Monday, November 29, 2021

Sony HT-S20R 5.1Ch Dolby Home Theatre Soundbar

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Audio
Features
Value for Money
Sony HT-S20R is a budget-friendly 5.1 home theatre system sound bar. Although it is compact, its 400 Watts are sufficiently loud and will appeal to bass lovers. But it is strictly for those seeking budget 5.1 set up for movies and is not meant for music lovers.

Sony HT-S20R is a 400W budget friendly 5.1 channel Dolby soundbar with separate surround speakers & wired subwoofer delivering a great movie experience for small sized rooms.

This 400 Watt home theatre consists of a front sound bar, a wired sub-woofer and two wired surround rear channel speakers. It is priced at entry-level, has multiple connectivity options and is compact. But it is strictly for those seeking budget 5.1 set up for movies and is not meant for music lovers.

  • Bluetooth 5.0 input. upto 10 device memory
  • Good connectivity options
  • Allows physically separate speaker placement, giving real cinema surround experience
  • Budget friendly
  • Dolby sound at entry level

  • Too many wires
  • Not very good for music
  • Front sound bar does not give good stereo separation because front three speakers are housed in one compact bar

Sony has one of the widest range of home theatre options ranging from sound-bars to home-theatre-in-a-box (HTIB) ranging from Rs. 8,990 to Rs. 139,990. Sony also offers high end AV-Receivers and speakers for those with higher budget ranges.

The Sony HT-S20R It was launched in India in February 2020.

Why Should You Buy Sony HT-S20R

You should buy this soundbar if-

  • Space is a constraint and you do not have room to install individual speakers and AV receivers
  • You wish to experience a budget-friendly full cinema surround home theatre (read more below)

If you are interested in Dolby Atmos and DTS:X enabled soundbars, check the Sony HT-X8500 Soundbar.

What is in the Box

The pieces retailing in India come in an L Shaped carton having –

  • Bar Speaker (1)
  • Subwoofer (1)
  • Surround Speakers (2)
  • Remote Control with batteries (1)
  • AC Power Cord or main lead (1)
  • Stereo mini cable (1)
  • Operating Instructions (1)
  • Startup Guide (1)

The international pieces also include an optical digital cable. Optical digital cable is not available with the India edition. HDMI cable is also not included.

Key Features of Sony Home Theatre Soundbar

This Sony home theatre sound bar is a 5.1 channel home theatre and has a total of 6 drivers/ speakers/ channels. The front bar has three oval drivers, Front Left, Front Right and Centre channels. They are all combined in a sleek bar. The system has two separate surround rear right and left drivers in plastic enclosures.

Subwoofer of Sony Home Theatre HT-S20R

The subwoofer is housed in a separate large enclosure. The Subwoofer is the heart of this Sony home theatre. Sound is input, processed and output via the subwoofer unit. Since the amplifier is built in the subwoofer, it weighs around 7 kg. The subwoofer is ported with a large port firing to the front. The entry level Blaupunkt SBW100 offers separate 70 Watt subwoofer.

All the connection jacks, buttons, displays and indicator LEDs are on the subwoofer unit and not on soundbar.

In the Creative Technology’s Creative Stage V2 Soundbar, the subwoofer is connected to the soundbar unit through proprietary cable and is powered through this cable only, making it a clean installation.

Remote control is a very handy unit. Notable feature are the dedicated buttons for 6 sound modes – auto, standard, cinema, music, night and voice.

This Sony home theatre is packed with 4 input options– Optical, Bluetooth 5.0, USB and Analogue. The Bluetooth and analogue input are stereo based.

Lookwise, this is an all black unit with metal mesh in the front of the sound bar, subwoofer driver and surround. The drivers are safely placed behind the mesh.

Placement of Components

You can either place the front sound bar on a table under the TV or wall mount it using two screws of 4mm dia and minimum length 30mm. The front sound bar has rubber padding.

The subwoofer unit can be placed on ground near the soundbar.

The rear channel speakers can either be hung on wall using single 4 mm screw or placed on stands. The surround rear speakers are not wireless so they will need to be connected through provided wires to the subwoofer to fire them.

The wire to the rear speakers is 8 meters or approximately 20 feet long. This would be sufficient for small sized room because you would run the wire along the side walls. The warranty becomes void if you extend the wires by cutting and joining extra wire-length. Make sure the length of rear speaker wires is ample for your room.

The subwoofer is powered through a wall socket and draws 40 Watt power. Power cable is supplied with the unit.

Installation and Wiring

Wiring Schematic of Sony Home Theatre HT-S20R (Image Courtsey: Sony Startup Guide)

Step 1– Connect front sound bar to the subwoofer. Connect three pairs of wires (two wires for each speaker) coming out from the soundbar to the jacks provided at the rear of the subwoofer. This connects the front right speaker, front left speaker and centre speaker.

Step 2– Connect surround left and right speakers to the jacks provided at the rear of the subwoofer.

Subwoofer Rear Showing Analog-IN, Optical-IN and HDMI-OUT

Step 3 (a) – Connect to TV which does not have HDMI IN. If your TV does not have an HDMI IN jack, then the only way to connect this Sony home theatre to your TV is through either analog out (through supplied stereo cable) or optical digital cable (not supplied). You will be able to enjoy 5.1 channel cinema sound only if you connect using an optical digital cable.

