Rated 3.9 out of 5 by 30
Rated 5 out of 5
by Multimediographer The New Standard for Audio in my Home
Over the past few years I’ve been in the process of building the “perfect podcasters studio” in my home office. The latest addition to my set-up is the Sony HT-ST5 sound bar. I’ve never owned any sound bar prior to this one so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect in terms of sound quality. Especially considering the sleek low-profile size of the unit. I’ve grown up thinking big speakers mean big sound, right? Wrong.
I own several Sony products, so I was certain build quality wouldn’t be an issue, but the idea that cinema quality sound could come out of a device that occupies such a relatively small footprint made me very skeptical. Also, in my livingroom I have a full 5:1 premium built-in sound system. My thinking was — how could this thing ever compare?
In short, it did more than just compare. It made me really question the expense I incurred by getting that built in system.
THE BOX! TETRIS IN THE HOUSE!
The unit showed up in a box that looked like a “Tetris” piece. The box is an “L” shape, to accommodate both the oblong sound bar as well as the square-ish subwoofer. The box was a bit heavy, but even though the packaging indicated that it should be handled by two people, I was able to easily move it around by myself.
After the box arrived, I let the box sit, sealed, in my office for a few days. I was waiting until I had a good amount of time to dedicate to getting it all wired and configured in my home office. And I just “knew” a trip to Best Buy was in my future to snag some essential missing cable or something. Thankfully, none of this was the case.
Sony packaged the device very well, but it was easy enough to open and unpack. In fact, I had the unit out of the box and sitting on the floor waiting for installation in about 5 minutes.
From there, it was really “scarily” simple to set up. The configuration essentially consisted of this; 1. unbox the unit, 2. put it on my desk and plug it in, 3. connect the audio input, 4. plug in the subwoofer. 5. play some music and sit back and listen.
I can’t stress enough that there was pretty much ZERO configuration with this device. Setting it up really only consisted of plugging it in. And the wireless subwoofer made my day. No pairing, no hassle, no nothing… I just plugged it in and turned it on. The sound bar automatically found the sub and everything just… worked. This is how technology should work.
THE REMOTE AND ENERGY SAVING
The remote control is delightfully simple with just a few buttons to operate it, and the sound bar automatically powers itself off after a period of dormancy. I do wish that it would auto detect an incoming audio signal and turn itself on as well, but it doesn’t. Once it goes to sleep, a trip to the tiny remote control is in order to power it back on. But it boots up within a few seconds and is ready for action.
In a word, WOW. For context, this device replaced a set of M-Audio AV-40 monitor speakers that I had connected to my Mac. These speakers sounded just fine, but lacked the low frequencies. Meaning podcasts, Skype calls and Google+ Hangouts sounded just fine, but the lower frequencies present in music and other audio were almost non-existent. Conversely, the audio out of the Sony HT-ST5 sound bar blew my socks off. The bass response is outstanding, with crisp highs and clear mid tones. My podcast studio finally sounds like an actual studio.
THE BOTTOM LINE
My eyes have been opened to the quality possible from the Sony sound bar line up. It’s simply amazing that such rich and cinematic sound can come from such a sleek and low profile device. I’m now planning on purchasing one for the master bedroom. And have cancelled plans to have built-in speakers installed in the ceiling.
I realize I’m using this device somewhat outside of its intended purpose (home theater), but if Sony hasn’t considered the home office/studio as a possible use case, it should. The Sony HT-ST5 sound bar has added a depth of sound quality to my office that I had not previously thought possible… especially not at this price.
I highly recommend the Sony HT-ST5 sound bar to anyone looking for premium sound — in any room.
September 3, 2014
Rated 4 out of 5
by DianaElizabeth Excellent + stylish upgrade from previous setup
Previous surround sound set up (might be similar to yours): Power plug from wall to Subwoofer --> Subwoofer cable to Receiver (Disc player/Radio) AND small speakers with thin wires --> Receiver cable to TV. Lots of cables everywhere, all nestled by the TV as all must be connected.
For reference - my TV is 46" and it is perfect size where it matches the length of the sound bar.
> Less wires. Sound Bar cables - (1) optical out to TV, (2) HDMI cable to Receiver (disc player/etc), (3) power outlet. Much simpler, I was looking for a better solution.
