Sony HT-A7000 Soundbar Evaluate | Fashionable Science

There are soundbars you purchase merely to enhance upon the stereo sound coming out of your TV. From there, dozens upon dozens of step-up choices enhance the extent of surround-sound channels, wi-fi connectivity, output wattage, and so forth. There’s a remaining tier, nevertheless, that stretches the bounds of the product class, providing a house theater sound system inside a single, sizable unit. The Sony HT-A7000 soundbar suits into this final class, letting you commerce the receivers, amplifiers, satellite tv for pc audio system, and many others., that used to stack up beneath and across the TV for a self-contained showpiece. 

With its top- and side-firing audio system, this new Sony flagship is able to delight house viewers looking for a 7.1.2 system that received’t take up your entire room. Help for all the most recent object-based, immersive audio codecs—Dolby Atmos and Sony 360 Actuality Audio, and many others.—makes films and music pop inside a bigger spatial context. The HT-A7000’s inner digital sign processing (DSP) additionally upconverts any audio to make full use of its speaker array. It additionally affords app management, voice management, and a mess of wi-fi connectivity, together with Bluetooth and WiFi. Sony additionally makes wi-fi subwoofers and rear audio system that seamlessly hook up with the soundbar, and produce general funding to greater than $2,000. However whether or not you develop it or not, the Sony HT-A7000 stands out within the highest echelon of soundbars.

Sony HT-A7000 soundbar.

Distinctive Audio

The Sony HT-A7000 soundbar is designed to immerse you in Dolby Atmos and different object-based audio codecs.

Examine Worth

The Sony HT-A7000 soundbar’s design

From the surface, the Sony HT-A7000 soundbar conveys glossy minimalism, with a steel grill protecting the entrance of the 51-inch vast, 19-pound soundbar. Cloth covers the side- and top-firing audio system on both finish and there’s a shiny end on high the place there are six touch-sensitive controls that get you thru the fundamental features, together with energy, quantity, Bluetooth pairing, and enter choice. Lastly, a small, blue LED show peeks out of the entrance grill to point quantity ranges, chosen enter, {surround} sound mode, and so forth.

However probably the most spectacular features of Sony’s design lie inside, the place the digital 7.1.2 soundbar’s 11 powered speaker channels ship 500W of whole output throughout 5 front-facing audio system, two up-firing audio system, two “beam” tweeters on the edges, and an inner dual-channel subwoofer. The oblong form of X-Balanced Speaker Models makes that subbass punchier, vocals clearer, and distortion decrease, in accordance with Sony’s claims.

Audio/video connections are tucked away in an indent on the again of the soundbar. These embody two HDMI 2.1 passthrough inputs that assist 8K video at 60Hz, 4K at 120Hz, and Dolby Imaginative and prescient HDR, which makes the HT-A7000 an appropriate gaming soundbar for the latest-generation consoles just like the Xbox Sequence X and Ps 5. It needs to be famous, nevertheless, that the HT-A7000 doesn’t but assist VRR (Variable Refresh Fee) or ALLM (Auto Low-Latency Mode), two HDMI 2.1 game-centric options. Sony guarantees a firmware replace in Spring 2022 that hopefully will add each.

There are additionally analog and digital optical audio inputs, HDMI eARC TV output, and an S-Middle output for integrating appropriate TVs (corresponding to some Sony BRAVIA fashions) as a further heart channel of the general audio combine. There are wall-mounting sockets across the again however wall-mounting {hardware} (brackets, screws, and many others.) is bought individually.

The back of the Sony HT-A7000 soundbar
A mix of bodily and wi-fi connections affords the most recent requirements for high-resolution listening.

Getting began with the Sony HT-A7000 soundbar

The HT-A7000 comes with a distant management, energy cable, and an HDMI cable—sufficient to get you up and working by connecting the soundbar’s HDMI out to your TV’s HDMI eARC/ARC enter. The 2 HDMI inputs incorporate your streaming media field, recreation console, Blu-ray participant, or different parts.

