside, its angled design helps widen the vertical size of the soundstage and it is very well-built. It also has great connectivity option; wired and wireless. Nevertheless, the HT-CT800 doesn’t have a great sound and overall offers sub-par performance.

Test Results
Design 8.0
Sound 5.8
Connectivity 8.8
Pros
  • Well-built design.
  • Vertically larger soundstage due to angled design.
  • Great connectivity options.
Cons
  • Sub-par stereo audio quality.
  • Noticeable distortion, especially at high volume.
  • Bad surround sound performance.

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Market Context

The Sony HT-CT800 is an entry-level soundbar from 2017. It is a simple 2.1 setup that has a unique angled-design intended to make the soundstage vertically larger. It won’t offer a more immersive listening experience as higher-end models like the 7.1.2 HT-ST5000 that is compatible with Atmos. The main competitors of the HT-CT800 are the older Samsung HW-MS650, the HW-M550, and the LG SJ8.

8.0

Design

Style - Bar

The Sony CT800 is a unique looking bar that is designed at an angle. The top of the bar has a brushed metal finish and has a metal grill covering the speakers. The grill isn’t flat with the soundbar and is slightly raised. The rest of the bar is made from plastic that has a glossy finish, and the base has a matte finish, but this won’t be very visible.

Style - Subwoofer

The sub has a very similar style to the bar. The metal grill covering the speaker is raised and sticks out a bit. The sub is mainly covered by wood, although the front panel has a black glossy finish. It also has its port in the front.

Style - Satellites

This setup doesn’t have satellites.

Dimensions - Bar
Bar Width : 40.4" (102.7 cm)
Bar Height : 2.0" (5.0 cm)
Bar Depth : 4.7" (12.0 cm)

The bar is pretty wide. It might not fit between legs of some 55-inch TV stands, but will be fine to use with TVs with wide stands. It can also easily be put in front of TVs that have a middle stand. The bar isn’t too high, which means it won’t cover the bottom of your screen, unless you have a TV that sits directly on the table like the Sony A9G.

Dimensions - Subwoofer
Sub Width : 7.5" (19.0 cm)
Sub Height : 15.0" (38.0 cm)
Sub Depth : 15.2" (38.7 cm)

This subwoofer takes up about the same space as an average desktop computer. It isn’t too big, so you’ll be able to fit in on the side of the furniture, whether it’s with your TV stand or couch.

Dimensions - Satellites
Sat Width : N/A
Sat Height : N/A
Sat Depth : N/A

This soundbar setup doesn’t have satellites.

Back - Bar
Bar Mounting Type
:
Proprietary

On the far left of the back of the bar, you have a slot for the HDMI inputs and the second slot for the rest of the inputs. The mounting holes are on the bottom of the bar and the wall brackets come in the box. While it is angled, the bar sits flush and flat to the wall when mounted.

Back - Subwoofer
Enclosure
:
Ported

Since the port of the sub is at the front, you only have the power cable at the back of the sub. You also have a power and pairing button at the top of the sub.

Back - Satellites
Sat Mounting Type
:
N/A

This setup doesn’t have back satellites.

8.0 Build Quality

The Sony CT800 is a well-made soundbar system. The bar itself has a metal grill that covers most of its top surface and the rest is made out of good quality plastic. However, the brushed metal finish is slightly prone to smudge marks and the glossy finished plastic is prone to fingerprints. The subwoofer is mainly made from wood and feels sturdy.

In The Box
HDMI Cable Length
:
5.0 ft (1.5 m)
Digital Optical Cable Length
:
N/A

  • HDMI cable
  • Wall mounting brackets
  • Bar feet
  • Screws
  • Remote
  • Batteries
  • Manuals

5.8

Sound

5.8 Stereo Frequency Response
ST Slope
:
0.70
ST Std. Err.
:
3.06 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
:
54.2 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
:
9.8 kHz

The Sony C800 has a sub-par frequency response. The low-frequency extension is pretty high, and the sound profile is fairly bright, which results in a very disappointing bass performance. This won’t be great for movies and bass-heavy music genres. There are also a few audio modes that can help the overall performance, but the standard one is disappointing.

