Got a CT550 today. For all it does right, have some huge issues with it for now and am deciding whether or not to return it in the next few days. I am terribly dissapointed with the quality of the sound in any sort of surround mode.
Since I live in NYC and space is at a premium, for years I've happily used a CT100. The CT100 was a great product for its price. Dialogue separation was an issue sometimes, as well as action scene volume going WAY over volume for clear dialog. But the CT100 had really great quality sound.
Would've kept it, too, but just got a Sony HX800 and needed to be able to pass thru 3d.
So I get a 550, as it's only about $50 more than the 150. I'm not too concerned about 2.1 / 3.1.
Unfortunately, the 550 has terrific sound in 2.0 channel stereo - but whatever processing goes on to create the virtual surround space is really, really awful. It seems to compress parts of the soundtrack with a strange hollow sound, like its being downsampled. The upshot is there's great clarity and separation between these things - I can hear background / atmos tracks in ways the CT100 never could present. But there's this strange ghostly quality to everything as if it were coming through over a phone. The CT100 sounded much better overall despite the problems with separation.
And yes, I know the settings well (and to correct you LBJ you should not run this in bitstream if you have an older fat PS3 but rather linear PCM) and have played with them endlessly. It definitely has power, and by god it can be loud. The problem is again with the processing occuring to create the virtual surround scape - it's either compressing or downsampling individual tracks. And some other things are strange. The end credits music of Breaking Bad (which changes episode to episode) always distorts.
Integration with the Bravia is great, somewhat except for two details - really frustrating that you can access the devices controls via menu under the apps menu, so I can't change the sound field while watching Netflix, for instance.
Likewise, for whatever weird reason I cannot get the Bravia's Sony remote (which I now have controlling everything, even my Xbox 360) to control the sound field change. So I have to keep the stupid remote around if I want to manually change the sound field and for no other reason (Bravia integrated Netflix comes in at 2.0 and reverts to Movie mode automatically - I have not as yet been able to figure out how to turn off the device automatically switching sound fields when controlled via HDMI and scene selects. I'd prefer for 2.0 sources to play back as 2.0).
I'm giving myself a few days to see if I can live with the strange sound quality. But I have to say I'm a strong contender for returning this. It sounds like the 300 was ideal.
Also, ridiculous that it lost from the 100 the ability to turn the display off alltogether (not just dim it) and a readout showing you what mode it was playing in depending on what source was coming in.
Does anyone know if the 150 have the same sound issues? I'd rather have a full sound with separation issues than a hollow sound with clarity of track separation.