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Sony HT-A7000 review: A flagship soundbar that raises the bar

The Sony HT-A7000 soundbar supports Dolby Atmos and 360 Reality Audio, but is this top-end TV speaker overpriced?

Sony HT-A7000 soundbar in front of TV screen
(Image: © Tom's Guide)

Tom's Guide Verdict

Impressive overall performance from an elegant and full-featured soundbar, but the flagship price feels like a misstep compared to rivals.

Pros

  • +

    High build quality

  • +

    Best for surround format support

  • +

    Clear sound with dialog

Cons

  • -

    Small and difficult-to-read display

  • -

    Subwoofer sold separately

  • -

    Higher price compared to rival soundbars

Sony HT-A7000: Specs

Colors: Black
Ports: 2x HDMI in; 1x HDMI out (eARC/ARC); Digital optical; 3.5mm analog audio jack in; USB-A; Ethernet
Speakers: Not specified
Audio channels: 7.1.2
Audio formats: Dolby Atmos; Dolby TrueHD; Dolby Digital; DTS; DTS:X
Power output: 500W
Wireless: AirPlay 2; Bluetooth SBC, AAC, LDAC; Chromecast; Spotify Connect
Smart assistant: Alexa; Google Assistant
Subwoofer: Integrated
Dimensions: 51 1/4 x 3 1/4 x 5 5/8 inches
Weight: 19.2 pounds
Wall mountable: Yes

Despite being Sony's flagship soundbar, the Sony HT-A7000 has its work cut out for it. With budget soundbar offerings like the Sonos Ray grabbing the headlines recently, the Sony HT-A7000 (starting at $1,399) puts itself in a tricky position by being more expensive than the competition that offers similar features.

However, despite the frankly eye-watering price that doesn't even include an external subwoofer or set of surround speakers (although these can of course be packaged separately as a cost option), the Sony HT-A7000 is a very elegant and well thought out soundbar indeed. 

As the current flagship model that joined Sony's soundbar roster in late 2021, the HT-A7000 replaces the long-running but even more costly HT-ST5000. Like its predecessor, the HT-A7000 is a full-featured home-theater speaker system designed to be the mainstay of any home TV, music, and gaming setup for years to come. Its feature-laden spec highlights include full support for Dolby Atmos soundtracks and hi-res audio, music streaming, as well as two HDMI 2.1 ports that enable users to connect both a PS5 and Xbox Series X to the soundbar at the same time. 

It's undoubtedly an attractive package that comes with Sony's respected audio credibility, but there are plenty of soundbar alternatives out there to consider in our best Dolby Atmos soundbars, as well as budget soundbars and the best soundbars we've heard. So, as one of the most expensive soundbars we've seen so far, is it enough to justify the price tag? Read on to find out more.

Close up of Sony soundbar in front of a TV screen

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Sony HT-A7000 review: Price and availability

The Sony HT-A7000 is available finished in black and priced at $1,399 / £1,299 / AU$1,699, although it can currently be found discounted to $1,299 on Sony’s website (opens in new tab) or via online retailers including Amazon (opens in new tab), Walmart (opens in new tab), and Best Buy (opens in new tab)

Even with Sony's considerable credentials in the world of home theater and Dolby Atmos on board, the HT-A7000 looks overpriced compared to rivals with the likes of the Sonos Arc and even the Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 undercutting Sony's flagship by considerable margins. Plus, if you want to add a wireless subwoofer and wireless surround speakers, this bumps up the overall price even further.

Sony HT-A7000 soundbar in front of TV screen

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Sony HT-A7000 review: Design and build

  • Low-profile design and wall mountable
  • Ideal for 55-inch TVs or larger
  • High-quality build

The look and feel of the Sony HT-A7000 has shifted a lot in the latest flagship design. Rather than being on display as with several of the drivers in the HT-ST5000, the 11 speakers drivers here are all hidden behind a mesh grille on the front, with cloth grilles on the sides as well as on the top surface at either end of the soundbar. It's just as sleek to look at, though, at 3.25 x 5.7 inches (H x D). Its low-profile design should make it slender enough to ensure it doesn't foul the bottom of the TV screen when placed on the same surface as the TV. 

