Entertainment

Sony HT-A7000 sound bar review: Premium, in every sense


The Sony HT-A7000 is a bold, all-in-one soundbar that provides a large soundstage and will enhance any TV’s audio output. The HT-A7000’s ability to process Dolby Atmos or DTS:X object-based formats is a major plus, and the twin HDMI 2.0 inputs with 4K120/8K60/HDR passing through. There are not many soundbars that offer this level of the feature.

It doesn’t include a subwoofer and therefore doesn’t have the true low-end capability. The built-in subwoofers are sufficient for most people, but you will need the extra if you want true sub-bass. This is the kind you would expect to get with a 1.3-meter soundbar. The price jumps from an already high level to a significant amount.

The A7000 delivers a rich and immersive sound experience from many sources. The A7000 will outperform other standalone Dolby atmos soundbars like the Sonos Arc. Although we think Sony’s Immersive AE dynamic response and simple bass settings should be better, the all-in-one package is still superior when it comes to immersion.

Sony HT-A7000 sound bar review
Sony HT-A7000 sound bar review

SPECIFICATIONS OF SONY HT – A7000 SOUND BAR

  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0
  • Integrations: Google Cast, Apple AirPlay, Spotify ConnectAma
  • Ports: 2x HDMI in, 1x HDMI eARC, optical, 3.5 mm, USB
  • Audio Format: Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Dual Mono, DTS 96/24, DTS ES, DTS, DTS HD High Resolution, DTS:X, LPCM, DTS HD Master,
  • Power: 500W

PROS

  • Immersive sound output for movies and music.
  • Excellent channel separation
  • Decent Dolby atmos height effects
  • eARC support via two HDMI 2.1 passthrough ports that support 4K 120hz.
  • It has built-in support for Alexa and Chromecast.
  • Support for Dolby Atmos and DTS-X as well as 360 Reality Audio
  • The TV can control the settings of the soundbar.
  • The remote control is simple to use

CONS

  • troubleshooting is not done often enough.
  • Managing the TV’s HDMI inputs with the soundbars can be a hassle
  • Very expensive

Hardware, design, what’s inside the box

The HT-A7000 is a massive machine. It’s nearly four feet long and weighs an astounding 19 pounds. It’s so big that it’s hanging off either side on my stand for TV about an inch or as much. It’s also a little taller and can block out the lower part of the display in front of a smaller screen. It’s probably not a big deal; however, in a tiny area, it’s an overkill.

It’s beautiful. However, it has a grille made of metal which showcases the bar’s driver in the front and a glass-free panel running across the top. The bar also has a basic LCD on the front of the bar to display things like the volume and the input that the bar is connected to.

Touch-sensitive buttons can be found at the bar’s top on the right, including input, power, and input, a shortcut for Bluetooth or streaming services, and the volume up and down. They’re capacitive buttons instead of, well, buttons are certainly slick; however, the touch-sensitive areas are hard to spot in dim light. I’d be thrilled to see them backlit.

In the back, there are three HDMI ports (two 4K/HDR and one for electronic ARC), One optical input, and one 3.5-millimeter port.

The SW5 subwoofer Sony sells to go with its soundbars with premium quality is massive. With a height of 17 inches and 29 pounds in weight, it reminds me of much of a mini-refrigerator. I used to have an old television subwoofer placed on a nearby table, but that’s not an option for the SW5. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to conceal the thing well, if at all. Fortunately, those front speakers of the RS3S Sony provided to test aren’t as glam; they’re actually large and simple.

Overall, the equipment is stunning because of how expensive home audio gear is. The package is essentially empty, aside from the speakers themselves, some educational literature and the required power cables. 

SONY HT-A7000 WHAT’S IN A BOX

The soundbar is included in the box, with an HDMI cable and remote control. The HDMI cable included in the box is identical to the one you receive with the PS5. The HDMI 2.1 cable is included in the box, and the soundbar comes with two HDMI 2.1 passthrough connections. The subwoofer box contains the power cable and the subwoofer. We get two satellite speakers in the box with satellite speakers and two power cables.

