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Sony HT-S400 Soundbar Review

Tested using Methodology v1.0
Reviewed Jul 12, 2022 at 12:48 pm
Sony HT-S400 Picture
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Channels
2.1

The Sony HT-S400 is an entry-level model released as part of Sony's 2022 lineup. It's a 2.1 setup with Sony's S-Force Pro Front Surround built into the bar. This technology uses psychoacoustic principles to widen the soundstage past the edges of the bar itself, similar to Samsung's Acoustic Beam. There's no Dolby Atmos support to help you enjoy immersive object-based sound, and you won't find as many features as Sony's top-of-the-line models.

Our Verdict

N/A Mixed Usage

The Sony HTS 400 is okay for mixed usage. It's a simple 2.1 bar that's pretty limited when it comes to audio format support and sound enhancement tools, so it's best suited for listening to stereo content like music and TV shows. Voices and lead instruments are clearly reproduced. The extra emphasis in the high-bass adds some boom to the mix, though it's missing some rumble in the low-bass. Even with its S-Force Pro Front Surround, you still don't get a very immersive feel with surround sound formats like Dolby Digital.

Pros
  • Gets loud.
  • Subwoofer level adjustment.
Cons
  • Limited sound enhancement features.
  • Poor surround sound.
N/A Dialogue/TV Shows

The Sony HTS 400 is satisfactory for dialogue-focused TV shows. With its balanced mids, voices reproduce quite clearly and accurately, and there's even a dialogue enhancement tool called 'Voice' on hand. If you're watching at night, you can use the 'Night' tool to balance the volume level between extremes to avoid bothering those around you. There's no center channel, so you don't get the same vocal clarity as with more premium models.

Pros
  • Dialogue enhancement tool.
  • Night mode.
Cons
  • Limited sound enhancement features.
  • No discrete center channel.
N/A Music

The Sony HTS 400 is decent for music. Its balanced mids offer clear and detailed vocals and lead instruments, making it suitable for listening to most genres. There's a little extra boom in the upper bass range, too, so you feel the punch in bass-heavy genres like EDM. Its sub struggles to reproduce lower frequencies, so you don't feel the low-bass with the same intensity as other models. Also, there aren't a lot of sound enhancement features on hand.

Pros
  • Gets loud.
  • Subwoofer level adjustment.
Cons
  • Limited sound enhancement features.
  • Lacks low-bass.
N/A Movies

The Sony HTS 400 is okay for movies. It supports Dolby Digital, which is the most common surround sound format found on lots of different streaming platforms. However, it has to downmix 5.1 surround into stereo to play it, which doesn't sound as immersive. It doesn't support Dolby Atmos or DTS:X, either, so you can't enjoy more immersive object-based formats.

Pros
  • Gets loud.
  • Subwoofer level adjustment.
Cons
  • No Atmos support.
  • Poor surround sound.
  • N/A Mixed Usage
  • N/A Dialogue/TV Shows
  • N/A Music
  • N/A Movies
  1. Updated Jul 12, 2022: Review published.
  2. Updated Jul 05, 2022: Early access published.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Sony HTS 400 is available in Black. You can see the label for the model we tested here.

If you come across another version of this soundbar, let us know in the discussions, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Soundbars

The Sony HT-S400 is a simple 2.1 soundbar that's ideal for stereo content like music and TV shows. That said, it lacks a lot of enhancement tools, even compared to other budget models, so you don't have a lot of ability to control its sound, and there aren't rear speakers available. It's a solid bar, but for the price, other options offer a lot more.

See our recommendations for the best budget soundbars, the best Sony soundbars, and the best soundbars with subwoofers.

Sony HT-G700

The Sony HT-G700 is better than the Sony HT-S400. The HT-G700 is a 3.1 bar, so it has a discrete center channel to improve vocal clarity. Also, it supports Dolby Atmos content, so you're able to take advantage of more immersive object-based formats often found on streaming platforms. It's better built, too.

Samsung HW-Q600A

The Samsung HW-Q600A is better than the Sony HT-S400. The Samsung is a more versatile 3.1.2 bar, with a discrete center channel to help improve vocal clarity compared to the Sony. Unlike the Sony soundbar, it has Atmos support, meaning you can take advantage of object-based formats found on lots of different streaming platforms. There are more sound enhancement features, too.

Sony HT-S350

The Sony HT-S400 and the Sony HT-S350 are both 2.1 bars with a similar selection of features. The S400 is a bit better overall since it reproduces a more extended low-bass to help you feel more rumble in the mix. Its sound is more neutral and balanced, too, especially in the treble range, so it sounds less dark compared to the S350.

