Sony HT-S350 Soundbar Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Updated Sep 30, 2019 at 09:00 am
Sony HT-S350 Picture
5.8
Mixed Usage
6.6
Dialogue/TV Shows
5.8
Music
5.3
Movies
Channels
2.1

The Sony HT-S350 is a 2.1 soundbar system that has sub-par performance with stereo content due to an always-on surround sound mode. This results in a dark-sounding sound profile, but helps to widen the soundstage a bit. The HT-S350 is a well-built soundbar and gets loud enough for most people. However, it doesn’t support DTS or Atmos. It also struggles at max volume and there are compression artifacts in the bass range.

Our Verdict

5.8 Mixed Usage

Sub-par for mixed usage. The Sony HT-S350 has an always-on surround sound mode that affects its stereo soundstage. The audio reproduction is fairly dark-sounding, although it does help with the soundstage a bit. On the upside, it might make movies a bit more immersive, but it affects the performance with music and voice-oriented content like audiobooks, podcasts, dialogue, and TV shows. The HTS350 is loud enough for most uses at a normal volume but might struggle slightly when pushed to the max volume.

Pros
  • Well-built design.
  • Gets loud enough for most uses.
  • Decent soundstage.
Cons
  • Always-On surround sound mode.
  • Dark-sounding audio reproduction.
  • Struggles at max volume.
  • No DTS support.
6.6 Dialogue/TV Shows

Okay for dialogue. The Sony HTS350 has a pretty dark-sounding audio reproduction and isn’t very well-balanced. However, this performance might be due to the always-on surround sound mode. This won’t be ideal for voice-oriented content like audiobooks and podcasts. On the upside, there’s a dialogue enhancement feature to help its performance with this type of content and the bar can get loud enough for casual listening at a normal volume. It's also easy to play content from your smart device to the bar thanks to the Bluetooth compatibility.

5.8 Music

Sub-par for music. Due to the always-on surround sound mode, the stereo frequency response of this soundbar is sub-par. The overall sound profile is dark-sounding, which won’t be great for a wide variety of music genres. Also, the soundstage isn’t as good as other soundbars and there’s no way for you to customize the sound to your liking. On the upside, it's easy to stream music via Bluetooth and the bar can get loud enough for most people.

5.3 Movies

Sub-par for movies. The Sony HTS350 has a subwoofer, but the bass isn’t extended enough to be able to reproduce the deep punch, thump, and rumble of movies. It also lacks support for height channels and Atmos, which results in a less immersive experience. On the upside, the always-on surround mode might help a bit to make the soundstage a bit wider than a normal stereo bar.

  • 5.8 Mixed Usage
  • 6.6 Dialogue/TV Shows
  • 5.8 Music
  • 5.3 Movies

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Test Results

perceptual testing image
Market Context
Market Context
Market Context

The HT-S350 is a budget, entry-level 2019 soundbar from Sony. It's a 2.1 system with a wireless sub, which the Sony HT-S100F and Sony HT-S200F didn't have. Like most Sony soundbars, it has an always-on surround sound mode called S-Force Pro Front designed for a more immersive listening experience. For a more premium setup, take a look at the more high-end 7.1.2 Sony HT-ST5000. The Sony HT-S350's main competitors are the 2017 Sony HT-CT290, the Bose Solo 5, and the 2019 Yamaha YAS-209.

Design
Design
Style - Bar

The Sony HTS350 is a pretty plain bar. It has a metal grill that covers the front face and most of the sides, whereas the top has a faux-leather texture which feels nice. The rest is made of solid plastic.

Design
Style - Subwoofer

The subwoofer has the port in the front and a metal grill right on top of it covering the speaker. The sides and the top are made mainly of wood, while the port is made of plastic.

Design
Style - Satellites

There are no satellites in this setup.

Design
Dimensions - Bar
Bar Width 35.5" (90.2 cm)
Bar Height 2.5" (6.3 cm)
Bar Depth 3.5" (8.9 cm)

The bar is a little wide and might not fit between the legs of many 55 inch TVs. On the upside, it's not too tall and you shouldn't have issues placing it in front of the TV, as it won't cover the bottom part of the screen unless your TV sits flush on the table, like in the case of the Sony A9F.

Design
Dimensions - Subwoofer
Sub Width 7.5" (19.0 cm)
Sub Height 15.0" (38.0 cm)
Sub Depth 15.4" (39.1 cm)

The subwoofer has the size of an average desktop PC. It pairs wirelessly to the bar and you shouldn't have issues placing it anywhere in the room as long as you can plug it in.

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

There are no satellites in this setup.

Design
Back - Bar
Bar Mounting Type
Universal (holes on back)

The back of the bar is plastic and has one opening for the input ports. The power cable is permanently attached to the bar.

Design
Back - Subwoofer
Enclosure
Ported

The back of the subwoofer is metal. The power cable connects at the bottom, so you can easily hide it and it won't be in the way. At the top of the back, you'll find the pairing button.

Design
Back - Satellites
Sat Mounting Type
N/A

There are no satellites in this setup.

