The price range on the soundbar market is huge. Starting positions are indicated by modest three-digit figures on price tags (you cannot buy decent headphones for such money) and reach impressive sums for flagships of the best brands. With cheap models everything is clear: even the simplest soundbar by quality of sound and volume bypasses with a breakaway the built-in speakers of TV sets, as a rule, of 10-20 W. But why to chase after top models is not clear to everyone. Let’s consider advantages and features of flagship soundbars by the example of Sony HT-A7000.
The top models can be divided into three categories. There are soundbars of luxury brands with aesthetics as a priority, products closer to audiophile class with very “correct” (though not always impressive) sound, as well as systems with the most powerful surround sound and plenty of additional functions. Sony HT-A7000 belongs to the third type of products, so it is most interesting.
|Channel Configuration||7.1.2-Channel (Virtual Surround)|
|Low-Frequency Drivers||2 x 2 x 3.8″ / 51 x 97 mm|
|High-Frequency Drivers||2 x 0.6″ / 16 mm Side-Firing Tweeter|
|Full-Range Drivers||5 x 1.8 x 2.1″ / 46 x 54 mm Front-Firing Cone
2 x 1.8 x 2.1″ / 46 x 54 mm Up-Firing Cone
|Amplifier Output||500 W|
|Inputs||2 x HDMI – Audio/Video
1 x Optical TOSLINK – Audio
1 x 1/8″ / 3.5 mm – Audio
|Outputs||1 x HDMI – ARC/eARC/Audio/Video|
|USB Ports||1 x USB (Version Unspecified) (Audio)|
|Wireless Audio Protocols||AirPlay 2, Chromecast built-in, Spotify Connect|
|Bluetooth Profiles||A2DP, AVRCP|
|Bluetooth Codec Support||AAC
|Bluetooth Range||98.4′ / 30 m|
|Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac)|
|Audio Decoding||DTS Neural:X, DTS-ES, DTS-HD High-Resolution, DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS:X, Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Dual Mono, Dolby TrueHD, LPCM|
|HDMI Compliance||ARC, CEC, eARC|
|HDCP Compliance||HDCP 2.2|
|Supported File Formats||3GP, AAC, AIFF, ALAC, DFF, DSF, FLAC, LPCM, M4A, MP3, MP4, OGG, Vorbis, WAV, WMA, WMA9|
|Supported File Systems||FAT16, FAT32, exFAT, vFAT|
|Power Consumption||65 W
2.4 W (Network Standby)
|AC Input Power||120 VAC, 60 Hz|
|Wall Mountable||Yes, with Optional Hardware|
|Dimensions||51.2 x 3.1 x 5.6″ / 1300 x 80 x 142 mm|
|Weight||19.1 lb / 8.7 kg|
|Package Weight||26 lb|
|Box Dimensions (LxWxH)||53.5 x 8.38 x 7.75″|
It looks impressive. Especially with large TVs.
The appearance is classic in Sony’s signature aesthetic. The soundbar is large, its width is 130 cm, which roughly corresponds to a display with a diagonal of 55 inches. Taking it to smaller televisions seems strange to me. For one thing, surely a small screen is standing in a small room? Which means that the Sony HT-A7000 will hardly unleash its full acoustic talents. And in product prices the imbalance will turn out to be suspicious: a budget TV with a flagship soundbar? I tested it with a 75 inch TV, and this tandem looks very organic. Unlike compact speakers of this class, the Sony HT-A7000 doesn’t look toyish against large screens.
The case is rectangular, strict and understated, with no design frills. It will not become the center of attraction for the interior attention, but it seems to me absolutely wrong when they try to pass off the electronics as decor. When you see the Sony HT-A7000, you immediately understand the purpose of the product and the potential of its acoustic capabilities. That’s the main thing.
Sony’s designers chose a thick black plastic. It is matte, with a noticeable texture. The upper plane, where the touch control buttons are located, is covered with a glossy finish. The front side is closed by a metal grill, and under it, just to the right of the center, there are LEDs and a text display with information about the current mode of operation. Seeing the confirmation of the current mode of operation on it is convenient, but if necessary, you can always reduce the brightness at night or turn it off altogether.
There is a nuance. Vertical cloth speakers.
The upward pointing speakers on the edges of the soundbar, are covered with acoustic fabric, not mesh. Probably, such a decision has a justification from the specialists who were developing the product, for example, it protects the speakers from dust and small debris much better. However, as a matter of user’s experience, it is worth bearing in mind the following: if a cat lives at home and the soundbar is placed on the cabinet under the TV set, there is extremely high risk that the animal will wander somewhere nearby and decide to sharpen its claws on the cloth.
