Sony expands its soundbar range: in addition to the high-end HT-A7000, we now have affordable HT-A3000 and HT-A5000 soundbars to choose from.
At the same time, these soundbars create a spacious surround sound belying their size. The S-Force PRO Front Surround uses a front X-Balanced Speaker Unit and Sony’s unique digital sound field processing technology to virtually reproduce a large and immersive sound field horizontally. Both models also feature Sony’s Vertical Surround Engine, which enables support for Dolby Atmos and DTS X.
But in order to maximise the potential of both units, you’ll need to have either the wireless, up-firing SA-RS5 ($799; U.P. $999) or wired SA-RS3S rear speakers ($459)–it makes a world of difference, and that’s partly down to the 360 Spatial Sound Mapping technology. A nifty feature called Sound Field Optimisation uses microphones built into the soundbar (HT-A3000 needs rear speakers for Spatial Sound Mapping to work) measures the relative height and position of the soundbar and rear speakers and creates multiple phantom speakers by synthesising sound waves.
To complete the cinema experience, you’ll definitely need either the SA-SW5 ($999) or the SA-SW3 ($499) subwoofer. The 300W SA-SW5 uses a 180 mm driver with a passive radiator while the 200W SA-SW3 uses a 160mm driver with a compact bass subwoofer.
There’s an added benefit if you use a compatible BRAVIA XR TV–Acoustic Center Sync. The TV becomes part of the centre speaker array, which adds positional accuracy for dialogue scenes.
Other quality-of-life features include sound enhancements like 360 Reality Audio (supports Amazon Music HD, nugs.net and TIDAL) and DSEE Extreme, ease of connectivity for streaming sources like Spotify Connect, Chromecast, Apple Airplay 2, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and support for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.
The HT-A3000 and HT-A5000 are currently priced at $1,099 (U.P. $1,299) and $1,499 (U.P. $1,799) respectively thanks to a Year End Promotion, where Sony will also throw in a set of SA-RS3S speakers for free with the HT-A5000. In addition, you can also save another $300 when you buy either the SA-SW5 or SA-SW3 subwoofers along with the HT-A5000. You can check out the rest of Sony’s year-end offers here.