As soon as every thing was arrange, my Samsung Sensible TV distant may activate the HT-A7000 and TV, plus management the soundbar’s quantity. Nevertheless, not like different house theater system remotes, the HT-A7000 distant wouldn’t conversely activate the Samsung TV, making a one-remote state of affairs untenable.

For one of the best immersive audio outcomes, a soundbar’s top-firing audio system and side-firing beam tweeters must mirror off of a ceiling and partitions which are neither too shut nor too far. Nevertheless, Sony tells HT-A7000 customers to not fear about that an excessive amount of, as a result of upon organising, it takes you thru a collection of tones, from which the built-in microphone and DSP measure the reflections off of your room’s surfaces to optimize the unit’s {surround} sound combine in your house.

After it powers up, the HT-A7000 enters an onscreen person interface, the place you’ll be able to choose from the video inputs—TV, HDMI 1, and HDMI 2—or from a litany of audio inputs—together with USB, analog, Spotify, Chromecast, AirPlay 2, Bluetooth, Amazon Alexa, and Sony 360 Actuality Audio. The distant management additionally has shortcut buttons for the video inputs, USB, Bluetooth, and probably the most not too long ago used streaming music service. Chromecast, AirPlay 2, and the USB port are just for taking part in audio, not video. With appropriate Sony BRAVIA TVs (for instance, the XR A90J), the HT-A7000 integrates all its controls and onscreen person interface into the TV for smoother management.

Key options of the Sony HT-A7000 soundbar

The digital 7.1.2-channel HT-A7000 works with all the most important Dolby and DTS surround-sound codecs, together with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, in addition to the rising Sony 360 Actuality Audio format. Nevertheless, built-in DSP, which Sony calls the Vertical Encompass Engine, converts any audio materials to make the most of the total 7.1.2 channels, making any piece of music or video make the most of the soundbar’s top-firing audio system and facet beam tweeters. The distant management’s   Immersive AE (Audio Enhancement) button activates this perform. Even on materials that’s already formatted for all of the channels, corresponding to Dolby Atmos films and music, Immersive AE nonetheless provides a lift of overhead spaciousness to the soundstage. I favored utilizing the Immersive AE perform on virtually all of the music and movies I performed, apart from some stay discuss exhibits the place the viewers’s laughter and applause had been too excessive within the combine.

Connection and compatibility choices

Sony makes it simple to benefit from the HT-A7000 in virtually any manner you favor, with all kinds of connection and compatibility choices accessible. Along with the 2 HDMI ports, plus digital and analog audio inputs, you can too join with a bevy of wi-fi applied sciences. Most of these choices, in addition to the USB port, are for audio solely, and USB playback works with virtually each widespread compressed, uncompressed, and lossless audio file format, with the notable exception of Apple’s ALAC.

For wi-fi music, you’ll be able to playback high-resolution audio saved on a pc over Wi-Fi by connecting the HT-A7000 to your house community. The easy Track Music Middle app (accessible for iOS and Android) allows you to play high-resolution audio saved on a cellular system, in addition to gives soundbar controls. Apple AirPlay 2 and Google Chromecast assist are additionally inbuilt. I used Chromecast to play music over the HT-A7000 from varied Chromecast apps corresponding to Amazon Music and the soundbar treats all the assorted wi-fi music with the identical Immersive AE results as every thing else, plus exhibits album artwork and onscreen controls when the TV is related. Nevertheless, Chromecast doesn’t work that properly on my Android telephone—the sound incessantly hangs—so it was higher to attach the telephone over Bluetooth 5.0. The soundbar’s Bluetooth connection (that includes SBC, AAC, and the higher-resolution LDAC codec, which I used) sounds glorious and performs splendidly—simply pretty much as good because it did taking part in the identical supply via the analog audio enter.

top angle of the Sony HT-A7000 soundbar
Wi-fi playback, in addition to Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant assist, enable for extra management and fewer litter.

Sensible options

With somewhat little bit of persistence throughout setup, you can too use voice management for the HT-A7000 over Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant on cellular units. First, be certain that Alexa or Google Assistant is put in in your cellular system and that it’s related to the identical Wi-Fi community because the soundbar. Then join Alexa/Google Assistant to the soundbar via the Sony Music Middle app. As soon as via setup, you should use voice instructions corresponding to subsequent/earlier track and quantity management.