There are two ways to solve this problem: either always make sure that the cat’s claws are neatly trimmed and filed, or choose a wall mount on brackets for Sony HT-A7000 so that the animal cannot freely climb on the soundbar and lie on it. And in general, the choice of materials (though I’ve devoted a lot of attention to it) is simply a feature of the product, not a design flaw. After all, trimming the speakers with metal mesh is a rare occurrence, and we have always somehow coped with the fabric on the speaker and protected it from the pets.
The remote control is classic. It is convenient.
Sony decided not to experiment with touch controls and minimalist remotes with almost no buttons. I consider this a huge plus. All actions can be done with a single touch, rather than having to go into a graphical menu for settings and options. And what is more, over time, the mechanical memory will provide the ability to make the necessary actions to the touch and not pay more attention to the control than you should. For example, it is useful for switching sources, types of played content, activating music services, controlling the subwoofer and rear speakers (if any).
By the way, the remote control can tell you something about the nice functional trivia of this soundbar. For example, in addition to the “Cinema”, “Music” and “Standard” modes, there is an option to activate automatic content detection. There is also an option to improve the voice for all sorts of standups, bloggers, podcasts, audiobooks and movies with a focus on dialogue. And at night you can activate a mode with lowered bass frequencies. In addition, Immersive AE mode is switched from the remote, which tries to squeeze the maximum volume out of the regular sound track.
However, the advanced settings of the soundbar are still available via graphic interface. However, most users are likely to once check the availability of different options when switching it on for the first time, but will hardly refer to them further on. On the whole, I will note that Sony HT-A7000 is friendly enough and works “out of the box” without forcing you to mess around with the settings, although it does give advanced users a chance to mess around a bit for their own pleasure.
And how does it sound? Excellent in all scenarios.
The sound panel is equipped with speakers in a 7.1.2 channel configuration: two vertically routed speakers, two tweeters and five front speakers, as well as a built-in dual subwoofer. Together they provide a combined power output of 500 watts. To describe in words how exactly the soundbar sounds is a undertaking doomed to failure right from the very start. It will be impossible to describe the impressions, but I will try to be at least somewhat informative.
To begin with, the product is clearly designed with a view to large rooms. Of course, the size of the room should not stop those who want to get their hands on this particular model, but you should be prepared for the fact that the volume is unlikely to be turned up even half. The sum of speakers, Dolby Atmos support, sound calibration to the specifics of the room, Immersive AE mode and other technologies work great together and give a really powerful and impressive sound, regardless of whether the top blockbuster, sitcom with a lot of dialogue or some intelligent album from your favorite music service is on. As the saying goes, it plays for all its money.
Modern wired and wireless connections
The Sony HT-A7000 will get two HDMI 2.1 connectors and one HDMI 2.1 output (with eARC). All features of this standard are supported, including Dolby Vision, gaming mode with 4K resolution and 120Hz refresh rate, as well as the highest quality 8K video currently available. Wired connections can also include an optical audio input, a 3.5 mm headphone jack and the classic USB Type-A.
Chromecast, Apple Airplay 2 or Bluetooth technology is used for streaming, and there is also support for Spotify Connect. On top of that, Sony HT-A7000 supports 360 Reality Audio spatial music and can play Hi-Res audio, that is, the highest quality soundtracks without loss of compression.
Additional products. If you need more sound
For the Russian market, Sony decided to bundle the HT-A7000 soundbar with a full-size subwoofer SA-SW5 with a 300 Watt 180 mm driver and a passive radiator for even richer and deeper bass. For other countries, there is still an option to get a simpler subwoofer, but if you are buying a top-of-the-line soundbar, there is no point in saving on bass. And you can also supplement the soundbar with a pair of rear speakers SA-RS3S with the total capacity of 100 W with an option of wall mounting and get a more voluminous sound.
For me personally, Sony has always been top of the line in entertainment products. Walkman and Discman players, great headphones that I dreamed of as a kid and enjoy using now, TVs with perfect color reproduction for movies, as well as PlayStation, Hi-End audio products and much more. The flagship in the home audio category fits perfectly into this sequence and demonstrates almost the best set of acoustic and functional features in its class.
Whether you want to be entertained by movies and TV shows, music, games, or conversational genres, the Sony HT-A7000 handles every task perfectly and delivers excellent sound quality in all cases. Best of all, in addition to its primary duty, it has a wealth of handy features, options, and useful technology that combine to provide the user experience of a flagship product.