You may want to invest in a wider TV stand however, as the HT-A7000 runs to 51 inches long, which makes it a good fit for 55-inch or larger TV screens, but nothing smaller. Even so, partnering the soundbar with my 55-inch Samsung screen at home resulted in some overhang either side of the stand. Ordinarily, a small overhang wouldn't be too much of a problem, but the support feet underneath the soundbar are inconveniently spaced to sit evenly on the glass surface of my TV stand and the speaker wouldn't sit securely. This was easily remedied, however, with some discreetly placed mounting putty (Plasti-Tac or Blu Tack) on the underside so that the soundbar sat level and firmly in position. 

Sony doesn't cut corners when it comes to build quality, and the HT-A7000 feels precision made with a good mix of quality materials that reflect its flagship status and premium pricing. It can be wall mounted.

Sony HT-A7000 soundbar in front of TV screen

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Sony HT-A7000 review: Connectivity

  • Recessed connectivity panel 
  • 2x HDMI ports compatible with 4K60
  • HDMI out with eARC/ARC

On the recessed underside for hardwired connectivity, the Sony HT-A7000 soundbar includes one eARC/HDMI output and two HDMI 2.1 input ports (handy if your TV has no spare ports), capable of handling 8K @60Hz, 4K @120Hz, and Dolby Vision HDR signals. There's also a digital optical port, USB Audio, and analog input via a 3.5mm jack socket, as well as an analog output for turning a compatible Sony Bravia TV into a centre channel via supplied cable. 

In terms of wireless connectivity, you can connect via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and there's AirPlay 2 and Chromecast, as well as Spotify Connect. 

Sony HT-A7000 soundbar in front of TV screen

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Sony HT-A7000 review: Configuration

  • 11 speaker drivers
  • 2x height speakers for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X formats

You're not being shortchanged when it comes to configuration either, and the soundbar's size allows ample room for the 11 drivers, including two 'beam' tweeters, five midrange drivers and two subwoofers all firing forwards towards the seating area, as well as a pair of upward-firing units on top to bring height elements to Dolby Atmos and DTS:X soundtracks.

Sony HT-A7000 review: Extra features

The Sony is packed with set-up smarts and the calibration process is straight forward, plus there's a set of onscreen menus for more confident owners to tinker with. DSEE Extreme upscaling tech is included in the soundbar to helps restore audio details lost when using low data steams, and is something more usually found on the company’s flagship WH-1000M5 headphones, for example. 

Sony HT-A7000 soundbar in front of TV screen

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Sony HT-A7000 review: Controls

  • Control volume via TV remote
  • Alexa and Google Assistant voice control

You'll find touch-capacitive control buttons on the panel to the right end of the soundbar. There's an LED screen below on the front, but it’s a bit limited. Unlike some soundbars we've seen, the format info is incomplete and there's no way to tell from looking at the display when a Dolby Atmos audio signal is being received by the soundbar, for example.

A useful handheld remote control is included, but you can also use your TV’s remote for basic volume control. The Sony Music Center app for Android and iOS offers another handy way to control the HT-A7000. It's a bit limited, and I can't help feeling that more flexibility over the sound settings would be very useful for users like me that like to tinker with sound options to get best sound for the room rather than relying on automated tuning and factory presets.

Sony HT-A7000 soundbar in front of TV screen

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Sony HT-A7000 review: Sound quality

  • Impressively wide soundstage
  • Excellent dialog clarity
  • Immersive surround performance

The Sony HT-A7000 soundbar runs to almost 51-inches wide, so you can expect to hear a wide and involving soundstage being beamed towards you with all kinds of movie and music content. The Sony's forward-firing driver configuration utilizes widely-spaced beam tweeters that project sound through a series of chambers. These certainly appear to bring a great sense of scale to the soundbar's soundstage while watching the psychological movie drama Whiplash (via Netflix). The Sony had no problems switching from the closed and dry acoustic of the fictional music school's claustrophobic classroom to the large open acoustic space of the performance theater with the S-Force PRO Front Surround tech is enabled during Cinema and Standard modes. 