Stereo Raw Frequency Response
7.0 Stereo Soundstage
Crosstalk Error
:
2.97 dB

When listening to the HT-CT800, the soundstage is decent. It feels as wide as the bar, which is pretty large to begin with. If the bar is sitting on a table, it sits at an angle, which makes it sound vertically larger than what other flat soundbars might do. This also made the focus rather diffused as the bar is aiming at the ceiling and objects might not feel like they're coming from an accurate pin-point location, but rather from a general area.

6.5 Stereo Dynamics
ST SPL @ Max Volume
:
89.1 dB SPL
ST DRC @ Max Volume
:
3.08 dB

The Sony CT800 gets decently loud and should be fine for most uses, but when pushed at its maximum volume, you get noticeable compression, especially in the bass range. Bass becomes almost nonexistent at max volume, which is disappointing.

6.1 Stereo Total Harmonic Distortion
ST Weighted THD @ 80
:
0.66
ST Weighted THD @ Max Volume
:
9.75

The stereo THD of the CT800 is mediocre. At a normal volume, THD is within good limits but you can hear buzzing and rattles in the bass range coming from the subwoofer. This becomes even worse at high volume.

6.6 Center
C Localization
:
Phantom
C Slope
:
0.46
C Std. Err.
:
3.83 dB
C SPL @ Max Volume
:
88.4 dB SPL
C Weighted THD @ 80
:
0.48
C Weighted THD @ Max Volume
:
9.19

The CT800 is a 2.1 soundbar setup that doesn’t have a dedicated center speaker but still has an okay overall performance. It uses the left and right speakers to create a sound in the center, which will sound more diffused and less clear compared to a discrete center. When sending a 5.1 surround sound signal, it will downmix it to 2.1 but will still sound good for a phantom center, since there’s not much bass on center channels to begin with. Voices will still sound fairly clear and accurate.

2.2 Surrounds
Sr Localization
:
Stereo (Downmix)
Rears
:
N/A
Sr Slope
:
1.44
Sr Std. Err.
:
6.50 dB
Sr SPL @ Max Volume
:
85.1 dB SPL
Sr Weighted THD @ 80
:
0.81
Sr Weighted THD @ Max Volume
:
8.11

The Sony CT800 has poor performance with surround channels. The 2.1 configuration of the soundbar won't result in the most accurate and clear representation of surround objects in the soundstage. Everything is downmixed to stereo and doesn’t feel as real as a discrete surround experience offered by tower speakers. The overall sound profile is fairly bright as this soundbar lacks a lot of bass. This soundbar, like many other Sony's, has an always-on surround sound mode that causes a strange frequency response measurement, visible in our plot.

0 Height (Atmos)
H Localization
:
N/A
H Slope
:
N/A
H Std. Err.
:
N/A
H SPL @ Max Volume
:
N/A
H Weighted THD @ 80
:
N/A
H Weighted THD @ Max Volume
:
N/A

This soundbar setup doesn’t have height channels and doesn’t support Atmos.

7.5 Sound Enhancement Features
Room Correction
:
No
Dialog Enhancement
:
Yes
Auto-Volume/Night Mode
:
Yes
Subwoofer Level Adjustment
:
Yes
Bass Adjustment
:
Yes
Treble Adjustment
:
Yes
EQ
:
Presets
Surround Level Adjustment
:
N/A
Rear Level Adjustment
:
N/A
Height Level Adjustment
:
N/A
Virtual Surround
:
Yes

The available sound enhancement features on the HT-CT800 are good. You’ll be able to make dialog clearer at lower volume thanks to the Dialog Enhancement feature and will be able to uniformize the level of different types of content thanks to the auto-volume. You can also manually adjust the level of bass coming from the sub. However, it lacks room correction, which means this bar may sound different depending on your room. It has a few features to customize its sound profile and when connecting the bar directly to a TV, you get a graphic user interface menu for things you can’t do with the remote. You’ll be able to dial in the distance of the listening position from the bar and the sub separately for them to sound more in-sync.

8.8

Connectivity

Physical Inputs - Bar
Optical Audio In
:
1
HDMI ARC
:
1 (shared)
Full HDMI In
:
3
HDMI Out
:
1 (shared)
Analog Audio In 3.5mm (Aux)
:
1
USB for Files
:
1
Ethernet
:
1

The HT-CT800 can easily serve as a hub between your devices and your TV. You can plug-in multiple game consoles and a Blu-ray player. You can also use surround sound over the Optical Audio In, or connect your smart device via an Analog 3.5mm jack for a wired connection. The soundbar can also be connected to your network via an Ethernet cable and has a USB port on the side of the bar to play files.