SONY HT A7000 Review

SONY HT-A7000 CONNECTIVITY OPTIONS

Sony HT-A7000 review
SONY HT-A7000 CONNECTIVITY OPTIONS

The Sony HT-A7000 supports a variety of connectivity options. It has an HDMI port that can be used for eARC and two HDMI pass-through ports. These support HDMI 2.1 and 4K/120Hz passthrough. The soundbar has an optical port and aux port and Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, and Bluetooth 5.1. The soundbar supports DTS-X, Dolby Atmos, and Sony’s 360 Reality Audio. 

The soundbar features upward-firing drivers, side-firing beam tweeters, and five front-firing speakers. It also has dual subwoofers. These dual subwoofers will be active when the dedicated subwoofer isn’t being used. The wireless sub can be paired with the bar to transmit the low frequencies to the sub. The speaker also supports Chromecast and Amazon Alexa for smart features.

SONY HTML-A7000 DESIGN

When placed beneath your TV, the Sony HT-A7000 is a powerful presence. The Sony is rectangular in shape, unlike the Samsung Q950A. You can prefer the Sony’s traditional design or the Samsung’s sharp edges. Sony gets an extra point because it places the display in front of the user, unlike the Samsung, which has it on the top. This makes it easier for the user to read. The Sony soundbar allows you to dim the display or turn it off completely if it is affecting your experience.

The front of the HT-7700 has a premium grill behind which five drivers can be found. This grill cannot be removed, unlike the HTZ9F. Two beam tweeters are also available for surround effects. Two upward-firing drivers are also found on the soundbar, one for Dolby Atmos and one for height. Two ducts house the dual subwoofers. The fabric covering the upward-firing speakers and the subwoofer conduit is similar to that seen on the Samsung Q950A. 

The remainder of the top is finished with premium glass. It is possible for the glass to scratch over time, so be cautious. The soundbar also has touch controls in the upper right corner. While I prefer physical buttons over touch controls, this is my personal preference. The back houses all connectivity ports with some room for cable management.

SONY HT-A7000 PERFORMANCE

We paired the SonyHT-A7000 with an OLED TV for this review. The TV can be used as the central channel if compatible with a Sony BRAVIA HDTV. We didn’t find this to be the case. The LG B9 supports HDMI 2.1 and eARC, so that we could use Dolby Atmos with this soundbar.

It is a good idea to ask the TV if you would like to optimize the soundbar for your room after you have connected the soundbar. This is necessary to calibrate the speakers and soundbar for the room. If you want to move the speakers around, you can do it again in the settings menu. This can be found under Setup- Advanced Settings- Speaker Settings- Sound Field Optimization. This really enhances the surround soundbar effects.

We consumed content from the TV’s OTT apps for the test duration. Also, we played some games on a PS5 and Xbox Series X. We also connected an Apple TV4K to the soundbars HDMI port to test the pass-through capabilities.

SONY HT – A7000 MOVIE PERFORMANCE

Before we get to the details about the performance, one thing I have never liked about soundbars that claim Dolby Atmos sound is that you don’t feel the sound coming from above you. When you listen to Dolby Atmos content, you can expect rain to fall. The Sony HT-A7000 was a great choice. There were times when I looked up at the ceiling and wondered if the sound was coming from above me. The HT-Z9F’s lack of height performance two years ago proves the extent of virtual surround sound technology in Sony’s premium soundbars.

Although streaming services offer a wide range of Dolby Atmos content, we could play some of our Dolby Atmos content using a Dolby Atmos demo disk and an Apple TV 4K with moves that we purchased and content from streaming services.

I want to say that the SW5 subwoofer is essential for a truly immersive experience. You will see a lot of cars zooming past the screen in a movie like Ready Player One’s race at 13 minutes. The cars fly through the air, and the subway train crashes into them. This was just one instance where I looked up to see if the sound came from above me. The surround speakers could reproduce all the cars that were moving on the screen. To get the most out of the surround speakers, I increased their volume to the maximum of 12. The subwoofer volume was kept at 10, 2 points less than the maximum volume for the best bass.

The surround speakers executed the motorcycle chase in Dark Knight Rises, where Batman appeared for the first time. The soundbar has an Immersive button that you can use to increase the surround sound.

It’s a delight to watch Spider-Man: Far From Home. Mysterio tricks Spider-Man into walking in front of a train. You will enjoy a great surround sound experience as the train sounds at the end of this sequence comes from the left surround speaker.

