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Old 02-10-2016, 09:45 AM - Thread Starter
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Angry Any options under $500? Feeling... despair...

Ok, background, I've been using a Sony HT-CT150 soundbar since 2011, originally paid $225, and have been quite happy with it. It is a 3.1 system, with surprisingly good mid-range and a sub that's powerful enough without being overwhelming. It sounds awesome at high volumes, and dialog is perfectly intelligible at low volumes. It decodes DTS and DD, has 3 HDMI inputs, and a pretty damn decent virtual surround effect using the 'movie' soundfield (which I use for everything, including music and sports). I have enjoyed this system for almost 5 years and it has done everything I ever wanted it to do.

That is, until streaming services like Netflix started sending their 5.1 signal via DD+, for nearly all streaming boxes. The CT150 does not decode DD+, and will not produce any sound at all with 5.1 enabled in Netflix. I would be forced to suffer with stereo only. I know, you may be saying, who cares if you only have a soundbar anyway, but trust me when I say the sony processing being used to convert 5.1 to 3.1 with virtual surround sounds far, far better than upconverting stereo or listening to it with no effects.

Luckily, I'm still able to get 5.1 Netflix thanks to the built-in app in my tv (panny s60), outputting to the soundbar via optical. It's fine, but the app kinda sucks. If I ever wanted to get an appletv or roku or something, I would be out of luck. It would also nice to have a system that can decode TrueHD and DTS-HD, but that's not really bugging me as much as the lack of DD+.

So for a while now I've been sort of passively looking for upgrade options, and then this past week amazon ran a gold box sale on the HT-CT770 for $200, which I purchased immediately. A steal!

I am now sitting on my couch listening to the CT770 while watching Fargo, and... it kinda sucks. I am only comparing it to my ancient CT150, and it really just sucks. It's poor. It's not good. This is a bad sounding soundbar. There is no mid-range at all, the highs are aggressively sharp, the sub is an indiscriminate beast with no subtlety whatsoever, and you can't understand a word anyone is saying at lower volumes. The bar and the sub in combination sound almost as if they weren't even made to work together. Just two random pieces of equipment doing their own thing with no regard for each other. Music sounds pretty good, and action scenes are admittedly fantastic, but anything quiet or with dialog sounds thin, hollow, phony, sad. I have messed with all the possible setting configurations with no luck, and I'm thinking a lot of this has to do with the fact that it's 2.1 compared to the CT150's 3.1. And what's more, my old system had an awesome night mode which would cut the power down in such a perfect way as to not penetrate the bedroom wall while my wife is sleeping, but while still maintaining a nicely full sound in the living room. Night mode on the CT770 basically just turns the subwoofer off, which only calls even more attention to the pitiful inadequacies of the bar. And remember, all of these complaints are only in direct comparison to the CT150, a veritable dinosaur that was a budget system in the first place. Am I crazy? Am I taking crazy pills?

So, I'm returning it (citing it as defective so I don't get jammed with return shipping. it sucks, that's a defect, right?) and because I can't leave well enough alone now I have been bouncing around the internet trying to find a better upgrade option. Yes, I originally jumped on this one because it had dropped to $200, but as these things go, I'm now already looking at what's out there for up to $500. Any more than that, and I just can't rationalize throwing away my beloved CT150 at this point in time.

Is it hopeless? They're all either missing something, or are outrageously expensive. Here's my humble criteria:

- Must sound good
- Must work at both low and high volume
- Must either have a center channel or be good enough at making me not notice the lack of one.
- Must decode DD, DD+, and DTS with decent virtual surround.
- Would be nice to decode TrueHD and DTS-HD
- Would prefer multiple HDMI inputs. I can run everything through my TV if I really have to, which seems to be the trend these days, but I've always preferred using the audio system as the HDMI switcher with a single cable to the TV. Does that make me old or something?

Is that really so much to ask? Can $500 really not get me that, given that even my CT150 meets all of those except DD+, and that was only $225 five years ago? Am I missing something?