7.5
Design
Build Quality

The HT-S350's build quality is good. The metal grills on the bar and in the front of the subwoofer give off a premium feel. The entire construction is robust and feels solid.

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

  • Manuals
  • Remote & batteries
  • Optical cable

Sound
5.3
Sound
Stereo Frequency Response
ST Slope
-1.09
ST Std. Err.
4.22 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
89.8 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
16.0 kHz

The Sony HT-S350's stereo frequency response is sub-par. It lacks a lot of sub-bass and detail in the treble, making it muddy and dark-sounding. Its low-frequency extension (LFE) is very high and won’t be great for experiencing the deep thump, punch, and rumble of bass-heavy music genres or movies and games. However, this soundbar has an always-on surround sound like some other Sony’s soundbars, which causes sub-par stereo performance.

Sound
Stereo Raw Frequency Response
7.0
Sound
Stereo Soundstage
Crosstalk Error
2.64 dB

The soundstage while listening to the Sony HTS350 is decent. It sounds to be a tad bit larger than the bar, but this is probably due to the always-on surround mode. The focus of the soundstage is great and objects are easy to pinpoint, but the always-on surround makes those objects a bit stretched in the soundstage.

7.6
Sound
Stereo Dynamics
ST SPL @ Max Volume
95.5 dB SPL
ST DRC @ Max Volume
2.53 dB

The Sony HTS350 can get loud and will be suitable for large rooms and slightly crowded environments. However, when pushed to its maximum volume, there are some pumping and compression artifacts in the bass range. This will be mostly noticeable on bass-heavy music.

7.6
Sound
Stereo Total Harmonic Distortion
ST Weighted THD @ 80
0.38
ST Weighted THD @ Max Volume
2.97

At a normal listening volume around 80dB, the THD performance of this soundbar is great and produces a clean and pure sound. However, when using the bar at the maximum volume, there's a big jump in THD in high-bass and low-mid. This shouldn’t be too audible for most, and you probably won’t notice it with real-life content.

5.7
Sound
Center
C Localization
Phantom
C Slope
-1.56
C Std. Err.
4.42 dB
C SPL @ Max Volume
95.5 dB SPL
C Weighted THD @ 80
0.39
C Weighted THD @ Max Volume
2.47

The Sony S350 is a 2.1 soundbar setup, which means it doesn’t have a dedicated center speaker. 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 stereo, although it might sound a bit wider due to the always-on surround mode. Overall, voices still sound fairly clear and accurate, and the bar gets loud enough for most people.

3.7
Sound
Surrounds
Sr Localization
Stereo (Downmix)
Rears
N/A
Sr Slope
-0.97
Sr Std. Err.
6.94 dB
Sr SPL @ Max Volume
92.6 dB SPL
Sr Weighted THD @ 80
0.64
Sr Weighted THD @ Max Volume
3.40

The Sony HTS350 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 home theater speakers. The overall sound profile is fairly dark as this soundbar lacks a lot of detail in the treble range. Also, this soundbar, like many other Sonys, has an always-on surround sound mode that causes a strange frequency response measurement, visible in our plot.

0
Sound
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.

6.4
Sound
Sound Enhancement Features
Room Correction
No
Dialogue Enhancement
Yes
Auto-Volume/Night Mode
Yes
Subwoofer Level Adjustment
Yes
Bass Adjustment
No
Treble Adjustment
No
EQ
Presets
Surround Level Adjustment
N/A
Rear Level Adjustment
N/A
Height Level Adjustment
N/A
Virtual Surround
Yes

The Sony HTS350 has okay sound enhancement features and has more than the Sony HT-S100F and Sony HT-S200F thanks to the subwoofer level adjustment that lets you control the amount of bass coming out of the sub. It also has a Dialogue Enhancement feature with the Voice Mode, which makes it easier to hear dialogue in movies, even at a lower volume, and a night mode to normalize the volume of all your different content. This bar is also advertised to have an always-on S-Force Front surround sound feature, which is common on Sony soundbars. There are also other sound modes like Sports, News, Cinema, Game, Music for different types of content, although we don't test for these.

Connectivity
Connectivity
Physical Inputs - Bar
Optical Audio In
1
HDMI ARC
1
HDMI Out
No
Full HDMI In
No
Analog Audio In 3.5mm (Aux)
No
USB for Files
No
Ethernet
No

The Sony HT-S350 have very basic physical inputs. It can connect to your TV through HDMI ARC and to one external device by Optical Audio in, but that's all. There is no Full HDMI In so it can't act as a hub, and there's no Analog Audio in to connect to an older device with limited connectivity. Also, you won't be able to play back music stored on a USB.

6.1
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - ARC
eARC
No
Dolby Atmos
No
Dolby Digital
Yes
Dolby Digital Plus
No
DTS
No
DTS:X (eARC only)
No
Dolby TrueHD (eARC only)
No
DTS-HD MA (eARC only)
No
5.1 PCM (eARC only)
No

You can decode surround sound over ARC with this bar thanks to its Dolby Digital support, but it will be downmixed to 2.1. Unfortunately, the bar can't decode DTS or any of the higher-end formats like Dolby Atmos and this means that more advanced object-based surround sound formats won't be played back at all. On the upside, Dolby Digital content is very common on streaming platforms like Netflix and on most Blu-ray discs.

