Sony HT-SS360 - home theater system - 5.1 channel review: Sony HT-SS360 - home theater system - 5.1 channel

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.1
  • Design: 8.0
  • Features: 7.0
  • Performance: 6.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Blu-ray-ready 5.1 home theater system; three HDMI inputs; three digital audio inputs; three stereo analog audio inputs; automatic speaker calibration; satisfying sound on movies.

The Bad Doesn't handle music well; no analog video connections; no onscreen display; iPod dock isn't included.

The Bottom Line The Sony HT-SS360 is an inexpensive home theater system with generous HDMI connectivity and satisfying sound on movies, but don't expect it to deliver with music.

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Home-theater-in-a-box systems have been around forever, but the latest marketing angle is the "Blu-ray ready HTIB." The new phrase simply means that the system consists of a surround-sound-speaker system and an AV receiver, so you only need to add a Blu-ray player to complete your home theater. The Sony HT-SS360 is an entry-level Blu-ray-ready HTIB, complete with a decor-friendly (read: small) 5.1 speaker system and an AV receiver with three HDMI inputs. That's enough HDMI ports to handle most home theaters, but the HT-SS360 doesn't have any analog video ports, which is an annoyance for anyone with a Nintendo Wii, where you'll need to run its video output straight to your TV. In terms of sound quality, we felt like the HT-SS360 was up to the task on movies--especially considering its $350 list price--but like many HTIBs, it just didn't cut it for music. The HT-SS360 is a good value if you're looking for an all-in-one solution and you already have HDMI-compatible video devices (especially a PS3 or other Blu-ray player), but more discriminating listeners will have to spend more if they want a system that sounds good with music too.

Design
The HT-SS360 is made up of four identical speakers, used for the front and surround speakers, plus a tiny center channel and a subwoofer. The front/surround speakers have plastic cabinets, which are typical at this price range, and each speaker houses a single 2.6-inch cone driver. The speakers themselves are very small, coming in at 4.1 inches wide by 6.5 inches high by 3.1 inches deep; nobody is going to mistake it for a real hi-fi system.


The speakers are small and slim, at only 3.1 inches deep.

The center channel looks even smaller and at 15 inches wide by 2 inches high by 2.6 inches deep, it barely even seems like a real speaker. The subwoofer is passive (unpowered; no built-in amp), and it's the only sizable speaker of the bunch with a 6.4-inch driver and a moderate footprint (8.75 inches wide; 16.6 inches high; 12.9 inches deep.) Like many HTIBs, the included speakers use proprietary speaker jacks, so you can't swap in different speakers at a later time.


The center channel is almost comically small and will fit comfortably under any TV.

The speakers are powered by the slimline AV receiver. At only 2.6 inches high, it's much smaller than a standalone AV receiver and has an attractive silver finish that should fit most decors. There are virtually no controls on the front panel, save for the power button, input selector button, and large volume knob on the far right.

The included remote is the standard type that Sony includes with its HTIB units. It's an average remote at best, with a lot of small similar-size buttons. On the upside, the directional pad and volume fall naturally under your thumb. We also appreciated that when we hooked up the HT-SS360 to the Sony BDP-S360 Blu-ray player we were able to use the one remote to control the Blu-ray player without any extra tweaks.

Setup
The HT-SS360 includes an automatic speaker calibration system, which is a plus at this price. Even before we ran through the manual or autosetups the HT-SS360 sounded pretty good overall, but the subwoofer volume was too loud. Depending on your taste for bass, you might be able to forgo speaker setup. Since the sub doesn't have its own volume control, the only way to adjust the sub is in the manual speaker setup.


The HT-SS360 comes with an autosetup mic, which needs to be plugged into the back of the unit.

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Where to Buy

Sony HT-SS360 - home theater system - 5.1 channel

Part Number: HTSS360 Released: May 15, 2009

MSRP: $349.99

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date May 15, 2009
  • Output Power / Total 1000 Watt
  • Built-in Decoders DTS decoder
  • Additional Features auto sound calibration
  • Functions AV receiver
  • Sound Output Mode Surround Sound
  • Components speaker system
  • Type home theater system