7.1 Audio Format Support - ARC
eARC
:
No
ARC Dolby Atmos
:
No
ARC DTS:X
:
No
ARC Dolby Digital
:
Yes
ARC Dolby Digital Plus
:
No
ARC DTS
:
Yes
ARC Dolby TrueHD
:
No
ARC DTS-HD MA
:
No
ARC 5.1 PCM
:
No

Over the HDMI ARC port, the Sony HT-CT800 supports Dolby Digital and DTS, which most soundbars do. This means the bar can receive 5.1 surround sound on almost any content that supports it like streaming platforms and Blu-ray. However, since it is a 2.1-channel setup, it will downmix the signal. Unfortunately, via ARC, you won’t be able to play lossless or object-based formats with PCM or Atmos.

9.0 Audio Format Support - Full HDMI In
HDMI Dolby Atmos
:
No
HDMI DTS:X
:
No
HDMI Dolby Digital
:
Yes
HDMI Dolby Digital Plus
:
Yes
HDMI DTS
:
Yes
HDMI Dolby TrueHD
:
Yes
HDMI DTS-HD MA
:
Yes
HDMI 5.1 PCM
:
Yes

The Full HDMI In supports a good amount of different audio formats. This means the bar can receive 5.1 audio from streaming services like Netflix and games, but will downmix it to 2.1. Additionally, 5.1 PCM is also supported, but will play in stereo 2.0. This means that you’ll have uncompressed surround sound performance with sources like a PC or console. The bar plays lossless content using DTS-HD MA or Dolby TrueHD. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to play object-based content with Atmos or DTS:X.

10 Audio Format Support - Optical
Optical Dolby Digital
:
Yes
Optical DTS
:
Yes

Like most soundbars, the Sony CT800 supports both Dolby Digital and DTS via their optical cable. This means you’ll receive 5.1 surround sound on almost any content that supports it like streaming platforms and Blu-ray discs, but it is downmixed to 2.1. However, if you want to play uncompressed audio, you must use a Full HDMI In port.

9.0 Wireless Playback
Bluetooth
:
Yes
Wi-Fi
:
Yes
Chromecast built-in
:
Yes
Apple AirPlay
:
No

The Sony CT800 has multiple ways of playing content wirelessly. You can connect your smart device via Bluetooth, which you can also pair using NFC, and stream audio content like music and podcasts easily. The CT800 can also play content via Wi-Fi, or use Chromecast built-in.

Other Input Specifications
4k @ 60 Hz Passthrough
:
Yes
4k @ 60 Hz @ 10 bit Passthrough
:
Yes
4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4 Passthrough
:
Yes
HDR10 Passthrough
:
Yes

The HT-CT800 can be connected between your TV and another source like a game console to play 4k content at 60Hz. It will even do 4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4 when connected to a PC, which means the text will be clear. Additionally, it supports HDR10 passthrough, and can do 4k @ 60 Hz @ 10 bit passthrough, which can be useful for those who have a Blu-ray player or latest-gen gaming consoles.

Connectivity - Subwoofer
Sub Wireless
:
Yes

The subwoofer connects wirelessly to the bar and doesn’t have any other cables other than for power. You can find the pairing button at the back of the sub.

Connectivity - Satellites
Sat Wireless
:
N/A

This soundbar setup doesn’t have satellites.

Additional Features

Interface
Display
:
Yes

There’s a small display screen in the middle of the bar. You can’t really see it when the bar is off. It offers visual feedback for inputs you do on the remote, whether its changing inputs, changing the volume or enabling a sound effect. There’s also a separate light for Bluetooth pairing.

Bar Controls

You have a few controls on the bar. You can power it on and off, change between inputs, raise or lower the volume, enter Bluetooth pairing and enable the Music Service. This allows you to use the Chromecast feature or services like Spotify.

Remote
Universal Remote
:
No

The remote offers a lot more controls than what the bar or the app offers. You can switch between inputs, select sound modes, play with the volume from the bar and the sub. You can also trigger the Bluetooth pairing mode and have playback control for track skipping. The remote works well and is responsive.