Samsung HW-Q700A

The Samsung HW-Q700A is better than the Sony HT-S400. The Samsung is a 3.1.2 bar, and unlike the 2.1 Sony, it has a discrete center channel to improve vocal clarity. Also, it supports more audio formats, such as Dolby Atmos content. There are more sound enhancement features, too, including a graphic EQ to customize its sound.

Samsung HW-A650

The Samsung HW-A650 is better than the Sony HT-S400. The Samsung is a 3.1 bar, and unlike the 2.1 Sony, it has a discrete center channel to improve dialogue clarity in the mix. It also has more sound enhancement features, including a graphic EQ to customize its sound.

Samsung HW-A450

The Samsung HW-A450 and the Sony HT-S400 are both simple 2.1 soundbars, but the Samsung offers a better value overall. Out-of-the-box, the Samsung has a more neutral sound, especially compared to the Sony, which has some extra emphasis in the bass range. It has more features, including bass and treble adjustments, and a graphic EQ that lets you adjust its sound to get similar performance to the Sony. It even has DTS support for users who watch a lot of Blu-rays. Unlike the Sony soundbar, it doesn't support HDMI, so you can't control the bar with your TV remote. However, this feature isn't worth the extra cost, especially since the Sony model doesn't support any additional audio formats via HDMI.

Samsung HW-B450

The Samsung HW-B450 and the Sony HT-S400 are both similarly-performing 2.1 soundbars, but the Samsung offers a better value overall. The biggest difference between the bars is their stereo frequency response—the Samsung sounds more neutral, especially compared to the Sony soundbar's bass-heavy sound. However, since the Samsung has bass and treble adjustments, you can customize it to get a similar sound to the Sony. There's also DTS support if you watch a lot of Blu-rays. For a little more money, the Sony has HDMI support, which the Samsung lacks. You can control the bar with your TV remote, which is handy. However, it's not worth the extra money, especially since it doesn't support any additional audio formats over HDMI.

Vizio V Series V51x-J6

The Vizio V Series V51x-J6 is better than the Sony HT-S400. The Vizio is a 5.1 setup with discrete satellites, unlike the Sony, so it has a better surround sound performance. It reproduces more low-bass to add more punch to action-packed scenes. There are more sound enhancement features, as well as DTS support, which the Sony soundbar lacks. For a similar price, you can get a lot more from the Vizio model.

Vizio V Series V21-H8

The Vizio V Series V21-H8 and the Sony HT-S400 are both 2.1 setups with similar performances, though the Vizio offers a better value overall. The Vizio is a bit more affordable, and its subwoofer reproduces a more extended low-bass, so you feel the rumble in bass-heavy music. Unlike the Sony soundbar, it has bass and treble adjustments, meaning you can customize its sound. There's support for additional audio formats, like DTS and Dolby Digital Plus, which are often found on Blu-rays.

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Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style - Bar

The Sony HT-S400 is a simple black soundbar that's mostly made of plastic. The plastic looks good, but when you touch it, it feels a little cheap. There's a metal grille that wraps around the sides as well.

Design
Style - Subwoofer

The subwoofer is plain, built of a mix of wood and plastic. The port is on the front, and there's a metal grille protecting the speaker above it.

Design
Style - Satellites
Design
Dimensions - Bar
Width Lock" (Lock cm)
Height Lock" (Lock cm)
Depth Lock" (Lock cm)

The Sony HT-S400 is a bit wide, so it doesn't fit between the legs of many 55" TVs. That said, it isn't very tall, so it doesn't obscure your TV screen.

Design
Dimensions - Subwoofer
Width Lock" (Lock cm)
Height Lock" (Lock cm)
Depth Lock" (Lock cm)

The sub is about the size of an average desktop computer. It connects to the bar wirelessly, so you just need to plug it into a power outlet to use it.

Design
Dimensions - Satellites
Width N/A
Height N/A
Depth N/A
Design
Back - Bar
Bar Mounting
Locked

There are openings on the back of the bar for the power cable and other inputs. You also have holes to mount the bar to the wall, but you have to purchase the screws separately.

Design
Back - Subwoofer
Enclosure
Locked

The back of the sub is very plain. You have an input for the power cable, but that's about it.

Design
Back - Satellites
Mounting
Locked
N/A
Design
Build Quality

The Sony HT-S400 has a decent build quality. The bar's mostly made of plastic, which feels a bit cheap, especially compared to more premium soundbars. The metal grille on the sides helps protect the drivers inside, which is a nice touch. The sub feels pretty solid, too.

