Sony has just announced two new high-end home theater systems, both of which include HDMI 2.1 pass-through ports that offer full support for features such as 8K video, 4K gaming at 120 Hz, Dolby Vision HDR, eARC and more.
The first is the HT-A7000 Dolby Atmos 7.1.2 channel soundbar. Priced at $ 1,299.99, the soundbar has two HDMI 2.1 inputs, so in theory you can use it both PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X for that matter and play all consoles to the fullest.
Located as Sony’s latest flagship bar, the A7000 features two burning speakers for the Atmos, two beam tweeters and five front speakers for a wider surround speaker. There’s a built-in dual subwoofer, but if you need a deeper bass, you can pay extra for a separate sub-speaker; Sony sells a 300-watt wireless subwoofer for $ 699.99 or a 200-watt unit for $ 399.99. The company also sells wireless rear panels for $ 349.99.
We’re still in the early days of future-proof HDMI 2.1 audio bars, but they’re starting to show up: Klipsch announced a similar Atmos bar called Cinema 1200. It also has two HDMI inputs, although the $ 1,699 price includes a bundled subwoofer and surrounds.
As premium soundbar speakers have become relatively common, the Sony A7000 can tune itself into room acoustics by using a remote control microphone to “measure the height and width of the room” and optimize the sound profile. It supports 360 Reality Audio, hi-res audio and is compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Chromecast, Spotify Connect and Apple AirPlay 2.
Another, more expensive new sound system is called the HT-A9, and it consists of four wireless speakers and a control box unit similar in size to the Apple TV. Sony says you can place four cylindrical speakers in almost any room, and the optimization of the sound field takes into account their location when tuning for sound performance. (The back of each speaker is flat for installation.)
With these, the company also includes what it calls “360 spatial sound mapping technology,” which presumably can “create up to twelve” phantom speakers “from just four speakers by synthesizing sound waves based on location information.” They sound like big claims, but I hope for $ 1799.99 Sony will be able to deliver some of these sound field scams.
Each speaker is just over 12 inches long. The A9 has only one HDMI input instead of the soundbar two, but the control panel also has an Ethernet connection and an aux port that allow compatible Sony TVs to act as a center channel. This should make for excellent sound clarity.
One downside is that each speaker needs its own power supply – as well as a control box – so you’re looking at a total of five outlets. Because this system relies on the wireless network so much, I’m also curious about any delay or audio sync issues that may arise during gaming. Sony told me it hasn’t had such problems, but I’d like to be sure. The A9 is clearly meant for people who don’t want to worry about wires (other than power cords) in home theater surround settings.
Both the HT-A7000 and HT-A9 will begin shipping, according to Sony, sometime between September and October.