"Very fair price, Fair to Good sound, Dead components"3.0 starson by stephen553
Pros: Price: $330 door buster vs. $2500 for true, theater-like sound. Only this and Samsung HT-6500 include bluray player & get Consumer Reports recc. Speaker auto-calibration good feature, especially for non-tech savvy customers.
Cons: Annoying, senseless to have proprietary wiring way too short; splicing= signal degradation. b/c very wide, remote signal may be blocked if in a stereo cabinet. Like others, I had dead components to exchange. Samsung reviews show the same, though.
Summary: I bought this almost a year ago, but was browsing reviews of consumer report (CR) picks again as I prepare to give my parents advice. At the time I purchased, two different tech-savvy friends were helping a mutual friend research and purchase a truly exceptional system. This system indeed blows you away and feels like a movie-theater experience. However, it also cost near $2500 with the separate component speakers, bluray player, receiver/amp, high quality wiring and in-wall speaker install. They were cost-conscious and could not have gone much cheaper to get this quality level. I simply wasn't prepared to spend anywhere near this amount, even if the system then lasted 10-15 years.
I got a door-buster price of $330 a year ago, and $340-380 now seems like the regular price both for this system and competitor Samsung HT-C6500/C6600/C6900. These are the only two options CR recommends if you want a bluray player included. At the time, I believe the Samsung models were significantly more than this Sony model. This system gives about what I would expect for the price, though mine is connected to front L-R Infinity speakers, then the included speakers for center channel and rear L-R. It is not like a movie theater in your home, with sound that blows you away. It adds good bass for special effects, and generally is a good improvement over my prior connection to the L-R 2.1 Infinity speakers alone.
Exceptional HD video quality from HD satellite and Bluray (but this was true of ANY home theater system CR reviewed). Speaker auto-calibration was easy to do and helpful-- an especially good feature for non-tech savvy customers. This will automatically detect the distance to each speaker from your typical seat and then set each speaker's appropriate relative volume. However, we later boosted the rear speakers to max +6 db level because even at this max level sound coming from the rear is faint and rare.
It is extremely annoying and senseless that Sony made proprietary wiring plugs (making this the only connection option on one end) and then only includes the cable in lengths that are way too short. Even IN a small dorm-sized room, the rear speakers probably will not reach even if running directly under the carpet, rather than snaking around the walls. Even side and center speaker wires may not reach without splicing if either the room is slightly wide, or if the receiver is in a stereo cabinet adjacent to the TV rather than directly underneath. I wonder if audiophiles with better hearing than mine may even notice some signal degradation from having to splice some or all the speaker wires to make them long enough.
Remote compatibility is an annoyance, but I've found this true whenever mixing brands between your satellite, TV and DVD player. Using our Dish Network remote as our universal remote, only the power button and volume can be controlled on the player-- it cannot even control the pause or play buttons. Housed in a stereo cabinet, the unit is so wide that the cabinet door blocks the remote's signal unless you stand right in front of it and point it at the correct corner. So, housing it in something with an open front would be smarter if possible.
Overall the price was very fair for what you get, considering the Bluray is included. I likely would be slightly disappointed for the price if it did NOT include the Bluray. I rate overall sound fair to good-- not great-- and this again includes connecting to better front L-R speakers than what is included. Like the CR review, I find the center speaker for dialog a little nasal, but at this price point any system will have minor imperfections in sound and choosing which one you notice least may come down to personal preference. I would try to compare in the store with the Samsung (or with other CR recommended models if you don't need a Bluray player included).
Like several other customers, I had components dead upon arrival. In my case it was both the iPod dock and the receiver itself (which would not come out of mute after apparently shorting out in the first plug in). Return process was easy through the store and did not require returning all the functioning speakers, b/c they had another system in stock they could send back to Sony (now with my defective parts). Otherwise I would have been extremely angry to have spent so much time setting up the speakers and splicing additional wires only to have to undo all this work for the return. It still meant a lengthy trip to get to the store, a long wait in the return line, and a long wait on the receiving dock. Sadly, reviews of other brands make this seem almost normal now to have defective parts, or at least at this price point? This dead-on-arrival problem takes the rating down from 31/2 to 4 stars (considering the price) to a flat 3 stars.