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Sony HT-XT1 2.1 Speaker Review: A Functional Space Saver

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If you’re looking for an upgrade from your television’s internal speakers, you’re likely debating between two options: an immersive, multipiece home theater system or a more compact, solitary unit.

The Sony HT-XT1 2.1 speaker is worth considering if you’re leaning toward a small device but still want big power. Before you buy, read our analysis of this model to find out if it’s right for you.

The speaker

The Sony HT-XT1 2.1 wraps up a home theater system into one package.

It’s a low-profile black box that has a built-in subwoofer to boost your audio’s bass. It measures 28.35 inches wide, 2.83 inches high and 12.20 inches deep and weighs 17.64 pounds.

The HT-XT1 functions as both a sound bar speaker and TV stand, which means you can place your TV directly on top of it. It’s recommended for TVs between 32 and 55 inches and supports up to 66 pounds. The top of the speaker is made with a scratchproof glass to help prevent damage.

The Sony HT-XT1 has a retail price of $229.99, but might sell for less at a variety of retailers, like Amazon.

Features

Aside from its compact design and impressive sound quality, the Sony HT-XT1 boasts many attractive features, including:

  • Bluetooth and NFC connections. Wirelessly stream music from your Bluetooth-enabled smartphone, tablet or laptop. If your device has a near-field communication, or NFC, capability, just touch it to the speaker to play.
  • Inputs. The speaker has five inputs — three HDMI, one optical and one analog — so you can play audio from most devices, such as your TV, Blu-ray player, computer or gaming console.
  • Surround-sound technology. The HT-XT1 projects audio throughout your room to create a virtual surround-sound effect without the need for additional speakers.
  • Sound settings. This speaker has seven sound-field settings designed to enhance different types of entertainment, such as movies, music or sports.
  • Free app. Download Sony’s free SongPal app on your Android or Apple device to navigate your music and adjust certain functions such as volume and sound settings.
  • Remote control. The HT-XT1 comes with a remote that also allows you to control the speaker’s functions.

» MORE: Amazon Tap vs. Amazon Echo

The reviews

Is the Sony HT-XT1 a worthwhile speaker?

We analyzed reviews of some of the most popular speakers on the market, including the Sony HT-XT1, to find out. We looked at expert opinions from review sites such as The Sweethome and CNET and analyzed user reviews to see what shoppers had to say about the various attributes of each speaker.

Based on the reviews we studied, this model pumps out balanced, detailed sound that’s free of distortion. Some users noted that the speaker made the dialogue in their movies and TV shows significantly more crisp and audible. Many praised the HT-XT1’s functional, streamlined design. Its Bluetooth connection was another favorite feature.

There weren’t many complaints overall, but the HT-XT1 does have a few shortcomings. For example, some reviewers said that the performance doesn’t quite measure up to a multispeaker system, especially when it comes to bass. Others had trouble connecting their remotes and figuring out the sound settings.

The verdict

The Sony HT-XT1 2.1 is a good entry-level sound bar, thanks to its relatively low price, clear sound and simple design. We recommend it for those looking for an all-in-one speaker that takes up minimal space.

But if you’re looking for actual surround sound as opposed to virtual, you’re probably better off purchasing a multispeaker home theater set instead. Consider one of the more bass-heavy sound bar systems from our Bose speaker roundup.

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Lauren Schwahn is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: lschwahn@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @lauren_schwahn.