Oh, and to add, before anyone asks, I am looking at the soundbar route because I just really don't want to deal with rear speakers, and soundbars were supposed to be the answer to that. I am also not opposed to putting together a 3.1 or 3.2 system with separate components, but I would want it to be able to decode 5.1 signals and virtualize the surround at least as well as the CT150 does. I haven't really researched much yet in that direction, but I am also kind of assuming that it gets kinda pricey to do it that way too.

Help?

Last edited by Mike Sanders; 02-10-2016 at 09:50 AM.
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Old 02-10-2016, 11:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Sanders View Post
Ok, background, I've been using a Sony HT-CT150 soundbar since 2011, originally paid $225, and have been quite happy with it. It is a 3.1 system, with surprisingly good mid-range and a sub that's powerful enough without being overwhelming. It sounds awesome at high volumes, and dialog is perfectly intelligible at low volumes. It decodes DTS and DD, has 3 HDMI inputs, and a pretty damn decent virtual surround effect using the 'movie' soundfield (which I use for everything, including music and sports). I have enjoyed this system for almost 5 years and it has done everything I ever wanted it to do.

That is, until streaming services like Netflix started sending their 5.1 signal via DD+, for nearly all streaming boxes. The CT150 does not decode DD+, and will not produce any sound at all with 5.1 enabled in Netflix. I would be forced to suffer with stereo only. I know, you may be saying, who cares if you only have a soundbar anyway, but trust me when I say the sony processing being used to convert 5.1 to 3.1 with virtual surround sounds far, far better than upconverting stereo or listening to it with no effects.

Luckily, I'm still able to get 5.1 Netflix thanks to the built-in app in my tv (panny s60), outputting to the soundbar via optical. It's fine, but the app kinda sucks. If I ever wanted to get an appletv or roku or something, I would be out of luck. It would also nice to have a system that can decode TrueHD and DTS-HD, but that's not really bugging me as much as the lack of DD+.

So for a while now I've been sort of passively looking for upgrade options, and then this past week amazon ran a gold box sale on the HT-CT770 for $200, which I purchased immediately. A steal!

I am now sitting on my couch listening to the CT770 while watching Fargo, and... it kinda sucks. I am only comparing it to my ancient CT150, and it really just sucks. It's poor. It's not good. This is a bad sounding soundbar. There is no mid-range at all, the highs are aggressively sharp, the sub is an indiscriminate beast with no subtlety whatsoever, and you can't understand a word anyone is saying at lower volumes. The bar and the sub in combination sound almost as if they weren't even made to work together. Just two random pieces of equipment doing their own thing with no regard for each other. Music sounds pretty good, and action scenes are admittedly fantastic, but anything quiet or with dialog sounds thin, hollow, phony, sad. I have messed with all the possible setting configurations with no luck, and I'm thinking a lot of this has to do with the fact that it's 2.1 compared to the CT150's 3.1. And what's more, my old system had an awesome night mode which would cut the power down in such a perfect way as to not penetrate the bedroom wall while my wife is sleeping, but while still maintaining a nicely full sound in the living room. Night mode on the CT770 basically just turns the subwoofer off, which only calls even more attention to the pitiful inadequacies of the bar. And remember, all of these complaints are only in direct comparison to the CT150, a veritable dinosaur that was a budget system in the first place. Am I crazy? Am I taking crazy pills?

So, I'm returning it (citing it as defective so I don't get jammed with return shipping. it sucks, that's a defect, right?) and because I can't leave well enough alone now I have been bouncing around the internet trying to find a better upgrade option. Yes, I originally jumped on this one because it had dropped to $200, but as these things go, I'm now already looking at what's out there for up to $500. Any more than that, and I just can't rationalize throwing away my beloved CT150 at this point in time.

Is it hopeless? They're all either missing something, or are outrageously expensive. Here's my humble criteria:

- Must sound good
- Must work at both low and high volume
- Must either have a center channel or be good enough at making me not notice the lack of one.
- Must decode DD, DD+, and DTS with decent virtual surround.
- Would be nice to decode TrueHD and DTS-HD
- Would prefer multiple HDMI inputs. I can run everything through my TV if I really have to, which seems to be the trend these days, but I've always preferred using the audio system as the HDMI switcher with a single cable to the TV. Does that make me old or something?

