Dolby Atmos soundbars have been round for just a few years however remained a comparatively area of interest product till now. Major firms similar to Sonos and JBL, have solely simply introduced their first Atmos fashions in 2020, whereas different manufacturers merely supply Dolby “compatibility”. The Sony HT-G700 is uncommon on this respect — it is capable of decode Dolby Atmos from appropriate units however not capable of bodily recreate it. This is a strictly 3.1-channel soundbar, with no precise rears or top audio system and no capacity so as to add them later. Instead it simulates each top and encompass results from the Atmos stream, and does a rattling fantastic job.
LikeExcellent sound with motion pictures and musicDual HDMI inputs, one with eARCWireless subwoofer
Don’t LikeRelatively expensiveCan’t recreate true Atmos effectsNo expandabilityLacks Bluetooth and Wi-Fi streaming
Sony has been utilizing this type of electrickery for some time, most just lately with 360 Reality Audio on the Amazon Echo Studio, and the HT-G700 demonstrates the corporate’s deep know-how. This soundbar will not provide you with pinpoint accuracy like a real Atmos rig however it’s nice at producing a way of area that fills your room. The downside for Sony, nonetheless, is the existence of succesful Atmos audio system such because the Vizio SB36512-F6 and LG SL9YG ($540 at Amazon) that price the identical and even much less whereas managing to incorporate precise top and rear-channel audio system.If you don’t need a dwelling room-full of audio system, nonetheless, the G700 is straightforward to arrange and sounds nice. I solely want the function rely was slightly extra beneficiant for the value.
Design and optionsThe HT-G700 is a soundbar and wi-fi subwoofer combo which guarantees as much as 7.1.2 channel encompass sound in accordance with Sony’s advertising and marketing. In reality most of these channels are emulated and never true Atmos encompass sound — the bar has neither upfiring audio system nor rears. It solely has 3.1 channels value of precise speaker. Nonetheless it manages to outdo competing $700-plus all-in-one fashions just like the Sonos Arc and the Bose Soundbar 700 in a single essential respect: the addition of the wi-fi sub. Sony says the sub is bigger than the the one on the mannequin it replaces — the X9000F. It’s the scale of a giant briefcase and comes with a front-firing port to assist placement in opposition to a wall. The soundbar itself is a gray slab which is roughly 39 inches broad and a pair of and five-eighth inches excessive. It provides top-mounted controls together with enter choice and quantity. It additionally comes with a blue LED show on the entrance of the unit.
Inputs embrace an HDMI in, a separate HDMI ARC/eARC output, digital optical, Bluetooth and USB. Unlike the Sonos Arc the separate HDMI in provides you extra flexibility within the units you need to use — for instance you will not want a brand new TV in an effort to hear Dolby Atmos streams from a 4K Blu-ray.
Audio processing is without doubt one of the most important drawcards of this product. Along with each Dolby Atmos and DTS:X decoding the Sony provides plenty of glorious presets together with devoted Cinema and Music modes utilizing Sony’s Vertical Surround Engine. It’s simulated audio in fact — being a 3.1-channel system — however it leverages know-how just like what the corporate has utilized in soundbars such because the HT-S5000 and the STR-DN1080 ($498 at Amazon) (a function then known as, I child you not, Center Speaker Lift Up).The distant management is a skinny candybar and is the only method to management a lot of the soundbar’s options. It match properly in my hand and all of the buttons have been inside straightforward attain.
Set your face to enjoyableWhen you design a speaker that is solely two inches excessive it comes with some sonic shortcomings — usually a throaty, boxy sound. Some firms wish to compensate by making the sound brighter, nearly to the purpose of distraction, however not Sony. I discovered the sound could possibly be slightly hemmed in, which truly fits most music playback, however hitting the Cinema preset unlocked the sonic fairground experience.While the Sony HT-G700 cannot do “proper” Atmos it was able to a really entertaining efficiency. Playing the Thanator Chase scene from Avatar in Cinema mode actually opened up the sound and made it pull forward of the cheaper JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass. The jungle got here alive and the Sony punched the bass results house — from the thump of the elephant-like Hammerhead Titanothere to the onerous hits of Jake’s machine gun. The JBL was pleasing however did not make the leap from the display screen in the identical method. With a film like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse I heard convincingly enveloping results. It delivered to thoughts the dearer HT-S5000 at instances, with its capacity to throw its voice into locations that make you imagine there are audio system there. When I performed Mad Max Fury Road there was a spaciousness within the opening. There was width too and the ominous voices have been capturing out of the eaves in my room.
I in contrast the Sony with the cheaper JBL 2.1 Bar for music. While the JBL sounded extra open, it was additionally too shiny. It was additionally onerous to take heed to within the first few bars of George Harrison’s My Sweet Lord, however was higher balanced as soon as the bass guitar kicked in. The Sony was far more enjoyable to take heed to. Similarly, the Sony exhibited a sure boxiness with male vocals similar to Hearts a Mess by Gotye however it nonetheless had my toe tapping in time. Female vocals weren’t a difficulty.I haven’t got entry to CNET’s audio lab because of the coronavirus lockdown, so I wasn’t capable of hear the Sony alongside the Vizio SB36512-F6, my favourite Atmos bar for the cash. I really feel that in a direct contest, the Sony could have a sonic edge even when it could actually’t do precise Atmos. The Sony is extra versatile, significantly in its capacity to sound good with each music and flicks. The Vizio has extra options, however would not sound that nice with music.Should you purchase it?The most important points potential Sony consumers must weigh are that the HT-G700 prices $100 greater than the Vizio SB36512-F6 ($387 at Amazon) bar and it would not supply the identical stage of options, particularly “true” Dolby Atmos playback. If you may get over that, the Sony provides glorious sound with out requiring a bunch of additional audio system, which is an enormous plus. Another bonus is the all-important second HDMI enter, which the forthcoming Sonos Arc lacks.