The Sony HT-A7000’s sound

The Sony HT-A7000 is the flagship Sony soundbar and I wished to check it by itself earlier than hooking up optionally available parts. As a result of the HT-A7000 handles the flaming-hot Dolby Atmos surround-sound format, I threw a number of Atmos-encoded films and music at it, whereas additionally utilizing it for regular TV and music, most of which was not made for Atmos or Sony 360 Actuality Audio.

As soon as you know the way to play Atmos-encoded materials efficiently, you’ll be able to make the most of a quickly rising physique of labor—notably for films and TV, but in addition now for music as properly. The Atmos films I watched included the brand new Dune, Military of Thieves, Uncut Gems, Finch, and No Time to Die. For Atmos music, I dove into Tidal HiFi Plus’s New Arrivals playlist, which plugs new tracks from widespread artists corresponding to Put up Malone/The Weeknd, Terrace Martin, Lorde, Sigrid, Child Cudi, and even new tracks from outdated favorites like Diana Ross, Abba, U2, and Robert Plant/Alison Krauss.

Even with non-Atmos media, the HT-A7000’s Immersive AE impact makes glorious use of the top-and side-firing drivers to create an enveloping soundstage than they’d be when listening to lesser-equipped soundbars or one of the best bookshelf audio system. The HT-A7000 creates a big candy spot that I estimate as a spherical house with a radius of three to 4 ft, the place listeners can take pleasure in near the optimum listening expertise.

With the Atmos format (or the much less frequent Sony 360 Actuality Audio) the HT-A7000 actually shines. It was a deal with to look at big-budget films that clearly put consideration into Atmos sound mixing. In Dune, the rotary dirge of the dragonfly-like ornithopters, the paranormal voices throughout Paul Atreides’ hallucinations, and the desert-shaking actions of the sandworms took on a multidimensional realism as sounds scattered over, round, and thru the room. 

Throughout Finch, it was the Atmos spaciousness that heightened the stress in moments just like the twister scene, when objects and particles are swirling round and metal cables break beneath the stress. In fact, the most recent James Bond romp No Time To Die has loads of bullets, explosions, plane, tire-screeching automotive chases, overhead glass breaking, and water deluges to use the Atmos capabilities as properly.

The soundbar’s facet channels expertly ship indicators across the sides of a reasonably sized front room. The highest channels for overhead results are additionally profitable, however not as immersive as with a completely outfitted Atmos cinema or house theater, the place the audio system are literally overhead. However the HT-A7000 is way extra fulfilling than watching films with TV audio system, stereo audio system, or soundbars with out top- and side-firing audio system. As one other bonus, quiet film dialog that’s usually laborious to discern when utilizing stereo audio system is way clearer when the sound combine is unfold out to a multichannel format like Atmos.

With its 500W of whole output energy, the HT-A7000 handles music fantastically, whether or not by itself or in a film. Evocative soundtracks like Hans Zimmer’s otherworldly Dune rating or Daniel Lopatin’s synthesizer opus for Uncut Gems profit from the Atmos soundstage, as notes cling within the air, oscillating between factors of house. It was additionally fascinating to listen to the totally different approaches to Atmos mixing from the Tidal playlist. Some tracks performed with the immersive format—sending vocals, percussion hits, and different sounds zipping round in house—whereas different songs took a really simple method to changing stereo materials in a fundamental manner that provides extra spatial depth.

When it comes to audio high quality, Sony endows the HT-A7000 with a well-balanced, clear, and detailed sound that precisely portrays the entire vary of frequencies. Turning the Immersive AE impact on appears so as to add some pleasure to the top-end frequencies, however I didn’t thoughts the increase. The soundbar has a built-in subwoofer that does a good job with bass, however not as a lot bass (or general energy) because the a lot bigger and dearer Sennheiser AMBEO, which may positively be thought-about among the best soundbars you probably have the house and $2,499 finances for it. The AMBEO additionally has higher projecting top-firing audio system, making it for my part the créme de la créme of standalone, self-contained soundbars for Atmos materials. Nevertheless, if you develop the HT-A7000 with a subwoofer and rear audio system, the mixed system has a bigger immersive soundstage and far more bass than the AMBEO.