Is that really so much to ask? Can $500 really not get me that, given that even my CT150 meets all of those except DD+, and that was only $225 five years ago? Am I missing something?

Oh, and to add, before anyone asks, I am looking at the soundbar route because I just really don't want to deal with rear speakers, and soundbars were supposed to be the answer to that. I am also not opposed to putting together a 3.1 or 3.2 system with separate components, but I would want it to be able to decode 5.1 signals and virtualize the surround at least as well as the CT150 does. I haven't really researched much yet in that direction, but I am also kind of assuming that it gets kinda pricey to do it that way too.

Help?
Yes
i understand your frustration, I was in the same boat, , to get what you want, you are going to be looking at the yamaha's, you may want to look at an older used yamaha ysp 2200 which can be had in your price rangeI have moved from a vizio , to a ysp-800, than ysp-1100, upg my tv , and got a ysp-4100, solved the issue with the decoders, it is 4 yeards old, and the only differance is that the current new beast ysp-5600 supports atmos, buft it is over 2k in canada and you still need a sub
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Old 02-10-2016, 01:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Yes
i understand your frustration, I was in the same boat, , to get what you want, you are going to be looking at the yamaha's, you may want to look at an older used yamaha ysp 2200 which can be had in your price rangeI have moved from a vizio , to a ysp-800, than ysp-1100, upg my tv , and got a ysp-4100, solved the issue with the decoders, it is 4 yeards old, and the only differance is that the current new beast ysp-5600 supports atmos, buft it is over 2k in canada and you still need a sub
Thanks, man. Will def check those out.

Just an update too. I've been sitting here for about three hours going back and forth between a few different sources... a Fargo episode (DD), Spider-man 2 (DTS-HD), an Arrow episode (DD), and a Stargate SG1 episode (stereo) and messing with the settings to see if I can beat this thing into submission. Came up with this:

Soundfield: movie
Bass (-6/+6): -4
Treble (-6/+6): -1
Sub (0-12, default 10): 11
Voice (1-3, default 1): 1
AAV: off
DRC: off

Dropping the bass eq down and bumping the sub up a notch to compensate seems to have the effect of changing the crossover freq (or something something), and bringing out the mids a little more. Movie soundfield also has better mids and brings the voices out better than standard, plus the stronger surround effect, which I like, don't judge me.

DRC is for dolby sources only anyway, so I'm keeping it off.

Voice setting 1 is off, while 2 attempts to raise the voice range, and 3 is for people with actual hearing problems. It seems to work by raising the highs even more, thus making dialog easier to understand, but it sounds awful.

And then there's AAV (advanced automatic volume), which seems to be more of a DRC process rather than a volume leveler, though it does that too. This actually sounds great at low volumes, but piss poor at high volumes. With it off, I can't hear what anyone's saying at low volume, but turned on it's near perfect. But then at high volume, everything sounds super crushed, of course. If I could easily turn it on and off depending on the situation, it would almost solve all my problems, but as it happens this is the one single feature that doesn't have a dedicated button on the remote to toggle it! I have to dig down through the menu 3 levels to get to it, which is annoying!

So it's maaaaybe not as bad as I first thought, but then I look back up at my EQ settings and... that's just not how it should be. I should not have to suppress bass and treble like that to bring up the barely there mids. I also had some luck pumping the bass eq up to +6 and dropping the sub down to 5, but this way seems a little better. It works, but clearly the sony engineers completely missed the ball with their default settings.

Update 2,

I have now reconnected the ol' faithful CT150 and threw the CT770 back in its box, and holy crap does the 150 sound better. I had almost convinced myself that I'd gotten it figured out, and that maybe I'd keep it, and that maybe it was a worthy upgrade after all. NO. NO. NO. The CT150 is back in business and people's voices sound human again, the gunshots sound natural, the music sounds musical, the center channel sounds like it actually exists, and the subwoofer adds the right amount of rumble without dragging everything else down into the mud. Was the CT150 generation just a magical fluke sweet spot never to be matched by its successors? I don't know. But they certainly don't make 'em like they used to, do they.
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