App
App Name : Sony SongPal
iOS : Yes
Android : Yes
Acts as the Remote
:
Limited Support
Controls Soundbar's Settings
:
Some
Casts Device Files
:
Yes

The Sony Songpal is the app that pairs with this soundbar. It is fairly versatile and although it does not have the full capabilities of the remote, it can still control several features of the bar and cast files.

Other Features
Power Saving
:
Standby
HDMI CEC (TV Remote Control)
:
Yes

The Sony CT800 can automatically enter a standby mode when inactive for a while, which is useful if you care about power consumption. Its HDMI ARC port supports CEC, meaning you will be able to control some functions of the soundbar with your TV remote.

Compared to other Soundbars

The Sony HT-CT800 is a soundbar system with disappointing sound performance. However, it has a unique angled design that makes it sounds a bit wider vertically as it fires sounds towards the ceiling when sitting on its feet. See our recommendations for the best soundbars, the best budget soundbars, and the best soundbars with a subwoofer.

Samsung HW-Q80R
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Samsung HW-Q80R is better than the Sony HT-CT800 by a pretty big margin. The Q80R is a 5.1.2 setup with great audio performance, regardless of the content you listen to. It has a good and neutral sound profile, gets way louder than the CT800 and it supports Atmos as well, which the Sony doesn't do. It also has a dedicated center channel which makes voices clearer and easier to understand. Based on performance only, there is no reason to get the Sony CT800 over the Samsung HW-Q80R.

Sonos Beam
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sonos Beam is a much better soundbar than the Sony HT-CT800. It has a better sound profile and its soundstage is noticeably larger thanks to the speakers' disposition. It's also a 3.0 setup, meaning it has a dedicated center channel for clearer voices and dialog. On the other hand, the CT800 has a subwoofer, although you can buy a separate one for the Beam, and it has many Full HDMI In ports, on top of supporting Bluetooth.

Bose Soundbar 700
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Bose Soundbar 700 is a noticeably better sounding bar than the Sony HT-CT800. It has a better stereo performance with a noticeably larger soundstage as well. The Bose 700 can get louder and doesn't compress at max volume, like CT800 does. It also has a dedicated center channel which makes dialog in movies easier to understand and can easily be upgraded with a sub and satellites. However, if you're looking to use your soundbar as a hub for your devices, the Bose 700 doesn't have any Full HDMI In ports, while the CT800 has plenty.

Samsung HW-N450
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Samsung HW-N450 is a better 2.1 soundbar system than the Sony HT-CT800. Its sound profile is noticeably better and it performs quite well as max volume. The Sony compresses a lot when it gets louder, especially in the bass range. On the other hand, the CT800 has better connectivity options and more sound enhancement features. It's also slightly better built than the N450, but not by much.

5.9 Mixed Usage

Sub-par for mixed usage. The Sony CT800 doesn’t sound very good overall and doesn’t have a specific use case where it performs very well. Its sound profile is bright and lacks a lot of bass, even if it has a subwoofer. On the upside, there are a few features to help you get a better sound with stereo content, but it won’t be the best option for movies as it lacks height channels. However, the bar sits at an angle, firing towards the ceiling, which gives a feel of a vertically larger soundstage.

6.1 Dialog / TV Shows

Mediocre for dialog and TV shows. The Sony HT-CT800 has a very bright sound profile and doesn’t sound that great overall. On the upside, it has a decent mid-range performance and can get fairly loud. You can also easily play content like podcasts and audiobooks wirelessly thanks to its Bluetooth and Wi-Fi compatibility. It also has a dialog enhancement and auto-volume features to make your overall experience slightly better.

6.3 Music

Mediocre for music. This soundbar stereo frequency response performance is sub-par, as it lacks a lot of bass. This soundbar won’t be great for bass-heavy music genres as its sound profile is noticeably bright. On the upside, the soundstage is decently wide, but when pushed at high volumes, the bar compresses and distorts a lot, which isn’t good.

5.6 Movies

Sub-par for movies. Although this bar sits at an angle and fires toward the ceiling, resulting in a vertically larger soundstage, it still lacks a proper frequency response and height channels. This soundbar sounds very thin, bright, and lacks a lot of bass, which isn’t good for movies. While it gets decently loud, you won’t be able to push the soundbar to high volumes as it distorts and you get compression, especially in the bass range.

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