Review: Sony Surround Sound System for PS3

When it comes to gear, gamers and audiophiles couldn't be more different. Despite the sophisticated audio technology that goes into making major video games, most gamers simply plug their consoles directly into their TV and use its built-in speakers. Audiophiles, on the other hand, tend to ignore the sophisticated A/V capabilities of game consoles like the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

With its Surround Sound System for PS3, a soundbar designed specifically for use with Sony's game console, Sony is trying to bridge that gap and raise the audio consciousness of gamers. A basic soundbar with left- and right-channel speakers and a 30-watt subwoofer built into the bar itself, the Surround Sound System for PS3 will set gamers back a mere $180.

Sony's soundbar has a very simple, basic design. With only an optical digital and an analog stereo input, it's meant specifically for set-ups comprising a PS3 and a cable box: You run an optical cable from the PS3 for games, Blu-ray Discs, and Netflix streaming, and stereo cables from your cable box for TV-watching.

The sound options are similarly basic. It has Dynamic, Vivid, Standard, and Stereo audio modes, and a small handful of other tweaks. The Dynamic and Vivid modes make the sound seem louder and fuller. (Vivid also purportedly enhances the simulated surround channels, but I found little difference between the two modes.) Stereo disables any simulated surround processing, while Standard is a basic mode that ultimately has little effect on audio passing through the soundbar.