In the entry-level soundbar business, manufacturers have to make brutal decisions about which features to focus on and which to miss. This means that there are many soundbars available at almost identical prices that take very different approaches.
The Sony HT-G700 is a different proposition from our current favorite soundbar at this price point, the Sonos Beam. Unlike the Beam, the Sony HT-G700 comes with a wireless subwoofer, supports Dolby Atmos, and has a dedicated HDMI input, but it doesn’t have music streaming, multirooms, or voice control. It focuses a lot more on the movies and for some it will just be the ticket.
When you remove the Sony HT-G700 from its packaging, you really get the feeling that you are getting your money’s worth. Not only is a large, smart-looking subwoofer part of the package, but the soundbar itself is also stronger and stronger than most in its class.
That’s not to say it’s huge or bossy – it’s about the width of an average 49-inch TV and will be low enough that it doesn’t interfere with your screen – but it does make rivals such as the Sonos Beam. look small in comparison.
It’s a serious looking bar, with a matte black finish and a simple black grille, through which a small dot matrix display shines – we love how the screen doesn’t distract your attention from the screen. .
At the top are tactile “ buttons ” for power, input selection, Bluetooth, and volume. There is also a remote control with dedicated buttons for the different sound modes of the soundbar. It’s useful, of course, but the tiny buttons make it quite tedious to use.
Like the soundbar itself, the glossy-fronted subwoofer is also heavier and more solid than expected. At 39cm tall, it has the weight to move a lot of air and the compact dimensions to make it fairly easy to position.
At the front of the sub is a large woofer with a large reflex port positioned below. The soundbar itself has three elliptical drivers for an overall 3.1 arrangement with a claimed total power of 400 W.
You might be wondering how a 3.1 system can claim to produce Dolby Atmos sound (DTS: X is also supported), and the answer is Sony Vertical Surround Engine and S-Force Pro Front Surround technologies. These are designed to create a sound that fills the room, but most importantly doesn’t depend on the sound bouncing off the walls, theoretically making their effectiveness less dependent on the size and shape of the room.
Sony HT-G700 technical specifications
(Image credit: Future)
Speaker layout 3.1
Output power 400 W
Bluetooth version 5.0
Dimensions (hwd) 6 x 98 x 11 cm (bar); 39 x 19 x 40 cm (subwoofer)
Weight 3.5 kg (bar); 7.5 kg (subwoofer)
You can even apply pitch and surround processing to 5.1 and even stereo signals, using something called immersive AE processing, which Sony says enhances the audio near 7.1.2 channels.
Getting sound into the HT-G700 is easy. The soundbar’s HDMI output is fully eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel) compatible, so as long as your TV also supports this or standard ARC, it will send the audio of whatever you watch on the bar to the instead of through its own speakers.
Thanks to HDMI-CEC, you won’t even need to configure anything, the two devices automatically knowing that they are linked. You can even use your TV remote control to change the volume of the sound bar. If your TV does not support ARC, you can connect it to the HT-G700 using the included optical cable.
Unlike the Sonos Beam, the Sony HT-G700 also has a dedicated HDMI input that is fully compatible with Dolby Atmos (in Dolby Digital Plus and True HD formats) and DTS: X. The soundbar will also transmit 4K HDR signals ( including Dolby Vision) to the TV.
There is little configuration required with the HT-G700. The sound bar and subwoofer automatically establish a wireless connection, and you don’t need to do any audio calibration, mic driven or otherwise. You can adjust the subwoofer volume independently of the soundbar, and while it may be necessary in some rooms, the default level turns out to be more or less perfect in our testing.
The HT-G700 also has a dedicated Night Mode, which temporarily reduces bass and dynamics to avoid annoying other members of your household.
We’re heading straight for our favorite Dolby Atmos test scene; the bombardment of Uninterrupted. With its roaring B-24 Liberator engines, zoomed Zero fighter jets, and meaty machine gun fire, the Sony immediately impresses with the weight and scale of its delivery.
It’s clear that the subwoofer allows the system to reach low depths that its non-sub-less rivals can’t, giving the whole experience a nice weight. The way the sound fills the room is also impressive, and the HT-G700 does a surprisingly effective job of simulating a Dolby Atmos soundscape by following the strafing races of fighter jets from right to left and from ceiling to floor. .
Understandably, that’s not in the same area as a dedicated Atmos speaker set, and other high-end soundbars, such as the Sonos Arc, beat it too, but for its modest price, the HT-G700 offers impressive cinematic performance.
It’s not all good news, however. The vocals are a bit set back and muffled, and while the dedicated Voice mode is designed to stimulate dialogue, that doesn’t really help. Things also get a little cluttered and difficult to follow when the action really kicks off.
We move on to Blade Runner 2049 and, while this slight lack of vocal clarity remains an issue, we’re in awe of how the HT-G700 conveys the echo and reverberation of Niander Wallace’s yellow-bathed chamber and the precision with which it places the frightening clicks of its pebble. -like drones in the sound field.
In the scene in which K and Joi fly off to the orphanage, the HT-G700 once again impresses with its depth, scale and full-scale dynamics, all of which are essential in recreating the soundtrack and oppressive action. But the slight lack of oomph and crispness means you’re not grabbed by setbacks the way you should. The crackle of rain hitting the car’s windshield is also less precise than we would like.
Although the Sony HT-G700 is less of a music speaker than the Sonos Beam, a Bluetooth connection and dedicated Music mode can encourage you to send songs every now and then. It offers a heavy fullness which makes the Beam sound rather light, but while there is a lot of deep bass, it’s not terribly flexible or musical. The overall sound is also noticeably less crisp and clear, but for some people the extra weight is worth it.
The Sony HT-G700 is a completely different proposition from the similarly priced Sonos Beam. While the Sonos is truly a bar-shaped multi-room speaker with an HDMI jack, the Sony is a dedicated home theater kit. Which approach is right for you depends on what you hope to get from a sound bar.
If you’re looking for big, meaty blasts and a room-filling Atmos scale, the Sony is the soundbar to buy. With a little more crispness and clarity, it would get the full five stars.
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