> Subwoofer plugged in anywhere in the room (can be hidden) and is wireless.
> Different settings for what you are watching - game, movie, football, etc. A
> If updating from something similar to my previous surround sound set up, you will need a new DVD/Radio Receiver since mine was ancient and had no HDMI or power outlet.
> Connecting from a smartphone/tablet, you switch on Bluetooth - setting BT AU to sync. Will prompt you to download a free App (instructions in manual). Once set up I didn't know how to play the music, hitting all kinds of buttons, essentially the App just allows you to use your smartphone as a remote (but couldn't make it play from my iTunes). Use the hand remote and hit "BT AU" once again for the speakers and it will play. Careful on sound settings on your iPhone and speakers, I almost blew my ear drums out.
> In future to play songs from smart phone/tablet turn on sound bar "BT AU" so it's on, and connect bluetooth (select device) and play iTunes.
This is my first experience with a sound bar. I do enjoy that subwoofer no longer needs to sit by the TV (again, my previous set up was probably 6+ years old).
The only reason for 4 instead of 5 would be the size (and , but again, I'm not sure if it would be possible for a sound bar to be slimmer. I enjoy this view better than all the dated speakers I had before.
September 2, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5
by BeJay2 HIGH TIME WE UPGRADED OUR SOUND
Over the years we’d gotten comfortable with what we had in place — know what I mean? Our living room has an L-shaped sectional couch at its focal point so that’s where we had placed an antique armoire – to hold and to hide our entertainment components.
Then two years ago we swapped our older technology TV for a 46-inch Full HD 3D-capable LED unit and a new Blue-ray 3D DVD player. They fit inside that armoire along with our old sound system, which was a circa-2000 Amplifier/6-CD/AM&FM Radio music center with a wired subwoofer and pair of duplexed micro cube speakers….
After a while our new components revealed how outdated our sound system actually was; besides, it didn’t do surround sound, etc.… The question then became what to replace it with that had: quality sound; was flexible enough to connect with many devices; and looked good in our living room (that is, fit without showing). We were drawn toward the compactness and ease of installation of a high-quality sound bar rather than discrete components.
We had looked at several models, including Sony’s top-of-the-line HT-ST7 Sound Bar and we had liked its premium sound and capabilities. So, when Sony’s brand new HT-ST5 Sound Bar recently became available it gave consumers like us the option of a premium device at a lower price point but still delivered ST7-like sound quality and features. Frankly, we couldn’t hear the difference.
Checking the HT-ST5’s specs, it had more than enough power (380W) for our 13ft x 23ft living room with 8ft ceiling; 7.1 channel surround sound; 7 mid-range, 2 tweeters and a sealed subwoofer; and several HDMI 2.0 inputs for our LED TV, Verizon FIOS cable box, and our Blue-ray DVD player. Perfect!
The HT-ST5 arrived in a sturdy L-shaped foam-padded carton. Installation was as straightforward as expected using an included optical cable and two HDMI cables that we already had. The HT-ST5 fit neatly into our armoire two shelves below the HD LED TV (see photo), so we don’t need to use the built-in IR repeater. The unit has removable rubber feet that tilt it upwards about 30 degrees, which seems to maximize the sound path for our particular layout. And the subwoofer, being wireless, was easily stashed out of sight behind our couch. The sound bar and the subwoofer paired automatically – no muss, no fuss. The HT-ST5 installation actually took less time than it took to dismantle and set aside our old equipment and cabling!
We’ve been enjoying the HT-ST5 and we don’t miss our old component system. In fact, we are astonished by the presence and clarity of Sony’s theater-like surround sound in our space. [We’ll leave it for technical reviewers to compare arcane specs like S Force Pro Front Surround, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, aptX and AAC codecs, and stuff like that.]
We can hear the difference compared with our old system: cable channels, streamed movies, DVDs, and even our legacy collection of classical music CDs are more satisfying and enjoyable now – it’s as if our entertainment center has, well, come alive!