This soundbar will delight movie lovers who have access to high-quality surround sound content. There are sound presets for Cinema, Movie, and Standard. However, I found that Auto Sound gave me the best results.

SONY HT-A7000 MUSIC PLAYER

Before we jump into music, I should mention that the soundbar supports Sony 360 Reality Audio. While I could not access any 360 Reality Audio music, the demo is available on the soundbar. Apple Music has content in Dolby Atmos. We played music by connecting our smartphone to the soundbar via Bluetooth and some content from the Apple TV 4K.

You can manually adjust the soundbar’s bass to your liking. Although I am sure that most Indians prefer heavy bass music, the extra bass is a signature Sony sound and doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. The vocals are clear, and the instruments seem to come alive. The soundbar offers a wonderful experience, whether you’re listening to Mamacita by Black Eyed Peas, The Weekend, or some Daft Punk. Some songs also include their surround sound effects. Even without this, the soundbar is enjoyable for music because of the separation between the instruments, the clarity, vocals, and the subwoofer’s thump.

SOUNDBAR GAMING PERFORMANCE

The 3D audio quality of the PlayStation 5’s headphones is imposing, and I am eagerly awaiting its arrival in the soundbars. Until then, the HT-A7000 will provide excellent surround sound. The surround effects and channel separation work well again. You can hear the bullets flying around in Uncharted 4 when you’re in the middle of a fight. This immersive surround effect is also available in games like Spider-man Miles Morales. When you activate your Venom powers, you can hear the bullets whizzing around you. Ghost of Tsushima allows you to hear the archer firing from offscreen through the surround speakers.

The surround sound quality was disappointing. I expected to be disappointed in the SA-RS3S surround speaker’s lack of up-firing or side-firing drivers like the Samsung Qn950A. But that was not the case. Although it’s difficult to say which system is superior without having them both side-by-side, each has its advantages. The surround speakers of the SA-RS3S surround were placed at ear level four feet from my ears. It was an enjoyable experience. 

I then replaced the speakers and sat in the ideal position at home, with the left surround speaker placed 2 feet from me and the right six feet away. They were both facing me at ear level. After calibrating my home theatre, I enjoyed a great surround sound experience. The soundbar will attempt to simulate surround sound by reducing its channel separation. This may work in a small space, but I believe that surround speakers are essential for a truly immersive viewing experience.

SONY HT-A7000 REMOTE CONTROL

review Sony HT-A7000
Sony HT-A7000 sound bar review – remote control

The Sony HT-A7000 includes a simple remote almost identical to the one on the HT-Z9F. However, there are a few key features that have been moved around. You can control the input source and the volume, surround, and subwoofer levels. There are also playback controls. It is intuitive and functional. The only problem is that it must be pointed directly at the soundbar to use it. This can make it feel a bit dated.

Should you purchase it?

Suppose you have the money and look for a soundbar with top-quality sound. The HT-A7000 is a great soundbar and is compatible with all the AV standards that you can throw a remote at. It’s also built to last a long time by allowing protocols such as Google Cast and Apple’s AirPlay.

But, boy, is it costly. If you pay $1,400, you expect excellent audio and the best user experience. Unfortunately, the HT-A7000 doesn’t provide the latter, and it’s more prone to friction during everyday use than I anticipated. While the RS3S back speakers that I’m testing adds an added layer of depth, they cost around $350 retail, more than the sum of many other television audio solutions. Sony’s SW5 subwoofer is also excellent (and I’m sure my neighbors have been thrilled with my experience testing it); however, it’s an astounding $750.

If you’re thinking of exploring this system, I’d suggest beginning with the bar as is. It’s amazing by itself, and you can buy the accessories later. Be prepared for some headaches or two; however, be aware that it’s worth the investment if you’re looking for high-quality sound.

Purchase it If…

  • If you are looking for great sound quality, cost, and comfort, be put to shame.
  • Your TV can support all the whistles, bells, and other sounds.

Don’t purchase it when…

  • Faulty electronics can drive you mad. The HT-A7000 needs semi-regular troubleshooting.
  • You’re looking for authentic surround sound. A soundbar will not suffice for you.