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

  • Manuals
  • Remote with 2x AAA batteries
  • 2x Power cables
  • Optical cable

Sound
N/A
Sound
Stereo Frequency Response
Tested Preset
Locked
Slope
Lock
Std. Err.
Lock dB
Channels
2.1
Low-Frequency Extension
Lock Hz
High-Frequency Extension
Lock kHz

The Sony HT-S400 has a decent stereo frequency response. The overall sound is pleasing with stereo content, with balanced mids that reproduce vocals and lead instruments with clarity. There's an extra emphasis in the mid-to-high bass range, however, adding extra boom to the mix. The subwoofer is pretty one-noteโ€”you notice the lack of rumble in the low-bass, especially with bass-centric tracks like EDM.

N/A
Sound
Stereo Frequency Response With Preliminary Calibration
Suggested Preset
Locked
Suggested Bass Setting
Lock
Suggested Treble Setting
N/A
Slope
Lock
Std. Err.
Lock dB
Low-Frequency Extension
Lock Hz
High-Frequency Extension
Lock kHz

The Sony HT-S400 gets closest to a neutral sound profile with its default settings. It is a bit bassy, so you can always use its subwoofer level adjustment feature if you prefer a different sound.

N/A
Sound
Stereo Soundstage
Crosstalk Error
Lock dB

The Sony HT-S400 has a decent stereo soundstage. The bar comes with Sony's always-on surround mode called S-Force Pro Front Surround, which, like similar features from other manufacturers, uses psychoacoustics principles to expand the soundstage. Sound seems wider than the bar itself, which is good, but it doesn't stretch to the walls of your room. The focus is decent, too, so sound effects seem like they come from a more general region as opposed to an accurate, pinpoint location in the soundstage.

N/A
Sound
Stereo Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
Lock dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
Lock dB

The Sony HT-S400 has great stereo dynamics. It gets loud enough to fill a large room with sound, and there isn't a lot of compression when you push it to max volume. As a result, audio reproduction remains clean and pure even when you crank up the volume.

N/A
Sound
Stereo Total Harmonic Distortion
Weighted THD @ 80dB
Lock
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
Lock

The Sony HT-S400 has a good stereo THD performance. At a normal listening volume, distortion falls within good limits, so audio reproduction is clean and pure. As with most bars, there's a slight jump when you push the bar to max volume. That said, distortion is pretty hard to hear with real-life content, especially if you're a more casual listener.

N/A
Sound
Center
Localization
Locked
Slope
Lock
Std. Err.
Lock dB
SPL @ Max Volume
Lock dB SPL
Weighted THD @ 80dB
Lock
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
Lock

The Sony HT-S400 has a middling center channel performance. Since it's a 2.1 bar, it doesn't have a discrete center channel to improve vocal clarity. Instead, it uses its left and right stereo channels to simulate a "phantom" center channel. The resulting sound isn't as clear or as real. Overall, voices are still fairly clear and accurate, though a little muddy due to the extra emphasis in the bass range.

N/A
Sound
Surround 5.1
Localization
Locked
Slope
Lock
Std. Err.
Lock dB
SPL @ Max Volume
Lock dB SPL
Weighted THD @ 80dB
Lock
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
Lock
7.1 Rears
Locked

The Sony HT-S400 has a poor surrounds performance, which isn't a surprise given its 2.1 setup. It has to downmix surround content into stereo to play it, which doesn't sound as immersive. Sound seems like it's coming from a speaker placed in front of you, and sound effects don't stretch around your room. The frequency response on these channels is also quite bass-heavy, which adds a boomy, muddy quality to the sound.

N/A
Sound
Height (Atmos)
Localization
Locked
Slope
N/A
Std. Err.
N/A
SPL @ Max Volume
N/A
Weighted THD @ 80dB
N/A
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
N/A
N/A
Sound
Sound Enhancement Features
Room Correction
Locked
Dialogue Enhancement
Locked
Auto-Volume/Night Mode
Locked
Subwoofer Level Adjustment
Locked
Bass Adjustment
Locked
Treble Adjustment
Locked
EQ
Locked
Surround Level Adjustment
Locked
Rear Level Adjustment
Locked
Height Level Adjustment
Locked
Virtual Surround
Locked

The Sony HT-S400 has a disappointing selection of sound enhancement features. If you want to customize its sound, you don't have a lot of choices on hand, aside from its subwoofer level adjustment (though the button on the remote reads 'Bass', this feature only controls the amount of bass reproduced by the sub). The remote also gives you access to its dialogue enhancement mode (called Voice) and its night mode, which balances the volume level in your programs. You can't adjust the amount of bass reproduced by the bar, and you can't control the treble, either. You can't turn off its S-Force Pro Front Surround feature, either.