Step 3 (b) – Connect to TV which has HDMI IN but it is not ARC (Audio Return Channel). In this case you will need two cables, an HDMI cable (not supplied) and an optical cable (not supplied). Connect the HDMI OUT of subwoofer to HDMI IN of TV with an HDMI cable. Also connect the optical OUT of TV to optical IN of subwoofer with optical cable.

Step 3 (c)– Connect to TV which has HDMI ARC IN. in this case, you will need just an HDMI wire (not supplied). Connect the HDMI OUT of subwoofer to the HDMI IN of TV.

How to Use

The subwoofer has a small display which shows the input mode as ‘TV’ or ‘ANALOG’. Toggle the input button on the remote to choose between the two.

The remote has a volume up/down button. Bass level is adjustable through remote from 1 to 12 bass levels using separate bass control up/down buttons.

Using the remote, you can choose among six different sound modes – auto sound, standard, cinema, music, voice and night. Each mode has a dedicated button. There is a separate mute button as well.

The subwoofer has volume up/down button and power button on the front top panel. There is also a dedicated Bluetooth button on the subwoofer.

You can pair your mobile with the Sony home theatre and stream music through Bluetooth 5.0. Convenient buttons have been provided on the remote for pause/play, menu, enter, menu up/down and forward /reverse track buttons. Note, the Bluetooth connectivity does not give 5.1 channel output. The Sony HT-S20R can store upto 10 Bluetooth devices.

This Sony home theatre sound bar system offers Dolby sound. But Dolby can be enjoyed only through HDMI or optical cable connection.

Setup and Menu

I was pleasantly surprised to see a decent amount of menu options in this entry level 5.1 Sony home theatre. You can choose Multi Speaker ON option if you want sound from all speakers regardless of the number of audio channels of the source. This means if the input is Bluetooth stereo (2 channel), by selecting Multi Speaker ON, sound will be output from all 6 speakers.

Depending on how far you are sitting from the surround or the rear speakers, you can input the distance of surround speakers and the software will adjust the sound levels accordingly. The distance of surround speakers can be from 1 meter to 6 meters at 0.1 meter interval.

In addition to the distance, the sound output level of surround or rear speakers can be adjusted from -6 dB to 6 dB at 0.5 dB interval.

Audio set up includes DRC ON/OFF (Dynamic Range Control) for enjoying movies at low sound. Additionally, ‘Automatic Volume Control’ ON/OFF can adjust volume as per the input source.

The system software can be updated through USB. The software update file has to be stored on the USB device before plugging in the USB.

Usage Review

Connectivity

This Sony home theatre system gives various options to work around different TVs with and without HDMI. This makes it a perfect fit for those not willing to upgrade their old TV sets just yet.

Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity allows for 2.1 playback from mobile or other Bluetooth storage devices.

USB IN port is placed at the front of the subwoofer and can be used to play music directly from USB drives. The USB supports Mp3, WMA and WAV type files for playback.

Analogue stereo IN and Optical IN are a must are are available in all entry level home theatre systems, so no points for that. It’s a perfect system for those interested in multiple connection options.

Sound

For those looking for cinema experience, the Sony home theatre HT-S20R offers a convenient true surround sound option with 5 dedicated channels/ speakers and a subwoofer. This is a good entry level 5.1 channel home theatre system from Sony. But it is strictly just that; an entry level device.

Bass lovers will not be disappointed. The bass is boomy and loud and is capable of rattling windows. The 16 cm bass driver with 65 watt peak power output is adequate for upto medium sized rooms. In comparison, the entry level Blaupunkt SBW100 delivers 70 Watts of bass. But it loses clarity very soon. This will however be the case with any budget home theatre. The bass level can be adjusted on the fly using the remote.

The soundbar speakers are 42mm x 100 mm in size. Due to compact size, the soundbar speakers are not expected to sound any different than TV speakers.

This device is strictly for movie buffs seeking budget options. It is not meant for those who love their music. Sony HT-X8500 may be a better choice if you are watch a lot of movies and wish to experience Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.

For Other budget-friendly options, check out my review of the Xiaomi Mi Soundbar.

Verdict

Sony home theatre HT-S20R is a budget friendly and compact 5.1 channel home theatre having adequate connectivity features. It lacks premium sound and tries to play at the hearts of bass loving movie lovers who are seeking a branded entry level 5.1 channel home theatre system. But at the price point, this Sony home theatre will do fine. Overall, if you can upgrade your budget, I would recommend going one notch higher in the Sony range itself.

Specifications of Sony Home Theatre HT-S20R

FeatureSpecifications
Number of Speakers5.1 Channel
Speaker Power Output Peak (at 4 ohms)Front L- 67 Watt
Front R- 67 Watt
Centre- 67 Watt
Surround L- 67 Watt
Surround R- 67 Watt
Subwoofer- 65 Watt (at 100Hz)
Total 400 Watts Peak Power Output
Speaker Power Rated (at 4 ohms, 1 kHz, 1% THD) 2 channelFront L – 45 Watts
Front R- 45 Watts
Power ConsumptionOn: 40 W
Standby: 0.5 to 2 Watts
Size and WeightMain Unit – 2 kg (760mm x 52mm x 86mm)
Subwoofer- 6.9 kg (192mm x 387mm x 342mm)
Surround Speakers- 0.6 kg each (86mm x 171mm x 86mm)
Subwoofer TypeWired
Connectivity OptionsHDMI ARC, Optical IN, 3.5mm, USB Type A FAT/NTFS, Bluetooth
Bluetooth5.0

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