Enabling S-Force makes soundtracks sound more immediate so that you feel as though you're actively involved in the moment unfolding on screen. Even with more muted dialog such as Nomadland streamed via Amazon, the Sony soundbar enables you to hear every bit of dialog and voice inflection with an entirely natural feel and great presence. There’s a dialog boost setting should you wish further clarity.

This soundbar's Dolby Atmos performance is certainly more effective than I imagined and helps viewers feel more involved with what's happening on the screen

As well as the upward-firing speakers in the top the soundbar — primarily intended for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X content — Sony also employs its own Vertical Surround Engine (VSE) to give standard content an immersive height element too, bringing a more natural feel that sonically transports you to whatever acoustic environment or landscape is unfolding on screen. The results are impressive and the extra dimensions is similar to what we experienced from the Sonos Arc soundbar. It’s not the same as having direct audio from the speakers located above or to the side, but it’s certainly more effective than I imagined and helps viewers feel more involved with what's happening on the screen.

The HT-A7000's integrated subwoofer drivers are pretty small by dedicated subwoofer standards, but the Sony does an effective job at giving voices, action effects, and soundtracks the weight they need to carry things off convincingly. 

Although it doesn't quite dig down to the bass depths of the Sennheiser Ambeo soundbar mentioned in the best TV upgrades I've tried, the depth and energy that's available is impressive given the smaller cabinet space it has to work in. I'd recommend adding a wireless standalone model though, such as Sony's optional SASW5 model priced at $699 to bring extra impact to high-octane movie soundtracks.

Sony HT-A7000 soundbar in front of TV screen

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

When it comes to streaming music, the Sony HT-A7000 doubles as an effective music system and Spotify Connect is embedded to allow you to connect directly, or users can connect to their favorite alternative music streaming services from their device using Chromecast or AirPlay 2.  

Whatever streaming music service you use, I found that keeping the A7000 in Music mode was preferable because it gave the best balance to vocals and sense of instrument separation. It sounded a lot more dynamic and closer to the sound I'm used to experiencing from a pair of stereo speakers. With Standard and Cinema mode, music tracks sounded less dynamic and rhythmic elements were much less engaging. 

Trying out some music tracks with Sony's 360 Reality Audio (available through streaming services including Tidal, Amazon Music Unlimited, Deezer and nugsnet.com), there was a real sense of the sound filling the room, and it was certainly a fun way to experience tracks I know well. Although not all tracks benefit from the 360 engineering, with some sounding overly boomy and unbalanced, it brought insight and perspective into my music listening at home. 

Sony HT-A7000 review: Verdict

The Sony HT-A7000 soundbar is an elegant TV speaker solution with impressive sound that enhances the performance of even the best TVs, and achieves a wrap-around cinematic effect with the right content. Dialog was clear and has enough weight to give booming voices gravitas to carry them with conviction, but for real cinematic performance and satisfaction, you're really going to have to factor in a wireless sub. 

Which bring's me to the HT-A7000's price. There are capable competitors out there such as the Sonos Arc, that can achieve a similar immersive experience and integrate seamlessly with a wide range of multi-room products for considerably less than Sony is asking. Ultimately, I've been impressed by my time with the HT-A7000 but as with the HT-ST5000, the price would make me think twice. In pursuit of powerful cinematic satisfaction at home and the price of including a wireless sub pushing the overall cost of the Sony to near $2,000, Sennheiser's Ambeo soundbar with its punchy performance straight out of the box looks worthy of a closer look.

Lee Dunkley
Audio Editor

As a former editor of the U.K.'s Hi-Fi Choice magazine, Lee is passionate about all kinds of audio tech and has been providing sound advice to enable consumers to make informed buying decisions since he joined Which? magazine as a product tester in the 1990s. Lee covers all things audio for Tom's Guide, including headphones, wireless speakers and soundbars and loves to connect and share the mindfulness benefits that listening to music in the very best quality can bring.