0
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - Full HDMI In
Dolby Atmos
No
DTS:X
No
Dolby Digital
No
Dolby Digital Plus
No
DTS
No
Dolby TrueHD
No
DTS-HD MA
No
5.1 PCM
No

There is no Full HDMI In port, so the Sony HTS350 can't act a hub between your TV and any of your devices.

6.0
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - Optical
Dolby Digital
Yes
DTS
No

The audio format support via optical connection is decent. The Dolby Digital surround sound format is supported, which is good as it's widely available in the content of streaming platforms or Blu-ray discs. The unsupported DTS format isn't widely available on its own, as it's the fallback for the higher quality DTS-HD MA found on many Blu-ray discs.

6.0
Connectivity
Wireless Playback
Bluetooth
Yes
Wi-Fi
No
Chromecast built-in
No
Apple AirPlay
No

Bluetooth is the only wireless way to playback sound on this bar. You can seamlessly connect your phone or tablet and hear your favorite music through the bar. Unfortunately, the bar lacks other wireless connections that could make it more versatile.

Connectivity
Other Input Specifications
4k @ 60 Hz Passthrough
N/A
4k @ 60 Hz @ 10 bit Passthrough
N/A
4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4 Passthrough
N/A
HDR10 Passthrough
N/A

Since there is no Full HDMI In port, the Sony HT-S350 can't relay the video signal of any external device to your TV.

Connectivity
Connectivity - Subwoofer
Sub Wireless
Yes

The subwoofer connects to the bar wirelessly and all you have is the power cable.

Connectivity
Connectivity - Satellites
Sat Wireless
N/A

There are no satellites in this setup.

Additional Features
Additional Features
Interface
Display
No

The interface or the Sony HT-S350 is very basic and consists of only three lights that flash when you change the settings.

Additional Features
Bar Controls

On the top side of the bar, there are a few touch-sensitive buttons that control the basic functions. You can power the bar, select TV mode, change the volume, or pair with a Bluetooth device.

Additional Features
Remote
Universal Remote
No

The remote control is slim and can control all the functions of the bar. It has some preset modes and can control the volume of the subwoofer independently, but can't act as a universal remote.

Additional Features
App
App Name N/A
iOS No
Android No
Acts as the Remote
No
Controls Soundbar's Settings
No
Casts Device Files
No

There is no app that pairs with this bar.

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

The Sony HTS350 soundbar enters a 'Standby' mode after some time of inactivity. Thanks to HDMI CEC support, you can use your TV's remote to control the soundbar.

Compared to other soundbars

The Sony HT-S350 is a budget soundbar setup with a wireless subwoofer, but it doesn't have a good audio reproduction. It sounds muddy and has an always-on surround mode, like some other Sony soundbars. There are some noticeably better options in the same price range. See our recommendations for the best soundbars under $200, the best soundbars under $300, and the best budget soundbars.

Samsung HW-R550
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Samsung HW-R550 is a better soundbar than the Sony HT-S350. It has a more accurate audio reproduction and overall sound profile. The bass of the R550 is more extended as well. While the Sony can get marginally louder, it compresses noticeably more than the R550. The Samsung soundbar also has more inputs, since the HT-S350 lacks Full HDMI Ins, and supports DTS, which the Sony doesn't.

Samsung HW-Q80R
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Samsung HW-Q80R is a noticeably better soundbar than the Sony HT-S350 in pretty much every aspect. It sounds better with all types of content, supports Atmos, can get louder, and compresses less. It also has more inputs and supports more audio formats, on top of having a dedicated center channel for better dialog in movies. On the other hand, the Q80R doesn't have a night mode like the Sony, and the HT-S350 is smaller, which might be easier to fit into your home setup.

Sonos Beam
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sonos Playbar is a better soundbar than the Sony HT-S350, even without its separate sub and satellites. It has a noticeably more neutral sound and a wider soundstage. It also has a dedicated center channel, which makes voices and dialog clearer and easier to understand. However, it doesn't have any HDMI ports. If you prefer the simplicity of Bluetooth, the S350 supports it while Sonos believes in better audio quality over Wi-Fi.

Polk Audio SIGNA S2
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Polk Audio SIGNA S2 is a noticeably better soundbar than the Sony HT-S350. Its sound profile is better balanced, although a bit excited. However, it's not as well-built as the Sony. The Sony also performs slightly better at max volume, but its bass and detail-lacking sound signature might not be worth it for most.

Samsung HW-N450
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Samsung HW-N450 is a better soundbar than the Sony HT-S350. Its overall sound performance is better and more versatile, especially that the S350 has an always-on surround mode, which makes it sound a bit muddy. The N450 also has better connectivity options, as the Sony soundbar doesn't have a Full HDMI In port.

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