Connectivity
Connectivity
Physical Inputs - Bar
Optical Audio In
Locked
HDMI ARC
Locked
HDMI Out
Locked
Full HDMI In
Locked
Analog Audio In 3.5mm (Aux)
Locked
RCA In
Locked
USB for Files
Locked
Ethernet
Locked

The Sony HT-S400 has a limited selection of physical inputs. You can connect the bar to your TV over Optical or HDMI, which is nice. However, there's no Full HDMI In for high-quality passthrough, and you can't wire other devices like smartphones with an AUX port.

N/A
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - ARC
eARC
Locked
Dolby Atmos
Locked
Dolby Digital
Locked
Dolby Digital Plus
Locked
DTS
Locked
DTS:X (eARC only)
Locked
Dolby TrueHD (eARC only)
Locked
DTS-HD MA (eARC only)
Locked
5.1 PCM (eARC only)
Locked

The Sony HT-S400 only supports Dolby Digital over ARC. Dolby Digital is the most common surround sound format, so you're likely to come across it on most streaming platforms and some Blu-ray discs. However, there's no support for lossless or object-based formats like Dolby Atmos.

N/A
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - Full HDMI In
Dolby Atmos
Locked
DTS:X
Locked
Dolby Digital
Locked
Dolby Digital Plus
Locked
DTS
Locked
Dolby TrueHD
Locked
DTS-HD MA
Locked
5.1 PCM
Locked
N/A
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - Optical
Dolby Digital
Locked
DTS
Locked

Over Optical, the Sony HT-S400 supports Dolby Digital. It's the most commonly-used surround sound format, but since it's a 2.1 bar, it has to downmix it to stereo to play it.

N/A
Connectivity
Latency
- SAMPLE -
Get Insider Access for videos & test results
Sony HT-S400 Latency Video Sample
ARC
Lock ms
Optical
Lock ms
Full HDMI In
N/A

The Sony HT-S400 has a decent latency performance, so the audio you hear is in sync with the video you see. That said, different apps and TVs compensate for latency differently, so your results can vary. During our testing, we obtained different results when we used the same TV and the same app, meaning you may experience some lip-synching issues with the bar. You can sync the bar with a compatible BRAVIA TV over Bluetooth to avoid these latency issues.

N/A
Connectivity
Wireless Playback
Bluetooth
Locked
Wi-Fi
Locked
Chromecast built-in
Locked
Apple AirPlay
Locked

The Sony HT-S400 lets you wirelessly stream audio to the bar via Bluetooth. If you're an avid Apple or Google user, there's no Chromecast or Apple AirPlay compatibility.

Connectivity
Other Input Specifications
4k @ 60 Hz Passthrough
Locked
4k @ 60 Hz @ 10 bit Passthrough
Locked
4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4 Passthrough
Locked
HDR10 Passthrough
Locked
Connectivity
Connectivity - Subwoofer
Sub Wireless
Locked

The sub connects to the bar wirelessly, so you just need to plug it into a power outlet to use it.

Connectivity
Connectivity - Satellites
Sat Wireless
Locked
Additional Features
Additional Features
Interface
Display
Locked

There's a small display screen on the front of the bar. It reads out the settings as you change them.

Additional Features
Bar Controls

There are some physical controls on top of the bar to let you control its basic features. You can power the bar on/off, change the input, pair it with a Bluetooth device, and adjust the volume.

Additional Features
Remote
Universal Remote
Locked

The remote is fairly simple and lets you control all the bar's features. For example, you can turn it on and off, adjust the volume, and access different enhancement features like night mode and dialogue enhancement.

Additional Features
Voice Assistants Support
Amazon Alexa
Locked
Google Assistant
Locked
Apple Siri
Locked
Additional Features
App
App Name Locked
iOS Locked
Android Locked
Acts As A Remote
Locked
Controls Soundbar's Settings
Locked
Casts Device Files
Locked
Additional Features
Other Features
Power Saving
Locked
HDMI CEC (TV Remote Control)
Locked

The Sony HT-S400 goes into standby mode after about twenty minutes of inactivity. There's also HDMI CEC support, so you can use your TV remote to control some of its basic features.

Discussions