It seems just about every company is coming out with a soundbar these days and it can be difficult to choose the right one. You have to consider how much space you have, what features you need and if you plan on expanding the system with a subwoofer or surround speakers in the future.
Most people just want a soundbar that works and sounds great and the company’s entry level HT-MT300 soundbar does just that. For $300 (£250, about AU$434), you get a compact soundbar that will fit just about any home theater and a wireless sub that you can place under your sofa to really feel the bass.
That said, it's up against stiff competition like the soundbar, the and the excellent Samsung HW-MS650. It might not be the best soundbar in that bunch but, after spending a week with the Sony HT-MT300, we walked away impressed with the well-rounded package Sony created.
The Sony HT-MT300 soundbar comes in two parts: There’s a compact soundbar that measures 50 x 5.4 x 10.3cm (W x H x D) and a slim subwoofer that you can slip under your couch to feel every punch and explosion.
The subwoofer measures in at 9.3 x 38.3 x 36.8cm (W x H x D), which should fit under most couches but if it doesn’t, you can place the sub next to your entertainment system standing upright.
The HT-MT300 comes in either black or white which helps it blend into your entertainment center of choice. Since the soundbar is so compact, it can fit just about anywhere, but you can’t wall mount it, unfortunately. The sub is finished in a matte-black finish with piano black trim around the bass port.
On top of the soundbar you’ll find capacitive touch buttons for controlling volume, selecting your input, switching to Bluetooth and power. A series of LEDs tell you exactly what input is selected and if the music or movie EQs are active.
While not as attractive looking as the Q Acoustics M3, the innocuous looking Sony HT-MT300 does a good job of blending into the background.
Setup is dead simple, thanks to the optical connection. Simply find the optical port on your TV and connect the HT-MT300 to your TV via the supplied optical cable. Plug in the subwoofer and soundbar, turn on the soundbar and pair the two up with a touch of a button. After that, all you have to do is set your TV to use the soundbar instead of its built-in speakers.
While the optical connection makes it a relatively pain-free experience to setup, it’s a shame Sony opted not include a HDMI ARC connection that allows communication back and forth from audio equipment. This means the HT-MT300 will not turn itself on or off and can’t be controlled with your TV’s remote.
For most users, this won’t be an issue since the supplied remote control is actually fantastic, unlike competitors who supply their soundbars with card-style remotes with mushy buttons, but it’s something worth considering, especially since optical has its limitations for which surround sound formats work.
If you want to stream music from your phone or tablet to the Sony HT-MT300, you can use the Bluetooth connection. There’s also NFC included so pairing with an Android phone is as easy as putting your phone on top of the soundbar and agreeing to pair. On the debit side, there’s no Wi-Fi or Google Cast here, but you can get these features – as well as Hi-Res Audio support – in the HT-MT300’s more expensive older brother, the Sony HT-MT500.
The Sony HT-MT300 soundbar punches well above its weight with both movies and music – especially when watching movies with action scenes and even at moderately low levels. With the subwoofer turned up to 75%, the HT-MT300 managed to rattle our living room during the rocket launch in Interstellar.
Action scenes in Spectre were more immersive thanks to the sub’s ability to rock the low-end, and the system gets very loud and plays mostly without distortion. Although, just be aware that the subwoofer will cause rattles and buzzes if there’s loose objects around your entertainment center if you’re listening to bass-heavy music or explosion-laden movie scenes.
Speaking of, music also sounds good coming from the Sony HT-MT300, though we wished for a wider and more immersive sound stage. The two woofers in the soundbar are quite close to each other so physics is working against the soundbar when it comes to stereo separation.
Is the bass a little too light for your liking? With easily tunable subwoofer levels via the remote, it’s easy to modify the speaker’s balance to your specific tastes. There are also EQ enhancements for Movies and Music that you can toggle on the remote – a handy feature if you know what you’re doing.
Unfortunately, though, it's impossible to ignore the narrow soundstage when it rears its ugly head in movies – we wanted to get more stereo separation and the S-Force Pro virtual surround sound is just a gimmick.
Sony's HT-MT300 isn't the only offender of a 2.1 soundbar claiming to do surround sound, but at least other soundbars like the Sonos Playbar do a better job of faking it. Ultimately, the Sony HT-MT300 just didn’t have the ability to simulate rear surround channels, making the system sound like a good stereo setup but probably not something you'd install in place of a 5.1 system.
There’s nothing wrong with that, especially at this price, but don’t expect to hear bullets swirling around your head or anything close to resembling Dolby Atmos.
How does it compare to the competition? Well it blows the out of the water in terms of sound. The LG sounds compressed and strained compared to the Sony. The rivals the sound quality of the Sony but lacks bass impact. For our money, the Sony HT-MT300 is the winner in both cases.
There’s a lot to like about the Sony HT-MT300. It compact form factor means it’ll fit just about anywhere and its wireless sub lets you put it under the couch for added bass effect. The soundbar sounds great with both movies and music, but does fall on its face when it comes to virtual surround sound. For the price, you get a great sounding, entry-level soundbar that fits just about anywhere and is easy to use and setup. For most, the Sony HT-MT300 is a winner, keeping it simple and concentrating on the things that matter: sound and ease of use.