Price: $699 / £599 / AU$999
Ports: 1x HDMI-Out (ARC); 1x Optical Audio; 1x USB
Audio channels: 3.1
Audio formats: Dolby Atmos; Dolby Digital; DTS; DTS:X
Power output: 250W
Wireless: AirPlay 2; Bluetooth SBC; Spotify Connect, Chromecast Built-in
Smart assistant: Alexa, Google Assistant
Dimensions: 37.5 in × 2.6 in × 5.1 inches (soundbar)
Weight: 9.9 pounds (soundbar)
Wall mountable: Yes
The Sony HT-A3000 is riding the wave of Dolby Atmos-capable single soundbar audio solutions that have come our way this year from Sonos, Bowers & Wilkins and Devialet. While the latter bars deliver powerful and clear audio for a steep price, the Sony HT-A3000 tries to undercut the competition at $699 — roughly $250 more than the Sonos Beam and around the same price as full 5.1 systems from the likes of Vizio, Samsung and LG.
Its position in the pantheon of 2022 soundbars works to its detriment unfortunately because you’re not getting quite the full range of sound with just the soundbar alone. You can, of course, add on a separate subwoofer and pair of rear speakers to the tune of $349 and $599 respectively, but that’s going to put you much closer to the more expensive soundbars like the Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 that Sony’s trying to undercut.
For owners of a Sony Bravia TV who can take advantage of the soundbar’s most advanced features, the HT-A3000 is a solid choice, but if you’re on the fence about spending this much for a soundbar, you might want to consider some other options before making the plunge.
Sony HT-A3000 review: Price and availability
The Sony HT-A3000 will be released in September of 2022 for a retail price of $699 (£599, AU$999). That price puts it below other premium options from the likes of Bowers & Wilkins and Devialet, but higher than some of the more affordable options from Samsung, LG and Sonos.
Additionally, you can buy the Sony SA-RS5 wireless rear surround speakers from Sony that will enable 360 Reality Audio support for $599 (£449, AU$746) or a Sony SA-SW5 wireless subwoofer for better bass response for $698 (£699, AU$899).
Sony HT-A3000 review: Design
The Sony HT-A3000 borrows a lot of design elements from the more premium Sony HT-A5000 and Sony HT-A7000 soundbars that were released earlier in 2022. To wit, there’s a solid black grille on the front with a glossy top. The top is where you’ll find the controls should you lose the remote control and the sides are where the built-in woofers reside.
On the front there’s a small LED display that will tell you what mode the soundbar is currently in and what the volume is set at when you raise or lower it. It’s handy having that information visually, though, we would’ve preferred a larger screen that’s visible from further away.
In terms of its physical footprint, the Sony HT-A3000 measures in at just 2.6 inches tall and 37.5 inches wide, allowing it to slide easily under most 55-inch TVs or larger without blocking the IR sensor. It’s also extremely light at just 9.9 pounds.
In terms of design, it’s a sleek-looking ‘bar that doesn’t stand out much from the rest of your AV setup.
Sony HT-A3000 review: Connectivity
Connectivity is another mixed bag. While the ability to connect to the soundbar from your phone via AirPlay and Chromecast is phenomenally easy, there’s no HDMI throughput which means you’ll need to sacrifice the eARC port on your TV for the soundbar.
While there aren’t many apps installed on the soundbar, it does support Spotify Connect, which is a handy feature if you want to use this to stream music in between movies.
Sony HT-A3000 review: Configuration
Sony is marketing the HT-A3000 as a 3.1-channel solution with virtual Dolby Atmos. That said, it’s really a single soundbar with built-in woofers. A single ‘bar solution is nice in small apartments when space is at a premium and there’s nowhere to put a massive subwoofer, however if you live in a house and have more space, the A3000 might not be enough.
If you want to add some extra oomph, you can add on a subwoofer and wireless satellite speakers, but those are going to cost extra.
Sony HT-A3000 review: Controls
The Sony HT-A3000 uses the same remote as the more expensive Sony HT-A5000 speaker we’ve reviewed previously. The remote should have every feature you need in a pinch, but you might want to go into the soundbar’s UI if you really want to see what you’re doing with the EQ.
That said, while the LED screen is better than nothing — it’s not as helpful as a full graphical interface. You’ll have a hard time seeing it from far away, and it’s hard to tell when a Dolby Atmos audio signal is being received by the soundbar.
Should you misplace the remote, the soundbar has touch-capacitive buttons along the top of the main unit or you can use the Sony Music Connect app on your phone. Having plenty of control options is great, though you’ll likely just want to stick to the remote when possible.
Sony HT-A3000 review: Sound quality
While some soundbars bring booming bass and sparkling trebles, the Sony HT-A3000 really focuses on enhancing the mid-range for clearer dialogue. Even shows that have particularly tough-to-hear audio (*cough* House of the Dragon) see an improvement when played through the soundbar, and it’s a huge step up from a TV’s built-in speakers.
If you own a Bravia TV, like the Sony X95K or Sony A80J OLED, you can take advantage of a few other features like Acoustic Center Sync that gets the TV’s speakers to play at the same time as the soundbar to offer an expanded sound range.
Without a Bravia TV to test it with, however, we were stuck using the HT-A3000 as a basic soundbar — and we can’t say that the dynamic response of the soundbar really blew us away. Because it has built-in woofers rather than a discreet sub, the bass response was almost anaemic and the upper trebles that should have sparkled, blended into the mix.
As for spatial audio, we couldn’t hear much verticality in the mix — that’s because audio has to be played on a 3.1 system rather than a full 5.1.2-channel setup. The soundbar fails to reach the heights of its older siblings, the HT-A5000 and HT-A7000, when it comes to Dolby Atmos audio, so we’d recommend checking those out if you’re keen for a full Atmos experience.
To end on a positive note, though, we were impressed with the soundstage on the soundbar. It filled our medium-size den with precise sound…even if that sound was lacking in the low-end. The HT-A3000 uses Sony’s Virtual Surround Engine and S-Force Pro Front Surround technologies to make this happen, and they’re definitely carrying their weight.
Sony HT-A3000 review: Verdict
If its price tag was a couple hundred dollars less, the Sony HT-A3000 would be an easy recommendation — but at close to $700, it doesn’t make a good case for itself. It offers easy connectivity options, a wide soundstage and enhanced dialogue, but so do dozens of other soundbars that cost half of what the HT-A3000 does. Admittedly, you can always add onto this system with a separate subwoofer and satellite speakers … but at that point you’re dropping over a grand for a basic 5.1.2 system. It’s simply not worth it.
Folks who own a Sony TV and don’t need a passthrough HDMI port or proper spatial audio may find that the Sony HT-A3000 delivers exactly what they’re looking for. If that’s not you, however, it’s fine to skip over this entry-level ‘bar for one of Sony’s higher-end models, or look at brands like Vizio and JBL for cheaper all-in-one solutions.