Speaking of “hearing”, one feature that we had under-estimated on the HT-ST5 is Sony’s three Voice settings for dialogue clarity – it really does help eliminate those dreaded “Honey, what did they just say?” They are in addition to seven levels of Sound Field settings (Standard, Movie1, Movie2, Music, Game, Football, and Clear Audio+), which are convenient presets of equalizer and other settings.
The HT-ST5 is now the hub of our entertainment system. We’re still trying out the HT-ST5’s many settings and exploring all the options so our listening experience is actually getting even better as we learn to tweak it. That said, if there is anything we wished Sony had done differently with this product it would be around the Startup Guide and User Manual – they ought to be more user friendly and in-depth. Perhaps coupled with a set-up video?
Sony’s engineers also included NFC (Near Field Connectivity) for devices with that level of Bluetooth technology. I’m a fan of NFC, I already use NFC to pair my Xperia Tablet Z with my RX100/II Cyber-shot digital camera, so connecting this sound bar with my tablet was a snap – just press the unit’s Pairing button and “tap” their NFC logos together to connect. Also installed Sony’s free SongPal™ app on the Tablet Z to navigate content, control the Sound Bar (see photo), and stream the tablet’s audio output.
However, we are quite comfortable using the neat little remote and its “hidden” buttons. There’s even a button to dim/turn-off the HT-ST5’s front panel display to enhance the mood – I kid you not.
So, if you are also looking for a premium sound bar in the $1K price band, I can heartily recommend purchasing an HT-ST5. Then pour a glass of your favorite beverage, sit back, and enjoy the thrilling sound of this remarkable new sound bar. Cheers, Sony.
August 31, 2014
Rated 4 out of 5 by pixy Good Value
This sound bar offers very good sound quality for the price. The Pros: It has two HDMI input ports which allow connection to both a TV and a Blu-ray player. There is also a BluTooth setting. The subwoofer may be placed anywhere in the room and there are multiple subwoofer settings on the remote. The Cons: The subwoofer is not very powerful, but OK for a small room. This sound bar hides the TV remote on/off eye, so the TV signal doesn't connect using the TV remote. The Sony Soundbar Model HTST7 has an antenna to correct for this. Wish this also had an antenna.
July 19, 2015
Rated 5 out of 5 by Samueladanss Traditional Surround
I had a traditional surround sound system but my wife hated the wires. We recently purchased a 65'' 4k Sony tv and the sound bar. I was reluctant about the full experience of just the bar. When everything was hooked up and connected I was blown away at the sound quality, and that it ''talked'' to the tv. It gave full surround sound feeling in a compact bar. I definitely would recommend this to anyone that wants to cut the cords!
July 22, 2015
Rated 1 out of 5 by JS5757 Broke after 5 months
Speakers blew after 5 months. They work for 5 minutes, then the sound goes out (though the power does not). Have been trying to work with technical support to send the speakers in for repair, but to no avail. They keep telling me that they are sending me an e-mail with a return shipping label so that I can send the soundbar in for repairs but after multiple hours on the phone, 3 separate attempts at e-mailing me the shipping label to 2 different e-mail addresses, no shipping label has arrived at either e-mail address. Buyer beware I guess.
July 9, 2015
Rated 5 out of 5 by MrTopher Excellent System for my new TV
I replaced a Bose sound system with the Sony SA ST5 sound bar and woofer, which gives me much better results. I actually get compliments from guests about the great sound coming from the TV. Couldn't be happier!
July 9, 2015
Rated 4 out of 5 by digitalrat13 nice components except the remote
the sound bar sets up quickly and easily (although it did take a few attempts to sync the sound bar with the bass module) and both of those pieces have a nice, solid quality feel to them.
the manuals could have been laid out better (the instructions for syncing the wireless bass module should have been in the start up guide, rather than having to hunt through both manuals only to find it on page 9 of the operations manual).
the plastic remote feels like a cheap toy and is extremely flimsy when you extend it to access the internal controls (like for syncing the bass module). for the price point of this product, it should have been engineered better.
I'm also not a fan of the finish on the remote. why sony continues to produce items with a glossy black finish that ends up looking filthy the moment you touch them is beyond me (the top and bottom of the remote are matte, but the sides of the remote have a high gloss finish).
overall, it's a nice product and definitely suits my needs and an upgrade to the remote would have earned 5 stars.
February 27, 2015