Sony speaker on a desk.
In case you’re trying to degree up the immersive audio much more, you’ll be able to add rear audio system and a wi-fi subwoofer.

Increasing the setup

Whereas the Sony HT-A7000 by itself checks all of the packing containers for a house theater and music-listening soundbar, there’s no query that including the Sony SA-SW5 wi-fi subwoofer and the Sony SA-RS3S wi-fi rear audio system enhanced the general expertise. All the advantages of Atmos, different forms of {surround} sound, and the Immersive AE impact had been amplified with the rear audio system. Even when listening to plain stereo music, I most popular turning on the Immersive AE setting, which provides the soundbar’s high audio system and SA-RS3S rear audio system to the combo.

With out an SA-SW5 (300W) or SA-SW3 (200W) subwoofer, the HT-A7000’s bass from its built-in subwoofer is merely purposeful—an enchancment over TV audio system for representing the fundamental low-end profile of music and film soundtracks. However for severe music lovers and cinephiles who wish to hear the bottom of frequencies and, simply as importantly, really feel the rumble of the onscreen motion and of crowd-rocking tunes, the added subwoofer—which reaches right down to 28Hz—performs admirably.

I examined the SA-SW5—a strong black block measuring 19 by 19 by 14.5 inches and weighing a chunky 37 kilos to accommodate a 7.1-inch woofer. Its important cupboard is elevated off the ground and, reasonably than having a entrance or rear bass reflex port, it’s an omnidirectional design that’s imagined to unfold the sound wider. No matter technological claims, its bass sounds clean, wealthy, and completely large if you crank it up. Whereas watching Military of Thieves—the bank-heist prequel to Military of the Lifeless—I let the subwoofer’s quantity actually rip and, certain sufficient, for the primary time in eight years of residing in my rental, the neighbors got here a-knockin’. 

In case you additionally wish to conjure up a go to, combining the HT-A7000 with both the Sony SA-SW5 or Sony SA-SW3 wi-fi subwoofers and/or the Sony SA-RS3S wi-fi rear audio system is straightforward. Simply plug in and place the audio system, energy them on, and their indicator lights will flash inexperienced till the soundbar routinely acknowledges them. Then you’ll be able to re-run the room configuration course of with the extra audio system related. The soundbar’s distant has devoted quantity buttons for each the rear audio system and the subwoofer, so you will discover the right combination in your style.

subwoofer for a soundbar
Two appropriate subs allow you to increase the soundbar to summon-the-neighbors ranges of rumble.

So, who can buy the Sony HT-A7000 soundbar?

By itself, the Sony HT-A7000 soundbar outputs a really spacious soundstage for immersive surround-sound codecs and transformed audio, with wide-reaching facet audio system and efficient high channels. It’s highly effective sufficient to saturate most residing rooms and media areas with immersive audio and has a bass response from its built-in subwoofer that improves upon TV audio system and plenty of different standalone soundbars. As compared, the dearer Sennheiser AMBEO has deeper bass, extra highly effective output, and a extra expansive 3D soundstage. 

Customers who will need to have absolutely the pinnacle of an Atmos expertise in a single (though large) unit ought to think about the AMBEO. Though a standalone Sony HT-A7000 will get you a lot of the method to the AMBEO at important financial savings in price, including a Sony subwoofer and rear audio system to the soundbar offers you theatrical-style bass rumble and extra depth to the soundstage at a complete funding just like the AMBEO—give or take relying on the subwoofer mannequin. For individuals who have the accessible house, finances, and appreciation for huge, well-formed bass and a complete, {surround} soundstage, nevertheless, I positively suggest increasing the system with the SA-RS3S rear audio system and one of many appropriate Sony subwoofers. Such a configuration is a extremely spectacular system with a easy, wi-fi setup and a small-to-moderate footprint.

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