PROS / The dialogue clarity is good.
CONS / The sound bar doesn’t get as loud as others and has a thin tonal quality.
VERDICT / The Sony CT390 is best for people who watch news or other programs where dialogue is most important.
The Sony CT390 is a two-driver, 2.1 sound bar system. This sound bar has a sleek design; it sits flat on your TV stand with the front face angled upward. This unique design was most likely conceived so the system doesn't block your television receiver for the remote, which is a common complaint from sound bar owners. This 2.1-channel sound bar also features an additional subwoofer to take care of all the low-end frequencies.
One of the nice things about the design of the Sony is the display. When you change sound modes or adjust the volume, it is displayed by actual words instead of a series of lights or some other mechanism. This makes it easy to understand what sound mode you are on and what level the volume and other settings are set at. Many other systems have light notifications that are unclear or just plain confusing to understand. Sony keeps things simple with the display.
We tested all of the TV sound bar systems with a handful of different movies and songs. Right out of the gate, we noticed the Sony CT390 doesn’t get nearly as loud as the other speakers. We had to crank it to almost full volume to reach the same decibel level as other sound bars barely pushing half power.
As we watched “Star Trek Beyond,” we felt the overall tonal quality was much brighter than other speakers, with overemphasized treble. Even with the additional subwoofer to help with low frequencies, this system sounded tinnier than others.
The same applied as we listened to “Nude” by Radiohead. The highs were just a little too much. The sound overall was clear, but there was some midrange guitar work that went missing in the climax of the song because it was swallowed up by all the reverb of the lead vocals and backing synths. Overall, the tonal quality was not nearly as warm or full as other sound bars.
Dialogue clarity is this sound bar's best attribute. Even when action scenes in “Mad Max Fury Road” were taking place, you could hear dialogue loud and clear in the mix. Vocals in “Nude” and “Don’t Wanna Fight” by Alabama Shakes were especially prominent.
The home theater sound bar has a handful of different modes including standard, movie, music, ClearAudio+, sports, game and a nighttime mode which softens the treble and bass and lowers the volume when activated.
This system provides Bluetooth connectivity but is not Wi-Fi enabled. This means it can’t connect to your home network to stream music or other content. Other connection options include optical and HDMI inputs. HDMI is the preferred connection since it can receive higher-resolution audio than optical cables. This provides better sound quality when watching movies.
The Sony sound bar is covered by a standard 12-month warranty. This is the usual length for most companies. Sony offers live chat support as well as phone and email support.
The Sony CT390 has an attractive low-profile design that won't block your TV receiver. It has a bright tonal quality and doesn’t get as loud as other sound bars in our review. It is certainly a major upgrade from typical TV audio and best suited for those who want to have clearer dialogue.