I’ve had a long-standing beef with large flatscreen TV manufacturers. And they started it.
My truck with them started well enough: I love big screens, the bigger the better. Bringing the movie theatre home has always been a life-long dream of mine. Of course, if you are just another average guy like I am, you do not have a dedicated media room in your mansion with a 100-inch projection screen and a surround sound system to match. Heck, you do not have a mansion in the first place, in which to dedicate one entire room to build your own person movie theatre.
In the real world that you and I inhabit, where landlords keep upsizing the rent as we downsize on our apartments, space is at a premium. So the sense of bringing home the movie theatre is limited to my living room. Here’s where we got off to a good start, those TV manufacturers and I. They made the screens larger – 55-, 65, 75-, 85-inch – and I salivated at the prospect of bringing one of these models home and inviting friends over to my personal IMAX for a living room film festival. Then, finally, I managed to get one of these TVs home.
And it turned out to be a damp squib. When you watch Jurassic Park on your 65-inch LED TV, you expect the arrival of T-Rex on the screen to be announced not just visually but also aurally. There is a cognitive dissonance in seeing the ground shake on the screen as the fearsome dinosaur arrives but hearing an accompanying sound that is akin to nothing more than a thumping of a door to go along with it. It’s certainly not how I remembered experiencing Jurassic Park at the IMAX in Ibn Battuta Mall.
And this is my beef with the TV manufacturers: If you can make such marvels of electronic gadgetry as those enormous, vibrant, bright screens with true-to-life pictures, why can’t you equip the enclosures that you put them in with adequate sound output devices? The sound quality of most TVs, especially when it comes to voice and dialogue delivery, is not just abysmal but irritatingly so, especially when the human voice is drowned out by even the barest ambient noise on the screen.
But my complaints must have been heard, for the major manufacturers made amends – they built the sound bar. A device slim enough to be comfortably accommodated in your average studio apartment and capable enough to actually bring the cinema hall experience home.
And here I’m talking about the Sony HT-S2000 sound bar, which has been delighting me for couple of weeks now, making sure T-Rex makes a suitably weighty entrance into my living room and car crashes in the Fast and the Furious sound suitably bone crunching instead of the beating of a tin drum that they sounded like when the sound bar was not connected to my TV.
What has emerged in the couple of weeks that I’ve had the HT-S2000 is that in realm of home audio, where sound quality meets design elegance, this soundbar stands as a compelling contender. As a sophisticated addition to Sony’s audio arsenal, it promises an immersive audio experience that elevates your home entertainment.
The first thing that stood out for me about the HT-S2000 is its ability to enhance dialogue clarity, which, as discussed, is a common pain point in the realm of home audio. Whether you’re engrossed in a tense movie scene or binge-watching your favourite TV series, the soundbar’s vocal enhancement technology ensures that every word is delivered with precision. The clarity was striking enough for me find myself catching nuances in dialogue I had missed with other audio setups.
The HT-S2000 doesn’t just stop at clear vocals; it dives deep into the lower frequencies to deliver a bass experience that reverberates through the room. Though the unit does not come with a separate subwoofer and is unassuming in size, it packs a punch that belies its size and transforms action scenes into exciting experiences.
Explosions have a satisfying thud, and a distant thunderstorm feels like it’s really rumbling. The bass is powerful without being overblown, striking a decent balance between loudness and taut precision. It’s certainly not audiophile grade, but then it was never meant to be. It was designed to add that aural thump to go with visual thrill – and this it does really well.
Sony has also nailed the art of creating a 3D audio landscape with the HT-S2000. With its virtual surround technology, you can experience three-dimensional audio without the need for speakers in the ceiling or behind you. With such technologies as Dolby Atmos® and DTS:X® built in, the HT-S2000 soundbar can position sound in vertical space. Factor in Sony’s Vertical Surround Engine and you get a more realistic, multi-dimensional sound for all your music and audio input formats.
The HT-S2000 also features Sony’s S-Force PRO Front Surround technology, which uses the front speakers only to simulate a surround sound experience without the need for additional speakers cluttering your living space. Whether you’re watching a gripping thriller or playing an intense video game, the audio seems to dance around you, pulling you into the heart of the action.
The surround feature adds a layer of immersion to your entertainment setup, making gaming sessions more fun and movie nights more captivating, as we found out when the Millennium Falcon whizzed into hyperspace with the audio following it in a whoosh from one ear to another, or when the Death Star blew up Alderaan in the remastered Star Wars saga.
For a device as effective as the HT-S2000, Sony has not neglected the looks department either. With a sleek and minimalist design, it seamlessly integrates into any modern living space, with the slim profile of the soundbar ensuring it doesn’t obstruct your view of the screen.
An intuitive on-screen interface makes setting up the soundbar easy as pie. Connect one end of the HDMI ARC cable to your TV and the other end to the rear of the soundbar, follow the onscreen instructions on your TV and you’re in business. Even those with limited technical know-how can have the HT-S2000 up and running in no time.
And of course, as is customary these days, Sony’s dedicated app allows you to fine tune the HT-S2000 further to suit your audio sensibilities by toggling the sound set-up on your mobile screen.
While the app controls are great, the same cannot be said about the supplied remote control, however. The button layout is functional but lacks the tactile feedback we were expecting. Additionally, there were some responsiveness issues when the remote was used at an angle to the soundbar, on occasions requiring multiple presses to register commands. It’s a minor inconvenience but for a device that can potentially become the central hub of your home audio setup, it can become a point of frustration when you’re simply streaming your music on it from another part of the room and are not seated directly in front.
As a potential central home audio hub, the HT-S2000 has another shortcoming – it falls short on HDMI connectivity. With only one ARC input and output, users with multiple HDMI devices may find themselves reaching for adapters or constantly swapping cables. This limitation can be particularly frustrating for those who own gaming consoles, Blu-ray players and streaming devices, as each device competes for the lone HDMI slot.
The HT-S2000 is also not meant for large rooms – though this should not be a problem in the average apartment living room. If you live in a mansion, however, this soundbar may not be for you, as its 250W amplifier output excels in delivering rich audio in a mid-sized living room and the sound dispersion, though impressive for its size, has its limits. In more expansive rooms, the immersive surround effect may lose some of its magic, and users may find themselves wanting more power to truly feel the audio enveloping them.
In my humble abode, though, this soundbar worked its charm, bringing a sense of added aural drama to onscreen monsters and explosions, and a clarity in the dialogues that I’ve always yearned for. The Sony HT-S2000’s strengths include crystal-clear voice, deep bass, immersive surround sound and a simple yet sleek design. While there are much better soundbars out there, the Dh1,599 that Sony officially charges for this piece of kit makes it a strong contender in its price range, the limited HDMI ports, remote-control quirks, et al notwithstanding.
In the grand symphony of home audio, the HT-S2000 may not be the virtuoso, but it’s undeniably a talented player that even T-Rex would approve. My beef with large flatscreen TVs has just ended.
Sony HT-S2000 Soundbar
– Crystal-clear dialogues
– Deep, resonant bass
– Immersive surround sound
– Sleek design and easy of use
– Limited HDMI ports
– Remote control quirks
– Room-size matters